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.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 3.3 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 15.6 secs from 191 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.1 ft @ 17.2 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 18.2 secs from 205 degrees. Wind south 6-10 kts. Water temperature 70.5 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.2 ft @ 9.1 secs from 253 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.8 ft @ 18.5 secs from 208 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.5 ft @ 18.2 secs from 205 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.6 ft @ 8.3 secs with local north windswell 4.3 ft @ 8.3 secs from 313 degrees and southern hemi swell 1.8 ft @ 18.6 secs from 199 degrees. Wind southeast 14-16 kts. Water temp 59.2 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Thursday (9/8) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the chest high range at top spots and lumpy and unrefined though local winds were light. At Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was starting to show with waves waist to chest high with sets head high and clean. In Southern California up north northwest windswell was producing surf at thigh to waist high and clean. Down in North Orange Co south southern hemi swell was producing waves in the shoulder to head high range and clean. Further down south top spots had set waves in the head high range and clean early. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting southern hemi swell with waves head high to 1 ft overhead and a bit ruffled by brisk east trades early. The East Shore was getting east windswell at thigh to waist high and chopped from east trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
No swell was hitting our forecast area originating from the Northern Hemisphere. But southern hemi swell was hitting Hawaii and starting to show in California produced from a gale that developed under New Zealand on Sun-Mon (8/29) with seas to 36 ft, then faded only to redevelop while tracking east on Tues-Wed (8/31) producing 30-32 ft seas aimed east-northeast. Another gale tracked over southern New Zealand on Wed (9/7) then redeveloped east of there into Thurs AM (9/8) producing a small area of 26-28 ft seas pushing north. Another gale is forecast under New Zealand on Mon-Tues (9/13) with 32 ft seas aimed east, fading, then redeveloping Wed-Thurs (9/15) with 35 ft seas aimed east-northeast. In the northern hemisphere a gale is forecast developing over the North Dateline region on Fri-Sat (9/10) producing 23 ft seas aimed southeast towards Hawaii. And a stronger one is forecast originating in the same area on Mon-Tues (9/13) with 25 ft seas aimed southeast tracking into the Gulf Wed-Thurs 99/15) with seas still 24-25 ft. These forecast are holding nicely on the charts suggesting a turn towards a Fall pattern.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (9/8) no swell is in-flight. But that situation should be short lived. And once the storm track sets up, we will quit forecast windswell. But for now high pressure at 1032 mbs was 1000 nmiles west of North CA generating a weak version of the standard summer time pressure gradient and north winds at 20-25 kts along the north Cape Mendocino coast extending south-southwest from there and well off the Central California coast with a local eddy flow (south winds) over Central CA waters. The remnants of Hurricane Lester were tracking northeast up the backside (west) of the aforementioned high pressure system in the Western Gulf of Alaska generating 30 kt south winds targeting only Alaska.
Over the next 72 hours the remnants of Lester are to build on Fri (9/9) while racing northeast through the Northern Gulf generating 30-35 kt west winds pushing into North Canada late in the day. Sea are to reach 18 ft at 53n 140W and east of the CA swell window. Windswell to possibly result for the Pacific Northwest down to Oregon.
Of more interest is a low pressure system developing on Thurs (9/8) positioned half way between the Kuril Islands and the North Dateline region tracking east. It is to reach the dateline Fri Am (9/9) producing 40 kt north winds and getting good traction late and starting to target Hawaii in the evening with seas 23 ft at 46.5N 178E. By Sat AM (9/10) north winds are to be holding at 40 kts aimed south with seas 24 ft at 45.5N 179.5E targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. 30-35 kt northwest winds are to build southward in the evening with seas fading from 21 ft at 44N 176W targeting Hawaii well down the 335 degree track and the uS West Coast down the 296 degree track. Fetch and seas is to dissipate 12 hours later. Improving odds of this system developing.
