New Swell Classification Guidelines
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.
Next update will be over the weekend (3/29). Going for a last run in the moutains.
On Tuesday (3/25) Northern CA surf was 1-2 ft overhead and a bit cleaner than previous days. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist to near chest high and clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was chest to head high and reasonably clean early. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was thigh high and textured mid-day. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high and clean but weak. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist to near chest high and clean early. The North Shore of Oahu was head high and clean. The South Shore was waist to chest high. The East Shore was chest to head high.
North/Central California continued getting some degree of swell from the Gulf of Alaska, a bit bigger than in days past and a tad cleaner. Southern California was small with limited Gulf swell wrapping into the most exposed breaks mixed with limited southern hemi background swell. Hawaii's North Shore was getting a nice little pulse of swell from the north which was also providing energy for the East Shore. The South Shore was getting the leading edge of swell from a storm that was in the South Pacific a week earlier.
The Gulf of Alaska is on it's last legs, with limited swell generation potential through Wednesday, then the bottom falls out. This should provide shorter period swell for the Pacific Northwest down into exposed breaks in Central CA through Thursday, then fading out totally. Swell from a storm in the South Pacific last week is pushing northeast, expected to provide a nice pulse of southern hemi activity for late in the week into the weekend. Nothing is forecast for the Islands from the North Pacific immediately, though a series of gales are now forecast for the area west of the dateline Saturday on into next week which should produce something rideable longterm, though not large. Swell for the South Shore is expected to continue through Friday, then fading. The jetstream in the North Pacific is supposed to be reorganizing some with the MJO moving into the active phase, so maybe there hope fro one last 3-4 week pulse before summer starts setting up. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Tuesdays jetstream charts (3/25) for the North Pacific indicated a fully .cgiit jetstream in-control with the .cgiit point west of the dateline and a consolidated pocket of energy starting to emerge off Japan. This may be the beginning of something better. The northern branch of the .cgiit flow was tracking through the Bering Sea then dipping south through the Gulf of Alaska with winds to 140 kts offering some potential for surface level gale development targeting the US West Coast. The southern branch was meandering along the equator to the east. Over the next 72 hours the trough in the Gulf of Alaska is to hang on but mostly be pushing inland by Thursday and shutting any opportunity for gale development there. The consolidated flow over Japan is to push further east with winds near 140 kts, though not far enough east to offer any potential yet. Beyond 72 hours the models suggest a significant repair of the jet is to be underway by Saturday (3/29) with a consolidated flow reach the dateline (though most weak) ridging into the Gulf of Alaska. Decent potential for gale development in the area of the dateline with winds there to 140 kts. Much the same pattern is to continue into next week with up to 150 kt winds pushing from Japan slowly northeast to the dateline Wednesday (4/2) offering better potential still in that area.
At the surface today moderate high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered 900 nmiles north of Hawaii extending from the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians north of Hawaii to Pt Conception. This was generating season trades over the Islands and the usual northerly along the Central Ca coast, but nothing unusual. Weak low pressure was in the Northeast Gulf of Alaska producing up to 25 kt northwest winds aimed at the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, but only generating 15 ft seas, on no real interest. Near neutral pressure and no wind of interest was occurring over the West Pacific. In short, the pattern was inactive. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf low pressure system is to move inland over Canada and the Pacific Northwest generating even less winds and seas with the last moving onshore by Saturday (3/29). Of some interest is development of a small gale west of the dateline Friday with pressure 992 mbs and winds 40-45 kts over a tiny area near 40N 165E moving to 180W with seas 23 ft in the same area then fading east of there Saturday. Some potential for small 13 sec swell pushing towards the Hawaiian Islands if this comes to pass and even less making it California the middle to end of next week.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (3/25) high pressure at 1028 mbs was positioned 900 nmiles north of Hawaii and ridging east towards Central California. 20 kt north winds were confined to a small area off Pt Conception with much less north and south of there. Lower pressure from the Gulf of Alaska is to move over Northern CA Wednesday bringing a chance of rain to that area and the Northern Sierras while high pressure and north winds holds over Pt Conception. But new high pressure at 1030 mbs is to queue up well off the coast pushing in on Thursday with 30 kt north winds building over the Channel Islands and 20 kt north winds up into North CA and south over exposed waters. A real mess likely. That to be short-lived though as another small low sets up off North CA pushing inland Friday bring rain and south winds with it down into the San Francisco Bay area. Yet more high pressure to be right behind taking charge with north winds in control over the entire state (including Southern CA) Saturday fading some Sunday but hanging on into Monday and Tuesday (though SCal to be spared by then).
