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.
Hope you have a great Holiday. We will be enjoying it too with forecasts updated as time permits on through Monday (12/1).
On Thursday (11/27) North/Central California had surf in the 1-3 ft overhead range from a gale that was in the Northern Gulf of Alaska earlier in the week. Southern California was waist high and clean with a few bigger peaks occasionally at select breaks. Just background swell mainly with real swell pushing south. Hawaii's North Shore was holding in the chest to head high range with a few bigger peaks, generated by a string of gales that passed quickly west to east over the dateline bound for the Gulf of Alaska this past week. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore report was not available.
For Central California a long run of moderate plus sized swell remains forecast over the next 10 days, with some large surf in the mix. Swell from the Northern Gulf is arriving on Thursday (7-8 ft face) with larger swell from a gale that pushed east from the dateline Tues-Thurs expected in on later Friday with much bigger behind that. Southern CA to see new north angled swell Friday originating from the Northern Gulf with far more behind that. The North Shore of Hawaii is still seeing modest northwest swell and expected to continue through mid-Friday. The South Shore of Hawaii is flat with no change forecast. The East Shore to go flat by Friday. Longer term things are to really be picking up. Swell from a gale that developed in the Northern Gulf with seas to 29 ft Monday (11/24) targeting the Pacific Northwest is hitting Central CA and working it's way south. A second gale built over the dateline pushing east into the Pacific Northwest Wed/Thurs with 26-28 ft seas. That swell due into Central CA Friday pushing south for SCal by Saturday. Then swell from the big storm we've all been watching on the dateline Wed/Thurs (11/27) with up to 48 ft seas targeting the US West Coast best but with sideband energy at up to 35 ft targeting Hawaii decently is to be arriving in Hawaii for Friday and California mostly on Sunday. Extremely long period, solid amplitude and a bit of a wait between sets will make this a dangerous swell. And yet more is on the models behind that targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast. Looks like Christmas is coming early.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (11/27) the North Pacific jetstream was ripping strongly off North Japan falling into a decent trough on the dateline with winds to 200 kts, then rising into a ridge pushing into the East Gulf of Alaska and dissolving off British Columbia. Great support for surface level storm development on the dateline into the Western Gulf. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to get a bit steeper while holding it's strength, with winds to 200 kts focused on a point 900 nmiles north of Hawaii Saturday offering more support for storm development. But by Sunday that trough is to pinch off and dissolve while a strong ridge pushes over the US West Coast. A new pocket of 170 kt winds are to be building from Japan to the dateline at the same time setting up something for the future. Beyond 72 hours a new trough is to start building on the dateline Monday (12/1) with 170 kt winds feeding into it through Tuesday (12/2) though not as strong as the previous trough. That trough is to dissipate by Thursday (12/4) while yet another pocket of energy starts building over Southern Japan with winds to 150 kts. This continues to be a decent pattern.
At the surface today high pressure at 1024 mbs was centered 600 nmiles northeast of Hawaii offering trades over the Islands at 15-20 kts and just skirting the outer waters of Central CA, but not reaching the coast. The remnants of the Gulf Gale (details below) were fading and pushing into Northern Canada with swell from it hitting the outer CA buoys. A large storm was the focus of attention in the Western Gulf with 50-55 kt west winds targeting the US West Coast (see Storm #2 below). No other swell producing systems were occurring.
Over the next 72 hours Storm #2 is to fade out while a new gale tries to organize off Japan pushing west. Winds are to be up to 45 kts initially Friday (11/28) moderating late with a tiny area of 26 ft seas forecast at 37N 153E. Those seas to track east with the fetch rebuilding on the dateline late Saturday (11/30) at 40N 177E targeting primarily Hawaii. 32 ft seas are forecast at 38N 172E building to 35 ft at 40N 178W Sunday AM pushing east towards the US West Coast up the 293 degree path (Ncal). All the while a huge fetch covering 800 nmiles of 40-45 kt north winds is forecast Sunday AM (11/30) aimed right down the 173W longitude towards Hawaii (330 degree great circle path), with a tad of that aimed towards California up the 285 degree path. This fetch to drop to 35-40 kts in the evening still focused on Hawaii (336 degrees) with 37 ft seas forecast at 39N 170W aimed mostly east towards California and 30-35 ft seas aimed southeast towards Hawaii. Even into Monday AM (12/1) 35 ft seas are to hold at 40N 168W aimed at both locales even through the fetch is to be almost gone. By Monday evening 30 ft seas (from previous fetch) )are to be dropping fast at 41N 162W pushing both east and southeast. Larger swell for Hawaii by Tuesday (12/2) and moderate plus sized swell for California by Wednesday PM (12/3) seems possible.
