On Saturday (1/21) Northern CA surf was 1-2 ft over at best breaks and clean. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest to head high and clean. Central California surf was head high to 2 ft overhead and clean. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were up to chest high at the best spots. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to chest high. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were waist high to chest high pushing maybe head high on the biggest sets at the best breaks. The North Shore of Oahu was 1-2 ft overhead. The South Shore was thigh high. The East Shore was thigh to waist high.
North California was seeing the last little dribbles from Swell #12 making for small but reasonably fun surf. Southern California was seeing the backside of Swell #12, but it was enough to provide some rideable surf. Hawaii was getting a weak little pulse from the dateline, something rideable before the big blow moves in. A new storm track was setting up over the weekend, this time focusing on a path from the dateline southeast into a point just north of Hawaii then turning east and fading fast, not making it beyond 160W. This to provide a very solid dose of energy for the Islands but likely accompanied by Kona winds. California to see very westerly and much decayed sideband energy from these storms , enough to provide rideable utility class surf, but not much more. After that the pattern to decay, though not fade out, with potential still lurking but no well defined swell producing storms modeled in the North Pacific through the following weekend. So the strategy is to make the most of whatever you can get and keep your fingers crossed for better further out. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Saturdays jetstream charts (1/27) depicted a solid flow of wind energy to 170-180 kts pushing from southern Japan over the dateline while ridging ever so slightly then dipping south a little and proceeding east to a point due north of Hawaii. The jet split there with the southern branch pushing just east of the Islands then on just south of Baja into mainland Mexico while the northern branch headed almost straight north through the core of the Gulf of Alaska on into northern Canada. The best potential for surface level storm development was over the dateline tracking east. Over the next 72 hours through Tuesday (1/30) a strengthening pattern forecast peaking Monday with up to 200 kts winds ridging over the dateline and dropping southeast to a point almost touching Hawaii with a reasonably decent trough setting up there. Best area for surface level storm development to be the path from the dateline to a point 600 nmiles north of Oahu. The split jet pattern to hold in the east with only high pressure expected at the surface there. Beyond 72 hours the situation is modeled to remain unchanged. A bit of a back off of the jet is forecast mid-next week then another bout of 200 kt winds is to be riding over the dateline dropping straight for Hawaii then fading and splitting, though the split point to ease just a little more east by next weekend. In all it looks like more of the same.
At the surface today high pressure at 1016 mbs was holding tight off the coast of Central California covering and area up to 600 nmiles west of there and off the Pacific Northwest as well. Hawaii's protection from this system had vaporized, indicating a possibly storm pattern ahead for the Islands. Generic low pressure at 972 mbs was in the Western Gulf of Alaska just south of the Aleutians providing a broad but diffuse pool of low pressure that extending sough and west to the dateline. This to be the prime storm development fields for the coming days. A pulse of low pressure originating from off Japan was at the dateline and about ready to start tapping some of this energy. A second weak low was off Japan pushing east, looking to be the second pulse of what is expected to be a small run of rather potent storm energy aimed at Hawaii. Over the next 72 hours these two areas are to separately congeal into what we're going to call Potential Storm #13 (see details below). No other swell producing fetch forecast.
Former Storm #13 (Storm number re-used)
On Monday (1/22) a system developed from moisture streaming north from the equator just off Japan while tracking east. A small circulation of 40-45 kt winds were confirmed through the day in the storms southeast quadrant centered at 34N 168E pushing to 36N175E late aimed reasonably well up the 290 degree path to North CA but 35 degree north of the 298 degree path to Hawaii. Pressure dropping to 984 mbs.
On Tuesday AM (1/23) this system reached storm status as it pushed up to the dateline with 50-55 kt winds confirmed wrapping from it's north quadrant into the west quadrant at 40N 177E still aimed well south of the 310 degree path to Hawaii with secondary 45-50 kt fetch from the south quadrant located at 37N 180W aimed well at NCal up the 289 degree path. Seas modeled to 23 ft early. In the evening this storm really started blooming with pressure dropping to 960 mbs and winds 45-50 kts still pushing down the west quadrant aimed well west of the Islands and getting little traction on the oceans surface while 60 kt winds were confirmed in the south quadrant at 42N 172W aimed right up the 292 degree path to North CA (297 SCal). Seas building to 27 ft at 38N 178W targeting areas mostly north of California with sideband energy pushing towards the Islands.
On Wednesday AM (1/24) contrary to previous forecast this storm lifted fast to the north with a shrinking area of 50 kt winds confirmed at 45N 169W aimed a bit north of the 297 degree path to NCal (302 SCal) with 45 kt sideband energy aimed 35 degrees east of the 329 degree path to Hawaii. Seas building to 30 ft at 43N 170W but aimed mostly well north of our forecast area. In the evening the storm lifted even more to the north while fading east in the Gulf with pressure up to 956 mbs and 45-50 kts winds confirmed in the storms south quadrant at 46N 166W aimed reasonably well down the 300 degree path to NCal with secondary fetch of 45 kts aimed at Hawaii down the 343 degree path but getting little traction on the oceans surface. Seas to 32 ft at 46N 165W heading mostly north of our area.
The storm was in the north Gulf Thursday and quickly fading with 40-45 kts winds at 47N 162W pushing secondary energy down the 304 degree path to NCal and the 347 degree path to Hawaii from a northerly direction. Seas were modeled up to 35 ft at 47N 162W but aimed mostly from Washington northward. After that this one was effectively gone.
