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.
On Thursday (9/3) North and Central California had small windswell in the near waist high range with light winds and good conditions, but just no surf to speak of. Southern California was getting some decent looking waist high lines coming through at breaks up north from the Gulf of Alaska and clean conditions. Better than expected. Down south it was thigh high and weak but glassy. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting limited waist high northeast windswell with onshore winds and chopped. The South Shore had some thigh high sets wrapping in from the east with modest trades in effect.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for limited local northwest short period windswell in on Friday to wist high, then fading out Saturday maybe returning again on Sunday. Southern California is next to no rideable surf forecast for the next three days through Sunday. The North Shore of Hawaii is not expected to see any rideable surf during the next week. The East Shore is to see a bit more easterly windswell, at waist high Friday and a little more Saturday, then dropping back down to waist high, maybe thigh high Monday and holding there for the week beyond. The South Shore is to be near flat for the foreseeable future.
Over the long term no southern hemi swell activity is forecast for the next week. Up north high pressure is to be breaking down and a new gale is scheduled for the Gulf of Alaska Fri/Sat (9/50 possibly setting up surf for the Pacific Northwest Sunday down into Central CA for Labor Day. A bit of a tropical fueled low pressure pattern is forecast for the West Pacific early next week, but at this point none of it is forecast to develop into anything that would produce surf. Still, the sheer coverage area is tantalizing regardless of it's meager strength.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (9/3) the North Pacific jetstream was in the process of assimilating/absorbing two upper level low pressure systems that were south of the main flow over the dateline and in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska. The whole flow had dropped a bit south, now centered on the 47N latitude. A developing trough was suggested in the Gulf with 120 kt winds flowing into it and offering decent odds for gale development there. Over the next 72 hrs that trough is to build in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska with 150 kt northwest winds blowing through it's western quadrant by early Friday (9/4) continuing to support gale development with most energy aimed towards the US West Coast north of Pt Conception. A secondary but much weaker trough is forecast just west of the dateline but offering no development potential. Beyond 72 hours another trough is forecast for the Gulf mid-next-week with 130 kts winds while more energy builds over the Kuril Islands (140 kt winds there) pushing east-northeast to the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians. This area is to be a bit too far north to really support gale development in either the Hawaiian or US mainland swell windows. Still, the jet is trying.
At the surface on Thursday AM (9/3) high pressure at 1024 mbs had moved into the the far southwest Gulf of Alaska centered 700 nmiles north of Kauai generating trades at 15-20 kts blowing into the Islands resulting in limited short period windswell along east facing shores. Low pressure at 996 mbs was trying to get a foothold in the Northern Gulf of Alaska resulting in 25 kt northwest winds targeting the Pacific Northwest. A second weak lo at 992 mbs was at the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians tracking north with 35 kt winds, likely not generating swell for anyone. 19 ft seas are expected at 47N 173E Thursday PM pushing southeast though. Maybe some impulse energy for the North Shore of Oahu with alot of luck. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf low is to build some on Friday AM (9/4) with pressure holding at 996 mbs. A small fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds is forecast at 50N 148W with seas on the increase, to 19 ft at 48N 150W. By the evening 30-35 kt northwest winds are forecast at 45N 143W resulting in 20 ft seas at 46N 146W. Additional 35 kt northwest winds are forecast holding at 45N 140W into Saturday AM with 22 ft seas forecast at 45N 140W. A quick fade is forecast thereafter with the gale pushing into Washington with a front down to Washington. 20 ft seas forecast fading Saturday PM at 44N 135W, just off the Oregon coast. Possible 13 sec period swell could result if this materializes pushing southeast into Oregon on Sunday and Central CA for Labor Day. But it's still too early to know if any of this will really materialize. Will update over the weekend.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (9/3) low pressure was building in the Gulf of Alaska and trying to cut into high pressure that has been ridging into the Central CA coast. Still 15 kt north winds were positioned off the shore, making for some texture and ruffle. High pressure is to try and get a better foothold on Friday, setting up north winds at 20-25 kts mainly over Pt Conception but affecting up to the San Francisco Bay area with 15 kt north winds there. A building gale low is forecast tracking from the Gulf of Alaska to Oregon killing local high pressure with north winds settling down Sat and Sun (9/6). But high pressure and north winds are forecast developing over Central CA behind the weak front associated with the Gulf low, returning on Monday (9/7) affecting all of Central CA, finally lifting north on Tuesday to Cape Mendocino with an eddy flow taking control south of there. The high pressures system and eddy flow are to fade out by Thursday (9/10) as more low pressure moves into the Gulf of Alaska .
The Inactive Phase of the MJO is in control of the
Eastern Pacific expected to have control for the next 2 weeks and likely hampering odds for tropical storm formation:
Hurricane Jimena was inland over Baja and of no interest.
