New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead). Summer - Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft) Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft). Summer - Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs. Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
On Monday (1/24) North and Central California was getting remnants from Swell #5 with waves still 1.5 times overhead or more on the bigger sets and glassy early. Southern California was also getting energy from Swell #5 with waves head high or a little more and clean early though inconsistent. Down south it was also head high with sets 1 ft overhead and not a breath of winds and well lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was also getting residuals from Swell #5 with set waves 2-3 ft overhead at better breaks and reasonably clean. The East Shore report was not available. The South Shore is not being monitored for the winter and presumed to be asleep with waves 2 ft or less.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for swell fading on Tuesday from 8 ft (faces). New swell expected in on Wednesday from the dateline providing more 9 ft surf but that might be a bit overstated. That swell is to be holding at 8-9 ft on Thursday and then down to 7-8 ft on Friday. Residuals expected on Saturday at 6 ft. Southern California is to see more of Swell #5 fading from head high on Tuesday and waist to chest high on Wednesday. New dateline swell expected early Thursday at head high fading to should high Friday and nearly chest high Saturday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see new dateline swell filling in at 10 ft faces Tuesday dropping from 9 ft Wednesday and 8 ft Thursday. 7 ft leftovers on Friday then new dateline swell starting building in late with 10-11 ft faces on Saturday. The East Shore is to see no real easterly windswell through the coming weekend. The South Shore is asleep for the winter.
The Active Phase of the MJO has peaked out and is heading down while starting to pushing east from the dateline. A split in the jetstream is expected to take over a week or two out with a downward trend in storm formation as the Inactive Phase takes control of the North Pacific by the end of the 1st week in Feb. Residual swell from Storm #5 is to continue for a day or two along the US West Coast till swell from a small follow-on gale arrives. Swell from that gale is already poised to hit Hawaii. That gale formed on Friday (1/22) generating a short blip of 30-32 ft seas on Saturday targeting the US West Coast with a larger and longer lasting area of 28 ft seas targeting Hawaii. Beyond a moderately strong but compact storm is forecast developing on the dateline on Wed pushing east into late Thursday making more eastward headway than anything in weeks (seems like months). Sea forecast in the 40-44 ft range. Possible decent swell to result but it remains far to early to make any predictions.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Monday (1/24) the jetstream continued to be decent with a single consolidated flow pushing flat off Japan at 170 kts reaching all the way to a point just northeast of Hawaii before splitting with the northern branch arching slowly up into British Columbia while the southern branch peel off to the south towards the equator. Decent support for gale development continued over the dateline and points just east of there. Over the next 72 hours a batch of 190 kt winds are forecast developing on the dateline on Wed (1/26) tracking east and forming a bit of a trough reaching to a point north of Hawaii late Thursday. Good support for storm development there. Beyond 72 hours another pocket of 180 kts winds are to develop off Japan tracking east on Saturday with a trough forming on the dateline and pinching off while pushing to a point half way between Hawaii and the US West coast on Mon (1/31). Another gale likely to result. v
At the surface on Monday (1/24) high pressure at 1024 mbs was mid-way between Hawaii and California providing a bit of weather protection for most of the US West Coast. A broad fetch of 30 kt west winds was holding over the dateline aimed at Hawaii still generating 24 ft seas at 33N 180W, down from near 28 ft on Friday (1/22) and 26 ft over the last weekend. This fetch produced swell that is already radiating towards Hawaii and is expected to be impacting there later today (see QuikCASTs for details). Low pressure was circulating in the Western Gulf of Alaska also producing near 40 kt southwest winds all aimed at Alaska and of no interest to our immediate forecast area. This fetch previous produced up to 32 ft seas at 44N 172W on Sat PM (1/23) with swell radiated towards the US West Coast (see QuikCASTs). Over the next 72 hours a new gale is to be developing on Tuesday AM (1/25) while pushing off Japan, following the jetstream track aloft while being fueled by it. In the evening pressure is to drop to 980 mbs with a small area of 45 kt west winds building at 35N 165E. Seas building. On Wednesday AM (1/26) the gale is to lift northeast and start blooming with pressure down to 956 mbs. 50-55 kt winds to build in the storm southern quadrant at 40N 178E (317 degs HI & 293 degs NCal) with seas up to near 30 ft at 35N 175E. 60 kt winds are forecast Wed PM at 41N 174W resulting in 42 ft seas at 41N 177W aimed 30 degrees east of the 324 degree path to Hawaii but right up the 292 deg path to NCal. Thursday AM (1/27) the gale is to be fading and lifting northeast with 50 kt west winds still at 45N 170W resulting in 43 ft seas at 42N 168W aimed right up the 292 degree path to NCal and well east of the 340 degree path to Hawaii. In the evening 45 kt west winds to be lifting north and fading fast at 48N 168W resulting in 37 ft seas at 43N 162W