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 Sunday (7/6) Northern CA surf was waist to chest high with light onshore winds and high fog. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were thigh high and clean but socked in. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was thigh to waist high and clean early. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was thigh high with thick fog. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high at best breaks and clean. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist high on the bigger sets and clean. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was waist high with a few bigger sets and clean. The East Shore was thigh high.
North/Central California was getting a mix of locally generated short period windslop and longer period swell originating under New Zealand and coming up the Tasman Sea channel. Southern California was getting mostly swell from New Zealand. Hawaii's North Shore was flat for the summer. The South Shore was on the very last legs of swell from the Tasman Sea. The East Shore was getting no real windswell.
For Central California, southern hemi swell to not be noticeable on Monday. Rather swell from the Gulf of Alaska to make a very rare appearance for 12 hours or so in the morning mixed with locally generated short period windswell, then fading with the windswell taking over on Tuesday and more mini-southern hemi swell reappearing for a day. Southern CA to actually see some of the Gulf swell late on Monday too with another very small pulse of southern hemi swell following on Tuesday. Windswell to be the name of the game after that with no energy from the southern hemi on the charts. In the Islands Tasman Sea swell that has been providing something to ride for a while now is all but gone with virtually no southern hemi swell of interest on the charts for the next week. Tradewind generated east windswell is not forecast either, with suppressed trades in effect. Looking down south no southern hemi storms of interest are forecast for at least the next 5 days, meaning no decently rideable southern hemi swell expected for at least for 13 day in the Islands and 15 days in California. The models keep teasing under New Zealand 6-7 days out, but that keep proving to be just a mirage. Looks like a long southern hemi flat spell is to be expected. 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. A weak trough that has been pushing through the Gulf of Alaska (7/6) over the 4th weekend is moving into Northern Canada and totally out of the picture by Tuesday (7/8) with nothing behind it. This trough and the resulting surface low (see below) was likely due to the active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation. Pretty impressive for July.
At the surface today weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was centered 600-1200 nmiles west of Central CA to a point 600 nmiles north of Hawaii but offering no real wind of interest. It was producing a minor pressure gradient over Central and North CA producing north winds there at 15-20 kts, but of no consequence. Weak low pressure at 1004 mbs was fading in the far northern Gulf of Alaska, remnants of a stronger system a few day earlier (see below). Over the next 72+ hours high pressure is to get better organized off North CA with pressure to 1028 mbs ridging into the Pacific Northwest and generating a pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino resulting in north winds there at 30-35 kts starting Monday and holding through at least Saturday (7/12) and generating decent north windswell for exposed breaks in North, Central and Southern CA (see Quikcasts for details). This fetch to be pulled away from the coast resulting in better than usual local wind conditions. Trades to remain suppressed in the Hawaiian Islands with no easterly windswell of interest forecast. No other swell producing fetch forecast.
Unusual Gulf Gale
On Thursday (7/3) in response to the active phase of the MJO, and upper level trough was setting up in the Gulf of Alaska resulting in low pressure down at the oceans surface. In actuality this low originated from a tropical systems over Japan on Sun (6/29) that successfully circumnavigated the North Pacific briefly firing up on the dateline Tues/Wed (7/2) then fading only the regroup in the Gulf on late Thursday into Friday (7/4). Pressure dropped to 988 mbs on 7/3 with confirmed northwest winds at 30-35 kts Thursday evening through Friday evening near 46N 162W-150W aimed just south of the 302 degree great circle path into San Francisco. 19 ft seas were modeled through the day Friday at 46N 152-142W targeting Oregon down into the San Francisco Bay area. The Jason-1 satellite passed over this area late Friday evening and confirmed seas at 17.6 ft at 47N 144W at 5 Z, which is what was expected. This is sending small 12-13 sec period swell towards exposed break in the Pacific Northwest down to Central CA from late Sunday through early next week.
San Francisco: Expect swell of 6 ft @ 12-13 secs (2-3 ft overhead) peaking 2-5 AM Monday (7/7) from 302 degrees. Local windswell intermixed.
Dana Point: Expect this same swell to reach exposed break south of here near 3 PM Monday (7/7) with swell 2.3-2.5 ft @ 12 secs (3 ft faces) from 307 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (7/6) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was centered roughly 900 nmiles east of Cape Mendocino ridging into the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia generating a pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino and surrounding areas producing winds of 20-25 kts and on the increase. By Monday this gradient is to become fairly pronounced with 30-35 kt north winds in place and generating decent northerly windswell for exposed breaks down through Central CA and likely into Southern CA. These winds are to remain reasonably off the coast too. This pattern to hold Tuesday with winds up to 35+ kts then shrinking in overall areal coverage and holding through Wednesday. On Thursday (7/10) the high is to regroup off Washington at 1030 mbs generating 35-40 kt north winds off Cape Mendocino through early Saturday then starting to decline into Sunday. Local winds to tend towards eddy conditions (southwest) with larger than normal windswell expected through the forecast period.
