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.
On Sunday (4/8) North and Central CA had new small swell from a weak gale just off the coast arriving starting to produce surf in the slightly overhead range and lined up and clean early. In Santa Cruz surf was chest high and clean but with wind blowing outside the kelp. Southern California up north was knee high and clean - effectively flat. Down south waves were waist high, soft and clean and inconsistent. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more northerly windswell with waves shoulder to head high on the sets and clean. The South Shore was getting minimal southern hemi background swell with waves waist high and clean. The East Shore was getting the same northerly windswell at chest to head high and chopped by easterly trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view
A weak gale developed off the Central CA coast Fri-Sat with 22 ft seas. Small shorter period swell is starting to hit the Central CA area and is expected to slowly fade into the early part of the workweek. Another stronger gale is forecast following the same track Tues-Wed (4/11) but with seas in the 30-34 ft range in the Central Gulf offering swell potential for mainly the US West Coast later in the week. And perhaps yet another gal is forecast just east of the dateline on Thurs-Fri (4/13) with seas in the 30 ft range targeting both the Islands and the mainland. In the southern hemi a small gale tracked northeast well east of New Zealand on Wednesday (4/4) with seas peaking at 35 ft. Maybe some small swell to result mainly focused on the US West Coast down into Mexico by Thurs (4/12). And another developed in the same area with seas 33 ft on Sat (4/7) with small swell eventually projected into Hawaii and the US West Coast. Nothing else of interest to follow.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jet stream - On Sunday (4/8) the jet was pushing east of Japan then ridging northeast mid-way to the dateline with a weak .cgiit occurring there and most energy pushing into the northern branch with winds 150 kts. The flow tracked over the dateline just south of the Aleutians then fell into a steep trough 600 nmiles off the US West Coast with winds still 140 kts there before ridging north and pushing inland over Oregon. Some support for gale development was occurring in the trough. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to hold and slowly east east finally pushing inland over Central CA on Wed (4/11) with support for gale development fading then. But a broader trough is to be building in the Gulf of Alaska but with the jet falling apart off Japan. Beyond 72 hours the Gulf trough is to peak on Thursday with 160 kt winds flowing down into it offering good support for gale development, then pushing inland on Friday (4/13) over Central CA again. Beyond at very diffuse and weak jetstream pattern is forecast with some semblance of a consolidated flow pushing east on the 45N latitude line, but winds only 90 kts and offering nothing in terms of support for gale development.
Surface - On Sunday (4/8) the remnants of what was a gale were circulating off the North CA coast with pressure 1000 mbs and offering no fetch of interest. Weak high pressure at 1032 mbs was 900 nmiles north of Hawaii producing 15-20 kt north winds aimed at the Islands resulting in limited north windswell there. Also a gale was circulating in the Bering Sea totally shadowed by the Aleutian Islands and of no interest. Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to hold north of Hawaii producing northeast winds eventually turning to trades in the 15-20 kts range offering more northeasterly windswell for the Islands. Low pressure is to continue circulating off the North California coast and Oregon producing 20-25 kt north winds but not aimed at the mainland or Hawaii, instead traveling south towards the equator and no mans land. The supposed enhancement of the storm track related tot he Active Phase of the MJO is expected to occur during the coming week, but it is to be very limited.
A gale is forecast to develop over the extreme Eastern Aleutians on Monday PM (4/9) with a broad fetch of 35 kt northwest winds pushing 45 kts by Tuesday AM with seas building from 24 ft at 47N 165W. This gale is to hold it's ground with winds still 45 kts in the evening with seas pushing 32 ft up at 47N 160W (302 degs NCal), then starting to fade while falling southeast. Winds down to 35 kt over a broad area Wed AM (4/11) with seas holding at 32 ft at 45N 155W (296 degs NCal) and bypassing Hawaii to the east. The gale is to continue southeast into the evening with winds fading from 30 kts and seas fading from 28 ft at 43N 149W (296 NCal). By Thursday PM seas to be down to 22 ft over a sold area just 700 nmiles off the Central CA coast. Will believe it when it happens.
Central CA Gale
A low pressure system fell southeast out of the Gulf of Alaska positioned 800 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino on Friday PM (4/6) and started to develop with 35 kt northwest winds generating a tiny area of 20 ft seas at 40N 144W aimed at the Central CA coast. This gale continued to circulate Sat AM (4/7) with 30-35 kt northwest winds producing a larger area of 20 ft seas at 39N 141W holding into the evening with seas to 22 ft at 38N 139W (279 degs NCal/290 SCal). By Sun AM (4/8) the system faded with 18 ft seas at 36N 138W (285 degs SCal) then dissipated.
