Swell Classification Guidelines
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
Summer - Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate/Utility Class: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft).
Summer - Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
Happy New Year!
We just want to thank you for continuing to support Stormsurf and the folks who advertise with us. It's been a good year and we have new projects and new content in development and coming your way. We hope you have a great holiday and get some waves, or fresh tracks! Forecasts will be sporadic over the next 2-3 weeks while we try and have a little fun ourselves. Again, thank you and have a happy and safe holiday!
On Wednesday (1/2) North and Central CA had residual swell from a series of gales in and around the dateline continued hitting producing surf in the 2 ft overhead range and well lined up with brisk offshore winds and clean but blustery conditions. Down south in Santa Cruz waves were chest to head high and clean but with fairly strong offshore's. Southern California up north was getting the same dateline swell with waves waist to maybe chest high and clean and well lined up. Down south waves were shoulder to maybe head high, clean and lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was in the double overhead range and blown to bits by northeast wind with rain. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was getting local windswell with waves shoulder to maybe head high and trashed by northeast wind.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Residual swell energy from a myriad of generally small and short lived gales to continue pushing towards California and Hawaii but definitely on the downswing. A fetch produced 28 ft seas north of Hawaii late Sunday (12/30) resulting in a small area of 28 ft seas. This swell is already hitting the Islands and is to produce small swell for CA Thursday. Also a tiny local gale to develop off the North California coast on Wednesday evening (1/2) producing 22 ft seas and reinforcing but shorter period swell for late Thursday into early Friday. And a gale is tracking east from Kamchatka with 26-28 ft seas. More reinforcing swell for the Islands on Saturday and California by late Sunday. But nothing out of the ordinary expected. Looking at the models 2 rather small and short-lived gales are forecast developing near the dateline pushing east with seas in the 36 ft range Friday and Sunday (1/6) but fading fast with all energy aimed east. Maybe small longer period swell for mainly the US west Coast. No large scale swell producing systems are forecast.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Wednesday (1/2) the jetstream was pushing solidly east off Japan in a single flow at 150 kts, reaching to the dateline and splitting weakly a bit east of there with the northern branch withering well north of Hawaii before veering to the northeast and pushing over Central Canada. The southern branch was pushing over Hawaii and disintegrating east of there. No troughs of interested were indicated. But overall the configuration was somewhat supportive of gale development assuming a trough were to form. Over the next 72 hours up to 180 kt winds are to build into the jet near the dateline with the split point holding just east of the dateline. A steep trough is to build off the US West Coast, but likely not very conducive to supporting gale development. No troughs are forecast elsewhere limited gale development. Beyond 72 hours wind energy in the jet west of the dateline is to moderate slightly, but continue in the 170 kts range with a broad trough starting to form just east of the dateline. Possible support for gale development improving there longterm.
Surface Analysis - On Wednesday (1/2) a fetch associated with a gale that moved off Kamchatka a few days earlier was tracking over the dateline producing a large area of west winds at 30-35 kts targeting mainly the US West Coast (see Dateline-Kamchtka Gale below). Also a tiny ale was trying to develop just off North California producing 30 kt northwest winds targeting the Central CA coast (see Local Gale - North California below). a broad area of east trade winds were covering the tropics (5N-20N) almost over the width of the North Pacific. Over the net 72 hours the Dateline-Kamchatka Gale is to fade. A new gale is to develop just west of the dateline Fri AM (1/4) and just south of the Aleutians with a small area of 40 kt west winds producing seas of 30 ft at 47N 172E. 40 kt west winds to hold and lift north in the evening resulting in more 30 ft seas at 47N 180W and again only covering a tiny area. This system is to lift into the Bering Sea Sat AM (1/5) with seas dropping from 25 ft at 48N 175W. Maybe some small longer period swell to result mainly for the US West Coast.
7th Gale - California
One last tiny gale tried to wrap up due north of Hawaii and west of San Francisco starting Sunday evening (12/30) producing a modest fetch of 40 kt west winds and seas to 28 ft at 37N 164W. Some limited swell to result for the US West Coast. Only sideband energy expected for Hawaii.
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Wednesday (1/2) near 9 PM peaking 2 AM Thursday (1/3) with pure swell 5.0 ft @ 15 secs (7.5 ft). Swell to fade overnight with 14 sec residuals for Thursday (6.0 ft @ 14 secs - 8.4 ft). Swell Direction: 282-283 degrees
Local Gale - North California
A tiny short lived fetch associated with a cutoff low off the North California coast is expected to result in 20-22 ft seas Wednesday evening (1/2) at 41N 134W.
