New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
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: 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.
Next Forecast Update will be posted on 8/20
On Sunday (8/8) North and Central California was getting leftover southern hemi swell in the chest high range at better breaks and warbled at exposed west facing breaks from north windswell in the chest high range too. Southern California was effectively flat up north but clean with knee to thigh high windswell sets at better breaks. Down south southern hemi swell was still in play with sets in the waist to chest high range and pushing shoulder high plus at t op spots with clean conditions early. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting waist high plus tradewind generated east windswell with moderately chopped conditions. The South Shore was near flat (knee to thigh high) and clean early with trades in effect and no southern hemi swell of interest indicated.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for southern hemi swell dropping to thigh high on Monday (8/9) with north windswell at 2.5 ft on the face. Tuesday the southern hemi swell is to be gone and windswell continues in the thigh high range, dropping to knee high on Wednesday then back to thigh high Thursday and holding in the knee to thigh high range into the weekend (8/15). Southern California is to see one more day of southern hemi swell at waist high on Monday then it goes flat till maybe Friday when some minimal southern hemi background swell might hits at knee to thigh high, then gone by Saturday and flat again Sunday (8/15). The North Shore of Oahu is to see no rideable surf for the coming week and beyond. The East Shore to see east short period windswell at knee high Monday pushing thigh high Tuesday and waist high Wednesday and Thursday then back to thigh high for Friday and Saturday before dropping off. The South Shore is to see nary a hint of southern hemi swell starting Monday (8/9) and holding in the flat range on through next weekend (8/15).
Up north no swell producing fetch is forecast over the next 7 days other than bare minimal local generated short period windswell for Central CA. A low pressure system is to actually track over the dateline just south of the Aleutians next weekend (8/14), but not offer enough winds to produce swell that will reach any US landmass. Down south a fairly vigorous gale pattern is forecast starting Wed (8/11), but all wind energy is to be aligned dead flat west to east if not pushing a little southeast at times, meaning no swell will be pushing north into our forecast area. This suggest a flat southern hemi swell pattern through at least 8/22. Chile might see some swell from these systems though.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (8/8) the North Pacific jetstream was snaking west generally over the Aleutian Islands with winds in the 110 kts range. A weak trough was over the dateline but did not have much exposure to waters south of the Aleutians meaning there was no real odds to support low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours this same basic pattern is to hold but with a new trough building over the dateline on Tues (8/10) digging a little further south while pushing east to the Western Gulf of Alaska on early Fri (8/13) There's some limited support for low pressure development in association with this systems. Beyond 72 hours yet a third trough is forecast setting up in the Western Gulf of Alaska on Sat/Sun (8/15) with it's apex down at 43N, again offering a little chance to support low pressure development, but nothing more. In general it looks like a Fall pattern is trying to start getting a toehold into the extreme North Pacific, but that is tenuous at best. It's still quite early in the season to expect much, if anything.
At the surface on Sunday (8/8) a broad area of low pressure was circulating in the Bering Sea generating 30 kt winds, but all encased by the Aleutian Islands offering no swell generation potential to the greater North Pacific. High pressure remained in control of the Eastern North Pacific centered generally 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii with pressure at 1028 mbs mildly grazing the Cape Mendocino area generating a 15-20 kt northerly fetch there offering only minimal short period northerly windswell for exposed breaks in Central CA. It was also generating 15 kt easterly trades on it's southern flank pushing over Hawaii providing limited support for easterly windswell generation there. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast in terms of the high pressure system with north winds continuing over Cape mendocino at 15-20 kts into early Tuesday (8/10) providing bare minimal windswell potential for Central CA and trades holding if not building slightly over over Hawaii offering continued minimal easterly windswell along East Shores there. But by Wednesday (8/11) the gradient is to dissipate over Cape Mendocino and the windswell machine, weak as it has been, is to totally shut down. Trades to hold over Hawaii though.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (8/8) high pressure at 1028 mbs was positioned 1100 nmiles west of Northern CA and was barely ridging into the coast generating north winds at 15-20 kts off Pt Arena producing minimal short period northwest windswell. These winds were also producing nearshore warble. The gradient is to rebuild a little north over Cape Mendocino by Monday (8/9) with winds again at 20 kts offering the same odds for windswell generation while not impacting the coast too much down into Central CA and holding into Tuesday. But by later Tuesday (8/10) the gradient is to dissipate as the high itself fades some and windswell is to fade with it. No return is forecast either for at least the next week. There's suggestion of local northwest wind at 15 kts starting later Thursday (8/12) continuing through the weekend (8/15) decent odds for rather choppy nearshore conditions then. Southern CA is to remain generally protected over the next week through onshore winds could be expected up north in the afternoons Thurs-Sat (8/14). .
