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 (9/23) North/Central California continued getting small local northwest windswell. Southern California was getting next to no swell at all. Hawaii's North Shore was flat with no swell occurring. The South Shore had no real swell. Nothing on the East Shore either.
For Central California weak locally generated windswell to be fading Wednesday until a new small pulse from the Gulf of Alaska arrives later Thursday, building some on Friday, then fading out Saturday. A tiny southern hemi pulse to be in the mix Friday/Saturday too. Southern CA to stay flat till late Thursday when new southern hemi small background swell arrives, holding through Fri/Sat, fading some Sunday then returning Monday and beyond. The North Shore of Hawaii to remain quiet for the remainder of the week into next weekend and immediately beyond. Bare minimal tradewind generated east windswell is to hold on the East Shore through Saturday then fading out. The South Shore of Hawaii to remain inactive until Sat (9/27) when just a tiny pulse arrives holding into Sunday, then dying.
The long-term overview has weak low pressure organizing just off the coast of British Columbia Wednesday evening with 29 ft seas aimed towards Oregon southward to Central CA, resulting in swell pushing in that direction for Thurs/Fri. Beyond the models suggesting some form of low pressure activity trying to organize off Kamchatka late in the workweek on through the weekend, but not making the grade, with it getting ripped apart and remnants pushed east. Theoretically some of that energy to try and regroup in the Gulf of Alaska starting Monday (9/29) with maybe a little fetch developing off Oregon Tuesday. Weaker energy to follow but no outcome is certain at this early date. Down south a series of very weak and fleeting systems are scheduled to migrate east through the deep Southwest Pacific. One of these is to push under New Zealand on Friday (9/26) with up to 52 ft seas forecast mid-day pushing mostly to the east and fading steadily overnight as it passes under the Tahitian swell show relative to California, popping out unshadowed Saturday AM on the other side of the shadow with up to 46 ft seas, pushing onward to the east. As indicated previously, we'll 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 Tuesday (9/23) the North Pacific jetstream was spewing a bit of energy off to the north over Kamchatka, but the bulk of the flow was tracking flat west to east directly over the 43N latitude at a weak 80 kts offering no support for surface level low pressure development. Energy levels were starting to build over northern Japan, suggesting more winds energy to work with for the future at locations east of there. Over the next 72 hours a bit of a trough is forecast to build over the Gulf of Alaska Wednesday amplifying Thursday with up to 100 kt winds pushing over outer waters off the Pacific Northwest, but fading fast. Limited support for low pressure development there. A ridge with up to 150 kt winds to build off the Kuril Islands at the same time. Beyond 72 hours that ridge is to steadily build arching over the dateline by Saturday (9/27) with nearly 190 kts winds flowing down the other side forming a decent trough in the Gulf Sunday with 180 kt winds forecast. Decent support for surface level gale development possible. This trough to weaken some but still have 120-130 kt winds into Tuesday (9/30) positioned right off the Oregon. This looks to be the first solid push of the jet this Fall season.
At the surface today weak low pressure at 1004 mbs was tracking east off Washington. 30 kt southwest winds were aimed at Vancouver Island and this system was just starting to organize. Another generic low was trying to organize west of the Kuril's Islands but was offering no fetch over exposed waters of the West Pacific. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf low pressure system is to track push up to British Columbia generating a tiny fetch of 35-40 kt north winds just off Vancouver Islands aimed at Oregon and Central CA, generating theoretically 20 ft seas late Wednesday, mostly outside even the CEntral CA swell window. Still some energy is expected to reach the Central CA coast from a very north angle late Thursday into Friday with swell 4 ft @ 10-11 secs (4-5 ft faces) at exposed breaks. No other fetch is forecast though low pressure to be getting a better foothold in the far Western Pacific be arching over the dateline and getting ready to spill into the Gulf of Alaska. 15 kt easterly trades forecast over the Hawaiian Islands offering the smallest of odds for local windswell along Eastern Shores.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (9/23) high pressure at 1022 mbs was fading fast along the California coast as low pressure was building just as fast off Washington, shutting down the north winds machine off Cape Mendocino. By Wednesday a calm flow to be back in control, at least for a day before yet more high pressure builds behind on Thursday and north winds return in the afternoon north of Pt Conception. That wind area to track north to Cape Mendocino Friday with a light winds pattern in control over the rest of CA and holding through the weekend on into early next week.
