New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
Significant: Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead)
Advanced: Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Intermediate: Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft)
Impulse/Windswell: Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
On Sunday (8/24) Northern CA surf was thigh high and heavily textured and not very good. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were flat and glassy. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was thigh high and glassy. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was thigh high and clean. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh to waist high and pretty clean. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist high and clean early. The North Shore of Oahu was waist high and clean. The South Shore was waist high and clean. The East Shore was knee high.
North/Central California was getting some small local windswell but nothing of any real interest. Southern California was effectively flat. Hawaii's North Shore was near flat. The South Shore had some minimal background southern hemi swell. Almost no east windswell was occurring on the East Shore.
For Central California locally generated northerly windswell is the most likely swell source for the coming week other than a small pulse of swell schedule from a low that is to push through the eastern Gulf of Alaska Tues/Wed possibly setting up small weak swell for late Thurs/Fri. Southern CA to see fractional bits of the windswell, with a little pulse of southern hemi background swell Thurs (8/28) and then again on Sat (8/30). But otherwise small surf to continue. The South Shore of Hawaii is not expected to see any southern hemi swell of interest for the week. No tradewind generated east windswell expected on the East Shore for the week ahead. The North Shore to remain unrideable for the next week too. Long term the models are favoring the southern hemisphere, with a storm forecast pushing under New Zealand Thursday (8/28) with a bigger storm forecast directly behind for Friday-Sun (8/31), but that is highly unlikely. Winter is on hold for a while and if the models are correct, maybe a return to the much delayed end-of-summer push. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
The North Pacific jetstream looks decent a consolidated wind flow tracking from the dateline east through the Gulf of Alaska with a decent trough there and winds of 130-140 kts flowing into that trough offering some odds for surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours that trough in the Gulf to push east inland over Canada by late Monday with a big ridge taking over the Gulf region then and a very split and weak jetstream in control over the West Pacific, indicative of what's to come. Beyond 72 hours a highly fragmented and weaker jetstream flow is forecast starting Thursday (8/28) mostly centered over the Bering Sea and offering no support for surface level low pressure development.
At the surface today weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was located 600 nmiles northwest of Hawaii but not generating any tradewinds of interest and not yet clogging the storm corridor from the Kuril Islands east into the Gulf of Alaska. A small weak low pressure system was pushing east through the Gulf of Alaska offering only 20 kt west winds and no swell generation potential, while a second low was organizing on the dateline just south of the Aleutian Islands, though no winds of interest were yet occurring. Over the next 72 hours that low is to push into the Gulf and try to develop, producing up to 30 kts winds Tuesday (8/26) and 18 ft seas before pushing into Canada on Wednesday and dissipating. Perhaps limited windswell generation potential possible mainly for the Pacific Northwest down into maybe Central CA with luck. At the same time the Hawaiian high pressure system is to be rushing east holding at 1024 mbs and setting up a pressure gradient off Cape Mendocino CA generating up to 30 kt north winds there, resulting in local windswell for Central CA. High pressure to also start building off the Kuril Islands totally shutting down the North Pacific storm corridor by late Tuesday (8/26).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (8/24) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was northwest of Hawaii just barely trying to ridge into California waters but not making much headway, with low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska helping to hold it at bay. Monday low pressure to let up a little to the north and the high to make minor inroads building into California waters, with north winds 15 kt covering most of the state and building late to 20+ kts. By Tuesday a well developed pressure gradient to start setting up off Cape Mendocino with winds there to 30 kts while fetch south of there starts pulling away fro the coast, offering a shot at windswell and better local wind conditions. By Wednesday 30 kts winds to hold over Cape Mendo with fetch south of Pt Arena is all but gone and an eddy flow (southwest winds) likely in the void. Thursday (8/28) the gradient starts to falter with windswell fading and local winds continuing in eddy mode continuing into Friday. Then on Saturday (8/30) new high pressure is to build off the coast and the gradient over Cape Mendocino rebuilds with a vengeance with up to 35 kt north winds forecast, offering good opportunity for more windswell and light local winds on through the weekend.
