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/Utility Class: 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 Thursday (6/2) North and Central California was seeing light south winds with some northwest swell still in the head high to 1 ft overhead range and reasonably clean early. Southern hemi swell was hitting exposed south facing breaks at head high too. Southern California had waist to chest high northwest windswell up north with some warble on it but not too bad. Down south Swell #2S was still hitting at head high or so but hacked with northwest winds. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore had head high easterly tradewind generated windswell and chopped. The South Shore had more background southern hemi swell with waves waist high with some bigger sets and clean with light trades in control.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view
The North Pacific is moving towards it's normal seasonal hibernation. No swell producing fetch is forecast for the next week with seas associated with any weather systems below 18 ft. Down south Swell #2S is to hold into Friday, then drop out. And another solid gale pushed under New Zealand on Sat-Mon (5/30) with up to 46 ft seas but all aimed well to the east. Some decent but modest sized southwest swell (barely significant class - Swell #3S) to result next week. Beyond there are no believable signs of any decent swell producing fetch forecast. Maybe a gale tracking due north through the Southeast Pacific Tues-Wed (5/8) resulting in 32-24 ft seas, but that's just a guess by the models. Looks like we're now starting to move into real summer-time blues.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (6/2) the jetstream was flowing flat off Central Japan with winds 120 kts with a slight trough set up on the dateline, then ridging northeast through the Western Gulf almost impacting the Aleutians before falling southeast again and diving into the Central CA coast, but with winds below the 100 kt threshold and offering generally no support for low pressure much less gale development. Over the next 72 hours energy levels to start dropping over the width of the jet with a little trough remaining just east of the dateline and a cutoff upper low just off Central CA. No support whatsoever for low pressure development expected. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to all but disappear in the east while a little more energy tries to build into the jet off Japan pushing towards the dateline with winds 120-130 kts there, but with no troughs and no support for low pressure development of interest. That trough to push just a bit east of the dateline by Thurs (6/8) but with energy level dropping off, down to 100-110 kts. Nothing happening there.
At the surface on Thursday (6/2) high pressure at 1028 mbs remained centered 1600 nmiles west of Pt Conception and 800 nmiles northeast of Hawaii serving to generate trades at 20 kts over Hawaii and producing modest easterly windswell there. This high was ridging well to the north though, serving to block the normal easterly migration of low pressure systems from the dateline east towards the Pacific Northwest. Very weak low was off Vancouver Islands falling southeast with no fetch associated with it. A second stronger low, really almost a gale, was centered over the Aleutians producing westerly fetch at 25 kts and seas in the 17 ft range, too far away to any land mass to be of interest. More high pressure was just off Japan. Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to hold steady northeast of Hawaii but lifting north some, with trades fading to 15 kts by Saturday (6/4) and easterly windswell decreasing. This high is to merge with the high off Japan resulting in a broad but generally weak pool of high pressure dominating the North Pacific. No low pressure of interest is forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical storm formation of interest is occurring or forecast for the next 72 hours.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (6/2) more weak low pressure was building off the Pacific Northwest sinking southeast. But relative to Central CA, weak high pressure was trying to build in with clear skies but light south winds into the SF Bay Area, but northwest from Monterey Bay southward. A modest southerly windflow is expected for the North and Central CA coast on Friday (6/3) as the low pressure system moves down the coast, with rain following directly reaching down to Morro Bay by evening. Saturday south winds to continue reaching south to maybe Ventura County with rain reaching to Pt Conception. More of the same on Sunday with the low fading just off Morro Bay and south winds and rain falling down to as far south as Pt Conception. By Monday high pressure is to building into the area with a light northwest flow forecast by the afternoon then increasing to 10-15 kts on Tuesday (6/7). A summer-like gradient is forecast for the Cape Mendo area by Wednesday with north winds there to 25 kts but generally saying away from the coast from Pt Reyes southward and holding through Thursday (6/9).
On Thursday (6/2) a cutoff low was trying to organize in the upper latitudes of the South Pacific with south winds indicated at 30-35 kts. This was to be the start of a swell producer for Tahiti, but the forecast has again changed, in an unfavorable direction. Otherwise the storm track was di.cgiaced well to the south and heading flat west to east, hanging over the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf and getting no real traction of interest. Over the next 72 hours the cutoff low south of Tahiti is to dive southeast and dissipate while high pressure at 1032 mbs eases east off New Zealand reinforcing the southward moving storm track and suppressing swell producing fetch. In short, a very quiet pattern is forecast.
