Swell Classification Guidelines
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/Utility Class: 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. Also called 'Background' swell.
Next Forecast Update - Monday July 11
On Sunday (7/2) North and Central California was seeing more northerly local windswell with waves pushing head high or better at top breaks but torn apart by strong northwest winds. No surf of interest was occurring at south facing breaks. Southern California was getting locally generated northwest windswell up north at thigh high with some waist high peaks and clean even later in the day. Down south windswell was almost nonexistent with waves 1-2 ft at best but clean even late. Hawaii's North Shore was effectively flat and clean with light trades in effect. The East Shore had maybe a few knee high or so easterly tradewind generated sets and chopped. The South Shore had some knee to thigh high sets at best and clean.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view
The North Pacific has fallen back a sleep. But the standard local California pressure gradient is to hold through the bulk of the workweek on into the weekend (7/10) producing north winds at 20-25 kts and keeping Central CA and exposed breaks in Southern CA rideable with some degree of short period windswell. In the Southern Hemispherea little gale tracked northeast alongside New Zealand on Thurs (6/30) producing 32-34 ft seas aimed best at Hawaii with a larger one developing behind it Thursday evening (6/30) also tracking northeast along New Zealand through Saturday with seas in the 34 ft range. And yet another is developing behind those two, forming under New Zealand on Sunday (7/3) but tracking flat east and just off the Ross Ice Shelf . Seas are forecast to 38 ft on Mon (7/4) before pushing into the far Southeast Pacific with seas down to 34 ft. This one is to offer far less swell potential for the Northern Hemi because of it's flat west to east trajectory. Nothing else to follow.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
At the surface on Sunday (7/3) high pressure at 1024 mbs was positioned over the dateline riding well to the east and producing the usual pressure gradient pushing into North and Central CA with north winds off Cape Mendocino at 25 kts resulting in moderate local short period windswell with chopped conditions. But the high was still a bit too far to the north to generate trades of any magnitude pushing over Hawaii. Weak low pressure was tucked up in the Northern Gulf of Alaska offering no fetch of interest. Over the next 72 hours no real change is forecast with high pressure and the local pressure gradient over North and Central CA continuing to produce 25 kt north winds there offering more windswell for mostly Central CA. A local eddy is forecast developing along the Central CA coast later Monday (7/4) and holding through the workweek with a light wind regime expected for Central CA. Trades to remain light over the Hawaiian Islands with windswell small to non-existent through Tuesday, but fetch from the CA gradient is to be making slow but steady progress towards the Islands reaching there on Wednesday (7/6) at 15 kts with windswell starting to inch upward on East Shores.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical storm activity of interest is being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (7/3) high pressure at 1024 mbs had rebuilt pushing towards the east with the familiar summer pressure gradient in control over Central and North CA with north winds, windswell and chop for exposed breaks. The gradient is to hold Monday, then finally on Tuesday (7/5) shifting north (over Cape Mendocino) with winds still 25 kts but with an eddy flow (south winds) in control off all of Central and Southern CA. The same pattern to hold Wednesday but with winds near 30 kts, then backing off to 25 kts and continuing into Friday (7/8). Windswell the expected result with improving conditions starting Tuesday (7/5). By Saturday the gradient is to still be in.cgiace but the eddy flow is to dissolve with the gradient again moving into the local waters of Central CA. Then Sunday (7/10) the gradient and north winds are to start fading but still impacting nearshore waters of North and Central CA, with chop the name of the game and windswell diminishing.
On Sunday (7/30) the jetstream was fully .cgiit with both the north and southern branch running parallel to each other across the width of the South Pacific with no troughs of interest evident, but no real ridges either. In short, no real support for gale development was in.cgiace. Over the next 72 hours a more consolidated flow is forecast to take over but falling to the south near New Zealand ridging hard towards Antarctica at 130 kts by late Tuesday (7/5) and totally shutting down gale potential there. A bit of a trough is to form in front of it over the Southeast Pacific Tues-Wed (7/6) with up to 140 kt winds flowing up into the trough offering some support for gale development there. But beyond 72 hrs the trough is to push out of even the Southern CA swell window leaving on the ridge to take control, and it's is forecast to hold with reinforcements moving in and totally pushing into Antarctica by Sat (7/9) eliminating any odds for gale development in the Hawaii and California swell windows through Mon (7/11).
