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.
We wish to extend our warmest thanks for your support and look forward to another year of forecasts, improved wave and weather models plus anything else we can dream up. We hope you've had a great year and caught alot of surf. Have a very Merry Christmas.
Forecast will be updated as time permits over the next 10 days.
On Tuesday (12/23) North/Central California had some head high to 2 ft overhead raw lumpy surf coming from the north. Southern California had some waist high windswell coming form the north at the best spots and pretty bouncy, with many location dead flat. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was getting trade induced east windswell at waist high.
For Central California the supposed pulse of swell expected on Tuesday was so north it almost totally missed the San Francisco Bay area. Even less is expected Wednesday as the first leg of the big Christmas weather event starts pushing into the coast with winds and rain expected, continuing Christmas Day then breaking up slightly on Friday. South windchop on Wednesday, building into westerly windswell on Thursday and then north swell on Thursday with some size, but again very northerly. Southern California was starting to see a fraction of the north swell in Santa Barbara late Tuesday, but the extreme north angle was an issue. This swell to be fading out on Wednesday but new northwest proto-swell is expected in on Thursday (12/25), perhaps with size with north swell moving in on Friday. Like up north, wind and rain to be a real issue Wednesday and Thursday, fading on Friday. The North Shore of Hawaii is to remain nearly flat through Friday (12/26) other than a possible mini-pulse of background swell late Christmas Eve. The South Shore of Hawaii is not expecting any surf. The East Shore is to be the best bet with modest plus sized easterly tradewind generated windswell expected by late Christmas Eve and holding solid into Saturday before dropping down.
Longer term a series of weak gales are to limp into the Pacific Northwest into early next week offering continued northerly windswell for exposed breaks mainly from Central CA northward. Rain is to become constrained to Cape Mendocino northward reducing odds for snow over the Sierras. Also a broad gale is to develop over Japan Friday (12/26) and become stuck there, possible generating 25-28 ft seas pushing well to the east on through Sunday and offering a improving odds for westerly swell for the Hawaiian Islands.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (12/23) the North Pacific jetstream was back to it's same old tricks with the northern branch arching north of the Aleutian Islands pushing through the Bering Sea then dropping south down the Pacific Northwest moving inland over Northern CA while the southern branch was still forming a weak trough over the dateline then meandering into the US West Coast, joining the main flow there. No clear support for gale development, though there was some hope over Japan and then along the US West Coast. Over the next 72 hours the pattern is to somewhat continue, but with the northern branch pushing further north and starting to dissolve, with the southern branch disappearing altogether. Beyond 72 hours (starting Saturday 12/27) a strong flow of near 190 kt winds is to start building over Japan pushing flat east forming a trough and offering some odds for gale development there. A weak split flow is to persist with the southern branch bleeding off only a tiny fraction of energy pushing southeast towards the equator. Into next week most energy is to be consolidated pushing from Japan gradually northeast into the Pacific Northwest with 170 kt winds still pushing off Japan, fading over the dateline then bumping back up to 140 kts before making landfall over the US. Good odds for gale development over Japan.
At the surface today high pressure at 1036 mbs was 1200 north of Hawaii sinking southeast towards the Southern CA. Weak low pressure at 1008 mbs was over the dateline (and under the high) forming a gradient that was generating northeast wind at 35 kts aimed towards open waters of the South Pacific, bypassing Hawaii. But that was on it's last legs, expected to be gone by evening. A new gale was also organizing 500 nmiles off the North California coast generating 40 kt north winds aimed towards open waters between there and Hawaii and moving towards the Central CA coast. Yet a third gale was also trying to take root in the extreme Northern Gulf of Alaska. Over the next 72 hours the gale off the CA coast is to drop southeast slamming directly into Central CA later Tuesday (12/23) producing copious rain and 30-35 kt northwest winds with 22 ft seas generating some degree of very raw westerly windswell hitting late Wednesday on into Thursday with seas 12 ft @ 12 secs, and hacked to death. Even Southern CA to be drenched in wind and rain.
