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.
In memory of Sion Milosky - On Wednesday (3/16) near sunset Sion Milosky lost his life at Mavericks. Swell #6 was peaking with pure swell running 9.5 ft @ 18 secs from 288 degrees and surf pushing to 20 ft Hawaiian. And the wind, which had been brisk northwest all day creating a heavy texture on the oceans surface, backed down to near calm setting up near glassy conditions for the sessions final hour. A handful of surfers were left savoring the improved conditions with waves breaking on the north end of the second reef and washing into the main bowl, the normal takeoff spot, which had now turned into an inside-out second section. Sion caught one of these waves, followed directly by Shawn Dollar on the next. Both went down. Shawn was able to scratch to the surface and was rescued by a ski. Sion was found 15+ minutes later. It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of Sion. His surfing on both Monday and Wednesday were ground breaking and provided a glimpse of where the future of big wave riding can go. He is survived by with wife and two younger daughters. His sponsor Volcom has set up a foundation to help support his family. Donations can be made here: http://volcom.com/news/article.asp?articleID=5218
On Monday (3/28) North and Central California was seeing residual Gulf swell with waves head high or so and real warbled with a multi-directional spread of lesser windswell in the water and northwest winds adding more lump on top. Southern California was seeing knee to maybe waist high northerly swell wrapping in with light winds early. Down south waves that same swell was producing waves to the waist high range and clean and a little more refined. Hawaii's North Shore was effectively flat and raked with warble from northeasterly trades. The East Shore was getting waist high east windswell and chopped. The South Shore is not being monitored for the winter and presumed to be asleep with waves 2 ft or less.
Surf Forecast Overview
North and Central CA on Tuesday (3/29) is expected to see new swell at 9 ft (faces) but mostly shadowed in the Bay Area (6-7 ft surf with some bigger sets). That swell fades from 5.5 ft Wed AM with local northwest windswell intermixed holding at 7 ft Thursday and hacked by northwest winds both days. Possible new inconsistent dateline swell builds for later Friday to 13 ft continuing on Saturday at 12 ft fading from 8.5 ft Sunday.
Southern California is to see new northerly swell Tuesday (3/29) building to maybe chest high late fading on Wednesday from waist high early. Thigh high leftover windswell expected on Thursday. Possible new inconsistent dateline swell builds late Friday to waist high and peaking Saturday at head high to 1 ft overhead fading from shoulder high early Sunday.
The North Shore of Oahu is to remain flat Tuesday (3/29). Then new dateline swell is expected in late Wednesday pushing 12 ft (faces) and peaking near 14 ft on Thursday AM. 9 ft residuals for Friday dropping from head high Saturday and waist high Sunday.
The East Shore is to see east windswell at waist to chest high Tuesday continuing into Saturday, then fading some.
The South Shore is not being monitored for the late Winter even though small pulses of southern hemi swell are occasionally starting to show up.
For the US West Coast, one more small gale dropped southeast from the Gulf of Alaska Sat-Sun (3/27) producing 24-26 ft seas positioned a bit further away from the California coast than those before it. Small swell expected for California on Tuesday (3/29) but with north winds and high pressure in control locally. Of more interest is a larger storm that tracked off Japan Sunday and is expected to reach the dateline mid-Monday (3/28) with seas in the 40-41 ft range then fading as it moves east of the dateline turning a bit to the northeast through Tuesday. Decent odds for solid sideband swell for Hawaii and long distance swell for the US West Coast. Another weaker system is forecast for the dateline Fri-Sat (4/2) with seas to 26 ft pushing to the Gulf and building.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Monday (3/28) the jetstream was tracking almost flat off Southern Japan with winds building to 170 kts and pushing over the dateline with a mild trough set up there, then lifting gently northeast into the Central Gulf of Alaska with winds dropping to 140 kts, then falling into a small trough just off Vancouver Island. There was some support for gale development over the dateline. Over the next 72 hours the trough over the dateline is to edge tot eh east reaching a point 1000 nmiles north of Hawaii on Thurs (3/31) with winds down to 150 kts providing limited support for gale development there. A ridge is to be building over the US West coast with the core of the jet pushing over the middle of British Columbia and supporting high pressure southward over California. Another small trough is to be forming just off Japan. Beyond 72 hours the trough north of Hawaii is to dissipate and push over California on Saturday (4/2). The new trough that was over Japan is to push east-northeast reaching the Gulf of Alaska late in the weekend but with no real wind energy is to be associated with it, meaning no real gale development is expected. A pocket of 150 kt winds is to be building east of Japan pushing towards the dateline, perhaps supporting something that almost looks like a trough, but it's too early to know that with any certainty.