all pushing east towards the US West Coast. Based on very preliminary data a decent pulse of larger utility class swell could be possible for Hawaii and the US West Coast if all goes as forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Monday (1/24) high pressure at 1026 mbs was in control 800 nmiles west of San Francisco and not ridging into the coast, providing a rather calm local wind pattern and glassy conditions at many location early. By Tuesday a weak gradient is to develop over Cape Mendocino as the high starts ridging into the Pacific Northwest with north winds 15 kts up there, but generally less down into Central CA and turning back to an offshore flow on Wednesday as the high pushes inland up north, and even southeast on Thursday before fading altogether. Light winds forecast to hold into mid-Saturday (1/29) as a weak front tries to push into the Central Coast, with high pressure and north winds building in behind on Sunday reaching down to Pt Conception. Maybe even a hint of a few inches of snow for the Northern Sierras down to Lake Tahoe.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was occurring. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast with no swell producing weather systems modeled.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
72 hrs weak near gale force winds are to try and develop in the same
vicinity as the storm forecast for Wed-Thurs (1/27) but getting no good
footing. But then late on Sunday (1/30) another small storm is forecast developing on the dateline pushing east with 55 kt winds and 42 ft seas, trying to inch a little closer tot he US West Coast. The forecast storm track is to be following the eastward push of the MJO nicely. In fact, the dividing line between high pressure over the US and a more stormy pattern over the grater Pacific is to reach within 600 nmiles of the CA coast by Monday PM (1/31).
As of Monday (1/24) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) remained effectively unchanged. The daily SOI on 1/24 was 23.23 up a little from days previous. The 30 day average was down to 22.60 with the 90 day average down slightly at 19.98. Overall, averages remained high, just barely below the peak in mid-to-late October (90 day average near 22.0). The 30 day average peaked on Dec 30 at 26.79, the highest average reading in over 2 years.
Wind anomalies as of Monday (1/23) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated the Active Phase of the MJO had peaked out with westerly anomalies (Active Phase) straddling the dateline and easing east with anomalies the whole way to Central America. they are forecast to hold just east of the dateline into 1/28 and starting to fade some, then loosing power and areal coverage into 2/2 and totally dissipate with their remnants pushing east into Central America through 2/7. Since the Active Phase supports the development of low pressure in the Northern Pacific, some degree of gale development is forecast through that window, but steadily declining, with a steady decrease in swell potential taking root. At the same time a vigorous version of the Inactive Phase is already starting to build over the Central Indian Ocean and expected to enter the extreme Western Pacific on 2/2, likely starting to shut down gale development potential and peaking on 2/12 as it starts to straddle the dateline. This pattern to hold through at least 3/3 as it tracks east across the tropical Pacific. But that remains just a guess with the models not extending that far into the future. Also in the middle of that, north winds should start building along the US West Coast as Springtime high pressure builds in much stronger and earlier than usual (mid-late Feb).
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (1/20) continues to indicate that cold waters (-2 C degs or cooler) had a grip on the equator covering solidly from South America west to the dateline and beyond, and solidifying it's coverage. Colder than normal waters covered the equator from Ecuador west to New Guinea with feeder bands originating off the US West Coast and South America sweeping fully to the intersection of the dateline and the equator, only serving to reinforce what is already a solid La Nina pattern. These colder waters are a reflection of stronger than normal high pressure built in over both hemispheres causing upwelling in the Gulf of Alaska and off South America, though it looks like the upwelling effect was stronger in the southern hemi than in the north. Regardless, it looks like a classic La Nina setup.
Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present and if anything colder than normal water was strong on the equator south of Hawaii and locked in position (sort of like a stationary cold Kelvin Wave). Previously this pocket was down to 7 degs below normal in mid- Sept, then warming to 6 degrees below normal on 10/18 and up to 3 degs below normal on 12/9 and moving east while not getting any colder through of 12/16. But then on 12/25 it dropped back to -4 degrees located at 120W and nearly 5 degs below normal on the 27th, expanding coverage on 12/31. With the advent of the Active Phase of the MJO in January, it seemed to be pushing it east some, with temps remaining at -4 on 1/5-1/8 but backing off and looking to be fading while pushing east on 1/10-1/17. Current data as of 1/23 suggests temps still 4 to almost 5 degrees C below normal.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond. From a historical 'normal' perspective these easterly winds were fully anomalous, blowing harder than normal from the east to the west, as would be expected looking at all the other data. And if anything there were only getting worse (on 12/31). This occurred starting in late Sept, with only normal winds indicated prior to 9/11.
