New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
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 (6/19) Northern CA surf was chest to head high and reasonably clean but lumpy. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest to near head high and clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was waist to chest high and textured at best. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist high and clean though a little crumbled. The LA Area southward to Orange County was chest to head high and clean mid-day. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were chest to head high and clean. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was waist to chest high and clean late morning. The East Shore was thigh high.
North/Central California was still seeing and mix of locally generated northwest windswell and another pulse of southern hemi swell coming from just east of New Zealand. There was a bit more size than expected from the New Zealand swell but it was peaked out. Southern California was seeing the same swell sources, but with the southern hemi swell more dominant and the local swell only breaking up the longer southern hemi lines. Hawaii's North Shore was flat for the summer. The South Shore was still getting a decent pulse of southern hemi swell originating from the same New Zealand storm, but it was well on it's way down. The East Shore was getting bare minimal tradewind generated windswell.
For Central California, northwest windswell to fade out later today and stay below the rideable range through mid-Sunday. Southern hemi swell currently in the water is to be fading Friday while being replaced by yet one more small pulse of southern hemi swell, expected to hold into early Saturday, then the southern hemi swell pattern is to turn off. Local northwest windswell to be the only swell source starting late Sunday peaking Mon/Tues (6/24), then dropping some but not out through the end of the workweek (6/27). Southern CA to see the same pattern with the southern hemi swell being dominant Fri/Sat (with no northwest windswell) then fading out with limited northwest windswell replacing it next week. In the Islands local east windswell to make a bit of a showing starting late Sunday on through the end of the workweek, but period to be really short, really just windslop. Southern hemi swell for the South Shore is to be gone with no rideable swell expected. The short story remains to get whatever southern hemi swell you can latch onto now, because South Pacific is going to take a nap. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
The North Pacific jetstream is in hibernation for the summer. No features of interest are indicated though a steady weak consolidated flow is forecast to build over the Gulf of Alaska mid-next week. Nothing gale-wise to result, but just a sign that a complete shutdown has still not fully materialized.
At the surface today moderate high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered 1200 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii and retrograding from the US West Coast having no impact there. Limited trades were being generated off the south side of this same high producing very short period small windswell pushing into the East Shores of the Hawaiian Islands. Over the next 72 hours this high is to race east and be just 300 nmiles off North Ca and riding into Oregon, starting to generate north winds over Cape Mendocino at 20 kts by late Saturday (6/21) at 20 kts and up to 25 kts Sunday coving the area down to Pt Conception and starting to generate short period windswell there. At the same time it's also to start fueling trades over Hawaii in the 15-20 kts range continuing to generate minimal short period windslop along east facing shores.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (6/19) high pressure that has held control of local waters was finally starting to retrograde west, pulling back to a point north of Hawaii. Low pressure was trying to build well of Cape Mendocino, helping to suppress seasonal north winds and providing a calming influence over the local weather scene. Still 15-20 kt north winds were occurring over exposed waters of all of Central CA. The resulting pressure gradient is to continue degrading Thursday evening into Friday with local winds falling below the 15 kt range Fri/Sat (6/21). But by late Saturday as the low moves inland over British Columbia, high pressure is to again get a foothold off the California coast with north winds on the increase, at 15 kts early and heading up from there. 20-25 kt north winds forecast later Sunday into Monday over all of North and Central CA holding Tuesday (6/24) too, though displaced a little more to the south. Local chop and short period windswell expected for the region. The high to build even stronger by Thursday (6/26) likely signaling more wind and windswell. But another broader low is to be building in the Gulf so it's anyone's guess how it will play out.
No tropical systems of interest were occurring. But the GFS model is depicting a pair of tropical lows forming well south of Cabo San Lucas tracking west-northwest through the coming workweek, with the first approaching the Big Island by next Friday (6/27). Also a tropical system is expected developing just east of the Philippines this weekend tracking north and then recurving northeast just off the east coast of Japan by Friday (6/27) bound for the open waters of the North Pacific.
