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.
Note: NDBC has no immediate plan to replace or repair any non-operational buoys due to funding shortages and the sequester. Expect inoperable buoys to remain off-line for the 2013-2014 winter season. Even if NOAA is fully funded in 2014 (unlikely), maintenance of the buoys will likely not start occurring till at least late Spring of 2014.
On Tuesday (10/8) North and Central CA surf was 3 ft overhead at select exposed breaks and clean early, with underlying warble. Amazing how much local windswell gets into north facing breaks. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist to chest high and clean but warbled. In Southern California up north waves were thigh high and weak with modest texture on top. Some windswell trying to sneak in. Down south waves were waist high and moderately textured. Hawaii's North Shore was shoulder to almost head high and a little warbled, but at least it was rideable. The South Shore was knee to thigh high and clean with no southern hemi background swell hitting. No report was available for the East Shore.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
In the North Pacific local north windswell was hitting Central CA generated by the normal pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino. A small gale was developing just east of Kamchatka with seas forecast to 28 ft early Wed AM (10/9) for 6 hours. Tiny background swell to result for HI and CA. In short, the storm track has taken a dive.A tiny gale is forecast for the northern dateline over the weekend with only 20 ft seas. Perhaps a better pattern setting up long term.
In the South Pacific a gale formed late Mon-Tues (10/1) in the Southeast Pacific with 30 ft seas aimed mainly east. A stronger gale was in the Central Pacific Thurs AM (10/3) with 38 ft seas aimed a bit northeasterly offering more hope for Southern CA. Swell starting mid-week (10/9) for SCal. Nothing else is projected till maybe Fri (10/11) with a small cutoff gale possibly generating a tiny area of 30 ft seas aimed north for 12 hrs located in the Central Pacific.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Tuesday (10/8) the jet was tracking off the Kuril Islands centered on the 45N latitude with winds 170 kts starting to form a small trough over the Kamchatka Peninsula and possibly setting up low pressure down at the surface. The jet then continued east feeding into a strong ridge over the Gulf of Alaska also with 180 kt winds pushing up into it, promoting high pressure down at the surface over the entire Gulf of Alaska and starting to push inland over the Canadian coast. Over the next 72 hours the Kamchatka trough is to push east over open eaters, supporting gale development, then quickly fading late Wednesday (10/9) as it approaches the dateline. The ridge is to be inland Thursday over Canada (10/10). A zonal (flat) flow is to take over into early Friday with no troughs of interest forecast. Beyond 72 hours a pocket of 160 kt winds is to start building on the dateline early Sat (10/12) forming a small trough that is to be building in coverage as it tracks into the Gulf of Alaska, but fading in strength offering only limited odds to support gale development down at lower levels of the atmosphere. Another broad trough is forecast developing west of the dateline early next week pushing to the dateline, but with no solid wind energy feeding it.
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (10/8) high pressure at 1032 mbs was locked over the Gulf of Alaska forming the usual pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino CA and generating 30 kt north winds generating solid windswell along exposed breaks of North and Central CA. A second high at 1024 mbs was tracking off North Japan pushing towards the dateline. A small gale was developing well north of it over the Kamchatka Peninsula but land locked.
Over the next 72 hours high pressure at 1032 mbs is to hold strong over the Eastern Gulf Wednesday (10/9) feeding the pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino with a larger area of 30 kt north winds forecast and windswell for Central CA peaking. Also starting Tues PM (10/8) the gale over the Kamchatka Peninsula is forecast pushing east over open waters of the Northwest Pacific generating a small area of 45 kt west winds with seas building from 26 ft at 50N 164E and up to 28 ft by 06Z Wed (10/9) at 50N 167E. Unfortunately that gale is to be fading by Wed AM (10/9) with a broad fetch of 30 kt west winds dissipating and seas fading from 24 ft at 50N 170E (aimed a bit east of the 326 deg path to Hawaii and 2200 nmiles out). By evening this system is to be gone. Maybe there's some odds of small 13-14 sec period swell resulting for Hawaii, but well decayed when and if it arrives. Next to nothing is expected to reach the US West Coast, shadowed by the Aleutians and north of the 308 degree great circle track (pushing through the Bering Sea).
