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.
On Tuesday (8/6) North and Central CA had surf that was flat with a few knee high sets and clean at protected breaks and lightly textured otherwise. Down in Santa Cruz surf was thigh high with a few waist high sets and clean coming from the southern hemi. Southern California up north was flat to knee high and clean coming from the south. Down south waves were maybe waist high on the sets and clean early. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting background residual southern hemi swell with waves up to waist high on the sets and clean with light trades in effect. The East Shore was getting small easterly tradewind generated windswell at thigh to waist high and chopped from trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
In the North Pacific on Tuesday AM (8/6) a small low pressure system was just south of the Eastern Aleutians producing 35 kt northwest winds and 18 ft seas, maybe good for minimal background swell for the US West Coast arriving late in the week. Otherwise no other large scale swell producing weather systems of interest have occurred or are forecast for the next 7 days, typical for this time of year other than perhaps another weak low in the Gulf early next week. Relative to California no north fetch of interest was occurring and none is forecast.
Relative to the Hawaii easterly tradewinds were not quite reaching the 15 kt threshold driven by a weak high pressure pattern north of there. No change forecast through the workweek. Tropical Storm Gil continued plodding east and was about 650 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island and weak with winds only 35 kts, and expected to hold as it continues tracking west, positioned south of the Big Island Sunday. And Hurricane Henriette was 1100 nmiles east-southeast of the Islands with winds at 70 kts steaming tracking west. There some potential for small easterly windswell to result depending on how well Henriette holds together over the coming week. At least there's something to monitor relative to the Islands.
Over the past 7 days no swell producing weather system of interest have occurred in the South Pacific. And looking forward no storms of interest are forecast for the same region. A swell drought is underway and expected to last for at least the next 2 weeks.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (8/6) the normal East Pacific high pressure system remained retrograded well west centered over dateline with a very weak pressure pattern between Hawaii and the US West Coast at 1020 mbs. This was resulting in weak winds along the California coast and suppressed trades in the 10 kt range pushing into Hawaii, resulting in bare minimal easterly windswell along east facing shores.
Weak low pressure started developing just south of the Eastern Aleutian Islands Monday evening (8/5) lifting northeast with northwest winds building near it's core to 35 kts and held into Tuesday morning (8/6) with seas peaking at 22 ft at 50N 155W (309 degs NCal), but expected to dissipate by Tuesday evening. There low odds for a minimal pulse of northwest windswell for NCal starting Fri AM (8/9) with period 13 secs and size building to near 3 ft @ 12 secs later (3.5 ft).
Over the next 72 hours remnant low pressure energy from the system above is to continue circulating in the Eastern Bering Sea suppressing high pressure development along the US West Coast with no northerly fetch nor windswell of interest expected to develop through Fri (8/9).
Relative to Hawaii weak high pressure at 1020 mbs is to continue north of the Islands generating a weak easterly flow with trades remaining barely in the 15 kt range through Fri (8/9) with tradewind generated east windswell remaining just barely in the rideable range. And even that is a stretch. Tropical Storms Gil and Henriette will have a little influence (see Tropical Forecast below) with better hope for windswell from Henriette.
Otherwise no other swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Tuesday (8/6) Tropical Storm Gil continued plodding west positioned 650 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island with winds 35 kts and looking unremarkable. The official forecast track has Gil continuing on this path with no change in strength projected and passing 300 nmiles south of the Big Island on Saturday evening (8/10) with winds still 35 kts. Gradient induced easterly winds north of the storm center to likely result in minimal east windswell for exposed east facing shores of the Hawaiian Islands starting Wed (8/7) at 3.4 ft @ 8-9 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces) and holding, then building on Saturday to 4.5 ft @ 10 secs (4.5 ft) from 90 degrees.
