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 (3/5) North and Central California had surf a foot or two overhead on the sets, residual swell from the previous days local storm, with offshore winds, but still pretty warbled from days of previous south winds. Southern California was getting some of this same local swell with waves waist to maybe chest high and textured. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the last of the north-northeast windswell originating from the combination of high pressure north of the Islands and low pressure off the West Coast. Waves were head high to 1 ft overhead with sideshore texture. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was 1-2 ft overhead coming from the same high pressure system as the North Shore, with windy local conditions and chopped.
For Central California local north windswell is all that can be expected through the weekend into Monday (3/9) with period not exceeding 9 secs. Maybe a little sideband very north angled 13 sec period swell to slip in later Monday from a gale over the Canadian coast this weekend, but odds low. Southern California to be in the same boat, with fading tiny swell early Friday then windswell the best one can hope for (and even that is optimistic) through the weekend and into Monday. The North Shore of Hawaii is to see the last bit of rideable swell on Friday from the combination of high pressure north of the Islands and low pressure off California, with only east swell after that until late Sunday. The South Shore of Hawaii to have no rideable surf other than limited wrap-around east windswell. The East Shore is expecting to see easterly tradewind generated short period windswell in the chest high range for the foreseeable future.
Longterm the best source for swell is associated with a gale starting to wind up in the West Pacific pushing over the dateline this weekend tracking to the Western Gulf then fading. Mostly 30-32 ft seas scheduled though a tiny blast of up to 38 ft seas are possible, with swell pushing a bit east of Hawaii arriving late Sunday (3/8) and too far away from the West Coast. Springtime is the name of the game now. Hope you found something decent this past winter.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (3/5) the North
Pacific jetstream was sliding off Japan at 170 kts and consolidated just a little ways west before splitting heavily with the northern branch headed north east eventually ridging hard north into Alaska and offering no support for gale development east of the dateline. A decent trough was trying to organize embedded in this flow midway to the dateline though, offering support for gale development there. The southern branch tracked gradually southeast over the dateline and Hawaii, then turning northeast eventually pushing into Southern CA. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (3/8) the trough off Japan is to push northeast and pinch off Saturday on the dateline ending it's ability to support gale development. A weaker flat flow to follow in the northern branch. The southern branch is to continuing as before, maybe a little weaker. Beyond 72 hrs the massive split [pattern is to continue with energy split 70/30 between the two streams with the north dominating, and a solid trough forming in the Gulf of Alaska Thursday (3/12) likely supporting gale development off Washington.
At the surface today high pressure at 1032 mbs was centered 900 nmiles north of Hawaii ridging east towards the US West Coast with a secondary high at 1032 mbs right behind it on the dateline. These two systems were totally locking down the East Pacific and preventing low pressure formation. They were serving only to generate 20 kt easterly trades over the Hawaiian Islands. A new tiny storm had organized west of Japan tracking northeast with winds to 50 kts (see Dateline Storm below). Over the next 72 hours the Dateline Storm is to continue active pushing northeast into the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska then fading. A weak gale is to try and organize over the north Canadian coast late Friday-early Saturday producing 35 kt northwest winds, but is to be essentially landlocked producing 26 ft seas at 55N 140W just off the North Canadian coastline Sat AM, maybe pushing some energy into the Pacific Northwest at best. No other activity is forecast.
A gale formed west of the dateline Thursday AM (3/5) with pressure 980 mbs and 50-55 kt west winds confirmed at 37N 167E aimed 20 degree south of the 292 degree path to NCal and and 10 degree east of the 305 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were building. In the evening 55 kt northwest winds are forecast at 38N 170E aimed 20 degree south of the 293 degree path to NCal and aimed right down the 310 degree path to Hawaii. Seas building to 36 ft at 37N 168E.
Friday AM the storm is to be lifting northeast with pressure 984 mbs producing 50 kt northwest winds in the gales southwest sector and wrapping into it's south quadrant at 40N 172E. Seas to be building to 37 ft at 39N 175E, but only over a small area and traveling more northeast than east, favoring the US West Coast up the 293 degree path with limited energy pushing down the 310 degree path to Hawaii. In the evening most fetch is to moving into the storm west quadrant aimed south at 45N 175E and having a difficult time getting traction on the oceans surface because it is to be lifting north fast. Seas of 30 ft forecast at 40N 180W.
