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 (3/29) North and Central California surf was 2-3 ft overhead and blown to bits by strong renewed northwest winds. Swell was coming from a storm that was in the Northern Gulf earlier in the week, but was on the way down and buried in local shorter period windswell courtesy of strong high pressure just west of San Francisco. Southern California was getting some of that same northerly swell with waves thigh to waist high or so at exposed breaks, but many dead flat too. Theoretically there was some southern hemi swell in there too, but it wasn't real obvious. Local conditions were decent though, with light winds everywhere but Santa Barbara. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the tail end of swell from on the dateline, really just windswell now at maybe waist high with trades in effect. The East Shore had shoulder high surf generated by brisk easterly trades generated by entrenched high pressure north of the Islands. The South Shore was effectively flat with no southern hemi swell in the water.
North and Central CA is scheduled to be buried in chop the entire week with high pressure forming a pressure gradient over the coast and north winds a-blowing. Copious local windswell is forecast pushing 1-2 ft overhead, but conditions are to be exceedingly poor at any break with northern exposure. Southern CA is to continue getting a fraction of the north windswell but with better conditions than the folks up north. Size to be in the thigh high range, and only at exposed breaks. Local wind is to remain decent as compared to breaks north of Pt Conception. Hawaii's North Shore to get a little pulse of swell Tues/Wed to head high, best later Tuesday coming from across the dateline. The East Shore is expected to have more non-stop easterly windswell, peaking Wednesday/Thursdays (4/2), but still holding well after that. The South Shore is not expected to see any southern hemi swell forecast for the next 7 days.
Longterm a gale formed off Japan on Saturday (3/28) limping over the dateline 24 hrs later and possibly sending a little swell towards Hawaii for mid-week. But of more interest is a pair of storms forecast later in the workweek, one over the dateline pushing into the Gulf of Alaska and a second off Japan pushing to the dateline. Neither of these are to be strong, with seas at 30 and 36 ft respectively, but given the pattern of late this is a step in the right direction assuming they actually form. Down south a pair of gales are forecast under New Zealand, one on Monday and the second by Thursday (4/2). Not a whole lot of motions to the northeast is expected, but still some sideband energy might push up into Hawaii and the US West Coast if these form as forecast. But in the mean time, high pressure, howling north winds and local windswell are the main feature for the US West Coast and brisk trades with east windswell for the Hawaiian Islands for the week.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (3/29) the North
Pacific jetstream actually was looking a bit better than it has for weeks, with a consistent flow of energy pushing off Japan the whole way up into the Gulf of Alaska and into Northern Canada. Winds did not exceed 120-130 kts and no troughs were present offering no support for gale development. The same old split pattern was present, but the southern branch which separated from the main flow on the dateline was very weak and not hardly noticeable. Over
hours through Wednesday (4/1) the northern branch of the jet is to remain dominant, but the southern branch is to become a little more noticeable. Still not clear support for gale development is forecast and if anything, the split flow is to support continued high pressure off the US West Coast to the dateline. Beyond 72 hrs a pair of troughs are to form in the northern branch starting Thursday (4/2), one of the dateline and other over Japan lifting gently east-northeast into the weekend before fading in the Gulf and over the dateline respectively. Decent support for gale development if this occurs.
At the surface strong high pressure at 1032 mbs remained 1000 nmiles west of San Francisco ridging hard into California and Oregon generating a steady fetch of north winds at 25-30 kts pushing down the Pacific Northwest and California coasts then turning southwest and west pushing up to and over the Hawaiian Islands. These winds were serving to generate large choppy local windswell along the exposed California coast and more direct easterly windswell pushing into East Shores of the Hawaiian Islands. Swell from a gale that was in the Northern Gulf of Alaska last week is fading as it pushes south of California. Over the next 72 hours the high pressure system is to hold it's position and strength at 1036 mbs continuing to generate north windswell along the CA coast and weaker east windswell into the Hawaiian Islands. A gale is forecast on the dateline Monday pushing up into the Northern Gulf of Alaska and dissipating late Tuesday (3/31) generating a tiny fetch of 21-23 ft seas pushing towards the Pacific Northwest, maybe good for some background 13-14 sec energy in to the Pacific Northwest late in the week. But over all a quiet pattern is expected other than the local windswell.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (3/29) high pressure at 1032 mbs continued filling the East Pacific from the dateline over Hawaii and into California and up to Oregon. It was generating brisk north winds at 20-25 kts with a core to 30 kts pushing down the Oregon and California coasts with the strongest winds off Central CA and generating short to moderate period local north windswell and chop. Southern CA was mostly protected by the Channel Islands. The pressure gradient and north winds to relax some Monday and retreat to just over California waters, at 25 kts focused mostly off San Francisco continuing into early Tuesday (3/31). But high pressure is to rebuild to 1036 mbs late Tuesday with north winds building to 25 kts over California waters by Wednesday AM and being strengthened by lower pressure moving inland over British Columbia with 25-30 kt north winds extending from Central Canada sow to the Channel Islands by Thursday evening (4/2) then slowly condensing an shrinking over Central and North CA Saturday (4/4). North winds to finally fade on Sunday as low pressure takes over the Gulf of Alaska and high pressure dissipates (at least for a little while). .
