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.
Happy New Year!
We wish to extend our warmest thanks for your support. We hope you've had a great year and caught alot of surf. We're looking forward to another year of forecasts, improved wave and weather models plus anything else we can dream up. Forecasts will be updated as time permits over the holidays. In parallel we're still working to upgrade all our wave model using version 3.0 of the Wavewatch wave model, which has a much higher resolution than the previous version (2.22). Models may not work for short periods of time during this installation scheduled for possibly 1/3-4. Thanks for your patience but the upgrade will be well worth it.
On Wednesday (12/31) North/Central California had northwest swell coming from the Gulf in the head high to 2 ft overhead range but pretty well chopped even early. Southern California was getting some thigh high sets coming from the Gulf of Alaska but most breaks were totally fogged in, even in the late afternoon. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the first of what promises to be a long run of moderate swell originating from a gale that was off Japan, with sets in the 3-5 ft overhead range at top spots with a northeast wind pushing down the beach, but not too bad. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was getting trade induced east windswell at waist to chest high.
For Central California very local and north angled modest windswell is the best that can be hoped for over the remainder of the holiday weekend. 2 small low pressure systems are the source for this windswell, one already having pushed inland over Oregon Tues PM (12/30) with 17 ft seas making for windswell on Thursday (1/1) and a similar gale is expected positioned a little further south on late Thursday (1/1) making windswell for Central CA on Saturday (1/3). But conditions are not to be favorable. A bit of the swell currently hitting Hawaii is to limp into the coast on Friday too, but it probably won't even be noticeable. Southern California is to be shadowed from the above windswell, but theoretically southern hemi swell is to move in on Sunday (1/4) at 2 ft @ 17 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces). The North Shore of Hawaii is to have the best shot of anything that resembles real surf, with the initial pulse of the Japan swell holding through Friday morning, then fading some Saturday (1/3) with the next pulse due in on Sunday. If there is any surf to be had in the Pacific, this is it. The South Shore of Hawaii is not expecting any surf. The East Shore has dropped off some with trades backing off, but another round of east windswell is due in by late Friday (1/2) getting bigger for the weekend on into Monday , then settling down slowly by midweek.
Longer term improvements are cautiously expected for everyone, with the jetstream forecast to start consolidating first towards the dateline then pushing east into the Gulf of Alaska. No big trough forecast yet, which means no big storms, but it's a heck of a lot better than the horrible split pattern that has been in control of late. Probably the most interesting thing to result is another gale which is just starting to form off Japan with up to 30 ft seas forecast briefly, fading on Friday but then redeveloping Saturday with more 25 ft seas targeting primarily Hawaii. Secondary spin-off energy to be driven into the Gulf of Alaska by the jet early next week, providing opportunity for larger windswell to result for the US West Coast.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Wednesday (12/31) the North Pacific jetstream was still traumatized, but not quite as bad as weeks past. A solid consolidated flow of 180 kt winds were pushing east off Japan reaching almost to the dateline and offering good support for surface level gale development off the Kurils. But once the jet hit just west of the dateline it completely split with the northern branch tracking northeast pushing into the Pacific Northwest while the southern branch tracked southeast pushing below Hawaii on down to the equator. A upper level cutoff low still was hanging over Kamchatka and the Bering Sea, but was steadily loosing steam. No real support for gale development was likely other than off the Kurils.Over the next 72 hours this same basic pattern is to hold, but with the cutoff low totally disappearing (a good thing) and much more energy pushing continuously from off Japan up into the Gulf of Alaska. 180 kt winds to continue over Japan dropping into a broad trough just west of the dateline, then holding at 170 kts riding up into the Gulf. A split is still forecast pushing under Hawaii, but less pronounced. Beyond 72 hours (starting late Saturday 12/3) the Japan flow is to get stronger still pushing 190 kts with the trough holding just west of the dateline then ridging northeast into the Gulf before dropping south down the US West Coast, offering cooler temps and rain for the area (snow in higher elevations). The big ridge over the East Pacific is to push onshore and start fading by Wednesday (1/7) with the split that has been pushing under Hawaii dissipating too. The result - a nearly flat consolidated flow pushing from Japan to Washington with pockets of wind to 170 kts. No big troughs to support gale development, but way better than the fragmented mess that has been the main story.
At the surface today the second in the series of gales was organizing off Japan (see 2nd Japan Gale below), totally dominating the West Pacific. High pressure at 1028 mbs was centered 600 nmiles west of Pt Conception generating moderate north winds along the CA coast but more importantly, generating a decent fetch of 20 kt east winds pushing into the Hawaiian Islands, generating modest windswell along east facing shores. Over the next 72 hours the Japan system is to dominate. Otherwise a small low pressure system is expected just off the Pacific Northwest Thursday (1/1) generating 30 kt northwest winds impacting Oregon on Thursday and producing up to 17 ft seas Friday, good for modest windswell for Central CA by Saturday. Unfortunately the fetch itself is to be over the CA coast at the same time, making a mess of things. No other swell sources forecast.
