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 Sunday (6/1) Northern CA surf was waist to chest high and a blown out mess. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were near flat with waves less than thigh high. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was thigh high and clean. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was flat and bumpy. The LA Area southward to Orange County was flat with heavily textured conditions. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist high and textured. The North Shore of Oahu was near flat. The South Shore was thigh high and clean. The East Shore was near flat.
North/Central California was seeing bare minimal locally generated chop swell. Southern California was seeing fading and inconsistent southern hemi swell. Hawaii's North Shore was flat for the summer. The East Shore was flat. The South Shore was seeing some minimal background swell in the just-rideable range with luck.
The remnants of Typhoon Nakri are to push off Japan and rebuild just east of the dateline next weekend if one is to believe the models, but odds of that are imperceptible. More likely for the US West Coast is copious chopped local windswell in the small to moderate range mid-week building into next weekend. Trades are in the forecast for the Hawaiian Islands possibly setting up windswell on the East Shore and building into next weekend. But the better odds are to come down south. A storm built under New Zealand Thurs/Fri (5/30) with 36 ft seas for a day with a bigger one right behind it Sat/Sun (6/1) with 38 ft seas over a moderate area. Swell is in the water and pushing north towards Hawaii first and California beyond. And yet a stronger one is on the charts for Thurs/Fri (5/6). See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Sundays jetstream charts (6/1) for the North Pacific depicted a cohesive and moderate strength flow pushing off Japan moving almost flat over the dateline into the Central Gulf of Alaska with winds 130-140 kts. No troughs or ridges indicated providing no support for surface level low pressure development of interest. Over the next 72 hours that energy is to coalesce into a weak ridge off the US West Coast dipping south into North CA on Wednesday (6/4). No support for low pressure development. Beyond 72 hours that ridge is to push onshore over CA on Friday (5/6) perhaps warming things up a little, but otherwise the jetstream flow is to weaken over the width of the North Pacific through Sunday (6/8) providing no support for surface level low pressure development.
At the surface today weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was ill defined off the US West coast not doing much other than generating moderate plus northerly winds and short period windchop over Central and South CA waters. A board area of diffuse low pressure was over the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska and not producing any fetch of interest. Trades remained suppressed over the Hawaiian Islands. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf low is to dissipate as high pressure builds between Hawaii and California to 1028 mbs generating up to 30 kt northerly winds off Pt Conception expanding northward with and 25 kt north winds up to Cape Mendocino, generating short period windslop. Trades to remain weak over the Islands then start building to the 15-20 kts range on Wednesday (6/4).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (6/1) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was in-control of nearshore waters generating north winds at 20-25 kts from Cape Mendocino south to off Central the Baja coast. Short period windslop and chop was in effect at exposed beaches from Pt Conception northward. This same pattern to continue Monday then the pressure gradient over the coast is to become isolated to the Pt Conception region, building with winds to 30 kts there on Tuesday. Calmer winds and seas forecast for northern waters. By Wednesday pressure is to rise to 1028 mbs with 35 kt winds forecast off Pt Conception and fetch building northward, reaching 25 kts off Pt Arena late. Windswell and chop in effect. Thursday the core of the gradient is to move to Cape Mendocino with 25-30 kt north winds covering the entire coast except protected location in Southern CA, and holding for Friday. By Saturday 30 kts winds to cover the entire Central and North CA coast with windswell on the increase and chop in control holding into Sunday AM (6/8).
On Sunday (6/1) Typhoon Nakri was positioned 600 nmiles south of Southern Japan tracking north at 8 kts with winds sustained at 70 kts (bare minimal typhoon force). An increase in forward speed with a turn to the northeast and east and decrease in strength is forecast over the 3 days. Nakri is expected to miss all major landmasses and be in open waters east of Japan on Wednesday (6/4) with winds down to 30 kts. No swell generation potential forecast (other than for Japan). But this early season re-curvature to the east is of most interest, possibly providing some signs of what's to come later summer if the ENSO pattern develops as hoped for (see MJO update below).
On Sunday (6/1) the jetstream over the South Pacific was almost pulling together, with a split flow pushing over Australia then the southern branch troughed well to the north merging with the northern branch at about 160W. But the southern flow was weak, at 80 kts offering no real support for surface level development. But at least the configuration was favorable. Over the next 72 hours this same set up is to persist, but with pulses of energy to 100 kts occasionally pushing east in the southern branch before merging with the northern branch of the jet. Limited support for low pressure development. Beyond 72 hrs the same pattern is to persist with additional energy at 140 kts pushing north under New Zealand by Thursday (6/5) perhaps starting to fuel some real surface level low pressure development, with a stronger pulse to 150 kts forecast by the weekend.
At the oceans surface the remnants of the Second New Zealand Storm were tracking east with winds modeled at 40 kts aimed northeast near 54S 168W and expected to dissipate by late evening. 32 ft seas to hold to Monday morning at 50S 142W then fade. Over the next 72 hours the remnants of this system are forecast to rebuild, with pressure dropping to 968 mbs and winds to 55 kts over a tiny area Tuesday evening (6/3) at 45S 125W aimed well up the 182-185 degree paths to California (none towards Hawaii). Fetch is to hold Wednesday AM at 44S 120W aimed a little more to the east before fading from 45 kts in the evening. Seas to 39 ft Wed AM at 42S 122W pushing the 42 ft mark in the evening at 42S 115W aimed more east. Sideband swell heading north towards CA arriving Thurs (6/12) if all this comes to pass.
