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 (2/27) North and Central California was getting locally generated north windswell with waves head high or so and clean early but with some warbled due to north winds over outer waters. Southern California was near flat up north and clean. Down south waves at exposed breaks were shoulder high and pretty clean early. Hawaii's North Shore was getting small northeast swell with waves waist high and clean with light trades in effect. The East Shore was getting the same northeast swell as the North Shore at waist high and a bit warbled. 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 on Monday (2/28) is for waves to be heading down from 2.5 ft (faces). On Tuesday (3/1) north angled windswell again arrives to 7.5 ft (faces) at exposed breaks. Wednesday leftover north windswell expected at 4.5 ft and then in the 5 ft range Thursday fading from 3.5 ft faces on Friday. Southern California is to see north windswell dropping to flat on Monday. Theoretically south swell is expected to waist high on Tuesday (3/1) with north swell at 2 ft then south swell to chest high on Wednesday with north windswell to near waist high. Thursday south swell holds at waist high continuing into Friday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see tiny west swell pushing shoulder high Monday with northeast windswell to 1 ft overhead then fading from shoulder high early Tuesday. Nothing Wednesday then maybe some new northwest swell is to push in at 3 ft overhead Thursday fading from 1-2 ft overhead on Friday. The East Shore is to see northeast windswell at head high Monday fading from shoulder high Tuesday. Nothing Wednesday then maybe more northeast windswell Thursday to waist to chest high pushing chest high Friday. The South Shore is asleep for the winter.
Another small south falling low pressure system is to track down the Canadian West Coast Monday (2/28) generating maybe 20-24 ft seas but disintegrating as it falls south and gone off Oregon on Tuesday. Still this might set up sideband 12 sec period north windswell for Central CA on Tuesday. An interesting gale is tracking off Japan towards the dateline Sunday (2/27) with near 30 ft seas forecast late, then fading and lifting northeast but expected to regenerate slightly late Tuesday again with 28 ft seas over the Northern Dateline and dropping southeast but dissipating, gone on Thursday (2/3). Hawaii to see some semi legitimate swell from this one during the week if all goes as forecast with maybe some background inconsistent energy for the US West Coast by the weekend. Otherwise a real quiet pattern is in control.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (2/27) the split jetstream pattern that has been in control appeared to be moderating some with a single flow reaching to the dateline with a nice but weak trough just west of the dateline with winds to 140 kts flowing through it offering some support for gale development there. but east of there the jetstream split into at least three difference tracks with most energy pushing through the Northern Gulf of Alaska and then into British Columbia with no clear support for gale development indicated. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold but with the singular jet pushing east more to a point north of Hawaii but with energy levels fading and not looking as organized with the trough that was present fading out by Tuesday (3/1). Beyond 72 hours a new pocket of energy is to push off Japan with winds to 150 kts but the same old La Nina induced split is to develop mid-way between Japan and the Dateline pushing hard north into the Bering Sea. The northward tracking energy is eventually supposed to fall south into the middle Gulf of Alaska and then turn hard east pushing into the US West Coast. All this suggests is a continuation of the same weather pattern than has been dominant all winter, basically no real swell producing weather systems other than those tucked up along the US West Coast of just off Japan with small cold wet systems tracking down the US West Coast.
At the surface on Sunday (2/27) a small ill formed gale was over the Central Canadian coast generating 35 kt northwest winds over exposed waters just off the coast generating 20 ft seas up at 50N 143W aimed due south. A second better formed gale was mid-way between Japan and the dateline generating 40 kt northwest winds at 35N 165E aimed at Hawaii up the 300 degree great circle path and producing 25 ft seas. No other systems of interest were occurring. Over the next 72 hours the system over the Canadian coast is to hold stationary through Monday night generating northwest winds at 30-35 kt, into Monday AM then fading , with seas up to 24 ft at 49N 140W pushing down the 319 degree path to Central CA. If this comes to pass some degree of North swell in the 12-13 sec range is expected into exposed breaks of Central CA on Tuesday (3/1) at 6.5 ft @ 12 secs (7.5 ft faces) from 315 degrees.
