Swell Classification Guidelines
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/Utility Class: 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.
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On Tuesday (4/3) North and Central CA had residual west swell from the Eastern Gulf interacting with a new pulse of more northwesterly swell producing surf in the 11 ft range. In Santa Cruz surf was maybe head high and clean. Southern California up north was getting the same swell with waves shoulder high and clean and pretty lined up. Down south waves were head high to 1 ft overhead and clean and looking awfully fun. Hawaii's North Shore was getting generic northwest swell with waves head high to 1 ft overhead on the sets and clean. The South Shore was getting background southern hemi swell at shoulder high and pretty ripped up by east-southeast trades. The East Shore was getting the same northwest wrap around swell at chest to head high and chopped by southeasterly trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view
A declining swell pattern is expected for the next 5 days while a new weak gale drops from the Gulf and then tried to wrap up off Northern California over the weekend with seas in the 20 ft range, fading off the coast and not moving onshore. Virtually no swell producing fetch to follow. In the southern hemi a small gale is forecast tracking northeast well east of New Zealand on Wednesday with seas peaking at 37 ft. Maybe some small swell to result mainly focused on the US West Coast down into Mexico.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jet stream - On Tuesday (4/3) the same old split in the jet was occurring just west of the dateline with 140 kt winds rising over the split point but not quite pushing into the Bering Sea then turning east and before falling into a small trough in the Eastern Gulf and then moving onshore over British Columbia. Limited support for low pressure development in the trough. The southern branch was peeling off the main flow at the split point pushing east over Hawaii and then on into mainland Mexico. Over the next 72 hours the split is to hold over the dateline with a bit more energy pushing into the northern branch rising to the Central Aleutians then falling flat southeast and forecast to push over Central CA by Friday (4/6) but not real trough forecast in the East Pacific. Beyond 72 hours the flow in the northern branch is to become stronger with 140 kt winds flowing almost over it's length with a trough over Japan, a ridge on the dateline then a building trough in the Gulf by Sun (4/8) with the split point fading. Decent support for gale development in the Gulf trough off Oregon and CA. By Wed (4/11) the energy levels in the in the jet are to drop even through the split flow is to fade. Some semblance of a trough is to remain off the US west coast possibly still supporting limited gale development potential.
Surface - On Tuesday (4/3) a gale was over Japan and landlocked offering no swell generation potential. Weak low pressure was tracking over high pressure that was centered 1000 nmiles north of Hawaii, then falling down the Canadian coast. No real swell production potential was in evidence though 17 ft seas from previous fetch were off Oregon and North CA moving towards the coast if not hitting it. Surf was building along North and Central CA back into the 10 ft range. Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to hold north of Hawaii while a piece of the low pressure north of it falls southeast eventually positioned 650 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino on Friday (4/6) and starting to redevelop with 30 kt northwest winds generating 18 ft seas at 40N 142W aimed at the Central CA coast. Nothing of real interest though.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (4/3) a light wind regime was in control of CA with high pressure displaced to the west and low pressure over the Central Canadian coast. A front from the low to barely brush San Francisco northward Tuesday evening with 2 inches of snow in Tahoe and a few drops of rain down to Monterey Bay. By Wednesday the low is to fade and clearing high pressure is to move in resulting in increased northwest winds to 30 kt near Pt Conception and 15 kt north and south of there continuing into Thursday, then finally starting to fade on Friday as a new cut-off low builds off the coast. A light wind regime expected through the weekend into Monday, then wind turning south at 5-10 kt Tuesday as the low approaches Central CA from the west. Light rain possible starting Mon PM for North CA.
At the surface in the South Pacific on Tuesday (3/8) a new gale was developing southeast of New Zealand just off Antarctica with 50 kt southwest winds and seas on the increase. In the evening 45-50 kt southwest winds to be lifting northeast with 34 ft seas at 56S 157W lifting northeast. By Wed AM (4/40 a thin fading area of 45 kt southwest winds are to be fading with seas peaking at 38 ft at 53S 150W (197 degs NCal, 200 SCal, 175 HI) and unshadowed by Tahiti. 40 kt south winds to hold into the evening with seas fading from 34 ft at 49S 143W (194 degs NCal, 197 SCal, 173 HI) and gone after that. Another pulse of small southern swell possible for CA down into Mexico with sideband swell for the Islands if all goes as forecast. Will monitor.
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 the gale forecast off the US West Coast is to continue to circulate through Sun AM (4/8) with winds to 35 kts and seas to 20 ft at 40N 138W, then fading out by Monday AM. Possible modest 13 sec period swell to result for Cape Mendocino southward to Pt Conception.
A calm pattern to follow.
Note: The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather event that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized by either enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is on control of or slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 day, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecast for MJO activity.
As of Tuesday (4/3) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down again to -24.59. The 30 day average was down to -1.44 (neutral) with the 90 day average down to 3.38. The latest pulse of the Active Phase of the MJO is having marked effects and the 90 day average is as low as it's been since July of last year.
Current wind analysis indicated weak to moderate westerly anomalies were over the equator extending from the Indian Ocean to the dateline and even a bit east of there (170W) with secondary westerlies even in the East Pacific now. This suggests the Active Phase of the MJO was in control. A week from now (4/11) the pattern is to continue with weak westerly anomalies holding on the dateline and progressing eastward to nearly Ecuador. This continues to look like a Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) event could develop. This indicates that the Inactive Phase of the MJO is gone and the Active Phase in full control of the West Pacific. The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 4/2 are in agreement suggesting the core of the Inactive Phase of the MJO is gone with the Active Phase of the MJO locked on the dateline (180W) and tracking east. This means we are supposedly already in a more favorable environment to support gale formation in the preferred dateline region. But as of right now, the upper level models are not picking up on that change. Now even with the WWB event, the upper atmosphere (per the models) is to not respond. This suggests the storm track will likely not follow, but we're still holding out hope. That said, it remains to be seen if the MJO really will have any effect over the next 2-3 weeks, or whether the coming of Spring trumps everything else and high pressure continues to rule supreme. Regardless the Inactive Phase is already building in the Indian Ocean and expected to push east into the West Pacific by 4/16, likely shutting whatever remnants of a Winter storm pattern remains into submission.
Remnants of what was a moderate plus strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) are still evident and momentum from this La Nina event are expected to hold well into Spring and early Summer of 2012. But after that, a slow but steady return to a more normal pattern is expected to take hold, offering better chances for decent surf for the Fall and Winter of 2012-2013. We're almost there - it's been a long 2 years.
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest 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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Steve Colleta Surfboards - Check out surfboards by local shaper Steve Coletta - A long time Santa Cruz local and master shaper. Progressive shapes for North and Central CA waves http://www.naturalcurvesboards.com
Chasing the Swell has been nominated for a Webby Award. See details of this great piece of video journalism below. Some say this is the "Oscars" of online awards.One of the awards is voter based. If you have a moment, please cast your ballot by going to: http://webby.aol.com, register, then click on the "Get Voting" tab and then to the "Online Film and Video" > "Sports" category and vote for "Chasing the Swell".
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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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table