Saturday AM (3/7) 45 kt winds to continue in the gales western quadrant at 45N 180W aimed well towards Hawaii down the 328 degree path and 30 degrees south of the 300 degree path to NCal. Seas of 35 ft rebuilding at 43N 180W. In the evening the fetch is to be fading fast from 40 kts in the same area with 35 ft seas pushing east from 44N 173W pushing right up the 296 degree path to NCal.
By Sunday AM (3/8) fetch is to be gone with seas from previous fetch at 30 ft and fading fast at 45N 168W pushing right up the 296 degree path to NCal (301 SCal).This system to dissipate by evening.
This is to be a very small storm, though right at this moment it looks pretty good, though a very long ways away from any landmass. Still this strong fetch is favoring Hawaii and seas are likely much higher than what the models suggest. No Jason-1 satellite passes have occurred near the fetch ye to confirm this theory. Regardless, Hawaii is already well in the probability window to get some longer period swell coming from 305-310 degrees. If this all unfolds as forecast small to moderate sized swell will a longer period will hit the Islands with smaller swell for the US West Coast. Will monitor
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (3/5) remnants of the local low pressure system that has produced much needed rain for CA was hanging just off the Central CA coast dropping south, making offshore winds in the SF Bay area and south winds into Central CA. High pressure was trying to ridge into Southern CA making a northwesterly breeze, but not too bad early. By Friday (3/6) the low is to be gone and the big high pressure system that has been out in the North Pacific is to start pushing east into the coast and generating northwest winds of 15-20 kts over the entire coast by late afternoon. More 15-20 kt north winds expected Saturday down to the Channel Islands (though SCal might be protected) building to 20-25 kts on Sunday over outer Central CA waters as reinforcing high pressure builds in. Southern CA to be protected though. North winds are to continue unabated through Wednesday (3/11) at 20-25 kts from NCal southward to the Channel Islands. Very much a springtime pattern. But that to possibly get broken up by Thursday (3/12) if low pressure builds off the coast as currently modeled.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
A gale pattern is forecast building off Chile on Thursday (3/5) on the eastern edge of the California swell window but mostly aimed east, not towards the state. Varying degrees of fetch and seas to 36 ft are modeled through Saturday with perhaps a pulse of 35-40 kt winds and 28 ft seas on Sunday aimed almost due north at 43S 130W, perhaps providing some potential for 15 sec period southern hemi swell for exposed breaks in Southern CA. Will monitor. Otherwise over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch 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 virtually no swell producing fetch is forecast for the North Pacific with high pressure at 1030 mbs controlling the area from the dateline east to the US West Coast, though flattened out a bit and elongated west to east on the 40N latitude, which isn't so bad. At least it isn't to be ridging up into the Bering Sea. By Thursday (3/12) a gale is to start building 800 nmiles west of Vancouver Island with 40 kt winds at 49N 142W aimed well down the 315 degree path to NCal. This looks like weather producer for the Pacific Northwest and some degree of swell might be possible for Central CA, though from a very north direction. But it's still a long ways off so odds are low it will even form.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (3/5) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the neutral phase. The Daily SOI index was at 0.38 (three days in a row and the lowest in months). The 30 day average was down to 11.18 and the 90 day average was down slightly to 10.71. The SOI indicies remained symptomatic of La Nina, though likely waning. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated light east winds fading out over the Eastern equatorial Pacific into Central America indicative of the end of the inactive Phase of the MJO. West winds were over the Indian Ocean pushing into the far Western Pacific, indicative of the next incarnation of the Active Phase of the MJO. Beyond the east winds/Inactive Phase is to fade out by 3/7 with the Active Phase/west winds starting to build in by 3/10, limping to the dateline by 3/15, then slowly fading there through at least 3/22. This suggests there is to be no help for the storm track for the next few weeks and then after that, only marginal additional support for gale development. La Nina remains well in-control but appears to be finally be fading.
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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Shark Video: Our friend Curt Myers of Powerlines productions shot this footage of 2 great whites munching on a whale carcass off Devils Slide (south of San Francisco) on Thursday. Kind of interesting to watch. Check it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch\?v=3gMuiRycuus&feature=channel_page
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