New Swell Classification Guidelines
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 Thursday (5/15) Northern CA surf was head high and glassy with warm temperatures in control. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were thigh to waist high and clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was waist high and clean mid-day. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was flat and clean. The LA Area southward to Orange County was knee high (flat) and textured. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist high and clean early. The North Shore of Oahu was 1-2 ft overhead and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was flat.
North/Central California continued seeing locally generated short period windswell mixed with limited swell from the Gulf of Alaska and glassy warm conditions. Southern California was getting no swell of interest. Hawaii's North Shore was getting limited sideband energy originating from a gale in the gulf earlier this week. The East Shore had no tradewind generated windswell. The South Shore had no swell.
For the next few days the big story for the North and Central California coast is to be swell from the Gulf of Alaska. A decent late season gale generated 40-45 kt winds and 28 ft seas Tues/Wed generating a pulse of 15 sec period swell expected to arrive late Friday and hold decently into Saturday morning. wind to not be an issue either. After such a long run of cold north winds, it ought to be a nice change. Southern CA to see limited wrap-around energy from this swell too at exposed breaks Saturday into Sunday. The North Shore of Oahu is already seeing the start of this same swell, with more energy expected to be slowly settling down Friday into Saturday. The South Shore to remain quiet. No windswell expected on the East Shore either. The southern hemi to remain quiet for the next 7 days. So make the most of this Gulf swell, cause it's a long summer stretch till you see another like it, in August. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (5/15) for the North Pacific remained decent with energy was flowing west to east on the 40N latitude with winds 150 kts or greater over it's width. A trough remained centered 1000 nmiles north of Hawaii then arching into a large ridge over the US West Coast. Support for low pressure development was likely in the trough and strong high pressure likely under the ridge. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to slowly fade though not totally dissipate while holding it's relative position while the ridge in the east breaks down a little, but not out. Limited support for low pressure development north of the Islands. Beyond 72 hours a new trough is forecast building over the dateline tracking east (Tues 5/20) while a new ridge starts building off the US West Coast with an offshore flow expected over California. More heat likely there.
At the surface today weak high pressure was moving inland over Alaska, remnants of the gale in the Gulf earlier in the week, with high pressure pushing inland over Washington with a lingering pressure gradient hanging off Cape Mendocino generating 25 kt north winds and limited windswell pushing south, and fading fast. Trades remained suppressed over the Hawaiian Islands with no windswell generation potential indicated. Over the next 72 hours a neutral pressure pattern is forecast for the North Pacific with no indication of any swell producing fetch projected. Flatness likely to be settling in for the week of 5/19.
A gale formed 1200 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii Monday evening (5/12) thanks to a favorable upper level trough above it with winds confirmed at 40-45 kts over a fragmented area near 38N 171W. On Tuesday AM (5/13) pressure was 972 mbs with confirmed 40-45 kt west winds at 40N 162W and a secondary fetch of near 50 kt winds at 43N 160W aimed to the northeast. 19 ft seas were building at 38N 168W aimed marginally at the Islands and better at the US west coast. Winds pushed near 50 kts in the evening with seas to 28 ft at 42N 155W aimed right up the 294 degree great circle path to North CA and bypassing the Islands. By Wednesday AM only 40-45 kts winds remained and 32 ft seas aimed northeast towards Northern Canada though a tiny area of 28 ft seas were indicated at 44N 152W pushing east down the 296 degree path to North CA. No Jason-1 satellite passes occurred over this system to verify sea height.
Some form of 15-16 sec period swell should be pushing east towards the mainland with limited sideband energy pushing towards Hawaii. Swell of 6.3 ft @ 13 secs (8-9 ft faces) could impact Oahu late Thursday afternoon (5/15) from 220 degrees. Swell of 6.5 ft @ 15 secs (9-10 ft faces) are expected to impact North CA by Friday late AM (5/16) from 290-295 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (5/15) high pressure at 1030 mbs was pushing inland over Washington creating and offshore flow over North and Central CA pushing temperature way above normal. Light to moderate offshore's were reported at many locations. A light pressure pattern and no significant winds is forecast through Saturday. High pressure to try and get a bit of a foothold early Sunday well off the coast making for 5-10 kt northwesterly winds north of Pt Conception Sunday AM and building some centered over Pt Conception. and then holding into Monday. North winds to 20 kts there, but less elsewhere. A new high pressure system is forecast off Oregon on Tuesday (5/20) setting up 15-20 kt northwest winds over all North and Central CA location in the morning building to 30-35 kts off Pt Arena in the afternoon continuing into Wednesday. Large local windswell possible Wed AM north of Pt Conception while the actually fetch pulls away from the coast, making for cleaner local wind conditions.
On Sunday (5/11) Typhoon Rammasun was located 550 nmiles due south of southern Japan with sustained winds 105 kts while traveling just east of due north this is down from it's peak on Saturday AM of 135 kt winds (which held for 6 hours). Theoretically some form of tiny swell from this system could reach the US West coast up the 292 degree path 8-9 days out (Sun PM 5/18) with a period of 17 secs, but it will be so small and inconsistent as to not be noticeable.
No tropical systems of interest were occurring on Thursday (5/15).
On Thursday (5/15) the jetstream over the South Pacific was .cgiit with most energy in the northern branch, not conducive to gale production. A ridging pattern was in control of the southern branch pushing flat over the 65S latitude with no ridges or troughs indicated. This pattern is forecast to continue for the next 7 days offering no support for gale development.