Also on Wed AM (10/9) a tiny fetch of 40-45 kt northwest winds is forecast over the extreme northern Gulf of Alaska for less than 12 hours with seas to 24 ft at 58N 147W aimed at Canada, outside of any path into Central CA. No swell to result. Otherwise high pressure is to be slowly loosening it's grip over the storm track for the North Pacific, but not enough to make any positive impact.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Tuesday AM (10/8) Tropical Storm Danis was in the China Sea between Japan and South Korea with winds 55 kts and tracking northeast. Forward speed is to accelerate with Danis pushing over Northern Japan Wed AM (10/9) and then into open waters of the North Pacific with winds 25 kts. Remnants of this system are to help feed low pressure development on the intersection of the dateline and Aleutians on Fri (10/11) (see Longterm Forecast below).
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (10/8) high pressure at 1034 mbs was locked off the US West Coast in the middle of the Gulf of Alaska forming the usual pressure gradient over North CA. North wind to 30 kts were blowing over open waters off Cape Mendocino with 20 kt north winds well off of Pt Conception. Wednesday high pressure is to start making a push into the Pacific Northwest with north winds peaking at 30-35 kts early off North CA but pulled away some from the Central CA coast. A dry front is to push down the Central Coast (mainly the effect of cooler dry air pushing south) squeezing moisture out of the atmosphere ahead of it resulting in 4 inches of snow for Tahoe. Thursday the gradient is to rapidly start fading with light winds for all of Central CA and north winds fading from 25 kts off the North CA coast. Friday a light northerly flow is forecast for North and Central CA at 10 kts. Saturday renewed high pressure to start building forming a secondary gradient over North CA with north winds to 20 kts and lesser winds down to Pt Conception pulling away from the coast Sunday with a light wind regime in effect for everywhere by North CA and holding Mon-Tues.
Surface - On Tuesday (10/8) swell from tiny gale was tracking northeast towards Southern CA (see tiny SPac Gale below). Also swell from a storm that formed in the deep South Central Pacific was pushing northeast (see SPac Storm below). Otherwise no swell producing weather systems were in play.
Over the next 72 hours the models hint at a small cutoff low forming in the Central Pacific on Fri AM (10/11) generating a small area of 45 kt south winds and 31 ft seas at 50S 148W aimed directly north towards Hawaii and the US West Coast. 40 kt south winds to be fading in the evening with 25 ft seas fading at 49S 140W targeting primarily California and northern Mexico. The gale is to be gone by Sat AM (10/12). Will believe it when it happens.
Tiny SPac Gale
A gale developed Mon (9/30) just off the Ross Ice Shelf in the deep Central Pacific with a small area of 45 kt southwest winds and seas building over a tiny area pushing northeast. In the evening a moderate sized area of 40 kt south winds were holding with seas building to 28 ft at 55S 143W. 40 kt southwest winds held Tues AM (10/1) with 30 ft seas at 54S 134W. By the evening this system was gone. Another small pulse of swell is possible for Southern CA starting about Wed (10/9).
Small sideband swell is possible for Southern CA starting Wed AM (10/9) with swell building to 1.4 ft @ 16-17 sec late (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell to continue Thurs (10/10) at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft), then fading. Swell Direction: 192 degrees.
Another gale developed well southeast of New Zealand on Wed PM (10/2) with 45 kt west winds building just off the Ross Ice Shelf and seas to 36 ft over a small area at 58S 167W. The fetch started pushing northeast on Thurs AM (10/3) with 50 kt winds building over a small area and 38 ft seas building at 56S 155W targeting Central CA up the 199 degree path (and mostly east of the Hawaiian swell window). In the evening the gale rapidly dissipated with winds dropping from 40 kts and 34 ft seas from previous fetch fading at 52S 142W. This system is to be gone by Fri AM (10/4).