Of more interest is the gale currently building in the Northern Gulf. By Wednesday AM (12/23) it is to have up to 50 kts winds at 54N 142W (outside the Central CA swell window) but 40 kts winds barely in the window (319 degrees). 30 ft seas building. By evening it's to drop south with 45+ kt north winds still barely outside the window, but 40 kt winds in the window relative to Central CA. All this fetch is to be in the Pacific Northwest and NCal (Cape Mendo) swell windows. 39 ft seas forecast west to 50N 138W (319 degrees relative to SF). Thursday AM (12/24) the gale is to be fading with 40 kts winds at 45N 130W (outside the Central CA swell window) but a good chunk of 35-40 kt north winds in the window. 41 ft seas forecast at 45N 132W barely in the Central CA swell window. By evening this system is to be fading with 30 kts residual wind off Cape Mendocino and 35 seas there too 41N 129W (296 degrees relative to Central CA). Possible large raw northerly swell coming mostly from 310-320 degrees expected for Central CA arriving Friday at 2 AM peaking quickly at 16 ft @ 17-18 secs (25+ ft) then moderating steadily through the day with period at 14 sec by sunset. This swell to theoretically reach exposed breaks in Southern CA by noon Friday (12/26) from 320 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (12/23) the next gale low was forming off the coast, expected to slam into Central CA near 10 PM Tuesday with hard south winds and rain. Strongest local weather system of the season so far if the models are right. Things to be a mess all day Wednesday with the front reaching into Southern CA Wednesday evening. And another front to be right behind that, associated with a storm drooping south along the Pacific Northwest coast. 25 kt northwest winds to be raking the Central and South CA coasts with steady but more moderate rain through the day. Clearing to start in both locales Friday while another weather system tries to organize in the Eastern Gulf reaching as far south as Monterey Bay with south wind and rain mid Saturday but making no further southward progress. Clearing expected Sunday and Monday with light winds, then maybe a touch of northerly winds on Tuesday for Central CA, but calm in Southern CA.
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 a series of up to 3 weak gales are to track fast from the Gulf of Alaska east into the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia generating no more than 30-35 kt winds and 20-22 ft seas for up to 18 hrs, good for a steady dribble of north angled 11 sec period windswell pushing down into Central CA into Tuesday (12/20). Rideable but nothing more.
Of slightly more interest is a broad gale forecast building over Japan Fri-Saturday (12/27) with up to 45 kt west-northwest winds generating 28 ft seas Friday evening then slowly decaying to 26 ft late Saturday near 36N 153E 2700 nmiles from the Islands up the 298-300 degree paths, then fading out. Possible decent run of modest sized longer period inconsistent swell for Hawaii starting Wednesday AM (12/31) at 5 ft @ 15 secs (8 ft faces).
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (12/23) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was moving into the Inactive Phase. The Daily SOI index was down some to 5.14 and showing more weakness of late than in a long while. The 30 day average was down slightly at 12.28 and the 90 day average was steady at 13.17. 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 just the faintest area of fading west winds covering Indonesia, fading significantly from our last report. These were associated with the end of the Active Phase of the MJO. These winds are expected to fade out through Dec 27 with a neutral pattern taking hold after that and in control through 1/11/2009. Theoretically there is still support for development of storms from purely an MJO perspective, but the jetstream pattern certainly doesn't seem to give any hints that it will occur.
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).
Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.
Mavericks Contest 2008: View all the action from the 2008 Maverick Surf Contest from Powelines Productions here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9o5lj9CUpCc
Need Chiropractic Help? Visit our friends at Darrow Chiropractic. Not only will Dr. Darrow fix you up, he might give you some big wave surfing tips too! See more here: http://www.darrowchiropractic.com/
Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's simple and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet Explorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way!
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table