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 Saturday (10/12) North and Central CA surf was up to chest high at top spots and clean but a little warbled and weak. Down in Santa Cruz surf was knee high or so with rare sets to waist high and clean but very inconsistent - small southern hemi energy occasionally showing. In Southern California up north waves were rarely thigh high and clean but weak. Down south southern hemi swell was fully hitting with sets chest high plus and lined up with clean conditions. Hawaii's North Shore was getting north windswell at thigh to maybe waist high and clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. 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 small and fading in Central CA generated by a weak version of the normal pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino. Swell from a small gale that developed just east of Kamchatka with seas to 28 ft early Wed AM (10/9) was expected to arrive in Hawaii on Sunday (10/13). A tiny and weak gale developing Saturday (10/12) on the northern dateline with barely 19 ft seas forecast. Beyond a marginally better pattern is expected starting Mon (10/14) with a gale off the North Kuril Islands producing 22 ft seas with another right behind on Wed (10/16) also with 22 ft seas. Perhaps a tropical system to follow generating 38 ft seas off Kamchatka late in the workweek but fading as approaching the dateline. Hawaii to fare best if all this comes to pass.
In the South Pacific swell from a stronger gale that was in the Central Pacific Thurs AM (10/3) with 38 ft seas aimed a bit northeasterly was hitting Southern CA, but will be gone by early next week. Nothing else to follow.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Saturday (10/12) the jet was tracking northeast off Northern Japan forming a ridge over the Northwest Pacific reaching up to the Aleutians then falling into a small trough barely reaching south of the Eastern Aleutians before ridging again up into Alaska then falling down the US West Coast pushing fully in land over San Francisco. 130 kts winds were falling into the Gulf trough offering some support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours winds in the Gulf trough to build to 150 kts Saturday evening, then loosing strength and pinching off in the Central Gulf before dissipating early Monday. It to offer only limited odds to support gale development down at lower levels of the atmosphere. Back to the west 140 kt winds to start building over a broader area forming something that almost is to look like a trough approaching the dateline but not quite doing it. By late Tuesday (10/15) winds to start building to 190 kts forming a ridge off the Kuril Islands then falling hard south on the dateline as the winds spill over the top of the ridge Thursday forming a pinched trough just east of the dateline. No clear support for gale development indicated. Beyond 72 hours the pinched trough east of the dateline is to push south to a point just north of Hawaii and in the Western Gulf Saturday (10/19) with 130 kt winds still falling into it with more to follow. Some support for gale development possible, but not ideal.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (10/12) high pressure at 1024 mbs was over the Eastern Gulf of Alaska moving up into Central Canada continuing just the weakest pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino CA producing 20 kt north winds early resulting in minimal north windswell along exposed breaks of North and Central CA. A small low pressure system was on the dateline but offering only minimal swell producing fetch (see North Dateline Gale below). Also swell from another gale of Kamchatka earlier in the week was pushing towards Hawaii (see Kamchatka Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours some form of broad low pressure is to start developing off the Kuril Islands on Mon AM (10/14) with 35 kt west winds building in it's southwest quadrant and seas to 23 ft at 44N 160E and slowly fading while tracking east into the evening with winds down to 30 kts and seas 20 ft at 45N 169E. On Tues AM (10/15) 30-35 kt northwest winds to barely be reaching south of the Aleutians near the dateline with 20 ft seas resulting at 46N 175E and north of there. On last patch of 20 ft seas to hold in the evening at 50N 175W before this system dissipates. Possible tiny 13-14 sec period swell for Hawaii and maybe dribbles for the US West Coast.
On Tues PM (10/8) a gale over the Kamchatka Peninsula was pushing east over open waters of the Northwest Pacific generating a small area of 40 kt west winds with seas building from 26 ft at 50N 164E and up to 27 ft by 06Z Wed (10/9) at 50N 167E. Unfortunately that gale started fading by Wed AM (10/9) with a broad fetch of 30 kt west winds dissipating and seas fading from 23 ft at 50N 170E (aimed a bit east of the 326 deg path to Hawaii and 2200 nmiles out). By evening this system was gone.
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).
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival near sunset on Sat (10/12) with period 16 secs and size barely noticeable. Swell to arrive in earnest Sun AM (10/13) at 2.7 ft @ 14 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) and period dropping to 13 secs late. Residuals on Mon (10/14) 3.2 ft @ 12 secs (3.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 320-325 degrees
North Dateline Low
Low pressure built over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians Friday (10/11) with a small area of 30-35 kts southwest and northwest winds developing. No seas of interest forecast yet. Late Friday (10/11) the low continued generating a better defined area of 30-35 kts northwest winds over a small area resulting in a tiny area of 18 ft seas at 48N 180W targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. By Sat AM (10/12) 19 ft seas were at 47N 177W, but projected to be gone 12 hours later. Maybe a tiny pulse of 11-12 sec energy to results for Hawaii with luck. Will monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Saturday AM (10/12) Typhoon Nari was in the South China Sea positioned 300 nmiles east of Central Vietnam with winds 85 kts and tracking west. This motion is to continue with Nari rebuilding with winds to 95 kts Sun AM (10/13) targeting the North-South Vietnam border arriving Monday AM (10/14) with winds 75 kts and then moving onshore. No swell production for our forecast area is expected.