Swell from this fetch expected for Southern CA starting late Thurs (10/10) with swell 1.3 ft @ 20 secs (2.5 ft) building Fri (10/11) to 2 ft @ 18 secs (3.5 ft). Swell to peak first light Sat (10/12) at 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell fading on Sunday (10/13) from 2.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees
Energy also radiating into Central America sown to Northern Chile.
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 low pressure is to try and start building over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians late Friday (10/11) generating 30-35 kts northwest winds over a small area resulting in a tiny area of 20 ft seas Sat AM (10/12) at 47N 178W, but gone 12 hours later. No swell to result for anyone from this even if it does form.
The models suggest some form of broad low pressure starting to develop west of the dateline on Mon (10/14) with 30-35 kt west winds building in it's southwest quadrant and holding while tracking east into early Wed (10/16) with 20-22 ft seas resulting. Possible 13 sec period swell for Hawaii. And some degree of tropical activity is to be building south of this system too. It sure would be nice to see the models bump the intensity of this system up a little.
Note: 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 planet. 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. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split 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).
As of Tuesday (10/8) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) rose to 7.15. The 30 day average was up to 7.23 with the 90 day average was flat at 4.21. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was weakly indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was neutral if not still slightly biased toward La Nina territory.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated moderate west anomalies over the mid-Maritime Continent and continuing to look like a small Westerly Wind Burst (WWB). This is the first one of these in a very long time and remains good news. East of there neutral anomalies were in-play extending to the dateline, then turning to east anomalies south of Hawaii and continuing from there on into Central America. A week from now (10/16) neutral to very light east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent, turning weakly westerly on the dateline on to a point south of Hawaii and then neutral from there into Central America. In all this suggests the Active Phase of the MJO was in control of the West Pacific now and expected to deteriorate some a week out, but still not give way to anything indicative of an Inactive Phase. Maybe the WWB is will give a much needed burst of energy to the North Pacific jetstream and push some warm water eastward towards Central America long term, but it likely will not have enough duration for that.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 10/7 are in sync. Both models suggest the Active Phase was in control of the far West Pacific. This pattern is to hold for the next 5 days then start dissipating, gone 8 days out and fully dissipated 15 day out. The statistic model is more aggressive concerning the demise of the current Active Pattern while the statistic model has it barely holding on 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model suggests the Active Phase is on the dateline and is weakening some while easing east, forecast moving into Central America by 10/23 with a modest Inactive Phase building to the west and over the West Pacific by 10/25, and traversing the equatorial Pacific through 11/7. At that time a weak Active Phase is to again start building over the West Pacific. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.
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. As of now (10/7) the weak La Nina-like pattern that has held all summer is dead with a pure neutral water temp pattern now in-play. The small pocket of cooler water that we've been monitoring off the immediate coast of Peru this summer is gone, with no real outflow from it present except remnants generated months ago lingering south of Hawaii. At this point it looks like the Active Phase is starting to get the upper hand of surface water temps. The sympathetic anomalous cool pool off West Africa is gone. Further north the plume of slightly cooler than normal water that had been radiating southeast off California for 2 years is all but gone and displaced well east. A wall of warmer than normal water is holding tight along the North CA coast, having previously built off Japan and migrated east, slamming into California on 9/5 with thousands of nmiles of warmer water behind it moving east. No change is forecast. This is the result of the collapse of high pressure and north winds off the California coast (suppressing upwelling). This appears to be the final demise of La Nina and the start of the Fall season. But there's no sign of a legitimate warm pattern developing either. In short, we're moving into a pure neutral pattern.
Subsurface waters temps on the equator are not available due to the government shutdown.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 10/8 remains unchanged. The model indicates water temps have been hovering near neutral since January within only a +-0.25 deviation. The model has consistently been suggesting a turnaround with a warming trend taking hold and accelerating early Oct 2013 (+0.2 C) and up to near +0.8 deg C by Dec then slowly tapering down to +0.5 by the end of the model run on May-June 2014. This would suggest a weak El Nino possible for next year. But for the immediate future a neutral pattern is expected.
