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 (2/19) North and Central California had west swell coming from across the dateline producing surf at shoulder to occasionally head high with cleaner conditions, but not really smooth. Southern California was getting some of the same swell with waves in the waist to maybe chest high range at top spots with texture, a little cleaner down south. Hawaii's North Shore was moving into the flat zone with northeast windswell providing most of the energy and a little northwest swell under that. Waves were shoulder high on the sets and a bit warbled. The South Shore was flat other than limited east tradewind swell filtering in. The East Shore was getting local trade induced windswell producing surf in the chest high range and choppy.
For Central California that westerly dateline swell is to fade out through Friday with only small southerly windswell expected in for the weekend (waist to chest high), coming from a broad but weak gale just off the coast. This one to be another rainmaker, with wet weather moving in on Sunday and continuing into early next week with perhaps better odds of larger south windswell, but nothing that would be considered good for the season. Southern California to see some more of the westerly swell on Friday at waist high or so, fading out Saturday and Sunday and hardly rideable. As of now most of the precipitation is bound for regions north of Pt Conception, so rain is to not be an issue. Maybe some very limited west windswell by Monday, but that's all. The North Shore of Hawaii is to be even smaller on Friday, but then things pick up somewhat Saturday as north windswell from the same gale off California arrives at 6.5 ft @ 10 secs (1+ ft overhead) holding into Sunday and on through at least mid-week. Winds slowly turning more to trades. The South Shore of Hawaii is in hibernation for the winter. The East Shore is expecting to see that same north windswell as the North Shore by Saturday and holding through mid-week, but with onshore winds. But long term not too much is expected to develop, with the best action scheduled for the far Western Pacific and tracking fast to the north offering only limited sideband energy for Hawaii and a much decayed version of that for the US West Coast beyond.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (2/19) the North Pacific jetstream was pretty much a mess. A modest almost consolidated flow at 140 kts was pushing off Japan splitting well west of the dateline with the northern branch tracking over the Aleutians at the dateline then continuing northeast into Alaska, only to drop and turn 180 degrees back southwest off British Columbia forming a backdoor trough off California then limping onshore over Southern CA. The Southern branch tracked south to the equator on the dateline, then limped east rejoining the main flow off Baja and tracking onshore. There was no support anywhere for gale development of interest. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (2/22) the same basic pattern is to hold, but with a bit of a trough trying to form off Japan with the trough off California holding. The split of the jet on the dateline is to get even more pronounced. No real support for gale development expected other than some remote odds off Japan. Beyond 72 hrs the trough off Japan is to lift north while the backdoor trough off California dissolves by Wednesday (2/25). By then a fully split jet is to be in control with the northern branch tracking northeast from the Kuril to Canada and the southern branch from the south dateline region into Central CA and offering virtually nothing of interest from a gale development perspective.
At the surface today high pressure at 1032 mbs was centered 1500 nmiles north of Hawaii elongated from the southern dateline northeast into Alaska . A weak gale was off California producing 35 kt south winds pushing up and off the West Coast then turning west and diving southwest towards Hawaii. A thin elongated area of 20 ft seas were in-place under this fetch offering windswell potential for Northern CA up into the Pacific Northwest and also starting to take aim on northeast shores of the Hawaiian Islands. A gale was trying to get organized just west of the dateline though no real fetch was occurring just yet. Over the next 72 hours the gale off California is forecast to retrograde (move west) with a fetch of 30 kt northeast winds in it's northwest quadrant aimed best at Hawaii as it interacts with the high pressure system north of Hawaii perhaps hitting the 35 kt mark Sunday (2/22) before dissipating. Seas to be holding in the 18-20 ft range near 43N 150W pushing southeast towards Hawaii then building to 23 ft on Sunday at that same place. Rideable north to northeast windswell is expected to result for Hawaii starting Saturday AM (2/21) at 6.5 ft @ 10 secs (6+ ft faces) from 00-10 degrees and holding for days if this occurs. Weak south windswell expected for Central and North CA over the weekend into early next week.
The gale west of the dateline is to build rapidly Thurs PM (2/19) driving a limited fetch of 45-50 kt north winds at 36N 175E aimed initially towards Hawaii down the 303 degree path, but is to be lifting quickly to the north through the day Friday and getting zero traction on the oceans surface. Limited 26 ft seas forecast at 37N 172E Friday AM (2/20) then fading fast. Limited small 15 sec swell possible for the Islands by later Monday (2/23) if this occurs. at 4.2 ft @ 15 secs (6 ft faces).
