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.
Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 3.5 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 2.8 ft @ 16.4 secs from 202 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.4 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.2 ft @ 13.7 secs from 220 degrees. Wind southeast 4-8 kts. Water temperature 71.1 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.7 ft @ 9.0 secs from 259 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.0 ft @ 13.3 secs from 213 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.7 ft @ 13.2 secs from 205 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.3 ft @ 8.3 secs with swell 5.7 ft @ 8.0 secs from 315 degrees with Lionrock swell 2.4 ft @ 14 secs from 296 degrees. Wind northwest 16-19 kts. Water temp 58.3 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Tuesday (9/6) in North and Central CA local north windswell and swell from what was TS Lionrock was producing surf at up to head high on the sets and clean early. At Santa Cruz surf was waist high on the sets and clean offering something to stand up on. In Southern California up north northwest windswell was producing surf at thigh to waist high and clean but weak. Down south southern hemi background swell was producing waves in the waist to maybe chest high range on the peaks and clean but weak. Further down south top spots had set waves in the chest high range on the peak and clean early. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting southern hemi swell with waves chest high on the sets and clean and rideable but pretty slow. The East Shore was getting east windswell at chest high and chopped from east trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Swell from what was Typhoon Lionrock was still hitting exposed breaks in California on Tuesday (9/6) along with local northwest windswell. Otherwise no swell is in the water. In Hawaii the leading edge of southern hemi swell from under New Zealand was hitting providing some minimally rideable surf. That swell is tracking northeast from a gale that developed under New Zealand on Sun-Mon (8/29) with seas to 36 ft. That system redeveloped while tracking east on Tues-Wed (8/31) still producing 30-32 ft seas aimed east-northeast. This swell is also tracking towards California. Another gale is forecast tracking over southern New Zealand on Wed (9/7) then redeveloping east of there into Thurs AM (9/8) producing 30 ft seas pushing north. In the northern hemisphere a gale is forecast developing over the North Dateline region on Sat (9/10) producing 23 ft seas aimed south towards Hawaii and a stronger one is forecast for the same area on Mon-Tues (9/13) with 28 ft seas aimed east. Both are a long ways from being real but it suggests a turn towards a Fall pattern.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (9/6) no swell is in-flight and none is expected for the next 72 hours. A weak pressure pattern was in control of the North Pacific except for high pressure at 1028 mbs 1100 nmiles west of North CA.
Over the next 72 hours a low pressure system is to be developing while tracking east off the Kuril Islands reaching the North Dateline region later Fri (9/9) producing 35 kt north winds starting to target Hawaii late. By Sat AM (9/10) north winds are to build to 45 kts over a tiny area aimed south with seas on the increase from 20 ft at 50N 177W. 35-40 kt north winds are to build southward in the evening with seas building to 23 ft at 46N 176W targeting Hawaii well down the 335 degree track. Fetch is to dissipate 12 hours later. Low odds of this system developing at this early date.
The California coastal pressure gradient on Tues (9/6) was in.cgiay but nothing remarkable driven by high pressure at 1028 mbs centered 1,100 nmiles west of North CA ridging east and producing north winds at 20 kts mainly over North Ca and the off the coast of Central CA with a weak eddy flow nearshore there. The gradient is to build on Wed (9/7) with north winds to near 30 kts off North CA then fading to 25 kts on Thurs (9/8) with the nearshore eddy flow increasing in coverage over Central CA. Windswell building then fading as the gradient fades. Still on Friday (9/9) north winds are to persist at 25 kt off North CA aimed southwest targeting Hawaii better than CA. Windswell fading relative to CA.
For Hawaii on Tues (9/6) high pressure 1,200 nmiles northeast of the Islands was generating trades at 10-15 kts offering minimal fetch to produce rideable windswell. On Wed (9/7) the coverage of 15 kt easterly trades is to increase east of the Islands offering some improved potential for windswell generation. But that fetch is to be fading in coverage on Fri (9/9) with windswell starting to drop off later.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Tues AM (9/6) Hurricane Newton was moving inland over the southern tip of Baja with winds 75 kts tracking north and weakening. No swell relative to California is expected to result.
