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 (12/18) North/Central California had no surf or swell to speak of. Southern California had no surf either. Hawaii's North Shore was getting a little pulse of energy from the dateline/cutoff low there making for something to ride at near head high. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was getting trade induced east windswell at waist to chest high.
For Central California weak local windswell is to provide something bare minimal to ride late Friday into early Saturday (12/20), then back to a calm pattern. This windswell from an anemic low pressure system off the Pacific Northwest. Southern California Is expected to have no rideable surf for the next 4-5 days, other than some ankle slappers from the north windswell on Saturday. The North Shore of Hawaii is to remain in the very small size range, with only some chest high surf late Saturday into Sunday, but nothing that would be called even semi-real. The South Shore of Hawaii is not expecting any surf. The East Shore to see minimal to moderate easterly tradewind generated windswell starting Friday and holding for the next 7 days.
Longer term the best hope for surf in the Islands is associated with another cutoff gale forecast to wind up on the dateline starting Friday (12/19) getting better organized by Monday (12/22) into Tuesday with up to 36 ft seas there, but almost all this energy is to be aimed well west of Hawaii, with only the slimmest hopes for sideband energy pushing into the Islands. In the East Pacific a decent gale is forecast winding up off Oregon Sun/Mon (12/22) generating up to 28 ft seas and pushing south, into Central CA from a very northerly angle possibly by Tuesday. A stronger one is forecast further off the coast late Tues (12/23) generating up to 30 ft seas, possibly providing the opportunity for swell to reach even into Southern CA. later next week. But the split jetstream continues to damper storm formation for the foreseeable future.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (12/18) the North Pacific jetstream continued in split mode, with most energy ridging hard to the north arching even north of the Bering Sea while the southern branch meandered eastward on the 35N latitude, with a trough on the dateline and again just over the US West Coast. Very limited support for low pressure development in those two troughs. Otherwise high pressure in the upper atmosphere was off Japan and again north of Hawaii, pretty much hindering support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours this same general pattern is to hold with the steep cutoff trough remaining west of Hawaii while the trough over the US West Coast moderates if not disappears, with most energy pushing flat east into the Pacific Northwest by Saturday (12/20). Beyond 72 hours more of the same is forecast with the dateline trough looking weaker and getting even more cut off from the main flow by Tuesday (12/23) with most energy riding up and over it into a strong ridge, then dropping into a stronger trough that's to develop off the US West Coast Wednesday (12/24) on through Christmas. Limited support for gale development there.
At the surface today high pressure was in control off the US West Coast at 1024 mbs driving a decent fetch of easterly trades into the Hawaiian Islands at 15-20 kts, making for some limited east windswell there. A new cutoff low was trying to form just west of Hawaii with up to 40 kt north to northeast winds in it's west quadrant all aimed well west of the Islands and not offering any swell generation potential. A weak low has been off Washington on Wed/Thurs (12/18) generating 25-30 kt north winds and good for some 16 ft seas, pushing windswell into the Pacific Northwest and also expected to reach Central CA later Friday. Over the next 72 hours low pressure is to continue circulating on the dateline Friday (12/19) with up to 28 ft seas expected, then fading only to rebuild some by Sun/Mon (12/22) producing up to 45 kt northeast winds and 35 ft seas, but all aimed well west of the Hawaiian Islands. Also another little gale is forecast winding up off Oregon Sat/Sun (12/21) with up to 40 kt northwest winds late in the weekend possibly generating 26 ft seas at 46N 133W. Possible swell to push into the Pacific Northwest reaching Central CA on Tuesday (12/23) but that is far from certain.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (12/18) low pressure at 1006 mbs was over the PAcific Northwest dropping south and a secondary low was well off the Southern CA coast. But neutral pressure and a light winds flow was over the Central and South CA coasts. The low pressure system are to dissipate later Friday with weak high pressure taking hold into Saturday, but still no real wind is expected other than 15 kt north winds over Pt Conception and the Channel Islands. South winds are possible for North CA by Sunday ahead of another low pressure cell falling southward towards the coast, but it isn't supposed to make it. High pressure to get a nose into Central CA on Monday (12/22) with 15 kt northwest winds the expected result. But Southern CA to remain protected. By Tuesday more low pressure is to build rapidly into the coast with south winds and rain in full effect through Thursday (12/25), though strong high pressure at 1040 mbs is to be lurking just off the coast offering the specter of a large La Nina tinged north wind event.
