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 (3/17) North and Central California had some swell with waves pushing 1-3 ft overhead and glassy early. Fog was an issue at many locations though. This swell was coming from a gale that was in the Gulf of Alaska on Sun/Mon. Smaller southern hemi swell was lurking underneath. Southern California was seeing mostly southern hemi swell with waves waist to chest high thigh high or so and clean up and down the coast. Best breaks were pushing head high on the rare sets. Hawaii's North Shore was small but clean, at waist high with perhaps a few chest high sets. The East Shore had some residual northeast windswell at waist high but unremarkable. The South Shore was knee high.
North and Central CA surf is way up compared to days past and that is expected to hold if not build just a little more into Wednesday AM. Wind is to be a bit more of an issue though. This swell is coming from a gale that was in the Gulf of Alaska on Sun/Mon. But after Wednesday that swell is to dissipate quickly. Southern CA is on the back side of the southern hemi swell that has provided decent early season surf Sun/Mon, with the swell to be essentially gone by Wednesday AM. But limited amounts of northerly swell from the Gulf of Alaska is to be filtering into exposed north facing breaks on Wed and Thurs, providing something to ride. Hawaii's North Shore is right where it's going to stay for a while, which is basically flat. The East Shore is small and heading down, but might start to see some easterly windswell by Thursday with new northeasterly windswell in by Saturday maybe up to should er high or better. Make the most of this. The South Shore is expected to see a little pulse of small southern hemi swell originating from off New Zealand by late Thursday into Friday (3/20) but definitely on the way down by Saturday.
Longterm the models indicate another gale forming off the Pacific Northwest on Fri/Sat (3/21) generating up to 25 ft seas and possibly offering more raw shorter period swell for there on down into Central CA for Saturday and Sunday (3/22). And another stronger gale is modeled behind that on Monday (3/23). A small storm might wind up off the Kuril Islands on Monday (3/23) generating a small area of 40 ft seas on Tuesday, but most of that energy looks bound for the Aleutians. Hawaii and the US West Coast might see a fraction of that energy over the long haul. The South PAcific looks to remain asleep for the next 7 days. So make the most of what you have cause it isn't going to get much better.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (3/17) the North Pacific jetstream remained split just off Japan and offering no support for swell development. A weak trough was pushing over the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska but had not wind energy associated with it to support gale development down at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (3/20) no change is forecast. Beyond 72 hours the trough in the Gulf is to deepen a bit with up to 130 kt winds blowing into it, peaking out Saturday morning (3/21) offering support for gale development right off the Central Canadian coast, then pushing inland by Sunday. There's some suggestion that a improving trough pattern might start setting upon the dateline pushing into the Gulf of Alaska by Monday (3/23) but that's just a guess at this early date.
At the surface weak low pressure at 1000 mbs was in the northern Gulf of Alaska generating 20-25 kt northwest winds targeting the Pacific Norwest and likely generating shorter period windswell, but that's it. Weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was over the dateline and north of Hawaii, but was not generating any wind of interest and as a result, no windswell either. A pretty neutral pattern if there ever was one. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf gale is to hold for a while then actually start regenerating on Friday (3/20) with pressure dropping to 992 mbs just off Vancouver Island with 30 kt northwest winds building off the coast there. This same general pattern is to hold into Saturday AM with 20-25 ft seas modeled near 46N 132W Fri AM then fading from 20 ft the same place Sat AM all aimed down the 310-315 degree paths into the SF Bay area 600-800 nmiles out and location north of there. Possible very north angled swell to push into North CA late Saturday with more size on Sunday (3/22). Swell to hit Oregon on Saturday.
Gulf Gale (US West Coast)
Low pressure started developing in the Gulf of Alaska on Saturday (3/14) getting better footing supported by a somewhat more favorable flow aloft. In the morning a small fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds built 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. On Sunday AM a broader fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds built streaming southeast off the eastern Aleutians and Alaska pushing the whole 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 pushed east and withered out off Oregon Monday AM with winds down to barely 30 kts and shrinking in size fast with seas 23 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 Wednesday early AM in Central CA with pure swell 7.4 ft@ 13-14 secs (10 ft faces). Swell to be shadowed in the SF Bay Area.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (3/17) high pressure at 1026 mbs was pushing into North California from it's source out on the dateline, generating northwest winds at 15 kts isolated to 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 down as low pressure in the Gulf builds, suppressing the high and the north wind. Saturday light winds are forecast along the bulk of the coast as a front from the low up north starts pushing into the area. By Sunday new high pressure at 1030 mbs builds in and north winds at 25 kts are forecast over the entire state, including Southern CA. More of the same is forecast Monday, though lighter winds likely in Southern CA and extreme North CA. Some degree of North winds is still forecast over CEntral CA on Tuesday (3/24) as the high just doesn't budge.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Saturday (3/14) a gale developed in the deep mid-South Pacific tracking due east and offering no energy pushing north towards the US. It tried to build some Tues (3/17) but was still traveling east with no better potential for anywhere but Chile and Peru. Additional energy is to follow on the same route into the weekend but again all aimed to the east offering no swell generation potential for anyone other than Chile and Peru.
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 late Thursday (3/19) and peaking on Friday at the same size.
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 another stronger gale is modeled forming in the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska on Sunday (3/22) aided by the migration of energy sneaking across the dateline, the first such occurrence in a while. 35-40 kt northwest winds are forecast by evening aimed well at the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA from a northerly angle, then building to 45 kts solid up at 55N 140W but well outside the CA swell window (but in the Pacific Northwest swell window). Seas are forecast to 36 ft at 50N 140W just barely in the NCal swell window by Monday AM (3/23) pushing mostly towards the PAcific Northwest and Vancouver Island.
Another small storm is forecast Monday AM just off Northern Japan producing a short lived fetch of 55 kt west winds at 45N 160E aimed a bit east of the 313 degree path to Hawaii and a bit south of the 303 degree path to the US West Coast. It's to lift north but still aimed pretty well to the east into Tuesday AM generating 41 ft seas at 47N 168E. Limited swell possible for the Islands and the US West Coast.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (3/17) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) remained in the neutral phase. The Daily SOI index was at 2.2 (19 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 4.07 and the 90 day average was down some to 10.11. 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 fading weak easterly flow over the dateline indicative of what was a very weak instance of the 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 though and not providing any help for the storm track. And it is to be dissipating by 3/22, with the Inactive phase behind it but now not even expected to limp into the Pacific. Instead we go back into a neutral pattern. Regardless, 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 155W. 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