A weak cutoff low developed in the far southeast Pacific late Sunday and has held through Tuesday (5/13) near 32S 117W (well north of usual) generating a tiny fetch of 40-45 kts southerly winds holding while drifting to 32S 110W then up to 50 kts at 34S 106W Tuesday AM. Decent seas did not start being generated until Tuesday AM. At that time winds built to 50 kts at 32S 111W and held into Thursday (5/15) aimed north to northwest with seas 30 ft over a tiny area at 30S 108W (Tuesday) and hold in the 28-29 ft range through Thursday but repositioned at 36S 105W. They were positioned about 3840-4080 nmiles south-southeast of Southern CA.
Very tiny southerly angled swell is likely pushing north towards Southern CA expected to arrive 6 days later with period at 16 secs (late Mon 5/19). Swell 2 ft @ 15-16 secs then (3 ft faces) building to 4 ft @ 14 secs on Wednesday (5/21) (5 ft faces) then slowly fading from there. Swell Direction: 175 degrees
Swell might also start pushing into Hawaii late Monday (5/19) with swell 1.6 ft @ 15 secs (2.5 ft faces) building to maybe 3 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces) by Wednesday and holding into Thursday (5/22). Swell Direction: 140 degrees
This swell to be too southerly an angle to reach into most North and Central CA breaks except those with good southerly exposure.
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 weak pressure pattern is forecast until Monday (5/19) when a new low is forecast to start building over the dateline nestled in the trough forecast above it lifting quickly to the northeast. This low is to actually originate from the remnants of tropical low pressure that is to be south of Japan on Friday (5/16). Theoretically it's to bloom over the dateline Tuesday while tracking northeast with winds at 40-45 kts generating seas to 23 ft but aimed mostly northeast towards Alaska. Perhaps some limited sideband energy to push east toward California (bypassing Hawaii). Will believe it when it happens.
Madden-Julian Oscillation Note: The MJO has moved into the active phase with SOI values dropping into the negative range since early this month and anomalous 850 mb westerly winds moving over exposed waters of the Philippines to nearly the dateline (as of this week). This appears to have fueled a spat of tropical activity in the Far Western Pacific (Typhoon Rammasun) and is helping to push surface level moisture northward so it can be swept east by the jetstream in the upper latitudes, providing fuel for gale development over the dateline an into the Gulf of Alaska. That pattern is expected to peak out by late this week, then slowly dissipate through 5/24.
No swell producing winds are 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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Half Moon Bay Surfers - Attention: There¹s a movement afoot to dredge sand out of the Pillar Point (i.e. Half Moon Bay) Harbor and dump it just south of the jetty, so it will r.cgienish all sand that¹s disappeared between the harbor and HMB. The guy who¹s spearheading the project, Brian Overfelt, has already received a positive preliminary reading from the local harbor commissioners. He¹s making a formal presentation to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary¹s advisory council this coming Friday (2/15) at Our Lady of Pillar church in Half Moon Bay. (It's on Kelly Ave, just east of the Coast Highway, across the street from Cunha Intermediate School.) starting at 9 AM. More details here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/forecast/forecast/hmb_dredge.html
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Grib File Switchover: The old grib1 format wave model datafiles that have been the mainstay of the National Weather service for years now are scheduled to be retired on 1/26. We switched over to the new grib2 files starting with the 00z run of Thurs 1/17. All appears to be running fine. There is no functional change to the content of the models, just that files we receive are now smaller due to improved compression of grib2. But this sets us up to start processing new higher resolution files and building new products in the months ahead. So in all it's a good maintenance level change.
Sharkwater: There's a new feature film called Sharkwater that is hitting theaters November 2nd. Sharkwater is an award winning documentary (22 international film awards including the UN and Cannes) that broke box office records in Canada, opening to bigger numbers than any documentary in history save Fahrenheit 911 and Supersize Me. It is a conservation film that demonstrates that the biggest influence on the air we breathe, and global warming is life in the oceans – except life in the oceans is being wiped out. Shark populations have dropped 90% in the last 30 years alone, and the oceans continue to be destroyed because nobody knows that it's happening Learn more here: http://www.sharkwater.com
Bluewater Gold Rush: The first and only chronicle of the California sea urchin dive fishery. Diving, surfing, comedy, and tragedy on and under the waves of California. "A quintessential tale of California ... dramas of adventure and loss on and under the sea" We read it and it's a great story about the bloom of the urchin diving boom in the 70's and the few lucky souls who were right there when it took off. An easy read that's hard to put down. The trials and success of a 'real' California dream right down to it's core. Check it out here: http://www.bluewatergoldrush.com
Submit your story to 'Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Vol. 2': DEADLINE: January 15th, 2008 Casagrande Press is seeking stories, articles, and essays on the general subject of surfing misadventure for publication in Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Volume 2. We are looking for nonfiction, first-person surf stories of bad judgment calls, pranks, comical/ironic episodes, disaster, attacking predators, misfortune, injury, loss of wit or limb, panic, critical conditions, contest meltdowns, everyday fears, surf trips gone wrong or the out-of-water episodes that surround surfing. We are looking for well-written stories that tell a good tale, reflect a culture, and develop the depth of the characters involved. We also like stories that have a tight narrative tension and a payoff at the end. Open to writers and surfers of any level. There is no fee to submit a story. We will consider previously published stories. To see more info on the first book visit www.thesurfbook.com. Submit online at www.casagrandepress.com
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table