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 (11/30) North/Central California had surf from Storm #2 that was on the dateline earlier in the week in the 19-21 ft range with light offshore's and glassy conditions. Southern California was getting this swell too with waves chest to head high to maybe a few feet overhead in San Diego at the best breaks with fog in control at many locations early. Hawaii's North Shore was holding in the double overhead plus range chest but looking a bit raw. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore report was not available.
For Central California the peak of the swell has passed and things are to be settling down by Monday. Still some size is expected, but it's to be dropping into a more manageable range with surf at normal breaks becoming rideable again on into mid-week. Winds to be decent in the mornings too. Southern CA to continue to see this longer period swell through Monday, then starting to settle down but still rideable on into mid-week. Best at the more exposed breaks. The North Shore of Hawaii is expected to have no lack of surf through the week into next weekend. Nothing huge, but solid real Hawaiian waves. Winds to be decent too other than on Monday when they turn a little Kona.But that's OK because that's the day of smallest swell for the next 5-6 days. The South Shore of Hawaii is flat with no change forecast. The East Shore to start seeing a little more windswell by Friday as trades get better entrenched. Longer term things to remain active for Hawaii and a bit smaller for the US West Coast, but not out. The main swell generator for the coming week is to be from a large low pressure system taking root just east of the dateline and a bit south of the Aleutians with most fetch focused on Hawaii through decent fetch pushing east to the mainland too. 40-45 kt winds are already in play with 30-35 ft seas are taking hold Sunday. And reinforcing gale energy is on tap for Tues/Wed (12/3) generating more 40 kt winds and 30 ft seas with swell radiating both southeast and east. This system to be a bit closer to the Islands, so larger surf is expected there, through the systems effect on local weather could be a bit more pronounced. Take what you can get cause beyond the jetstream is to fall apart, and the storm pattern with it.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (11/30) the North Pacific jetstream was again pushing hard off Japan to the northeast at 180 kts then turning towards the southeast forming a almost-trough in the Western Gulf of Alaska before dying out. There was some support for gale pressure development in the trough. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to get a bit better configured while energy levels slowly drop, with winds down to 150 kts by Tuesday evening (12/2) still offering good support for gale development just east of the dateline. . Beyond 72 hours miraculously that trough is to hang on, with energy levels continuing to fall through Friday (12/5). Still some support for low pressure development is expected in the area. But all the while a split flow is forecast developing over Japan with the northern branch pushing towards the Bering Sea and fully split by Friday. By Sunday (12/7) the remnants of the dateline trough are to be pinched off and the main flow is to be pushing from Japan northeast tot the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians, terminating support for surface level low pressure development. A big ridge is to develop in the east by Thursday (12/4), eliminating chances for rain south of Southern Oregon.
At the surface today weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was centered inland over Idaho with a ridge still hanging over the western US Coast offering fair skies and light winds. Of more interest was a very large gale centered just east of the dateline and south of the Aleutians with pressure at 972 mbs (see details below - Dateline Gale).
Over the next 72 hours the dateline gale is to be merging with a new gale pushing off the Kuril Islands on Monday providing fetch aimed at HAwaii and California through Thursday (12/4) (see details below).
On Tuesday AM (11/25) a moderate sized gale was organizing off Japan with pressure at 984 mbs generating a decent sized fetch of winds modeled at 40-45 kt in it's south quadrant at 37N 155E aimed mostly at Hawaii up the 298 degree path but also sending some energy up the 296 degree path to North CA (300 SCal). But the QuikSCAT satellite passed over the area confirming winds at 65-70 kts aimed due east. A far cry from the models abilities. And a previous pass Monday night confirmed winds at 50 kts, so this one had legs way before the models though it would. Seas were modeled building from 22 ft at 36N 153E Tuesday AM. But again the models were off. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the fetch at 19Z (11 AM PST) and confirmed seas at 35 ft at 37N 162E with a peak reading already at 38 ft. 19 sec period swell is already in the water. In the evening things were to start moving into gear with pressure dropping to 968 mbs with a small area of 55-60 kt winds at 37N 167E aimed both at Hawaii up the up the 303 degree path and at North California up the 293 degree great circle path (297 SCal). 30 ft seas were modeled at 37N 167E but suspect it was more like 38 ft in reality.
By Wednesday AM (11/26) pressure had dropped to 954 mbs with a solid fetch of 60-65 kt winds modeled in the storms southwest quadrant on the dateline at 40N 180W aimed 15 degree east of the 319 degree great circle path to Hawaii and 20 degrees south of the 292 degree path to North California (297 SCal). Seas were on the increase, theoretically at 37 ft at 38N 178E though we suspect it was higher. The Jason-1 satellite passed almost directly over the fetch at 17Z confirming seas at 39 ft where the model suggested seas at 37 ft. And the spread of seas 30 ft or greater covered a slightly larger area than that suggested by the models. This is encouraging new again. By evening pressure is to drop to an unbelievable 948 mbs with 60-65 kt west winds positioned in the storms south quadrant just over the dateline at 43N 170W all aimed due east directly up the 293 degree path to North CA (298 SCal) and 45 degrees east of the 336 degree path to Hawaii, effectively terminating the fetch for that location. Seas were modeled building from 41 ft at 41N 173W. These winds are to be getting extremely good purchase on the oceans surface courtesy of much roughness previously generated by the small storm there 24 hrs earlier (see Gulf Gale above).
