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 (5/29) Northern CA surf was thigh high and near-glassy but very weak. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were knee to thigh high. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was flat and chopped. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was knee high and textured. The LA Area southward to Orange County was flat with moderately onshore conditions. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were basically flat and onshore. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was near flat and clean. The East Shore was flat.
North/Central California was seeing no real swell of interest. Southern California was seeing no swell either. Hawaii's North Shore was flat. The East Shore was flat. The South Shore was flat too.
A calm pattern is forecast for the North Pacific. Virtually no swell source was indicated in either the Hawaiian or US mainland swell windows for the next 5 days. Theoretically the remnants of Typhoon Nakri are to push off Japan and rebuild just east of the dateline a week out, but odds of that are almost non-existent at this early date. Maybe some local windswell is in the forecast for North and Central California mid-next week too. Otherwise some small south-southeast southern hemi background swell arriving late Friday. Southern CA to see a chance for that same background southeastern southern hemi swell starting Friday and continuing into Sunday (6/1). The North Shore of Oahu to remain flat for the foreseeable future. The South Shore to remain flat too. No windswell expected on the East Shore either. One ray of hope is the southern hemi, which is trying and wake up, with a storm building under New Zealand Thurs/Fri (5/30) with 36 ft seas and a bigger one projected Sat/Sun (6/1) with 42 ft seas over a solid area. But even if these systems form it's still a week or more from their formation date till swell arrives (depending on your location). So for now we watch and wait and hope for the best. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (5/29) for the North Pacific depicted a moderate flow pushing off Japan pushing flat over the dateline with winds peaking at 120 kts reaching to a point north of Hawaii, then falling apart before pushing over south Central CA. No support for surface level low pressure development of interest. Over the next 72 hours something that almost resembles a trough is to build in this flow on the dateline with winds 130-140 kts, pushing east almost reaching the Gulf of Alaska through the weekend, but most energy to be on the east side of the trough almost forming a ridge rather than amplifying the trough. No overt support for low pressure development suggested. Beyond 72 hours a bit more of the same is forecast with additional energy setting up on the dateline Monday (6/2) pushing east, then building into a ridge that's to push into the US West Coast late in the work week.
At the surface today weak high pressure at 1020 mbs was just off the US West coast but not doing much other than generating modest northerly winds over Central and South CA waters. A board area of diffuse low pressure was over the dateline and not producing any fetch of interest. Trades remained suppressed over the Hawaiian Islands. Over the next 72 hours the dateline low is to drift east to the Western Gulf by Sunday (6/1) but remain weak with no swell producing fetch indicated. High pressure to get a marginally better foothold off California, but not enough to produce windswell yet. Trades to remain weak over the Islands too.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (5/29) a neutral to weak high pressure pattern was in control with no winds of interest occurring. A north flow at 10-15 kts was in effect for Northern Ca, and a bit more down into Pt Conception. On Friday weak high pressure is to try and get better organized off Southern CA possibly setting up a 20 kt northerly flow over Pt Conception down to the Channel Islands and Baja generating some chop, continuing Saturday and Sunday at 15-20 kts and edging northward up into NCal as well, but creating generally nothing more that a surface chop. This to work it's way northward and by Tuesday (6/3) pressure to reach 1024 mbs with near 25 kt north winds building off Cape Mendocino, holding into Wednesday and possibly generating some rideable windswell with chop over exposed waters. But low pressure supposedly building over the dateline and pushing east to knock that out by Thursday (6/5). Will monitor.
Typhoon Nakri was positioned 1000 nmiles south of Southern Japan drifting north with winds sustained at 125 kts. It has theoretically peaked out. And eventual increase in forward speed and decrease in strength is forecast over the 2 days, then turning northeast by Sunday (6/1) with winds dropping quickly from 90 kts. Nakri is expected to miss major landmasses and head out into the open waters of the North Pacific well off Japan early next week. No swell generation potential forecast (other than for Japan).
On Thursday (5/29) the jetstream over the South Pacific remained split with most energy in the northern branch. The southern branch remained displaced well to the south flowing flat west to east over the 70S latitude, offering no support for low pressure development. The one exception was something that almost resembled a trough pushing under New Zealand with 130 kts winds feeding into it, but not well organized. Limited support for surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours the bulk of the southern branch of the jet is to weaken and sink further south over Antarctica and dissipate while the troughing pattern under New Zealand continues pushing east with another batch of 140 kt winds flowing up into it Friday offering some hope to support low pressure development there. This trough to push east into the greater South Pacific over the weekend though much weaker. Beyond 72 hrs the same pattern is to persist with additional energy at 150 kts pushing north under New Zealand forecast by Thursday (6/5) perhaps starting to fuel some real surface level low pressure development.
At the oceans surface a broader gale pushed under New Zealand late Wed (5/28) with pressure at 944 mbs and 45- 50 kt west winds at 60S 165E pushing to 180W Thursday AM and generating 36 ft seas at 58S 170W Thursday AM (5/29). A little secondary fetch is to continue pushing more to the northeast in the 40 kt range holding through Thursday evening keeping seas in the 35 ft range at 55S 178W. This should be enough to produce decent swell up into Tahiti and Hawaii with period at 18 secs (starting 6/5 in Hawaii) with background energy moving into California by late in the weekend (6/7). Will monitor.