One last storm was developing southeast of New Zealand on Sunday AM (7/3) with 50 kt west winds in.cgiace resulting in a small area of 34 ft seas at 56S 174E all aimed due east an nothing pushing to the north. In the evening 45-50 kt fetch is to be pushing east to southeast with 36 ft seas building at 56S 168W. Monday AM (7/4) the fetch is to .cgiit and then try to reorganize with a broader area of 45 kt west winds building 38 ft seas at 55S 155W again all pushing die east. In the evening the fetch is to start fragmenting with some starting to move over Antarctic Ice and a secondary fetch building to the west and aimed more to the northeast resulting in 36 ft seas at 55S 142W. The main fetch is to dissipate Tues AM (7/5) with 40 kt lingering southwest winds trying to hold on. Sea form previous fetch at 37 ft at 55S 135W. Finally in the evening 40 kt fetch is to be aimed pretty well to the north, but loosing it's areal coverage with 34 ft seas at 52S 129W. 35-40 kt fetch fading Wed AM (7/6) with 32 ft seas forecast at 50S 124W. If all this occurs as forecast some very limited sideband swell is possible for Hawaii and California, but set your sights low.
At the surface on Thursday (6/30) high pressure had broken over the West Pacific and gale formation was at hand. A primer gale starting to form southeast of New Zealand Tues PM (6/28) with 40 kt southwest winds building, then lifted hard north Wednesday with 45 kt south winds in control. A tiny area of 32 ft seas had developed Wednesday PM (6/29) at 48S 168W (208 degs NCal - 210 degs SCal and shadowed by Tahiti - 187 degs HI) building to barely 34 ft over a tiny area Thursday AM at 41S 166W (210 degs NCal - 212 degs SCal and still barely shadowed - 187 degs HI). By evening 40-45 kt south winds were still holding with 32 ft seas well to the north at 36S 158W (208 degs NCal - 210 SCal and still barely shadowed - 185 degs HI). By Friday AM (7/1) 40 kt southwest winds continued but the core of the low was tracking due east rather than northeast, producing more 32 ft seas at 32S 149W and very close to Tahiti (800 nmiles away) but most energy was pushing due east now and bypassing any route to the Islands or the US West Coast. The net result is large utility class swell for Hawaii with small background swell possible for the US West Coast.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tuesday (7/5) at sunset with pure swell maybe 1.6 ft @ 18 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces). Swell to build overnight and be peaking at sunrise Wed (7/6) with pure swell 3.3-3.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (5.7 ft faces with sets to 7.0-7.5 ft) and holding through the day as period drops solidly to 16 secs and pure swell size creeps up another few inches. Swell fading on Thurs (7/7) from 3.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.5-5.0 ft faces early). Swell Direction: 187 degrees
California: Both Central and South CA to see a fragment of this swell starting later Fri (7/8) at 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft faces) peaking on Sat (7/9) at 2 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft faces). Nothing much. Swell Direction: 209-212 degrees
Second Gale - Swell #6S - Hawaii
A stronger gale formed in the trough under New Zealand Thursday AM (6/30) with 45 kt southwest winds building over the Ross Ice shelf and moving into ice free waters. This fetch built in areal coverage and took aim more to the northeast in the evening generating barely 34 ft seas at 56S 170E. 40-45 kt southwest winds held Friday AM (7/1) with a new core developing to the east of it resulting in 35 ft seas at 52S 180W (213 degs NCal - 211 degs SCal and unshadowed). 40 kt fetch held in the evening but shrinking with winds near the core of the gale to 50 kts but pulled east of the main fetch resulting in 34 ft seas at 46S 173W (212 degs NCal and unshadowed by Tahiti). The fetch was fading fast Saturday AM (7/2) from 35 kts and di.cgiaced from the core to the east of it resulting in more 32 ft seas at 43S 165W (206 degs NCal and totally shadowed) and fading. The fetch was gone by the evening with seas fading below the critical 30 ft threshold. This was a downgrade from previous forecasts, attributable mainly to the separation of the initial fetch and the secondary core. Still a decent pulse of significant class swell could result for Hawaii with modest sized utility class swell for California.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (7/7) at 8 AM with pure swell building to 2.3 ft @ 18 secs late (4.0-4.5 ft faces). Swell to peak on Fri (7/8) mid-day at 3.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (6 ft faces with sets to near 8 ft) and holding pretty well. Swell to be dropping on Sat (7/9) from 3.6 ft @ 14-15 secs early (5 ft with 6 ft sets). Small residuals on Sun (7/10) at 2.6 ft @ 13 secs (3.0-3.5 ft) Swell Direction: 185-187 degrees
California: Expect swell arrival in both the North and South Sunday AM (7/10) with pure swell building to 2.3 ft @ 18 secs late afternoon (4 ft faces with sets to 5 ft). Swell to peak Monday AM (7/11) at 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4.5 ft faces with set to 5.5 ft). 15 sec residuals first thing Tues AM (7/12) at 2.3 ft @ 15 secs (3.5 ft faces). Swell Direction 206-208 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 hrs high pressure is to hold, ridging into Oregon and Washington continuing the usual pressure gradient along the North and Central CA coast and producing north winds at 25 kts and continuing unabated through Friday (7/8) resulting in moderate northwesterly windswell with a eddy flow (southerly winds) in control of Central CA. But the gradient is to start fading by Saturday (7/9) with windswell along the Central CA coast heading down then. But the high in the Northeast Pacific is to start favoring the formation of trades over Hawaii by Thursday (7/7) with those winds reaching 20 kts and holding into Saturday. Increased short period east windswell expected for the East Shore of Oahu but then starting to fade later in the weekend.