On Sunday (8/24) Tropical Storm Julio was 40 miles south of Cabo San Lucas tracking northwest with sustained winds 45 kts. Julio is expected to make landfall over Southern Baja later today then begin a steady decline in strength while remaining landlocked. No swell generation potential indicated relative to California or Hawaii. .
On Sunday (8/24) a split jetstream pattern remained in control of the entire South Pacific. The southern branch continued flowing flat over the northern edge of Antarctica, well locked over the Ross Ice Shelf on the 72S latitude, weak and fragmented offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the split pattern is to continue, but with a little northward drift in the flat flowing southern branch mainly in the West Pacific under New Zealand. No support for gale development indicated, but things are slightly improving. Beyond 72 hrs and starting on Friday (8/29) a solid pocket of 150 kt winds to setup under New Zealand and almost pushing northeast forming what might almost be a trough and offering some marginal support for gale development down at the oceans surface. That trough to build into Saturday pushing well to the north with 130 kts winds, then slowly washing out into Sunday. Perhaps a shot at actually gale development down at the oceans surface during this time frame.
At the oceans surface no swell producing winds of interest were occurring. High pressure at 1024 mbs was in firm control of the Southeast Pacific ridging south to 62S and basically blocking the storm corridor. A cutoff low was east of the high just off Chile, with 45 kt south winds trying to build near 55S 95W, outside of the US swell window and targeting perhaps only Peru up into southern Mexico. Over the next 72 hrs no real change is forecast though low pressure is forecast to sneak under New Zealand, but be entirely over the Ross Ice Shelf and ice-locked.
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 high pressure is to rule supreme off California continuing the usual pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino through Thursday (8/28) generating local windswell down into Central CA then being reinforced by a secondary high and pushing up to 1028 mbs by late Friday (8/29) with 30-35 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino and windswell pushing into Central CA for the weekend and a solid fetch of 15-20 kts winds targeting the Hawaiian Islands too, with windswell possible along east shores by Sunday (8/31).
But no swell producing storm or gales forecast in the North Pacific, with the high pressure system driving everything through the Bering Sea for the time being.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Sunday (8/24) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was fully in the Inactive phase and not supportive of North Pacific storm formation. The Daily SOI index was up to 13.84. The 30 day average was up to 2.63 and the 90 day average was up to 2.21, still neutral, but up compared to weeks previous. Winds at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up), indicated east winds over the entire Western Pacific reaching over the dateline almost to South America west of Peru. This appears to be the peak of the Inactive Phase. It's to slowly fade through the first week in September and be gone by 9/10. But no clear signs of a building Inactive Phase are forecast suggesting no support for fueling the development of North Pacific storms into September. Of note - the weak MJO pattern of late has caused what was a promising flow of warmer than normal subsurface waters from the West to east Pacific to break down, with a slightly cooler pool now positioned 150 deep on the equator south of Hawaii. This is not indicative of an El Nino like circulation, thereby suggesting no enhancement to the winter North Pacific storm pattern.
Beyond 72 hrs remnants of a storm under New Zealand are to actually make minimal headway into the Southwest Pacific Wednesday PM (8/27) with 45 kts winds at 57S 160E aimed basically due west with seas from previous days fetch at 38 ft @ 58S 152W, a very long ways away. 45 kts winds to continue Thursday AM (8/28) at 55S 167E generating up to 40 ft seas at 58S 162E targeting HAwaii and California. By evening the fetch to be all but gone with residual 35 kt winds barely hanging on and 36 ft seas projected at 52S 175E pushing a bit to the northeast. It's all to be gone by Friday AM (8/29). If this occurs as modeled possible small but longer period swell could be pushing into the HAwaii and California swell windows, the first in a very long time.
On Friday AM (8/29) the models suggest a new storm forming south of New Zealand with 50 kts winds at 59S 172E and building fast, reaching 60 kts in the evening aimed well north to northeast and holding into Saturday AM at 58S 161W, then fading. UP to 46 ft seas are modeled Saturday evening at 54S 160W just barely east of the Tahitian swell shadow for all of California (202-203 degrees) and aimed 45 degrees east of the 180-187 degree great circle paths to Hawaii. Will be interesting to see if this actually occurs. At this time odds are exceedingly low.
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