New Swell Classification Guidelines
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.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
We hope you've had a great year and wish to extend our many thanks for your support over the past 12 months. Viewership continues to rise enabling us to work on new products. We wish you and your family the best and safest Holiday Season and hope you get some good surf (or snow) wherever your travels may take you. Forecast's will be provided on an as-available basis over the holidays as we try to take some time off as well. Have a great holiday!
On Wednesday (12/26) Northern CA surf was 1 ft overhead and blown out. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest high and reasonably clean early. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was head high to 1 ft overhead and pretty textured early. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist high with best breaks chest to head high and clean. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist high pushing chest high on the sets and clean. The North Shore of Oahu was 2 ft overhead and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore had windswell pushing 2 ft overhead or more.
North/Central California had the first of several nice swells hit on Christmas Day originating from the Gulf of Alaska, but was fading out on Wednesday. Southern California was getting some wrap-around energy from this same swell on Wednesday, through smaller. Hawaii's North Shore was finally getting a little dose of sideband energy swell from the early incarnations of a system pushing into the Gulf. Local windswell was up on the East Shore. The South Shore was flat. The first swell of the next run of gales has already hit the West Coast and the next swell in that series is building in Hawaii. This to be nothing huge in either Hawaii or California when it eventually hits but is to provide some decently rideable surf. More of the same is forecast with 3 mores gales forecast winding up north of Hawaii and pushing into the Northern Gulf of Alaska with some form of small to moderate sideband swell pushing into the Islands and more size into exposed breaks in California on up into the Pacific Northwest. See details below... .
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Wednesdays jetstream charts (12/26) for the North Pacific depicted a moderate flow pushing off Japan at 150 kts in pockets and ridging north to a point just south of the Eastern Aleutians, then tracking southeast just off the Canadian coast pushing inland over Oregon. Maximum winds here were only 140 kts. The split pattern continued too with energy being leached off the main flow near the dateline then drifting south over Hawaii and also down on the equator pushing east. In all it was pretty unorganized, but not horribly so. Over the next 72 hours no big change is forecast other than the main thrust of winds becoming concentrated in the Gulf on Friday (12/28) with winds to 180 kts but ridging northeast then dipping a little southeast into Northern CA and pushing inland into the weekend. No real indications of any troughs suggested capable of supporting surface level storm development. Beyond 72 hours things are to change for the better with the flow ridging north off Japan up to the Aleutians near the dateline, then dipping southeast through the Gulf with a decent trough setting up there Sunday pushing west and holding well into next week. Also a good amount of energy is to start pushing off Japan early next week tracking into that trough possibly setting up something better longterm.
At the surface today high pressure at 1040 mbs was 900 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino pushing east generating brisk northwest winds down the entire US West Coast then turning west and pushing over Hawaii continuing the strong flow of trades there and generating decent sized easterly windswell on east facing shores. The next gale in the series was in the Western Gulf of Alaska pushing east. Over the next 72 hours this gale is to be the only system of interest (see details below). A secondary and tiny gale is forecast forming under it on Friday (12/28) well north of Hawaii building late Friday into Saturday while pushing fast to the east with 50 kts winds forecast at 154W 50N pushing to 144W 50N then pushing into British Columbia early Sunday (12/30) and generating 35 ft seas in the same area. This could result in very north angled swell for North CA pushing down into Central CA on Monday (12/31).
On Sunday AM (12/23) another storm was forming just east of the dateline with pressure 984 mbs and winds confirmed at 40-45 kts in it's southwest quadrant at 44N 175W aimed well at Hawaii down the 335 degree path and towards California up the 296 degree path. 25 ft seas were on the increase at 42N 180W. In the evening pressure to drop to 984 mbs with the low tracking northeast in the the Western Gulf of Alaska. 40-45 kt winds were confirmed at 44N 168W aimed 30 degrees east of the 342 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 296 degree path to North CA (301 SCal). Seas were modeled at 29 ft at 43N 170W. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the western flank of this storm Sunday evening and reported seas at 25 ft, a shade less than the 27 ft forecast by the model for this area. This is consistent with the QuikSCAT satellites confirmation on wind speeds too, a little less than what was modeled.
On Monday AM (12/24) the core of the storm was up nearly over the Eastern Aleutians with 40-45 kt winds located in it's south quadrant at 46N 158W pushing 45 degree east of the 355 degree path to Hawaii and right down the 296 degree path to North CA (311 SCal). Seas built to near 30 ft at 43N 163W with energy building to the north. In the evening the storm was tracking east in the Northern Gulf with 40-45 kts winds at 46N 150W aimed right down the 301 degree path to NCal (306 Scal). 27 ft seas were modeled at 44N 152W. The Jason-1 satellite passed almost right over the fetch and reported seas at generally 25 ft with one small area to 31 ft off on the north side of the area. In general the bulk of the seas were running about 1 ft less than expected.
