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 Sunday (9/27) North and Central California had 1-2 ft overhead surf at better breaks coming from the extratropical remnants of Typhoon Choi-Wan that were west of the dateline earlier last week. Nice longer period swell but with long waits between sets. Southern California was in the thigh high range up north driven mostly by swell from Choi-Wan, but pushing chest high or better down south as that swell intermixed with background southern hemi energy. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the tail end of the Choi-Wan swell with waves head high at the better breaks, way down from the good season opener at Pipe on Friday. This was all leftover from Choi-Wan. The East Shore had near chest high local east windswell. The South Shore still had thigh to waist high southern hemi background swell and clean.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for the Choi-Wan swell to steadily fade, from about 1 ft overhead on Monday to chest high on Tuesday but with local north windswell moving in then and local northwest winds picking up hard and blowing nonstop on Wednesday with larger local windswell and Gulf windswell in the mix, but a real mess condition-wise. Southern California is to see a similar pattern with Choi-Wan swell thigh high on Monday and knee high Tuesday with local north windswell starting to build in through the day. A new windswell is expected in by Wednesday at thigh high but from a very northerly direction, so that estimate might be a bit on the high side. The North Shore of Hawaii is to see the last fading drops of Choi-Wan Monday at maybe chest high on the sets then dropping down to nothing and staying there through the week. The East Shore is to be the prime benefactor of high pressure schedule for the East Pacific in the days ahead with east windswell near chest high Monday and Tuesday pushing chest to shoulder high Wednesday through Friday. The South Shore is to be flat on Monday and stay that way for a while, but not out completely for the season (more below).
After swell from Choi-Wan dissipates along the US West Coast, strong high pressure is forecast to take over the East Pacific and locking things down for a while, the product of a newly invigorated Inactive Phase of the MJO existing in the East. Virtually no swell producing low pressure is forecast for the next 7 days in the North Pacific. A tough pill to swallow after having a long run of fun sized or way better surf on and off for 4+ weeks now (depending on your location). But the good news is that summer has not totally given up on us, with a small gale having formed in the South-Central Pacific Fri-Sat (9/26) generating 32-35 ft seas pushing well to the north towards California with sideband energy expected into Hawaii too. Looks like everyone is to have something for next weekend. Re-adjust your sights accordingly.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (9/27) the North Pacific jetstream was pretty far north, tracking west to east over the 50N latitude with pockets of 120 kt winds, but no real troughs of interest. Only one tiny little trough in the far north Gulf of Alaska while a ridge was locking down the dateline region. No support for surface level low pressure development indicated. Over the next 72 hrs that trough is to holds and dive southeast, but very pinched off, pushing into extreme Northern CA late Tuesday (9/29) with a solid ridge in the jet taking control behind it. Maybe a weak little surface low could result from this trough, but it will be inconsequential. Beyond 72 hours that ridge is to slowly settle down some only to be followed by another one even larger this time on Friday (10/2) likely continuing the lockdown over the East Pacific through next weekend (10/4). No support for surface low pressure indicated. But of some interest, in the West that jet is to be building and tracking flat east ont he 40N latitude next weekend, suggesting the Active Phase of the MJO is to start having some influence there, perhaps ushering in a new storm cycle for the weeks beyond.
At the surface on Sunday (9/27) a new small but strong high pressure centered at 1040 mbs was located in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska just south of the Aleutians and steaming southeast. Weak low pressure was trying to develop on the leading eastern edge of this high in the northern Gulf, generating a fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds aimed at the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA. Also a gale low was off Northern Kamchatka, but all fetch was effectively landlocked north of the Aleutian Islands. Over the next 72 hours the high pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska is to push southeast filling the Gulf by Tuesday (9/29) at 1036 mbs. The low that was on it's eastern front is to push into British Columbia then, having generated 30-35 kt northwest winds and 18-20 ft seas all the while aimed at the Pacific Northwest. So some form of 12 sec period swell is expected arriving along the Pacific Northwest coast there on Tuesday seeping into Central CA on Wed (9/30). But make no mistake, it will be far from rideable with north winds associated with this strong high pressure system at 20 kts arriving with the swell, blowing it out. Otherwise increase trades over the Hawaiian Islands associated with the building high north of there are to start taking effect on Monday continuing through Wednesday, likely pushing easterly windswell up a few notches (chest high surf or so). But otherwise no swell producing fetch is forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (9/27) high pressure at 1032 mbs was easing into British Columbia setting up a mild pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino and generating 25 kt northeast winds there resulting in limited northerly windswell down into Central CA. But nearshore from Pt Arena southward a light wind flow and early morning fog were in control. More of the same is forecast early Monday, but massive high pressure is to be building just off thee coast with 15 kts north winds starting to creep southward. This high is to be filling the entire Northeast Pacific late Monday and by Tuesday AM (9/29) northwest winds at 15-20 kts are to be covering the entire Pacific Northwest Coast down into Central CA building over the Channel Islands late and holding through Wednesday. A blown-out choppy mess remains forecast. The fetch is to become concentrated over Cape Mendocino on Thursday with winds starting to relent from Pt Reyes southward then, but still a pretty good amount of lump is to remain behind in the water.