Tropical Storm Lester was tracking north from a position 600 nmiles north-northwest of Kauai with winds 50 kts. A slow turn to the northeast is expected through Thurs (9/8) with winds down to 40 kts. Lester is to turn extratropical on Fri (9/9) just of Northern British Columbia and moving inland over North Canada in the evening with winds up to 45 kts embedded in a broad area of 30 kt northwest winds making for a messy sea state off the Canadian coast but resulting in no swell for US interests.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (9/6) high pressure was 1100 nmiles west of North CA at 1028 mbs ridging east into the North Coast generating 20-25 kts north winds there with a weak eddy flow (south winds) from Pt Reyes southward. On Wednesday (9/7) 25+ kt north winds to hold over NCal waters but the eddy flow (south winds) is to hold over all of Central CA waters becoming more pronounced Thurs and Friday while over North CA north winds are to build to 25+ kts limited to the Cape Mendocino area. An eddy flow to continue for Central CA through Tues (9/13) reaching north to at least Pt Arena. North winds to continue north of there at 25 kts, finally starting to fade on Monday afternoon (9/12) and gone after that.
On Tuesday AM (9/6) the jetstream was weak and somewhat diffuse. The northern branch was generally tracking east over the 33S latitude line with the strongest pocket of winds over the Southeast Pacific at 130 kts and unimpressive. The more important southern branch was mostly a wreak but it was defined over the Central South Pacific ridging hard south in Antarctica but only at 90 kts continuing into the Southeast Pacific offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast as the Central PAcific ridge pushes east. But on Wed (9/7) a new ridge is to develop under Tasmania with 140 kts winds lifting north on it's leading edge trying to create a trough under New Zealand lifting north but also getting cut off pretty quick. Some support for gale development is forecast east of New Zealand. But by Thurs (9/8) the ridge is to slide east and meet up with remnants of the trough over the Southeast Pacific pretty much locking down the entire South Pacific continuing through Fri (9/9). Beyond 72 hours yet another pulse of reinforcing ridge energy is to push under New Zealand on Sat (9/10) but weak and moderating into Sunday while lifting north some, to 58S. This pattern is to continue resulting in a zonal flow Monday and then on Tues (9/13) a pulse of 160 kts winds is to be tracking under New Zealand in this flow tracking east perhaps offering a little fuel for gale development.
On Tuesday (9/6) swell is pushing northeast from a 2 part gale that tracked from New Zealand to the Central South Pacific (see New Zealand Gale Part 1 and Part 2 below) and starting to hit Hawaii.
Over the next 72 hours a gale was tracking east through the South Tasman Sea on Tues AM (9/6) with southwest winds 45 kts generating 33 ft seas at 48S 155E targeting mainly New Zealand. It is to track east into the evening impacting southern New Zealand with 40 kt south winds and seas fading from 32 ft at 45S 164E impacting southern New Zealand directly. On Wed AM (9/7) 40 kt south winds are to become exposed just east of Southern NZ with seas 27 ft at 49S 172E aimed well to the north. In the evening that fetch is to continue lifting north at 40-45 kts over a small area generating 28 ft seas at 47S 179E aimed well to the northeast. That fetch is to continue north Thurs AM (9/8) at 40 kts with 29 ft seas at 42S 178W. This system is to fade in the evening. Something to monitor with potential for small swell to result for Tahiti and Hawaii. The fetch is to be to small and seas not high enough to have much impact relative to California.
New Zealand Gale (Part 1)
A gale developed under New Zealand Sun AM (8/28) producing a broad fetch of 45 kt southwest winds with seas at 32 ft at 56S 158E (in the NCal swell window at 221 degs, in the SCal swell window at 222 degs, and shadowed by NZ relative to HI). In the evening fetch is to be more consolidated but di.cgiaced south some at 45 kts with seas 33 ft at 53.5S 164E (221 degs NCal, 222 degs SCal, still shadowed by New relative to HI). On Mon AM (8/29) southwest winds were aimed more to the northeast and rebuilding some at 45 kts tracking east with seas 35 ft over a broad area at 57S 172E (212 degs NCal and unshadowed, 213 degs SCal and shadowed by Tahiti, 195 degs Hl). In the evening the gale was holding while tracking east still producing 40-45 kt winds aimed well to the northeast with seas 37 ft down at 59S 178E (206 degs NCal and in the middle of the shadow, 209 degs SCal and becoming unshadowed, 192 degs HI). On Tues AM (8/30) fetch is to be fading from 35 kts from the southwest pushing east with 31 ft seas at 59S 174W. Swell was radiating northeast towards HI and CA and expected to reach well down into Central America.