On Monday evening (5/23) a large area of 40-45 kt southwest to west winds was building in the general vicinity of 55S 130W with 34 ft seas building at 55S 132W. But how much of the fetch was aimed north was problematic. On Tuesday AM (5/24) a large if not huge area of 45-50 kt southwest winds were in.cgiace at 57S 130W with 40 ft seas building at 52S 127W, aimed a little more east than north or about 45 degrees east of the 182 degree path up into California. The Jason-1 satellite made a good pass near the core of the fetch confirming sea at 38.7 ft with one peak reading to 41.0 where the model suggested 40 ft. This was right on track. A second pass occurred at 18Z with seas confirmed at 35.0 ft with one reading to 39.1 ft while the model suggested 38 ft seas at that location. Again, right on track. Additional 45 kt fetch built in the evening at 56S 121W aimed just 15 degrees east of the 180 degree path up into California with 40 ft seas modeled at 49S 122W. That fetch pushed north-northeast on Wed AM (5/25) dropping to 40 kts at 49S 112W effectively out of the CA swell window with 36 ft seas at 43S 118W targeting Peru up into Southern Central America. The fetch was fading fast in the evening with 36 ft seas fading at 41S 109W.
All this suggests some degree of very south angled swell could result for California, best for the southern end of the state, with more energy down into Northern South America and Southern Central America but shadowed by the Galapagos Islands in North and Central Costa Rica. Relative to California, the big issue is the storm was on the very edge of the swell window, meaning the best size will be pushing a bit east of the great circle tracks up into North and Central CA but focused a bit better at Southern CA, but still not optimal. This one will be smaller than Swell #1S, though not so much in Southern CA.
Southern CA: 14-15 secs residuals (swell 3 ft @ 14-15 secs - 4 ft faces) to continue on Friday (6/3) then dissipating. Swell Direction: 182-188 degrees
North CA: 14-15 secs residuals (swell 3 ft @ 14-15 secs - 4 ft faces) to continue on Friday (6/3) then dissipating.. Swell Direction: 180-185 degrees
Minimal Storm #3S
On Saturday AM (5/28) a new co.cgiex gale started organizing under New Zealand. It had 36 ft seas from fetch the previous evening at 45 kts. Those seas were positioned at 53S 174E aimed pretty well up the 215 degree path to CA and unshadowed and well east of the 199 degree path to Hawaii. Some swell likely pushing towards both locales. That fetch was fading out Saturday evening with residual 30 ft seas at 54S 176W.
Of more interest was a new fetch building directly behind with 55 kt southwest winds at 55S 164E (216 degs NCal but shadowed by New Zealand relative to HI). By Sunday AM (5/29) a tiny area of 55-60 kt southwest fetch was moving into exposed waters generating up to 44 ft seas at 57S 175E (210 degs NCal and moving into the Tahiti Swell Shadow/196 degs HI unshadowed) and building. In the evening 50 kt west fetch was holding with 46 ft seas peaking at 58S 172W pushing due east (not good). That's 40 degrees east of the 205 degree path to NCal and in the middle of the Tahitian swell shadow, 207 degs relative to SCal and moving out of the core of the shadow, and 60 degs east of the 189 degree path to Hawaii. Some swell possibly moving towards all locations but favoring California and points south of there. Also swell pushing 40 degree east of the 203 degree path to Tahiti. This storm was fading on Monday AM (5/30) with 40 kt west winds dropping and seas fading from 40 ft at 55S 165W (203 degs relative to NCal and out of the core of the Tahitian swell shadow, 205 degrees SCal and out of the heart of the shadow and pushing 65 degree east of the 183 degree path to HI. Secondary 40 kt southwest fetch held into the evening with seas fading from 40 ft at 50S 165W.