At one time this was to be a somewhat interesting storm. But regardless of what the models thought would happen, this one developed with a mind of it's own. Wind imagery from the QuikSCAT satellite suggested a fair amount of energy pointed well down the great circle routes to California, especially the north end of the state up into Oregon. But the direction of travel of the fetch as a whole was almost due north, suggesting the best swell generation area was off to the southeast quadrant of the storm, favoring targets even north of Oregon. For this reason we have determined this storm will not generate significant class surf for with Hawaii or any exposed break in California, though mid-sized utility class surf could result. Consult the QuikCAST's for swell details.
North California: Expect swell energy arriving Saturday near 9 AM with period 20 secs and size tiny but building, pushing maybe 2-3 ft @ 20 secs by sunset. Swell to peak Sunday morning at 5.3 ft @ 15 secs (7-8 ft faces), holding through the day. Swell Direction: 290-300 degrees
On Saturday AM (1/27) a new non-close isobar low was on the dateline producing 35 kt winds and 25 ft seas aimed directly at Hawaii from 35N 178E down the 310 degree great circle path. It to build in the evening with pressure to 988 mbs and winds up to 40-45 kts at 32N 172W aimed as before with seas to 28 ft just behind.
Sunday AM this low to be essentially unchanged repositioned at 32N 160W or a mere 600 nmiles north of Hawaii with 40 kt winds aimed well at North California up the 270 degree path (275 SCal) and seas 29 ft just behind while a new fetch develops over the dateline, the product of low pressure formally off Japan. Sunday night the first fetch to be all but gone with a tiny area of 35 kts winds and 27 ft seas remaining at 34N 152W aimed like before. Regarding the second fetch, on Sunday morning it to have pressure of 996 mbs with winds 45 kts over a small area at 35N 172E aimed right at Hawaii down the 303 degree great circle path. In the evening winds to build rather fast to near 55 kts and over a solid area at 32N 178W again aimed right at the Islands down the 300 degree path and 40 degrees south of the 280 degree path to Ncal (285 SCal). 35 ft seas modeled at 33N 180W.
On Monday AM the low to look solid with pressure 972 mbs centered due north of the Islands with 55 kt winds at 27N 165W about 400 nmiles northwest of Oahu aimed right at there down the 315 degree path. Seas to 36-37 ft at 28N 170W. Very close indeed! By Monday PM the low to swing north fast with most of it's fetch moving into the storms east quadrant aimed north as well towards Alaska. 35 ft seas forecast at 30N 160W and pushing to within 600 nmiles of Hawaii. Some of this energy to try and make a push towards California, but only fleeting while residual fetch continues aimed at Hawaii but not getting good tractions on the oceans surface.
On Tuesday (1/30) this storm is to be all but gone, becoming absorbed in a large and broad circulation setting up camp in the Western Gulf of Alaska spraying a large area of generic 25-30 kt winds towards Hawaii and California. Seas from the main fetch at 29 ft at 34N 155W targeting California up the 270 degree path.
The fetch in the Gulf is to retrograde to the dateline into Thursday (2/1) with winds 35 kts over a broad area targeting both California up the 300-305 degree path and HAwaii up the 320 degree path. Seas 20-22 ft through Friday morning then fading out.
Hawaii: Assuming the models are reasonably close to accurate (a bold assumption given their track record as of late) expect the first pulse of energy to hit late Sunday evening peaking Monday (1/29) at 14 ft @ 14 secs (17-19 ft faces) from 310-320 degrees. Swell from the second pulse to hit first light Tuesday (1/30) peaking at 21 ft @ 15 secs (25-30 ft faces) mid-morning from 300-310 degrees. Take action now to secure beachfront property. Southwest winds 20-25 kts forecast through the swells duration.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Saturday (1/27) weak low pressure was just off the Monterey Bay setting up and offshore flow from there northward but making for light southerly winds into Southern CA and Pt Conception. Fortunately this to be short lived and by Sunday light variable winds to be in control. Monday no significant pressure pattern to be occurring with a light offshore flow expected. Then a bit of high pressure to try and surge into the area making for light north winds Tuesday (1/30) building some into Wednesday (10kts plus - especially in the afternoon) and holding Thursday. Back to calm Friday and Saturday.
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 (and what we're collectively calling Storm #13) a bit of a lapse in activity is forecast over the North Pacific, a pause if you will. Another pulse of energy is forecast pushing off Japan on Friday (2/2) but most diffuse. Theoretically it's to develop into a small storm on the dateline near 45N with 45 kts winds aimed possibly pushing the 55 kt mark late. Perhaps this is the start of another swell pattern, with seas modeled to 38 ft pushing east over the dateline Saturday night (1/3) favoring California. But that's a long ways off. No other swell producing fetch suggested.
The Madden Julian Oscillation remains reasonably active and the prime suspect fueling for the current storm cycle north of Hawaii. SOI values dipping to the -28 range late in the week and are currently holding at -15. Weak trade wind anomalies persist over the dateline to 160W (south of Hawaii) and are modeled to continue into Feb 10. This is a bit of an upgrade from a few days earlier. We're estimating another 1.5-2.0 weeks of storm enhancement potential. Fortunately there is no strong sense that the inactive phase is to come roaring in, so that is also encouraging. So maybe the storm trend won't drop off as fast as previously hinted at.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is indicated.
Details to follow...
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High Noon and Low Tide: Eric Nelson has remastered this epic Mavericks documentary covering a week of giant surf leading up to that fateful day of 12/23/94 when we lost Mark Foo. See all the footage with archived and recent interviews of all the best riders including Grant Washburn, Doc Renneker, Evan Slater, Peter Mel and more. This is a must-have piece for any serious Maverick collection. Available at local surfshops. Will be coming to an on-line store shortly.
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
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table