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 Saturday (3/12) North and Central California was seeing more swell from the first gale with waves 1 ft overhead and clean early, but southwest breeze starting to come up. Southern California was getting Gulf swell with waves in the chest high range up north early and clean but looking kinda warbly. Down south waves at exposed breaks were pushing head high and clean and looking more lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was getting leftover sideband swell at chest high and that was generous and still kinda warbled from trades that weren't fully clocked to the east yet. The East Shore was getting thigh high easterly windswell and chopped. 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 is for surf on Sunday to be 10 ft early and fading. Monday possible new swell arriving late at 13 ft and very raw fading from 13 ft Tuesday AM. Wednesday residual westerly swell to be 9 ft with perhaps longer period swell building late then pushing up on Thursday to 14 ft. Southern California is to see surf at near head high mid-Sunday fading to near waist high early Monday. New swell builds in late to waist high later and pushes up to possibly 2 ft overhead for early Tuesday. Wednesday that swell fades from head high then the final pulse arrives on Thursday at 2+ ft overhead. The North Shore of Oahu is to see new northwest swell hits pushing 8 ft (faces) on Sunday. A new pulse is expected in for Monday at 10 ft with yet another new pulse on Tuesday to 17 ft fading Wednesday from 10-11 ft early and shoulder high early Thursday. The East Shore is to not see much until Tuesday when easterly windswell builds to waist high and then up to 2 ft overhead by Thursday, but the wrap around swell from the bigger northwest swell scheduled for the North Shore to be far more interesting. The South Shore is asleep for the winter.
The second gale in the series developed in the Eastern Gulf Friday (3/11) tracking east and into the Pacific Northwest on Saturday producing 26-28 ft seas and swell for NCal Sunday. Another system was building in the Northwestern Gulf Saturday with 33 ft seas and expected to race east while fading only to reorganize off Cape Mendocino late Sunday with up to 28 ft seas. This to result in swell for Monday-Tuesday Yet another stronger one is forecast building behind it on the dateline Sunday (3/13) pushing east into the Gulf early Monday with 45 ft seas, then fading but still producing seas in the 30 ft range ft through late Tuesday before it pushes into the Pacific Northeast on Wednesday (3/18). After that high pressure is forecast moving into the Gulf region. For now the jetstream continues favorable with the Active Phase of the MJO holding on, providing the active storm track forecast for the next few days. Get what you can now.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday (3/12) the jetstream continued solid with a reasonably cohesive flow tracking flat off Japan building on the dateline with 170 kt winds there almost falling into a slight trough north of Hawaii with the jet fading and pushing still flat east into and over Central CA. Decent support for gale development on the dateline pushing east. Over the next 72 hours Energy is to hold on the dateline seeping east with a decent trough forming north of Hawaii and pushing east into Oregon on Sunday supporting gale development. Energy is to hold north of Hawaii at 160 kts fueling formation of another trough late Monday there with winds back up to near 190 kts Tuesday before fading and pushing into the Pacific Northwest on Wed (3/16). Again good support for gale if not storm development. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to .cgiit heavily on the dateline late Wednesday with up to 190 kt winds building off Japan with some of that energy riding over the .cgiit and falling into Gulf of Alaska Thurs-Sat (3/19) again offering some opportunity for gale development there but from a more northerly angle. A total shutdown is forecast after that with a full-on backdoor trough forecast pushing off Oregon and draping down the California coast over the weekend (3/19). Maybe a cold snow maker.
At the surface on Saturday (3/12) the second gale in the series was pushing into British Columbia and no longer producing swell. Swell from that system was pushing towards the PAcific Northwest on down into Central CA (see 2nd Gale below). Yet a third system was developing out on the dateline. Over the next 72 hours that system is to fall southeast and nudge up to the US West Coast (see 3rd Gale below). Yet a fourth gale is forecast developing on the dateline starting late Saturday, and is to be the strongest of the batch providing swell potential for both Hawaii and the US West Coast (see Possible Storm #6 below).
On Thursday AM (3/10) a new gale was organizing in the Central Gulf of Alaska with no closed isobars yet and 30 kt west winds at 45N 155W. Thursday PM a decent sized fetch of 35 kt west winds developed in association with this gale at 43N 150W embedded in a broader fetch with 20 ft seas building at 44N 153W. Friday AM 40 kt west winds were pushing east at 43N 141W generating 28 ft seas at 44N 146W (299 degs NCal) with 26 ft seas down to 42.5N (295 degs) and 1200 nmiles out. Friday evening the gale was veering northeast with 40 kt west winds fading at 45N 135W with 28 ft seas up at 45N 138W (304 degs NCal) and effectively out of the picture pushing onshore over Washington Saturday AM.
All swell generation occurred east of the Hawaiian Island targeting Central CA and points northward. Swell expected into , with poor weather for Oregon northward. This swell to arrive in Central CA early Sunday morning before sunrise with pure swell estimated at 8 ft @ 14 secs (11 ft) from 295 degrees, then falling in size pretty fast as daylight hours progress.
Also another gale was building just south of the Aleutians Friday PM (3/11) with up to 45 kt northwest winds over a tiny area at 49N 173W with seas on the increase. This fetch was holding if not build Saturday AM (3/12) while drifting southeast with 45 kt northwest winds at 48N 170W and seas building to 30 ft at roughly the same location. 40 kt westerly fetch to hold into the evening and falling southeast with up to 34 ft seas at 45N 163W on the 296 deg path to NCal and mostly passing east of any route down the 352 degree path into Hawaii. Also a new fetch is to building in front of this area. By Sunday AM (3/13) the new fetch is to steal all the energy with up to 40 kt west winds forecast at 40N 140W generating up to 26 ft seas at 39N 143W pushing east. In the evening 40 kt west winds to be lifting northeast at 44N 135W (298 deg NCal) with seas to 26 ft at 41N 139W (roughly over buoy 46006). This gale is to be inland Monday AM over the Pacific northwest with 28 ft seas just off the Oregon Coast and heading solely in that direction.
