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 Sunday (3/22) North and Central California was near flat with no swell and howling north winds and chopped. Southern California was flat to maybe knee high winds westerly winds on the increase starting to add some chop to the mix. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean with no swell to speak of. The East Shore had some chest high plus easterly windswell, probably the best of anything around but with east winds on it. The South Shore had some knee to thigh high leftover background southern hemi swell occasionally showing.
North and Central CA surf is to be heading up a bit, if wind-blown north windswell is your idea of fun. Local north windswell to get a few feet overhead on Monday then fading out by Tuesday only to return on Wednesday then dropping slowly through the end of the week. Don't count on good conditions. Southern CA is to be in much the same boat, but with the windswell limited to those breaks with good north exposure. Decent size expected on Monday fading some Tuesday and holding there Wednesday, then up a little Thursday fading Friday. Winds to be onshore Monday but by Tuesday a light offshore early breeze is possible, continue on through the week. Hawaii's North Shore is to remain in the flat zone until sunset Wednesday when a little swell from off Japan is to start showing, peaking Thursday but continuing after that with rideable size for days to come. The East Shore is expected to have some decent sized east windswell through the week and into next weekend. The South Shore is expected to be flat by Monday and stay there through the week with no southern hemi swell forecast.
Longterm the models indicate a small gale wound up off Japan on Saturday (3/21) dropping southeast directly towards Hawaii generating a small area of 35 ft seas on Sunday west of the dateline, offering potential for small swell for the Islands. And remnants of the gale might build into something on the dateline on Tuesday (3/24) again aimed slightly at Hawaii then turning most of it's energy towards Canada by Wednesday and Thursday (3/26) with possible swell pushing south down as far as Central CA. Lesser energy to follow off Japan and also off Vancouver Islands next weekend, if one is to believe the models. So for now it's windswell for our forecast area, with hopes for some real swell over the longer term. Keep your fingers crossed.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (3/22) the North Pacific jetstream remained a fragmented mess offering no real support for gale development. A weak cut-off trough was off Japan with 120 kts winds blowing through it while another trough was directly over the Central CA coast. OK, maybe there was a little hope from the Japan trough. Over the next 72 hours through Wednesday (3/25) the Japan trough is actually to get a little more organized and not be cut-off from the main flow anymore, with up to 140 kts winds pushing up it's southeastern flank late Tuesday into Wednesday. But this will server to only generate fetch likely aimed to the northeast rather than at Hawaii and the US West Coast. Beyond 72 hrs the jetstream is to get a little bit better organized with an almost consolidated flow in place by next weekend with winds 130 kts running consistently from Japan to British Columbia. No troughs forecast, and a weak split /southern branch is still to be in place, but way better than the past moth or more. Still, it's pretty late in the season to expect much to come from this.
At the surface high pressure at 1028 mbs was 900 nmiles west of Big Sur ridging hard east into California and generating a broad fetch of north winds at 25 kts pushing down the Oregon and CA coasts, serving only to generate chop and building north windswell. East winds off this high's southern flank was generating east-northeast winds at 20 kts pushing into the Hawaiian ISlands and generating east windswell there as well. A gale was off Japan generating 45 kt northwest winds and starting to produce some seas aimed towards the Hawaiian Islands (see Japan Gale below). Weak swell from a gale in the Gulf was pushing into Oregon and heading for Central CA. Over the next 72 hours remnants of the Japan gale are forecast to redevelop starting Tuesday AM just east of the dateline with pressure 976 mbs generating up to 45 kt northeast winds at 43N 177W aimed well west of Hawaii with limited 40 kts north and northwest winds wrapping into the gales southwest quadrant aimed well at the Islands from 38N 176W down the 319 degree path. But these winds to be lifting northeast and down to 35-40 kts in the evening generating maybe 26 ft seas pushing towards Hawaii. By Wednesday AM (3/25) a small fetch of 50 kts winds is to be building in the storm south quadrant at 45N 163W aimed due east or right up the 296 degree path to North CA with seas building to 32 ft there. In the evening 50-55 kt west winds are forecast again in the storm south quadrant at 49N 158W aimed right up the 306 degree path to NCal. Theoretically 43 ft seas are forecast at 48N 158W aimed towards points from NCal northward. By Thursday AM (3/26) the storm sis to be fading while lifting northeast in the Gulf of Alaska with 35 kt winds and 43 ft seas at 52N 152W, 30 degrees east of the 317 degree path to Ncal and mostly pushing towards the Pacific Northwest and points north of there. If all this occurs, some possibly semi-real longer period small swell could results for the Northern US West Coast. Will monitor.