Of more interest is another 956 mb storm forecast to follow behind Friday evening (5/30) generating 50-55 kt southwest winds over a small area at 60S 170E building to 65-70 kts Saturday AM at 60S 178W and still aimed well to the northeast, if not moving pretty fast to the east. 38 ft seas forecast for the area Saturday AM at 58S 180W building to 42 ft at 55S 170W in the evening with 50 kt winds still in-play. Varying degrees off 40-45 kt winds are forecast to continue pushing east across the Pacific through Thursday (6/5) and seas holding in the 32 ft range, though fragmented. If the models are correct a significant class swell could result for Tahiti and Hawaii with lesser energy for the US West Coast.
A weak gale formed off Chile on Wed/Thus (5/22) generating a limited area of seas modeled to 30 ft on Thurs AM. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the area at 18Z and confirmed a 15 reading average of 28.9 ft with a peak reading to 36.1 ft at 52.9S 111.5W pushing up towards California from the 172-178 degree angle. Expect small swell starting Friday (5/30) peaking late in the day in SCal (178 degs) and early Saturday in NCal (172 degs) at 2.0-2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (3 ft faces). Swell fading Sunday.
A cutoff low was positioned south of Tahiti on Tuesday (5/27) with 40-45 kt south winds at 48S 143W, but that was fading by Wednesday from the 40 kts range. A tiny area of 25-26 ft seas were modeled at 46S 140W Tuesday evening aimed well at Tahiti, but covering only a small area. Some swell likely to result for Tahiti on Thursday peaking Friday (5/30) to 7.5 ft @ 14 secs (10 ft Hawaiian), but that's all. No swell expected for the US West Coast. Maybe some limited background swell for Hawaii at 2.3 ft @ 15-16 secs late Monday (6/2) and 2.6 ft @ 14 secs Tuesday (3.5 ft faces).
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of any kind is forecast. Weak low pressure associated with the remnants of Typhoon Nakri are to organize just east of the dateline on Wed/Thurs (6/5) generating 35-40 kt winds aimed at Hawaii and the US West Coast, but that is most likely just a fantasy of the models. Also high pressure to get better footing off California with 25 kt north winds setting up off Cape Mendocino mid-week perhaps generating short period windswell through the end of the workweek. But in all, the North Pacific is dormant.
Madden-Julian Oscillation Note: The MJO remains barely in the active phase with daily SOI values still negative as of 5/29, in the -8 range. This makes it 13 days in a row (OK there were 2 days of a 0 and +2 reading in there) with the larger 30 day trend now at -2.5. The 90 day trend is dropping quickly too, down from +20 in April to +4.5 as of today. This remains interesting in that it is the first time the 30 day average has been less since July of 2007, when it was coming out of the weak 2006 El Nino. The last stretch of anomalous 850 mb westerly winds were pushing over the US West Coast, signaling the end of the active phase with stronger easterly winds building over the Philippines. The inactive phase was pushing east but not suggested to remain weak and fading out by June 17th. No significant support for low pressure development in the North Pacific likely. But of more interest is to see if the MJO helps to start wiping cool waters associated with La Nina out of the central equatorial Pacific, possibly opening the door a little towards at least a neutral pattern, or with lot's of luck, El Nino.
Beyond 72 hrs another 956 mb storm is to form under New Zealand on Thursday (6/5) with 55-60 kt winds aimed well to the northeast and seas building. It really helps to have a decent level upper flow. Will monitor but this one is a long ways away yet.
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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Surfrider's General Meeting: The San Mateo County Chapter is holding a General Public Meeting on June 12th at the Montara Lighthouse. Meet the SMC Chapter leaders and other like-minded activists, and learn more about how you can get involved in our current activities and campaigns. Then listen to an interesting talk by Mark Hylkema, a State archaeologist with 28 years' experience in California archeology and Native American culture. Mark has interacted with many different tribal communities, particularly in central and northern California. In 1994, he discovered a crescent of stone during an excavation in a cypress forest at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. The 5700-year-old rock is believed to have been used by early Native Americans and is the oldest artifact discovered in San Mateo County.
Doors open at 7, meeting begins at 7:30. The Lighthouse is at 16th Street and Highway 1 in Montara. Parking is limited, so please carpool if possible and park in the upper lot (nearest to Hwy 1). For more information, visit surfridersmc.org or email email@example.com .
Time Zone Converter - Finally! 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.
Mavericks Contest 2008: View all the action from the 2008 Maverick Surf Contest from Powelines Productions here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9o5lj9CUpCc
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 replenish 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
Waveriders Gallery: Check out this collection of high quality artwork all related to waves and the ocean. Surf Paintings, Photography, Posters, Books, Boards and exhibits all produced by a variety of top artists provide a beautiful selection of pieces to chose from. Take and look and see some of the stunning work available from these artists. http://www.waveridersgallery.net/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table