By Thursday AM (11/27) the storm is to start fading in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska with pressure up to 950 mbs and winds dropping from 50-55 kts at 45N 167W aimed directly up the 296 degree path to NCal (301 SCal) but seas from previous fetch reaching near 45 ft in the far Western Gulf of Alaska at 43N 166W all aimed due east. By evening the storm, or what is left of it, is to still be producing 45-50 kt west and northwest fetch at 46N 157W aimed at NCal down the 300 degree path (shadowed) (304+ SCal) with seas peaking (from previous fetch) at 47 ft at 45N 159W in the 296 degree window for NCal (301 SCal)) pushing due east.
By Friday AM (11/28) a rapid fade is forecast with winds down to 45 kts and lingering 36 ft seas lingering at 45N 152W (in the 298 degree NCal window) with up to 44 ft seas pushing towards the Pacific Northwest. This system is to be effectively gone relative to anyone but British Columbia northward by evening as the fetch and seas movie into Alaskan nearshore waters.
This is shaping up to be a powerful storm, capable of generating very long period swell theoretically up to 26 secs targeting primarily the US West Coast up into British Columbia, though sideband energy is likely to push well south into Hawaii. But we need to get well into Thursday before this becomes a total reality. On the plus side we already have confirmed winds and seas via QuikSCAT and Jason-1 and they have beat the model projections by a good margin. But to be fair, the model (GFS weather model and therefore the WW3 wave model) have a history of being slow projecting the initial strength of storms the first 12-24 hrs, and then typically hold the strength longer than what occurs in reality. So what has happened so far is not unexpected. Another point of concern is it appears the QuikSCAT satellite is either down or there are data processing problems, because no data has been posted since Tuesday afternoon. So we're flying blind. Hope the Jason-1 makes a lucky pass over the fetch area. But since this system has been on the models since last Thursday (11/20) with little change in strength, and it's forming according to that script so far, odds are favorable for a decent outcome.
North California: On Monday residual swell of 8.6-10.0 ft @ 15 sec likely, holding through the day (13-15 ft). Swell Direction 295-297 degrees
Southern California: Swell to continue on Monday at 5 ft @ 15-16 secs (7.5-8.0 ft faces) with bigger surf at near 7 ft @ 16 secs at exposed breaks down south (11 ft faces). 13 sec residuals on Tuesday. Swell Direction: 297-301 degrees
Dateline Gale - Storm #3 (Hawaii)
On Friday (11/28) and new gale was pushing off Central Japan with winds up to 45 kts aimed east building to 50 kts over a tiny area late with a small area of 23 ft seas modeled at 38N 153E.
On Saturday AM (11/29) the fetch was moving fast towards the dateline with winds still west at 40 kts at 39N 168E building a larger area of seas to 25 ft at 39N 165E aimed well dow the 310 degree path to Hawaii and reasonably well up the 295 degree path to North CA. In the evening that fetch built more to 40-45 kts over a larger area at 40N 175E with 30 ft seas at 39N 175E.
On Sunday AM 40 kt northwest winds were taking hold at 42N 178W aimed directly down the 321 degree path to Hawaii and 40 degrees south of the 294 degree path to NCal. 32 ft seas were modeled at 38N 178W pushing mid-way between the Islands and CA. In the evening a larger fetch of 40-45 kt winds are to be in-place in this large gales west quadrant at 45N 173W all aimed southeast aimed directly at Hawaii down the 328 degree path and with limited energy aimed up the 292 degree path to NCal (297 Scal). 31 ft seas forecast at 38N 172W.
Even into Monday AM (12/1) 40 kt fetch is forecast at 42N 172W but now aimed almost to the east generating a small area of 35 ft seas at the same locale pushing 30 degrees south of the 292 degree path to North CA. and mostly bypassing HAwaii. But a new low is to be pushing off the Kurils getting ready to merge and reinforce this existing gale. By evening 30 ft seas (from previous fetch) are to be dropping fast at 42N 166W pushing both east and southeast.
Another pulse of small significant class swell for Hawaii is expected to arrive by Tuesday (12/2) mid-morning with pure swell 8.4 ft @ 16-17 secs (14 ft) from 320-328 degrees. Swell to be fading Wednesday (12/3) 6.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (13 ft faces).
Swell to be pushing into North CA on Thursday (12/4) at 7.3 ft @ 16 secs mid-day (10-12 ft faces) from 290 degrees. Swell Fading Friday from 6.6 ft @ 14 secs (9 ft faces).