On Monday AM (11/24) a secondary low pressure formed from the Bering Sea low pushing east generating a fetch of 35-40 kt westerly winds and 29 ft seas at 51N 165W 2000 nmiles from North CA at pushing down the 306 degree path continuing at 29 ft Mon PM at 50N 157W 1600 nmiles from NCal aimed somewhat down the 308 degree path.
15 sec period swell to reach exposed breaks in North CA Thursday (11/27) afternoon with swell 6.3-6.9 ft @ 15 secs (9-10 ft faces) from 306-310 degrees (shadowed in San Francisco).
Gulf Gale (updated Thurs AM using 12Z Thurs model data)
Another gale is forecast building just east of the dateline Tuesday AM (11/25) with pressure 984 mbs and up to 45 kt winds over a small area in it's south quadrant expected by evening at 44N 163W aimed due east or right up the 294 degree path to NCal (298 SCal).A small area of 29 ft seas are forecast at 43N 167W 2000 nmiles from NCal.
Wednesday AM (11/26) pressure is to drop to 980 mbs in the Central Gulf of Alaska with 45 kt west to northwest winds continuing at 45N 155W aimed right down the 296 degree path to NCal (301 SCal). 28 ft seas were modeled at 44N 156W 1600 nmiles from NCal. By evening this system to be fading fast, getting most of it's juice stolen by the much stronger Storm #2 behind it. Winds to be 35 kts and fading. Seas from previous fetch were modeled at 27 ft at 45N 146W aimed at NCal down the 296-297 degree paths and 1200 nmiles away (302 SCal). .
Residual seas of 23 ft were modeled Thursday AM (11/27) at 45N 140W targeting NCal down the 302 degree path 900 nmiles out.
This was a small and not well organized system, but relatively close to the US mainland moving right at it. No swell is to result for Hawaii but our estimates suggest swell of 6.5-7.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (10-11 ft faces) expected to push unshadowed into North CA from 296 degrees starting at 2 PM Friday (11/28).
Limited swell from this system to reach Southern CA at 1 AM Saturday with period 16 secs. By sunrise swell to be 3.4 ft @ 14-15 secs (5 ft faces) and drifting down through the day, to be replaced by much stronger swell late. Swell Direction: 300-302 degrees
Storm #2 (updated Thurs AM using 12Z Thurs model data)
On Tuesday AM (11/25) a moderate sized gale was organizing off Japan with pressure at 984 mbs generating a decent sized fetch of winds modeled at 40-45 kt in it's south quadrant at 37N 155E aimed mostly at Hawaii up the 298 degree path but also sending some energy up the 296 degree path to North CA (300 SCal). But the QuikSCAT satellite passed over the area confirming winds at 65-70 kts aimed due east. A far cry from the models abilities. And a previous pass Monday night confirmed winds at 50 kts, so this one had legs way before the models though it would. Seas were modeled building from 22 ft at 36N 153E Tuesday AM. But again the models were off. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the fetch at 19Z (11 AM PST) and confirmed seas at 35 ft at 37N 162E with a peak reading already at 38 ft. 19 sec period swell is already in the water. In the evening things were to start moving into gear with pressure dropping to 968 mbs with a small area of 55-60 kt winds at 37N 167E aimed both at Hawaii up the up the 303 degree path and at North California up the 293 degree great circle path (297 SCal). 30 ft seas were modeled at 37N 167E but suspect it was more like 38 ft in reality.
