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 Sunday (3/8) North and Central California had surf in the waist high range with onshore winds, basically just local windswell. Southern California was dead flat and glassy with no swell indicated. Hawaii's North Shore was getting limited north windswell at head high or so coming from high pressure north of the Islands that was interacting with low pressure that was previous off the US West Coast. The East Shore was seeing chest to head high northeast windswell mixed with limited east windswell coming from trades. The South Shore had no rideable surf.
Central CA is to see some limited very north angled swell coming from a short-lived gale that was over the Canadian Coast on Saturday generating up to 28 ft seas, but from a very northerly angled and shadowed at many breaks. It was starting to show on Sunday and is to peak on Monday fading Tuesday while new inconsistent swell from the dateline arrives, peaking on Wednesday. Southern CA is to likely see none of the north swell given it's steep north angle, but the dateline swell should make it into exposed breaks on Wednesday and Thursday, though size to be pretty small. Hawaii's North Shore to see a taste of this dateline swell starting late Sunday peaking Monday but holding decently into Tuesday, then fading Wednesday. The East Shore to see steady east windswell though the early part of the week, then fading.
Longterm the models indicate a very quiet pattern though at least the end of this week, with virtually no swell producing systems on the charts. By the weekend (3/14) a little gael is depicted northeast of Hawaii possibly pushing something into north and east facing shores, but that's a guess at this early date. Another system to possibly form on the northern dateline late next weekend, but that is even more of a guess. So prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (3/8) the North
Pacific jetstream was sliding weakly off Japan and instantly splitting with the northern branch headed northeast south of the Aleutians then ridging hard north into Alaska and offering no support for gale development anywhere along it's width. A pocket of 170 kt winds was off the Kurils, but not doing anything. The southern branch tracked hard south then turned east over the dateline to Hawaii, eventually meandering into Baja. There was no support for gale development anywhere along the jet. Over the next 72 hours through Wednesday (3/11) more of the same is forecast, but in the northern branch a trough is to start building in the Western Gulf just south of the Aleutians from the wind energy currently pushing off the Kurils, and supporting gale development, with a secondary trough forming directly over the Kurils. Beyond 72 hrs the trough in the Gulf is to pinch off by Thursday (3/12) limiting it's productivity, then pushing into the Pacific Northwest by late Saturday (3/14). No other support for gale activity is indicated with a massive split pattern remaining over the North Pacific.
At the surface today high pressure at 1036 mbs was centered in the Northern Gulf of Alaska ridging south to almost Hawaii generating 20 kt east trades pushing into the Hawaiian Islands. Weak low pressure inland over British Columbia was forming a weak pressure gradient with the high off the Pacific Northwest generating 25 kt north winds from Canada down to North CA, likely producing local short period northwesterly windswell. A second high at 1028 mbs was over the dateline riding towards the GUlf high and totally locking the North Pacific down. No low pressure of interest was over the North Pacific. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf high is to push into the PAcific Northwest brining northerly winds southward into California then dissipating while the dateline high pushes east moving towards a point north of Hawaii with north winds at 20 kts taking up residence north of the Islands and generating northerly short period windswell. Low pressure is forecast to try and wind up off Japan on Tuesday (3/10) but is to instantly get shunted north and into Kamchatka 24 hrs later with no support for swell production.
A gale formed west of the dateline Thursday AM (3/5) with pressure 980 mbs and 50-60 kt west winds confirmed at 38N 165E 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 from 28 ft modeled at 37N 162E. In the evening 55 kt northwest winds were confirmed at 40N 171E aimed 20 degree south of the 293 degree path to NCal and aimed right down the 310 degree path to Hawaii. Seas building to 35 ft at 38N 168E. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass over the back end of the fetch and reported seas of 37.4 ft with a peak reading to 39 ft where the model suggested 35 ft. This is good news.
Friday AM the storm is to be lifting northeast with pressure 984 mbs producing 50-55 kt northwest winds at 42N 173E in the gales southwest sector and wrapping into it's south quadrant at 40N 172E. Seas built 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 north to northwest winds at 40-45 kt fetch were in the storms west quadrant aimed south at 45N 177E and having a difficult time getting traction on the oceans surface because it is to be lifting north fast. Seas of 30 ft were modeled at 40N 179E. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass over the fetch of 06Z and reported seas on 31.8 ft with a peak reading to 39 ft where the model suggested 30 ft. This was better than expected.
