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 (2/26) North and Central California were starting to get small long period inconsistent swell originating from off Japan. Residual swell from previous days was shoulder high or so with lumpy conditions. Southern California was getting limited swell from previous days fetch just off the NCal coast with waves waist high and maybe a few chest high peaks and reasonably clean, best down south. Hawaii's North Shore was getting a mixture of north windswell and fading energy originating off Japan pushing 2 ft overhead on the sets with side-offshore northerly winds. The north windswell was coming from a mixture of a gale that was off California days before interacting with high pressure north of the Islands. The South Shore was flat other than limited east tradewind swell filtering in. The East Shore was head high to 1 ft overhead coming from the same gale off California from a north-northeast direction with wind on it and choppy.
For Central California the Japan swell is to get a bit more consistent on Friday with better conditions too, then start fading on Saturday before south winds and south short period windswell take over on Sunday as another local gale builds over the coast. Southern California to see some limited small northwest energy from this Japan swell, but the northerly angle is to be problematic. And local windswell might be a bit of an issue too on Friday, calming down Saturday. The North Shore of Hawaii is to continue seeing north to northeast windswell, biggest on Saturday into Sunday. The South Shore of Hawaii is in hibernation for the winter. The East Shore is expecting to see more of that same north windswell, peaking Sat-Sun (3/1).
Longerterm high pressure is to hold north of Hawaii totally shutting down the standard North Pacific Storm Corridor even more than it has been the past few weeks. The best shot at swell is to be from north winds pushing down the east side of that high in combination with a series of weak low pressure system falling south from over Alaska. One to set up off California over the weekend with a reinforcing and stronger pulse Monday/Tuesday producing maybe 26 ft seas, and yet another weaker one Wed/Thurs (3/5). But all this energy is to be aimed mid-way between Hawaii and California, bypassing both and heading for the South Pacific. Sideband windswell is to best shot from a very northerly direction.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (2/26) the North Pacific jetstream remained heavily split with the split point just off Japan at 155E with the northern branch tracking due north over the Aleutians on up into the Bering Sea and into Alaska then dipping slightly into the Gulf of Alaska while the southern branch fell into a weak trough over the dateline then headed flat east over Hawaii and into Central CA. Energy was split 50/50 between the two streams and no support for surface level gale development was indicated. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (3/1) essentially the same pattern is to hold, but with more energy moving into the northern branch and the trough off the Pacific Northwest is to strengthen some with 170 kts winds pumping into the Central CA coast on Sunday as the two halves of the jet join together just off the coast. This should help fuel gale development just off Central CA. Beyond 72 hrs no real change is forecast except that the trough of CA is to move a little further east and winds are to subside a bit, with the core of the trough inland by Thurs (3/5). This could signal the end of precipitation for the West, with the split jet pattern taking over locally, which infers high pressure at the oceans surface.
At the surface today strong high pressure at 1044 mbs was building in the Western Gulf of Alaska 1500 nmiles north of Hawaii ridging north into the Bering Sea and south to Hawaii, extending east and west to a bit off the Pacific Northwest coast all the way to the dateline. A blocking high if there ever was one and likely the first big push of Spring. Weak low pressure was trying to fall south from Alaska down the Canadian West Coast. 20-25 kt northeast winds associated with the high pressure system were blowing into the Hawaiian Islands, the only swell producing fetch in the North Pacific. Over the next 72 hours that high pressure system is to hold it's strength and inch eastward continuing a steady flow of 20-25 kt north to northeast winds pushing into the Hawaiian Islands and generating solid 10 sec period northeasterly windswell along north and east facing shores. Low pressure at 992 mbs is to start building just a few hundred miles west of Oregon on Saturday (2/28) generating a pressure gradient between the high and itself, producing reinforcing 30 kt north winds and 23 ft seas near 35N 145W aimed due south. Some degree of sideband energy from this windswell to eventually reach Hawaii possibly producing a 11-13 sec underlying swell for Northeast Shores. And a second pulse of low pressure energy is to start falling south late Sunday generating 35-40 kt north winds and 29 ft seas at 42N 145W possibly sending more sideband swell to the Islands with limited energy into Central and South CA from a steep north angle on late Tues/Wed (3/4). Of course this is just a forecasted system, and no fetch has started bowing yet.
