New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
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: 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 (4/18) North and Central California was getting more of the mix of Gulf swell and southern hemi swell with waves chest high and and clean early. Southern California was getting southwesterly angled southern hemi swell at thigh high up north but up to chest high at top spots down south with good conditions. Hawaii's North Shore was getting fading northeast windswell with waves chest high and reasonably clean though still showing effects of northeast trades. The East Shore was also getting waist to chest high northeast windswell and chopped. The South Shore was effectively flat with waves thigh high or less and clean.
The forecast for North and Central CA on MOnday is for west swell to be gone with the southern hemi swell fading to waist high. But new Gulf/north dateline swell expected in by Tuesday pushing 7-8 ft on the faces late, but north wind is to be tearing it up. Even more swell is expected on Wednesday coming from the northern dateline with a stronger Gulf swell intermixed up to 10 ft at unshadowed breaks with lot's of local windswell intermixed. Thursday more of the same is forecast with the windswell more dominant and 10 ft again. But north winds to be on it incessantly. Southern California is to see fading southern hemi swell on Monday to waist high fading to thigh to waist high Tuesday. Wednesday north windswell mixed with Gulf-dateline swell is possible to shoulder high with waist high southern hemi swell underneath, with the northerly swell holding Thursday while the southern hemi swell dissipates. West wind to be an issue though. The North Shore of Oahu is to see a little pulse of north dateline energy later Monday at 3 ft overhead holding into early Tuesday then fading from 1 ft overhead Wednesday. New dateline swell expected in on Thursday to nearly double overhead on the sets. The East Shore to see east tradewind windswell starting later Tuesday to chest high continuing into at least Friday. The South Shore is to see no swell of interest till maybe Thursday when thigh to waist high swell starts arriving late.
Looking at the models a gale tracked through the Northern dateline region Thurs/Fri with up to 26 ft seas aimed well to the east but then faded some likely pushing sideband energy down towards Hawaii, then was regenerating later Sunday into Monday in the Northern Gulf with up to 35 ft seas targeting primarily the Pacific Northwest up into Canada with sideband energy pushing down into Central CA by Wed (4/21). Down south a primer gale tracked northeast alongside of New Zealand Sat/Sun (4/18) with 30 ft seas with a stronger storm right behind it and on the same track Sun-Wed (4/21) with up to 42 ft seas. This one looks pretty nice. More is forecast behind it but all aligned on a west to east track pushing little energy northward. The southern hemi continues to move into dominance while the North Pacific fades.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (4/18) the North Pacific jet was .cgiit over it's width, with most energy in the northern branch tracking a bit more south of the Aleutians than days before. A weak trough was over the Kuril ISlands rising into a solid ridge on the dateline with 180 kts winds flowing over it, then dropping into a decent trough in the Gulf of Alaska with those 180 kt winds flowing down into it and offering good support for gale development. A weak ridge was just over California, but that is likely to be short lived. Over the next 72 hrs that trough in the Gulf is to track east and fully push over the Central CA coast on Tues (4/20) then dissipate. The Kuril ISland trough is to drift east to the dateline at that time, but have no real wind energy associated with it. Beyond 72 hours most wind energy is to remains in the northern branch of the jet with a new pocket of near 180 kts winds building off Kamchatka on Thurs (4/22) feeding a ridge that is to be moving over the dateline on Saturday (4/24) and starting to feed another developing trough in the Gulf on Sunday. Some support for gale development there if all goes as forecast.
At the surface on Sunday (4/18) modest high pressure at 1024 mbs remained locked over the dateline while a new storm was regenerating in the Northern Gulf of Alaska, remnants of a gale that was over the dateline a few days earlier (see Dateline Gale below). Over the next 72 hours the gale is to push east and regenerate in the Northern Gulf of Alaska late on Sun with up to 50 kt west winds forecast up at 50N 153W with seas building to 32 ft late Sunday at the same location. Fetch is to be fading from 40 kts Monday AM (4/19) with seas peaking late Sunday at 36 ft at 49N 151W, then fading fast after that. Most of this swell energy is to be traveling towards Vancouver Island and Washington, with lesser energy pushing southeast towards Central CA, with arrival expected there on Wed (4/21) at 10 AM at 8.6 ft @ 16 secs (13 ft faces) from 309 degrees (shadowed in the SF Bay area). But high pressure and a local pressure gradient is to be affecting the Central CA region at that time making an absolute mess of things.
