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 (7/31) Northern CA surf was shoulder high and warbled to almost chopped, but it was rideable. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were up to head high and clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was waist to chest high and moderately textured. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist to chest high with a few bigger sets and lightly textured. The LA Area southward to Orange County was chest high and textured early. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were chest to head high on occasion and lightly textured early. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was up to waist high on the biggest sets and clean. The East Shore was waist to chest high.
North/Central California was getting a nice mix of very southerly angled southern hemi swell and sizeable (for the time of year) windswell from the Gulf of Alaska. Southern California was getting the same mix of swells with breaks up north seeing more of the northerly swell and breaks down south seeing more of the Southern hemi swell. Hawaii's North Shore was getting no swell for the summer. The South Shore was just shy of being flat getting the wrap around tradewind windswell at exposed breaks. No southern hemi swell though. Trades were up providing some decent windswell on the East Shore.
For Central California what you see if what you get. This is the best of it for a while with the southern hemi swell dropping out on Friday and the Gulf windswell doing the same thing. Locally generated short period windslop is in the forecast for the weekend in the head high range on Saturday then fading slowly form there, going down to knee high by Tuesday with nothing on the charts to indicate any improvement anytime soon. Maybe some background southern hemi swell Tues/Wed in Santa Cruz. Southern CA to see the southern hemi swell drop out on Friday too with windswell on the same trend line. Maybe some weak northerly windswell for exposed breaks over the weekend but nothing more. There's a hint of southern hemi background swell for next Tues/Wed, but don't expect much. The South Shore of Hawaii to go really flat with no swell expected for the weekend and the week beyond. Tradewind generated east windswell to provide something into Friday, then fading out but possibly returning next Tues/Wed and heading up solidly beyond. Long term the models are offering nothing of interest in the Southern Hemi for either Hawaii or California over the next week, so make the most of what you can get. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
The North Pacific jetstream is in hibernation for the summer. No features of interest were indicated with the bulk of it's energy tracking through the North Bering Sea and holding there. A little more energy to build just south of the Aleutians over the weekend into next week, but not enough to be of interest.
At the surface today a shrinking area of high pressure system at 1028 mbs remained parked 900 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii no ridging into the US West coast north generating any significant trades over the Hawaiian Islands, severely limiting windswell generation potential. Over the next 72 hours that high is to dissipate by Friday (8/1) with trades dead over Hawaii and north winds suppressed down the US West Coast. But a new weak high at 1020 mbs is to try and build 800 nmiles west of Pt Conception setting up a new batch of north winds isolated to the nearshore North and Central CA coast extending from the Oregon boarder south to Pt Conception and over the Channel Islands. North winds building to 20 kts Saturday (8/2) into Sunday generating weak short period north windswell.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (7/31) weak low pressure was moving into Washington holding high pressure at bay. Only weak 10-15 kt north winds were pushing down Central CA coast, providing texture but not much else. High pressure that was north of Hawaii was fading, but a new high is to start building in the Gulf of Alaska by Friday perhaps increasing local northerly winds to the 20-25 kt range by Saturday AM, with much of that trying to push onshore making a mess of things for the weekend. Short period windswell to be generated though. Southern CA to remain protected. The high pressure system is to build to 1030 mbs while drifting west to a spot north of Hawaii next week and local winds over CA waters fading on Monday (8/4) with an eddy flow taking over through Thursday (8/7).
On Thursday (7/31) no tropical systems of interest were occurring.
On Thursday (7/31) a well .cgiit jetstream pattern remained in-control of the entire South Pacific with the southern branch running mostly west to east on the 65S latitude over the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf with a weak trough in the far Southeast Pacific at 130W, then feeding into a stronger ridge pushing south over Antarctica and offering no real support for surface level gale development. Over the next 72 hours no real change forecast with the trough in the southeast holding it's ground and getting a little better defined through the weekend, and even 140 kt winds starting to push north up it's western flank offering a little energy to support gale development on the eastern edge of the California swell window. Beyond 72 hrs that trough to track east into southern South America while a big ridge builds under New Zealand pushing east late Friday sweeping over the entire South Pacific and putting a lock on gale development. This pattern to persist and build east with virtually no signs of anything to support surface level low pressure development indicated.
At the oceans surface virtually no swell producing winds of interest were occurring. Over the next 72 hrs a new 980 mb barely closed isobar low is forecast to build in the far Southeast Pacific on Friday (8/1) generating gale force winds at 40-45 kt at 56S 130W in the evening and seas to 32 ft at 50S 122W Saturday AM (8/2) aimed northeast towards Chile and Peru. This system to move fast to the northeast with lingering seas of 30 ft at 39S 116W Saturday evening and mostly out of even the Southern CA swell window. Limited background south angled swell mostly for Southern CA if this occurs.