A storm formed over Central Japan late Friday (2/20) with 60 kt west winds confirmed at 41N 153E extending just barely out into the West Pacific through Sat AM at 50 kts at 42N 160E. The Jason-1 satellite confirmed seas of 39.1 ft with a max reading of 41.3 ft at 39.4N 152.9E while the models suggested only 32 ft seas at that same location. Sea were modeled building Sat PM to 40 ft at 43N 164E aimed a bit east of the 312 degree path to Hawaii (2100 nmiles away) and a bit south of the 300 degree path to North CA but 3300 nmiles away. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the SE sector of this fetch and confirmed seas of 36.1 ft with a peak to 39.7 ft where the model suggested only 32 ft seas, so the models were under-calling this one. Most of that energy was pushing east, bypassing Hawaii and too far away from CA to be effective. Sunday AM (2/22) the satellite made another successful pass and reported seas of 36.8 ft with a peak to 40.4 ft at 44N 169E where the model was expecting only 35 ft seas.
Infrequent longer period swell started to reach Central CA Thurs AM (2/26) to 5.0 ft @ 19 secs (9 ft faces) late. Swell down to 5.2 ft @ at 16 sec (8.3 ft faces) by Friday AM. Swell Direction 300 degrees (shadowed in San Francisco)
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (2/26) weak high pressure at 1022 mbs was ridging into Southern CA with weak low pressure off the Pacific Northwest and a near neutral pressure pattern was in-between. Weak northwest winds were in control of Central CA waters building some to the 15-20 kt range over the Channel Islands. Friday the high pressure system is to break down with a neutral pressure pattern and light offshores in control of the California coast while new low pressure builds just 400 nmiles off Cape Mendocino. By Saturday that low is to be nuzzling up to North CA pushing inland with south winds in control there at 20 kts and working it's way down into San Francisco late with south winds building in strong and rain by evening. South wind to continue early Sunday at 20 kts chopping everything up while the core of the low lifts north along the Pacific Northwest coast pushing into Vancouver Island late. Rain limping south to Southern CA though winds look to remain light there. By Monday (3/2) the next front and reinforcing south winds are to push south down the Central CA coast but not reaching Southern CA, with high pressure just barely protecting the coast there. Yet more southwest winds and another pulse of rain is expected to hit Central CA Tuesday with the core of the low finally moving onshore early Wednesday. And yet another weak low is to dropping south with more light rain forecast over North and Central CA into Thursday. In all a wet and windy patch of weather forecast from Saturday and beyond north of Pt Conception.
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 residual low pressure is to continue circulating off Cape Mendocino CA into Wed (3/4) with maybe another weak pulse pushing directly down the Pacific Northwest Coast Thurs/Fri (3/6) but offering no swell producing fetch, just some odds for rain over affected areas. Otherwise massive high pressure at 1040 mbs is to remain in-control of the Western Gulf of Alaska drifting east through Thursday (3/5) perhaps starting to ridge into Southern CA at that time. A second high at 1040 mbs is to be building off Kamchatka too, looking to follow an easterly route and reinforce the pre-existing high off the US West Coast. Virtually no low pressure is to be in sight and no swell producing fetch looks likely. Spring looks to be taking hold.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (2/26) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the neutral phase. The Daily SOI index was down to 11.82. The 30 day average was up to 16.77 and the 90 day average was down slightly to 11.88. The SOI indicies remained 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 entire Pacific. Beyond a neutral phase is to continue with neither the active or inactive phases in control through 3/19. This suggests there is to be no help for the storm track for the next few weeks. Cooler than usual subsurface waters were pooled up south of Hawaii and not giving an inch. 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/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table