The California coastal pressure gradient is to build on Fri (9/9) producing 30 kt northeast winds extending off North Cape Mendocino producing more small windswell while the eddy flow holds from South Cape Mendocino southward. Then on Sat (9/10) the gradient is to start rapidly fading with north winds 20 kts over a slim area with windswell fading. The gradient is to return some on Sun (9/11) building to 20-25 kt over a small area over Cape Mendocino reaching south to Pt Arena late while also building up into the Pacific Northwest. Windswell building some in Central CA then.
For Hawaii on Thurs (9/8) high pressure north of the Islands was also helping to generate trades at 15 kts reaching from North California to a point 300 nmiles northeast of the Islands offering enough fetch to produce rideable windswell. On Fri (9/9) the coverage of 15 kt easterly trades is to hold early east of the Islands offering some more potential for windswell generation. But that fetch is to be fading in coverage on Sat (9/10) with windswell starting to drop off later.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were occurring.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (9/8) high pressure was 1032 mbs was 1100 nmiles west of North CA ridging east into the North Coast generating 20-25 kts north winds there with a weak eddy flow (south winds) from Pt Arena southward. North winds to continue for extreme North CA at 20-25 kts through Mon (9/12) with the eddy flow holding for the rest of the state. On Tues (9/13) the gradient and north winds are to fade out up north with the eddy flow continuing into Wed (9/14) then going light everywhere on Thurs (9/15).
On Thursday AM (9/8) the jetstream remained generally weak and diffuse. The northern branch was generally tracking east over the 25S latitude line with the strongest pocket of winds north of New Zealand at 150 kts, but weaker east of there into Chile. The more important southern branch was ridging south of New Zealand pushing in Antarctica at 150 kts continuing east until reaching 130W, then lifting gently northeast to 65S and still over Antarctic Ice when they pushed over southern South America offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast as the West Pacific ridge pushes east and a new ridge start developing in the Southwest Pacific on Sat (9/10). But by Sun (9/11) the West Pacific ridge is to start lifting north some to 60S building to 125 kts southeast of New Zealand setting up a zonal flow offering some hope for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the zonal flow (jet running flat west to east) is to continue but lifting north more to the 58S latitude line with 140 kt winds building in a pocket south of New Zealand pushing east with another pocket of wind energy following a similar track on Wed (9/14) pushing east and lifting northeast some late starting to form a real trough over the Central Pacific into Thurs (9/15) offering better support for gale development.
On Thursday (9/8) swell is hitting Hawaii and California 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. Also tiny swell from a small gale that was east of New Zealand was tracking towards Hawaii (see Small NZ Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours
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.
South CA: 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: 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
Small NZ Gale
On Tues AM (9/6) a gale was tracking east through the South Tasman Sea with southwest winds 45 kts generating 33 ft seas at 48S 155E targeting mainly New Zealand. It tracked east into the evening impacting southern New Zealand with 40 kt south winds and seas fading from 32 ft at 45S 165E impacting southern New Zealand directly. On Wed AM (9/7) 40 kt south winds were starting to become exposed just east of Southern NZ with seas 27 ft at 49S 171E aimed well to the north over a tiny area. In the evening that fetch continued lifting north at 40-45 kts over a small area generating 28 ft seas at 47S 178E aimed well to the northeast. That fetch continued north Thurs AM (9/8) at 40 kts with 28 ft seas at 42S 179W. This system is to fade in the evening. Small swell to result for Tahiti and Hawaii. The fetch is to be too small and seas not high enough to have much impact relative to California.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival via the Tasman Sea on on Mon (9/12) at 1.1 ft @ 17 secs late (2 ft) building Tues (9/13) to 1.3 ft @ 16 secs early (2 ft) from 215 degrees. Swell redeveloping on Wed (9/14) from the east side of New Zealand to 1.0 ft @ 16 secs late (1.5-2.0 ft) building Thurs (1.8 ft @ 15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) from 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 kts northwest winds with seas building. On Mon AM (9/12) northwest winds to build to 30-35 kts with seas building to 17 ft just off the Northern Kurils. In the evening 40 kt west north winds are to build while tracking east with seas building to 23 ft at 47.5N 166E targeting the US West Coast and Hawaii. On Tues AM (9/13) 35-40 kt west-northwest winds are to hold with seas 26 ft at 45.5N 172E approaching the dateline. A broad fetch of 35 kt northwest winds to continue in the evening with 26 ft seas on the dateline at 45N 180W. Fetch to fade to 30-35 kts Wed AM (9/14) with 24 ft seas at 43.5N 176W targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast. Fetch to fade from 30 kts in the evening with 21 ft seas at 43.5N 170W in the Western Gulf. This system to fade from there. 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 Mon (9/12) high pressure at 1032 mbs is to be in the Eastern Gulf 600 nmiles west of British Columbia continuing the usual pressure gradient over North CA producing north winds at 25 kts near Cape Mendocino and less winds reaching south to Pt Reyes. An eddy flow (south winds) is to be in effect for all of Central CA. The gradient is to be fading on Tues (9/13) with windswell fading out and no return is forecast through Fri (9/16).