At the surface on Monday (3/28) the remnants of what was a modest gale were circulating in the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska but producing no fetch of interest (See Gulf Gale below). Of more interest is a broad gale tracking over the dateline (see Dateline Storm below). Otherwise high pressure at 1028 mbs was positioned midway between Central CA and Hawaii extending from almost the dateline to Central CA producing lighter trades over the Islands at 15 kts with limited easterly windswell occurring there. Otherwise no other swell producing systems of interest were occurring. Over the next 72 hours no other fetch of interest is forecast with the dateline storm in control.
A fetch developed on the dateline racing east generating 45-50 kt northwest winds Friday night (3/25) at 48N 167W fading to 40 kts Saturday AM (47N 155W - 302 degs NCal) with seas building Sat AM to 26 ft at 47N 158W then faded Saturday evening with 24 ft seas at 45N 155W (302 degs NCal).
Swell of 6.4-6.7 ft @ 13-14 secs (9 ft) is expected into NCal at 3-5 AM Tuesday (3/29) from 302 degrees.
A small gale started developing just off Japan on Saturday (3/26) with 40+ kt west winds tracking due east and building to 45 kts in the evening. By Sunday AM (3/27) a solid area of 50 kt west winds were positioned at 39N 162E resulting in 34 ft seas over a modest area at 38N 160E. In the evening 50 kt west winds continued at 39N 170E aimed well up the 310 degree path to Hawaii and the 294 degree path to NCal. Seas were 38 ft at 39N 168E (same heads as the fetch). The gale faded slightly while tracking east Monday AM (3/28) with 45 kt west winds over a larger area at 40N 178E. Seas built to 40 ft at 39N 175E (315 degs HI and 292 degs NCal). By evening the gale is to lift slightly northeast with 45 kt west winds forecast at 41N 175W tracking east with seas 41 ft at 40N 177W (322 degs HI, 293 degs NCal). Tuesday AM 40 kt west winds are lift some to the north at 42N 170W with 41 ft seas at 40N 170W (336 degs HI and 289 NCal). The gale to fade fast thereafter with 35 kt winds Tuesday PM at 45N 170W while lifting north with 37 ft seas at 44N 163W (294 NCal - effectively outside the HI swell window). By Wed Am all fetch is to be gone with seas from previous fetch at 32 ft at 45N 160W (296 degs NCal).
Decent odds for solid long distance west swell for Hawaii from the initial incarnation of the storm. North and Central CA to possibly see decent long period dateline energy too assuming all develops as currently forecast.
Hawaii: Based on a mix of current and forecast data expect swell arrival on the North Shore of Oahu starting Wednesday building to 6.5 ft @ 19 secs (12 ft Hawaiian). Swell to continue up overnight peaking at 3 AM Thursday (3/31) with pure swell pushing 9.5 ft @ 17 secs (16 ft Hawaiian) and then maybe settling down some just after sunrise to 9 ft @ 15-16 secs (14 ft Hawaiian). A slow fade forecast thereafter. Swell Direction: 315-320 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Monday AM (3/28) high pressure at 1028 mbs was lurking off the Central CA coast and ridging inland with northwest winds in control from Cape Mendocino southward focused on Pt Conception and pushing 25 kts there and 15+ kts up into San Francisco. SCal was mostly protected. High pressure is to be the name of the game producing 15 kt northwest winds through the day Tuesday and Wednesday (3/30) from Pt Conception northward, with the core slowly lifting northwards up the coast. Southern CA might see some of this early Tuesday, but then backing off. Finally on Thursday (3/31) the gradient is to move over Cape Mendocino with perhaps a light offshore flow is possible early Thursday from San Francisco southward with an almost summer-like eddy flow (south winds) building into Central CA by Friday and north winds building over Cape Mendo to near 35 kts. this pattern to hold through Saturday if not maybe Sunday. Light precipitation for the central part of the state possible Saturday with maybe some rain for the Tahoe area turning to snow and accumulating to 2 inches possible later.
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 a new small gale is forecast developing just west of the
dateline late Thursday (3/31) with a tiny area of 45 kt northwest winds well to the south at 35N 165E tracking to the east producing 24 ft seas at 33N 168E. . Winds to be down to 35 kts Friday AM blowing from the west at 33N 173E with 24 ft seas at 34n 174E. 35 kt northwest winds to be relocated at 40N 170W Friday evening generating seas of 26 ft at 37N 177W, though that seems a bit generous. Regardless, by Saturday AM (4/1) the system is to be regenerating with 40 kt northwest winds up at 46n 168W aimed right at NCal up the 295 degree path with sideband energy towards Hawaii down the 345 degree path. By Saturday night near 50 kt west winds are to be blowing at 45N 162W aimed at NCal up the 296 degree path and bypassing Hawaii. Seas on the increase from 29 ft at 46N 165W. This system is to be fading on Sunday AM fast with 32 ft seas at 45N 158W (296 NCal). At this time it's all a fantasy by the models with much instability from one run to the next. Still, it's something to monitor.