Hawaii: Swell fading on Wed (9/7) from 1.6 ft @ 14-15 secs early (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 192-198 degrees
South CA: Expect swell arrival on on Tues 10 PM (9/6) with period 20 secs and size tiny and slowly building. Swell 1.3 ft @ 19 secs (2.5 ft) on Wed (9/7). Period turning to 18 secs near Wed 8 PM (9/7) pushing 1.5 ft @ 18 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell peaking as period hits 17 secs at 5 AM on Thurs (9/8) at roughly 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell fading on Fri (9/9) from 1.5 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft) fading from 15 secs on Sat AM (9/10) and merging with Part 2 of the swell (below). Swell Direction: 216-222 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on on Wed 2 AM (9/7) with period 20 secs and size tiny and slowly building. Period turning to 18 secs near Wed 8 PM (9/7) pushing 1.4 ft @ 18 secs (2.5 ft). Swell peaking as period hits 17 secs at 9 AM on Thurs (9/8) at roughly 1.4 ft @ 17 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell fading on Fri (9/9) from 1.4 ft @ 16 secs early (2.0-2.5 ft) fading from 15 secs on Sat AM (9/10) and merging with Part 2 of the swell (below). Swell Direction: 215-221 degrees
New Zealand Gale (Part 2)
Starting Tues PM (8/30) a second part to the New Zealand Gale formed. A new broad fetch of 40 kt west winds developed south of New Zealand with seas on the increase from 30 ft under New Zealand at 59S 176E. On Wed AM (8/31) a broad fetch of 40 kt southwest winds were in.cgiay generating 32 ft sea at 56S 173W (208 degs NCal and shadowed, 209 degs SCal and barely unshadowed by Tahiti, 190 degs HI and aimed well east of the paths there). In the evening 40 kt southwest winds were holding with seas 31 ft over a broad area aimed northeast at 50S 157W (202 degs NCal and unshadowed by Tahiti, 203 degs SCal and unshadowed by Tahiti, 186 degs HI). Fetch was fading in coverage from 35 kts Thurs AM (9/1) with 30 ft seas at 54S 158W, then fading.
More swell is likely for Hawaii, California and down into South America.
Hawaii: Swell arrival forecast on late Tues (9/6) to 1.3 ft @ 19 secs late (2.5 ft). Swell peaking on Wed (9/7) at 1.6 ft @ 18 secs early (2.5-3.0 ft) and up to 1.8 ft @ 17 secs late (3.0 ft) near 4 PM. Swell fading on Thurs (9/8) from 2.1 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft). Residuals on Fri (9/9) fading from 1.8 ft @ 14 secs early (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 190 degrees
South CA: Swell arrival expected Thurs (9/8) at at 6 AM with period 20 secs and size small building to 2 ft @ 19 secs late afternoon (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell building Fri (9/9) to 2.0 ft @ 18 secs sunrise (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 200 degrees
North CA: Swell arrival expected Thurs (9/8) at at 8 AM with period 20 secs and size small building to 1.6 ft @ 19 secs late afternoon (3.0 ft). Swell building Fri (9/9) to 2.0 ft @ 18 secs mid-day (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 198 degrees
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 low pressure system is to develop while tracking east off Southern Kamchatka on Sun PM (9/11) generating 30-35 kts northwest winds with seas building. On Mon AM (9/12) northwest winds to build to 40 kts with seas building to 22 ft at 48N 170E. In the evening 40 kt west winds are to hold while tracing east with seas building to nearly 28 ft at 48.5N 175E targeting the US West Coast and Hawaii. On Tues AM (9/13) 35-40 kt west winds are to hold with seas 27 ft moving to the dateline . If one is to believe the models some early season swell could result for Hawaii and California signaling the start of the Fall season.
For California starting Sat (9/10) high pressure at 1028 mbs is to be holding 1100 nmiles west of North CA generating a weak version of the usual pressure gradient over North CA producing north winds at 20-25 kts near Cape Mendocino but pushing southwest from there. An eddy flow (south winds) is to be in effect for tall of Central CA and North CA south of Cape Mendocino. More of the same is forecast on Sun (9/11) but with the gradient tightening some with north winds to 30 kts over a small area over Cape Mendocino coastal waters offering improved odds for windswell down into Central CA. The gradient is to be fading from 25 kts on Monday and dissipating on Tuesday (9/13).
For Hawaii starting Sat (9/10) east trades to drop below 15 kts with no windswell generation potential forecast and holding there through Tues (9/13).
Beyond 72 hours a fetch of 40 kt west winds is to set up under New Zealand on Mon (9/12) associated with a zonal jetstream flow there generating 26-28 ft seas by the evening near 58S 175E. More of the same is forecast on Tues (9/13) with a generalized area of 30 ft seas developing at 57S 172E tracking east in the evening to 54S 175W. Something to monitor.
More details to follow...
One Model Suggests La Nina Has Peaked
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.cgianet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. 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. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit 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).
