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 (10/2) North/Central California was getting moderate west windswell from a gale that was off the coast a day before. Southern California was getting some southern hemi swell mixed with the larger westerly swell. Hawaii's North Shore was getting some small north leftover windswell in the waist high range. The South Shore had no swell. Waist to chest high windswell was hitting the East Shore.
For Central California westerly windswell is to continue into Friday with a little less period, then settle down on Saturday. Bigger swell is expected on Sunday from a gale just starting to build off the coast expected to produce 35-40 kts winds and 20-22 ft seas pushing well to the east, then swinging northeast right before hitting Central CA and moving onshore over Washington and the Pacific Northwest on Saturday. Swell to be raw and mangled. Southern CA to see a little more windswell into Friday then flatten out before the next swell arrive on Sunday. The North Shore of Hawaii to stay quiet through the weekend. The South Shore of Hawaii is moving into hibernation for the winter. The East Shore to settle down early Friday and then weak and small short period easterly windswell to move in for the weekend. Based on the lack of activity down south and the better potential in the the North Pacific, we are starting to focus on the Northern Hemisphere. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (10/2) the North
Pacific jetstream was flowing decently from Japan ridging gently to the northeast over the dateline but well south of the Aleutians, then
dipping southeast as it traveled over the Gulf of Alaska. Winds were 140 kts over a broad area centered near the apex of the ridge, dropping to 110 kts about 600 nmiles off the California coast. But the core of the jet looks bound to push right into Central CA over the next few days. Something that almost resembled a weak trough was trying to set up in the Gulf, but it was too early yet. Limited support for surface level low pressure development was possible. Over the next 72
hours the jet is to regenerate more with up to 170 kt winds building at the top of that dateline ridge spilling southeast and moving closer to the US West Coast with an almost-trough setting up just off Oregon on Friday. Limited support for surface level low pressure development expected. Then Saturday/Sunday (10/5) the jet to start pushing fully onshore with the ridge moving into outer CA waters and high pressure the likely result down at the surface. Beyond 72 hours the jet in the west is to warbled a bit and loose energy, then is forecast to regroup Thursday (10/9) on the dateline with a new trough developing with 120-130 kts winds flowing into it and helping to support surface level gale development. But that's a long ways off and much can change.
At the surface today swell from a gale that tracked from north of Hawaii to a point 1000 nmiles west of San Francisco on Tuesday (9/30) with pressure at 992 mbs was hitting the coast. It generated 35 kt northwest winds and 20 ft seas at 37N 142W aimed mostly south of California. This gale hung on through Tuesday night with 30 kts winds then died while lifting fast to the north. Small sideband swell is pushing into the California coast Thursday expected to continue Friday (10/3) from a very westerly direction with swell 5-6 ft @ 11 secs. Over the next 72 hours, the next batch of energy in line is to track over the dateline and fade with only 20-25 kt west winds surviving the trip to the Gulf on Saturday (10/4). 10 sec windswell the best result.
East Gulf Gale (Updated Fri PM)
A new gale formed 1500 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino Thursday AM (10/2) with pressure 992 mbs and starting to generate 30-35 kts winds with a small area confirmed to 40 kts at 42N 155W. This was the start of what previously was modeled to turn into a strong storm, but is now forecast to be only a standard early season gale. Thursday PM the gale pushed east generating a tiny fetch of 40-45 kt northwest winds at 42N 147W though most was in the 30-35 kts range as the low tracked east pushing swell down the 292 degree great circle path. Seas were modeled at 20 ft at 41N 149W and on the increase.
This low tried to hold into Friday AM (10/3) with 35 kt northwest winds confirmed at 42N 140W aimed down the 290 degree path. Seas were modeled at 21 ft at 40N 140W. In the evening the gale to continued on an easterly heading with 40 kt northwest winds repositioned at 43N 134W aimed down the 312 degree path to North CA with seas to 22 ft off North CA at 39N 134W pushing over buoy 46006. In fact seas were confirmed at buoy 46006 start at 8 AM near 22 ft peaking at near noon at 25 ft (one reading) and still holding at 6 PM at 22 ft with swell 14-16 ft at 13-13.7 secs through the timeframe.
Saturday AM (10/4) the gale to be pushing inland over Vancouver Island with fading 30 kt northwest winds aimed at Oregon northward and 23 ft seas at 43N 131W, on the northern edge of the NCal swell window. This system to be gone by nightfall.
This systems is evolving pretty close to what the models suggested 18 hrs before it formed, which really isn't much. In all this is a weak and gutless gale barely making the grade of gale status. And it being so close to the coast will only make the swell it produces raw and lumpy. Some form of large utility class raw protoswell with period in the 13-14 sec range is likely for exposed breaks in Central CA on Sunday with lesser energy tracking down into SCal.
