New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead). Summer - Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft) Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft). Summer - Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs. Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
On Sunday (10/3) North and Central California was getting the last pulse of swell from the Gulf of Alaska with surf double overhead early and building, pushing 15 ft mid-day and a little ruffled but still reasonably clean. Fog was in control early but cleared out. Southern California was getting waist high plus sets coming from the Gulf of Alaska up north and clean early. Down south waves were chest to head high and clean early. Hawaii's North Shore was getting leftover swell Gulf swell at chest to head high and clean early. The East Shore was getting wrap around energy from the North Shore at waist high with lightly chopped conditions. The South Shore was getting waist high New Zealand swell with decent form and clean conditions.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for surf dropping from 7.5 ft on Monday (though probably a bit bigger early) with local windswell taking over on Tuesday at about the same size (7.5 ft faces) dropping from 6.5 ft early Wednesday and then waist high on Thursday. Some background New Zealand swell is expected at 2.5 ft starting later Monday then holding on through early Thursday. Southern California is to see more swell from the Gulf at chest high Monday then being taken over by local northerly windswell later Tuesday at waist to chest high holding on Wednesday then gone by Thursday. But some southern hemi New Zealand swell is expected in on Monday too at thigh high pushing waist high plus Tuesday then waist high Wednesday dropping from thigh high Thursday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see fading waist high Gulf swell on Monday down to thigh to waist high Tuesday then going flat. The East Shore is to start seeing east local windswell on Monday (10/4) at chest to head high holding into Wednesday then dropping from waist to chest high Thursday. The South Shore is to see fading New Zealand swell at thigh high early Monday then going flat.
Swell generated by near gale force winds (30 kts) developed in the Gulf of Alaska on Friday (10/1) producing 20+ ft seas. That swell has already passed Hawaii and is hitting California on Sunday but is to be heading down through the early workweek. No other swell producing weather system are on the charts for the next 7 days. So the nice run of Fall swell that has been hitting for the past week is officially over.
Down south reinforcing energy from one last storm that tracked under New Zealand last weekend has already hit Hawaii and heading down. It is to reach primarily Southern California on Monday and hold into the middle of the workweek, but will likely be masked by north swell and windswell at all but the most protected breaks in Central California.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (10/3) the North Pacific jetstream had a healthy flow running generally over the 45N latitude with a slight trough on the dateline with 160 kt winds flowing into it the lifting gently through the Gulf of Alaska before pushing inland over the Pacific Northwest. There was some limited support for gale development in the dateline trough. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to push east into the Gulf of Alaska and hold with more 150 kt winds flowing into it offering some support for gale development. Of not, a backdoor trough is to set up over Central CA on Tuesday likely making for cooler windy conditions down a the surface. Beyond 72 hours the Gulf trough is to stall and hold in the Central Gulf into the weekend (10/10) with winds slowly fading. Diminishing support for gale development forecast.
At the surface on Sunday (10/3) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was located 1200 nmiles west of Pt Conception and not ridging in to the CA coast yet, but generating trades at 15 kts over the Hawaiian Islands. Swell from what was presumably a gale in the Southern Gulf of Alaska on Friday (10/1) was hitting the coast far stronger than expected. Otherwise generic weak low pressure was over the dateline on up into the Northern Gulf of Alaska, generating up to 25 kt western fetch, but of no particular interest. Over the next 72 hours the dateline low pressure system is to lift northeast into the Northern Gulf and try to develop some, producing ra tiny fetch of 40 kt west winds Monday evening at 50N 155W resulting in up to 26 ft seas on Tuesday AM at 50N 148W mostly all heading towards British Columbia. It's to be 13000 nmiles from Central CA with maybe limited energy pushing down the 315 degree path there, perhaps arriving Thursday PM with period at 13-14 secs. But odds are low and even if it does happen, swell size will be minimal. Otherwise a pressure gradient is to fire up over the North and Central CA coast starting Monday AM and peaking Tuesday AM with up to 35 kt north winds pushing down the Central CA coast, generating much local windswell, but also poor conditions. High pressure at 1024-1028 mbs is to be holding over the dateline area. Trades to persist east of the Hawaiian Islands at 15-20 kts, best Monday late evening, then fading Tuesday into early Wednesday. Maybe some easterly windswell for the East Shore. But overall, no real swell of interest is forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (10/3) a weak pressure pattern was in effect with light winds in control locally out of the southwest at 5 kts in Central CA. That is to change quickly by Monday AM as high pressure races east and an upper backdoor trough develops above Northern CA with north winds building to 20 kts down the entire North and CEntral coast even wrapping into Southern CA late. The gradient is to build on Tuesday with 30-35 kt north winds over North and Central CA and lesser winds over outer Southern CA waters, and conditions pitiful. But, the gradient is to pull away from the coast about mid-Tuesday with an eddy flow quickly building in. The gradient is to totally dissolve through the day Wednesday though the eddy flow is to persist everyone save Southern CA. After that things to go dead calm into early Saturday then another gradient start to build as high pressure moves into the Northern CA coast. Northwest winds at 15 kts are forecast later Saturday and all of Sunday (10/10) making for pretty blown out conditions north of Pt Conception with another full on gradient expected by Monday.
