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 Tuesday (4/20) North and Central California was getting mixed Gulf swell with waves chest high and windblown with northwest wind in effect. Southern California was getting wet and windblown mixed surf in the thigh high range up north and mostly unrideable and waist high down south and textured, looking more enjoyable. Hawaii's North Shore was starting to get decent northwest swell from the dateline with waves 1 ft overhead or so and clean with nice conditions. The East Shore was also getting waist 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 Wednesday is for more swell coming from the northern dateline mixed with stronger Gulf swell pushing up to 10 ft at unshadowed breaks with lot's of local windswell on top and likely a chopped mess. Thursday more of the same is forecast but with the windswell dominant at near 10 ft and the Gulf swell fading underneath. Local north winds to be in control. Friday the windswell dies some, still in the 2 ft overhead range and fading into Saturday with dateline swell building underneath. Southern California is to see north windswell mixed with Gulf-dateline swell Wednesday to shoulder high with waist high southern hemi swell underneath. Northerly swell builds to 1 ft overhead or more Thursday while the southern hemi swell dissipates. West wind to be an issue. Friday north windswell start fading from chest high at top exposed breaks and waist high on Saturday with new dateline swell intermixed at the same height. The North Shore of Oahu is to see north dateline swell fading from 1 ft overhead Wednesday. New dateline swell expected in on Thursday to 4 ft overhead on the sets fading from 3 ft overhead on Friday and chest high Saturday. The East Shore to see east tradewind generated windswell Wednesday at chest to maybe head high continuing into Saturday, then fading. The South Shore is to see no swell of interest till maybe Thursday when thigh to waist high swell starts arriving late, continuing Friday. This first of a series of southern hemi swell starts on Saturday to chest high with much more behind.
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-Mon (4/19) with up to 38 ft seas. This one looked reasonably nice, but not as nice as originally expected.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (4/20) the North Pacific jet was split over it's width, with most energy in the northern branch tracking south of the Aleutians. A trough was over the dateline but with no real wind energy associated with it feeding into a ridge in the Gulf of Alaska, then dropping into another trough pushing over Central CA. No real support for gale development was indicated. Over the next 72 hrs the dateline trough is to push east to the Gulf by late Thursday (4/22) with 120 kts winds flowing under it, offering some opportunity for gale development there and pushing into Canada 24 hrs later. Back to the west on Thursday another trough is to be building on the dateline with 160 kts winds and easing east. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to push into the Central Gulf on Sat/Sun (4/25) with 150 kts winds feeding it likely supporting gale development then easing into the Pacific Northwest Tues (4/27). Perhaps more to follow too.
At the surface on Tuesday (4/20) high pressure at 1032 mbs was northeast of Hawaii ridging into the US West coast with north winds affecting everywhere from Pt Conception north to Washington state. Remnants of a gale that was over the dateline last weekend (see Second Dateline Gale below) were in the Northern Gulf, but dissipating. Swell from the Dateline Gale (see below) was on the verge of hitting Central CA. Over the next 72 hours a new small gale is to wind up in the Northeastern Gulf on Thurs AM (4/22) generating 45 kt west winds over a small area at 45N 156W then fading to 40 kts in the evening at 45N 148W. 28 ft seas are forecast Thurs PM at 45N 152W (297 Deg NCal) lifting northeast and regenerating a bit Friday AM with 32 ft seas at 47N 142W (308 deg NCal) and pushing out of the swell window for all but the Pacific Northwest. Possible swell to result for Central CA by the weekend with luck.
Another gale is forecast for the dateline too on Thursday (4/22) with 40 kt west winds through the day at 43N 165E-175E generating 26 ft seas at 43N 175E pushing Friday AM to 43N 180W. Possible sideband swell for Hawaii early the following week.
This gale pushed east and regenerated in the Northern Gulf of Alaska late on Sun with up to 50 kt west winds up at 50N 153W with seas building to 30 ft late Sunday at the same location. Fetch was fading from 40 kts Monday AM (4/19) with seas peaking at 06Z Mon at 34 ft at 49N 150W, 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). High pressure and a local pressure gradient is to be affecting the Central CA region at that time making an absolute mess of things.
