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 Saturday (10/3) North and Central California had local northwest windswell and winds producing 2 ft overhead surf but with horrible conditions. Southern California had thigh to maybe waist high northwest windswell down south and reasonably clean conditions early. Southern hemi swell was showing at the buoys, but not quite rideable just yet. Hawaii's North Shore was effectively flat. The East Shore had nearly head high east windswell and onshore with and chopped. The South Shore was still getting southern hemi swell with waves in the shoulder high range and clean but starting to fade.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for more raw locally generated northwest windswell to continue Sunday in the 2 ft overhead range, then start dropping from chest high on Monday and fading to flat by Wednesday (10/7). Southern hemi swell in the waist to chest high range to be in the mix too Sunday and Monday, then fading out. Southern California is to see a fraction of this northwest windswell, with waves in the waist high range through the weekend then dropping out by later Monday. Southern hemi swell is expected to be decent Sunday and Monday too in the chest high range with decent wind conditions. The North Shore of Hawaii is not expected to see any swell until late Monday (10/5) when a little windswell from a gale that was over the northern dateline region last week starts to dribble in through Thursday. The East Shore is see more east windswell at 1 ft overhead Sunday, then setting down to chest high Tuesday then dropping out. The South Shore is to see fading southern hemi swell Sunday then dropping below the rideable range after that and staying there.
Longtern the Active Phase of the MJO continues to make progress east into the West Pacific, with the tropics responding in kind resulting in Super Typhoon Parma and now Typhoon Melor pushing towards Japan and expected to re-curve north and northeast . That coupled with some form of winter like gale low scheduled for the dateline and Western Gulf regions later next week might provide ample fuel for possible real swell development. But it's still too early to say with any confidence that any of this will occur. But the good news is, with the MJO moving towards the Active Phase and El Nino in play, something positive is likely to result.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday (10/3) the North Pacific jetstream was configured with two weak ridges, one just off the Kurils and another larger one off the US West Coast with a steep semi-pinched trough in between on the dateline with winds at 150 kts flowing into it. There was very limited support for low pressure development in this trough, but mostly high pressure was being supported by the large ridge off California. Over the next 72 hrs the trough is to push to the Western Gulf and stall as a solid pocket of 190 kt wind energy pushes off the Kuril's feeding development of this trough. It's is to not be fully formed even by Tuesday (10/6) but us to be looking better. Some support for gale development likely under this trough. Beyond 72 hours this aggressive jetstream pattern is to continue in the Western Gulf with a well formed trough forecast by late Wednesday into Through sporting 170 kt winds and good support for surface level low pressure development. Better yet it is to hold well into next weekend, and if anything redeveloping in the Gulf of Alaska with 170 kts winds still in play. Storm development is looking likely if this evolves are forecast. It's amazing how much the MJO influences all these components.
At the surface on Saturday (10/3) high pressure at 1032 mbs continued it's reign in the East Pacific generating 25-30 kt north winds over Central CA generating a bit larger than usual short period northwest windswell and lousy conditions. This high was also generating east winds pushing towards Hawaii at 20 kts resulting in standard short period easterly windswell. No low pressure of interest was in play over the greater Pacific Basin. Previously a small gale developed off the Kuril Islands Tuesday (9/29) and moved to nearly the dateline generating limited 30 kt northwest winds resulting in 18 ft seas and held into early Friday (10/2) at 45N 165E-180W, perhaps sending some limited energy towards Hawaii for Monday (10/5) and days beyond. But size is to be minimal. And in the far West the tropics were quite active (see Tropical Update below). Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to slowly loose it's grip off the US West Coast, lifting north towards Canada and trying to move onshore but not quite making it, still excepting influence over the Eastern Gulf. A weak gale low is to build along the high's western face and lift hard north plowing into the Eastern Aleutians on Tuesday (10/6) and of no interest to anyone but fishing interests there. But of some interest, high pressure that was locking down the dateline region is to be gone and generic weak low pressure system is to start moving into the region.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (10/3) high pressure at 1032 mbs was anchored 900 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino and ridging into the coast setting up a solid northwest fetch directly over the Central CA coast generating 30+ kt northwest winds and poor local conditions. These winds extended down to Pt Conception, then turned away from the coast there mostly sparing Southern CA. But on Sunday things are to get even worse with the fetch pushing fully onshore over the entire state with fully chopped conditions forecast everywhere. By Monday the gradient is to be falling apart fast with winds fading along the coast and more normal conditions returning. Tuesday only a weak 20 kts northern flow is forecast off Cape Mendocino with light winds south of there fading to calm everywhere by Wednesday and holding well into the following weekend (10/10). So better times are ahead, once we get through this weekend.
The Inactive Phase of the MJO remains in-control of the Eastern Pacific, expected to suppress development there through 10/10 or so. But a more favorable pattern Active Phase pattern is already starting to influence the West:
Typhoon Melor was positioned just north of Saipan with sustained winds 115 kts tracking west at 13 kts. Melor is expected to start turning to the northwest on Sunday peaking at 120 kts then making a full turn to the north Monday AM about 800 nmiles south of Southern Japan with winds down to 95 kts. A turn to the northeast is forecast on Tuesday with Melor just skirting the Central Japan coast with 85 kt winds there turning extratropical and accelerating while heading for the open Pacific. The models suggest Melor is to reach the dateline on Thursday and become absorbed into a developing gale low there in the days ahead. But it is way too early to forecast any specific outcome. Still this situation looks promising.