Also on Sunday another gale is to develop west of the dateline and further south, with up to 50 kt northwest winds over a small area at 43N 160W and tracking northeast. Seas building. In the evening winds to continue at 45 kts at 42N 170E aimed a fair bit east of the 315 degree path to Hawaii with seas reaching 26 ft over a small area. Monday AM (4/19) 45 kt west winds are forecast at 44N 178E resulting in 30 ft seas at 43N 172E. Winds to be heading down in the evening to 40 kts at 45N 175W pushing right up the 297 degree path to NCal with seas to 36 ft at 45N 180W. A quick fade is forecast on Tuesday AM with seas fading from 34 ft at 46N 171W with most energy pushing towards Canada. Limited sideband swell is possible for Hawaii on Thurs (4/22) and the US West Coast beyond.
Previously a gale tracking through the Bering Sea Thurs/Fri (4/16) generating 45 kt west winds south of the Aleutians and seas to 30 ft (Thurs PM 50N 168E ) and then 26 ft seas Fri AM and PM at 50N 175E and 50N 178W respectively. It slowly lost steam into Sat AM with winds down to 30 kts and seas fading from 25 ft at 48N 171W. Some degree of limited sideband swell is to be dropping towards the Islands arriving Monday (4/19) with more energy towards the US West coast for Tues (4/20). See QuikCAST's for details
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (4/18) a gale was blooming/regenerating in the Gulf of Alaska and sending a front towards the Pacific Northwest but not reaching it even late. Remnants of the front to limp into the Pacific Northwest and extreme Northern CA Monday AM with modest south winds there. The front is to wash out maybe making it to the SF Bay Area late Monday, with light winds expected there on Monday and south of there. Rain is forecast over the north and pushing south, reaching Monterey Bay by 10 PM and to Pt Conception Tuesday AM and holding through the day while high pressure at 1030 mbs builds in with northwest winds on the increase everywhere (including Southern CA) with a full on pressure gradient in effect by Wednesday with 30 kt north winds forecast over the whole state tearing conditions apart. Snow is forecast in the mountains of the central Sierra Tues AM through Wednesday mid-morning. The gradient to hold on Thursday slowly lifting north and relenting for South CA late only to stall and hold over all of North and Central CA well into the coming weekend (4/25) with north winds and horrible conditions suspect.
On Sunday (4/18) an upper level trough was in control east of New Zealand helping to support gale development there. Down at the surface on Friday evening (4/16) an ill defined fetch of 35 kt southwest winds built south of New Zealand lifting northeast, barely hitting 40 kts Saturday AM at 50S 180W with seas building to 28 ft at 52S 175E. Near 40 kt winds held into the evening at 44S 170W with 28 ft seas continuing at 45S 172W. The gale faded Sunday AM (4/18) with seas fading from 29 ft at 42S 165W. Some degree of rideable 15-15 sec period swell is expected to arrive in Hawaii starting Sat (3/24) near 10 AM at 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces) from 191-196 degrees.
A far more interesting storm started developing on Saturday evening (4/17) with pressure at 968 mbs in the deep southwest Pacific just off Antarctica getting traction on the early season ice free waters down there. 50 kts southwest winds were modeled at 61S 155E aimed up the 214 degree path to California and unshadowed by Tahiti and almost shadowed by New Zealand on the 201 degree path to Hawaii. On Sunday AM (4/18) a broad fetch of 45 kt southwest winds are forecast at 60S 167E aimed right up the 214 degree path to CA and barely unshadowed by Tahiti and a shade east of the 200 degree path to Hawaii. 28 ft seas were building at 60S 164E. In the evening 45 kt winds to continue at 58S 171E with seas building to 35 ft at 56S 172E. Monday AM (4/19) 45 kts southwest winds to continue though over a smaller area at 52S 177E aimed right up the 212 degree path to CA and just barely clear of the Tahitian swell shadow and well up the 193 degree path to Hawaii. 37 ft seas forecast at 54S 177E. In the evening a building fetch of 45 kts south-southwest winds are forecast holding in the same general area with 40 ft seas building at 50S 176W pushing up the 213 degree path to CA and on the very western edge of the Tahitian Island swell shadow and also up the 189 degree path to Hawaii. Tuesday AM (4/20) a large fetch of 40+ kt southwest winds is to be holding at 45S 165W with more 40 ft seas at 46S 169W again pushing up the 213 degree path to CA and barely unshadowed and the 193 degree path to Hawaii. The fetch is to hold in the evening but loose some coverage, still at 40 kts at 48S 170W aimed more to the north with 35 ft seas at 45S 160W aimed like before or up the 210 route to CA and a bit shadowed. This system to fade after that. Assuming all goes as forecast a rather solid sized 17-18 sec period swell could result for Tahiti, Hawaii and the US West coast. This is a system worth monitoring.