Hurricane Henriette was positioned 1100 nmiles east-southeast of Hawaii tracking northwest with winds 70 kts expected to peak at 80 kts this evening. A slow turn to the west is forecast Wednesday evening with winds starting to fade down to 60 kts Thursday and falling to 30 kts Sunday as the center approaches a point 300 nmiles southeast of the Big Island. In all there some hope for windswell if not a little more for eastern facing shores of Hawaii.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (8/6) a weak local wind flow was in control of the entire California coast with winds not exceeding 10 kts. No real change is forecast Wednesday but with 15 kt north winds over the Channel Islands up to Pt Conception in the afternoon. Again the same pattern on Thursday with light winds early then coming up northerly in the afternoon to 15 kts expanding to most of the state, fading slightly Friday AM to 10 kts then back to 15 kts in the afternoon. The pattern is to collapse some on Saturday through the weekend with light winds early and up to 10-15 kts in the afternoons. Monday 10 kt north winds are forecast except 15 kts over North CA and Pt Conception early and expanding to all areas in the afternoon and holding at 15 kts Tuesday AM (8/13).
Jetstream - On Tuesday (8/6) the jet was fully split over the width of the South Pacific with the two streams running parallel to each other. The northern branch had the most wind energy and was centered up at about 35N and the southern branch displaced well south near 67S and over Antarctic Ice. No troughs of interest were indicated offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is forecast but with the two streams starting to merge over the extreme Southeast Pacific just off Southern Chile and east of even the California swell window. No troughs of interest and no support for gale development is forecast. Beyond 72 hours a ridge is to build just off New Zealand in the northern branch on Sat (7/10) pushing it south and colliding with the southern branch while tracking east Sunday into early next week (8/13). But no troughs of any interest are forecast capable of supporting gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere. If anything, a ridge is to be building in the southern branch southeast of New Zealand on Tues (8/13) pushing it into and over the Ross Ice Shelf further disabling support for gale development.
Surface - On Tuesday (8/6) no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring. Solid high pressure at 1028 mbs was anchored southeast of New Zealand pushing the storm track over the Ross Ice Shelf with no swell producing fetch over exposed ice free waters of the greater South Pacific.
Over the next 72 hours the high is to slowly ease east and fade and effectively gone by Thurs (8/8). A cutoff low is to be circulating in the Southeast Pacific at the same time generating a small area of 35-40 kts southeast winds and seas 22 ft at 41S 134W, not covering enough area and with not enough wind velocity to produce rideable swell for our forecast area.
No other swell producing fetch of interest 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 no real change in the high pressure pattern is forecast relative to California through the middle of next week with no local windswell expected to result. This is bad for windswell production but better for water temperature increases and is symptomatic of a return to a normal/neutral ENSO pattern.
Relative to Hawaii weak high pressure is to barely hold with easterly trades building to the 15 kt range later Saturday (8/10) and holding into mid-next week. But those trades are to be more a function of residual energy from what is to be Tropical Depression Gil passing south of the Islands rather than of any force of the high pressure by itself. Small rideable east windswell resulting along east facing shores.
The model also projects another low starting to build in the Eastern Gulf on Mon (8/12) producing northwest winds at 25-30 kts over a small area into Tuesday with seas building slightly. Maybe some more windswell to result with luck (assuming the low forms at all).
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 Tuesday (8/6) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down to -25.07. The 30 day average was down to 6.61 with the 90 day average down some at 9.30. Overall this is holding stable in weak La Nina territory and not indicative of El Nino and illustrative of a dominance of the Inactive Phase of the MJO.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated neutral wind anomalies over the Maritime Continent extending over the dateline and south of Hawaii. Weak east anomalies extended from there into the coast of Central America. A week from now (8/14) modest east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent fading to neutral if not slightly westerly over the dateline region continuing to a point south of Hawaii, then turning neutral on into Central America. This suggests weak odds for another pulse of the Inactive Phase developing over the far western equatorial Pacific.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 8/5 are in disagreement, but not as much as days previous. Both models suggests no MJO activity was occurring with a neutral pattern over the West Pacific. No change is forecast until 8 day out with the statistical model continuing a dead neutral pattern for the next 15 days while the dynamic model has the Inactive Phase building some while tracking east peaking 15 days out, but only modest in strength even then. It's too early to know which of theses two scenarios will play out, or whether some hybrid of the two will result. But in either case, it is not be a strong event. The ultra long range upper level model now favors the formation of the Active Phase of the MJO through the entire month of August.
