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 (9/21) North/Central California continued getting small northwest swell with fading energy from the southern hemi intermixed at the top south facing breaks. Southern California was getting the last fading little bit's of southern hemi energy, in the waist to chest high range at best breaks. Hawaii's North Shore was moving into the flat range with swell almost gone from the northwest. The South Shore had no real swell. Nothing on the East Shore either.
For Central California most swell is to be gone by Monday and generally things to stay very small until a new small pulse from the North Pacific arrives on Thursday, holding into Friday then fading out. A tiny southern hemi pulse to be in the mix Friday/Saturday too. Southern CA to move into the flat zone and stay there till late Thursday when new southern hemi small background swell arrives, holding through Fri/Sat. The North Shore of Hawaii to remain quiet for the week into next weekend. Bare minimal tradewind generated east windswell forecast on the East Shore starting Tuesday and holding into Friday then fading out. The South Shore of Hawaii to remain inactive until Sat (9/27) when just a tiny pulse arrives for the weekend.
The long-term overview has weak low pressure trying to organize north of Hawaii on Monday, but quickly getting swept east into British Columbia and having no impact on anyone south of there. Otherwise the models have been continually suggesting some form of activity percolating off Kamchatka late in the workweek, though each run of the model has a different outcome. As of this moment a piece of that energy is to break off and start building in the Western Gulf of Alaska on Friday (9/26) pushing into the Gulf a day later with 23 ft seas aimed east with more energy building behind that. But it's anyone's guess whether that will really occur. Down south a gale scheduled well south of Tahiti this weekend has not materialized. A series of very weak and fleeting systems are schedule to migrate east through the deep Southwest Pacific but seas are to build to barely 30 ft, and we suspect that is even optimistic. No hope there. A stronger system has been on the charts for days now pushing under New Zealand on Friday (9/26) slowly building through next weekend with up to 46 ft seas on Sunday in the Southeast Pacific. Will believe it when it happens. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (9/21) the North
Pacific jetstream was barely split, but generally anemic with only 80 kts winds over the width of the ocean running pretty well south over the 38N latitude. No support for surface level low pressure development indicated. Over the next 72 hours no real change is forecast with a a generally weak split flow continuing though by Tuesday (9/23) energy is to be building over northern Japan with winds there to 150 kts. Beyond 72 hours that energy is to steadily build east and the split configuration is to heal but a ridge is forecast forming over the dateline by Saturday (9/27) with nearly 190 kts winds flowing up into it, then dipping south on the eastern side of the dateline forming a decent trough there pushing east into the Gulf on Sunday with 180 kt winds forecast. Decent support for surface level gale development possible. This looks to be the first real push of Fall this season.
At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs was trying to build in the Gulf of Alaska riding slightly into the Canadian and US West Coasts, but winds were light there still. Weak low pressure at 1004 mbs was tracking east running smack into the middle of this high north of Hawaii. No fetch from this interaction was aimed at either Hawaii or California. Another weak low was tracking east off Japan. IN all, no fetch of interest was occurring. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf high pressure system is to start building setting up the usual pressure gradient along the California coast and generating north winds there by late Sunday and on the increase into Monday to 20-25 kts, then fading. Short period windswell to result for Central CA. At the same time the low pressure system is to track through the Gulf is to build moving towards British Columbia puncturing high pressure there and killing it. The low is to generate 30 kt winds briefly all aimed at British Columbia possibly setting up windswell there down to northern Oregon. Otherwise a broad low pressure system is to build west of the Kuril Islands, totally landlocked there and not moving east any.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (9/21) high pressure at 1028 mbs was was building west of Oregon with a light northerly breeze starting to build over the California coast. It is to peal Monday with 20-25 kt north winds over outer waters with 15 kt winds pushing near the coast, then start fading Tuesday as low pressure moves into waters off British Columbia. By Wednesday a calm flow to be back in control and holding through the rest of the workweek, other than a light northerly flow in the afternoons. A brief resurgence of weak high pressure is forecast for the weekend with north winds again coming into play, but with low pressure taking over the Gulf of Alaska on Sunday (9/28).
On Sunday (9/21) Tropical Storm Sinlaku was pushing east off Central Japan with winds 45 kts tracking steadily east. This track is to continue with the system becoming absorbed in a broader low pressure off Kamchatka, possible coalescing into a gale in the Western Gulf of Alaska on Friday (9/26). This is the last update for this system.
Also Typhoon Hagupit was 50 nmiles east of the Northern Philippines tracking northwest with winds 65 kts. It is expected to continue west-northwest building to 100 kts in open water, eventually moving into China near Hong Kong Wednesday. No swell generation for US Waters expected.