On Thursday (6/19) a split jetstream pattern was in control of the entire South Pacific with only a weak northward pushing in the southern branch mid-way across the Ross Ice Shelf offering anything that resembled a trough capable of supporting surface level low pressure development. And at that, winds were weak at 80 kts in that region. Over the next 72 hours the split flow is to persist with the almost-trough holding mid-way across the South Pacific and displaced well to the south. A little bit of energy is to start feeding into it Sunday as it moves to the east, nearly out of even the Southern CA swell window, with winds to 140 kts offering limited support for surface level low pressure development. Beyond 72 hrs the southern branch of the jet is to develop a vigorous ridge building southward over the Central Pacific Mon/Tues (6/24) pushing hard into Antarctica further minimizing odds for surface level low pressure development, and holding that way through the end of the workweek (6/27).
At the oceans surface two gales were traveling the south Pacific in lock-step with each other and just barely north and free of Antarctic Ice. Winds were modeled at 45 kts covering a good sized area, and at first glance one would think there is some potential here. But a closer inspection indicates that with in 24 hours both are to evaporate, leaving only limited fetch to get purchase on the oceans surface to generate seas, and ultimately swell. By Friday PM (6/20) both are to be gone. Seas forecast in the 32-35 ft range, but all aimed mostly east. At best limited background swell might seep up into exposed breaks in Southern CA a week or so out but most energy to be heading towards southern South America. Big high pressure and a southward push to follow thanks to a building ridge in the jetstream, shutting down the Southern Hemisphere.
4th New Zealand System
One more in the series of swell producing systems developed Saturday evening (6/7) directly under the southern tip of New Zealand with 45-50 kt southwest winds blowing up into the Hawaiian and California swell window from 52S 165E (right on the westmost 201 degree great circle path for Hawaii and the 218 degree path for CA. Seas were building. These winds were modeled down to 40-45 kts Sunday AM (6/8) aimed directly at Hawaii. A small area of 32 ft seas were near 49S 173W aimed best at Hawaii. Winds faltered Sunday evening with seas 30 ft at 45N 180W, then rebuild to 45 kts over a small area Monday AM (6/9) at 40S 170W again aimed right at Hawaii up the 191 degree path and somewhat up the 215 degree path to California. Seas were barely 30 ft at 41S 176W. More 45-50 kts winds build around the lows western quadrant Monday evening at 48S 165W with 31 ft seas still attributable to the original fetch at 40S 170W then fetch. By Tuesday AM all wind and seas were gone.
California: 2 ft remnants at 14 secs forecast on Friday (2.5-3.0 ft faces) and fading. Swell Direction: 214 degrees (NCal); 218 degrees (SCal)
The hints of one more fetch started to organize under New Zealand Tuesday AM (6/10) and wound up in the evening producing a small area of 45-50 kt southwest winds at 58S 175W, and 50 kt southwest winds confirmed at 54S 165W Wednesday AM (6/11) with a tiny area of 28 ft seas at 58S 169W. The fetch lifted northeast through the day with 45-50 kt winds at 50S 155W and seas 30 ft modeled at 50S 160W in the evening. Of most interest, the Jason-1 satellite passed directly over this fetch at 16Z and confirmed a solid area of seas at 38.4 ft with one peak reading to 40.4 ft at at 55S 165W, right on the 203 degree path to NCal/205 SCal and just barely on the edge of the Tahitian swell shadow. This is not too bad. Fetch faded fast thereafter with 30 ft seas still hanging on at 46S 150W Thursday AM (6/12) then fading out.
This system offers the hint of something resembling swell for California, but much less for the Islands because fetch was not aimed well in their direction. Though there was only one reading from the Jason-1 satellite, it was a favorable one. The trick on this one is to figure how much of that reading will translate into swell. Current estimates suggest swell up to 3 ft @ 17 secs (5 ft faces) could result for South and North CA. But with only one reading that estimate is likely high. Just the same, this is one to watch for in that it could provide a bit more size than most forecast services are going to expect.