On Sunday (10/3) a weak trough was located in the Southeast Pacific with 150 kt west winds riding over it, not really offering much in terms of support for gale production. This general pattern is to persist for the next 72 hours. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to get a bit better defined but not positioned in the far Southeast Pacific almost east of the Southern CA swell window. No real support for gale development.
At the oceans surface persistent 40 kt westerly fetch was blowing near 60S 150W just barely clear of the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf generating 30 ft seas at 57S 140W but all aimed due east. No swell of interest is to be radiating north towards California, though Chile might do alright. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast with seas in the 28-30 ft range at 48S 140W but all aimed due east. No swell radiating north.
One More New Zealand Gale
A gale low developed under New Zealand with up to 55 kt west winds over a small area on Friday AM (9/24) at 55S 175E aimed mostly east of any great circle track to Hawaii or the US West coast and continued east in the evening at 55S 177E. It was fading into Saturday AM. 35 ft seas were indicated Fri AM At 55S 170E pushing 42 ft in the evening at 55S 180W and again at 42 ft Saturday AM at 55S 172W. The issue was that though seas were large, all energy was aimed due east and not pushing up into the Hawaiian or CA swell windows.
Limited swell for Southern CA at select south facing breaks not masked with stronger northerly swell is possible starting Monday (10/4) at 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (3 ft faces) continuing at 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces) on Tuesday (10/5) and 2 ft @ 15 secs on Wednesday. Swell Direction: 214 degrees.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
72 hrs spurious weak low pressure is to continue circulating over the extreme
Northern Gulf of Alaska perhaps drawing energy up into it from further south in the Gulf. Perhaps some 30 kt west fetch is to develop off the Central CA coast on late Thursday (10/7) but quickly getting sucked northeast into Friday. Maybe some 15 ft seas to result with luck pushing towards the coast for the weekend, but that is likely an optimistic assessment. Otherwise nothing of interest is suggested.
We're updated the official El Nino forecast an it is now posted at the link below.
As of Sunday (10/3) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued solid in the positive range. The daily SOI was at 34.49 and has been that way in excess of 76 days now. The 30 day average was at 25.34 with the 90 day average up to 21.52 and still rising. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is in firm control.
Wind anomalies as of Saturday (10/2) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated a weak easterly anomaly extending from south of Hawaii over the dateline to the Philippines, vaguely suggesting the Inactive Phase of the MJO. A weak Active Phase (west anomalies) was trying to organize in the Indian Ocean. The Inactive Phase is forecast to slowly push east into Central America through 10/12, with the Active Phase trying to reach into the West Pacific at that time, then totally fizzle out and die with a neutral pattern back in play by 10/22.
We believe the remnants of El Nino are just about gone from the upper atmosphere. The expectation is that we'll see a building moderate to moderate plus strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) for the remained of 2010 extending well into 2011 and likely to early 2012. In short, the next year and half is going to be tough for surfers on west facing shores in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, though east facing shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (9/30) indicates that downright colder than normal waters (-2 C degs) continue to expand their grip on the equator covering solidly from South America west to the dateline and beyond and are in fact getting cooler and covering a larger area over time, extending the whole way to New Guinea. The coldest waters extended from a point off South America pushing gently northwest towards the dateline, a clear signal of strong easterly winds there and solid upwelling. Feeder bands of cooler than normal water continued building off the US West Coast and South America sweeping fully to the dateline, only serving to reinforce what is already an impressive La Nina pattern, suggesting stronger than normal high pressure has built in both hemispheres and upwelling is in full effect in the Gulf of Alaska and off South America. This is good for sea life and the food chain (since they tend to like colder waters), but bad for storm production. Looks like a classic La Nina setup.
Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present and if anything colder than normal water was building strong over the dateline and pushing east (sort of like a cold Kelvin Wave). This pocket was -5 degs below normal (getting a little warmer than previous readings of -7 degs in mid- Sept. but this is still not good.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond. And now from a historical perspective these easterly winds were slightly anomalous, blowing harder than normal from the east to the west, as would be expected looking at all the other data. But this is a rather recent development, with only normal winds indicated prior to 9/11. The interesting twist to all this is that the Pacific current that runs along the equator turned abruptly from flowing towards South America to flowing towards the Philippines in mid-March (2010), right as the SOI started it's impressive drive into positive territory and the North Pacific winter storm machine abruptly shut down. And it has not wavered since. But trades never waiver from the normal range. This suggests trade wind anomalies might be a byproduct of the Pacific equatorial current change and not the other way around i.e. the trades do not drive the temperature change initially, but the current change does. And then the atmosphere responds in kind to the change, building high pressure and reinforcing the flow and water temps. Said a different way, the change in the current might actually foretell a coming change in the trades, and then with the advent of the trade wind change, it only serves to reinforce the current in a self amplifying loop, until such time as the cycle runs it's course and the self feeding system collapses over a multiyear period. At that time the current then switches direction, and a whole new self-enforcing cycle stars anew. Something to consider (regarding the formation and El Nino/La Nina).
El Nino is effectively gone and slowly losing it's grip on the global upper atmospheric weather pattern. Still some lingering impact might continue through early Fall 2010, but likely not enhancing the storm track in the South Pacific any longer. A transition to cooler than normal conditions (La Nina) is expected through Nov 2010, and the signs continue to point to a La Nina pattern for the long term future.
See more details in the El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours a continued weak gale pattern is forecast circulating just off the northern edge of Antarctic Ice in the Southeast Pacific Wed-Thurs (10/7) but all aimed due east towards Southern Chile. No swell to be radiating north into our forecast area.
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
Interview with Stormsurf: Coastviews Magazine has written up a very nice article on Stormsurf in their latest edition. You can read it here: http://coastviewsmag.com/master-forecaster-mark-sponsler-and-stormsurf
Stormsurf Hi-Res Coastal Precipitation Models Upgraded Though a bit late in the season, on 3/20 we implemented the same basic technology used in our new snow/ski models into the coastal hi-res precipitation models. So now you can not only determined whether rain is forecast for your area, but also snow. And not just light, medium or heavy snow like most sites, but the exact snowfall amount (in inches) for each 3 hr frame of the animation. Here's a sample, but now this approach is used in all our precipitation models. http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=nwcoast_precip
Stormsurf Precip Models Upgraded! On 2/20 we upgraded some of the broader precipitation models driven by the hi-def GFS model to include snow fall. The algorithm used is similar to the recently released snow models for the Southwest US in that the areas where snow is expected are identified and the exact amount of snow forecast over a 3 hr window is explicitly color coded. For East and West Coast US interests the following links provide good examples:
West Coast: http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=nepac_precip
East Coast: http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=watla_precip
Stormsurf Weather Models have all been upgraded! Over the New Years break we installed all new and upgraded weather models. Also new are experimental snow models for the Southwest US. Take a look here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
Read about Eric Nelson and Curt Myers, the makers of Ride-On and other Big Wave Surf Movies here: http://coastviewsmag.com/powerlines-productions-filming-the-art-of-big-wave-surfing
Ride On! Powerlines new big wave epic is now available on DVD. Get the entire big wave story of the 2008-2009 season here: http://www.mavz.com/
||Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here: http://www.casanoble.com/
Interview With Stormsurf: The crew at SurfScience.com worked with Stormsurf on a feature about why surfers should be able to read wave charts themselves. They are firm believers that a little learning can go a long way to help your surfing. This is a great article to help convince your friends that they can benefit from being able to read the data themsleves rather than just relying on the forecasts of others. See the full thing here: Create Your Own Surf Forecast with Stormsurf
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.
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