Tropical Depression Dujuan was located 900 nmiles south of Southern Japan starting to track slowly north-northeast. Sustained winds were 30 kts with low strengthening forecast, reaching typhoon force on Sunday mid-day (9/6). Additional strengthening to 75 kts is forecast through Tues (9/8) as Dujuan moves to within 300 nmiles of the South Japan coast. A slow turn to the northeast is forecast with Dujuan moving into open waters of the North Pacific after that. There is some potential for this system to turn extratropical over the long tern and move towards the dateline, having a better shot at producing swell. But that is a long ways from happening. For now, this is just a system to monitor with no immediate swell generation potential.
At the surface on Thursday (9/3) high pressure at 1028 mbs remained south of Tahiti ridging hard south to the Ross Ice Shelf and still blocking the South Pacific storm corridor. Gale winds were south of New Zealand at near 40 kts but all aimed to the southeast, toward the Ross Ice Shelf. No swell is forecast pushing north from this area. No other winds of interest were occurring. Over the next 72 hours that gale is to track southeast and become encased over the Ross ice Shelf, offering no swell generation potential. Friday (9/4) a gale is forecast building off the northeastern tip of New Zealand with a tiny area of seas to 33 ft on Saturday AM (9/5). But all fetch is to be in it's south quadrant pushing west to northwest, aimed back at New Zealand and Australia, possibly resulting in swell for Fiji. But no swell for US interests 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 fetch and energy associated with what is to be Typhoon Dujuan is to be tracking north just off the coast of southern Japan. Current projections have it stalling off the Kurils blocked from any further northward progress by high pressure off Kamchatka, and then tracking west but not developing any. Limited 25-30 kt west winds are forecast aimed at Hawaii generating 17 ft seas mid-next week (9/9). Maybe some westerly windswell to result for Hawaii, but not much.
Fragments of that energy are to then spin off pushing towards the Gulf of Alaska. But at this time none are forecast to develop significantly mainly attributable to the jetstream being positioned just a bit too far north.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (9/3) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the Inactive Phase. The ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index remaining slightly negative. The Daily SOI index was up to 5.77. The 30 day average was up slightly to -3.48 and the 90 average was up to -1.36. The SOI index was slowly on the rise, typical of the Active Phase of the MJO.
Wind anomalies at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated that modest to strong easterly anomalies have now built over the entire East equatorial Pacific extending a little west of the dateline and typical of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. This was a much stronger signal than the models had indicated 24 hours earlier. We suspect the models took a while to catch onto the trend that has been occurring for 5 days now. But of better interest, the models also indicate that western anomalies associated with a building Active Phase of the MJO were starting to develop over the Indian Ocean, stronger than even 24 hours earlier. This same pattern is to hold through 9/12 with the Easterly anomalies easing and tracking east over Central America while the Westerly anomalies push into the Western Pacific while slowly loosing strength. By 9/17 only a weak area of westerly anomalies are to remain reaching to the dateline with the Easterly Anomalies gone over Central America. By 9/22 weak westerly anomalies are to continue extending from the Philippines to the dateline. So the big question remains: How far off the mark are the models, and will the Westerly Anomalies develop stronger than currently forecast and hold longer too. It's too early to tell, but our guess is that might be the case. Such a scenario would only aid the development of El Nino.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (8/27) indicates no real change since the last update on 8/20, with a solid area of warmer than normal water extending over the equator from the dateline east and building into Central/South America with temps to 2.0 deg C above normal. This is suggestive of a moderate El Nino. These warmer waters are pushing north up the coast of Baja Mexico but have retreated from the California coast, the result of northerly winds over the past week. Much cooler than normal waters (-2.0 deg C) are mirrored streaming off Africa and pushing east reaching South America, but diminishing some from previous weeks. Looking back in the records, exactly the same flow developed during the big El Nino of 1997 and is likely to suppress Atlantic hurricane actively due solely to the frigid water temps.
Below the surface on the equator major changes are developing. A steady flow of warmer than normal subsurface water has been tracking from the West Pacific (150 m below the surface) under the dateline and breaking the surface near Central America for months now. And if anything that pattern is building, very much so. 2-3 deg warmer than normal waters are in control from 175E (just west of the dateline) extending then whole way into Central America in one none-stop contiguous stream. Most impressive. The Kelvin Wave we have been tracking of late is embedded in the stream with it's core near 165W, the result of a Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) in the West Pacific that occurred on 7/25-8/2. Between it and the Kelvin Wave off Central America, a nearly continuous pool of 2+ deg C warmer than normal water is present from west of the dateline into Central America with pockets to near 3 C above normal. This is very good news if it holds for a few more days, meaning that it is not just a temporarily change on the charts. We actually expect it to hold for weeks or more. This is exactly the sort of situation we've been looking for and is critical to the formation of a legitimate El Nino. We suspect this large confluence of warm water backing up across the length of the thermocline could possibly feed a continuous stream of warm water into the Central America coast for months to come. This is interesting.
