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 (3/29) North and Central California surf was chest high or so and kinda warbled and textured and very spring-like. This was just local windswell generated by high pressure off the coast. Southern California was getting some of that same northerly windswell with waves thigh to waist high at exposed breaks and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting that swell from a gale that was off Japan over the weekend with waves head high to 1 ft overhead and swell 4 ft @ 15 secs with trades in effect. The East Shore had head high to 1 ft overhead windswell 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, but some limited east windswell was wrapping around into exposed breaks.
North and Central CA is getting a slight break from the incessant north wind today, but that is to be short lived with a return of blustery conditions by Wednesday and then really ramping up by Friday (4/3) as high pressure holds tight off the coast and little bits of low pressure dribble south inland over the Pacific Northwest and CA, just enough to stir up the coastal pressure gradient. Modest local short period windswell is forecast pushing to head high Wednesday, fading Thursday, then coming back with a vengeance Friday into early Saturday with a bit more period. Poor conditions. Southern CA is to continue getting a fraction of the north windswell, likely getting pretty small on Thursday into early Friday before rebounding. Size to be in the thigh high range at exposed breaks and coming up towards the weekend. Local wind is to not be too much of an issue. Swell on Hawaii's North Shore is to be fading some on Wednesday but not out, and holding there in the waist to chest high range Thursday before dissipating on Friday. The East Shore is expected to have more non-stop easterly windswell, peaking Wednesday/Thursdays (4/2), but still holding nearly at those same levels for days after that. The South Shore is not expected to see any southern hemi swell forecast for the next 5 days.
Longterm perhaps a tiny fragment of swell from the gale that formed off Japan on Saturday (3/28) and pushed swell into Hawaii might reach the Us West coast, but likely will be buried in local chop. But of more interest is a pair of gales forecast for Thursday-Sunday (4/5), 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 particularly strong, with seas barely 30 and 40 ft respectively, but this is alot considering how little real swell energy there's been for the past few months. but we're still a few days off from these actually forming, so until then, they're just a fantasy in the mind of the model. Down south on gale formed under New Zealand on Monday and a second one scheduled for Thursday (4/2) has since almost evaporated from the charts. A little bit of swell from the first one might radiate up in to Hawaii and the US West coast, but mostly just a tease. But the central theme is to be strong north wind and local windswell associated with high pressure off 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 Tuesday (3/31) the North Pacific jetstream was back to it's same old La Nina induced tricks, heavily split on the dateline with 2 distinct streams pushing east with the northern one arching over the Gulf of Alaska almost following the coast of Alaska, Canada and the the Pacific Northwest before pushing inland while the southern branch flowed over Hawaii and into Baja. This is no different than it's been for the past 2-3 months, except weaker with peak winds only 130-140 kts and limited to a few small pockets. No troughs were present to support the formation of low pressure. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (4/3) the northern branch is to support formation of a pair of troughs starting Thursday (4/2), one on the dateline and the other over Japan lifting gently east-northeast into the weekend before pushing into Northern CA and the other fading over dateline respectively. Good support for gale development if this occurs. Beyond 72 hours the split pattern is to hold while energy levels plummet along the northern branch, with no support for gale development indicated.