Typhoon Wipha formed Sat AM (10/12) about 1000 nmiles south-southeast of Kyoto Japan with winds 65 kts and tracking northwest. This motion is to continue with slow strengthening forecast. Winds to peak at 105 kts Mon AM (10/14) 650 nmiles south of Kyoto then making a turn to the north-northeast and northeast with forward speed accelerating. This system is to skirt the East Japan coast on Wednesday (10/16) with it's energy being sheared and sucked into a developing gale just east of Kamchatka. See the Long Term forecast for details.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (10/12) high pressure at 1026 mbs remained locked 800 nmiles west of San Francisco forming a very weak pressure gradient over North CA, though far weaker than days previous. North winds were down to 20 kts over open waters off Cape Mendocino and fading. By Sunday the gradient is to rebuild slightly with north winds back to 20 kts over Cape Mendocino but pulled away from the Central coast with a light wind regime in effect nearshore for everywhere but North CA. The gradient to hold Monday at 20-25 kts but well away from the coast from Pt Arena southward and holding Tuesday. Then the gradient dissipates Wednesday as a broad low pressure system develops north of Hawaii well off the Oregon coast holding high pressure at bay. A light wind regime is forecast nearshore through Saturday (10/19).
Surface - On Saturday (10/12) swell from a storm that formed in the deep South Central Pacific was arriving in CA (see SPac Storm below). Otherwise no swell producing weather systems were in play.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing gale activity is forecast aimed up into our forecast area.
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 to be fading for Southern CA on Sunday (10/13), dropping from 2.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours another small gale is to develop off Kamchatka generating 40 kt west winds Tues PM (10/15) with seas on the increase. By Wed AM (10/16) a small area of 40 kt west winds to be approaching the dateline with 25 ft seas at 47N 170E pushing east. By evening 30-35 kt west winds to be just east of the dateline with 22 ft seas reaching 47N 177W. The gale is to be fading over the Aleutians in the far Western Gulf Thurs AM (10/17) with 30 kt northwest winds and 20 ft seas at 48N 172W. Maybe some small swell for Hawaii with luck.
Remnants of the above gale to fall south circulating nor1200 nmiles north of Hawaii Fri AM (10/18) generating a fragmented area of 30 kt northwest winds and mostly 16 ft seas with a tiny core building to 22 ft at 40N 160W Saturday (10/12). Maybe small swell for Hawaii and the US West Coast.
Of more interest is to be a tropical system building and tracking north along Eastern Japan possibly feeding yet another gale building over the Western Aleutians Fri (10/18) with 45 kt west winds and seas to 38 ft tracking towards the pre-existing trough and low in the Western Gulf north of Hawaii. Something to monitor, especially considering the jet is to be troughing well into the Gulf.
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 Saturday (10/12) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) rose to 19.27. The 30 day average was falling at 6.68 with the 90 day average nearly flat at 4.21. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was weakly indicative of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was neutral if not still slightly biased toward Inactive Phase/La Nina territory.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated neutral anomalies over the Maritime Continent reaching to the dateline. Something that previously looked like a mini-Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) that lasted for about a week had dissipated. East of there neutral anomalies were in-play extending from the dateline south of Hawaii and continuing from there on into Central America. With westerly winds fading, tropical development in the West Pacific could cease. A week from now (10/19) neutral anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent on to the dateline and south of Hawaii continuing from there into Central America. In all this suggests the Active Phase of the MJO is fading, but not giving way to anything indicative of an Inactive Phase. Maybe the previous WWB will provide 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 10/11 are generally in-sync. Both models suggest the Active Phase was barely in control of the far West Pacific. This pattern is to hold for the next 3 days then start dissipating, gone 5-8 days out. The statistic model suggests a modest Inactive Phase is to start building in the far West Pacific 10-15 days out while the dynamic model suggests just a neutral pattern holding. The ultra long range upper level model suggests the Active Phase is dissipating over the Central Pacific, all but gone by 10/17 in the mid-Pacific with a modest Inactive Phase building to the west and over the West Pacific by 10/27, traversing the equatorial Pacific through 11/7 and moving into Central America. At that time a weak Active Phase is to again start building over the West Pacific. But the overall MJO signal is to be very weak. 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 (10/10) 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, or at least be in parity with the Inactive Phase. The sympathetic anomalous cool pool off West Africa is gone too, replaced by slightly warm water. 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 10/12 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 +0.6 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. A consensus of other model suggest gradual warming too, but not passing into mildly positive territory till Spring of next year.
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 models. 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