The more warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). Cold water in that area has a dampening effect. As of now (8/5) a very weak La Nina-like pattern continues in the East Pacific on the equator. A small weak pocket of cooler water continues in control off the immediate coast of Peru with the outflow from it tracking to the Galapagos, then breaking up with pockets of cooler water radiating west almost to a point south of Hawaii. This is no different from what has been occurring all summer, but maybe is somewhat weaker than weeks previous. The sympathetic anomalously cool pool off West Africa appears to be eroding more too and is not having any real influence. It had previously built almost to the coast of South America then retrograded in late June. The African cool pool was a direct reflection of what previously occurred in the Pacific, an unforeseen burst of cool water gurgling up off both South America and West Africa simultaneously - a global teleconnection. A plume of slightly cooler than normal water that has been radiating southeast off California for 2 years closed off mid-May, returned in June when the cold pool emerged off Peru and Africa, then fully closed off in July with warmer than normal waters the rule for the North Pacific. It appears to be making a comeback as of 8/1-8/5 with a solid cold pocket mid-way between California and Hawaii. But that could just as easily be upwelling from multiple tropical systems that have tracked through that area. For now cooler waters over the equatorial East Pacific are under control, but still present, with no sign of a warm pattern developing. In short, we're still under some weak influence of La Nina or at least a neutral pattern biased cold.
Subsurface waters temps on the equator indicate a neutral temperature pattern. Warm water from the West Pacific previously migrated east over top of a cold pool - eliminating it's impact and continues holding.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 8/1 indicate water temps have been hovering near neutral since January within only a +-0.25 deviation. No significant change is forecast into April 2014, but the trend is definitely for water temps to error on the positive side rather than negative (0.0 to +0.4 degs C). In short, a neutral pattern is expected. So overall the outlook remains nothing stellar, not trending towards anything that would be considered warm, but not anything cold either. Instead the ocean is in recharge mode, with cold water dispersing and temperatures gradually on the rise again in fit's-and-starts. Historically, if a warm water buildup indicative of any kinda of El Nino pattern were to occur, it would have started building in Feb-Mar. That is clearly not the case for this year. Expect a neutral pattern for Winter of 2013-2014 if not bordering weakly on La Nina.
We are in a neutral ENSO pattern with neither a solid El Nino or La Nina imminent. But a weak prevalence of the Inactive Phase of MJO seems to be biasing the weather global pattern. This is a better place than previous years (2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013) under the direct influence of La Nina, but we're still not in a pure neutral pattern either. We're still recovering from the 2009-2010 El Nino. Longer term the expectation is there will be at least one to two years of neutral temperatures ultimately converging in a stronger warmer pattern and possible El Nino 2-3 years out (2015 or 2016). 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 Last Updated 10/6/12
Beyond 72 hours a rather weak pressure pattern is to take hold typical of the late stages of winter in the Southern Hemi with no swell producing fetch of interest forecast. A gale is forecast developing in the far Southeast Pacific on Tues (8/13) producing 45 kt southwest winds aimed at Chile with 28 ft seas building at 55S 125W. That's not enough to be of any interest though.
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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Super Natural - Powerlines Productions has released their new big wave surf video chronicling the epic El Nino winter of 2009-2010 plus many other big wave event through the 2012-2013 winter season. It's a must see event for any big wave rider. It should be posted for sale on Mavfilm.com shortly.
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Jason-1 Satellite Decommisioned - On June 21 an error occurred on board the Jason-1 satellite and it automatically shut down all critical functions. The satellite has since officially been decommissioned. It's last working transmitter failed on 6/21. All efforts have been made to get a response to no avail. The satellite has been placed in a parking orbit with it's solar panels turned away from the the sun. It's batteries are to discharge in the next 90 days. No additional data is expected from this satellite. We are working to start capturing data from the Jason-2 satellite, but that will take some time. More information to follow.
'CBS This Morning' with the Mavericks Invitational Surf Contest - See a nice morning TV show piece on the Mavericks Contest held Sun 1/20/13. The show aired Wed 1/23. Interviews with Colin Dwyer, Jeff Clark, Mark Sponsler and Grant Washburn: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50139546n
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Cortes Bank Mission (12/21-12/22/2012)
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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:
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table