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Sunday (3/29) an elongated fetch of 35-40 kt west winds were under New Zealand associated with a 960 mbs low in the deep Southwest Pacific and generating 30 ft seas at 55S 158E south of the Tasman Sea and shadowed from Hawaii and the US by New Zealand. By Monday AM that gale is to rejuvenate some with up to 40 kt southwest winds developing and aimed better to the northeast, then fading into Tuesday AM. Seas are projected at 32 ft Mon AM (3/30) at 54S 176E and holding at 30 ft in the evening at 52S 180W. One more reading of 30 ft are expected Tuesday AM (3/31) at 48S 172W then dissipating. Possible modest 17 sec southern hemi swell for the ISlands 7.5 days later (late Tues 4/7) and a few day beyond for CA if this occurs.
Another gale is forecast under New Zealand starting Wednesday (4/1) with a larger area of 45 kt wind at 60S 180W and aimed reasonably well to the northeast, but dissipating into Thursday afternoon. 30 ft seas are forecast Wed afternoon (3/31) at 60S 180W pushing to 36 ft Thursday AM (4/2) at 59S 171W then down to 32 ft in the evening at 55S 160W. Possible sideband swell for the Islands and barely unshadowed swell (Tahiti swell shadow) for CA if this comes to pass.
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 models suggest that things are to get interesting starting Thursday AM (4/2) with two storms, both with barely 50 kts wins forecast on the dateline and just east of Japan with decent fetch in their southwest quadrants pushing towards the US West Coast and Hawaii respectively. These systems to quickly max out then be on the decline late Friday into early Saturday. Seas are forecast at 30 ft on the dateline system Friday AM (4/3) almost making it to Saturday AM and targeting the Pacific Northwest down into California up to 36 ft Friday AM off Japan fading to 30 ft Sat AM almost making it to the dateline and targeting Hawaii. This would be very nice if this occurs with 17 sec period swell expected for everyone. Of course that's a long way from occurring, and is just a fantasy conjured up by the models for now.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (3/29) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the Active Phase with the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index neutral. The Daily SOI index was up some to 2.06 (31 days in a row near zero, neutral, and the lowest since June of last year when we almost slipped into a short-lived El Nino). The 30 day average was down to -1.09 (miraculously going negative!) and the 90 day average was down some to 7.73, down a full point from 3 days ago. The SOI indicies remained symptomatic of La Nina mainly attributable to the 90 day average, but clearly things were on the move in a good direction. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a steady westerly flow from New Caledonia to the dateline and on into Central America, covering the entire Eastern Equatorial Pacific indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO and is likely helping the North Pacific storm track some. But at the same time a strong pulse of the Inactive Phase was building in the Indian Ocean. The Active Phase is to hold through 4/2 on the dateline and points east, then rapidly dissipate while the Inactive Phase surges east from the Indian Ocean on 4/2, making it to the dateline by 4/7, then steadily withering away through 4/17 while a new Active Phase builds behind it in the Indian Ocean. At this time the residual effects of 3 years of La Nina remain in-control, with cooler than normal water trying to hold off Central America. But that just took a major hit with warmer waters starting to build in there at the surface just in the past week. And below the surface the equatorial subsurface warm pool of water that has been repressed back west of the dateline continues to make tracks eastward, now reaching 140W, a major step forward in the past week. 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 once the Active Phase of the MJO takes control a week out. 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. But come summer, if warming develops in the Tropical Eastern Pacific, this could set up up for a decent Fall, and maybe an enhanced late summer southern hemi season.
The models suggest a slow but steady increase in gale activity in the South Pacific beyond 72 hours. A small but strong system is forecast under New Zealand a week out, but traveling due east and limiting swell pushing to northern latitudes.Also a strong but small system is forecast off Southern Chile at the same time, but of not interest to the US.
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