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 (3/12) North and Central California had head high wind ruffled waves and not looking very inviting. Most of the swell was coming from a storm that was on the dateline days before, that was now on it's last legs mixed with local north windswell. Southern California was getting a fraction of this dateline swell with waves thigh high and textured mid-day up north and maybe knee to thigh high and a bit cleaner down south. Certainly nothing to loose sleep over. Hawaii's North Shore was a blown out mess with waves maybe head high and hacked with onshore winds. The East Shore was seeing head high northeast windswell generated by a mix of trades and developing low pressure north of the Islands. The South Shore was essentially flat and clean.
North and Central CA surf is to slowly descend into even smaller ranges over the next 2 days, until Sunday rolls around and a bit of southern hemi swell starts to show occasionally at best south facing breaks. Otherwise very limited thigh to waist high background northwest swell is to be dribbling in. Southern CA is to not see anything on Friday, but then the southern hemi swell is to start showing later Saturday pushing maybe chest high and even more on Sunday. This to be from 185-190 degrees, so choose your break appropriately. The Southern CA local swell models are showing the shadowing effect of the Channel Islands well (look here). Hawaii's North Shore is to start seeing some larger swell size by late Friday peaking early Saturday from a vigorous gale located just north of the Islands but north winds to be an issue Friday and still and issue Saturday as they turn southwest. The East Shore to see this same swell and size but with better conditions on Saturday. The South Shore is not expecting any rideable swell from the Southern Hemi for a little bit longer, though there is some hope on the charts.
Longterm the models indicate only a series of weak gales in the eastern Gulf of Alaska Sat-Tues (3/17) pushing limited northwest winds at 25-30 kts and up to 23 ft seas pushing proto-swell down into the Pacific Northwest and Central CA for Monday into mid-week, but that is far from certain. After that things are to get real quiet. Get what you can now and start preparing for summer.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (3/12) the North Pacific jetstream was majorly split and offering no indications of supporting gale development down at the oceans surface. A big ridge was driving the northern branch into and north of the Aleutians at the dateline. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (3/15) more of the same is forecast, with the only hope being a bit of a trough forecast for the Gulf of Alaska starting Saturday dipping south and moving inland over Washington, supporting possible weak gale development. Beyond 72 hrs this trough is to continue at least though mid-next week while the rest of the jetstream totally falls apart, splitting multiple directions and offering no cohesive and gale supportive flow.
At the surface high pressure at 1032 mbs was in control of the international dateline riding northeast up into the Western Gulf of Alaska and choking off the normal North Pacific Storm corridor. A gale low was organizing just north of Hawaii (see Hawaiian Local Gale below). No other swell producing fetch was indicated. Over the next 72 hours the high is to fade a bit opening up a gap in the Gulf of Alaska and allowing some weak low pressure to get a foothold supported by a marginally favorable flow in the upper levels of the atmosphere. By Saturday (3/14) a small fetch of 35 kt northwest winds is forecast 500 nmiles west of Vancouver Island tracking inland late that evening and generating 20-21 ft seas mostly outside the CA swell window by Saturday AM. Maybe some proto-swell for the Pacific Northwest though by Sunday. On Sunday a broader fetch of 30 kt northwest winds is forecast streaming southeast off the eastern Aleutians and Alaska offering better odds for generating 20-23 ft seas near 47N 145W by Monday AM pushing down the 307 degree path to Central CA and covering up into the Pacific Northwest and south to Southern CA. This fetch to push east and wither out off Washington by late Tuesday (3/17) with seas fading from 17 ft at 46N 135W. West to northwest swell for the US West Coast is possible with period in the 13-14 sec range early next week. No other swell sources were indicated.
Hawaiian Local Gale
A cutoff low was forming 750 nmiles north-northeast of Hawaii on Thursday AM (3/12) expected to generate 12 hrs of 45 kt north-northeast winds falling directly towards the Hawaiian Islands generating a tiny area of 28 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 a larger area of 28 ft seas at 28N 156W or 350 nmiles north of Oahu. By Friday evening swell from this system is to be impacting northern shores with more 25 ft seas just 200 nmiles offshore. 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 14-15 ft @ 14-16 secs (20-23 ft faces) from 355 degrees. North to northwest winds forecast Friday 15 kts turning west to southwest on Saturday at 10-15 kts. Very raw and chopped conditions expected on the North Shore.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (3/12) high pressure at 1028 mbs was pushing into and over Vancouver Island setting up a weak high pressure pattern off the California coast and generating light northwest winds at 5-10 kts. More of the same is forecast Friday with perhaps just a little more velocity to it, then increasing a little more on Saturday as new high pressure at 1028 mbs tries to push into outer CA waters. Southern CA nearshore waters should be protected, but not north of Pt Conception. Sunday the wind to continue but be a little more westerly at 10-15 kts as low pressure makes inroad into the Pacific Northwest, almost setting up a little onshore pressure gradient over Central CA with a full southwest erly flow at 15+ kts forecast for Pt Arena northward. By Monday light high pressure is to be in control of everywhere south of Cape Mendocino with light northerly winds forecast and holding into Tuesday AM. Weak high pressure to get a little stronger hand on Wed/Thurs (3/19) with 10-15 kt northwest winds forecast a bit off the coast, but likely not too bad nearshore in the mornings.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Thursday AM (3/12) a weak 972 mb gale had formed just east of New Zealand producing up to 40 kt southwest winds aimed well at Hawaii up the 200 degree path. 26 ft seas were modeled at 43S 178E dropping to 25 ft in the evening at nearly the same location. The gale is expected to try and reorganize on Friday but dropping southeast and traveling away from the Islands. 40 kts fetch is to continue over a small area with seas to 28 ft in the morning at 48S 172W and tuning more to the east away from Hawaii then dissipating while racing southeast. decent odds for some small 15 sec period background swell for Hawaii from 200 degrees starting Saturday (3/21).
Otherwise no swell producing fetch is expected.
Southeast Pacific Gale
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 sec period energy by Saturday (3/14) with more building in for exposed breaks in Southern CA by Mon AM (3/16) from 187 degrees.
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 the North Pacific is to go to sleep with virtually no low pressure of interest forecast and just moderate high pressure at 1032 mbs locked over the dateline. The most recent run of the GFS model hints at a gale forming in the Gulf of Alaska on the last frame of the 7 day run, but odds of that actually occurring at this early date and nonexistent.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (3/12) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the neutral phase. The Daily SOI index was at 6.08 (14 days in a row near zero - neutral, and the lowest since June of last year when we almost slipped into an El Nino). The 30 day average was down to 6.02 and the 90 day average was down some to 10.36. The SOI indicies remained symptomatic of La Nina, though definitely fading. 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, with cooler than normal water now pooled up off Central America. Of some interest is the equatorial subsurface warm pool of water that has been repressed back west of the dateline, it is starting to make some eastern headway, reaching to 165W. Still subsurface cooler waters are entrenched just east of there. Will be interesting to see if the SOI stays near neutral and if the warm subsurface waters of the west pacific continue to make inroad to the east. Regardless, it will take months before the atmosphere begins to respond to any changes (warming) of the eastern equatorial Pacific, so expect a cool and foggy Spring into 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
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
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!
Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here
Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here
Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table