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 the cutoff gale over the dateline is to get better organized late Monday into Tuesday (12/23) with pressure only 1000 mbs, but a strong 1040 mb high sitting above it forming a pressure gradient with 45 kt north winds and 37 ft seas aimed towards the open waters of the Southwest Pacific by Tuesday (12/23) passing well west of Hawaii. Very limited odds of any degree of sideband swell reaching the Islands.
Another broad low is to build off the Pacific Northwest Tuesday (12/22) interacting with the same strong high pressure system at 1040 mbs pushing east and north of Hawaii possibly setting up 35-40 kt northwest winds and 27 ft seas there aimed well towards the Central CA coast down into Southern CA. It's to drop south with even a remote possibility of some of the fetch wrapping into the Big Island long term. But that is still a ways off so any specific outcome is uncertain.
No other fetch of interest is forecast.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (12/18) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was moving into the Inactive Phase. The Daily SOI index was up to 18.47. The 30 day average was down a notch to 12.43 and the 90 day average was steady at 13.34. This remains symptomatic of La Nina and is making no significant headway either up or down. Winds anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated even more west winds covering a good portion of the Northwest Pacific reaching over the dateline to a point south of Hawaii, stronger than even a few days ago and associated with the end of the Active Phase of the MJO. These winds are expected to hold and track east into Dec 27 then fading with an absolutely neutral pattern taking hold after that and in control through 1/6/2009. Theoretically there is good support for development of storms from purely and MJO perspective, but the jetstream pattern certainly doesn't support that conclusion. A small pocket of easterly winds are to start building over the Indian Ocean all the while, pushing into the far Western Pacific near 1/6, signaling the start of the Inactive Phase. If it's this bad now during the ACtive Phase, can't imagine what it will be like once the Inactive Phase takes hold in mid-January.
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 has been 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. If you would like to donate, send an email to us here or send it to Christy directly at: Chris Davis PO Box 628 Moss Beach, CA 94038
Also there is a fundraising party for those that know Christy this Sunday 12/21 at 3 PM in Ocean Beach. There is very limited space so were trying to keep it small. If you know Christy, write us for directions.
Swell #2 Mavericks Videos from Powerlines Productions: Check out the action on both Saturday and Sunday (11/30) from that massive swell of 12-13 ft @ 25 secs. Filmed by Curt Myers and Eric Nelson. Really thick! See this and more plus the movie Ride-On 12/11 at the Old Princeton Landing or the Red Vic Moviehouse in San Francisco 12/19-23. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA57cIBkA0o & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37SCR9kDm60
Stormsurf Video: Just for fun - here's a clip about Stormsurf that ran on Bay Area TV a while back. Thought you might enjoy it: http://vimeo.com/2319455
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/
STORMSURF Local Wave Models Upgraded - We significantly upgraded the local waves models on Sunday (6/8). All now utilize our newly developed high-resolution 3D shaded relief topography for mapping landmasses. Coastlines are now accurate down to the individual pixel providing near photographic realism. Mountains and hills are all shaded and accurate to within the same single pixel specification. Cities are overlaid as before, but now we've added major highways and rivers too (for many locations). Some good examples of this new technology can be viewed here:
- View the reefs north of Tahiti and notice their contribution to the 'Swell Shadow' relative to California - Tahiti
- Notice the detail of the coast in and around Vancouver Islands and Washington State - Pacific Northwest
- See the details of inland waterways of the US Northeast Coast - Virginia
- Details of the Mentawai Island and Nias
And all the local models can be found either on our homepage or from the wavemodel page (bottom half of the page).
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table