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 Thursday (1/22) North and Central California had surf in the head high range, the remnants of Storm #3, and generally weak but clean with rain finally hitting the ground. Southern California was getting the last little remnants of dateline swell too with sets in the chest high range at better breaks and decent conditions. Hawaii's North Shore was cleaning up more with surf pushing double overhead, originating from a gale on the dateline Sun-Mon (1/19) but on the way down. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was getting wrap-around swell from the northwest with surf in the 1-2 ft overhead range.
For Central California the first of the last two swell for a long time is expected in on Friday (1/23) possible setting up surf in the 3 ft overhead range late (5.5 ft @ 15 secs) from 282-287 degrees. This swell to continue into Saturday then start fading out. Southern California is expected to see a fraction of this swell late Friday, but most size from it is expected in by Saturday at 2.7 ft @ 14-15 sec early (4 ft faces) from 287-293 degrees. The North Shore of Hawaii is to see the last swell for a while move in by later Friday with swell peaking overnight into Saturday AM at 6.6 ft @ 15 secs (10 ft faces) coming from 310-313 degrees. Decent energy expected to hold into Sunday. The South Shore of Hawaii is not expecting any surf. The East Shore should start seeing some weak windswell on Fri/Sat at 6.3 ft @ 7 secs Friday (4 ft faces) driven by the trades.
Longer term rideable swell from Storm #4 (Hawaii) is expected into California Friday into Saturday (see above) providing something more to ride. And yet another small system pushed towards the dateline Tues-Thurs with up to 35 ft seas offering surf again for both California (Mon) and Hawaii (Fri-Sat). But the jetstream has already fallen apart with the high pressure dome that has protected the US West Coast out of the picture through the weekend into early next week allowing chances for much needed rain to reach the Southwestern US. Beyond virtually no swell producing fetch is forecast with the Inactive Phase of the Madden-Julian Oscillation taking over the North Pacific.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (1/22) the North Pacific jetstream was almost holding together riding over Japan then dipping into a weak trough over the dateline then splitting and disintegrating east of Hawaii. There was no real support for low pressure development anywhere over it's length. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (1/25) a giant ridge is to build over the Japan/Kuril Island area continuing to dip into a steepening trough over the dateline then ridging and splitting east of there with a second weak trough off the US West Coast. Some odds for gale development over the dateline but wind feeding into this trough briefly to 130 kts late Friday, then up to 170 kts on Sunday before settling back down after that. Beyond 72 hours that trough on the dateline is to pinch off on Monday and evaporate with an unfocused flow to follow. A generalized stream of consolidated energy is to flow off Japan to the dateline then splitting there with most following the track on up into Northern Canada with the southern branch tracking over Hawaii and then into Baja. A backdoor trough is still forecast for California starting alter Sunday dropping south over Southern CA on late Wed (1/28) perhaps offering rain (and snow in higher elevations) though the period.
At the surface today the remnants of a last gale were fading fast over the dateline offering no winds greater than 25 kts, and therefore no swell generation potential. Neutral pressure was off California with weak low pressure between there and Hawaii, with weak high pressure at 1022 mbs northeast of Hawaii driving moderate trades there. But in all a very un-inspirational pattern was in control. Over the next 72 hours essentially no change is forecast with no fetch of interest indicated. At a minimum a bit of a flat spell is coming.
Storm #4 - Hawaii
A new gale started pushing off the Kuril's on Friday (1/16) with a tiny area of 40-45 kt west winds confirmed at 45N 158E over a small area in the evening producing 26 ft seas at 44 N 158E initially targeting Hawaii well.
Saturday AM (1/17) winds were confirmed building to 45-50 kts in it's south quadrant falling to 37N 167E aimed well up the 292 degree path to CA and 306 degree path to HI. 26 ft seas were again modeled at 44N 165E, from previous fetch. In the evening a broader fetch of 40 kt west winds were confirmed with a small fetch of up to 55 kts winds at 41N 178E aimed east towards NCal up the 292 degree path and the 319 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled at 25 ft dropping to 37N 168W targeting mainly Hawaii.
Sunday AM (1/18) more 40-45 kts westerly winds were occurring at 36N 174E producing 28 ft seas at 39N 172E. By evening 35 kt winds were confirmed at 36N 178W with previous fetch producing 30 ft seas at 36N 178E. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass directly over the outer fringes of the core of the fetch at 18Z Sunday reporting a 15 reading average of seas at 26.7 ft where the model indicated 29-30 ft seas. So the models were off by 2-3 ft, pretty typical of the models performance as of late.
Monday AM (1/19) a small secondary fetch of 40 kts winds was modeled (no QuikSCAT data available) right near the gales core at 45N 175W aimed southeast with 29 ft seas from previous fetch forecast at 35N 175W (319 degree Hawaii). In the evening this system was gone with residual 25 ft seas near 34N 173W and dissipating.
In all the seas heights were a little overestimated per the Jason-1 satellite. Regardless, it's close proximity to Hawaii will likely produce a short lived burst of minimally significant class swell for the Hawaiian Islands with utility class surf possible for the US West Coast.
Hawaii: This swell hit Hawaii on Wednesday peaking with a few hours of pure swell up to 10 ft @ 14 secs. The forecast was for swell arrival starting Wednesday 2 AM (1/21) with period 16 secs and pure swell quickly ramping up to 7.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (12 ft faces Hawaiian) coming from 312-319 degrees
North California: Expect swell arrival Friday 1 AM with period 17 secs and size maxing late morning at 5.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (8.5 ft faces). Swell Direction 282-287 degrees)
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival Friday 1 PM with period 17 secs and peaking near 9 PM with swell 2.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 287-293 degrees
Last Dateline Gale
One more gale built off the Kuril's Monday evening (1/19) with pressure 972 mbs and 45-40 kt west winds confirmed at 40N 153E, just east of Northern Japan. 25 ft seas were modeled building at 39N 154E.
