On Tuesday (12/5) Northern CA surf was chest to shoulder high and clean with new small long period swell starting to build in late. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were up to waist high. Central California surf was near waist high. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were thigh high at the better breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was near flat with best sets waist high. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were near flat. The North Shore of Oahu was 1-3 ft overhead. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was waist high.
The North Shore of Oahu again has surf with clean conditions setting up. Trades to be the name of the game for along while now. The north end of California is starting to get some of the same swell that has been hitting Hawaii, with small long period energy confirmed hitting by afternoon on Tuesday. Big changes and an end to the swell drought in the east are on track as the first of a series of storms is sitting in the Gulf of Alaska pushing large seas southeastward towards both Hawaii and California. Winter is here. More are forecast right behind too, though not as strong as was originally modeled, but decent none-the-less. Looks like solid surf on tap for the coming week. The issue to be wind on the US West Coast driven by the jetstream pushing onshore over California. Conversely Hawaii to have smooth sailing with trades in control and the jet tracking well north of the Islands. Enjoy, but be safe, this being the first real swell of the 2006/2007 season. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Tuesdays jetstream charts (12/5) were right on track with previous expectation with a nice consolidated plume of 180-190 kt winds pushing off Japan ridging just faintly over the dateline then dropping into a weak trough in the Gulf of Alaska north of Hawaii before splitting with the southern branch pushing over Baja and the north branch pushing into British Columbia with high pressure and calm conditions nestled in between the split. Best potential for storm development in the Gulf. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (12/8) the invigorated jet to hold together well into Thursday with a consolidated flow making it to 500 nmiles off North CA. then things to fall apart a bit with winds in the jet dropping to the 150 kts range and not covering as large and area as before with a bit of a split remaining just off the mainland snaking up into north Canada. this might actually provide a modicum of protection for California, but that's likely more wishful thinking. still more of the energy is to be in the southern branch and that is to roar onshore over South CA into Friday. Beyond 72 hours a generally consolidated jet with 2 troughs to push from the dateline east with winds in pockets to 140-150 kts, not too bad but not over the top by any means. Just your standard winter jet, and then some. Still good support for surface level small storm development likely over the bulk of the North Pacific. More energy to be pushing off Japan too setting the stage for more to come.
At the surface today Storm #1 was in control of the entire area from the dateline east to the Gulf of Alaska [see details below] while a little high pressure was trying to hang on just off Cape Mendocino CA with a weak ridge passing southwest over Hawaii. Looks like your standard December pattern. Over the next 72 hours Storm #1 to eventually dissipate. A new local storm to build from the remnants of Storm #1 off the California coast Thursday (12/7) with pressure 996 mbs and 40-45 kts northwest winds and 30-32 ft seas blowing towards the south end of the state, then tracking inland over North and Central CA during the day Friday with 32 ft seas just off shore. This will likely be just stormsurf north of Pt Conception.
At the same time on Thursday another gale is forecast for the northwestern Gulf of Alaska with pressure 972 mbs producing 45 kt winds holding through the day in the area of 45N 175W to 160W. these winds are to be acting on an already well agitated sea surface quickly getting traction and generating 30 ft seas in the evening at 44N 166W up to 32 ft Friday AM at 43N 162W dropping from 30 ft at 40N 152 Friday evening before dissipating. More 17 sec period small significant class swell likely to push towards California with sideband energy heading towards Hawaii. This could be Storm #2 if all plays out as modeled.
Storm #1 - First One of the 2006/2007 Winter Season (updated Wed PM)
Sunday AM (12/3) the first storm of the season was starting to develop west of the dateline and well south of the Aleutians with pressure 972 mbs. Winds were confirmed at 50 kts over a small to moderate area at 43N 178E aimed right up the 297 degree great circle path to North CA (302 SCal) and 40 degrees east of the 322 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were building. A smaller second storm was right behind it but insignificant at this time. By the evening pressure was down to 968 mbs with a small area of 50 kt winds in it's south quadrant at 45N 178W aimed 15 degrees south of the 298 degree path to N. California (303 SCal) and 45 degrees east of the 329 degree path to Hawaii. A tiny area of 27 ft seas were modeled at 43N 180W. The smaller second storm was right behind and beneath it getting absorbed into the first storms circulation with winds 50 kts as well.