This system was on a very direct west to east track with all fetch aimed due east, limiting the amount of swell that will radiate north. Still, with seas forecast to nearly 47 ft, some degree of energy is expected to push up into Hawaii and CA.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Saturday afternoon (6/4) with pure swell reaching maybe 1.6 ft @ 20 secs late (3.0 ft). Swell to continue upwards on Sunday (6/5) reaching 2.6 ft @ 18 secs nears sunset (4.7 ft with sets to 6.0 ft). Swell to hold early Monday (6/6) with swell 2.6 ft @ 17 secs (4.5 ft with sets to near 6 ft) and period dropping to 16 secs later in the day. Swell to hold at 2.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (4 ft faces with sets to 5 ft) on Tuesday (6/7). 15 secs residuals expected to be fading on Wednesday (6/8). Swell Direction: 192-199 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Tuesday (6/7) near 6 AM with period 20 secs and size tiny but building. Swell up to 2.6 ft @ 19 secs near sunset (5 ft faces with sets to 6.5 ft). Swell to continue upward with period 18 secs Wednesday AM (6/8) and peaking near noon with pure swell 3.0-3.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (5.1-6.0 ft with sets to 7.5 ft) and holding through sunset. Swell to continue solid at 3.0-3.3 ft @ 16 secs (4.8-5.3 ft with sets to 6.5 ft) through the day Thursday (6/9), with period dropping towards 15 secs at sunset. 14-15 secs residuals expected on Friday (6/10). Swell Direction: 207-218 degrees
Northern CA: Expect swell arrival on Tuesday (6/7) near 8 AM with period 20 secs and size tiny but building. Swell up to 2 ft @ 19 secs near sunset. Swell to continue upward with period 18 secs Wednesday AM (6/8) and peaking near 2 PM with pure swell 3.0-3.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (5.1-6.0 ft with sets to 7.5 ft) and holding through sunset. Swell to continue solid at 3.0-3.3 ft @ 16 secs (4.8-5.3 ft with sets to 6.5 ft) through the day Thursday (6/9), with period dropping towards 15 secs just after sunset. 14-15 secs residuals expected on Friday (6/10). Swell Direction: 205-216 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 high pressure is to move east and pool up off the California coast next week making the usual summer-like modest pressure gradient off Cape Mendocino resulting in north winds at 25 kts there and producing some windswell for Central CA. Otherwise a neutral pressure pattern is to take hold in the west with no swell producing low pressure systems of interest forecast.
As of Thursday (6/2) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was dipping a littel further south. Previously it hovered near 0 from May 1-20. Today the daily SOI was down to -4.15. The 30 day average was down to 1.92 with the 90 day average down some to 13.76. This was the lowest the monthly SOI has been since March 1, 2010, the start of La Nina. But to put things in perspective, the whole of 2009 was mostly lower than where the 30 day average is now (driven by El Nino). So we are making inroads into neutral territory, and it looks like La Nina is just getting ripped apart from a pressure perspective. But we are nowhere near an El Nino configuration.
Wind anomalies as of Wednesday (6/1) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated a dead neutral pattern in control of the entire Pacific Basin suggestive of neither the Inactive nor the Active Phase of the MJO. A neutral pattern is forecast to hold if not get more entrenched through 6/21, even over the Indian Ocean. This eliminates any interest we previously discussed about a preported regeneration of the Active Phase of the MJO.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (6/2) is unchanged and continues to indicate that cooler waters (-1 C degs) had a grip on the equator covering from a point south of Hawaii to the dateline but steadily loosing coverage. the larger issue was cooler than normal waters present in feeder bands originating off the US West Coast (not as strong as earlier in the Winter) and somewhat colder ones off Chile sweeping fully to the intersection of the dateline and the equator, serving to continue the existing La Nina pattern. These colder waters are a reflection of stronger than normal high pressure that built in over both hemispheres in the winter causing upwelling in the Gulf of Alaska and off South America, though it looks like the upwelling effect was stronger in the southern hemi than in the north. Regardless, the cooler waters in the North Pacific continue to slowly relent in spurts as are the cool temps over the equator. Warmer than normal waters are building over the Galapagos Islands and over a very narrow band west of there and continue slowly increasing in coverage in fits and spurts. And tongues of warmer water are positioned in the both the Northwest and Southwest Hemispheres trying to make inroads to the east but not very effectively. Still the big picture still looks like a La Nina setup (though fading in intensity).
Below the surface on the equator there had previously been indications of Kevin Wave activity. Colder than normal water that had been locked all winter southeast of Hawaii under the equator evaporated in late February and moved to dead neutral presumably from the effects of two consecutive bouts of the Active Phase of the MJO which in turn might have driven a Kelvin Wave. In parallel warmer than normal water had edged east from the West Pacific, previously up +2 degrees above normal and positioned due south of Hawaii (150W) under the equator through 3/22. But there had also been an impenetrable wall at 140W separating the warm anomalies, and cool anomalies east of there that was blocking any eastward progress of warmer subsurface water. But on 4/4, it appeared that that wall was fading if not gone entirely (by 4/7). By 4/19 a small but steady finger of normal to slightly warmer (0 to +1 deg C) water started flowing east making it to the equatorial East Pacific up at 100-150 meters and building some. Almost +1 degrees anomalies tracked from the West Pacific to the East Pacific short of one small break at 160W as of 5/1. On 5/7 a small pool of negative temperature water started to make a faint showing at 140W and was holding through 5/26, presumably driven by the previous Inactive Phase of the MJO. But we expect that to disappear shortly as more warm water get pushed east by the current Active Phase of the MJO. And on 5/26 it appeared more warm water was pushing through the subsurface current heading towards Central America, possible a new Kelvin Wave and the likely result of the latest Active Phase of the MJO. +1 degree anomalies covered the entire subsurface current other than one little break at 140-150W with up to 2 degree anomalies embedded in the larger flow. It would be best to see warm anomalies down to 200 meters in the east, but the current state is the best it's been in 9 months and suggestive of a near normal subsurface thermocline, and continuing to get better by the day. The thought is this normalization of the subsurface flow will eventually affect water temps at the surface and then the atmosphere above it (6 months later). So all this is a step in the right direction though slow evolving.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond. From a historical perspective these easterly winds were 'normal' with only light easterly anomalies persisting in the far Western Pacific.