As of Sunday (7/3) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up slightly. The daily SOI was up to 10.16. The 30 day average was up slightly to 1.39 with the 90 day average down some to 6.60. Almost looking like a real neutral long term pattern.
Wind anomalies as of Monday (6/27) (no updates - the model is stuck) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated winds blowing anomalously mildly from the east covering from the dateline into the northern Indian Ocean suggesting the presence of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. Weak easterly anomalies and the Inactive Phase is to hold over the Philippines 7/2, than start dissipating on 7/7 and gone by 7/12 with a neutral pattern in.cgiace by 7/17. There's some fragments of westerly anomalies forecast then over the Indian Ocean through 7/7 suggestive of the Active Phase, but exceedingly weak and small and fading.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (6/30) is effectively unchanged and continues to indicate that cooler waters (-1 C degs) had a grip on the equator covering from a point south of Hawaii to the dateline but steadily loosing coverage. The larger issue was cooler than normal waters present in feeder bands originating off the US West Coast and Chile sweeping fully to the intersection of the dateline and the equator, serving to continue the existing La Nina pattern. For the most part, a subtle but steady warming of these band was in effect (6/30) with the band off Chile the warmer of the two. This is typically what is referred to as a horseshoe pattern. These colder waters are a reflection of stronger than normal high pressure that built in over both hemispheres in the winter causing upwelling in the Gulf of Alaska and off South America, though it looks like the upwelling effect was stronger in the northern hemi as of lately than in the north. Regardless, the cooler waters in the North Pacific continue to slowly relent in spurts as are the cool temps over the equator. Warmer than normal waters are building over the Galapagos Islands and over a very narrow band west of there almost to the dateline and continue slowly increasing in coverage in fits and spurts. And tongues of warmer water are positioned in the both the Northwest and Southwest Hemispheres trying to make inroads to the east but not very effectively. Interestingly is the new emergence of a cold tongue of water in the tropical Atlantic, tracking west from Africa on the equator to nearly South America (the exact opposite of what's occurring in the tropical Pacific). For now the big picture still looks like a La Nina, though slowly fading and trying to turn neutral if not something more.
Below the surface on the equator things remain unchanged from previous reports. Colder than normal water that had been locked all winter southeast of Hawaii under the equator evaporated in late February and moved to dead neutral presumably from the effects of two consecutive bouts of the Active Phase of the MJO which in turn drove Kelvin Waves. In parallel warmer than normal water had edged east from the West Pacific, previously up +2 degrees above normal and positioned due south of Hawaii (150W) under the equator through 3/22. But an impenetrable wall at 140W separating the warm anomalies, and cool anomalies east of there was blocking any eastward progress of warmer subsurface water. Then on 4/4, that wall was fading if not gone entirely by 4/7 and by 4/19 a small but steady finger of normal to slightly warmer (0 to +1 deg C) water started flowing east making it to the equatorial East Pacific up at 100-150 meters and building some. Almost +1 degrees anomalies tracked from the West Pacific to the East Pacific short of one small break at 160W as of 5/1. On 5/7 a small pool of negative temperature water started to make a faint showing at 140W and was holding through 6/5, presumably driven by the previous Inactive Phase of the MJO. On 5/26 it appeared more warm water was pushing through the subsurface current heading towards Central America, possible a new Kelvin Wave and the likely result of the latest Active Phase of the MJO. By 6/18 +1 degree anomalies covered the entire subsurface current other than one little break at 140-150W with up to 2 degree anomalies embedded in the larger flow in the west and east. Nothing has changed since then through 6/28. It would be best to see warm anomalies down to 200 meters in the east, but the current state is the best it's been in 9 months and suggestive of a near normal subsurface thermocline, and continuing to get better by the day. The thought is this normalization of the subsurface flow will eventually affect water temps at the surface and then the atmosphere above it (6 months later). So all this is a step in the right direction though slow evolving.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond. From a historical perspective these easterly winds were 'normal' with only light easterly anomalies persisting in the far Western Pacific.
