New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead). Summer - Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft) Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft). Summer - Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs. Summer - up to waist high swell.
On Tuesday (6/2) North and Central California was effectively flat with no swell in the water. Fog and light onshore winds were in control. Southern California was effectively flat with no real swell in the water. Some knee high sets were present pushing thigh high down south at the top spots. Hawaii's North Shore was near flat with no real surf showing up at the beach but it was clean. The East Shore had northeast windswell from the gale that was north of the Islands at thigh high on the sets. The South Shore was theoretically starting to get some southern hemi swell from a gale that was under Tahiti last week, with waves waist high and coming up some.
The forecast for North and Central CA remains quiet with only bare minimal southern hemi background swell to thigh high possible late Wed into Thurs but that's it. Southern CA is to see that same minimal background southern hemi swell by Wednesday (6/3) to thigh high with luck holding into Thursday. Oahu's North Shore is to see some small northwest windswell by Wednesday, pushing chest high but almost gone by Thursday AM. The East Shore might start to see some minimal easterly tradewind generated windswell by Thursday at knee to thigh high building slowly into the weekend. The South Shore is to see the peak of the southern hemi swell on Wednesday at minimal Significant class levels (head high). A slow fade thereafter.
Longterm the picture remains decent. A gale that has tracked through the South Pacific on Tues-Thurs (5/28) generating 40-45 kts winds and up to 35 ft seas aimed well to the northeast targeting Hawaii and the US Mainland. Decently rideable swell has already hit Hawaii and is on the increase and is expected to push to the US West Coast for Friday/Saturday, but only with utility class size (see details below). And yet another smaller gale built under New Zealand Sun/Mon (6/1) with 30-32 ft seas targeting the Tahiti, the Islands and the US West Coast. And yet one more stronger system is forecast in the same region for Wed/Thurs (6/4). After that things are to shut down, so make the most of what you can get.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
At the surface weak today low pressure at 1012 mbs was 300 nmiles west of Monterey Bay, the remnants of a system that was north of Hawaii last week. No swell producing fetch was associated with this low. A second broader low pressure system at 1000 mbs was locked just east of the dateline, but not generating any winds of interest. On Sat/Sun (5/31) it generated a fetch of 20-25 kt north and northwest winds aimed at Hawaii producing seas to 15 ft at 37N 178E. This to result in tiny energy moving towards the Hawaiian Islands arriving Wednesday at 3.7 ft @ 10-11 secs (3.5 ft faces) from 315 degrees. Otherwise no fetch of interest was occurring. , Over the next 72 hours the broad low pressure system is to dissipate in the far Western Gulf of Alaska with no winds of interest forecast. Weak high pressure at 1024 mbs is to start getting a foothold just northeast of Hawaii on Wednesday (6/3), starting to produce long delayed trades over the Islands at 15 kts and maybe some tiny east short period windswell late in the day and holding for the foreseeable future. But overall, the North Pacific is asleep for the summer.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (6/2) normal high pressure remained suppressed off California, shunted up in the northern Gulf of Alaska with instead neutral pressure if not slightly low pressure present off Central CA. Virtually no sign of high pressure or north winds in excess of 10 kts are forecast for the next 7 days. There's even a slight chance of rain in higher elevations possible through the end of the week. Light winds nearshore are forecast through next weekend and into early next week.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Tuesday (6/2) the South Pacific jetstream remained
split over it's width with a decent trough still present in the southern branch of the jet under New Zealand arching north towards Tahiti, then diving hard southeast towards Antarctica near the southern tip of Chile. The trough had 130 kt winds pushing well up to the north and continuing to provide a nice pocket to support gale development. Over the next 72 hrs that trough is to hold with more pockets of 130 kt wind energy pushing up into it and continue the support for gale development. Yet one more pulse of energy is forecast pushing into this trough on Thursday (6/4) at 150 kts continuing to support gale development into Saturday. Beyond 72 hours a strong ridge remains forecast to build into the area starting Sunday (6/7) with reinforcement scheduled for Monday, likely shutting this pattern down and starting to suppress gale development.