Tuesday AM (1/20) 40-45 kt west winds were confirmed at 40N 165E pushing down the 307 degree track to Hawaii and 30 degree south of the 298 degree path to North CA. Seas were modeled up to 32 ft at 40N 160E. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the trailing edge of this system at 18Z and reported seas of 30.1 ft with a peak to 34 ft where the model indicated only 28-29 ft seas, so the model was right on if not a bit behind. Not too bad. In the evening 40 kt residual west winds are forecast at 40N 170E aimed well down the 312 degree path to Hawaii and up the 294 degree path to NCal. 35 ft seas were modeled from that wind at 40N 168E.
Wednesday AM (1/21) the gale was stationary west of the dateline and fading fast with 35 kt west wind at 40N 170E aimed well up the 293 degree track to North CA and pushing down the 315 degree track to Hawaii. 29 ft seas are modeled at 40N 172E. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the leading edge of this system at 18z and reported seas of 26.9 ft where the model suggested 26 ft seas, so it was right on track if not better. In the evening a tiny fetch of 35-40 kt winds was at 41N 175E aimed about like before with 26 ft seas from previous fetch fading at 39N 174E (approaching the dateline). The Jason-1 satellite passed over the leading edge again and indicated 22.4 ft seas where the model suggested 24 ft seas, about 2 ft over stated on the part of the model.
Thursday AM (1/22) the last 35-40 kt fetch from this system was at 41N 175W and fading with 25 ft seas modeled at 37N 178E.
Another pulse of utility class swell can be expected for Hawaii with small utility class swell for the US West Coast. Max period projected at 18 sec could be expected with most size likely a bit below that in the 15-16 sec range, and the swell will be well groomed given it's rather long travel distance to both Hawaii and the mainland. A very long wait should be expected between sets for the US West Coast given a 2757-3492 nmiles travel distance, but a bit better for the Islands since they are only 1579-2398 nmiles away.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival starting Friday at 7 AM HST with period 19 secs and size pushing up steadily reaching 5 ft @ 17-18 sec at sunset (9 ft faces). Swell to peak out over night but still be solid first light Saturday with swell 6.6 ft @ 15 secs (10 ft faces). Swell fading from 6 ft @ 13-14 secs Sunday (8 ft faces). Swell Direction: 310-313 degrees
North/Central CA: Expect swell arrival starting Saturday near 10 PM with period at 19 secs and size tiny. Swell to peak Sunday late afternoon at 5.2 ft @ 17 secs (8.0 ft faces) then heading down into Monday from 5 ft @ 14-15 secs (7.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 290-295 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (1/22) neutral pressure was hanging off the immediate California coast with weak low pressure at 1004 mbs 900 nmiles out. Moisture associated with previous weak low southwest of the state was now pushing onshore, and mostly inland with rain starting to fade. On Friday (1/23) lingering showers are forecast for the entire state (even SCal) as the low dissipates over the Sierras as a light southerly flow pushes into the southern part of the state. Saturday the low off the coast is to start moving closer but not reaching land with only linger showers and light winds forecast. Sunday new high pressure is to start making it's presence known pushing the remnants of the previous low south into Central CA with north winds and a possibility of rain filling into North and Central CA, heading southward on Monday (1/26). South winds in Southern CA on Monday and Tuesday are forecast with rain in the mix too but offshores could be occurring from Central CA northward. Regardless, by Wednesday high pressure to rage in with north winds taking control at 15-20 kts Nearshore and a drying pattern forecast. Southern CA might be mostly protected from the bulk of the north winds, but not Central CA northward.
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 virtually no fetch of greater than 25 kts is forecast for the North Pacific through Monday. Tuesday 91/27) a small gale with 35-40 kts winds is modeled in the northwest ern Gulf of Alaska generating 24 hrs of fetch aimed towards the Pacific Northwest, but this is far from guaranteed. Whatever decent swell is going to be generated has already occurred with the North Pacific going dormant while the jetstream tries to regroup. Consistent with earlier forecasts, the decay of the jetstream is in perfect sync with the decay of the Active Phase of the MJO, which is to be effectively gone as of today, and is being replaced by an equally strong Inactive Phase pushing into the West Pacific and expected to dominate for at least the first 3 weeks of February. Better get whatever swell you can now because an extended flat spell looks likely.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (1/22) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was still strongly in the Active Phase, but for just a few more days. The Daily SOI index was holding at -1.74 hovering near 0 for 14 days now. The 30 day average was down to 11.10 and the 90 day average was down to 12.25. La Nina was still well dug-in, with the MJO trying to make a little headway against it, but without much luck. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a quickly fading area of weak west winds on the equator centered just east of the dateline with lesser winds reaching east into Central America and well over the Atlantic. The Active Phase of the MJO was essentially dying fast over the Pacific and moving into the Atlantic. These winds are expected to push east and out of the Pacific by 1/26 as the Inactive Phase emerges strongly into the Pacific from the Indian Ocean at the same time and likely suppressing storm development. The Inactive Phase is to continue east reaching the dateline on 2/3 pushing east from there for at least 2 weeks after that. We expect most of February to be a write-off.
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
Story About Stormsurf: The folks at SurfPulse (and specifically author Mike Wallace) have written up a really nice article about Stormsurf, complete with some good pics. Learn about how we came to be and a little of where we are going. Check it out here: http://www.surfpulse.com/2009/01/visceral-surf-forecasting-with-mark-sponsler/
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!
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