Note: Jason-1 satellite data is back on line.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (2/19) low pressure at 1000 mbs was lodged 600 nmiles off San Francisco with south winds associated with it's outer bands a mere 100 nmiles off the coast. southeast winds ahead of the front were in control of most of the coast other than Southern CA. The gale is forecast to retrograde (move west) Friday with south to southeast winds still in control locally. The gale is to almost dissipate more north of Hawaii than near California late Friday (though a brush of rain is possible from San Francisco northward on Friday) then resurge Saturday and start pushing back to the east and slowly easing it's way into the Pacific Northwest Sun-Thurs (2/26). South winds taking over Sat/Sun turning northwest Monday north of Pt Conception. The front from this system is to be reinforced by a healthy dose of subtropical moisture from the equator pushing into Central and North CA Sunday (2/22) and south to Pt Conception Monday. But this also likely means high snow levels. Additional lighter precipitation and another push southward is expected through Thursday reaching on down into Southern CA this time. Let's hope the models are correct because we still can use every drop of rain the atmosphere can bring our way. Northwest winds moving over all coastal waters late Thursday into Friday with more light precip staged off Canada.
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 another storm is forecast forming over Central Japan late Friday (2/20) with up to 55 kt west winds extending just barely out into the West Pacific and continuing in a start-and-stop fashion into late Saturday. Theoretically by Sat PM 44 ft seas are to result at 42N 162E aimed a bit east of the 310 degree path to Hawaii and a bit south of the 300 degree path to North CA but a very long ways away. Most energy to be pushing towards the Aleutians. Possible infrequent longer period swell to result for Hawaii and the US. Will monitor.
After that a total shutdown of the North Pacific is forecast with a massive 1050 mb high pressure system forecast to take over the Gulf of Alaska by Thursday (2/26) ridging to the dateline and completely clogging the North Pacific storm corridor.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (2/19) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was just barely in the Active Phase. The Daily SOI index was up to 14.65. The 30 day average was up to 14.44 and the 90 day average was up slightly to 12.93. The SOI indicies were all still symptomatic of La Nina with no real change expected. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated neutral winds over the equatorial East Pacific and Central America with a small weak area of westerly wind anomalies associated with this weak incarnation of the Active Phase sitting on the he dateline and the equator. These winds were much weaker than previously forecast, expected to hold on the dateline through 2/23, then quickly dissipate. Beyond we are to enter a neutral phase with neither the active or inactive phases in control through 3/10. This suggests there is to be no help for the storm track for the next few weeks. Cooler than usual subsurface waters that had pooled up south of Hawaii, which we thought might be starting to erode, appear to have made a comeback and if anything are pushing warmer than usual waters back to the west. All this means is that La Nina remains well in-control.
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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Wave Model Upgrade Status Report: At this point we believe the installation of the new wave models is complete, with no problems being reported, the server stabilizing and the much requested return of the old style hemispheric Surf Height models now operational (again) and running side-by-side along the new ones. We thank you for your patience and input as we went though this process. Your feedback helps guide our efforts and ultimately results in a better product for everyone. Now we're off to start providing better menus to some wave model products most of you probably haven't uncovered yet (site specific graph and text forecasts), updateing the wave model FAQs and then upgrading the Weather Models.
New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.
Stormsurf Wave Models Updated: On Friday (2/6) we installed the latest upgrade to our wavemodels. A year in the works, this upgrade essentially is a total re-write of every wave model product we produce. They now take advantage of the new Version 3 of the Wavewatch wavemodel. This version runs at a much higher resolution, specifically 0.0 X 0.5 degrees for the global grib with local products at 0.1667 X 0.1667 degrees, and it uses the hi-res GFS model for wind speeds. And of even more interest, the model now identifies primary swell and windwave variables. As such we now have new model images which displays this data. Also we've included out special 3D topographic land masks into all models. In all it makes for a radical step forward in wave model technology. We'll be upgrading minor components (FAQ, new menu pages etc) for a few weeks to come, but all the basics are available for your use now. Check it out here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wam.html
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!
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table