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 Tuesday (3/10) North and Central California had mixed-up and confused surf in 1-2 ft overhead range and reasonably clean early but still very warbled due to brisk northwest winds just off the coast. This was a mix of fading north swell from the Gulf of Alaska, local north windswell and building westerly swell from across the dateline. Southern California was getting a little pulse of the north swell wrapping into select breaks with thigh to waist high sets and reasonably clean. Hawaii's North Shore was still getting solid swell from the dateline storm of last weekend, with waves double overhead and winds a little more easterly providing some cleaner faces. The East Shore was seeing head high easterly windswell generated by the trades. The South Shore had no rideable surf.
North and Central CA is to see the peak of the dateline swell on Wednesday then it is to slowly trickle down through the end of the week. Limited south angled southern hemi swell is expected in for the weekend with perhaps some some north swell from a series of gales schedule for the Gulf by Sunday (3/15). Southern CA is to likely see some of the dateline swell at exposed breaks on Wednesday and Thursday, though size to be pretty small. Probably the better bet is the southern hemi swell schedule for the weekend. Hawaii's North Shore is to continue seeing the dateline swell fading into Wednesday. Then a possible large but raw local north swell to push in on Friday from a cut-off gale scheduled just northeast of the Islands. The East Shore to see steady east windswell though Wednesday, then fading a bit with the same larger north-northeast swell moving in on Friday.
Longterm the models indicate only a series of weak to moderate gales in the eastern Gulf of Alaska Sat-Tues (3/17) pushing limited north swell down into the Pacific Northwest to Central CA. After that things are to get real quiet. Make the most of what you can get now.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (3/10) the North
Pacific jetstream was pushing hard north off Japan instantly splitting with the northern branch headed north just off the Kurils then east over the Aleutians, dipping south through the Western Gulf of Alaska with a small trough there and offering the only support for gale development, before ridging again and pushing onshore over North Canada. A pocket of 170 kt winds were pushing down into the Gulf trough. The southern branch dribbled east over the dateline and Hawaii, eventually meandering into Baja. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (3/13) more of the same is forecast, with the Gulf trough pushing east and pinching off with remnants of it dropping south down towards Hawaii and stalling just north of the Islands rotating through Saturday. Support for gale development possible there. Beyond 72 hrs a new gentle trough is to open up in the Eastern Gulf by Sunday (3/15) and holding into early next week perhaps setting the stage for limited gale development there. But over the Western Pacific the jet is to be pushing heard to the north tracking north of even the Bering Sea, and totally shutting things down there.
At the surface today a double-lobed high pressure system at 1028 mbs was in control, with one lobe in the Gulf of Alaska and the second over the dateline. A gale low was trying to organize off Japan but was already tracking due north and scheduled to be landlocked over Southern Kamchatka in 24 hrs. The high pressure system was serving to generate 20 kt trades over the Hawaiian Islands and limited north winds at 15 kts pushing down the Central CA coast, but not generating any swell of interest. Over the next 72 hours the only swell source of interest is to be a cutoff low forming 750 nmiles north-northeast of Hawaii on Thursday AM (3/12) generating 12 hrs of 45 kt north-northeast winds falling directly towards the Hawaiian Islands generating a tiny area of 30 ft seas by evening at 33N 155W. By Friday AM (3/13) the core of the low is to be 300 nmiles north of Hawaii with 35 kt north winds aimed directly at Oahu with 28-30 ft seas at 28N 155W or 350 nmiles north of Oahu. By evening swell from this system is to be impacting northern shores with more 25 ft seas just 200 nmiles off shore. By Saturday AM (3/14) the low is to be traveling west bypassing the Islands with swell on the way down. Swell in Oahu to peak out late Friday afternoon a jumbled mix of swell and windswell with pure swell 14 ft @ 14-16 secs (20-23 ft faces) from 355 degrees. Rough data suggests north winds Friday 15 kts turning northwest late and holding it's velocity. Likely pretty raw and chopped conditions.
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.
Note: More energy than was expected hit the Hawaiian Islands with swell up to 7.0 ft @ 16 secs late Monday into the evening with surf 10-12 ft.
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 Tuesday (3/10) high pressure at 1030 mbs was centered 600 nmiles off San Francisco generating 15 kt north winds over outer waters and up to 20 kts nearer shore at Pt Conception. Southern CA was mostly protected. North winds are to build some and move closer to shore Wednesday then track north and consolidate up near Cape Mendocino on Thursday (3/12) then start dissipated by Friday as low pressure in the Gulf and north of Hawaii takes the edge of it. By Saturday (3/14) a pressure gradient (the result of new high pressure moving into CA waters and low pressure over Oregon sinking south) is to take over with north winds building to 20 kts late, but fading fast with calm winds expected for Sunday AM as light high pressure takes control of the state. Light winds to continue through Tuesday (3/17).
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 a series of gales are to form in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska pushing into the Pacific northwest. The first is expected organizing Friday AM (3/13) with 35 kt winds pushing from 50N 150W to 46N 138W generating 22 ft seas in the evening at 48N 141W and to 23 ft Saturday AM (3/14) at 45N 135W aimed directly at Oregon with sideband energy likely pushing to Central CA all down the 310 degree path. Possible swell arrival on Sunday (3/15).
This is to be followed by another gale Sun/Mon with 25 ft seas and another Mon/Tues (3/17) with 23 ft seas but a bit further off the coast. All these to target primarily Oregon with sideband energy into Central CA from 305+ degrees (assuming they form as currently modeled).
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (3/10) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the neutral phase. The Daily SOI index was at 3.25 (12 days in a row near zero - neutral, and the lowest in months). The 30 day average was down to 7.4 and the 90 day average was down some to 10.56. 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