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
Second Dateline Gale
On Sunday (4/18) another gale developed 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 continued 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 occurred at 44N 178E resulting in 30 ft seas at 43N 172E. Winds were 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 44N 180W. A quick fade occurred on Tuesday AM with seas fading from 34 ft at 46N 172W with most energy pushing towards Canada.
Limited sideband swell is expected into Hawaii on Thurs (4/22) at 6 ft @ 15 secs ( 9 ft faces) from 320 degrees.
Swell is expected into Central CA on Friday (4/23) near 7 PM with pure swell to 6.6 ft @ 17 secs (11 ft faces) from 298 degrees, then fading from 6 ft @ 15 secs Sat AM (9 ft faces).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (4/20) rain in the early morning up north quickly gave way to high pressure at 1032 mbs with northwest winds on the increase everywhere (including Southern CA) and clearing skies. A solid pressure gradient is to be in-effect by Wednesday with 35 kt north winds forecast off Central CA and brisk north winds over the whole state tearing conditions apart. The gradient to hold on Thursday slowly lifting north and relenting for South CA late, stalling and holding over all of North CA Friday with northwest winds 25+ kts though Central and Southern CA are to be mostly free from the worst effects of the winds. The gradient and northwest winds are to push back into all of Central CA on Saturday then finally starting to fade on Sunday (3/25). Light winds Monday (4/26) ahead of another front and west winds pushing into the north part of CA late Monday and reaching down to all of Central CA on Tuesday with high pressure and more north winds right behind pushing into even Southern CA late Tuesday evening.
On Tuesday (4/20) Storm #3S was pushing east of New Zealand (see details below). Otherwise no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring.
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 15-16 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. Swell to be fading from 2.6 ft @ 14 secs (3.5 ft faces) on Sunday (3/25).
California might swell swell of 1.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces) starting Sunday (5/26) pushing 2 ft @ 15 secs (3 ft faces) on Monday. Swell Direction: 215 degrees
Storm #3S (Hawaii)
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 were modeled 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 165E. In the evening 45 kt winds continued at 58S 171E with seas building to 34 ft at 56S 172E. Monday AM (4/19) 45 kts southwest winds continued 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. 38 ft seas were modeled at 55S 180E. In the evening the fetch was fading from 40 kts in the same general area with 36 ft seas at 50S 172W pushing up the 210 degree path to CA and a bit shadowed on the very western edge of the Tahitian Island swell shadow and also up the 187 degree path to Hawaii. Tuesday AM (4/20) a large fetch of 40+ kt southwest winds were holding at 45S 165W with more 35 ft seas at 50S 170W pushing up the 208 degree path to CA and a bit unshadowed and the 191 degree path to Hawaii. The fetch is to fade some in the evening and loose some coverage and not moving any further north, still at 40 kts at 50S 165W with 36 ft seas at 48S 162W or up the 205 route to CA and totally 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.
Hawaii: Rough data suggest swell arrival on Sun (4/25) with pure swell 2.6 ft @ 18 secs late (4.5-5.0 ft faces with set to 7 ft). Swell to peak on Monday (4/26) with swell 3.3 ft @ 17 secs (5.6 ft faces with sets to 7 ft). Swell to remain solid on Tuesday (4/27) with swell 4 ft @ 16 secs (6.3 ft faces with sets to 8 ft). Swell Direction: 191-198 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 hrs maybe limited fetch is forecast for the extreme Eastern
Gulf on Mon (4/26) only generating 20 ft seas and of no real
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (4/20) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was heading up again and weakly symptomatic of the Inactive Phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation. The daily SOI was up to 17.74. The 30 day average was up to 10.78 (It bottomed out for the winter on 2/16 at -24.82) with the 90 day average down to -7.64 (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 4/24 that is to fade with dead neutral conditions expected thereafter though 5/9. 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-place 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 place, 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 place.
See more details in the new El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours the models indicate the storm pattern is all to be aimed either southeast or east, offering no fetch pushing well up into the great circle tracks for North Pacific locations. No swell to result.
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 implemented 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 sample, 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 explicitly color coded. For East and West Coast US interests the following links provide good examples:
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Stormsurf Weather Models have all been upgraded! Over the New Years break we installed all new and upgraded weather models. Also new are experimental snow models for the Southwest US. Take a look here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
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
Ride On! Powerlines new big wave epic is now available on DVD. Get the entire big wave story of the 2008-2009 season here: http://www.mavz.com/
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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