Meanwhile the gale off Japan is to push east more Sunday evening with winds down to 35-40 kts at 35N 172E resulting in up to 30 ft seas over a tiny area at 35N 170E. This should produce a nice pulse of westerly swell with period initially at 17 secs for Hawaii starting late Wednesday with size building fairly fast. Peak swell of 6 ft @ 14-15 secs is expected by Thurs AM (3/3) resulting in surf with 8 ft faces from 304 degrees. On Monday the gale is to rapidly degrade while lifting northeast offering no swell producing fetch.
There is some suggestion the gale might reorganize in the Northern dateline region later Tuesday (3/1) with 40 kt northwest winds rejuvenating at 45N 180W producing a small area of 24 ft seas. That fetch is to be fading while falling southeast on Wed AM (3/2) with only 35 kt winds left at 44N 175W resulting in 28 ft seas at roughly the same locale. Fetch is to be gone by the evening with 25 ft seas at 42N 171W from previous fetch. Possible another pulse of swell for Hawaii from 330 degrees and a little background pulse for the US West Coast from 299 degrees. Will monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (2/27) high pressure at 1048 mbs was over the southeastern Bering Sea ridging southeast to a point almost off the Southern CA coast (though down to 1020 mbs) generating a modest northerly flow down the Central and Southern CA coasts. Over the Canadian coast a new 990 mbs low was organizing and falling south and will be the main weather influencer for California for the early week. By Monday (2/28) the leading edge of this system is to be easing into Northern CA generating light south winds to maybe Pt Conception and continuing into Tuesday while a new low builds 800 nmiles west of Pt Conception, moving towards the northeast. Late evening south winds associated with this build gale are to reach the Central CA coast with the core of the gale pushing into North CA and Oregon on Wed (3/2). South winds at 20+ kts are to be in effect for all of CA from Pt Conception northward. Rain is forecast from a line north of San Francisco starting Monday and then pushing into all of CA on Wednesday (including San Diego late) with a foot of snow in the Tahoe region through the day Wed into early Thurs (3/3). Clearing on Thursday with light winds early, then high pressure starts building directly off Central CA with north winds on the increase near Pt Conception southward into Southern CA, but not getting much legs and fading to an offshore flow Friday into Saturday while another gale builds just off the coast racing northeast. Maybe some south winds down to San Francisco late Saturday with a northerly flow looking to follow there by Sunday (3/6) with rain possible, but details that far out are sketchy.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was occurring at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast with no swell producing weather systems modeled.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
72 hrs another gale is to try and set up in the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska Sat (3/5) though no swell producing fetch is suggested. This look mainly like another short-lived wet snow producing system for the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA holding into Sun (3/6). Otherwise high pressure at 1024 mbs is to be setting up firm over the dateline on Thurs (3/3) and slowly easing east through the weekend. No other swell of snow producing weather systems of interest are forecast.
As of Sunday (2/27) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was on the increase again. The daily SOI was up to 39.39. The 30 day average was up to 22.14 with the 90 day average up to 22.30.
Wind anomalies as of Saturday (2/26) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated a dead neutral pattern in control. previously we had indicated that it looked like the Active Phase was trying to reorganize, but any evidence of that has since evaporated from the charts. A dead neutral pattern is forecast to hold for the length of the model run too (out to 3/18). In reality, this is more in-sync with what one would expect given that a moderate plus strength La Nina is in play. All this suggests no real support for gale development through the month of March. We're still waiting for high pressure and north winds to build along the US West Coast, but as long as the jet keep driving small pulses of low pressure down directly over the Canadian and US West Coasts producing rain and snow, that high pressure and associated north wind will remain at bay.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (2/24) is unchanged and continues to indicate that cold waters (-2 C degs or cooler) had a grip on the equator covering solidly from a bit west of South America westward 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. Warmer than normal water has now built near the Galapagos Islands and over a very narrow band west of there. Regardless, the big picture still looks like a classic La Nina setup.
Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present, at least not obviously. Colder than normal water that has been locked all winter southeast of Hawaii under the equator has now evaporated and temps there a dead neutral. This is presumably the effects of two consecutive bouts of the Active Phase of the MJO. In parallel warmer than normal water was edging east, now +2 degrees above normal and positioned due south of Hawaii under the equator, but loosing some of it's punch from even the last update. Looks like the worst of La Nina is over and maybe a more normal pattern is trying to get established, but that still might just be wishful thinking.
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 during Springtime of La Nina.
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. Conversely, the tropical season in the Atlantic (2011) might be fairly active.
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
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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/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table