At the surface on Tuesday (6/2) Swell #2S was starting to hit Hawaii and another swell from a gale right behind it was in the water and pushing towards Hawaii and the US mainland. So two are already en route. And yet one more gale was starting to develop southwest of New Zealand on Tuesday AM (6/2) with pressure 980 mbs, but with strong high pressure at 1036 mbs over the Tasman Sea forming a pressure gradient and generating 40 kt west-southwest winds over a small area at 60S 165E. Seas were building at 60S 165E just off the Ross Ice Shelf. Over the next 72 hours and starting Tuesday evening this fetch to build in coverage with winds up to 40-45 kts at 54S 173W aimed well up the great circle paths to both Hawaii and the US West coast, favoring the later. 30 ft seas are forecast at 56S 172E. Wednesday AM (6/3) the fetch is to build more at 45 kts at 54S 173W aimed right up the 210 degree path to California (shadowed by Tahiti for SCal and barely unshadowed for NCal) and 25 degrees east of the 190 degree path to Hawaii. Seas to be building to 35 ft at 53S 177W. By evening only 40-45 kt winds are to remain at 50S 164W. Seas of 38 ft are forecast at 50S 168W on the 190 degree path to Hawaii and the 210 degree track to California (shadowed from SCal and barely clear for NCal). Thursday AM (6/4) new fetch of 40-45 kts is forecast at 52S 155W aimed more to the east with seas from previous fetch at 36 ft forecast at 46S 158W and starting to decay. This system to fade after that with seas from previous fetch Thursday PM at 36 ft at 51S 149W aimed more to the east. In all this looks like a reasonably good system if it forms, but is way down from previous estimates up to 5 day earlier. As always, nothing is certain till the winds starts getting traction on the oceans surface.
Previously another gale organized southeast of New Zealand on Thursday (5/28) with 35-40 kt west winds at 52S 163W, but all momentum was aimed towards South America. On Friday PM (5/29) it peaked with 40-45 kt west to southwest winds at 55S 150W generating 38 ft seas at 59S 142W holding into Saturday AM. But it was all aimed at Southern Chile, then dissipated. No real energy is expected to seep up into our forecast area though swell is likely to radiate as far north as Peru.
Central Pacific Gale - Swell #2S Hawaii
At the surface on Tuesday (5/26) a new gale formed in the Southwest Pacific generating a decent fetch of 40-45 kt south to southwest winds at 57S 175W and getting some traction. By evening winds were confirmed at near 45 kts at 53S 167W aimed well to the north pushing right up the 204 degree path to California and on the edge of the Tahiti swell shadow generating 30 ft seas at 54S 166W late and a bit shadowed by Tahiti relative to California (203 deg) and pushing a bit east of 183 degree path to Hawaii.
Additional 40-45 fetch was confirmed on Wednesday AM (5/27) at 53S 160W pushing right up the 202 degree path to California and mostly unshadowed by Tahiti. 35 ft seas were modeled at 51S 161W pushing well towards CA with sideband energy to Hawaii. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the outer edge of the core of the fetch at 18Z and reported max average seas of 30.5 ft with one peak reading to 37.5 ft, about 3 ft less than what the models suggested. In the evening a broad and fragmented fetch of 30-35 kt winds were confirmed with a core to near 45 kts at 50S 151W aimed right up the 198 degree path to California with seas from previous fetch at 35 ft at 49S 155W tracking right up the 201 degree path to CA (unshadowed) and mostly outside the range of Hawaii. The Jason-1 satellite passed right over the outer periphery of the core of the fetch and confirmed average max seas there at 32 ft with a peak reading to 40 ft. This is exactly in sync with the model.
The core fetch was effectively gone by Thursday AM (5/28) with residual 32 ft seas from previous fetch at 45S 146W pushing right up the 196 degree path to California.