First New Zealand Storm
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 170E Thursday AM (5/29). The Jason-1 satellite passed over the fetch at 18Z and 00Z confirming seas at 33.3/33.8 ft at 59S 172E with peak reading to 35/37 ft, consistent with the wave models. This fetch was just barely free and clear of the Tahitian swell shadow relative to California and moving eastward into it. A little secondary fetch continued pushing more to the northeast in the 40 kt range holding through Thursday evening keeping seas in the 35 ft range at 55S 178W. 32 ft seas were modeled Fri AM at 58S 174W. This should be enough to produce decent swell up into Tahiti and Hawaii with period at 18 secs (starting late on 6/6 in Hawaii) with background energy moving into California by late in the weekend (6/8).
Tahiti to see swell arriving late on Monday (6/2) to 6.6 ft @ 17 secs (11 ft Hawaiian) building to 8.8 ft @ 15 secs on Tuesday (13 ft Hawaiian).
In Hawaii swell to peak at 3 ft @ 18 secs (5.5 ft faces) on Saturday (6/7) fading to 3 ft @ 15-16 secs Sunday (4.5-5.0 ft faces) on Sunday (6/8) from 198 degrees.
Swell to push into California Sunday (6/8) at 1.6 ft @ 18 secs (2.5 ft faces) and building into Monday.
Second New Zealand Storm
Of more interest is another 956 mb storm that followed 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. 35 ft seas were modeled for the area Saturday AM at 58S 180W building to 38 ft at 55S 168W in the evening with 50 kt winds still in-play. The Jason-1 satellite passed over this area at 0Z Sun and confirmed seas of 38.5 ft with a peak reading of 41.3 ft at 52.2 S 168.5W. Unfortunately this swell was shadowed by Tahiti relative to California. 35 ft seas continued Sunday AM at 52S 160W. Varying degrees off 40-45 kt winds are forecast to continue pushing east across the Pacific Monday (6/2) and seas holding in the 30-32 ft range to 50S 145W.
Another solid utility class pulse of swell could result for Hawaii by Sun 6/8 with lesser energy for the US West Coast by Tues 6/10.
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. 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) from 180 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 hours weak low pressure associated with the remnants of Typhoon Nakri are to organize just east of the dateline on Fri/Sat (6/7) generating 35-40 kt north winds aimed just a bit west of Hawaii by Sunday (6/8) almost at Hawaii for 24 hours generating 18 ft seas and perhaps some minimal windswell pushing towards the Islands. Odds extremely low though. High pressure to get better footing off California late week into the weekend reaching 1032 mbs with 30-35 kt north winds setting up off Cape Mendocino down into Pt Conception generating larger windswell for the weekend. These winds to also swing under the south side of the high at 20-25 kts aimed right at Hawaii and pushing to within 150 nmiles of the coast. Possible easterly windswell resulting. But overall, the North Pacific is dormant.
Madden-Julian Oscillation/El Nino Note: The MJO is essentially dead with just the last remnants of the active phase left hanging over the far eastern equatorial Pacific. Interestingly daily SOI values are still negative as of 6/1 at -18. This makes it 16 days in a row in the negative range (2 of those days had a 0 and +2 reading) with the larger 30 day trend now at --3.9. The 90 day trend is dropping quickly too, down from +20 in April to +3.6 as of today and falling. This is the first time the 30 day average has been less than 0 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 CEntral America and are to be gone by 6/4, signaling the end of the active phase with stronger easterly winds trying to build over the Philippines. But the inactive phase is suggested to remain weak and fading out by June 14th. No significant support for low pressure development in the North Pacific likely during the inactive phase. But of more interest is to see if the MJO helps to start eliminating 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 luck, El Nino. Warm surface water has started building up off Central America, a good sign. And even better is the subsurface configuration. For the past year all subsurface warm waters have been pooled up in the far western equatorial Pacific with no Kelvin Wave Activity occurring to help it track east, and cold water under the Central Pacific blocking any eastward progress. As of this week we're seeing the first signs of that pattern breaking down. A channel of normal subsurface water temps now extends from the west to east Pacific with 3 deg C waters in the west and again in the east and what looks like a path for the western waters to push east. Surface winds are neutral not helping to push the flow eastward. What we need is another strong pulse of the MJO to help push things along. According to recent observations, the active phase of the MJO is starting to take shape in the Indian Ocean as of 5/30 and expected to push into exposed waters of the equatorial PAcific on 6/19. This will be a pulse worth watching to see if it contributes to a possible El Nino. Historically this is the right time of year for such an event to occur. now that were out of the Springtime predictability barrier. And average of all available long range ENSO models suggest neutral conditions to prevail.
Beyond 72 hrs another 948 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. Seas building to 51 ft at 55S 168E in the evening holding into Friday AM 55S 180W moving into the Tahitian swell shadow relative to California. The main fetch to fade quickly Friday while a secondary fetch builds over the same area with winds to 55 kts late, fading on Saturday. 42 ft seas forecast Sat AM at 55S 180W. It really helps to have a decent level upper flow. Possible solid swell for Tahiti and Hawaii if all this come3s to pass. Will monitor but this one is still a long time from forming.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
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
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/
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