First Japan Gale
On Friday (12/27) a gale had pushed off Japan with consistent fetch of 40 kt west-northwest winds indicated and seas confirmed at 31.7 ft in the AM per the Jason-1 satellite building to 32 ft in the evening at 36N 153E then fading out late Saturday with seas dropping from 28 ft at the same location late. Sunday AM (12/28) a brief resurgence of 40 kt winds occurred pushing seas to 28 ft again at 37N 153E, then the whole thing pushed east and dissipated. Swell from this system reached Hawaii on Wednesday AM (12/31) pushing 4.1 ft @ 15 secs (8-9 ft faces) from 298 degrees and is expected to hold Thursday (1/1) at 5.5 ft @ 14 secs (8-9 ft faces) then settling down slowly Friday at 5.2 ft @ 13-14 secs (8 ft faces) and down to 3.7 ft @ 12-13 secs (5-6 ft faces) on Saturday (1/3) coming from 305 degrees.
Second Japan Gale
On Wednesday (12/31) a new gale was starting to build off Northern Japan producing a broad fetch of 35 kt west winds with an imbedded core to near 45 kts at 37N 162E aimed well down the 305 degree path to Hawaii but lifting northeast in the evening. A solid area of 29-30 ft seas are forecast in the evening at 37N 169E aimed right at the Islands. On Thursday Am (1/1) the gale is to loose organization with residual 30-35 kt west winds forecast fragmented over the same area with 30-33 ft seas aimed briefly 30 degrees northeast of the Islands at 42N 173E, then pushing too far north in the evening. The gale is to get marginally better organized late Friday into Saturday (1/3) with 35 kt northwest winds imbedded in a broad area of 30 kt winds centered at 40N 160E producing 25 ft seas by Saturday AM at the same place and holding for 18 hrs.
The gale is to slowly fade while drifting west, but not totally dissipating, reaching the dateline on Wednesday (1/7) with 30 kt winds and 23 ft seas (at 38N 173E) forecast non-stop through the period, likely generating more 14 sec period swell targeting Hawaii well down the 298-312 degree paths.
A long run of moderate sized swell seems likely for Hawaii assuming the models are correct, with the initial pulse of the swell starting well before sunrise Sunday (1/4) with swell 5.2 ft @ 14-15 secs (9 ft faces), dropping some Monday the rebounding into the middle of the week. Will monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Wednesday (12/31) high pressure at 1028 mbs was 800 mbs west of Pt Conception ridging into Southern Oregon generating a steady fetch of north winds at 15 kts along the Central CA coast. These winds are to get slightly eroded on Thursday as low pressure builds off Oregon resulting in perhaps lighter winds nearshore, but by Friday a gradient is to build between the low now onshore over Idaho and renewed high pressure off the coast, producing 20 kt northwest winds pushing into the SF Bay Area mid-day behind a front with rain reaching to Pt Conception late, and wind building south into the Channel Islands by nightfall. This fetch is to hold Saturday making a mess of things everywhere but maybe Southern CA with luck. The pattern to fall apart on Sunday (1/4) with the tail end of a front and rain reaching Monterey Bay, though some degree of north winds to persist off Southern CA then. Lighter winds to hold Monday into early Tuesday (1/6) as low pressure takes hold pushing into the Pacific Northwest, but a new high pressure system is to be just offshore, likely starting up the north wind machine over Pt Conception on Wednesday with less impact into the SF Bay Area.
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.
A storm developed in the deep South Pacific on Friday (12/26) with up to 45-50 kt southwest winds over a small area in the evening producing 32 ft seas at 55S 150W aimed well up the 195 degree path to California. Saturday AM (12/27) more 45-50 kts winds were indicated with up to 38 ft seas modeled at 55S 145W aimed like before. This system faded out in the evening with seas dropping from 37 ft at 57S 141W. Expected swell pushing into Southern California of 2.0-2.5 ft @ 18-19 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces) on Sunday (1/4) with swell to near 2.8 ft @ 17 secs (4.5-5.0 ft faces) on Monday
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 hold off Central CA for the next week while spin-off energy from the 2nd Japan Gale moves over it and into the Pacific Northwest starting Sunday, with almost defined low pressure coalescing just off British Columbia on occasion. An almost continuous area of 18-21 ft seas to persist along the travel path of this energy, likely sending larger windswell into the Pacific Northwest with more moderate windswell down into exposed breaks in Central CA, though little to reach Southern CA given the relatively steep north angle.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Wednesday (12/31) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was unbelievably still in the Active Phase, much stronger than previous estimates. The Daily SOI index was up to 28.75 and looking stronger again. The 30 day average was down to 10.44 and the 90 day average was up some to 14.06. This and other evidence suggests that La Nina was well dug in and the MJO is making no significant headway against it. Winds anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a much stronger area of west winds covering from south of Indian east to Indonesia out to the northeast coast of Australia and New Guinea, up even more from the last report. These were associated with what appears to be a new pulse of the Active Phase of the MJO. These winds are expected to fade out through Jan 19 with the inactive phase building in the Indian Ocean slightly all the while. The active phase is supportive of development of storms in the North Pacific, specifically the gale pattern off Japan and maybe implicated in the miraculous repair of the jetstream pattern forecast over the next week.
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
Help Out a Fellow Mavericks Surfer: Our friend Christy Davis is going through some tough times. His 14 year old daughter has been 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. If you would like to donate, send an email to us here or send it to Christy directly at: Chris Davis PO Box 628 Moss Beach, CA 94038
Swell #2 Mavericks Videos from Powerlines Productions: Check out the action on both Saturday and Sunday (11/30) from that massive swell of 12-13 ft @ 25 secs. Filmed by Curt Myers and Eric Nelson. Really thick! See this and more plus the movie Ride-On 12/11 at the Old Princeton Landing or the Red Vic Moviehouse in San Francisco 12/19-23. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA57cIBkA0o & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37SCR9kDm60
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
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!
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table