By Wednesday AM (11/26) pressure had dropped to 954 mbs with a solid fetch of 60-65 kt winds modeled in the storms southwest quadrant on the dateline at 40N 180W aimed 15 degree east of the 319 degree great circle path to Hawaii and 20 degrees south of the 292 degree path to North California (297 SCal). Seas were on the increase, theoretically at 37 ft at 38N 178E though we suspect it was higher. The Jason-1 satellite passed almost directly over the fetch at 17Z confirming seas at 39 ft where the model suggested seas at 37 ft. And the spread of seas 30 ft or greater covered a slightly larger area than that suggested by the models. This is encouraging new again. By evening pressure is to drop to an unbelievable 948 mbs with 60-65 kt west winds positioned in the storms south quadrant just over the dateline at 43N 170W all aimed due east directly up the 293 degree path to North CA (298 SCal) and 45 degrees east of the 336 degree path to Hawaii, effectively terminating the fetch for that location. Seas were modeled building from 41 ft at 41N 173W. These winds are to be getting extremely good purchase on the oceans surface courtesy of much roughness previously generated by the small storm there 24 hrs earlier (see Gulf Gale above).
By Thursday AM (11/27) the storm is to start fading in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska with pressure up to 950 mbs and winds dropping from 50-55 kts at 45N 167W aimed directly up the 296 degree path to NCal (301 SCal) but seas from previous fetch reaching near 45 ft in the far Western Gulf of Alaska at 43N 166W all aimed due east. By evening the storm, or what is left of it, is to still be producing 45-50 kt west and northwest fetch at 46N 157W aimed at NCal down the 300 degree path (shadowed) (304+ SCal) with seas peaking (from previous fetch) at 47 ft at 45N 159W in the 296 degree window for NCal (301 SCal)) pushing due east.
By Friday AM (11/28) a rapid fade is forecast with winds down to 45 kts and lingering 36 ft seas lingering at 45N 152W (in the 298 degree NCal window) with up to 44 ft seas pushing towards the Pacific Northwest. This system is to be effectively gone relative to anyone but British Columbia northward by evening as the fetch and seas movie into Alaskan nearshore waters.
This is shaping up to be a powerful storm, capable of generating very long period swell theoretically up to 26 secs targeting primarily the US West Coast up into British Columbia, though sideband energy is likely to push well south into Hawaii. But we need to get well into Thursday before this becomes a total reality. On the plus side we already have confirmed winds and seas via QuikSCAT and Jason-1 and they have beat the model projections by a good margin. But to be fair, the model (GFS weather model and therefore the WW3 wave model) have a history of being slow projecting the initial strength of storms the first 12-24 hrs, and then typically hold the strength longer than what occurs in reality. So what has happened so far is not unexpected. Another point of concern is it appears the QuikSCAT satellite is either down or there are data processing problems, because no data has been posted since Tuesday afternoon. So we're flying blind. Hope the Jason-1 makes a lucky pass over the fetch area. But since this system has been on the models since last Thursday (11/20) with little change in strength, and it's forming according to that script so far, odds are favorable for a decent outcome.
