Monday, October 20, 2008

Swell Alert Update - The SW'er is on its way

I was just going over some of the satellite to check up on the new SSW swell that will be hitting all along the coastline from California down through Central America later this week...and things are looking pretty good.

I feel like I need to issue a GEEK WARNING for what I am about to if you are offended by semi-scientific terms, already have a headache, or just set down the bong and don't feel thinking that hard you might just want to skip ahead a little bit.

Start of Geek Area ---------------

In particular I was looking at the Altimetry data from the JASON-1 satellite, which uses several forms of specialized radar and sensing equipment to detect some tiny changes in things like water vapor and sea surface height. This thing is so precise that it can measure how-fast and what-direction water vapor is blowing which allows it to measure wind speeds and directions with some amazing accuracy.

This precision sort of comes at a can only measure a limited amount of area with each satellite pass, which isn't that bad if you aren't concerned with hour-by-hour changes in atmospheric and ocean conditions...but unfortunately we are. If you check out the chart below you can see what I mean.

Mark Sponsler over at was super generous (Thanks Mark!) and let me use this chart from his site. (use this link if you ever want to check out the live altimetry data )

This chart has a lot going on, it is actually a blend of JASON data (the long curving lines are its satellite passes) and the NOAA WavewatchIII wave model (the colored wave heights that you are probably used too already). The JASON data is represented by numbers so it gives you the sea heights in feet. It is hard to read the numbers but if you zoom in enough with your browser you can sort of make them out.

So for check on this swell I like to look at the sea heights outside of the storm area...usually a few days after the storm has already produced the swell. If the swell is big enough and If you watch for increased sea-heights in areas where local winds are less likely to create the effect you can track the swell almost with the heights alone. Check out the area that I was focusing on.

In particular I was looking at this spot...

I think my eyes are going...

This little area is showing the spot where the swell is currently particular it is showing how much energy was actually pushed toward California compared to what is heading toward Mexico/Central America. 10-12' sea heights in this region is a good size...not huge...but still very nice to see since we are almost in November. The deepwater SW swell probably only accounts for about half to a third of those 10-12' sizes, the rest is made up by tradewind swell. This swell is forecast to make it with nearly 3' of deepwater swell at 17-18 seconds when it finally arrives in SoCal and NorCal, which means overhead+ waves for the top breaks.

Anyway I thought I would actually show you the "satellite" that I use...really just so you don't think I am just a first class space-cadet and making up random things that don't really exist. (I am still a spaz obviously). Hopefully no one's head hurts now...mine sort of does.

End GEEK area ----------

Just to rehash the previous won't be a huge SSW swell for SoCal but it will definitely be sending us some surf. Mainland Mexico and Central America look the biggest so if you can find a cheap ticket it will be worth getting down to an exposed break.

Check out the first post I did on this swell last week...the sizes and arrival times are going to stay the same.

Make sure to check out when you get a chance.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for geeking out on us. I enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

hows the WNW ?

Anonymous said...

great news!

Pezman said...

The Jason 1 satellite is saying this swell will go pew pew pew in our direction! Woohoo ;)