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
On Sunday (7/6) a very split jetstream pattern remained in-control of the entire South Pacific with energy levels in the southern branch particularly weak. Aa modest ridge was pushing the southern branch over the Ross Ice Shelf south of Tahiti shutting down any hope of supporting surface level storm development. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold, but with more wind energy building into the southern branch. Beyond 72 hrs improvements are suggested starting Friday (7/10) as a trough starts building in the Central South Pacific and with up to 130 kt winds pushing northeast. But this trough to fade pretty fast. No odds for surface level low pressure development. A second trough is forecast forming under New Zealand on Sunday (7/13) while the ridge over the Central Pacific disintegrates. This possibly could be the start of something, but is so far off as to be nothing more than a mirage at this early date.
At the oceans surface high pressure at 1016 mbs had a firm grip on the Central South Pacific suppressing storm development. A cutoff low was trying to get some legs east of New Zealand but is forecast to produce nothing more than 35 kt winds aimed north towards Hawaii late Sunday into early Monday. Low odds for any swell developing. Over the next 72 hours no other swell producing low pressure systems are forecast.
Tasman Sea Storm
A broad and fairly vigorous gale pushed east of Tasmania Sunday/Monday (6/23) directing 45 kt winds and 32 ft seas (47S 152E Sun PM) and 35 ft seas (45S 158E Mon AM) north into the Tasman Sea aimed at Fiji, then dissipated after impacting New Zealand.
A second smaller but stronger fetch of 55-60 kts winds pushed under Tasmania Tuesday (6/24) sending 37 ft seas (48N 150E Tues PM) and 35 ft seas (45S 160E Wed AM) more towards New Zealand though some energy will undoubtedly push north towards Fiji. But it too faded before reaching the South Pacific offering no potential to our forecast area. In all, Hawaii might see some limited background energy from the Tasman Sea after is gets filtered by the reefs off Fiji.
On Thursday (6/26) one more strong system was pushing under Tasmania with 42 ft seas at 50S 142E but fading. 36 ft seas were modeled in the evening at 46S 152E then pushing up into the Tasman Sea on Friday AM (6/27) with residual 35-40 kts winds aimed directly at Fiji producing 30 ft seas fading while pushing to just west of Northwestern New Zealand Saturday AM (26 ft at 35S 165E). Looks like good swell for Fiji by Monday (6/30) Pacific Time (Tues Fiji time).
Limited energy has already pushed into California tracking through the Tasman Sea swell window but mostly under New Zealand and up its' east coast. Another pulse expected in on Tues (7/8) at 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft faces) fading from 1.6 @ 14 secs on Wednesday. Swell Direction: 225 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 high pressure is continue hanging off North CA generating 30-35 kt north winds and producing some degree of rideable north windswell for exposed breaks in Central CA down into South CA. Trades to remain suppressed for the Hawaiian Islands with no windswell resulting.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Sunday (7/6) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was moving quickly to the inactive phase. Still a decent sized area of anomalous west 850 mb winds were pushing from the dateline over the equator east into Central America associated with the usual propagation of the active phase of the MJO. But stronger than normal easterly winds were moving over the equatorial far Western Pacific, signaling the start of the Inactive phase there. The SOI index started turning positive (after a solid run of negative numbers) on 6/28 in the +11 range, but had held in the -2 range over the 4th weekend. The 30 day average was 2.55 and the 90 day average was 0.76, essentially neutral. La Nina is dead from a weather perspective with water temperatures over the Central Pacific just slightly below normal, though a broad warmer than usual pool of water continued building off Central America and a weak subsurface flow of warmer than usual water persists from the dateline east, fueling the buildup off the Central America coast. This should serve to wipeout the remnants of La Nina, and is mildly indicative of an El Nino. The pattern of persistent Japan storm surviving the trip to the Gulf of Alaska in mid-summer is a bit puzzling too. But if El Nino were to actually be forming, there should be clear signs of it by now in the SOI, which there is not. No clear Westerly Wind bursts have been indicated either. Will monitor.
Beyond 72 hrs a broad area of low pressure is to try and start forming under New Zealand in association with and upper level trough trying to organize there. 40-45 kt west winds are to start taking hold possibly getting some traction Sat/Sun (7/13). But at this early date that just pure fantasy.No swell honestly is expected to result.
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:
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
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