We did some analysis on ocean currents on the Pacific equator this year an found anomalies developed flowing from west to east starting in February and were continuing through May 2011. We oft look at such symptoms as an El Nino indicator, but that does not seem likely given all the other data. But that co.cgied with a falling SOI at least it depicts a tendency towards normal conditions. Will monitor. Historically it is very unlikely if not impossible to have an El Nino form directly behind a La Nina. More typical is several years of a slow buildup before an actual El Nino event occurs.
Remnants of what was a moderate.cgius strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) are still evident and momentum from this La Nina event are expected to hold well into the Fall of 2011 (and likely to early 2012) in the upper atmosphere regardless of how quickly La Nina's demise occurs in the ocean. In short, it's going to be tough for surfers on west facing shores in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, though east facing shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance, especially in summer months. That is not to say there will be no storms, in fact, there could be short periods of intense activity when the Active Phase gets an opportunity to come to fruition, but that will be the exception rather than the rule, with the Inactive Phase trying to keep a cap on storm activity. Best bet's at this time are for an enhanced tropical season in the Atlantic (2011).
One note of interest, The National Weather Service long term models are now predicting slight warming of East Pacific Equatorial waters in the Summer and Fall of 2011 (about + 0.2-0.3 degs C). This would not qualify as an El Nino, but it is much better than what one would expected given being right behind a solid La Nina. Something to monitor and it almost gives on the sense something unusual is developing.
See more details in the El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours the remnants of the cutoff low currently fading south of Tahiti are to fall southeast and continue circulating, possibly generating more 40-45 kt south fetch Mon-Wed (6/8) resulting in some 32-34 ft seas pushing due north Tues-Wed on the eastern edge of the California swell window. Something to monitor but highly unlikely.
Otherwise no other swell producing weather systems 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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Chasing the Swell has been nominated for a Webby Award. See details of this great piece of video journalism below. Some say this is the "Oscars" of online awards.One of the awards is voter based. If you have a moment,.cgiease cast your ballot by going to: http://webby.aol.com, register, then click on the "Get Voting" tab and then to the "Online Film and Video" > "Sports" category and vote for "Chasing the Swell".
Timmy Reyes - Curt Myers from Powerlines Productions found this little gem with Timmy Reyes providing a brief statement about which sites he uses for swell chasing. Thought we'd pass it on. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P30ZCQOsYwY
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Mavericks Surf Shop Grand Opening - Sunday, December 19 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. rain or shine! Check out the new home of Jeff Clark's Mavericks Surf Shop, now located at 25 Johnson Pier in Pillar Point Harbor. The shop features much of Clark's surfing memorabilia, classic boards and photos, as well as an entirely new line of Jeff Clark original Mavericks clothing, accessories and surfboards. The shop has been open in the new location since December 8, and the Grand Opening party is set for this coming Sunday, just in time for Christmas. The party starts at 2 p.m., with live music, food and drinks. Jeff Clark and many Mavericks surfers will be there to meet the public. Local restaurants Ketch Joanne's and Princeton Seafood will serve up delicious food, while San Francisco Wine Trading Company is providing the beverages. The shop will be open all weekend, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Stormsurf Maintenance Upgrades: Buoy 46059 and 46012 were r.cgiaced a month or so ago. Totally new buoys were installed. Here on Stormsurf we had to reset the algorithms used to calculate 'pure swell' for them. That was acco.cgiished on 11/13. Pure swell numbers are now correct. Links: 46012, 46059
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Chasing The Swell: Sachi Cunningham from the LA Times spent the entirety of last winter chasing surfers and swells around the North Pacific with her high def video cam. Her timing couldn't have been any better with the project exactly coinciding with the strongest El Nino in 12 years resulting in the best big wave season in a decade. And being an acco.cgiished surfer herself helped her to bring a poignant and accurate account of the what it's like to ride big waves and the new (and some not so new) personalities that are revitalizing the sport. This is must-see material for any surfer or weather enthusiast. Check it out here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/chasingtheswell/
New Weather Models With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon): http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
New Weather Model Server Stormsurf has installed another weather model production server. This has enabled us to spread the load across more servers allowing us to post both wave and weather model updates much quicker. Also we are testing new content (like North America jetstream, winds and precipitation, local wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments). The model menus will be updated shortly with these new links.
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table