The Inactive Phase of the MJO remains in-control of the Eastern Pacific, expected to continue influencing the area through 9/28 or so and likely hampering odds for tropical storm formation in the East Pacific. But a more favorable pattern is to follow starting in the West:
Right on queue with the building Active Phase of the MJO, Tropical Storm Ketsana developed 700 nmiles south of Hong Kong heading west bound for Vietnam. Winds were 55 kts with strengthening to hurricane force likely in the next 24 hours. But the westward track will have no potential for swell production in our forecast window.
With the building Active Phase, we believe the odds for yet more tropical development in the West Pacific with the potential to curve north and northeast, with such systems turning extratropical, with improve over the next 2-3 weeks. But for now no tropical systems are forecast for the next 3 days.
At the surface on Sunday (9/21) high pressure at 1040 mbs was in control of the Central South Pacific with a zonal (west to flat east) flow occurring and winds 30 kts mostly over the Ross Ice Shelf. No swell production support was evident. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast, with high pressure only getting more ingrained and building in areal coverage.
Central Pacific Storm
On Thursday (9/24) a moderate sized gale was trying to build in the Central South Pacific producing 40 kt south winds at 60S 155W aimed due north and just clear of the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. up to 50 kt south winds were modeled in the evening at 55S 155W aimed due north. This gale built Friday (9/25) producing a moderate fetch of 45-50 kt south winds due south of Tahiti Fri AM at 53S 149W and drifting steadily east and holding into the evening at 50S 142W, again aimed almost due north. This resulted in 34 ft seas Friday AM at 53S 153W building to 35 ft in the evening 51S 145W, holding at 35 ft Sat AM at 47S 140W, then dissipating. The fetch was aimed well to the north, or up the 193-198 degree great circle paths to California (unshadowed by Tahiti) and possibly setting up limited sideband swell into Hawaii up the 175-178 degree paths (slightly shadowed by Tahiti). If this occurs a good pulse of southern hemi swell could result.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Friday (10/2) at 2 ft @ 18 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces with top spots seeing head high sets). Swell to hold through the day, then settle down Saturday (10/3) to 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces with sets to 4.0 ft). Leftovers on Sunday (10/4) at 1.6 ft @ 14 secs (2.0-2.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 175-178 degrees
South California: Expect swell arrival Saturday (10/3) building to 1.6 ft @ 18 secs late (3 ft faces with tops spots to maybe 4 ft on the peak). Swell to top out on Sunday (10/4) at 2.0-2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs early (4 ft faces with top spots to 5 ft) . Swell to start fading Monday at 2 ft @ 15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 194-199 degrees
North California: Expect swell arrival Saturday (10/3) building to 1.6 ft @ 19 secs late (3 ft faces with tops spots to maybe 4 ft on the peak). Swell to top out on Sunday (10/4) at 2.3 ft @ 17 secs early (4 ft faces with top spots to 5 ft) . Swell to start fading Monday from 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 193-198 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 a small gale low is forecast pushing off the Kurils on Wed (9/30) generating 30-35 kt northwest winds but tracking northeast through Friday, shunted northeast by high pressure off to the east. Only 18-19 ft seas are forecast to result, perhaps sending some limited energy towards Hawaii. But it is doubtful that swell will survive intact to produce surf in the Islands. Beyond no swell producing low pressure of interest is forecast. High pressure is to continue in the Eastern Gulf, trying to settle down but still fairly strong even by Sun (10/4). It is to be generating continued north winds at 20-25 kts over Cape Mendocino producing steady north windswell pushing down into Central CA, and perhaps getting re-invigorated next weekend to the 30 kt range by tropical low pressure scheduled pushing up into California (a wild guess at best).