By Monday AM (12/4) these systems were well consolidated with pressure 966 mbs and a solid area of 50 kts winds terminating at 44N 173W aimed 25 degrees south of the 298 degree path to NCal (303 SCal) and 25 degrees east of the 336 degree path to Hawaii. A small area of 32 ft seas were modeled at 45N 175W. In the evening pressure was up to 972 mbs but contrary to modeled fetch of 45-50 kts, winds were confirmed at 50-60 kts solid over a small to moderate area at winds extending from the dateline southeast terminating at 44N 165W aimed 20 degrees south of the 297 degree path to NCal (302 SCal) and 45 degrees off the 343 degree path to Hawaii. These winds were finally getting some footing on the oceans surface with 35 ft seas modeled at 45N 170W. the Jason-1 satellite just missed passing over this area.
More of the same occurred Tuesday AM (12/5) with a very nice fetch of 50-55 kt winds encased in a broader fetch of 40-50 kt winds were covering the entire area from the dateline southeast to 43N 162W and aimed like before. Good setup. Seas up to 39 ft were modeled at 45N 162W But it isn't over just yet with more of the same occurring in the evening and the low getting well established in the Gulf of Alaska with 50-55 kt winds confirmed terminating at 44N 155W aimed just 15 degrees south of the 297 degree path to NCal (302 SCal) and 55 degrees off the 360 degree path to Hawaii, effectively out of their swell window. 43 ft seas peaked at 44N 159W aimed right down the 298 degree path to N California.
Finally on Wednesday AM (12/6) the low started backing off though pressure was still 964 mbs centered in the north-central Gulf with 40-45 kts west-northwest winds continuing over a moderate area meandering from the dateline east to 45N 151W coming right down the 299 degree path to NCal again. Seas were modeled at 43 ft at 44N 157W. It's was over for this one after that. Swell from this storm hit buoy 46006 off California at 4 PM quickly ramping up to pure swell reading of 12.2 ft @ 19-20 secs at 7 PM and heading up from there. Swell was alos hitting buoy 51001 northwest of Hawaii at 9-10 ft @ 15-16 secs from noon through 7 PM, much less than expected. The
But of issue is the forecast development of a new storm from the remnants of Storm #1 right off the Central California coast late Thursday into Friday (12/8). This one to be tiny with pressure 994 mbs and winds 40-45 kts aimed at Pt Conception to Monterey Bay generating 32 ft seas Fri AM a mere 444 nmiles west of Monterey moving to within 224 nmiles at 27 ft by evening and adding piles of chop and warble plus sizeable raw swell on top of the energy already in the water from Storm #1. This will destroy any quality that is left of Swell #1 in the Central CA area.
The models had held rock solid for days, but eventually gave up a little after the storm started forming. Not much, but a subtle step down none the less. Still a rather large significant class swell is expected to be pushing east and south towards California and Hawaii, with the bulk of the size towards the mainland. 72 hours of 50+ kt winds took a while to get traction on an otherwise near calm ocean, but they have made a serious divot with seas modeled up to 43 ft (down from 47 ft) 1375-1841 nmiles of North California heading near right down the great circle path there and within 1380-1501 nmiles of Hawaii but heading a bit east of there. Given the projected amount of weather to push in to the mainland, Hawaii will likely be the preferred target for swell arrival with trades holding in the forecast, though Southern CA might do pretty good too. The local raw component of the follow-on storm off California to seriously degrade what would otherwise been very good quality and size.