A gale was in the Gulf of Alaska on Friday (3/20) with pressure dropping to 988 mbs just off Central Canada. 30 kt northwest winds built 1300 nmiles west of Washington Friday pushing southeast and fading 600 nmiles off Cape Mendocino Saturday night with seas 20 ft all the while. Surf from this system pushed into Oregon Saturday and is expected into Central CA by late Sunday at 6-7 ft @ 13 secs from 292-298 degree, but north wind is to be fully engaged as the swell hits the coast. This swell to continue into Monday then fade.
A small gale formed Saturday AM (3/21) just off Northern Japan and sinking southeast producing a short lived fetch of 45 kt northwest winds at 43N 158E aimed well down the 312 degree path to Hawaii and bypassing any path to the mainland. It's dropped southeast through Sunday fading all the while but still aimed well toward Hawaii down the 302 degree path. Seas were modeled at up to 35 ft Sunday AM (3/22) at 38N 160E, forecast fading from 30 ft in the evening at 34N 164E. Limited swell possible for the Hawaiian Islands starting late Wed (3/25) and peaking Thursday AM near 6.6 ft @ 15 secs (9-10 ft faces) from 302-310 degrees if this comes to pass.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (3/22) high pressure at 1032 mbs was pushing hard into North and Central California from 900 nmiles west of Big Sur, generating northwest winds at 25 kts over waters off the entire state, though Southern California was protected by the Channel Islands. These winds are to hold through Monday, and building into Southern CA. North winds to continue over North and Central CA on Tuesday (3/24) as the high holds it's ground, maybe trying to lighten up some Wednesday. But the high looks to become re-energized Thursday (3/25) offering more northwest wind at at 20-25 kts and up to 30 kts up by Pt Reyes. South CA to remain mostly protected from this. Finally on Friday the high is to fade and a light wind pattern is forecast from Pt Arena southward through the weekend, tough north winds to continue at 20 kts north of Pt Arena.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
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 perhaps a small fetch of 35 kt west winds is forecast in the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Saturday (3/28) generating 20-22 ft seas pushing directly towards Vancouver Island, expected to impact there on Sunday, Raw west swell for there down into the PAcific Northwest. Also a broader gale is forecast off Northern Japan over the weekend producing 35 kt west wind and 23-25 ft seas, maybe resulting in background 13-14 sec period swell for Hawaii a long time afterwards.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (3/22) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) remained in the neutral phase. The Daily SOI index was up to 5.22 (24 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 2.52 and the 90 day average was down some to 9.38. The SOI indicies remained symptomatic of La Nina, though steadily fading. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a steady westerly flow over the Philippines pushing towards the dateline indicative of what appears to be another instance of the Active Phase of the MJO. Very strange since we just were ending the Active Phase, and now another pulse is developing pushing form the Indian Ocean eastward. There was no sign of the Inactive Phase. This Active Phase is looking decent and might actually help the storm track some. This Active phase is to hold through 3/26 as it reaches the dateline, then slowly fade through 4/5 while the Inactive Phase tried to get a foothold in the Indian Ocean. At this time the residual effects of 3 years of La Nina remain well in-control, with cooler than normal water 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, continues to make some eastern headway, holding at 154W. 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, especially since the ACtive Phase of the MJO is now unexpectedly back in control. 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 in California 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