We did some analysis on ocean currents on the Pacific equator this year an found anomalies developed flowing from west to east starting in February and were continuing through June 2011 (a little weaker towards mid-June than earlier in the month). We oft look at such symptoms as an El Nino indicator, but that does not seem likely given all the other data. But that co.cgied with a falling SOI at least it depicts a tendency towards normal conditions. Will monitor. Historically it is very unlikely if not impossible to have an El Nino form directly behind a La Nina. More typical is several years of a slow buildup before an actual El Nino event occurs. This suggest the warm waters currently pooling up off Ecuador will likely dissipate as summer progresses but at the same time, the cooler than normal horseshoe pattern over the North and South Pacific will dissipate too.
Remnants of what was a moderate.cgius strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) are still evident and momentum from this La Nina event are expected to hold well into the Fall of 2011 (and likely to early 2012) in the upper atmosphere regardless of how quickly La Nina's demise occurs in the ocean. In short, it's going to be tough for surfers on west facing shores in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, though east facing shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance, especially in summer months. That is not to say there will be no storms, in fact, there could be short periods of intense activity when the Active Phase gets an opportunity to come to fruition, but that will be the exception rather than the rule, with the Inactive Phase trying to keep a cap on storm activity. Best bet's at this time are for an enhanced tropical season in the Atlantic (2011).
See more details in the El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours a big ridge is to take over the upper levels of the atmosphere with high pressure lower down, offering virtually no swell producing fetch in the Hawaiian and California swell windows. A strong gale is forecast tracking up into the Tasman Sea Sat-Sun (7/10) resulting in 45 kt southwest winds and 40 ft seas. Fiji to be served well if this occurs, but it's a very long ways off from forming and odds are low of anything even remotely resembling the forecast charts to materialize.
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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Chasing the Swell has been nominated for a Webby Award. See details of this great piece of video journalism below. Some say this is the "Oscars" of online awards.One of the awards is voter based. If you have a moment,.cgiease cast your ballot by going to: http://webby.aol.com, register, then click on the "Get Voting" tab and then to the "Online Film and Video" > "Sports" category and vote for "Chasing the Swell".
Timmy Reyes - Curt Myers from Powerlines Productions found this little gem with Timmy Reyes providing a brief statement about which sites he uses for swell chasing. Thought we'd pass it on. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P30ZCQOsYwY
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Mavericks Surf Shop Grand Opening - Sunday, December 19 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. rain or shine! Check out the new home of Jeff Clark's Mavericks Surf Shop, now located at 25 Johnson Pier in Pillar Point Harbor. The shop features much of Clark's surfing memorabilia, classic boards and photos, as well as an entirely new line of Jeff Clark original Mavericks clothing, accessories and surfboards. The shop has been open in the new location since December 8, and the Grand Opening party is set for this coming Sunday, just in time for Christmas. The party starts at 2 p.m., with live music, food and drinks. Jeff Clark and many Mavericks surfers will be there to meet the public. Local restaurants Ketch Joanne's and Princeton Seafood will serve up delicious food, while San Francisco Wine Trading Company is providing the beverages. The shop will be open all weekend, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Stormsurf Maintenance Upgrades: Buoy 46059 and 46012 were r.cgiaced a month or so ago. Totally new buoys were installed. Here on Stormsurf we had to reset the algorithms used to calculate 'pure swell' for them. That was acco.cgiished on 11/13. Pure swell numbers are now correct. Links: 46012, 46059
Also since we moved to the new weather model server last month we discovered that our Longrange Precipitation Models ceased to display frozen precipitation (as they once did). Some of our scripts did not get installed on the new server. That has been fixed (11/13) and now snow is again viewable worldwide. Here the new North America sa.cgie.
Chasing The Swell: Sachi Cunningham from the LA Times spent the entirety of last winter chasing surfers and swells around the North Pacific with her high def video cam. Her timing couldn't have been any better with the project exactly coinciding with the strongest El Nino in 12 years resulting in the best big wave season in a decade. And being an acco.cgiished surfer herself helped her to bring a poignant and accurate account of the what it's like to ride big waves and the new (and some not so new) personalities that are revitalizing the sport. This is must-see material for any surfer or weather enthusiast. Check it out here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/chasingtheswell/
New Weather Models With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon): http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table