North CA: Expect small swell arriving Thursday evening (1/3) near 8-11 PM at 7-8 ft @ 13 secs (9-10 ft). Swell fading for Friday AM. Swell Direction: 295-296 degrees
A broad fetch of 35-40 kt west winds started pushing off Kamchatka on Tues (1/1) resulting in up to 30 ft seas at 48N 157E tracking east. Winds faded in the evening down to 35 kts but covered a larger area resulting in 30 ft seas at 48N 162E with 20 ft seas stretching east to almost the dateline. 30-35 kt west winds were expanding Wed AM (1/2) stretching from Kamchatka to the Western Gulf of Alaska resulting in 20-25 ft seas centered near 45N 170E but filling the Northwest Pacific. Fetch is to hold on mainly over the dateline in the evening resulting in up to 26 ft seas at 42N 177W targeting mainly the US West Coast. 35 kt west winds to continue pushing east Thurs AM (1/3) with 24 ft seas at 40N 163W. Sideband swell pushing southeast towards HAwaii with most energy pushing towards the US West Coast. This system is to fade in the evening with 22 ft seas from previous fetch fading at 40N 158W.
Some degree of limited 15 sec period swell is likely for Hawaii by Sat (1/5) and the US West Coast start late Sun (1/6)..
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are occurring.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Wednesday (1/2) high pressure inland was producing offshore winds for all the state. But a small gale was brewing just off the North and Central coasts. By Thursday the front from it is to push close to North CA with winds turning southeast to maybe 10 kts there, but dying to near calm elsewhere. A continuation of a light wind pattern (if not slight offshore) is projected extending into Friday. Saturday winds turn southeast as a local low approaches the Pt Conception area then falling south winds east winds returning on Sunday to Central CA southward. Southern CA to remain unaffected with light winds through the duration.
Surface - No swell producing weather systems were occurring. 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 another small gale is to develop just west of the dateline Sat PM (1/5) with 45 kt west winds and seas to 32 ft over a tiny area at 44N 175W. The gale is to build to storm status Sunday AM (1/6) with 55 kt wes winds over a small area and seas near 40 ft at 48N 168W. All fetch aimed to the east. Winds to fade from 45 kt in the evening in the Western Gulf with seas fading from 42 ft at 49N 162W. This gale to dissipate Monday (1/7) as it tracks northeast up into the Northern Gulf. Possible modest swell for the US West Coast if all goes as planned.
Another gale is to build off the Northern Kuril Islands Sun-Mon (1/7) but lift quickly north into the Bering Sea. Not much to result from it.
Note: The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).
As of Wednesday (1/2) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down to 1.75. The 30 day average was up to -7.71 with the 90 day average up some at 0.13. This is neutral territory and not indicative of El Nino.
Current equatorial wind analysis indicated moderate easterly anomalies over the Maritime Continent (WPac) all the way to the dateline then giving way to neutral anomalies continuing all the way to Central America. This suggest a weak version of the Inactive Phase. A week from now (1/10) modest west anomalies are forecast over the extreme Western Maritime Continent with east anomalies over the Eastern Maritime Continent extending to the dateline then turning lighter but still east anomalies on into South America. This suggests a continuation of Inactive Phase of the MJO moving over the Central Pacific with maybe the Active Phase trying to get a toe in the door.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 1/1 suggest a modest Inactive Phase was in-play over the dateline with the Active Phase of the MJO locked in the Indian Ocean. Both models remain in agreement indicating the Inactive Phase is to slide slightly east over the next 15 days while the Active Phase builds in the Indian Ocean and makes headway into the West Pacific, fully in control there 2 weeks out. The Statistical model is more aggressive than the Dynamic model in regards to exact positioning, but regardless, the Active Phase is now scheduled to make it's first real entrance this winter. Theoretically this should support the formation of stronger and longer lasting storms.
Given the demise of what was almost an El Nino pattern earlier in the year, we believed a return to a normal MJO cycle was occurring with the Inactive and Active Phases becoming more pronounced and regular. But the collapse/stalling of the MJO in November and December rendered that projection false. But as of now (1/2) it seems the MJO is scheduled to make a legitimate return with a normal pattern setting up. The interesting part is that a singular jetstream flow aloft is in play, symptomatic of the Active Phase even though the Inactive Phase is currently in-play. This suggest that if the Active Phase does appear, the jetstream will roar with it's arrival.
The more warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). A Kelvin wave developed due to a prolonged WWB event in the West Pacific between Sept 2 and Oct 9. That Kelvin Wave had 2-3 deg C warmer than normal subsurface water and was located in pockets under the equator. It reached the Central America coast in December and provided a little boost to water temps, but nothing dramatic. As of now (1/2) no additional warm water is in the pipeline. Water temps off Ecuador are starting to cool with pockets of slightly colder water starting to appear over the width of the equator, but not reaching into the cold category. In all, it looks pretty average or nearly neutral.