On Tuesday AM (12/25) this system was fading out, ready to move onshore over Northern Canada with 40-50 kt winds the strongest up north but 40 kt wind down at 49N 143W aimed 20 degrees east of the 315 degree path to NCal and out of the SCal swell window. 27 ft seas modeled at 46N 144W aimed down the 303 degree path to NCal. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the leading edge of this area and confirmed sea at 24 ft with a peak reading to 29 ft, but generally about about 2 ft smaller than forecast. This one to be gone by the evening with 29 ft seas barely in the swell window at 49N 145W pushing 30 degrees east of the 319 degree path to NCal.
This system was far from impressive, and wasn't even really a storm, just a strong gale. But it did move decently through the NCal swell window and held together for almost 72 hours, which isn't too bad. This should still result in large advanced class swell for Northern CA and Hawaii, but likely no significant class potential. Given the volatility in the models, any swell projection at this early date would be folly. It is to be 786-2183 nmiles from San Francisco.
North California: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (12/27) near 4 AM with period 17 secs and size on the increase. Swell peaking from 8AM through 4 PM with swell 6.5-7.5 ft @ 15-16 secs resulting in 10-12 ft faces (with luck). Swell Direction: 294-297 degrees with components from 305-315 degrees.
Another Possible Gulf Gale
On Monday (12/24) a disorganize gale pushed off Japan tracking east fast. It crossed the dateline Tuesday (12/25) with 40-45 kt winds in it's south quadrant and seas to 27 ft at 35N 165E aimed well towards Hawaii early, then lifting northeast towards the Gulf. 40-45 kts northwest winds were confirmed in the evening at 44N 175W aimed well towards NCal up the 295 degree path (300 degree SCal). Nothing was aimed at Hawaii.
On Wednesday AM (12/26) it was reorganizing in the Western Gulf with pressure 964 mbs and 40-45 kt winds centered at 45N 165W aimed right at NCal up the 296 degree path (Scal 301 degrees). Seas were modeled at 30 ft at 44N 168W. The low itself to lift northeast pushing over the Eastern Aleutians in the evening with winds building to near 50 kts at 50N 160W aimed due east towards NCal well down the 309 degree path and even better at the Pacific Northwest.32 ft seas are modeled at 47N 160W tracking more northeast than east.
On Thursday AM (12/27) this system to be fading with 45-50 kts winds barely hanging on over a moderate area in the northern Gulf at 53N 155W aimed down the 312 degree path to NCal and better at the PAcific Northwest up into British Columbia. 35 ft seas are modeled at 52N 154W. By evening all fetch is to be gone with 32 ft seas pushing up into Northern Canada and Alaska.
Based purely on the models some form of longer period swell seems likely for exposed breaks in North and Central CA starting Saturday (12/29) but from reaches beyond 300 degrees and shadowed for many spots. Hawaii to get a glancing blow on Friday (12/28), mostly from fetch generated before it crossed the dateline.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Wednesday (12/26) high pressure at 1038 mbs was 800 nmiles off Cape Mendocino pushing east and generating brisk north wind rushing down the coast to Pt Conception, but Southern CA remained protected. These winds to break up by Thursday mid-morning giving way to a much calmer pattern, but only for one day. Another hint of high pressure is to try and build in on Friday but just as quickly get shut down by more low pressure in the Gulf. Maybe some south winds early Friday, then fading to calm. Light winds forecast on Saturday, Sunday and into the early New Years week too a weak high pressure holds control of the region.
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
No swell producing fetch is occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.
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 the models suggest another gale forming on Sunday (12/30) due north of HAwaii with 45-50 kts winds over a small area lifting northeast into the Northern Gulf and then filling it late Monday with 35-40 kts winds and seas building to 27-30 ft near kts 45N 150W, and holding there Monday and Tuesday (1/1/2008). Reasonable odds for swell focused on California and the Pacific Northwest for Wednesday 1/2.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast. The season is over.
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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Submit your story to 'Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Vol. 2': DEADLINE: January 15th, 2008 Casagrande Press is seeking stories, articles, and essays on the general subject of surfing misadventure for publication in Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Volume 2. We are looking for nonfiction, first-person surf stories of bad judgment calls, pranks, comical/ironic episodes, disaster, attacking predators, misfortune, injury, loss of wit or limb, panic, critical conditions, contest meltdowns, everyday fears, surf trips gone wrong or the out-of-water episodes that surround surfing. We are looking for well-written stories that tell a good tale, reflect a culture, and develop the depth of the characters involved. We also like stories that have a tight narrative tension and a payoff at the end. Open to writers and surfers of any level. There is no fee to submit a story. We will consider previously published stories. To see more info on the first book visit www.thesurfbook.com. Submit online at www.casagrandepress.com
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table