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 Tuesday (1/27) North and Central California had surf in the head high to 1 ft overhead range and warbled from Mondays northerly winds, even though the wind was offshore locally. This swell was coming from the dateline and on it's way down, the last swell in what was a decent long run. Southern California was getting the last bit's of this swell too with waves in the waist to maybe chest high range at top spots, though a bit windy up in Santa Barbara County, cleaning up as you head south. Hawaii's North Shore had some head high or so surf but was blown out with Donas (northwest winds) in control. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was getting chest high wrap-around northerly windswell at exposed breaks.
For Central California the last swell part of the last swell from the dateline is hitting and heading down, with bare minimal residuals expected on Wednesday and then small windswell in the waist high range forecast after that decaying to 'bone flat' by Saturday. Hope you got your fill over the past 10 days. Southern California has just about descended into the flat zone, with maybe one last day of barely rideable surf expected Tuesday Am before things wrap up. Nothing rideable is forecast through the weekend. The North Shore of Hawaii has descended into the abyss with only northerly junky windswell expected Wednesday and Thursday and fading in size, then going flat and holding there into Monday (2/2). The South Shore of Hawaii is not expecting any surf. The East Shore should see some small to moderate easterly windswell building by Wednesday and continuing non-stop through the weekend on into early next week, providing the only real hope for surf in the Islands for a while.
Longer term there's a little hope, but we suspect the models are more likely just playing their usual game of suggesting good things to come only to have those projections steadily decay as one gets closer to the date these systems are to make birth. But for now we can only play along with the fantasy cause otherwise there's no hope.At least you've been warned. That said, a small gale is forecast forming in the northeastern Gulf of Alaska Friday (1/30) generating perhaps 25 ft seas targeting Central Canada, with sideband energy pushing south to exposed breaks in Central CA with luck. Another gale is forecast for the dateline Sun-Tues (2/3) generating up to 28 ft seas then tracking southeast and decaying to the 23 ft range as it approaches the Central CA coast, offering hope for sizable utility class raw swell there if it comes to pass and sideband northerly swell for the Islands. And finally a broad gale is forecast building off Northern Japan Monday (2/2) pushing east and peaking quickly with up to 43 ft seas, heading down before ever reaching the dateline. At least there's something to monitor on the models.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (1/27) the North Pacific jetstream had a meandering flow of 140 kt winds pushing east off Japan reaching the dateline, then splitting with the northern branch tracking gingerly northeast through the Gulf of Alaska into British Columbia while the southern branch drifting almost flat over Hawaii then into Baja. A weak trough was on the dateline above the split point offering only the most meager support for surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (1/30) the trough on the dateline is to push northeast through the northern Gulf of Alaska moving onshore over Northern Canada at that time and offering continued support for low pressure development along it's course. Beyond 72 hours a new broad trough is to form on the dateline Saturday following the same route through the Gulf on Tuesday (2/3) but with generally 150-160 kt winds feeding into it from the west affording a better chance for surface level gale development. And yet another trough is forecast forming off Kamchatka late Sunday (2/1) pushing east and expanding it's area of influence early next week but with only 120 kts winds flowing through it. Some support for gale development possible. The split flow is to continue in the east supporting high pressure down at the surface, but the split point is to steadily push east passing over Hawaii on Monday and then just 600 nmiles off Southern CA by late Tuesday (2/3) suggesting possible weather for California later in the week, a good thing for building snow base and summer drinking water.
At the surface today high pressure at 1036 mbs was situated 600 nmiles west of San Francisco ridging northeast into Southern Oregon starting to generate offshore winds over much of the state. This was also serving to produce near-trades at 20 kts pushing towards the Hawaiian Islands, a possible source for easterly windswell in the days ahead. A second broad high at 1024 mbs was over the dateline. Otherwise there was no swell producing fetch of interest in-play over the greater Pacific. Over the next 72 hours a new weak gale is forecast to build over the Eastern Aleutians late Tuesday tracking east perhaps producing 30-35kt west winds Thursday (1/29) near 50N 155W with 20 ft seas in-play there late. Fetch to build to 35 kts Friday AM with seas to 23 ft at 50N 148W (310 degree relative to Central CA) with limited odds for 13 sec period swell pushing towards the US West Coast. This gale to continue east into Friday PM with westerly winds holding at 35 kts and seas building to 26 ft at 51N 141W in the evening, increasing odds for 13-14 sec period swell for the Pacific Northwest but effectively out of the Central CA swell window (320 degrees). The gale is to push on into North Canada by Saturday (1/31). Limited odds for small north angled swell pushing south to breaks north of Pt Conception assuming this system even forms, but really focused more on the Pacific Northwest on up into Canada.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (1/27) high pressure at 1036 mbs was positioned 600 nmiles west of Pt Arena ridging northeast into North California/South Oregon generating northeasterly winds along the coast at 10+ kts.Offshore winds are expected to continue from Pt Reyes southward Wednesday, though a little more north-northeasterly than pure northeast. Thursday a short-lived summer like pressure gradient is to form over Cape Mendo with north winds there at 25 kts likely generating a short spurt of short period windswell but with light winds locally down into Southern CA. That is to dissolve with a light offshore wind flow expected Friday, then more high pressure is to move in Saturday with north winds forecast to 30 kts over Cape Mendo though light south of there, fading Sunday and with the fetch starting to push down the coast Sunday. Light winds Monday then south winds ahead of a front and building low off the coast moving into Central CA by later Tuesday (2/3). Maybe some rain.
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 a new gale is modeled to try and develop on the dateline Sunday (2/1) with winds reaching near 40 kts in the evening at 43N 168W and seas to 26 ft late at 40N 168W, dropping southeast and fading to 35 kts Monday AM at 38N 153W all aimed due east towards the mainland. Seas forecast up to 28 ft at 38N 160W. Fetch is to continue pushing to the east at 35 kts but aimed more north to south on Tuesday at 38N 142W with seas to 25 ft, looking poised to push on into the Central CA coast in the day ahead. Possible moderate 14-15 sec period raw swell pushing towards the US West Coast with some sideband energy dropping into Hawaii by Wednesday (2/4).
Yet anther broad storm is forecast building off Japan Sunday (2/1) with up to 50 kts north winds taking aim more to the west (towards Hawaii) on Monday still at 45-50 kts and seas building to 41 ft at 39n 160E, the tracking east Tuesday with 40 kt west winds and 42 ft seas at 40N 168E decaying before reaching the dateline. Perhaps some hope for Hawaii with limited inconsistent energy pushing into California, assuring one is to believe the models.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference):As of Tuesday (1/27) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was fading from the Active Phase. The Daily SOI index was still holding at 1.04 hovering near 0 for 20 days now. The 30 day average was down to 8.44 and the 90 day average was down to 11.85. La Nina was still well dug-in, with the MJO trying to make headway against it. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a completely normal wind pattern over the equatorial Pacific, suggestive that the MJO was in a neutral state. That is not unexpected. But what is more interesting is that the Inactive Phase, which was to be be building, was not non-existent. Perhaps a change is at hand. The Inactive Phase as of our last update 2 days ago was to be reaching the dateline on 2/1 pushing east from there but holding control of that region till at least 2/12 and likely to 2/21. We continue to expect most of February to be a write-off, but the strength of the Inactive Phase now is so weak as to perhaps be opening a larger crack for gale development.
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
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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).
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table