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 a tiny gael is forecast for the Northern Gulf on Thurs PM/Fri (4/23) resulting in 25 ft seas over a tiny area, possibly setting up swell for the PAcific Northwest down into Central CA late in the weekend. Otherwise no swell producing fetch is indicated.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (4/18) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was in neutral territory and symptomatic of neither the Inactive or the Active Phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation. The daily SOI was up to 9.37. The 30 day average was up to 8.89 (It bottomed out for the winter on 2/16 at -24.82) with the 90 day average up to -8.30 (bottomed out at -14.2 on 3/14). El Nino maxed out on 2/15.
Wind anomalies at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated weak east anomalies from the dateline into Central America suggesting some incarnation of the Inactive Phase, which is sort of what the weather situation suggests too and weakly hindering storm generation potential. By 4/22 that is to fade with dead neutral conditions expected thereafter though 5/7. At this point were monitoring the MJO more for signs of Active Phase dominance in the critical March-May time frame (versus monitoring for storm support) to see if this Midoki El Nino can hang on for another year, or whether we fall back into a La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control). there some suggestions on models for a mild La Nina.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (4/15) indicated no dramatic change from previous weeks, with warmer than normal waters consolidated on the equator more towards the dateline and less in the vicinity of the Galapagos Islands, but not gone from South America and if anything, building slightly (likely the result of a recent impact by a Kelvin Wave). Erosion of warmer waters over the Galapagos is expected, symptomatic of the fading of El Nino.
Below the surface on the equator a Kevin Wave attributable to the previous Active Phase of the MJO was fading. On 4/18 a fading tongue of warmer than normal water was in.cgiace extending east from 120W into Central America averaging 3 deg C above normal. This is expected to extend El Nino symptoms into summer, but is likely the last Kelvin Wave we are going to see.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to almost the Philippines, but only in the normal range. This looks like the normal Springtime transition typical for this time of the year.
El Nino is slowly loosing it's grip and it's affects on the global atmospheric weather pattern. Still some impact is to continue into the Summer of 2010. This suggests that the spring storm pattern be enhanced in the North Pacific, but also the early summer storm track in the South Pacific too. This has not been a strong El Nino, more of a solid moderate one. A respectable accumulation of warm surface water in the equatorial East Pacific and a solid pool of warm subsurface water remains in.cgiace, but seems to be eroding some suggesting El Nino has maxed out. But the atmosphere is already being strongly influenced by the warm water buildup over the past 6 months, and it will not return to a normal state for quite some time.
At this point were mainly monitoring to determine whether this El Nino will degrade into La Nina (which typically happens after stronger El Nino's), or whether it will hold in some mild El Nino-like state for several years in a row. This would be the best outcome, but far from expected. The months of Mar-June normally are when the transition takes.cgiace.
See more details in the new El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours the models indicate yet another storm forming under New Zealand on Thurs/Fri (4/23) with 50-55 kt southwest winds up to 40 ft seas, but all on a due west to east trajectory leaving little chance for swell to radiate north up into our forecast area. This looks like a swell producer for South America though.
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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Stormsurf Hi-Res Coastal Precipitation Models Upgraded Though a bit late in the season, on 3/20 we i.cgiemented the same basic technology used in our new snow/ski models into the coastal hi-res precipitation models. So now you can not only determined whether rain is forecast for your area, but also snow. And not just light, medium or heavy snow like most sites, but the exact snowfall amount (in inches) for each 3 hr frame of the animation. Here's a sa.cgie, but now this approach is used in all our precipitation models. http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=nwcoast_precip
Stormsurf Precip Models Upgraded! On 2/20 we upgraded some of the broader precipitation models driven by the hi-def GFS model to include snow fall. The algorithm used is similar to the recently released snow models for the Southwest US in that the areas where snow is expected are identified and the exact amount of snow forecast over a 3 hr window is e.cgiicitly color coded. For East and West Coast US interests the following links provide good exa.cgies:
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Read about Eric Nelson and Curt Myers, the makers of Ride-On and other Big Wave Surf Movies here: http://coastviewsmag.com/powerlines-productions-filming-the-art-of-big-wave-surfing
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Interview With Stormsurf: The crew at SurfScience.com worked with Stormsurf on a feature about why surfers should be able to read wave charts themselves. They are firm believers that a little learning can go a long way to help your surfing. This is a great article to help convince your friends that they can benefit from being able to read the data themsleves rather than just relying on the forecasts of others. See the full thing here: Create Your Own Surf Forecast with Stormsurf
North California Surf Report Works Again: After an extended downtime we finally got the North California Surf Report working again. Thanks for your patience. See it here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/report/ncal.html
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/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table