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
On Tuesday (3/25) a 960 mb gale was track east beyond New Zealand generating a tiny area of 45 kt winds aimed northeast towards Hawaii initially and then the US West coast. A persistent area of 30-32 ft seas is forecast tracking from 55S 155W to 50S 135W late Tuesday into early Wednesday. If this occurs some form of summer time background swell should be pushing towards Hawaii and California. Will monitor.
New Zealand Gale
A gale pushed under New Zealand Fri/Sat (3/15) generating a small area of 35 ft seas modeled at 52S 165E Saturday AM barely in the Hawaii swell window and pushing east but decaying fast, down to 29 ft in the evening. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly under this fetch at 18Z on Saturday and confirmed seas at 38.0 ft over a 15 reading average with a peak reading of 41 ft at 52.5S 174.4E, besting the models measly 32 ft estimate for that location and time. Very Interesting. This gale held with 29 ft seas tracking from 57S 170W Sunday evening (3/16) to 50S 150W (due south of Hawaii) Monday evening, then fading out.
Limited odds for some form of southern hemi swell expected in California Wed (3/26) with swell 2 ft @ 16-17 secs (3 ft faces) and starting to fade 24 hours from 2 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5-3 ft faces) from 205 degrees.
Central South Pacific Storm
Another gale pushed under New Zealand on Tuesday (3/18) building just east of the dateline with winds confirmed at 50-55 kts over a small area aimed due east in the AM at 59S 175W. Seas were modeled at 29 ft at 58S 170E but the Jason-1 satellite made a pass directly over this area and confirmed seas at 35.1 ft at 59S 168.9E, way better than the models. This is actually pretty typical because the weather models normally depict these storms taking longer to wind up and produce strong winds than they do in reality, meaning they are slower to depict building seas than what actually occurs (by about 12 hours). In the evening a solid fetch of 50-55 kts winds confirmed at 57N 170W aimed just east of the 203 degree path to California and 40 degrees off the 188 degree path to Hawaii, and just about unshadowed by Tahiti relative to CA with seas to 39 ft at 59S 179W.
Wednesday AM (3/19) near 50 kt winds were confirmed at 52N 155W aimed just east of the 200 degree path to California and mostly out of the HI swell window with seas building to 41 ft near 56S 158W aimed well towards the northeast. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass directly over the fetch and reported seas at 40 ft for a 15 reading average, with a peak reading of 41.3 ft, right in line with the wave model. But take notice, the Jason01 data dropped out as it passed right over the core of the high seas area, so it is likely that seas were higher than what was depicted by either Jason-1 or the wavemodel. In the evening the storm was all but gone with 40 kt winds over a broad area aimed pretty well north at 50S 145W aimed 20 degrees east of the 196 degree path to CA with seas fading from 35 ft at 52S 157W.
This was a pretty strong storm, but short lived. It was closer to Hawaii (4440-5126 nmiles) but fetch as aimed less down the great circle tracks there as compared to the mainland, but the mainland was much further away (5659-6703 nmiles) allowing for much more swell decay. In the end a near significant class swell is expected to push into the US West Coast (on the summer time scale), with solid intermediate class well for the Islands. A nice early season start none-the-less.
Some energy to push into Hawaii starting late Tuesday (3/25) with swell 2 ft @ 20 secs (4 ft faces). Swell to peak Wednesday with swell 2.3 ft @ 17 secs (4 ft faces) fading from 2 ft @ 15 secs Thursday (3 ft faces). Swell Direction: 180-185 degrees.
Decent southern hemi swell is expected to arrive in Southern California starting late Thursday (3/27) with swell to 1.6 ft @ 19 secs late (3 ft faces). Friday (3/28) swell building to 3 ft @ 17 secs (5 ft faces). Swell to continue solid at 2.6 ft @ 15-16 secs Saturday (4.0-4.5 ft faces) then fading from 2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs Sunday (3.5-4.0 ft faces). All coming from 200 degrees.