As of Monday (3/28) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) bounced a bit up. The daily SOI was at 20.58. The 30 day average was down to 17.13 with the 90 day average down some to 19.08.
Wind anomalies as of Sunday (3/27) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated weak easterly anomalies covering from the dateline into Central America indicative of the final stages of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. A quick fade is forecast with it nearly gone 4/1. A new Active Phase was building and filling the Indian Ocean reaching east to New Guinea, holding at levels indicated from previous forecasts. It is to make it half way between New Guinea and the dateline by 4/1 then reaching to the dateline by 4/6, holding and slowly dissipating there into 4/16. This is not to be a strong event but still better than what one would expect. This all suggests that support for gale development should currently be gone with the Inactive Phase in effect (which is not the case). And a split jetstream expected as a result of the Inactive Phase of the MJO, though it exists, is not pushing the Northern branch as far north as would be expected. The net result is there is still some support for gale development occurring and it is likely to only get enhanced as we move into early April (with the Active Phase of the MJO getting a foothold again). The interesting thing is that even though we are in a La Nina pattern, the Active Phase has been more dominant than expected from February onward and continues to surprise with it's consistency (a good thing) and steadiness. It's almost as if at least a normal pattern is trying to take hold, if not something more. We really need to see the 30 day average SOI taking a significant dive towards neutral territory before we'll believe any real trend away from La Nina is occurring.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (3/19) is unchanged and continues to indicate that cooler waters (-1 C degs) had a grip on the equator covering from a bit west of South America westward to the dateline. Cooler than normal waters also were present in feeder bands originating off the US West Coast (not as strong as earlier in the Winter) and somewhat colder ones off South America sweeping fully to the intersection of the dateline and the equator, serving to continue the existing 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. But the cooler waters in the North Pacific are relating as are the cool temps over the equator. Warmer than normal waters remain over the Galapagos Islands and over a very narrow band west of there. And tongues of warmer water are positioned in the both the Northwest and Southwest Hemispheres trying to make inroads to the east. Regardless, the big picture still looks like a La Nina setup (though fading in intensity).
Below the surface on the equator there has been indications of Kevin Wave activity. Colder than normal water that had 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 and holding there though 3/22. There has been minor fluctuations in it's intensity but in all, reasonably stable. Negative anomalies that have held in the far East Pacific at -2C just off Ecuador and fading again down to -1 deg C. Regardless, there has been an impenetrable wall at 140W separating the warm and cool anomalies and it has been blocking any eastward progress of warmer subsurface water. Until that configuration changes, La Nina will remain in control. As of 3/27 a small finger of normal to slightly warmer (+1 deg C) water was flowing east making it to the equatorial East Pacific but only up at 100 meters. We need to see changes down at 150-200 meters.
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. And if anything, they were dying to almost totally normal as of 3/27. We actually expected more from this La Nina.
A moderate plus 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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Timmy Reyes - Curt Myers from Powerlines Productions found this little gem with Timmy Reyes providing a brief statement about which sites he uses for swell chasing. Thought we'd pass it on. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P30ZCQOsYwY
Buell Wetsuits - When surfing in Santa Cruz, we've been seeing a new wetsuit in the line-up worn by many top flight surfers. They're getting good traction and are well respected. Take a look: http://www.buellwetsuits.com/
Stormsurf Mobile App (1/9/11) We are proud to announce the official public release of our smartphone mobile app. It provides access to our most popular and commonly used products, optimized for use on the road, on the beach or anywhere you don't have a desktop or laptop. With a smart phone and signal, you will have access to our data. And we're not talking just a few teaser products - We're talking full feature wave models, weather models, real-time buoy data, manually built forecasts and hundreds of spot wave and wind forecasts enabling you to construct a surf forecast for any location on the planet, all from your cell phone and all for free. No subscription required and no hidden fees. And better yet, there's a few new things sprinkled in that are not yet available even on our full-featured web site. From your smart phones browser just navigate to: www.stormsurf.com/mobile
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 replaced 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 accomplished on 11/13. Pure swell numbers are now correct. Links: 46012, 46059
Also since we moved to the new weather model server last month we discovered that our Longrange Precipitation Models ceased to display frozen precipitation (as they once did). Some of our scripts did not get installed on the new server. That has been fixed (11/13) and now snow is again viewable worldwide. Here the new North America sample.
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 accomplished 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/
New Weather Models With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon): http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
New Weather Model Server Stormsurf has installed another weather model production server. This has enabled us to spread the load across more servers allowing us to post both wave and weather model updates much quicker. Also we are testing new content (like North America jetstream, winds and precipitation, local wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments). The model menus will be updated shortly with these new links.
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New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.
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.
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