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 Saturday Thursday (3/12) North and Central California had no surf to speak of. A few waist high or so lumpy windswell waves were it. Southern California was seeing thigh high or so northerly windswell with an onshore flow up north early but clean down south. Southern hemi swell at waist high was rarely starting to show, but very inconsistent. Hawaii's North Shore was down a little from it's peak at sunset into early evening Friday, but still fairly big with surf triple overhead or so and blown out with west wind 15 kts. The East Shore was hovering in the double to triple overhead range too but the wind theoretically was offshore. The South Shore was flat.
North and Central CA surf is to build a bit starting on Sunday as southern hemi swell starts appearing only at the best south facing breaks, peaking into Monday. Otherwise limited thigh to waist high background northwest swell is to be dribbling in Sunday then on the increase an likely taking over Monday through Wednesday in the 3 ft overhead range at exposed breaks. Southern CA to continue seeing southern hemi swell at chest high and even more on Sunday into Monday, then starting to fade and coming from 185-190 degrees. Gulf windswell from a moderately north angle is expected to filter into exposed breaks too Monday but best Tuesday and Wednesday. Hawaii's North Shore has already peaked out with swell coming from a local gale just north of the Islands. That swell should be fading fast early Sunday, all but gone by later in the day with no decently rideable surf expected to follow for days or longer. The East Shore is as good as it's going to get right now, and it's all downhill after this with nothing on the charts. The South Shore is not expecting any rideable swell from the Southern Hemi for a week, though some swell is pushing northeast towards the Islands.
Longterm the models indicate only basically one gale going through a couple of cycles in the northeastern Gulf of Alaska Sat-Tues (3/17) pushing limited northwest winds at 25-30 kts and seas to 23 ft generating proto-swell down into the Pacific Northwest and Central CA for Monday into Wednesday and rideable. But after that the North Pacific is to go asleep. Maybe one weak little gael might form in the far northeastern Gulf next weekend targeting the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA, but that's it. Also the models are suggesting some more gale activity in the Southeast Pacific, but all that activity appears bound for Chile with little energy pushing north. Get whatever you can now and be thankful for it.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday (3/14) the North Pacific jetstream was totally split and useless other than the faintest hint of a trough trying to push over the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska offering only limited support for gale development down at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours through Tuesday (3/17) that trough is to deepen a bit with up to 130 kt winds blowing through it, peaking out on Sunday evening, then weakening. Decent support for gale development expected. Beyond 72 hrs this trough is to hold in some fashion through the week barely strengthening on Friday (3/20) then dissipating. Maybe some support for gael development again in the Gulf. But over the greater North Pacific no support whatsoever is expected for low pressure development.
At the surface high pressure at 1032 mbs was still holding just east of the dateline trying to ridge into South and Central CA, but really too far away to be effective. It was creating only a modest flow of north winds at 15 kts pushing down the coast here. A cutoff gale low that had organized just north of Hawaii on Thurs/Fri (3/13) was fading and pushing west of the Islands with all swell generated by it already hitting and starting to pass south of Hawaii. A new are of low pressure and building wind was taking root in the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska. Over the next 72 hours the high pressure system over the dateline is to retreat while low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska gets better footing supported by a somewhat more favorable flow aloft. On Saturday (3/14) a small fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds is forecast 300 nmiles west of Vancouver Island tracking inland late that evening and generating a tiny area of 20 ft seas mostly outside the CA swell window Saturday PM at 52N 135W. Maybe some proto-swell will result for the Pacific Northwest though by Sunday. On Sunday AM a broader fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds is forecast streaming southeast off the eastern Aleutians and Alaska pushing the while way into Cape Mendocino and holding into the evening offering good odds for generating a solid patch of 23 ft seas at 47N 140W (Sun PM) pushing directly 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 Oregon Monday Am with winds down to barely 30 kts and shrinking in size fast with seas 22 ft at 44N 135W and fading out from there. West to northwest swell is expected for the US West Coast with period in the 13 sec range starting Monday and peaking Tuesday in Central CA. No other swell sources were indicated.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (3/14) high pressure at 1026 mbs was pushing into Central California from it's source out on the dateline, generating northwest winds at 15 kts from Pt Arena southward beyond the Channel Islands. Low pressure was building in the Gulf of Alaska and pushing south likely to take a bite out of the high. By Sunday northwest winds associated with high pressure are to back off but west winds from the low pressure system in the Gulf are to storm into North CA reaching down to Pt Reyes through the day, likely making a mess of things there and pretty confused south to Big Sur. By Monday high pressure is to again get a little foothold with a generally light 10 kt northwest flow over most of the coast through up to 15 kts over Pt Conception. By Wednesday the high is to be building north with north wind at 15 kts forecast from Bodega Bay south beyond the Channel Islands, though Southern CA to remain mostly protected. More of the same expected on Thursday then things to settle dow as low pressure in the Gulf builds theoretically killing the high.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Saturday (3/14) a gale was in the deep mid-South Pacific tracking due east and offering no energy pushing north towards the US. It is to try and build some Sun-Wed (3/18) but sinking southeast all the while with no better potential for anywhere but Southern Chile. Additional energy is to follow on the same route into the weekend but again all aimed east to southeast and offering no swell generation potential for anyone other than Chile and maybe Peru.
Southeast Pacific Gale (California)
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 2.6-3.0 ft @ 17 sec period energy (4.5 ft faces) by late Saturday (3/14) and holding for exposed breaks in Southern CA Sunday into Mon (3/16) from 187 degrees.
New Zealand Gale (Hawaii)
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 reorganized some on Friday but was dropping southeast and traveling away from the Islands. 40 kts fetch continued over a small area generating seas to 28 ft in the morning at 47S 172W aimed well towards Hawaii, then turned more to the east away from Hawaii while dissipating and racing southeast. Decent odds for some small 1.6 ft @ 15-16 sec (2.5 ft) background swell for Hawaii from 200 degrees starting Saturday (3/21).
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 no real low pressure forecast. Modest high pressure at 1032 mbs is to remain locked over the dateline with secondary high pressure at 1024 mbs off California most of the week. The GFS model continues to hint at a gale forming in the Gulf of Alaska on Friday (3/20) perhaps generating some 40 kt northwest winds pushing towards Vancouver Island and the Pacific Northwest with up to 20 ft seas, but it looks very weak. No other activity is modeled.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Saturday (3/14) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) remained in the neutral phase. The Daily SOI index was at 0.72 (16 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 4.71 and the 90 day average was down some to 10.21. The SOI indicies remained symptomatic of La Nina, though possibly fading away fast. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a broad but weak easterly flow over the dateline and the entire East Pacific indicative of perhaps a weak Active Phase of the MJO. The Inactive Phase was building in the INdian Ocean but was not seeping into the Pacific yet. This explains the run of neutral SOI values now. This Active Phase is really not strong through and not providing any help for the storm track. And it is to be dissipating by 3/20, with the INactive phase behind it limping into the Pacific at the same time, but fading all the while, effectively gone by 4/2. 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 now to 160W. 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 inroads 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=8I4rZYEZMWQ (Fixed link)
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