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (9/27) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) remained barely in the Inactive Phase, with the Active Phase making headway into the Southwest Pacific. The ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index had pushed into positive territory, but was starting to retreat. The Daily SOI index was down to -15.39 (wiping out an 11 day positive streak). The 30 day average was up to 4.55 and the 90 average was down to 0.90. The SOI index was maxed out and likely heading down for the days ahead.
Wind anomalies at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated strong easterly anomalies remained in control of the entire Eastern equatorial Pacific, with a faint signal present on the dateline and building solidly while extending east into and over Central America. It had previously looked like this event was reaching a close, but has since re energized in the East. This analysis is using data from 9/24, so some evolution has likely occurred. This event is expected to slowly subside loosing coverage through 9/29, but not out, then finally dying by 10/4. The models also indicate that western anomalies associated with a building Active Phase of the MJO remained present in the Indian Ocean, and holding in the solid range compared to previous model runs. The Active Phase is to start exiting the Indian Ocean over this week (10/29) pushing into the Western Pacific, then holding north of New Guinea through 10/4 while slowly pushing towards and reaching the dateline by 10/9 and holding there into 10/14. The models continue to depict this event as upgraded in strength. If this is correct, October looks like a pretty good month to support North Pacific Storm development, especially the West Pacific tropics.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (9/24) indicates only subtle change over the past month, 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 holding at 2.0-3.0 deg C above normal in the east with perhaps a pocket to 3+ deg. This is suggestive of a moderate El Nino. The expanse of the warmer waters has actually built north of the equator, solidifying it's grip up the coast of Mexico and Baja up into Southern CA, and now into the Central California coast and extending west almost to Hawaii. There was no change in the area over dateline, but not retracting any either, suggesting the warm pool is holding and building in areal coverage, but not building in intensity. Cooler than normal waters (-1.5 deg C) were fading off Africa, almost gone now with warm anomalies covering the entire tropical North Atlantic. Perhaps there is some hope for the tropical season there, but is likely a case of 'too-little too-late' to make a difference.
Below the surface on the equator things continue to look most positive. A steady flow of warmer than normal subsurface water continues tracking from the West Pacific (150 m below the surface) under the dateline and breaking the surface near Central America as it has for months now. A solid pocket of 2-3 deg warmer than normal waters are in control from 130W extending the whole way into Central America in one non-stop contiguous stream. This is the Kelvin Wave we had been tracking earlier in the month. Arrival was initially forecast at 9/27, and that looks to be right on track, with the core now at 105W. This Kelvin Wave was the result of a Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) in the West Pacific that occurred on 7/25-8/2. Expect to see surface water temperatures jump up in early Oct off Central America, feeding the developing warm water pool there and fueling El Nino as this Kelvin wave impacts the coast. The really good news is another core of 2 deg warm water that first appeared under the dateline on 9/17 and moved east to 175W by 9/22 and 172W on 9/24, has now built to 3 degrees above normal. This is a new Kelvin Wave, one we've been looking for and is associated with a persistent weak westerly surface wind flow that had been in-place west of the dateline from 9/8-9/17. It is embedded in a continuous stream of 1+ degree warmer than normal water extending from 155E under the dateline and into the existing warm pool off Ecuador. So all looks good for maintaining the existing warm pool for a while if not building it. But for more than a weak El Nino to form, we need more warm water over the long haul, and it looks like we're going to get it.
Today (9/27) a solid patch of westward winds were in-control of the West Pacific with strong west anomalies extending to almost the dateline. This is great news. To the east near normal easterly trades were in control. For weeks now (since 9/8) a moderate westerly anomaly has been in-play from the west up to the dateline. These westerly anomalies started with Typhoon Dujuan and continued with Choi-Wan. This is gently feeding the subsurface warm water flow. At a minimum it suggests reinforcements for the newly developing Kelvin Wave (see above) and that in turn is reinforcing the Kelvin Wave impacting Central America. Not too bad. But with this new patch of westward blowing winds perhaps yet another Kelvin Wave could be in the making. With the next incarnation of the Active Phase of the MJO starting to take control, this seems more even more likely. Will be interesting to see if this building westerly anomaly holds for the next 2 weeks (into 10/12 or so).
