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 Tuesday (9/29) North and Central California had 2-3 ft overhead northwest combo windswell coming from both the Gulf of Alaska and off Cape Mendocino with brisk northwest winds and chopped conditions. Southern California had thigh high northwest windswell up north coming from the Gulf and pretty textured, with some waist high sets down south and cleaner, but still textured. Hawaii's North Shore had some minimal waist high or so north-northwest windswell with trades in effect. The East Shore had waist high local east windswell. The South Shore was effectively flat.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for piles of raw, unruly locally generated windswell to continue for the foreseeable future, biggest on Wednesday in the 2+ ft overhead range, then settling down slowly into Friday to shoulder high or so, only to come back up on Sunday then tapering down into next week. But lot's of local northwest wind is forecast too, blowing it to bits through the period. Southern California is to see a fraction of this northwest windswell, with waves in the waist high range late Wednesday in to Thursday then dropping to the thigh high range Friday and beyond, pushing back to waist high or better early next week. Local wind is to be held at bay too by virtue of being south of Pt Conception. The North Shore of Hawaii is not expected to see any swell for the next 5 days. Maybe some minimal northwest swell (3.0-3.5 ft faces) early next week from a weak gale scheduled across the dateline, but that's all. far from certain. The East Shore is to have continuous east windswell at waist high plus through the week pushing head high through the weekend, then setting down next week. The South Shore is to remain flat till Friday, when southern hemi swell moves in.
With no real swell activity scheduled for the North Pacific for the next week after a pretty good run of early season swell, it's kind of a letdown. But Mother Nature will not leave us completely without surf, with swell from a small gale that was 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. That swell is to hit Hawaii on Fri-Sun (10/4) and the US West Coast on Sat-Tues (10/6). Nothing huge, but definitely ridable at the right spots. Make the most of it.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (9/29) the North Pacific jetstream had a very solid ridge with 130 kts winds over the East pushing into the coast near nightfall supporting high pressure at the surface. A weak flow was in the West tracking flat to the east on the 42N latitude offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hrs another big ridge is forecast to build over the East likely reinforcing the high pressure pattern aloft and suppressing gale development. A weak trough is forecast pushing from the Kurils east to the dateline Fri (10/2) perhaps supporting gale development there. Beyond 72 hours that ridge in the east is to slowly push into the Pacific Northwest while another very strong ridge builds off Japan Mon (10/5) supported by 160 kt winds aloft. Again, no support for gale development indicated.
At the surface on Tuesday (9/29) strong high pressure at 1032 mbs was filling the East Pacific generating 20 kt north winds pushing down the coast of British Columbia into the Pacific Northwest and down into Central CA. Windswell and chop were in-effect there. Trades at 15-20 kts were pushing into the Hawaiian Islands generating modest short period windswell along east facing shores. A small gale was trying to organize off the Kuril Islands. Over the next 72 hours the high pressure system that is in the Gulf of Alaska is to hold, not giving up any ground through Friday (10/2) but dropping a little to the south. Trades to continue over the Hawaiian Islands at near 20 kts offering more windswell potential with north winds at 25 kt over Cape Mendocino down to Pt Reyes, generating jumbled northwest windswell for Central CA. The gale developing off the Kurils is to start pushing northeast on Wed (9/30) generating 30-35 kt northwest winds while continuing tracking northeast through Friday, shunted northeast by the big high pressure system off to the east. 20 ft seas are forecast to result Thurs-Fri (10/2) from 45N 165E-180W, perhaps sending some limited energy towards Hawaii for Monday (10/5). But size is to be minimal if this plays out as currently forecast. Otherwise no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (9/29) massive high pressure at 1034 mbs was anchored 950 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino and ridging into the coast setting up a solid northwest flow from Vancouver Islands south of the Channel Islands, then turning southwest and heading towards Hawaii. A chopped ocean surface pattern was in effect and expected to hold for quite some time. A short break is forecast late Thursday into early Friday north of Pt Conception, then returning with north winds 15-20 kts forecast nearshore through the weekend. Southern CA looks to be mostly protected. Finally on Tuesday (10/6) high pressure is to start retreating and moving onshore into Canada. The short story is lots of wind and poor conditions at all exposed breaks.