A odd-ball low developed on the northern tip of New Zealand Friday evening (7/25) pushing a tiny area of 50 kt winds north for 12 hrs possibly targeting Hawaii. But the whole thing started moving to the southeast towards Antarctica over the next 36 hrs with 35 ft seas in.cgiay early Sunday AM at 36S 177W, but all aimed southeast towards southern Chile at best. It held together and tracked east with 35 kt winds eventually wrapping into it's west quadrant aimed somewhat northeast by Monday AM (7/28) generating 29 ft seas near 38S 163W and still tracking east, setting up more 29 ft seas at 36S 159W in the evening and again 29 ft seas Tuesday AM at 33S 154W before dying in the evening with 29 ft seas at 30S 148W. Possible solid sideband swell for Tahiti on Wednesday (7/30) and some of that radiating north towards Central America in the days beyond, but doubtful anything to reach the US mainland (period would be 14-15 secs if it did) because when the fetch was aimed north it was totally shadowed by Tahiti. Even less odds for Hawaii since the fetch was barely aimed in their direction.
Southeast Pacific Gale
A gale was developing on the eastern edge of the California swell window Saturday AM (7/26) with pressure 948 mbs but over Antarctic Ice generating winds of near 40 kts at 60S 130W aimed more east than north, mostly out of even the Southern CA swell window and more at Peru. This system built up to 45 kts winds at the same location Saturday evening with a broad area of 29 ft seas at 58S 128W. On Sunday AM (7/27) this system produced 45-50 kts winds at 60S 122W aimed 45 degrees east of the 180 degree great circle path up to California generating 32 ft seas at 56S 123W pushing mostly towards Peru. In the evening all fetch was east of the Southern CA swell window and fading. 37 ft seas were modeled at 57S 115W, essentially out of the California swell window. Limited odds of some form of background very southerly angled swell pushing up in to California, best in Southern CA, with luck a week later starting (Mon 8/4) reaching 2 ft @ 16 secs (3 ft faces) on Tuesday from 180 degrees.
Short Central Pacific Gale
On Tuesday AM (7/29) a 960 mb gale was positioned in the far southern Central Pacific generating a fetch of 45 kt west winds. These winds held into the evening then faded producing 12 hrs of 32 ft seas at 60S 155W. Maybe a small pulse of swell to push into California up the 196 degree path at 17 secs 10 days later or Fri PM (8/8) since the Tahitian swell shadow was not a factor.
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 the new high pressure system is to lift north just off the Canadian coast by Monday (8/4) with pressure at 1024 mbs moving the pressure gradient off Cape Mendocino with winds 20-25 kts there, then fading Tuesday and beyond, with only the faintest of windswell generation potential indicated for Central and North California. But it's to be configured to start generating trades pushing into Hawaii Tuesday-Thursday (8/7) assuming tropical low pressure is south of it (as modeled) tracking just south of the Hawaiian Islands.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Thursday (7/31) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was moving towards the active phase. The SOI index which has been positive since 7/16 started moving negative on 7/23, but has edged up to 3.94. The 30 day average was down to 1.96 and the 90 day average was essentially unchanged at 0.37 and essentially neutral. A weak area of stronger than normal easterly trades were moving east into Central America both at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up), but decaying. Westerly winds were building over the eastern Indian Ocean pushing into the equatorial Pacific signaling the start of the Active Phase of the MJO. But this episode remains forecast to be weak and fading by even mid-August with a neutral pattern forecast beyond that. Not great circumstances to be moving into Fall with.
Beyond 72 hrs one more gale is one the charts for the far Southeast Pacific starting Saturday AM (8/2) with pressure 972 mbs and 40-45 kt westerly winds building near 62S 132W just off the Ross Ice Shelf. By evening a decent fetch of 45 kt winds is forecast at 60S 126W aimed northeast with seas building.
On Sunday AM (8/3) a broad fetch of 40-45 kt winds are forecast at 56S 112W and out of the California swell window with 32 ft seas lagging back at 58S 118W and barely in the South CA swell window but aimed well at Chile. 45 kt winds to hold in the evening even further east at 53S 105W with seas to 38 ft at 53S 110W targeting only South America.
Monday AM (8/4) 45 kt winds to continue at 50S 98W producing 42 ft seas at 50S 102W targeting southern Chile. This system to be gone by evening with large swell approaching southern Chile and likely a bit raw. Will monitor.
But beyond that virtually no swell producing low pressure systems of interest 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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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table