NCal: Expect swell arrival near 8 PM Saturday and quickly ramping up wit pure swell 8.5-9.0 ft @ 13 secs (11 ft faces) peaking near midnight at 10 ft @ barely 14 secs (13-14 ft faces). Swell to be on the way down by sunrise though still solid at 8-9 ft @ 12 secs 9-11 ft faces). Swell Direction: 286-292 degrees
SCal: Expect swell arrival at near 2 AM Sunday (10/5) and building fast, peaking at 8 AM with swell 4.2 ft @ 13 secs (5.5 ft faces) and bigger at best exposed breaks. Swell Direction 292-298 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (10/2) weak high pressure at 1016 mbs was trying to ridge into the California coast but was being held at bay by low pressure off British Columbia, resulting is a generally light winds pattern for California. The next low is a series is scheduled to push close to the California coast on Friday bringing a cold front with south winds starting late Friday into Saturday AM as far south as Morro Bay and rain theoretically the whole way down to San Diego. This front to quickly clear out Saturday AM with 15-20 kt northwest winds pushing in behind Saturday afternoon over the Channel Islands, but then retreating to Pt Conception and points north of there for Sunday. A bit of a break forecast Monday while a storm quickly wraps up off British Columbia then high pressure moves in strong Monday after non and takes up shop off Cape Mendocino for Tuesday-Thursday brining 35 kts winds off the Cape and 20 kts wins over Central CA. South CA to remain protected.
On Thursday (10/2) Tropical Storm Marie was located 900 nmiles south of San Diego tracking west with sustained winds of 40 kts. Marie is scheduled to continue on this heading at 6 kts with no real change in strength through Monday, then fade out. No swell generation potential is expected for the mainland. Low odds for windswell generation for the East Shore of the Big Island down the road.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was present aimed at US targets. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast. We have started focusing on the North Pacific exclusively and will update South Pacific activities on an exception basis.
On Thursday (9/25) a weak gale was centered east of new Zealand generating 45 kts winds and 32 ft seas at 49N 162W tracking due east. It held but over an even smaller area in the evening with 45 kts winds left and 32 ft seas at 48S 152W aimed a little more to the north. Some degree of 45 kts winds continued Friday aimed almost due north with 30 ft seas at 46S 140W in the AM and then 33 ft at 45S 130W in the evening, gone by Saturday. Some degree of decent utility class swell could push into California (unshadowed too) starting early Sat (10/4) with swell 2 ft @ 16 secs (3 ft faces) late in the day dropping to 15 secs on Sunday.
A strong storm started building under New Zealand starting Thursday evening (9/25) with pressure 936 mbs and winds to 55 kts at 58S 158E 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 32 ft at 55S 165E.
Friday AM (9/26) winds held in the 55-60 kt range at 57S 172E generating seas to 46 ft at 57S 172E moving into the Tahitian swell shadow for CA (213 degrees). In the evening barely 50 kts winds were modeled at 59S 173W aimed due east with 44 ft seas at 59S 175W, still shadowed by Tahiti to CA, but just barely and aimed due east, or 40+ degrees the 206 degree great circle track to CA. Seas pushing almost perpendicular to the great circle paths to Hawaii (90 degrees).
Saturday AM (9/27) 35 kt winds forecast fading fast aimed east with 39 ft seas at 59S 165W with only minor obstruction from outlying Tahitian Islands suggested relative to CA (204 degrees). Winds fading out totally in the evening with 32 ft seas from previous fetch modeled at 58S 154W and unshadowed aimed 45 degrees east of the 202 degree great circle path to CA. The Jason-1 satellite confirmed seas at 31.9 ft at 4 PM Saturday at 58.5S 150.7W, on track with the models.
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.
Long period early arrivers to start hitting California on Sunday (10/5) with swell 1.6 ft @ 20 secs (3.5 ft faces) and inconsistent, then 2 ft @ 17-18 secs on Monday (3.5 ft faces), and then 2.0-2.3 ft @ 16 secs Tuesday (3.0-3.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 204 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 a fetch of 25 kt northwest winds is forecast building in the Northern Gulf Sunday/Monday (10/6) generating some form of 17 ft seas into Tuesday, good more continued Gulf windswell in the 11 sec range from a fairly northerly direction. But high pressure is to be building strong near the CA coast late Tuesday at 1032 mbs 35 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino producing summer like north windswell and copious chop into Wednesday. This high to also set drive 15-20 kt easterly trades over the Hawaiian Islands Tuesday, then relaxing some while tropical low pressure east of the Islands forms a gradient with the high and generating more 20 kts easterly fetch into Wednesday. Possible easterly windswell for exposed Easterly Shores there. but of more interest is a development of a new storm off Northern Japan on Tuesday tracking to the dateline Wednesday with 50-60 kt northwest winds expected targeting Hawaii and California Wednesday, then moderating Thursday with winds down to 40-45 kts. Seas projected up to 40 ft on the dateline at 45N 178E early Thursday (10/9). Nice tease.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Thursday (10/2) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) continued moving into the core of the Active phase. The Daily SOI index was heading south again, down to 6.9. The 30 day average was steady at 13.17 and the 90 day average was even at 8.19. This is no longer even neutral, but is more symptomatic of a weak La Nina. This active phase of the MJO is trying to push these indices down, but without much luck. Winds anomalies at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated only a small area of westerlies over the mid equatorial North Pacific extending east towards Central America, but they were very limited in size and intensity. These are to be gone by 10/11. No real sign of the Inactive phase is scheduled behind it.
No swell producing fetch forecast for the next 7 days.
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