Looking at the Pacific equatorial current: On 12/5, it was running slightly anomalously west to east, completely contrary to it's previous flow and a bit unusual for a La Nina year. It actually started this pattern in early November. But with East winds on the rise, it was expected to fall back in-line with expectations. And sure enough, data as of 1/5 indicates a full east-to-west anomaly present, typical of La Nina.
Of note: The Pacific current that runs along the equator turned abruptly from flowing towards South America to flowing towards the Philippines in mid-March (2010), right as the SOI started it's impressive drive into positive territory and the North Pacific winter storm machine abruptly shut down. And it did not waiver until Oct 2010. But trades never wavering from the normal range. This suggests trade wind anomalies might be a byproduct of the Pacific equatorial current change and not the other way around i.e. the trades do not drive the temperature change initially, but the current change does. And then the atmosphere responds in kind to the change, building high pressure and reinforcing the flow and water temps. Said a different way, the change in the current might actually foretell a coming change in the trades, and then with the advent of the trade wind change, it only serves to reinforce the current in a self amplifying loop, until such time as the cycle runs it's course and the self feeding system collapses over a multiyear period. At that time the current then switches direction, and a whole new self-enforcing cycle stars anew. Something to consider (regarding the formation and El Nino/La Nina). But for now, a La Nina dominated current is firmly in control.
A moderate plus strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) is in control and momentum from it is expected to hold well into 2011 (and likely to early 2012). In short, it's going to be tough for surfers on west facing shores in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, though east facing shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance, especially in summer months. That is not to say there will be no storms, in fact, there could be short periods of intense activity when the Active Phase gets an opportunity to come to fruition, but that will be the exception rather than the rule, with the Inactive Phase trying to keep a cap on storm activity.
See more details in the El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.
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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Jacob Trette Is Conscious (1/24 9:30 PM) David Westdorfer reported that he just got off the phone with Jacob Trette's brother John and that he asked David to pass along some terrific news to the Mavericks clan. Jacob is alert, talking and recovering nicely. He remains at Stanford but will paddle on to many more swells.
Stormsurf Mobile App (1/9/11) We are proud to announce the official public release of our smartphone mobile app. It provides access to our most popular and commonly used products, optimized for use on the road, on the beach or anywhere you don't have a desktop or laptop. With a smart phone and signal, you will have access to our data. And we're not talking just a few teaser products - We're talking full feature wave models, weather models, real-time buoy data, manually built forecasts and hundreds of spot wave and wind forecasts enabling you to construct a surf forecast for any location on the planet, all from your cell phone and all for free. No subscription required and no hidden fees. And better yet, there's a few new things sprinkled in that are not yet available even on our full-featured web site. From your smart phones browser just navigate to: www.stormsurf.com/mobile
Mavericks Surf Shop Grand Opening - Sunday, December 19 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. rain or shine! Check out the new home of Jeff Clark's Mavericks Surf Shop, now located at 25 Johnson Pier in Pillar Point Harbor. The shop features much of Clark's surfing memorabilia, classic boards and photos, as well as an entirely new line of Jeff Clark original Mavericks clothing, accessories and surfboards. The shop has been open in the new location since December 8, and the Grand Opening party is set for this coming Sunday, just in time for Christmas. The party starts at 2 p.m., with live music, food and drinks. Jeff Clark and many Mavericks surfers will be there to meet the public. Local restaurants Ketch Joanne's and Princeton Seafood will serve up delicious food, while San Francisco Wine Trading Company is providing the beverages. The shop will be open all weekend, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Stormsurf Maintenance Upgrades: Buoy 46059 and 46012 were replaced a month or so ago. Totally new buoys were installed. Here on Stormsurf we had to reset the algorithms used to calculate 'pure swell' for them. That was accomplished on 11/13. Pure swell numbers are now correct. Links: 46012, 46059
Also since we moved to the new weather model server last month we discovered that our Longrange Precipitation Models ceased to display frozen precipitation (as they once did). Some of our scripts did not get installed on the new server. That has been fixed (11/13) and now snow is again viewable worldwide. Here the new North America sample.
Chasing The Swell: Sachi Cunningham from the LA Times spent the entirety of last winter chasing surfers and swells around the North Pacific with her high def video cam. Her timing couldn't have been any better with the project exactly coinciding with the strongest El Nino in 12 years resulting in the best big wave season in a decade. And being an accomplished surfer herself helped her to bring a poignant and accurate account of the what it's like to ride big waves and the new (and some not so new) personalities that are revitalizing the sport. This is must-see material for any surfer or weather enthusiast. Check it out here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/chasingtheswell/
New Weather Models With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon): http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
New Weather Model Server Stormsurf has installed another weather model production server. This has enabled us to spread the load across more servers allowing us to post both wave and weather model updates much quicker. Also we are testing new content (like North America jetstream, winds and precipitation, local wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments). The model menus will be updated shortly with these new links.
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table