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's most recent update today forecasts 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, but started to come on a little strong in Sept. Regardless, 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 current 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, which appears to be gaining ground today (9/22), right on track. The models indicate it is pretty strong and to hold for a few weeks. Also water temps need to hold if not build (as is happening now). A final confirmation should be possible in the next week or so. In the mean time, the current Inactive Phase currently in-progress faltered as it passed over the West Pacific, a good thing in that it allowed the prime area for Westerly Wind Bursts to remain unscathed, allowing the warm pool to continue 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 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 the models suggest high pressure is to retain control of the entire South Pacific with a zonal flow pushing any low pressure energy flat west to east and effectively ice locked over the Ross Ice Shelf. No swell production is forecast.
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
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
Mavericks - Everest of the Sea & Longboard Vineyards: Come late October Sonoma County will not only welcome a new crop of world class wines, but the award winning photography of some of Action Sports best lensmen. “ Mavericks – Everest of the Seas” comes alive again just in time to set the stage for another epic Big Wave Season. Mix two of Northern California's finest institutions – big wave surfing and the wine country – and you have what promises to be an amazing weekend at the Longboard Vineyards Tasting Room in Healdsburg
October 23 – 25.
Relive heroic battles between man and wave as seen through the eyes of the cutting-edge photojournalists who risk life and limb to document the wave's intense man-against-the-sea drama and obsessive lifestyle of Maverick's elite riders. Oded Shakked, a longtime surfer who founded Longboard Vineyards, will be unveiling his latest release, The Peter Mel/Mavericks Cabernet Sauvignon. This signature wine will be blended by not only Shakked but guest vintner, Peter Mel. Mel, one of the most respected names in Big Wave Surfing is known as perhaps the most skillful surfer ever to ride Mavericks. The famed spot off the Half Moon Bay. In October of 1998 he was whipped into to what is now considered the biggest wave ever ridden… Mel along with the featured photographers, surfboard shapers and wine makers will be on hand for the Friday night reception. The reception will begin at 5pm and run until roughly 9pm.
Longboard Vineyard has always had a soft spot for surfers. It's a place where you can hangout at a redwood-surfboard bar, or sample one
of its award winning wines while kicking back on a comfortable sofa watching surf movies. For this harvest weekend event Shakked has
enlisted “Mavericks: Everest of the Seas,” the heralded collection of Mavericks surf photography from Frank Quirarte, Doug Acton, Seth
Migdail and Ed Grant.
“Everest of the Seas” first made its debut recently at the Coastal Arts League Gallery in Half Moon Bay, drawing large crowds and an
enthusiastic response. It just finished a one-month highly successful run at San Francisco's world class Museum and Gallery, SFMOMA.“Everyone who sees the exhibit is just blown away,” said Grant, the curator of the Coastal Arts League Gallery. “Both surfers and non-surfers can't help but get caught up in the energy and stoke that surrounds Maverick's, the surfers and photographers who put it on the
line every time they go out there.”
The event also represents a high point in the career of Oded Shakked, who was born in Israel and grew up near a beach just north of Tel
Aviv. Immersed in surfing from the start, he made several trips around Europe's Atlantic coast while discovering, to his delight, that “it
was easier, cheaper and safer to drink good red wine than bottled water.” His twin loves of surfing and wine brought him to California,
where he studied winemaking at UC Davis and became enamored with the people, climate and rich soil of Sonoma County. He founded Longboard Vineyards with the motto “Wine, waves and soul,” making it a highly unique fixture in wine country.
The October 23-25 weekend will also feature the sale of surfboards and memorabilia, along with Acton's acclaimed book, “Inside Maverick's.”
Admission is free. Opening reception sponsored by Maverick Events and Longboard Vineyards
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/
Stormsurf Video: Just for fun - here's a clip about Stormsurf that ran on Bay Area TV a while back. Thought you might enjoy it: http://vimeo.com/2319455
Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.
Need Chiropractic Help? Visit our friends at Darrow Chiropractic. Not only will Dr. Darrow fix you up, he might give you some big wave surfing tips too! See more here: http://www.darrowchiropractic.com/
Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's simple and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet Explorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way!
Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here
Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here
Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table