Rough estimate suggest swell of 10 ft @ 13-14 secs (13-14 ft faces) building into Central CA later Monday (3/14) with the core of the swell arriving well after sunset and residual energy holding well into Tuesday (10 ft @ 13-14 secs) from 285-295 degrees. Sideband swell energy possible for Hawaii (see QuikCAST's).
Possible Storm #6
Another gale was developing just west of the dateline Saturday AM with 50 kt winds over a tiny area and building. By evening a solid fetch of 60 kt west winds are forecast at 41N 178W generating seas to 39 ft over a tiny area. Sunday AM (3/13) 55 kt northwest winds to track east to 41N 175W (328 degs HI) with 44 ft seas at 41N 178W targeting Hawaii well. In the evening 45 kt west winds to continue at 40N 164W with 44 ft seas at 40N 170W (287 degs NCal and 338 degs HI). Monday AM 40-45 kt northwest winds to be fading at 40N 155W and outside the Hawaiian swell window with 43 ft seas at 39N 162W mostly bypassing Hawaii (284 degs NCal). 40 kt west winds to hold in the evening at 41N 150W generating 37 ft seas at 39N 153W all targeting NCal up the 283 degree path. Fetch is to continue off Cape Mendocino and Oregon Tuesday AM (3/15) at 35 kts at 41N 142W (287 degs NCal) with 34 ft seas tracking east from 41N 147W (287 degs NCal) and slowly fading while drifting east into Wed AM (3/16) with seas dropping from 32 ft and 28 ft respectively but still not onshore, instead just holding off Cape Mendocino.
Possible solid significant class sideband swell for the Hawaiian Islands and larger raw energy for the US West coast if all goes as forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (3/12) weak high pressure at 1022 mbs was southeast of Pt Conception with light winds prevailing everywhere other than the Channel Islands (north 15-20 kts). A weak front was over the Oregon-CA border going no-where fast. And a stronger system was pushing towards the coast. It is to be making good southeastward progress on Sunday (3/13) with south winds over the northern half of CA down to maybe Morro Bay. Light rain possible down to San Francisco Sunday evening and Morro Bay late. Clearing forecast Monday AM with light winds along the coast and 2-3 inches of snow for Tahoe possible. A third system is to be moving in Monday night (3/14) with south winds down to Monterey Bay Tuesday AM and rain pushing down to Morro Bay in the evening. High snow levels for Tahoe with maybe 8 inches of accumulation into Wed AM. Weak high pressure is scheduled to hold over Southern CA through this timeframe setting up northwest wind at 15 kts over the Channel Islands. Wednesday high pressure is to edge further north setting up north winds at 15 kts from San Francisco southward. Maybe a break Thursday AM with a little front pushing over the area and light rain to Monterey Bay late. The another gale falls south off the coast setting up south winds Friday and rain holding into the weekend (3/19).
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 yet a 5th small gale is to form well off Oregon and Cape Mendocino Thursday (3/17) falling southeast producing a decent sized fetch of 35-40 kt northwest winds resulting in 26-28 ft seas 900 nmiles west of Northern CA. That fetch is to fall due south into Friday and dissipate. Possible moderate swell for California if all goes as modeled.
As of Saturday (3/12) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up. The daily SOI was up to 34.94. The 30 day average was up some to 21.69 with the 90 day average up some to 21.50.
Wind anomalies as of Friday (3/11) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated weak westerly anomalies over Central America symptomatic of the tail end of the Active Phase of the MJO. At the same time the Inactive Phase of the MJO had moved from the Indian Ocean and was pushing into the West Pacific and is expected to reach the dateline on 3/16 moving faster than previous expected. It is to hold on the dateline through 3/26 while starting to dissipate and then gone by the end of the month. Interestingly a new Active Phase is depicted building in the Indian Ocean later this month but then dissipating before making it into the Western Pacific. This all suggests that support for gale development is all but gone with a .cgiit jetstream and reduced support for gale development likely from 3/15 through the end of the month. .
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (3/10) 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 a little 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 remains over 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 there were some indication of Kevin Wave activity. Colder than normal water that has been locked all winter southeast of Hawaii under the equator evaporated in late February and moved to dead neutral presumably from the effects of two consecutive bouts of the Active Phase of the MJO which in turn might have driven a Kelvin Wave. In parallel warmer than normal water was edging east from the West Pacific, up +2 degrees above normal and positioned due south of Hawaii (150W) under the equator on 3/3, but loosing a little of it's punch. By 3/6 those temps were down to +1 degrees above normal and loosing more heat. But as of 3/10 +2 degree anomalies looked stronger but had made no eastward progress, stuck at 155W. And then on 3/12 it looked like it was loosing heat again. Still, no solid negative anomalies were present in the East Pacific, a big step forward and suggestive that the worst of La Nina is over. Models indicate maybe a more normal pattern is trying to get established over the next 3 months, but we are moving into the Springtime 'unpredictability barrier', so any particular outcome is far from certain.
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 anomalous, blowing harder than normal from the east to the west, but not unusually so. We actually expected more from this La Nina.
A moderate.cgius strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) is in control and momentum from it is expected to hold well into the Fall of 2011 (and likely to early 2012) in the upper atmosphere regardless of how quickly La Nina's demise occurs in the ocean. 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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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 r.cgiaced 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 acco.cgiished on 11/13. Pure swell numbers are now correct. Links: 46012, 46059
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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 acco.cgiished 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