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 on 9/27) heading west bound for Vietnam. Winds were 55 kts with strengthening to hurricane force occurring after that. On Tues (9/29) this system was moving inland over South Vietnam with winds fading from 55 kts. No potential for swell production. This is a direct result of the building Active Phase of the MJO.
Tropical Storm Melor was positioned 650 nmiles east-southeast of Saipan with sustained winds 35 kts and on the increase. A steady increase in wind speeds is expected while Melor tracks west-northwest pushing 80 kts by Sunday (10/4) and positioned just northwest of Saipan. This one is of some interest, but is not expected to curve north immediately, with high pressure well to the north of it. No immediate swell generation potential forecast for our forecast area.
Tropical Storm Parma was positioned 750 nmiles east of the Southern Philippines with sustained winds 50 kts and on the increase. A turn to the northwest is expected with an increase in wind speeds forecast. Parma is expected to be a few hundred nmiles off Taiwan on Sunday (10/4) with winds 85 kts. This one is of even more interest, but again is not expected to curve north or northeast immediately, with high pressure well to the north of it. No immediate swell generation potential forecast for our forecast area.
With the building Active Phase, we believe the odds for yet more tropical development in the West Pacific is good over then next 3 weeks, with some perhaps having the potential to curve north and northeast while turning extratropical.
At the surface on Tuesday (9/29) strong high pressure at 1040 mbs was in control of the Central South Pacific pushing hard to the south off it's backside (western quadrant) with a strong zonal (west to flat east) flow occurring south of there with most energy on the 60S or greater latitude over the Ross Ice Shelf. No swell production support was evident. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast, with high pressure continuing to be the major influence, but loosing a little intensity. Interesting, but the exact same pattern is occurring in the North Pacific. Suspect that it is more than coincidence that the final vigorous push of the Inactive Phase in the East Pacific is have a major influence over the entirety of the Pacific. Will be interesting to see if the reverse holds true once the Active Phase moves in.
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 generic high pressure is to develop off Japan over the weekend (10/3) sinking southeast and holding near the dateline with a weak finger pushing up almost to the Aleutians, but likely not strong enough to shut down flow of gale activity to the east, if there was some in the pipe (which there is not). High pressure is to slowly weaken it's grip in the East, but not out over the next 7 days. A pretty quiet pattern for the North Pacific for now.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (9/29) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) looked to be trying to move out of 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 retreating. The Daily SOI index was at -0.18 (negative 4 days in a row now after an 11 day positive run). The 30 day average was down to 3.96 and the 90 average was down to 0.40. The SOI index looked to be heading down for the days ahead.
Wind anomalies at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated solid easterly anomalies remained in control of the entire Eastern equatorial Pacific, with a little bit still hanging on at the dateline then building solidly while extending east into and over Central America. This event is expected to slowly subside loosing coverage through 10/39, but not out, then finally dying by 10/10. The models also indicate that western anomalies associated with a building Active Phase of the MJO remained present in the Indian Ocean extending from Eastern Africa over the width of the Indian Ocean and starting to push into the far Western Pacific. The Active Phase is expected to make slow steady progress into the West Pacific reaching that dateline 10/3, then holding north of New Guinea to the dateline through 10/13 fading into 10/18. The models continue to depict this event as upgraded in strength. If this develops as forecast, mid-to-late October looks like a good window for support of North Pacific Storm development, especially the West Pacific tropics.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (9/28) 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. Effectively there is a broad wide triangle of warmer than normal water extending from San Francisco southwest just under Hawaii and on to the intersection of the equator and the dateline, then tracking southeast on to Northern Peru. This is not historically anything exceptional, but clearly a moderate El Nino just the same. The warm pool is holding if not subtly building in areal coverage, though not building in intensity. Cooler than normal waters (-1.5 deg C) were fading off Africa, but not gone.
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 the case, with the core at 105W and moving off the charts. 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 even better news is that another core of 2 deg warm water that first appeared under the dateline on 9/17 moving 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.
On 9/27 a solid patch of westward winds were depicted in-control of the West Pacific with strong west anomalies extending to almost the dateline. And now on 9/29 that fetch has even increased in intensity and coverage. This is great news. A full on Westerly Wind Burst is in effect. 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 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 a third 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 nearly ice-locked over the Ross Ice Shelf into Monday 910/5) After that the dominant high pressure system is to start fading with better chances of low pressure migrating northeast, though none in particular are forecast to do that. 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
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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!
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table