For Hawaii starting Mon (9/12) east trades to be below 15 kts with no windswell generation potential forecast and holding there through Fri (9/16).
Beyond 72 hours a fetch of 40-45 kt west winds is to set up southeast of New Zealand on Wed AM (9/14) associated with a zonal jetstream flow there generating 26-28 ft seas at 58S 175W. In the evening winds to move east with seas to 31 ft at 59S 165W. Fetch to build to 45 kts on Thurs AM (9/15) with seas 37 ft at 56S 151W tracking east in the evening with seas to 40 ft at 51S 141W. Something to monitor.
More details to follow...
La Nina Officially Downgraded to ENSO Neutral
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 Wednesday (9/7) 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 modest easterly over the KWGA.
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. But the forecast suggests strong east anomalies developing on 9/12 and holding through the end of the forecast period on 9/15 suggestive of the Inactive Phase of the MJO.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 9/7 a weak Inactive MJO signal was over the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern fading to neutral in 5 days holding for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts an Inactive Phase of the MJO fading over the next 8 days then neutral to 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (9/8) 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: (9/8) This model depicts a modest Inactive MJO pattern was over the Central Pacific and it is to be easing east into the East Pacific through 9/23. A very weak Active Pattern to follow tracking from the West Pacific 9/18 to the East Pacific by 10/13. A neutral pattern to follow in the west through 10/18.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a neutral MJO pattern over the KWGA with no real anomalies in.cgiay. No coherent MJO signal or at worst a weak Inactive Phase is forecast starting 9/14 continuing into 10/12 with a mixed and weak wind anomaly pattern forecast. A slightly stronger Active MJO signal is to follow starting 10/18 -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: (9/8) 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 175W with weak negative anomalies east of there towards Ecuador (-1 degs or less). Cool subsurface waters are at depth to -2 degs erupting near 150W. But -3 degs anomalies previously present are gone. 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: (9/7) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a weak cool flow developing along the coast of Peru feeding a quickly building pocket of cooler water off Ecuador and North Peru. Those cooler waters flow west from the Galapagos out to 100W, then widen (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 north of the equator 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 (9/7): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru extending west to the Galapagos. Intermixed pockets of warming and cooling water continue west from 100W to 160W but more so for the cooler pockets. A neutral trend was off Africa.
Hi-res Overview: (9/7) 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: (9/8) Today's temps were trending cooler at +0.186 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (9/8) temps were trending downwards at -0.882 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 (9/8) This model suggests La Nina has peaked in Aug at -0.5 degs. Temps are to rise to -0.25 degs in Oct, dipping to -0.3 degs in early Dec before starting to rise to neutral in Jan 2017 and up to +0.5 by April and +0.6 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 (9/8): The daily index was up to +7.13. The 30 day average was down slightly at +7.01. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was down some at +4.95, 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): (9/8) Today's value was down slightly at -0.52. 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