Typhoon Parma was skirting the northern coast of the Philippines with sustained winds 75 kts and holding. It was tracking northwest and expected to continue on that heading into Monday almost moving into the South China Sea, but is now forecast to turn north and northeast heading northeast and away from Taiwan by Wednesday. The GFS model has it rebuilding later next week tracking steadily tot he northeast and positioned just off Japan on Saturday (10/10). This provides some hope that it could turn extratropical and make it into the greater North Pacific sometime in the future. But that is purely a guess at this early date.
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 Saturday (10/3) high pressure at 1032 mbs was still in control of the Central South Pacific pushing to the south but not as bad as earlier. Regardless the persistent zonal flow (west to east) was occurring south of the high pushing most low pressure energy 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 slowly loosing intensity.
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 Fall low pressure is to start building in the Western Gulf of Alaska by late Wednesday (10/7) generating a broad fetch of 30 kts winds aimed towards Hawaii and building, reaching 30-35 kts and coving a large area on Thursday pushing well to the east, targeting primarily Central and Southern CA. 25 ft seas forecast building in the area and the extratropical remnants of Typhoon Melor are to be racing east from off Japan. Earlier versions of the models had these two systems linking up and developing into a larger complex gale with 30+ ft seas. But the current run is not as positive, with only 25 ft seas resulting. The main issue is the timing of these two systems, and whether they will develop and sync-up as one cohesive unit, or remain two weaker individual systems. It is way too early to know if any of this will occur, but it certainly bears watching.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Saturday (10/3) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was 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 was retreating from positive territory. The Daily SOI index was at 3.22. The 30 day average was down to 3.38 and the 90 average was down to 0.14. The SOI index is likely heading down for the days ahead driven by the Active Phase of the MJO.
Wind anomalies at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated solid but weakening easterly anomalies remained in control of the entire Eastern equatorial Pacific from about the dateline east into and over Central America. But way down from previous days. This event is expected to slowly subside loosing coverage through 10/12, effectively gone after that. 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 but now not forecast to even make it to the dateline, holding north of New Guinea through 10/17 then fading into 10/22. But that is likely a short sell, and we expect it to last longer based on past experience. The models now depict this event downgraded a bit from previous forecasts. If this develops as forecast, mid-to-late October still looks like a good window for support of North Pacific Storm development, especially the West Pacific tropics.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (10/1) 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 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. The Kelvin Wave we had been tracking over the past months has finally reached Central America with the core looking to have moved into the coast. residual 2 degree above water temps were holding at 110W, but most energy had moved 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. We 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 good 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 has built to 3 degrees above normal (9/29). 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 10/1 a solid patch of westward winds were depicted in-control of the West Pacific with strong west anomalies extending to almost the dateline. This had been in-play since 9/27 and is associated with tropical systems Parma and Melor. This is good news. A full on Westerly Wind Burst was in effect. But it should only hold another few days. In fact as of today (10/3) fully blowing west winds were subsiding, though westerly anomalies were still present almost reaching to the dateline. 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 this new incarnation of the Active Phase of the MJO taking control, it 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 weak to moderate one. NOAA's most recent update today forecasts the same outcome. A 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). At this point there is no evidence to suggest this El Nino will stall or dissipate. The only remaining question is whether it will hold, or grow. And current data indicates that the warm pool will hold if not slowly build.
The next milestone we're looking for is development of the next Active Phase of the MJO, which is occurring now (10/3). The models indicate it is moderate in strength and should 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, but our thoughts are that El Nino might gain a little more strength, but not much, with a 2-3 degree water temp anomaly in the tropical East Pacific the likely outcome. Coverage is pretty solid for this event, but the lack of really high water temp anomalies will likely limit it's strength. 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 anomalous water temps exceeding 3 degrees and an unremarkable SOI suggests a modest El Nino at best. Still, it should be enough to provide storm enhancement, and a better than average winter surf season for the North Pacific, and still likely better than anything in the past 10 years. Better yet, if it's not too strong (as this event appears to be) perhaps it will not degrade into La Nina the year after (which typically happens after stronger El Ninos), but hold in some mild El Nino like state for several years in a row. This would be an even better outcome.
See more details in the new El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours the models suggest high pressure is to retain control of the South Pacific but steadily moving east and slowly out of the picture, much like the mirror image high pressure system in the North Pacific. A like the north, low pressure is forecast building under New Zealand on Friday (10/9) pushing east-northeast with up to 45 kt winds resulting in a mid-sized area of 32 ft seas. It seems a bit of a reach to actually expect this result, and even if it does occur most fetch is to the aimed east not at Hawaii or the US West Coast. But it remains something to monitor.
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
Missing Person in Indonesia - Update: We have received reply that the surfer we were hoping to locate and presumed missing in Padang has been located and is safe. Thanks for your attention to this situation.
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