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 (4/7) North and Central California surf was 1-2 ft overhead and blown apart by south winds and light periodic rain. A far cry from the double overhead warm and glassy conditions of Monday. This swell was from a nice gale that was in the gulf late last week into the weekend. Southern California was getting some of that same swell with waves chest high and getting windy up north, but still reasonably clean down south. Hawaii's North Shore was getting new energy from a storm that was off Japan last week with waves to double overhead and trades a bit more northerly. The East Shore had more chest high east tradewind generated windswell from high pressure northeast of the Islands. The South Shore was doing better than expected with swell 2.0-2.5 ft @ 16 secs making from up to chest high surf, coming from a gale that was under New Zealand early last week.
The forecast North and Central CA has the next swell from the Japan storm coming in late Wed/Thurs (4/9). See details below. Southern CA is to see a portion of that same swell by Thursday. Oahu's North Shore is seeing the peak of the Japan swell now, with a decent bit of surf expected into early Thursday, then all heading way down. The East Shore is expected to continue with some form of modest easterly trade wind generated windswell through Friday, then fading some for the weekend. The South Shore is seeing the peak of the first southern hemi swell, with size fading through Thursday. Then another is expected in by Friday providing more solidly rideable surf into Saturday, then heading down.
Longterm one more gale is forecast in the North Pacific tracking just south of the Aleutians into the Gulf starting mid-week offering some limited swell potential for mainly the US West Coast early next week. But after that things are to really be quieting down. Nothing of interest is expected developing over the next 7 days in the southern hemi either.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (4/7) the North Pacific jetstream was splitting just west of the dateline with the northern branch being dominant, ridging northward up to and just south of the Aleutians then tracking east through the Gulf of Alaska and splitting again, with the 2 streams tracking inland over Central Canada and Central CA. No troughs of interest were indicated offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (4/10) no real change is forecast other than a little trough forming in the far Eastern Gulf dipping hard south and moving inland over Central CA likely early Friday only offering rain potential for the region. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to become even more fragmented and weak offering no support for gale development, likely attributable to the fading active phase of the MJO.
At the surface firm high pressure at 1028 mbs was positioned 900 nmiles north of Hawaii generating brisk trades pushing over the Hawaiian Islands at near 20 kts generating limited short period windswell along east facing shores. Weak low pressure was trying to organize on the dateline but was getting shunted north by the high pressure system above Hawaii. No swell producing fetch was occurring other than what was previously noted. Swell from the Japan storm was impacting Hawaii and pushing east towards the mainland. Over the next 72 hours the only real interest is to be from that low building on the dateline Wednesday with up to 45 kt west winds at 48N 178E, lifting quickly to a point just south of the Aleutians Thursday (4/9) AM with 45 kt west wind and seas to 36 ft at 50N 175W and pushing due east in the evening with winds down to 40 kts and seas peaking at 38 ft at 49N 168W, then into the Gulf on Friday while fading with seas 32 ft first light Friday at 50N 160W and heading down fast from there. This was all on the 306-308 degree paths relative to Central CA with no energy heading south towards Hawaii. Maybe some decent longer period swell for the US West Coast, and particularly the Pacific Northwest if this occurs.
A storm was forming off Japan Thursday (4/2) with 50-55 kt northwest winds and 26 ft seas modeled late at 38N 154E pushing well towards Hawaii down the 302 degree great circle path. On Friday AM (4/3) west winds at 45 kts with seas up to 36 ft at 38N 160E targeting Hawaii well and even pushing energy towards the US West Coast up the 296 degree path (NCal). By evening winds to be dropping from 40 kts with seas peaking at 37 ft at 38N 166E aimed at NCal (3300 nmiles away) down the 295 path and Hawaii (2100 nmiles away) down the 309 degree path. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the core of the fetch and confirmed seas at only 30.6 ft with one spurious peak reading at 39 ft. This was considerably less than what the model suggested. 30 kt west winds were fading fast Saturday AM (4/4) with seas fading from 36 ft early at 41N 171E, down to barely 29 ft at sunset at 41N 175E. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the western side of the peak seas at 18Z Saturday and confirmed seas at 27.8 ft @ 40.6N 168E with a peak reading to 32.2 ft where the modeled suggested seas of 28 ft. So the model was right on target this time.
Hawaii: A decent pulse of 18 sec period swell reached Hawaii's North Shore late Monday (4/6) with most consistent size on starting 2 AM Tuesday (4/7) as period turns to 17 secs. Swell peaked at 6.6 ft @ 16-17 secs right before sunrise and held decently through the morning (10 ft faces) coming from 305 degrees. Swell is to be fading from 5.5-6.0 ft @ 14 secs (7.5-8.5 ft faces) early Wednesday (4/8).