On Sunday (8/8) the southern branch of the jetstream continued flowing flat over the 62S latitude with winds in pockets up to 120 kts but offering no troughs of interest. The jet was tracking over the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf effectively pushing the storm track over ice bound waters. Over the next 72 hours a bit of a weak broad trough is to develop over the Southwest Pacific helping only to push the jet a little north, up to 59S and providing a little more room for low pressure to develop over ice free waters. But still, with the Ross Ice Shelf pushing up to 62S, there isn't to be much room for any weather system to get much traction on the oceans surface. Beyond 72 hours much of the same is forecast, with the jet holding up around 59S into Thurs (8/12) before a ridge develops and tries to push the jet south for a few days, only to try and redound back to the north by Sun (8/15). But through all of this, no troughs capable of really supporting a good surface level gale are indicated.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch of interest was indicated, over Antarctic Ice or otherwise. Over the next 72 hours on Wed (8/11) a pair of gale are to develop generating 40 kt west fetch at 59S, one on the dateline and the other a bit east of there. Theoretically the one on the dateline is to produce 30 ft seas Wed PM at 57S 170W, but all fetch is to be aligned flat west to east offering no swell propagation to the north. No surf producing swell is expected for the forecast area.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hrs an interesting low pressure system is to develop on the dateline by Friday (8/13) pushing towards the Gulf of Alaska well south of the Aleutians generating 25 kt west winds pushing pretty well towards the US West Coast at 43N 170W and the wrapping around the low by Sunday (8/15) with 35 kt northwest winds up at 50N 165W. This is all very hard to believe but it is a little tease from the models. No swell is expected to result even if it all plays out exactly as the models suggest. Otherwise no swell producing fetch is forecast via high pressure over Cape Mendocino through Sun (8/15) through trades are to hold at 15 kts blowing over Hawaii into Thurs (8/12) with minimal easterly windswell continuing there, then dying to calm.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (8/8) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued creeping up more. The daily SOI was up to 16.51. The 30 day average was up to 18.55 with the 90 day average up to 10.12. This looks like the Active Phase of the MJO was trying making no headway.
Wind anomalies as of Thursday (8/5) (no update available on 8/8) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated a dead neutral pattern over the entirety of the equatorial Pacific, with no change forecast through 8/24.
We believe the remnants of El Nino are just about gone from the upper atmosphere. The expectation is that we'll fall back into some form of a moderate La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) for later 2010 into 2011. NOAA seems to support that plan too per the latest ENSO update.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (8/2) indicates that cooler than normal waters continue to expanded their grip on the equator as compared to even a few days earlier covering solidly from South America west to the dateline and beyond are in fact getting cooler and covering a larger area over time, extending the whole way to almost New Guinea. It was downright cold just off Ecuador to a point south of Hawaii and again in a pocket just east of the dateline, a clear signal of strong easterly winds there and solid upwelling. Feeder bands of colder than normal water continued developing pushing off the US West Coast and South America reaching to the dateline, only serving to reinforce the existing pattern, suggesting stronger than normal high pressure has built in both hemispheres and upwelling is in full effect. Good for sea life and the food chain, bad for storm production. Looks like a classic La Nina setup. This is a turn for the worse and only seems to be getting stronger. At the same time a massive buildup of warmer than normal waters continues in the Atlantic almost bleeding into the far Eastern Pacific, of concern to hurricane forecasters there. We'll see if upper level winds support development of hurricane activity or whether residual upper level shear from El Nino will chop the tops of developing systems. Suspect shear will be gone by the heart of hurricane season in the Atlantic.
Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present and if anything colder than normal water was building strong over the dateline and pushing east (sort of like a cold Kelvin Wave). This pocket was -3 degs below normal. Not good.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond, with easterly anomalies now in control of the entire Western Pacific, though normal conditions in the East. But the Pacific current that runs along the equator turned abruptly from flowing to towards South America to flowing towards the west in mid-March (2010), right as the SOI started it's impressive drive into positive territory and the storm machine abruptly shut down. And it has not wavered since. This suggests trade wind anomalies might be a byproduct of the Pacific equatorial current change and not the other way around. And if anything, the change in the current might actually foretell a coming change in the trades, and then with the advent of the trade wind change, it only serves to reinforce the current in a self amplifying loop, until such time as the cycle runs it's course and the self feeding system collapses over a multiyear period. At that time the current then switches direction, and a whole new self-enforcing cycle stars anew. Something to consider (regarding the formation and El Nino/La Nina).
El Nino is effectively gone and slowly losing it's grip on the global upper atmospheric weather pattern. Still some lingering impact might continue through the Summer of 2010, but likely not enhancing the storm track in the South Pacific any longer. A slow transition to a normal if not cooler than normal conditions (La Nina) is expected through Nov 2010, and the signs continue to point to a La Nina pattern for the long term future.
See more details in the El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours another gale is forecast forming in the West Pacific Fri AM (8/13) with 45 kt northwest winds projected free and clear of Antarctic Ice but all aimed at Antarctica. No swell to result for our forecast area. Remnants from this one are to reorganize in the Eastern PAcific on late Sat (8/14) generating a broad area of 45 kt southwest wind at 55S 140W but quickly moving east out of even the California swell window by Sunday AM. No swell to result. At this point in time there is no indication of any even minimal swell producing weather systems forecast for the Southern Hemi 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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Interview with Stormsurf: Coastviews Magazine has written up a very nice article on Stormsurf in their latest edition. You can read it here: http://coastviewsmag.com/master-forecaster-mark-sponsler-and-stormsurf
Stormsurf Hi-Res Coastal Precipitation Models Upgraded Though a bit late in the season, on 3/20 we implemented the same basic technology used in our new snow/ski models into the coastal hi-res precipitation models. So now you can not only determined whether rain is forecast for your area, but also snow. And not just light, medium or heavy snow like most sites, but the exact snowfall amount (in inches) for each 3 hr frame of the animation. Here's a sample, but now this approach is used in all our precipitation models. http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=nwcoast_precip
Stormsurf Precip Models Upgraded! On 2/20 we upgraded some of the broader precipitation models driven by the hi-def GFS model to include snow fall. The algorithm used is similar to the recently released snow models for the Southwest US in that the areas where snow is expected are identified and the exact amount of snow forecast over a 3 hr window is explicitly color coded. For East and West Coast US interests the following links provide good examples:
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Stormsurf Weather Models have all been upgraded! Over the New Years break we installed all new and upgraded weather models. Also new are experimental snow models for the Southwest US. Take a look here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
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Ride On! Powerlines new big wave epic is now available on DVD. Get the entire big wave story of the 2008-2009 season here: http://www.mavz.com/
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Interview With Stormsurf: The crew at SurfScience.com worked with Stormsurf on a feature about why surfers should be able to read wave charts themselves. They are firm believers that a little learning can go a long way to help your surfing. This is a great article to help convince your friends that they can benefit from being able to read the data themsleves rather than just relying on the forecasts of others. See the full thing here: Create Your Own Surf Forecast with Stormsurf
Wave Model Upgrade Status Report: At this point we believe the installation of the new wave models is complete, with no problems being reported, the server stabilizing and the much requested return of the old style hemispheric Surf Height models now operational (again) and running side-by-side along the new ones. We thank you for your patience and input as we went though this process. Your feedback helps guide our efforts and ultimately results in a better product for everyone. Now we're off to start providing better menus to some wave model products most of you probably haven't uncovered yet (site specific graph and text forecasts), updateing the wave model FAQs and then upgrading the Weather Models.
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Story About Stormsurf: The folks at SurfPulse (and specifically author Mike Wallace) have written up a really nice article about Stormsurf, complete with some good pics. Learn about how we came to be and a little of where we are going. Check it out here: http://www.surfpulse.com/2009/01/visceral-surf-forecasting-with-mark-sponsler/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table