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 Tuesday (8/5) Northern CA surf was waist to chest high with a light texture on it. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were thigh high on the sets and clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was knee high and pretty textured mid-day. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was knee high and lightly textured. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh high and moderately textured. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist to rarely chest high and clean early. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was waist high or so and clean. The East Shore was knee high plus.
North/Central California was getting very limited local northwest windswell and smaller southern hemi swell. Southern California was getting a better dose of small background southern hemi swell. Hawaii's North Shore was getting no swell for the summer. The South Shore was getting no surf to speak of. Trades were weak and there was only limited tiny east windswell on the East Shore.
For Central California more of the same is forecast for the next few day, with the windswell dropping and the southern hemi background swell coming up a notch reaching thigh high. The net result to be little change overall. A return of northwest local windswell is expected for the weekend though and holding into early next week and beyond. Southern CA is to be much the same with mainly just background southern hemi background swell expected Wed then again Sat/Sun, best down south, with nothing in between. The South Shore of Hawaii is flat from a southern hemi perspective and expected to stay that way for the next 7 days. Tradewind generated east windswell on the East Shore to be the best thing going starting small on Wednesday and building to a peak on Friday/Saturday before settling down by Monday. Long term the models are offering virtually nothing of interest in either the Southern Hemi or the North Pacific for either Hawaii or California over the next week other than low odds of perhaps a gale low east of new Zealand almost a week out. So make the most of what you can get. 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 were indicated with the bulk of it's energy fragmented and stumbling through the North Bering Sea with only cutoff upper level lows pressure south of the Aleutians from the dateline and parts east. By Thursday (8/7) some stronger energy is to start tracking of the Aleutians in the 100 kt range with a trough forming in the Gulf of Alaska and more energy building by the weekend. This is the first signs of anything that resembles a hint of Fall in the forecast.
At the surface today weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was 1000 nmiles west of San Francisco but not ridging into the mainland significantly with a 15 kt Northwesterly flow over local waters and just starting to set up some stronger trades over the Hawaiian Islands in the 15-20 kt range. Weak low pressure at 1008 mbs was over the dateline but doing nothing of interest. Over the next 72 hours the high pressure system is to start building to 1028 mbs with taking up a position 900 nmiles north of Hawaii and retreating from the US west coast. trades to be on the upswing over the Islands pushing 20 kt late Thursday and 25 kts on Friday into early Saturday with easterly windswell on the upswing. But by Sunday the high to get curt up by approaching low pressure moving east from the dateline. Interesting that what is modeled to be a 1004 mb low could cut the 1028 mbs high up. Another sign that Fall is coming.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (8/5) high pressure at 1026 mbs was centered 800 nmiles west of Monterey Bay and was not ridging into the US West coast and serving only to generate a modest 10 kt northerly wind flow down the coast. This same pattern to hold through Friday and then the high to seep east but be held well to the south while low pressure moves into and through the coastal waters of British Columbia. The high to generate a weak gradient over Central CA waters Sunday (8/10) with up to 25 kt winds building over Cape Mendocino and 15-20 kt north winds mostly over outer waters south into the Channel Islands, but mostly away from nearshore locations. Limited windswell to result but chop to remain well offshore. The gradient to consolidate over Cape Mendocino on Monday and then fade late.
On Tuesday AM (8/5) tropical storm Kammuri was 65 nmiles south of Hong Kong tracking west-northwest. Winds were 45 kts with no intensification forecast. This system to be inland and fading Wednesday AM.
On Tuesday (8/5) a split jetstream pattern was in control of the entire South Pacific and it was actually split three was over the West Pacific. The southern branch was flowing entirely over land in Antarctica. No support for low pressure, gale or storm development. Over the next 72 hours no real change forecast with the ridge remaining in control and pushing the southern branch over the Ross Ice shelf from west to east. Beyond 72 hrs the ridging pattern is only to get worse, with more energy pushing head into Antarctica under New Zealand on Monday (8/11) and building to the east. No support for surface level low pressure development indicated.
At the oceans surface virtually no swell producing winds of interest were occurring except a fetch of 40 kt southwest winds moving into Southern Chile. Strong high pressure at 1032 mbs was right in the middle of the storm corridor in the Southeast Pacific pushing south over Antarctic Ice and shutting things down there with no activity occurring in regions further west. Over the next 72 no swell producing fetch is forecast over the South Pacific relative to either Hawaii or California.
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 then fading Wednesday at 2.3 ft @ 14 secs (3 ft faces) 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. Swell to peak Saturday at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft faces).
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 a string of 3 tropical systems to build tracking from Cabo San Lucas west to under Hawaii. But that remains a fantasy conjured up by the model. Will know more by Sunday when these systems are to become reality. A gale low is forecast to build near the dateline Monday pushing into the northern Gulf of Alaska Tuesday (8/9) with all fetch aimed towards Alaska. No swell production capacity indicated. The window for Fall swell activity starts 8/15.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Tuesday (8/5) 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 bottomed out and is holding at 1.76. The 30 day average was up to 2.75 and the 90 day average was essentially unchanged at 0.31, neutral. Only a faint area of stronger than normal easterly trades at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) are over Central America, indicating the last of the Inactive phase of the MJO. There is virtually no sign of the Active Phase of the MJO behind it tough suggesting we are in dead-neutral territory. This is not conducive to fueling an El Nino like winter pattern. If anything it looks like a neutral pattern and perhaps another dry winter for the Southwest US.
Beyond 72 hrs mostly no swell producing fetch is forecast other than a cutoff low forecast east of New Zealand Sat/Sun (8/10) possibly producing a thin fetch of 40 kts winds aimed towards Hawaii. But odds are low of that occurring at this early date. At the same time high pressure at 1020 mbs is forecast building south of New Zealand pushing east continuing the lock-down of the storm corridor at least into Tuesday (8/12)..
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