Modest 13-14 sec period local swell to result for Cape Mendocino earlier Sunday (4/8) moving into Central CA near sunset building to 8 ft @ 13 secs (10 ft) after darkness arrives from 275 degrees and then down into South California Monday at 3.5-4.0 ft @ 13 secs (4.5 ft) from 285-290 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (4/8) weak low pressure at 1002 mbs was off the Oregon coast with a weak front hanging just off the Central CA coast and south winds and light rain just 200-300 off the Central Coast but the south wind already moving into Cape Mendocino. A weak southerly flow is to move into the whole Central Coast Monday (down to Pt Conception) as the low hangs stationary with light rain move into the Northern CA coast and sliding southward. South winds to build for the Central Coast on Tuesday with light rain down to Pt Conception but not making it much inland. Wednesday a weak southwesterly flow is forecast with light rain over the entire state down into Southern CA. Maybe 8 inches of snow for Tahoe. A front from the next system is to be pushing into the Central coast on Thursday (4/12) with south winds and rain building through the day and down to Southern CA late. On Friday (4/13) a light wind regime is expected for Central CA while west wind blow hard in Southern CA light rain continuing through the day all locations. Maybe 1.5-2.0 ft of snow for Tahoe through the evening. Saturday high pressure and strong north winds forecast for all locations with only a few lingering showers for Southern CA.
At the surface in the South Pacific on Sunday (4/8) no fetch of interest was occurring and over the next 72 hours none is forecast.
First Small Gale
On Tuesday AM (3/8) a new gale developed 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 were lifting northeast with 33 ft seas at 56S 157W lifting northeast. By Wed AM (4/4) a thin fading area of 45 kt southwest winds remained fading with seas peaking at 35 ft at 53S 150W (197 degs NCal, 200 SCal, 175 HI) and unshadowed by Tahiti. 40 kt south winds held into the evening with seas fading from 32 ft at 49S 142W (193 degs NCal, 196 SCal, 172 HI) and gone after that.
A pulse of small southern swell possible for CA down into Mexico with sideband swell for the Islands. Swell to hit Southern CA starting before sunrise Thurs (4/12) peaking on Friday (4/13) at 2 ft @ 16 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces) and heading down with period 14-15 secs early Saturday (4/14) from 200 degrees. The NCal swell profile to be about 12 hours behind SCal or arriving just after sunset Thursday from 196 degrees. Minimal sideband energy for Hawaii starting Wed (4/11) at 1.5 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft) from 174 degrees.
Second Small Gale
On Friday AM (4/6) a small fetch of 45 kt southwest winds developed southeast of New Zealand with seas on the increase. In the evening that fetch raced northeast and increased in areal coverage, but with winds fading to 40 kts. Seas built to 32 ft over a tiny area at 58S 162W. Fetch continued tracking northeast Sat AM (4/7) with winds down to 35 kts and seas from previous fetch peaking at 33 ft over a decent sized area at 51S 157W (201 degs CA and barely unshadowed by Tahiti and 180 degs HI). In the evening fetch was fading from 30 kts with seas fading from 30 ft at 48N 153W. Reasonable possibilities for another small push of southern hemi swell radiating northeast targeting sideband energy at Hawaii by Sat (4/14) at 2 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5 ft faces) from 180 degrees with more direct though small energy for the US West Coast down into Central America (arriving in Southern CA on Sun (4/15) at 1.6 ft @ 17secs (2.5-3.0 ft) from 198 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 another gale is to start developing over the dateline on Wednesday evening (4/11) with 40 kt west winds in it's southern quadrant 4/12) and seas on the increase. By Thursday AM (4/12) a broad area of 40 kt west winds are to be in.cgiace 1100 nmiles northwest of Hawaii with seas building from 26 ft at 38N 174W (325 degs HI/290 degs NCal). In the evening winds to be fading from 35 kts with seas peaking at 30 ft at 38N 171W (329 degs HI/287 degs NCal). Fetch is to be gone on Friday AM (4/13) with seas fading from 26 ft at 38N 167W pushing mainly east with sideband energy tracking towards Hawaii. Will monitor.
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.cgianet. 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 .cgiit 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 Sunday (4/8) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was holding at -27.98. The 30 day average was down to -6.07 (neutral) with the 90 day average down to 2.15. The latest pulse of the Active Phase of the MJO is having marked effects with the 90 day average surpassing the lowest point it's been in 2 years, but not as low as the El Nino of 2009-2010..
Current wind analysis indicated moderate strength westerly anomalies over the equator extending from just east of New Guinea to dateline with light westerly anomalies east of there to about 160W and then dean neutral eastward into the East Pacific. This suggests the Active Phase of the MJO was in control but was peaked out. A week from now (4/15) the pattern is to start fading with neutral to weak easterly anomalies starting to build from the dateline to north of Australia, indicative of a fading Active Phase of the MJO. The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 4/7 are now in agreement depicting the Active Phase slowly fading over the next week and the Inactive Phase, which is already strong in the Indian Ocean, pushing into the West Pacific by 4/14 and in control of the dateline a week beyond (4/21). Regardless, the current Active phase appears to be having no impact on the upper level circulation even with it's presence on the dateline, meaning that whatever pattern is in.cgiay now is only going to get more entrenched in the coming weeks.
Remnants of what was a moderate.cgius 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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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,.cgiease 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
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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 r.cgiaced 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 acco.cgiished on 11/13. Pure swell numbers are now correct. Links: 46012, 46059
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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 acco.cgiished 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
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table