At the surface strong high pressure at 1036 mbs remained 11000 nmiles west of San Francisco ridging into California and Southern Oregon generating a steady fetch of north winds at 15-20 kts pushing down the North and Central California coast then turning southwest and west pushing up to and over the Hawaiian Islands producing 20-25 kt east winds there. These winds were generating modest warbled local windswell along the exposed California coast and more direct easterly windswell pushing into East Shores of the Hawaiian Islands. Low pressure was riding over the high in the Gulf of Alaska generating 25 kt west-southwest winds aimed at British Columbia and starting to generate windswell pushing east. Over the next 72 hours the high pressure system is to hold it's ground and strength continuing to generate north winds at 25-30 kts windswell along the CA coast and 20-25 kt east winds into the Hawaiian Islands resulting in local windswell for both. The low pressure system in the Gulf is to push into British Columbia on Thursday (4/2) generating 30 kt northwest winds and more local windswell. Better potential existing longterm if one is to believe the models.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (3/31) high pressure was rebuilding at 1038 mbs but displaced a bit more to the west with north winds only 20-25 kts off Pt Arena and not getting too close to Central CA. A calm day by recent standards. By Wednesday AM the high is to surge east and the local pressure gradient strengthened by lower pressure moving inland over British Columbia with 25-30 kt north winds extending from Central Canada south to the Channel Islands into Thursday AM (4/2) then being heavily reinforced by more low pressure dropping south inland over the Pacific Northwest in the evening. 30-35 kt north winds forecast nearshore late Thursday and all day Friday, then dissipating later Saturday. But by Sunday AM south winds at 15+ kts are to be building from Big Sur northward as low pressure from the Gulf of Alaska moves into the area, with rain taking over by evening. High pressure to start returning Monday with rain dissipating and north winds on the increase again reaching 20-25 kts by sunset and holding through Tuesday (4/7).
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 was fading with 35 kt southwest winds aimed better to the northeast, then fading from 30 kts by Tuesday AM. Seas were modeled at 30 ft Mon AM (3/30) at 54S 176E and holding at 30 ft in the evening at 54S 179W. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the eastern edge of the fetch at 06Z Tues and reported seas of 25.8 ft with a peak to 34.8 where the model suggested seas of 27-28 ft. This was about on-track. One more reading of 28 ft occurred Tuesday AM (3/31) at 52S 180W then dissipating. Possible modest 17 sec southern hemi swell is possible for the Islands 7.5 days later (late Tues 4/7) and a few days beyond for CA.
Another gale that was forecast under New Zealand starting Wednesday (4/1) has since almost vanished from the charts. A modest area of 40 kt wind at 60S 180W is forecast Wed PM aimed reasonably somewhat to the northeast, but dissipating into Thursday AM. 28 ft seas are forecast Wed afternoon (3/31) at 60S 170W pushing to 29-30 ft Thursday AM (4/2) at 58S 175W then down to 25 ft in the evening at 55S 165W. Possible sideband swell for the Islands and barely unshadowed (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 continue to suggest that things are to get interesting starting Thursday AM (4/2) with a gale and a storm forming. The gale is to develop on the dateline with 45 kt northwest winds moving into the Gulf on Friday (4/3) again with 45 kt west winds and seas to 30 ft in it's south quadrant aimed well at the US West Coast, then moving into the Eastern Gulf on Saturday (4/4) with 40 kt northwest winds and 28 ft seas before fading while dropping southeast towards Central CA. The latest model data is down some from the day before and the track is displaced more to the north, in the Farallon swell shadow relative to San Francisco. strong north winds likely as the swell arrives, assuming this one even forms.
The second system is forecast forming off Japan Thursday (4/2) with 50-55 kt northwest winds and 35 ft seas late, fading with 40-45 kt west winds Friday (4/3) and up to 40 ft seas targeting Hawaii well and even pushing energy towards the US West Coast. 30 kt west winds to be fading Saturday (4/4) with seas fading fast from 35 ft early, down below 30 ft at sunset.
Will monitor both of these as we get closer to their formation. Until then, it's just a fantasy in the one-bit mind of the computer.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (3/31) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the Active Phase with the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index neutral. The Daily SOI index was down to -4.84 (33 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 up slightly to -0.95 (still negative) and the 90 day average was down some to 7.12. The SOI indicies remained barely symptomatic of La Nina mainly attributable to the 90 day average, but clearly things were on the move in the right direction (unless you live in Australia). Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a steady westerly flow from just west of the dateline east over the dateline and into Central America, covering the entire Eastern Equatorial Pacific and indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO. This is likely to help the North Pacific storm track some for the next week. 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 4/9, then steadily withering away through 4/19 while pushing east to Central America 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 took a major hit with warmer than normal 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. Suspect a negative trend will reemerge by the middle of the month. Regardless, it will take months before the atmosphere begins to respond to any warming of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, 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 now suggest a calmer pattern setting up over the South Pacific beyond 72 hours. No swell producing system are 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
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