This one was 5962 nmiles from California and 10 days out from the core hitting the coast. Swell arrival expected early Fri AM (6/20) with period 19 secs and peaking in SCal late afternoon at up to 3 ft @ 17 secs (5 ft faces) though that is likely too high an estimate. 2 ft @ 17 secs more likely (3.5 ft faces). Swell to peak at the same size in Central CA early Saturday AM (6/21) well before sunrise at 2 ft @ 17 secs fading from 14-15 secs on Sunday. Swell Direction: 205 degrees SCal/203 NCal
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 large scale swell producing weather systems are forecast. High pressure is to rebuild filling the area north of Hawaii to the US West Coast from Monday-Friday (6/27) producing 20-25 kt north winds over nearshore Central CA waters producing chop and short period windswell. Winds off the south side of this high to build in good pushing towards Hawaii by Tuesday (6/24) at 15-20 kts, also likely generating more and short period windswell along East Shores.
Also of interest is a steady stream of weak low pressure systems that are to start pushing off Japan and feeding into the Gulf of Alaska by Tuesday (6/24) with more tropical energy queued up south of Japan. Winds to not exceed 25 kts in these systems, but given the time of year, it is an interesting pattern just the same. Suspect a likely MJO enhanced influence to be helping to stoke the pattern (see below). It's nice to see the recurving pattern of semi tropical systems turning northeast towards the North Pacific, perhaps a good early season indicator.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Thursday (6/19) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was moving from the inactive phase to the active phase. The inactive phase is know to enhance the production of storms in the Northern Hemisphere over a roughly 20 day time span during the winter months there and is also complicit with the formation of El Nino (which also enhances storms in the NPac during the winter) when multiple strong active phases occur in rapid succession during late spring into summer and Fall. A single MJO cycle lasts typically 40 days going from inactive to active then turn back to inactive. Today the last bit of stronger than normal 850 mb east winds were tracking over Central America and nearly out of the Pacific headed for the Atlantic while a broad area of reversed 850 mb winds (blowing from the west) were pushing over the Philippines and Northern Australia moving towards the Dateline and central equatorial Pacific. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) which measures the pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin Australia was very positive June 2-10 at +15 to +35, indicative of the inactive phase of the MJO. That changed on June 11 when it started hovering in the slightly negative range (-2 to -8 ), consistent with the inactive phase of the MJO. It has since held at near 0 (+3 reading today) through 6/19. The 30 day average had been consistently slightly negative since May 21 hovering in the -1 to -4 range, but just broke the +2 reading today, mainly thanks to that short run of very positive values earlier in the month. In all this is a nice change compared to the record La Nina which controlled the winter of 2007/2008 peaking with a monthly average of +22 in Feb 2008. This current prolonged recent exposure of negative SOI values has nearly wiped out La Nina and is keeping us watching the possibility for formation of El Nino in Fall on 2008. Though not likely from a historical perspective, it is interesting to watch just the same. The influence of the MJO on the Southern hemi storm track is not well correlated. Regardless, this current active phase of the MJO is to peak near June 22 over the dateline, then fade while pushing east towards Central America, limping over that area near 7/1. This is not to be a strong active phase, but should still be enough to help wipe the remnants of La Nina off the charts.
Beyond 72 hrs high pressure to be incontrol of the Central South Pacific. A series of three possibly decent storms are forecast to push under Australia while trying to develop, only to track northeast into the Tasman Sea and directly impact new Zealand, then get sheared apart as they try and progress east into the South Pacific as they interact with the unfavorable jetstream flow aloft and high pressure at the oceans surface. No swell forecast other than perhaps some limited blow-by energy that might dribble into Hawaii up through the Tasman Sea/Fiji swell corridor (with alot of luck). Will monitor. .
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
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
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STORMSURF Local Wave Models Upgraded - We significantly upgraded the local waves models on Sunday (6/8). All now utilize our newly developed high-resolution 3D shaded relief topography for mapping landmasses. Coastlines are now accurate down to the individual pixel providing near photographic realism. Mountains and hills are all shaded and accurate to within the same single pixel specification. Cities are overlaid as before, but now we've added major highways and rivers too (for many locations). Some good examples of this new technology can be viewed here:
- View the reefs north of Tahiti and notice their contribution to the 'Swell Shadow' relative to California - Tahiti
- Notice the detail of the coast in and around Vancouver Islands and Washington State - Pacific Northwest
- See the details of inland waterways of the US Northeast Coast - Virginia
- Details of the Mentawai Island and Nias
And all the local models can be found either on our homepage or from the wavemodel page (bottom half of the page).
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/
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