Hawaii: Expect swell to build solidly through the night Wednesday peaking near 6 AM Thursday (12/7) with swell 8.6-9.2 ft @ 17 secs (15-16 ft faces) holding solid through the day then trickling down late evening. Still solid energy to be expected but from a more northerly direction on Friday (12/8) with swell 11 ft @ 15 secs early (16-18 ft faces) and heading down. Swell Direction 340-350 degrees
North California: Expect swell to arrive starting Thursday mid-day with tiny 25 sec energy starting to build to perhaps the rideable range at sunset (5 ft @ 20 secs - 8-10 ft faces). Swell to peak from late Thursday coming up more by 3 AM Friday (12/8) with period 20 secs and topping out at peak size of 10.8-11.1 ft @ 18-20 secs (19-22 ft faces) then fading more towards the 17 sec range by mid-morning and holding through mid-afternoon Friday. Storm conditions. Swell from a local storm to be moving in late Friday afternoon pushing 13 ft @ 16 secs (20 ft faces) after sunset. Residuals from both swells fading by Saturday AM at sunrise with combined swell 14-15 ft @ 14-15 secs and raw (18-20 ft faces). Swell Direction: 294-298 degrees
South California: Expect swell arrival Friday (12/8) at 1 AM with period 23 secs and size tiny. Swell to start peaking from sunrise into mid-afternoon with swell 4.3-4.7 ft @ 20 secs at exposed breaks (8-9 ft faces) and 5.0-5.5 ft @ 20 secs at top breaks (9-10 ft faces) and inconsistent but improving through the day. Period to drop towards the 17 sec range about sunset continuing there through 3 AM Saturday (12/9) with swell 4-5 ft @ 17 secs (7.0-8.5 ft faces). Swell from the local storm off the Central CA coast to arrive at 3 AM too quickly building to 5.5 ft @ 16 secs (8-9 ft faces and 10 ft at best breaks but raw) with residual energy from both swells fading at sunrise Saturday from 7 ft @ 14-15 secs (10 ft most breaks) and up to 8 ft @ 14-15 sec for best breaks (11 ft faces) but again raw. Swell Direction (both swells): 295-303 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Tuesday (12/5) high pressure at 1024 mbs was centered a few hundred nmiles west of San Francisco ridging into South Oregon. A light to moderate offshore flow was in control of offshore waters, but a large and ominous storm was centered in the Western Gulf of Alaska pushing east with impunity. Until the front associated with it hits, a calm pattern to prevail. The models have been unwavering in the fact that by Friday morning that front to start impacting the coast bringing strong south winds into North and eventually Central CA, then backing off Friday evening with another batch hitting mid-day Saturday. Strong north winds to follow Sunday as high pressure tries to take control again, and succeeding for a few days with things slowly settling down. Another front and associated south winds expected Tuesday in North and Central CA, but that event to be short lived.
At the surface and through the next 72 hours there were no indications of any swell producing fetch in the South Pacific.
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 North Pacific storm machine to continue active. On Friday (12/8) yet a fourth system to start developing over the dateline with 50-55 kts winds forecast at 44N 178E in the morning building in size in the evening and holding intensity while tracking fast to the east with pressure 984 mbs in the evening. 30 ft seas forecast at 45N 172W. This storm to continue east into the Gulf Saturday AM with 45-50 kts winds at 43N 155W and 35 ft seas at 44N 160W and holding into the evening and growing in areal coverage at 43N 138W with 36 ft seas at 44N 145W before pushing inland over the Pacific Northwest and out of the CA swell window Sunday.
Yet a fifth storm is forecast developing west of the dateline late next weekend, with up to 60 kts winds Monday again over the 44N line tracking east and growing into Tuesday with heaps of fetch aimed at both Hawaii and California. 45 ft seas coming across the dateline then and looking most solid.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is indicated.
Details to follow...