Overall the immediate outlook remains nothing stellar, but trending towards something that would be considered right on the threshold of warm, by Spring 2014, assuming one were to believe the model. Other models suggest a continuation of neutral conditions, though trending warmer. All this is good news. If anything the ocean is in a recharging mode, with cold water from the 2010-2011 La Nina dispersed and temperatures gradually on the rise again in fit's-and-starts.
We are in a neutral ENSO pattern with neither a solid El Nino or La Nina imminent. Expect a neutral pattern for Winter of 2013-2014 with perhaps a slightly warmer pattern by early 2014. The weak presence of the Inactive Phase of MJO in the summer of 2013 still seems to be biasing the weather global pattern. But with the ocean turning neutral, we suspect the atmosphere will make the turn as well over the next few months (into Dec 2013). This is a better place than previous years (2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013) under the direct influence of La Nina. It is becoming apparent we've finally recovered from the 2009-2010 El Nino. Longer term the expectation is there will be at least one to two years of neutral temperatures ultimately converging in a stronger warmer pattern and possible El Nino 2-3 years out (2015 or 2016). And historically, this is the 'normal' pattern (a few years of false starts post La Nina before a legit El Nino forms).
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino Update Last Updated 10/6/12
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest 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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Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast: Here's our first attempt at a video surf forecast for the week starting October 6, 2013. Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqLN9D6aIMc
Wall of Skulls - Here's a great video featuring Tahiti's famous wave. There's also a nice little plug for Stormsurf in it too. http://vimeo.com/70308073
Super Natural - Powerlines Productions has released their new big wave surf video chronicling the epic El Nino winter of 2009-2010 plus many other big wave event through the 2012-2013 winter season. It's a must see event for any big wave rider. It's for sale here: http://www.mavz.com/movies/super-natural/
Nantucket Marine Mammals has documented a short video concerning whale conservation and awareness off the Northeast US Coast. See it here: https://vimeo.com/68771910
Jason-1 Satellite Decommisioned - On June 21 an error occurred on board the Jason-1 satellite and it automatically shut down all critical functions. The satellite has since officially been decommissioned. It's last working transmitter failed on 6/21. All efforts have been made to get a response to no avail. The satellite has been placed in a parking orbit with it's solar panels turned away from the the sun. It's batteries are to discharge in the next 90 days. No additional data is expected from this satellite. We are working to start capturing data from the Jason-2 satellite, but that will take some time. More information to follow.
'CBS This Morning' with the Mavericks Invitational Surf Contest - See a nice morning TV show piece on the Mavericks Contest held Sun 1/20/13. The show aired Wed 1/23. Interviews with Colin Dwyer, Jeff Clark, Mark Sponsler and Grant Washburn: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50139546n
Jaws Redbull Contest Forecast Explained By Stormsurf
Cortes Bank Mission (12/21-12/22/2012)
The Making of 'Chasing Mavericks' - See some background footage on how the movie was made: Part1, Part2
The Psychology of Big Wave Surfing with Greg Long - A must see for any aspiring big wave rider: http://vimeo.com/51117940
Greg Long XCel Core Files - Here's a great profile of Greg Long and his contributions toward pushing the state of big wave surfing. Well Done - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd9pqgiXfxk&feature=player_embedded
Chasing Mavericks - The Jay Moriarty Movie: Two trailers for the new movie about Jay, Frosty and Mavericks has been posted. Movie opens on 10/26/12. Here's the link: http://www.mtv.com/videos/movie-trailers/818957/chasing-mavericks.jhtml & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNdYoX9Vfxg&feature=relmfu
Props from the Pros: Stormsurf was mentioned over the past week in two different media sources. One was in an interview Kelly Slater did with the New York Times and another was in a promotional piece Ramon Navarro did for the Big Wave World Tour. Many thanks to Curt Myers from Powerline Productions for alerting us and of course thanks to Kelly, Ramon and the Tour for using our service. Here's the links:
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table