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 (4/27) North and Central California was getting northwest windswell generated by a local low pressure system that was also generating south winds and rain, making a mess of things. It was raining at the base of all ski resorts too. Southern California was getting some limited southern hemi swell mixed with minimal northwest windswell producing waves in the knee to thigh high range up north but near flat down towards LA and up to waist high in San Diego and relatively clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting some leftover dateline windswell with waves head high or so and clean with trades in effect. The East Shore was getting waist high east windswell and chopped. The South Shore was still seeing energy from southern hemi Storm #3 with waves 1-3 ft overhead at top spots and clean. Very nice.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for northwest windswell at 2-3 ft overhead on Wednesday pushing 3-4 ft overhead on Thursday, then back to 2 ft overhead Friday and 1 ft overhead Saturday. Northwest wind to be on it all days with poor conditions. Southern California is to see northwest windswell at exposed breaks in the waist high range Wednesday pushing chest high Thursday and Friday back to waist high Saturday. Southern hemi swell to show up for Thursday at chest high fading to waist to chest high on Friday and waist high Saturday and Sunday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see fading northwest windswell at chest high Wednesday then going flat. The East Shore to see east tradewind generated windswell to waist high later Wednesday pushing waist to chest high Thursday and Friday and holding there for the foreseeable future. The South Shore is to see southern hemi swell fading from head high or a little more early Wednesday then down from shoulder high Thursday, waist high Friday and thigh high Saturday.
A weak gale formed in the Northeastern Gulf on Mon (4/26) pushing up to the Oregon coast on Tuesday evening with up to 24 ft seas, likely setting up raw windswell for CA and Oregon into Thursday. After that high pressure takes over with local junky windswell and poor conditions in control But no swell producing systems of any interest are forecast for the entire North Pacific long term. Down south swell from a decent storm was hitting Hawaii and bound for the mainland late Wed (4/28) but without much size for CA. After that the models continue to suggest a shut-down with the storm track aligned very much flat west to east, not pushing much energy north resulting in little southern hemi swell activity.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (4/27) the North Pacific jet remained split over it's width but with most energy in the northern branch tracking south of the Aleutians on the 42 N latitude. A pocket of 130 kt wind energy was ridging through the Western Gulf with a small trough pushing into Oregon and Northern CA and another set up in the far Western Pacific.Limited support for gale development associated with both troughs. Over the next 72 hrs the Oregon trough is to slowly push eastward reaching Colorado on Friday (4/30) with the other trough slowly pinching off on the dateline and the ridge in between taking total control and likely setting up high pressure down at the oceans surface over the greater Eastern Pacific offering no support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the large ridge in the east is to hold while a new trough tries to set up well west of the dateline by Sunday (5/1) but with no real winds energy associated with it. A general trough-like structure is to continue in the west but with no wind energy associated with it while a large ridge continues in the east. In short, no clear support for gale development indicated.
At the surface on Tuesday (4/27) high pressure at 1024 mbs was positioned 600 nmiles north of Hawaii almost ridging into Southern CA while a late season gale was in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska producing up to 35 kt northwest winds and 24 ft seas well off Oregon and pushing a front down into Central CA. Light rain and southerly winds were in-effect there. Weak low pressure was in the far Western Pacific too, but winds were 30 kts or less. In short, no real support for swell production was indicated other than the gale in the East. Over the next 72 hours the gale is to erode with windswell from it reaching the Central CA coast late on Thursday (4/29) with pure swell 7 ft @ 12 secs (8.5 ft faces) from 308 degrees. Also a tiny gale west of the dateline might generate 35 kt winds and 25 ft seas at 37N 160E Tuesday evening, setting up minimal 12 sec period swell for Hawaii late Saturday (5/1) with pure swell 4.5 ft @ 13 secs (6 ft faces) from 310 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (4/26) rain was pushing south over Central CA with drips reaching the Mexican boarder late night. South wind was in effect from Central CA northward. High pressure building a broad pressure gradient with brisk northwest winds to 25 kts are forecast right behind focused on Southern CA Wednesday (4/28) and continuing if not strengthening Thursday to 30 kts late in Southern CA. Light precipitation is to continue over Central CA to Pt Conception through Wednesday evening. The pressure gradient is to hold Friday (4/30) with north winds at 25-30 kts making a mess of things in Southern CA and building northward to Cape Mendo by Sunday while giving Southern CA a break. Finally on Monday (5/3) the gradient is to break with light winds over the CA coast from Pt Arena southward, but still blowing up north at 25 kts and holding through Tuesday.
On Tuesday (4/27) no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring in the South Pacific.
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: Expect swell to be fading from 3.6 ft @ 15 secs (5.5 ft faces) on Wednesday (4/28). Residuals on Thursday at 3 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 191-198 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival late Wednesday (4/28) with pure swell 2 ft @ 18 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) pushing to 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (4 ft faces) early Thurs (4/29). Swell dropping from 2 ft @ 15-16 secs on Friday (3.0-3.5 ft faces) and down from 2 ft @ 15 secs on Sat (3 ft faces). Residuals on Sunday. Swell Direction 209-212 degrees
Northern CA: Expect swell arrival late Wednesday (4/28) with pure swell 2 ft @ 18 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) pushing to 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (4 ft faces) early Thurs (4/29). Swell dropping from 2 ft @ 15-16 secs on Friday (3.0-3.5 ft faces) and down from 1.6 ft @ 15 secs on Saturday (2.5-3.0 ft faces). Residuals on Sunday. Swell Direction 206-209 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 the North Pacific is to go effectively dormant with no swell producing weather systems forecast. With the SOI heading hard into positive range, it looks like El Nino's big run of North Pacific storms is effectively over. Hope you had a good season.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (4/27) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was dropping down a bit. The daily SOI was down to 1.44. The 30 day average was down to 12.14 (It bottomed out for the winter on 2/16 at -24.82) with the 90 day average up to -6.81 (bottomed out at -14.2 on 3/14). El Nino maxed out on 2/15. In short, a massive upward trend started in early march and it continues heading up well into La Nina territory.
Wind anomalies at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated dead neutral conditions suggestive of neither the Active or Inactive Phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation. No change is forecast through May 16. 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). Of other interest will be whether the Iceland Volcano will spew enough high level fine particle dust and aerosols into the atmosphere to produce a reflective effect, dropping surface temperature and pushing us into a multi-year La Nina. This is a very real concern.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (4/26) 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 but not occurring yet.
Below the surface on the equator a Kevin Wave attributable to the previous Active Phase of the MJO was all but gone.
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 effectively gone and slowly loosing it's grip on the global atmospheric weather pattern. Still some lingering impact is to continue into the Summer of 2010 enhancing the storm track in the South Pacific some. A slow transition to a normal state is expected through Nov 2010.
At this point we're 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 all due east, offering no fetch pushing well up into the great circle tracks for North Pacific locations.
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:
West Coast: http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=nepac_precip
East Coast: http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=watla_precip
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/
||Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here: http://www.casanoble.com/
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/
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
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.
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