El Nino Forecast Updated: El Nino is making it's mark on the Pacific Ocean, though yet to have a major impact on the atmosphere above. Read when the storm machine might fire up, and what evidence is stacking up in favor of El Nino here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/enso/current.shtml
New Precipitation Models: Over the holidays we focused on expanding our coverage of precipitation models, and now provide high resolution coverage of all US coastal locations. You can now tell whether it will be raining when the surf is pumping, or better yet, know whether it will be snowing in the higher elevations (West Coast). Take a look here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
Weather Model Problem: The past few days the 12Z run of the GFS model has been corrupted when posted on government servers, resulting in our graphic output looking like psychedelic gibberish. This is not a Stormsurf problem and we are switching over to backup servers that are operating normally to capture the data. We have reported the problem to NOAA. This problem has been confirmed by other server users as well. We apologize for the inconvenience. Update: The problem has been fixed. Service has returned to normal as of 11/25/06.
Jason-1 Satellite Problem: On Oct 31 the Jason-1 satellite automatically went into safe-hold mode. This is triggered when sensors on the satellite detect an anomaly that suggests the satellite is in danger. It goes into a type of hibernation to protect it's sensitive instruments. JPL has been working on the issue and was able to restore the satellite to normal operations at 8:30 PM on Friday 11/17. No new data is available yet, but as soon as it is we'll be publishing it over the wave models images as usual here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_alt.html
Note: The first bit of fresh data was posted on 11/29/06 and we're processing it right now.
New Book: Inside Mavericks - Portrait of a Monster Wave: Ace photographer Doug Acton, cinematographer Grant Washburn and San Francisco Chronicle writer Bruce Jenkins have teamed up to present an insiders view of Mavericks. Read all the first hand accounts from Peter Mel, Ken 'Skin Dog' Collins, Grant Washburn, Mark Renniker and the rest of the gang as they describe the game of surfing one of the largest waves in the world, fully illustrated with the hauntingly artistic images from Doug Acton, long-time Mavericks lensman. There's even a section featuring Stormsurf! Get your autographed copy here: http://www.insidemavericks.com/
Towsurfers & Paddle-in Surfers - Participate in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement: The draft EIR for the new Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary management plan has been released. Public comment will be accepted until January 7, 2007. The link provided has all of the information that is pertinent to anyone wishing to participate in the crafting of the new regulations. It cannot emphasize enough the importance of making your comments part of the public record as such comments will be used to re evaluate the proposed regulations before inclusion into the final EIR. This will be the public's last and best chance to shape regulations in our Monterey Bay. If you are passionate about what you do, direct that passion into active participation in this process. http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/jointplan/involved.html
Stormsurf Iceberg Breakup Analysis/Decide for Yourself: There been some debate concerning the facts around the breakup of Iceberg B15A. Here's a short exercise that helps to drive out the facts around the research: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/news/ice_wam.shtml
Stormsurf Supports Antarctic Iceberg Breakup Study: CNN is reporting the story of a storm in the Gulf of Alaska in Fall of 2005 that contributed to the breakup of Antarctic Iceberg B15A. We all know that South Pacific storms produce swells that provide surf for California in the summer, but has anyone considered the implications of what monster winter storms in the North Pacific do to the South Pacific? That is the subject of a research paper by professor Doug MacAyeal from the University of Chicago. He and his team traveled to Antarctica and instrumented a series of icebergs with seismometers to see if they could understand what causes icebergs to break up, and their findings are insightful. And best of all, Stormsurf contributed data in support of their research (and received authorship credits to boot). This is a great example of how the science of surfing interacts with other pure science disciplines. All the details are available in this months edition of 'Geophysical Research Letters' and the synopsis is available here: http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/science/10/02/iceberg.cracks.reut/index.html
New Stormsurf Local Wave Models: Nine months in development and testing, Stormsurf is proud to announce the release of our upgraded local wave models. More locations, more fidelity, more variables imaged including sea height, swell period, wind speed & direction, and wave height plus the older style composite images of surf height and wind all updated 4 times daily. Check them out here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wam.html
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