Decent southern hemi swell is expected to arrive in Northern California starting Thursday (3/27) near 4 AM with period 20 secs, but size tiny if even noticeable. Real energy isn't expected till Friday (3/28) near noon with swell building to 3 ft @ 17-18 secs late (5 ft faces). Swell to continue solid at 3 ft @ 16 secs Saturday (4.5-5.0 ft faces) then fading to 2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs Sunday (3.5-4.0 ft faces). All coming from 200-206 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 hrs another small gale is forecast developing off Japan on Friday (3/28) generating a short lived fetch of 40 kts resulting in a tiny area of seas to 28 ft at 40N 165E pushing towards the dateline but fading before making it there on Sunday (3/30). Another small pulse of swell possible mostly for Hawaii a few days beyond.
Yet a stronger gale is forecast off Japan late Monday (3/31) with winds reaching 45 kts at 37N 158E lifting northeast to 43N 173E generating 29 ft seas near 43N 170E Tuesday evening. If this occurs some degree of swell is possible for Hawaii with decent potential for California too, but this is a long way off and we have no confidence this will occur. Still, the expected change in the jet is to manifest itself nicely at the oceans surface, possibly resulting in swell.
A gale low is forecast off Oregon on Tuesday (4/1) into Wednesday with 35-40 kt northwest winds building aimed at Northern CA. Will believe it when it happens.
MJO Update: The Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is poised to move from the inactive phase to a weak incarnation of the active phase starting near April 1. SOI values are starting to drop, down from +15 to the -6 to -10 range today. Brisk surface easterly winds are already starting to fade, with a switch to westerly winds forecast early next month, but only covering the smallest of areas. This could provide a slightly more conducive environment for gale development, but given the late time in the season, odds for anything significant remain low.
Another 960 mbs gale is forecast development in the deep South Pacific Friday (3/28) tracking well north-northeast into early Saturday generating 35 ft seas from 61S 155W to 52S 137W aimed best towards California and Central America with limited sideband potential for the Hawaiian Islands.
A calmer pattern to follow with no swell producing systems 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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Half Moon Bay Surfers - Attention: There¹s a movement afoot to dredge sand out of the Pillar Point (i.e. Half Moon Bay) Harbor and dump it just south of the jetty, so it will r.cgienish all sand that¹s disappeared between the harbor and HMB. The guy who¹s spearheading the project, Brian Overfelt, has already received a positive preliminary reading from the local harbor commissioners. He¹s making a formal presentation to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary¹s advisory council this coming Friday (2/15) at Our Lady of Pillar church in Half Moon Bay. (It's on Kelly Ave, just east of the Coast Highway, across the street from Cunha Intermediate School.) starting at 9 AM. More details here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/forecast/forecast/hmb_dredge.html
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Grib File Switchover: The old grib1 format wave model datafiles that have been the mainstay of the National Weather service for years now are scheduled to be retired on 1/26. We switched over to the new grib2 files starting with the 00z run of Thurs 1/17. All appears to be running fine. There is no functional change to the content of the models, just that files we receive are now smaller due to improved compression of grib2. But this sets us up to start processing new higher resolution files and building new products in the months ahead. So in all it's a good maintenance level change.
Sharkwater: There's a new feature film called Sharkwater that is hitting theaters November 2nd. Sharkwater is an award winning documentary (22 international film awards including the UN and Cannes) that broke box office records in Canada, opening to bigger numbers than any documentary in history save Fahrenheit 911 and Supersize Me. It is a conservation film that demonstrates that the biggest influence on the air we breathe, and global warming is life in the oceans – except life in the oceans is being wiped out. Shark populations have dropped 90% in the last 30 years alone, and the oceans continue to be destroyed because nobody knows that it's happening Learn more here: http://www.sharkwater.com
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Submit your story to 'Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Vol. 2': DEADLINE: January 15th, 2008 Casagrande Press is seeking stories, articles, and essays on the general subject of surfing misadventure for publication in Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Volume 2. We are looking for nonfiction, first-person surf stories of bad judgment calls, pranks, comical/ironic episodes, disaster, attacking predators, misfortune, injury, loss of wit or limb, panic, critical conditions, contest meltdowns, everyday fears, surf trips gone wrong or the out-of-water episodes that surround surfing. We are looking for well-written stories that tell a good tale, reflect a culture, and develop the depth of the characters involved. We also like stories that have a tight narrative tension and a payoff at the end. Open to writers and surfers of any level. There is no fee to submit a story. We will consider previously published stories. To see more info on the first book visit www.thesurfbook.com. Submit online at www.casagrandepress.com
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table