Reinforced Dateline Gale - Storm #4 (Hawaii)
Tuesday AM (12/2) the new gale is to be most impressive size wise, filling a good portion of the Central North Pacific and generating 40-45 kt north fetch on it's west side at 42N 175E aimed 30 degrees south of the 317 degree path to Hawaii and additional 40 kt fetch in it's south quadrant at 30N 170W aimed towards the US West Coast. 31 ft seas area forecast in both fetch areas aimed best at HAwaii. By the evening the whole mess is to congeal into one massive fetch of 35-40 kt north to northwest to west winds targeting primarily HAwaii but also the US West Coast. 32 ft seas are forecast at 40N 175E aimed at Hawaii down the 317 degree path and 31 ft seas at 32N 175W aimed also at Hawaii down the 310 degree path and only 1000 nmiles out. This same patch of seas to be aimed 30 degree south of the 280 degree path to NCal (285 SCal).
Wednesday AM (12/3) fetch is to be fading fast with 30-35 kts fetch circulating all around this gale with 29-30 ft seas covering a huge area at 35N 180W aimed at HAwaii down the 312 degree path and from 35N 170W aimed directly at NCal up the 280 degree path (287 SCal) and 2300 nmiles out. By evening 25 kt winds to remain with seas from previous fetch fading from 26-27 ft pushing more 15 sec period energy towards both Hawaii and CA.
Another pulse of significant class surf is likely for Hawaii starting Thursday with utility class surf for CA likely by the weekend.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (11/30) weak high pressure at 1028 mbs was dangling south off Oregon making for a light offshore flow over most of the state. By Monday even that light pressure pattern is to be moderating more with calm to light north winds talking over with weak high pressure at 1024 mbs starting to build off Pt Conception, with 15 kt north winds taking over later Tuesday. from Cape Mendo south over the Channel Islands. Wednesday more of the same is forecast with north winds at 10 kts expected. The gradient is to turn more offshore by Thursday into Friday going calm on Saturday (12/6) into early Sunday.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was occurring aimed at US targets. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast.
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 the remnants of Storm #4 to be fading in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska while high pressure at 1036 mbs builds in the middle of the storm corridor off the Kuril ISlands Thursday (12/4), shutting things down for a while. That high is to build to 1040 mbs over the dateline Saturday (12/6) completely blocking the storm corridor and sinking south through the weekend (Sun 12/7) with nary a breath of fetch aimed at either Hawaii or California.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (11/30) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was trying to move into the Active Phase. The Daily SOI index was down to 13.04. The 30 day average was up to 17.47 and the 90 day average was up a notch to 15.09, another new high for the past 30 days. This remains symptomatic of La Nina. Winds anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated east winds all but gone and the Active Phase was maxed out over the Philippines pushing solidly to the dateline and a little beyond. It is expected to continue drifting east and slowly moderating through Dec 9, with remnants until Dec 19th passing into Central America. Only the faintest hint of the Inactive Phase is forecast behind it reaching Northern Australia by 12/19. Make the most of whatever this Active Phase produces.
No swell producing fetch forecast for the next 7 days.
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
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
Stormsurf Video: Just for fun - here's a clip about Stormsurf that ran on Bay Area TV a while back. Thought you might enjoy it: http://vimeo.com/2319455
Help Out a Fellow Mavericks Surfer: Our friend Christy Davis is going through some tough times. His 14 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with leukemia and she is currently undergoing chemotherapy. The prognosis is good but we'd all like to help him out with medical expenses not covered by insurance and a new Mav's gun. Randy Cone has offered to provide the board, we just need to get the funds together. If you would like to donate, send an email to us here or talk to Randy directly.
Pictures from Swell #1 - The first real significant class swell of the season produced a bit of action at Mavericks. See pictures here http://www.mavsurfer.com
Big Surf Up North - the First swell of the Fall 2008/2009 season brought a few large raw waves to the North CA Coast. Check out the details here: http://www.towsurfer.com/default.asp
The Kelly Slater Project - A group of dedicated surfers from Cocoa Beach are working to construct a statue of the the home town legend and set it up for all to enjoy near the break where Kelly grew up surfing. Take a look at the statue and read all about it here: http://www.thekellyslaterproject.com/
STORMSURF Local Wave Models Upgraded - We significantly upgraded the local waves models on Sunday (6/8). All now utilize our newly developed high-resolution 3D shaded relief topography for mapping landmasses. Coastlines are now accurate down to the individual pixel providing near photographic realism. Mountains and hills are all shaded and accurate to within the same single pixel specification. Cities are overlaid as before, but now we've added major highways and rivers too (for many locations). Some good examples of this new technology can be viewed here:
- View the reefs north of Tahiti and notice their contribution to the 'Swell Shadow' relative to California - Tahiti
- Notice the detail of the coast in and around Vancouver Islands and Washington State - Pacific Northwest
- See the details of inland waterways of the US Northeast Coast - Virginia
- Details of the Mentawai Island and Nias
And all the local models can be found either on our homepage or from the wavemodel page (bottom half of the page).
Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.
Mavericks Contest 2008: View all the action from the 2008 Maverick Surf Contest from Powelines Productions here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9o5lj9CUpCc
Need Chiropractic Help? Visit our friends at Darrow Chiropractic. Not only will Dr. Darrow fix you up, he might give you some big wave surfing tips too! See more here: http://www.darrowchiropractic.com/
Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's simple and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet Explorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way!
Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here
Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here
Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table