Saturday AM (3/7) 40 kt winds were fading 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 30 ft were modeled at 42N 180W. In the evening the fetch was gone with 25 ft seas pushing east from 42N 175W pushing right up the 296 degree path to NCal. The QuikSCAT satellite made a pass over the fetch and reported seas of 25.3 ft, right in-line with the model.
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 was a very small storm, though a very long ways away from any landmass. Winds and seas were confirmed to match if not beat the model projections, so at least it was a real storm. This strong fetch favored Hawaii mostly due to there closer proximity to the storm as compared to the mainland. Hawaii already is seeing swell at it's outer buoy (51001) at 4.7 ft @ 18 secs coming from 305-310 degrees at 6 AM Sunday. So small but solid swell with a longer period is bound for the Islands with smaller swell likely for the US West Coast.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Sunday (3/8) late afternoon with period at 18 secs and building through the night peaking, with swell still 5 ft @ 15-16 secs on Monday AM (8 ft faces). Additional energy to push in on Tuesday but with lower period setting up swell of 6 ft @ 14 secs (8.5 ft faces) from a more northerly direction, then starting to fading late afternoon. Swell Direction: 305-310+ degrees
North California: Expect swell arrival starting Tuesday (3/10) late afternoon at 3 ft @ 18 secs (5.5 ft faces) and building, peaking overnight and still 5 ft @ 16 secs early Wednesday (8 ft faces). Swell 5 ft @ 14 secs Thurs AM (3/12) and fading from there. Swell Direction 292-296 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (3/8) the big high pressure system that has been out in the North Pacific for a week or more was finally starting to push east into the coast and generating northwest winds of 20-25 kts over outer waters and expected into nearshore waters of Central CA by evening. Southern CA to be protected though. North winds are to continue unabated through Tuesday (3/10) at 20 kts nearshore from NCal southward to the Channel Islands then lifting north and consolidating near Cape Mendocino on Wednesday at 20-25 kts with a light flow over the balance of the state. By Thursday (3/12) low pressure in the Gulf is to take an edge of the high with light winds continuing locally on through the weekend. Though more high pressure and northwest winds look likely the week beyond.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
A gale pattern (3 separate fetches) built off Chile starting on Tuesday (3/3) and continued through Saturday (3/7) on the eastern edge of the California swell window but mostly aimed east, not towards the state. Varying degrees of fetch and seas at 31-35 ft were modeled with a pulse of 40 kt south winds and 30 ft seas on Sunday aimed almost due north at 45S 127W, perhaps providing some potential for 17 ec period energy by Saturday (3/14) with more building in for exposed breaks in Southern CA by Mon AM (3/16) from 187 degrees. 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 from low pressure is forecast for the North Pacific. Instead high pressure at 1032 mbs is to track east sending a continuous stream of 20-25 kt north winds aimed towards the Hawaiian Islands into the weekend, with perhaps a secondary low forming along the frontal boundary east of the high on Friday (3/13) serving only to reinforce those northerly winds, possibly generating increased windswell pushing into the Islands. Perhaps a gale low will form on the dateline Sun (3/13) setting up 45 kt northwest and west winds aimed towards the Islands from just south of the Aleutians, but that is just a low probability guess by the models.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (3/8) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the neutral phase. The Daily SOI index was at 4.79 (10 days in a row near zero - neutral, and the lowest in months). The 30 day average was down to 8.98 and the 90 day average was steady at 10.81. The SOI indicies remained symptomatic of La Nina, though waning. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated completely neutral winds over the entire Pacific indicative of the end of the inactive Phase of the MJO. No active Phase was in evidence in the Indian ocean. This suggests there is to be no help for the storm track for the next few weeks. The residual effects of La Nina remain well in-control, but appear to finally be fading. It will take months before the atmosphere begins to respond to the death of La Nina, so expect more of the same through early summer.
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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Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
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