Fully blowing westerly winds in the far West Pacific and westerly anomalies reached to the dateline starting 8/12. They had pretty much settled down by 8/19, and were reduced to weak anomalies by 8/20, continuing steady 8/31. But today (9/3) more fully blowing west winds were indicated with a solid westerly anomaly in play. This was th result of a developing tropical system in the West Pacific, classic weak El Nino symptoms. This is good news and might continue to gently feed the subsurface warm water flow pushing east. At a minimum it suggests reinforcements for the existing Kelvin Wave already in-transit are on the way. Will continue monitoring this situation.
The belief at this time is this developing El Nino is past the critical juncture, and will survive in some fashion with effects continuing in the atmosphere until at least the Spring of next year. All data suggests this will not be a strong El Nino, more likely a moderate one. NOAA is forecasting the same outcome. Of note, some data suggests that during the development of moderate to stronger El Nino's and La Nina's, it is normal for the MJO signal to become exceedingly weak. That was the case in late July into August now, and is still the case today. That coupled with the solid accumulation of warm water in the equatorial East Pacific is evidence in-favor of continued development. As long as there continues to be WWB's, then warm water will be migrating east, and the warm water pattern will hold if not build, and the atmosphere above it will respond in kind to the change (towards El Nino). Therefore the delineation of whether development will continue versus stall is dependent upon more WWBs. And the data indicates that the warm pool will continue to build.
The next milestone we're looking for is development of the next Active Phase of the MJO, expected sometime near the 3rd week of Sept. The models (as of 9/1) now indicate it is forecast to develop as hoped for. Also water temps need to hold if not build (as is happening now). A final confirmation should be possible in mid-Sept. In the mean time, the current Inactive Phase currently in-progress appear to have faltered, and the warm pool continues to build. Strong El Ninos bring lot's of bad weather to the US West Coast, along with the potential for storm and swell enhancement. A moderate El Nino provides storm and swell enhancement, a gentle but steady push/momentum in-favor of storm development rather than the manic frenzy of a strong El Nino, but without all the weather associated with a strong event. So in many ways a moderate El Nino is more favorable from a surf perspective. As of right now things remain miles better than anything the Pacific has seen in the past 12 years regarding anomalous sea surface temperatures, besting anything since the big El Nino of 1997. That is very good news. But the lack of a clear response in the atmosphere as evidenced by a unremarkable SOI remains the only perplexing indicator. But we're becoming more disposed to think the SOI of more of a lagging indicator, at least for this event.
See more details in the new El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast aimed towards US interests. More high pressure at 1032 mbs is to build alongside of New Zealand ridging hard south to the Ross Ice Shelf and Antarctica by Wed (9/9) setting up another blockade into the South Pacific. No swell producing fetch is expected.
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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The Kelly Slater Project - A fundraiser is scheduled for Aug 29th at the Cocoa Beach Country Club to help raise funds for both the Kelly Slater Project and the Central Florida Animal Reserve. A Casino night is planned including a silent auction and raffle. Sponsors are also needed. Learn more about these projects at : http://www.thekellyslaterproject.com/
Rebuild Jeff Clark: Jeff Clark the first pioneer of Mavericks, recently underwent hip resurfacing surgery due to severe pain from deterioration of his hip. Needless to say the procedure is very expensive and his insurance only covers tiny portion of the bill. If you're interested in learning about the procedure or would like to donate to help Jeff out, please take a look here: http://www.rebuildjeffclark.blogspot.com/
North California Surf Report Works Again: After an extended downtime we finally got the North California Surf Report working again. Thanks for your patience. See it here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/report/ncal.html
Shark Video: Our friend Curt Myers of Powerlines productions shot this footage of 2 great whites munching on a whale carcass off Devils Slide (south of San Francisco) on Thursday. Kind of interesting to watch. Check it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I4rZYEZMWQ (Fixed link)
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.
New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.
Stormsurf Wave Models Updated: On Friday (2/6) we installed the latest upgrade to our wavemodels. A year in the works, this upgrade essentially is a total re-write of every wave model product we produce. They now take advantage of the new Version 3 of the Wavewatch wavemodel. This version runs at a much higher resolution, specifically 0.0 X 0.5 degrees for the global grib with local products at 0.1667 X 0.1667 degrees, and it uses the hi-res GFS model for wind speeds. And of even more interest, the model now identifies primary swell and windwave variables. As such we now have new model images which displays this data. Also we've included out special 3D topographic land masks into all models. In all it makes for a radical step forward in wave model technology. We'll be upgrading minor components (FAQ, new menu pages etc) for a few weeks to come, but all the basics are available for your use now. Check it out here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wam.html
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