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 Sunday (2/6) North and Central California was getting leftover dateline swell mixed with local windswell at head high and pretty warbled. Southern California was getting the same swell with waves waist high or so and clean early up north. Down south fog was in control with waves chest high and a bit more lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was getting leftover swell generated by another gale that was over the dateline Thurs-Fri with waves 3-5 ft overhead but a little raw with south winds building. The East Shore was getting waist high southeast windswell. 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 residual swell at 4.0 ft (faces) forecast with another dateline pulse building to maybe 8 ft late then fading from 6.5 ft early Tuesday with chop on top. Wednesday (2/9) dateline swell fades from 5 ft (faces) with local windswell on top. Thursday possible swell from a gale forecast north of Hawaii to arrive pushing 10 ft fading from 6.5 ft early Friday. Southern California is to see thigh to waist high leftovers fading Monday but then new dateline swell builds to chest high for early Tuesday with piles of windswell on top. Wednesday that swell fades from waist to chest high. Thursday new swell from a gale forecast north of Hawaii supposedly arrives at head high early fading from chest high early Friday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see new dateline proto-swell arriving for Monday at 13 ft pushing 15 ft early Tuesday. That fades from 3-4 ft overhead early Wednesday and 1 ft overhead early Thursday with shoulder high leftovers on Friday. The East Shore is to see waist high easterly windswell Monday pushing head high Tues-Wed, then fading out. The South Shore is asleep for the winter.
The Active Phase of the MJO has not faded completely as previous forecast, but is so weak as to not be of any use and a downturn in swell development potential remains expected for the North Pacific. One weak gale developed on the dateline Thurs-Fri (2/4) producing 26-30 ft seas over a small area with swell pushing southeast and east. Hawaii has already seen this swell with limited bit filtering into the US West Coast on Monday (2/7). Remnants of this system were regenerating 900 nmiles northwest of Hawaii on Sun-Mon (2/8) with seas expected to 30 ft setting up more swell for the Islands on Mon-Tues (2/8) and then into the US West Coast later in the week. After that the North Pacific is to shut down for a good long while.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (2/6) the jetstream was rapidly deteriorating with a consolidated flow of 130-140 kt winds tracking flat off Japan dipping mildly into a trough on the dateline then splitting heavily with weak winds tracking northeast up into British Columbia and south to the equator. The trough on the dateline was supporting gale development there. Over the next 72 hours the big unzippering of the jetstream is forecast starting late Monday with a split developing about 800 nmiles east of Japan resulting in the northern branch peeling off to the northeast crossing north of the Aleutians west of the dateline while the southern branch continues east basically flat, but exceedingly weak. No support for gale development indicated. Beyond 72 hours that pattern is to get even more pronounced with the northern branch tracking up through the Bering Sea then dipping south a little into the Northern Gulf of Alaska before moving onshore over British Columbia. Maybe some weak support for low pressure development in the Northern Gulf.
At the surface on Sunday (2/6) on last gale was circulating Northwest of Hawaii (details directly below). otherwise high pressure at 1032 mbs was 600 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino CA generating north winds at 20 kts down the Central CA coast. Over the next 72 hours the gale northwest of Hawaii started building Saturday evening (2/5) with 35 kt northwest winds at 30N 170W and in close proximity to the Islands (600 nmiles). Sunday AM (2/6) it was easing north with winds to 45 kt aimed directly at Hawaii at 33N 168W (327 degrees) with no fetch aimed at the US West Coast. Seas building to 25 ft at 30N 168W. In the evening near 55 kt northwest winds are forecast at 34N 166W (331 degs HI) with seas building to 32 ft at 34N 167W. On Monday AM (2/7) 45 kt west winds to be fading at 37N 160W bypassing any route to Hawaii but generating 32 ft seas at 35N 160W all pushing towards the US West Coast (275 degs NCal). By Monday evening the gale is to have 40 kt west winds at 43N 163W all lifting fast to the north getting little traction on the oceans surface. 28 ft seas from previous fetch fading at 41N 156W. If all goes as forecast a decent pulse of 17 sec period swell is possible for the Hawaiian Islands on Tuesday AM (2/8) at 9.5 ft @ 15 secs (14 ft) from 336 degrees with utility class swell hitting Northern CA at 6.5 ft @ 16 secs (10 ft) arriving Thursday AM (2/10) from 273 degrees.