Overall this system did pretty well, though not quite as good as the models suggested. QuikSCAT data was right on-track providing 48 hours of 40-45 kt fetch aimed right up the great circle tracks to California and pushing north enough that Hawaii should get a decent shot of swell too. Jason-1 data suggests seas were near the 35 ft peak for 18 hrs, though not as long as the models indicated (24 hrs) . Regardless, compared to previous weeks, this was a good system for producing swell. But from a historical perspective this was just your average garden-variety southern hemi gale. Still some possible decent sized utility class southern hemi swell could result for California up into the Pacific Northwest and Mexico since this system pushed well to the north and virtual fetch was having some effect on those headings. Tahiti to do quite well too. Hawaii might even see near significant class sideband energy.
Hawaii: Swell was starting to arrive on Tuesday (6/2) at 1 AM HST with period 20 secs and size tiny but building through the day reaching 2 ft @ 18 secs late (3.5-4.0 ft faces). Swell to start peaking Wednesday (6/3) at 3 AM with swell 2.8 ft @ 17 secs holding through the morning (4.8 ft faces with best breaks to 6.0 ft), moving to 16 secs with swell 2.9 ft @ 16 secs (4.6 ft faces with top spots to 6.0 ft). Still decent size expected into Thursday AM with swell 2.6-2.9 ft @ 15 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces), sliding down to a pure 14 secs near sunset. Weak residuals to follow. Swell Direction 180-185 degrees
South CA: Expect swell arrival starting Thursday (6/4) at 1 AM with period at 20 secs and size tiny but coming up. Rideable yet inconsistent surf expected to be arriving by noon with swell 1.3 ft @ 18 sec (2 ft faces). Period is to drop to 17 secs on Friday (6/5) at 1 AM with swell peaking out then to sunrise at 2.3 ft @ 17 secs (4 ft faces with top spots to 5 ft) with period to 16 secs into early afternoon (4.3 ft faces with top spots to 4.6 ft). On Saturday solid size is expected at sunrise with swell to maybe 3.0 ft @ 15-16 sec (5-6 ft faces), but slowly settling down by noon as period moves more to 15 secs. Sunday fun-sized residuals are forecast at 2.7 ft @ 14 secs mid-morning (4 ft faces). Swell Direction: 199-205 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival starting Thursday (6/4) at 6 AM with period at 20 secs and size tiny but coming up. Perhaps some rideable yet inconsistent surf expected in by sunset (1 ft @ 20 secs). Period is to drop to 17 secs on Friday (6/5) at 6 AM with swell peaking out near noon at 2.3 ft @ 17 secs (4 ft faces with top spots to 5 ft) and period to 16 secs by sunset (4.3 ft faces with top spots to 5.6 ft) . Even on Saturday solid size is expected with swell 2.6 ft @ 15-16 sec early (4-5 ft faces), but slowly settling down through the day as period moves more to 15 secs. Sunday fun-sized residuals are forecast at 2.3 ft @ 14 secs early (3 ft faces). Swell Direction: 196-204 degrees
Second New Zealand Gale
Another gale starting forming under New Zealand on Saturday PM (5/30) with 40-45 kt southwest winds at 61S 170W lifting northeast. By Sunday AM (5/31) a decent sized fetch of 45 kt southwest winds were modeled at 58S 173E aimed right up the 210 degree path to California and on the edge of the Tahitian swell shadow and well up the 195 degree path to Hawaii. 30 ft seas building fast at 59S 171E. In the evening fetch faded a little while tracking north with 40 kt winds at 52S 178W aimed just like before. 32 ft seas were modeled over a small area at 54S 180W. This fetch continued pushing almost due north on Monday AM (6/1) generating 35-40 kt south winds at 49S 170W with 30 ft seas modeled at 47S 173W then fading out in the evening. All this to be right on the 210-212 degree path to North California (unshadowed, but shadowed for SCal on the 212-213 degree path) and 189-193 degree path to Hawaii. Another shot of utility class swell is likely for all locations.
Hawaii: Expect swell to arrive on Sunday at 10 PM (6/7) with swell 2 ft @ 18 sec late (3.5 ft faces) peaking Monday AM at 3.3 ft @ 17 secs (5.5 ft faces), then drifting down overnight.Still swell of 3 ft @ 14 secs (4 ft faces) is expected early Tuesday AM (6/9), then fading. Swell Direction: 189-193 degrees.