North CA: Expect inconsistent 17 sec period energy is to reach into Central CA starting late Wed (4/8) at 8 PM peaking into Thurs (4/9) AM at 5.2 ft @ 16 secs (8 ft faces) from 295-296 degrees. Very inconsistent. Swell fading from 4.5 ft @ 14 secs (6 ft faces) on Friday.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (4/7) weak low pressure at 1010 mbs was directly over the Oregon/NCal border bringing south winds and light rain down into Central CA. The core of the low is to be well inland on Wednesday with light high pressure trying to build in behind and rain clearing out. But another weaker low is to drop south down the coast Thursday (4/9) with more 10-15 kt south winds and rain forecast to Pt Conception and into Southern CA Friday while a clearing pattern and north winds builds over the northern half of the state, clearing into Southern CA Saturday with high pressure and north winds building south by Saturday. Light northerly winds to continue Sunday (4/12) before major high pressure at 1038 mbs builds off the coast hitting on Monday with up to 30 kt north winds nearshore of San Francisco building to 35 kts Tuesday. SCal to be protected but everywhere north of Pt Conception to be in tatters.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Tuesday (4/7) no swell producing fetch was occurring and none was forecast for the next 72 hrs.
First New Zealand Gale
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 generated 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 days later (late Mon 4/6 with swell 1.6 ft @ 17 secs dropping to 1.6 ft @ 16 secs on Tues resulting in 2.5-3.0 ft faces from 195 degrees) and Thursday (4/9) for California (1.6 ft @ 16 secs - 2.5 ft faces from 210 degrees).
Second New Zealand Gale
Another gale tried to get going under New Zealand Wednesday (4/1) producing a modest area of 40 kt wind at 60S 180W Wed PM aimed somewhat to the northeast, but dissipating into Thursday AM. 28 ft seas were modeled Wed afternoon (3/31) at 60S 170W pushing to 29 ft Thursday AM (4/2) at 58S 177W then down to 26 ft in the evening at 55S 165W. Possible sideband swell for the Islands starting Fri (4/10) at 2 ft @ 16 secs (3 ft faces) down to 2 ft @ 14.5 ft on Sat (3 ft faces) from 188 degrees. This swell was barely unshadowed (Tahiti swell shadow) for California.with smaller energy limping in Sun (4/12) with swell 1.6 ft @ 19 secs (3 ft faces) from 195 degrees.
Southeast Pacific Gale
Remnants of the Second New Zealand Gale (see details below) congealed in the Southeastern Pacific on Sunday AM (4/5) producing a small fetch of confirmed 50 kt almost south winds at 48S 138W aimed 15 degrees east of the 194-197 degree path to CA and east of the Tahiti swell shadow, expected to hold into the evening at 46N 128W aimed up the 184 degree path to CA. 35 ft seas were modeled Sunday evening at 45S 132W with the momentum pushing them more east than north. 30 ft seas were modeled Monday AM at 43S 125W. Beyond the fetch quickly turned east to southeast on Monday AM (4/6) and fading. 26 ft seas were pretty well east bound for Peru from 42S 115W in the evening. This system was gone after that. Possible very southerly angled swell pushing up into South California starting Sunday afternoon (4/12) at 1.6 ft @ 18 secs (3.0 ft faces) building to 2.6 ft @ 17 secs (4.5 ft faces - 6.5 ft top spots) Mon (4/13). Swell still decent but fading on Tues at 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs. Swell Direction: 188-190 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 hours there's faint hope for low pressure developing off Kamchatka pushing east to the dateline over the weekend into early next week.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (4/7) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was moving into the Inactive Phase with the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index moving positive. The Daily SOI index was up to 7.5. The 30 day average was up slightly to 2.01 and the 90 day average was down to 6.56. This was almost exactly what has happened for the past 3 years in a row, where the SOI dives south in mid-March. Will be interesting to see if it holds there as it did last year for 6 moths almost fueling an El Nino, or rebounding as it did on 2007 to kick off the current La Nina episode. The SOI indicies remained barely symptomatic of La Nina mainly attributable to the 90 day average, but clearly La Nina has taken a big hit over the past month. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a fading westerly flow isolated to the fast eastern equatorial Pacific over Central America. A strong pulse of the Inactive Phase extended from Indonesia and Northern Australia to the international dateline, and is likely to suppress storm development in the West Pacific.The Inactive Phase is to be sagging over the dateline by 4/11, then holding there while slowly fading through 4/21 while easing east reaching Central America and fading through the end of the month. A new Active Phase is forecast to build behind it in the Indian Ocean through the month, but not reach the Pacific and perhaps dying in the Indian Ocean. The residual effects of 3 years of La Nina remain in-control, with cooler than normal water trying to hold west of Central America. But that took a pretty good hit over the week of 3/30 with warmer than normal waters now barely built-in there at the surface. And below the surface the equatorial subsurface warm pool of water that has been repressed back west of the dateline worked it's way east to 137W, a major step forward. The big question is how much effect will this next Inactive Phase of the MJO have on surface and subsurface waters of the East Pacific through the next 3 weeks, and whether the Active Phase behind it comes-on strong. Suspect we will loose some ground by the middle to end of the month. Regardless, it will still take months before the atmosphere begins to respond to any warming of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, so expect a continuation of cool and foggy Spring weather 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.
Beyond 72 hours the models place low odds on a gale developing under New Zealand Mon-Wed (4/15) lifting gently northeast with up to 35 ft seas. Possible swell pushing towards Hawaii and the US West Coast if this develops.
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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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