One more moderate sized gale started organizing on the dateline Wed PM (2/2) with pressure down to 980 mbs and 45 kt northwest winds at 40N 175E. Seas building from 26 ft. On Thursday AM (2/3) 45 kt northwest winds were modeled at 38N 180W aimed due south and almost west of Hawaii with 30 ft seas on the increase at 35N 178E (310 degs HI). 40 kt winds to hold in that area while shifting south and east some in the evening with 28 ft seas hanging on at 35N 174W aiming at both Hawaii (315 degs) and NCal (283 degs). By Friday AM (2/4) a quick fade is forecast with winds down to 35 kts and seas from previous fetch 27 ft at 37N 169W (330 HI & 285 NCal).
Small swell is expected for US West Coast (NCal) starting on Monday near noon pushing (2/7) 5.2 ft @ 16 secs (8 ft faces) from 283-285 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (2/6) high pressure at 1034 mbs was locked 600 nmiles off the North CA coast. A northerly flow at 20 kts was covering outer waters of all of North and Central CA building chop and lump nearshore. Early Monday that gradient is to back off some with a lighter wind pattern nearshore from Bodega Bay southward, but then high pressure is to build in solid by the evening with up to 35 kt north winds over all of Northern CA nearshore waters reaching south to nearly Pt Conception and holding into Tuesday. Finally on Wednesday (2/9) the gradient is to start dissipating with a light offshore flow building in and gradually fading to calm into Saturday (2/12) as low pressure builds into the Northern Gulf of Alaska. Only light north winds forecast for Sunday along the NOrth and Central CA coast. Southern CA to remain protected through the week.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
72 hrs high pressure at 1032 mbs is to builds on the dateline
with a cutoff low developing under it on the dateline producing 30-35
kt east fetch aimed back at Japan. No swell production potential is forecast
for our forecast area. The high is to east east expanding the easterly fetch from a point 800 nmiles off the Southern CA coast to the dateline and beyond at 20-30 kts only serving to really flatten things out well. There is some suggestion of low pressure forming in the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Sat (2/13) forming a pressure gradient with high pressure that is to be dominating the North Pacific building a fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds aimed at the Pacific Northwest. Possible windswell building in that area. But otherwise this looks very similar to the
storm pattern of Nov and early Dec 2010, a classic La Nina
As of Sunday (2/6) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was heading up. The daily SOI was 26.61. The 30 day average was up to 20.59 with the 90 day average up slightly at 20.99.
Wind anomalies as of Sunday (2/6) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated the Active Phase of the MJO had not given up after all, but was still producing weak westerly anomalies from Indonesia to the dateline. But it was so weak as to likely have little influence on the storm track. Those anomalies are to weaken and move to the dateline on 2/10 then fade there through 2/15 while a barely discernible version of the Inactive Phase builds in the Indian Ocean. The Inactive Phase is to dissipate before reaching into the West Pacific on 2/25, with a dead neutral pattern in play at that time. Regardless, the Inactive Phase is already shutting down gale development potential now and is expected to continue through the end of the month if not a bit longer. Also 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). But that could be interrupted by occasional cold bursts of wet energy pushing down the US West Coast from the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (2/3) 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. Colder than normal waters also were present in feeder bands originating off the US West Coast and even colder ones off 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 2/6 suggests temps still 4-5 degrees C below normal. Not good.
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. As of 1/29 these anomalies had backed off, presumable due to the influence of the Active phase of the MJO. But that should be fading shortly with easterly anomalies taking 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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Timmy Reyes - Curt Myers from Powerlines Productions found this little gem with Timmy Reyes providing a brief statement about which sites he uses for swell chasing. Thought we'd pass it on. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P30ZCQOsYwY
Buell Wetsuits - When surfing in Santa Cruz, we've been seeing a new wetsuit in the line-up worn by many top flight surfers. They're getting good traction and are well respected. Take a look: http://www.buellwetsuits.com/
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