On Sunday (9/21) a split jetstream pattern continued over the West Pacific, but merged in the East with a bit of a trough in the southern branch present near 130W. But winds were light, at 80-90 kts, not offering much to support surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to quickly wash out with a split flow taking over. A batch of stronger energy is to push under New Zealand late Monday tracking east-south directing a gale that would form in association with it to the southeast as well, and suppressing swell generation potential for anything but the Ross Ice Shelf. Beyond 72 hours the same semi-energetic flow is to continue under New Zealand but with perhaps just a slight push to the north starting late Thursday (9/25) eventually forming a trough in the mid-PAcific on Saturday offering low odds for surface level gale development.
At the oceans surface a broad but diffuse and weak low pressure system was moving east with only 30-35 kt west winds offering no swell development potential. Another gale is forecast building southeast of New Zealand Monday (9/22) with up to 45 kts west winds building. This system to push east and fade Tuesday AM with seas reaching 32 ft at 60S 152W and down to 30 ft at 57S 133W by nightfall. Maybe weak background sideband swell potential for California 9 days out.
Small New Zealand Storm
A small storm formed under New Zealand Monday AM (9/15) with 50 kts winds over a tiny area at 60S 172E aimed due east and pushing east into Tuesday (9/16) with winds confirmed at 55 kts Monday evening at 58S 165W, then fading from 40-45 kts Tuesday AM at 57S 150W and aimed more to the north, expected to be gone by night fall. 36 ft seas were modeled over a small area Monday PM (9/15) at 60S 175W barely off the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf fading from 34 ft Tues AM at 58S 160W, then gone (29 ft at 56S 150W in the evening). Limited background swell possible for Hawaii starting Wed (9/24) but odds very low, and California Fri (9/26) (better odds).
Southeast Pacific Gale
On Thursday AM (9/18) a weak low tracked off the Ross Ice Shelf northeast free and clear of ice with 40 kts winds at 54S 132W generating barely 30 ft seas at 56S 135W, then dissipated in the evening. 29-30 ft seas were modeled fading Thurs PM from 52S 125W. Limited sideband swell possibly pushing up into Southern California Fri (9/26) with swell 2 ft @ 16 secs (3 ft faces) continuing into Saturday at 2.3 ft @ 15 secs (3 ft faces). Swell Direction: 190 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 the broad low pressure system is to continue holding over Kamchatka Wednesday, spinning bit's of energy off to the east. One such piece aided by the remnants of tropical storm Sinlaku are to take root in the Western Gulf of Alaska Friday (9/26) at 992 mbs generating 35-40 kt west winds at 49N 168W and seas to 23 ft pushing west for 24 hrs, then fading in the Central Gulf on Saturday. Possible small swell for the US West Coast near Tuesday (9/30) if all goes as planned. The models suggest the remaining batch of Kamchatkan energy is to move into the Western Gulf on Sunday (9/28) coalescing there with 40 kt winds building over a broad area and seas on the increase. It's a long shot but maybe some real swell could result, yet from a rather northerly direction aimed mostly at the US West Coast.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Sunday (9/21) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) continued giving way to the Active phase. The Daily SOI index was still holding at 16.52. The 30 day average was up a bit to 17.14 and the 90 day average was up to 7.12. This is no longer even neutral, but is more symptomatic of La Nina. This active phase of the MJO is expected to push all those indices down, but we'll see. Winds at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up), indicated east winds were fading fast over an isolated area of the far Eastern Equatorial Pacific mainly off Central America. The models suggest it's to slowly fade out and be gone by Thursday (9/24). At the sam time the Active Phase was building over the Philippines trying to edge out into the greater Pacific, but not making much headway. Limited bit's were barely reaching the dateline and this is about as far east as it's forecast to go. It's to hold there while slowly fading through 10/1. This is to be a fairly weak pulse of the Active Phase and is to offer only weak to moderate support for fueling the development of North Pacific storms through the start of October. We suspect the peak of activity to start 9/26-10/5.
Beyond 72 hrs a series of very small but reasonably strong storms are to track under New Zealand while tracking east-southeast. One to generate 36-38 ft seas over a tiny area Thurs/Fri in the Central Pacific again favoring Chile. A stronger one is scheduled behind it Fri-Sun (9/28) generating 40 ft seas at 55S 175E Fri AM building up to 50 ft Saturday AM (9/27) at 55S 162W then moving east with 40 ft seas holding through Sunday AM. These biggest of these seas are to be east of the core of the Tahitian swell shadow relative to CA. Both Hawaii and California could benefit if this comes to pass, but that's all pure fantasy at this early date.
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