On Tuesday (9/23) Typhoon Hagupit was just south of Hong Kong tracking west with strong winds at 120 kts. It is expected to continue west-northwest moving inland over Southern China and North Vietnam Wednesday. No swell generation for US waters expected.
On Tuesday (9/23) a split jetstream pattern continued over the South Pacific, with the southerly branch positioned a bit further north than in the past month. no troughs of interest were occurring and energy levels were generally weak. Over the next 72 hours weak trough is to push east under New Zealand with 130 kt winds flowing through it offering some support for low pressure development at the surface. It's to push east and wash out on Friday, killing it's fuel down at the surface as a result. Of more interest is a new batch of wind energy pushing under New Zealand late Thursday with winds to 180 kts, tracking east but aimed almost southeast initially. Beyond 72 hours this same patch of energy to continue east with winds at 170-180 kts on the 55S latitude, finally fading Sunday (9/28) in the Southeast Pacific. This area offers good support for surface level low pressure development.
At the oceans surface a generalized west to east flow is indicated with two broad pockets of winds to 35 kts indicated, but not productive from a swell generation standpoint. at broad but diffuse and weak low pressure system was moving east with only 30-35 kt west winds offering no swell development potential. Over the next 72 hours a new gale is forecast building just southeast of New Zealand Wednesday evening (9/24) with 45 kts winds forecast at 50S 170W pushing near 55 kts Thursday AM (9/25) at 49S 158W. 35 ft seas over a tiny area are forecast at 50S 162W aimed all east but mostly outside the Tahiti swell showed relative to CA. Little if any energy pushing north towards Hawaii. The gale to be fading fast in the evening with barely 45 kts winds left and 32 ft seas at 48S 150W. Some degree of 40 kts winds to continue Friday aimed almost due north with 30 ft seas at 45S 140W in the AM and then again at 44S 140W in the evening, gone by Saturday. If this comes to pass some degree of decent utility class swell could push into California (unshadowed too), but little energy to reach Hawaii (if anything).
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 Saturday with bit's of energy breaking off it and moving to the east. One such piece aided by the remnants of tropical storm Sinlaku are to take root in the Western Gulf of Alaska Saturday (9/27) at 992 mbs generating 30 kt northwest winds and seas to 15 ft pushing southwest towards California for 24 hrs (into Sunday), then fading in the Eastern Gulf on Monday. Possible small swell for the US West Coast if this occurs, but details are very dynamic still. The models suggest the remaining energy over Kamchatka to move east and dissipate with no swell producing fetch expected to materialize.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Tuesday (9/23) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) continued giving way to the Active phase. The Daily SOI index was finally falling some at 12.72. The 30 day average was steady to 17.11 and the 90 day average was up to 7.88. This is no longer even neutral, but is more symptomatic of La Nina. This active phase of the MJO appears to be starting to push all those indices down. 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 Saturday (9/27). At the same time the Active Phase was nearly peaked out 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 10/7. This is to be a fairly weak pulse of the Active Phase and is to offer only weak 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 whopper of a storm is forecast tracking under New Zealand on Thursday evening (9/25) with pressure 936 mbs and winds to 60 kts at 56S 165E aimed due east or 30 degrees east of the 215 degree path to CA and 45 degrees east of the 201 degree path to Hawaii. Seas from previous fetch to be 41 ft at 55S 162E. Friday AM (9/26) winds to hold in the 55-60 kts range at 56S 17EE generating seas to 52 ft at 57S 172E moving into the Tahitian swell shadow for CA. In the evening 50 kts winds forecast at 58S 168W aimed due east with 52 ft seas forecast at 57S 172W, still shadowed by Tahiti to CA, but just barely. Seas pushing almost perpendicular to the great circle paths to Hawaii. Saturday AM (9/27) 40-45 kt winds forecast still aimed east with 48 ft seas forecast at 58S 160W with only minor obstruction from outlying Tahitian Islands suggested relative to CA. Winds fading to 35+ kts in the evening with 40 ft seas forecast at 58S 150W aimed 45 degrees east of any great circle path to CA. This system to fade fast from there. If all goes as planned Hawaii to get some longer period sideband energy but most energy to be aimed well east of this target. California to have a lesser version of Hawaii's problem coupled with the usual Tahitian swell shadow during the peak of the storm. And of course, the models could just be wrong and this thing could not form at all. At least it's something to 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
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table