Hawaii: This forecast is a bit problematic due the 'glancing blow' nature of this swell relative to the Islands. But the one thing in favor of the Islands is the higher than expected seas heights early in the storms life when it was well in the swell window for Hawaii. Expect swell arrival on Friday morning (11/28) just past sunrise with size building fast and period at 22 secs. Swell to reach 10 ft @ 17-18 secs at sunset (18-20 ft Hawaiian on the larger sets at top spots). Swell moderating overnight, but far from out on Saturday AM with swell 9.4 ft @ 14-15 secs (16 ft Hawaiian at top spots). Reinforcements coming fro Sunday too with swell 9.7 ft @ 13 secs (16 ft Hawaiian at top spots) then fading on Sunday. Swell Direction: 320-325 degrees
North California: Expect swell arrival late Saturday near sunset (11/29) with period 22+ sec and size stacking up fast, hitting 10.0-11.4 ft at 22-23 secs (22-27+ ft). Size building as the sun sets Swell peaking just after sunset but hardly going anywhere through the evening. Period down to 20 secs near 9 PM. Sunday swell to still be very solid, at 10.0-11.4 ft @ 17-18 secs (17-20 ft), drifting down with period to 16 secs late. Still on Monday swell of 8.6-10.0 ft @ 15 sec likely, holding through the day (13-15 ft). Swell Direction 295-297 degrees
Southern California: Expect swell arrival starting at sunset Saturday (11/29) at exposed breaks up north with period at 23 secs. Swell maybe 3 ft @ 23 secs (7 ft faces) with long waits between sets. Swell building overnight as period drops. Swell to start peaking near 4 AM Sunday (11/30) or a little later in San Diego with pure swell still 5 ft @ 18-19 secs (9-10 ft faces) with top exposed spots to maybe 7 ft @ 18-19 secs (13 ft faces). Swell size holding as period drops to 17 secs through the day. Swell to continue on Monday at 5 ft @ 15-16 secs (7.5-8.0 ft faces) with bigger surf at near 7 ft @ 16 secs at exposed breaks down south (11 ft faces). 13 sec residuals on Tuesday. Swell Direction: 297-301 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (11/27) weak high pressure at 1026 mbs was 1200 nmiles west-southwest of San Diego generating a weak northwesterly flow at 15 kts over outer CA waters, but having no real effect nearshore. That high pressure system is to edge east Friday impacting Oregon and generating a northerly flow at 10-15 kts over Central CA mid-day, bumping things up a bit. But it's to be ridging onshore over the Pacific Northwest Saturday with light winds everywhere other than Cape Mendocino and even maybe northeasterly there. Beyond, a slack wind pattern is expected at least through Tuesday (12/2) with maybe a hint of south winds at 10 kt over Cape Menlo on Wednesday but calm or light north everywhere else into Thursday (12/4). Really nice.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was occurring aimed at US targets. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast.
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 (actually 120 hrs out) this semi-permanent low pressure system in the Western Gulf is to get more reinforcement migrating in from off the Kuril Islands with a new north-south fetch at 45 kts setting up aimed a bit west of the HAwaiian Islands Tuesday AM (12/2). Seas building from from 28-30 ft. Winds holding in the 40-45 kts range in the evening near 40N 172W with more 30-35 ft seas targeting Hawaii directly with wrap around fetch in the gales south quadrant aimed towards California 35 ft seas to hold Wednesday AM near 40N 180W targeting primarily Hawaii dropping to 32 ft in the evening at 37N 176W then slowly fading into Friday. Large swell for Hawaii expected rough Thursday (12/4) continuing into Saturday.
This looks like the real start of winter.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (11/27) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was trying to move into the Active Phase. The Daily SOI index was back up to 26.59. The 30 day average was heading back up to 15.72 and the 90 day average was up a notch to 15.01, another new high for the past 30 days. This remains symptomatic of La Nina. Winds anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated east winds fading fast over the Eastern equatorial Pacific from south of Hawaii into Central America while the Active Phase was building strongly over the Philippines pushing solidly to almost the dateline and looking much stronger than it has in the past. Suspect it is about peaked out. But this active phase is expected to continue in some fashion until at least Dec 16, with nary a sign of the Inactive Phase behind it. Make the most of whatever this Active Phase produces.
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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Help Out a Fellow Mavericks Surfer: Our friend Christy Davis is going through some tough times. His 14 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with leukemia and she is currently undergoing chemotherapy. The prognosis is good but we'd all like to help him out with medical expenses not covered by insurance and a new Mav's gun. Randy Cone has offered to provide the board, we just need to get the funds together. If you would like to donate, send an email to us here or talk to Randy directly.
Pictures from Swell #1 - The first real significant class swell of the season produced a bit of action at Mavericks. See pictures here http://www.mavsurfer.com
Big Surf Up North - the First swell of the Fall 2008/2009 season brought a few large raw waves to the North CA Coast. Check out the details here: http://www.towsurfer.com/default.asp
The Kelly Slater Project - A group of dedicated surfers from Cocoa Beach are working to construct a statue of the the home town legend and set it up for all to enjoy near the break where Kelly grew up surfing. Take a look at the statue and read all about it here: http://www.thekellyslaterproject.com/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table