Overview: The 2014-2016 El Nino is all but gone except for remnants in the upper atmosphere. La Nina is developing but weaker than expected.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Monday (9/5) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific and over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south). Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific and the KWGA but modest easterly over the dateline and again near 160E.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): A mix of weak east and west anomalies were over the KWGA per this model suggestive of a neutral Phase of the MJO and forecast to continue that way a week out on 9/13.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 9/5 a neutral MJO signal was over the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern holding for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts an Inactive Phase of the MJO building weakly in the far West 5 days out and holding for the next 2 weeks.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (9/6) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak and not discernible. The forecast projects no change for the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. No affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is forecast.
40 day Upper Level Model: (9/6) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO pattern was over the West Pacific and is to be easing east into the East Pacific through 9/23. A very weak Active Pattern to follow tracking from the West Pacific 9/21 to the East Pacific by 10/11. A neutral pattern to follow in the west through 10/16.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern all but gone over the KWGA with no real anomalies in.cgiay. No coherent MJO signal is forecast starting 9/14 continuing into 10/24 with a mixed and weak wind anomaly pattern forecast. A slightly stronger Active MJO signal is to follow starting 10/22 -12/3 with a somewhat more defined west anomaly wind pattern setting up in the KWGA easing east. Overall the MJO signal is very weak now and is to build only slightly as we move into Fall. La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, but not biasing it towards the Inactive Phase. There's no suggestion of a major pulse of east anomalies developing in the KWGA. This is good news and very unexpected.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (9/6) No Change - Actual temperatures are steady in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 164E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 173W but getting steeper, suggesting a hard break between warm water in the west and cool water in the east at depth. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 170W with weak negative anomalies east of there towards Ecuador (-1 degs or less). Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting near 150W. -3 degs anomalies are no longer present at depth with peak negative temps are now only -2 degs at 140W. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is still full of modestly cool water pushing east through it. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/31 depicts a pocket of +1-2 deg anomalies building in the West Pacific to 170W. Cool water -3 degs below normal was under the the equator forming a bubble in a broad pocket at 150W and upwelling there, with a second pocket at 100W but not upwelling. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so.
Surface Water Temps: 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. Regardless of what the atmospheric models and surface winds suggest, actual water temperatures are a ground-truth indicator of what is occurring in the ocean. All data is from blended infrared and microwave sensors.
Hi-res Nino1.2 & 3.4: (9/5) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a weak cool flow developing along the coast of Peru feeding a small pocket of cooler water off Ecuador. Cooler waters then start building in small pockets flowing west from the Galapagos over a thin stream to 100W, but there is equal amounts of warmer water present too. The stream builds in width (8 deg N and 5 degs S) near 110W tracking solidly out to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. La Nina is in control of surface waters, but weak, with remnant El Nino warm water holding in pockets from 105W and points east of there. Almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino 3.4 region, but warm water still is having an influence in the Nino 1.2 region.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (9/5): A neutral if not slightly cooler trend is over waters of Chile and Peru. A weak warming stream now extends from over the Galapagos out to 100W. Intermixed pockets of warming and cooling water continue west from 100W to 160W. A neutral trend was off Africa.
Hi-res Overview: (9/5) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central equatorial Pacific from 120W to 180W. A thin cool stream that was tracking west from the Galapagos feeding that cool pool is choking off if not gone. No cool waters exist along Ecuador and Peru suggestive of westward dis
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (9/6) Today's temps were trending slightly cooler at +0.490 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (9/6) temps were trending downwards at -0.671 degs. Temp are oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles with a range of 0.5 degs. Temps bottomed out at -1.0 degs near 7/21-7/26.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (9/6) This model suggests La Nina has peaked in Aug at -0.5 degs. Temps are to rise to -0.1 degs in Oct, dipping to -0.2 degs in early Dec before starting to rise to neutral in Jan 2017 and up to +0.5 by April and +0.7 by May. This is very interesting with the model continually downgrading the strength of La Nina.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Aug Plume depicts temps have nearly reached their peak minimum, down at -0.5 to -0.6 by Nov and holding there to Feb, then rising. This is up again from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs and barely in La Nina territory. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (9/6): The daily index was down at -0.83. The 30 day average was up to at +7.13. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was up some at +5.29, transitioning from negative to positive the first time in years on 7/20. El Nino is gone in all dimensions of the SOI Index now.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (9/6) Today's value was steady at -0.46. During El Nino this year it peaked on 3/12 at +1.57 then fell until 4/14 when it started rising again peaking 4/23 at +1.12. But after that La Nina took over with it falling steadily dropping as low as -1.50 in early Aug. It has been retreating from the peak recently.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker in July than June (as expected with La NIna setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Aug) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.41, +0.76, +0.18 and now -0.66 in Aug.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-July) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03 and +1.25.
The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive since then. Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data suggests that could be a real possibility. We've been in the negative phase since 1998 through at least 2013 (15 years). By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool
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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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table