Southern CA: expect swell arrival on Wednesday early morning (6/10) with period 17-18 secs and size tiny but building. Swell to start peaking Thursday AM (6/11) with swell 2.0-2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5 ft faces) and holding through the day. Swell to drift down on Friday with period at 14-15 secs, but still rideable then heading down from there. Swell Direction: 212-213 degrees degrees
Northern CA: Expect swell arrival on Wednesday late morning (6/10) with period 17-18 secs and size tiny but building. Swell to start peaking Thursday AM (6/11)at sunrise with swell 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4 ft faces) and holding through the day. Swell to drift down on Friday with period at 14-15 secs, but still rideable then heading down from there. Swell Direction: 210-211 degrees
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours weak high pressure at 1024 mbs is to hold northeast of Hawaii through Sunday (6/7) on into early next week generating mild trades at 15 kts and weak easterly windswell. But the high is to have no impact at all on the US West Coast, remaining just far enough to the west away from California to prevent any wind or windswell development. Some version of weak low pressure is to persist over the West Pacific moving towards the dateline, but not strong enough to produce wind of interest. Summer is trying to assert control, but the Active Phase of the MJO is suppressing high pressure development. Most interesting....
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (6/2) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) remained in the Active Phase, and again appears to be pulsing and getting stronger, contrary to previous indications. The ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index remained dead neutral. The Daily SOI index was down to -6.05. The 30 day average was up to -4.66 and the 90 day average was hovering at 0.92. The SOI indicies remained effectively neutral but something still appears to be happening on a grand scale. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated that a third incarnation of the Active Phase was developing, with a new pulse of westerly wind anomalies pushing from the Indian Ocean east into the far Western Pacific and the dateline and holding there if not a bit further east through are expected to hold into 6/11. Residuals to hold in the Pacific pushing into Central America through 6/16. A weak flavor of the Inactive Phase is forecast to try and develop in the Indian Ocean on 6/16, but is to die before reaching the Pacific on 6/21. Perhaps we are entering a phase biased towards the Active Phase and less supportive of the Inactive Phase (a good thing if this occurs) The residual effects of 3 years of La Nina are effectively gone in the ocean, and fading fast in the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere (though the Southern Hemi will take another 2 months longer to heal). Slightly warmer than normal waters temps are reported over the entire width of the equatorial Pacific and building off Central America pushing up into Baja Mexico and expected to track north from there. The large cool pool of water off the US West Coast remains, but does not reach to Hawaii any longer. This was the result of strong high pressure and upwelling over the Spring. Below the surface on the equator a steady flow of slightly warmer than normal subsurface water was tracking from the West Pacific over the dateline and then breaking the surface near Central America with warmer water starting to pool up there. It appears that previous episodes of the Active Phase have primed the warm water pump, and are now pushing warmer than normal subsurface water eastward with more building up behind, and feeding a slightly warm regime in the equatorial Eastern Pacific. This is very good news. In fact increase warming can be seen around and east of the Galapagos Islands to near 2 deg C above normal. We expect 1 more month of high pressure and local La Nina conditions before a fully neutral pattern takes hold and warmer waters start building off California. But even that might be already eroding. We also expect the tropical season to become more active and surpass the below normal activity levels of the past 3 years.
Beyond 72 hours the models suggest that yet one more gale might form next to New Zealand on Friday (6/5) with 35 kt southerly winds building Sat/Sun with up to 55 kts winds over a small area aimed well to the north at 48S 162W then dissipating fast on Monday (6/8). A small area of 29-30 ft seas are forecast nuzzled right up to New Zealand on Friday/Saturday targeting Hawaii well the drifting east fast to the 42S 150-160 range and holding at 29 ft. But this is to all be tucked into the tiny pinched remnants of the trough off New Zealand, and not getting much to support it. Suspect the models are overstating the strength of this one.
And after that high pressure at 1032 mbs is to take over the West and Central Pacific, totally shutting down gale development potential.
Details to follow...
External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table