The Fall season started with what initially appeared to be a strengthening MJO pattern (both Active and Inactive Phases) suggested a return to a neutral ENSO pattern. But that collapsed in Nov-Dec 2012. And now the models appear to suggests a return of a normal MJO cycle for January 2013. That said, projections from the CFSv2 model are not supporting any form of El Nino development but almost a return to La Nina with -0.4 deg C water temps by late January into April, then slowly returning to normal if not slightly warmer by July 2013. But virtually all the other ENSO models predict a slow decline from El Nino threshold temps into Spring 2013, but never dipping into negative territory. The CFSv2 model is a minority opinion, if not a complete outlier. Regardless, the warm spurt in July 2012 was just a false start. This appears to be a neutral year.
It appears we are in a dead neutral ENSO pattern with neither El Nino or La Nina imminent. But that is a far better place than the previous 2 years under the direct influence of La Nina. Based on current data the outcome for this Winter is not looking good or bad, just normal. We had expected a normal number of storms and swell, but the total lack of any real activity so far had us thinking of downgrading that projection. With the projected return of the MJO, a barn buster Jan and Feb are required to make up the short fall. Will monitor. Longer term the expectation is this winter will be followed by at least one year of slightly warmer temps (2013) ultimately converging in a stronger warmer pattern and possible El Nino 2-3 years out (2014 or 2015). And historically, this is the 'normal' pattern (a few years of false starts post La Nina before a legit El Nino forms).
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino Update Finally updated 10/6/12
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.
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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Cortes Bank Mission (12/21-12/22/2012)
The Making of 'Chasing Mavericks' - See some background footage on how the movie was made: Part1, Part2
The Psychology of Big Wave Surfing with Greg Long - A must see for any aspiring big wave rider: http://vimeo.com/51117940
Greg Long XCel Core Files - Here's a great profile of Greg Long and his contributions toward pushing the state of big wave surfing. Well Done - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd9pqgiXfxk&feature=player_embedded
Chasing Mavericks - The Jay Moriarty Movie: Two trailers for the new movie about Jay, Frosty and Mavericks has been posted. Movie opens on 10/26/12. Here's the link: http://www.mtv.com/videos/movie-trailers/818957/chasing-mavericks.jhtml & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNdYoX9Vfxg&feature=relmfu
Props from the Pros: Stormsurf was mentioned over the past week in two different media sources. One was in an interview Kelly Slater did with the New York Times and another was in a promotional piece Ramon Navarro did for the Big Wave World Tour. Many thanks to Curt Myers from Powerline Productions for alerting us and of course thanks to Kelly, Ramon and the Tour for using our service. Here's the links:
Steve Colleta Surfboards - Check out surfboards by local shaper Steve Coletta - A long time Santa Cruz local and master shaper. Progressive shapes for North and Central CA waves http://www.naturalcurvesboards.com
Chasing the Swell has been nominated for a Webby Award. See details of this great piece of video journalism below. Some say this is the "Oscars" of online awards.One of the awards is voter based. If you have a moment, please cast your ballot by going to: http://webby.aol.com, register, then click on the "Get Voting" tab and then to the "Online Film and Video" > "Sports" category and vote for "Chasing the Swell".
Timmy Reyes - Curt Myers from Powerlines Productions found this little gem with Timmy Reyes providing a brief statement about which sites he uses for swell chasing. Thought we'd pass it on. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P30ZCQOsYwY
Buell Wetsuits - When surfing in Santa Cruz, we've been seeing a new wetsuit in the line-up worn by many top flight surfers. They're getting good traction and are well respected. Take a look: http://www.buellwetsuits.com/
Stormsurf Mobile App (1/9/11) We are proud to announce the official public release of our smartphone mobile app. It provides access to our most popular and commonly used products, optimized for use on the road, on the beach or anywhere you don't have a desktop or laptop. With a smart phone and signal, you will have access to our data. And we're not talking just a few teaser products - We're talking full feature wave models, weather models, real-time buoy data, manually built forecasts and hundreds of spot wave and wind forecasts enabling you to construct a surf forecast for any location on the planet, all from your cell phone and all for free. No subscription required and no hidden fees. And better yet, there's a few new things sprinkled in that are not yet available even on our full-featured web site. From your smart phones browser just navigate to: www.stormsurf.com/mobile
Chasing The Swell: Sachi Cunningham from the LA Times spent the entirety of last winter chasing surfers and swells around the North Pacific with her high def video cam. Her timing couldn't have been any better with the project exactly coinciding with the strongest El Nino in 12 years resulting in the best big wave season in a decade. And being an accomplished surfer herself helped her to bring a poignant and accurate account of the what it's like to ride big waves and the new (and some not so new) personalities that are revitalizing the sport. This is must-see material for any surfer or weather enthusiast. Check it out here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/chasingtheswell/
New Weather Models With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon): http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
New Weather Model Server Stormsurf has installed another weather model production server. This has enabled us to spread the load across more servers allowing us to post both wave and weather model updates much quicker. Also we are testing new content (like North America jetstream, winds and precipitation, local wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments). The model menus will be updated shortly with these new links.
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New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table