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 (10/19) North and Central CA surf was knee high as best we could tell with thick fog and northwest wind at 5 kts adding some texture. Down in Santa Cruz surf was rarely thigh high and clean.In Southern California up north waves were flat and clean. Down south waves were thigh to maybe waist high coming out of the south and clean and rideable, but nothing more. Hawaii's North Shore was getting Kamchatka swell with waves head high and clean though a little warbled with new long period energy building underneath. The South Shore was knee high 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 a gale formed Mon (10/14) off the North Kuril Islands producing 24 ft seas but faded fast before even reaching the dateline. A pulse of small swell is hitting Hawaii and expected tracking into North CA by later Sunday. Of more interest is swell from an extratropical system that developed in the far Northwest Pacific tracking east with seas to 48 ft then pushing over the dateline with seas down to 41 ft Fri (10/18), then dissipating. Hawaii and California to fare about equal in terms of size with double overhead surf expected but neither is to be optimal. Theoretically another decent gale is forecast on the dateline later next week. So the season is trying to started, but nothing over the top is in the works yet. We'll take what we can get.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Saturday (10/19) the jet was pushing off North Japan on the 40N latitude with a pocket of 130 kt winds carving out a broad trough on the dateline then splitting north of Hawaii with the northern branch pushing up into Alaska and the southern branch tracking southeast over Hawaii then turning east and into Baja. There was some support for gale development in the dateline trough. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to continue holding if not deepening some with winds building to 160 kts off the Kuril Islands and falling into the trough by Mon (10/21) adding a little support for gale development. But those winds to fade some by Tuesday with the trough flattering out and support for gale development fading. Beyond 72 hours starting Thurs (10/24) a new large pocket of 180 kt winds are to build off the Kuril Islands falling into a broad developing trough again on the dateline and holding into late Friday offering good support for gale development, then fading some Saturday. This is to be the best upper trough we've seen projected in a good long time. And this trough is to erase the split flow with and singular flow tracking up into Canada.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (10/19) high pressure at 1024 mbs was ridging inland over the Canadian Coast while still draped south off California providing a bit of storm protection there. To the west a small cutoff low was circulating 700 nmiles north of Hawaii producing 25 kt north winds aimed at the Islands producing 15 ft seas generating 9 sec period windswell that will be pushing into Hawaii by late Monday, just serving to add some warble to the swell from Wipha. Otherwise swell for a gale previously off Kamchatka was hitting Hawaii and moving towards the US West Coast (see Kamchatka Gale below). But the big focus was Extratropical Storm Wipha (see details below).
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.
Extratropical Storm Wipha
On Wednesday (10/16) the remnants of Typhoon Wipha tracked north-northeast just off Northeastern Japan with west winds to 50 kts but getting little traction on the oceans surface aimed east. On Thurs AM (10/17) the gale turned east just off Kamchatka and just south of the Western Aleutians. Winds built to 55 kts with seas increasing to 47 ft at 50N 166E (323 degs HI, 308 degs NCal). 50-55 kt west winds held south of the Aleutians into the evening as the gale approached the dateline with the core in the Bering Sea generating 48 ft seas at 51S 173E (329 degs HI, 308 degs NCal). Friday AM (10/18) the gale continued east with a decent sized area of 40 kt west winds continuing south of the Aleutians and 42 ft seas at 50N 179W (heading mostly east of the 335 deg path to HI, 306 degs NCal). Fetch was fading in the evening with 35 kt west winds just south of the Eastern Aleutians and seas fading from 34 ft at 50N 170W (306 degs NCal). The gale is to be gone Sat AM (10/19) with winds 30 kts or less over the Northwestern Gulf with seas dropping from 27 ft at 50N 165W (307 degs NCal).
In all this was a reasonably powerful little system but positioned too far north and taking a easterly heading that doesn't push optimal energy down the great circle paths to Hawaii. The northward and distant position also doesn't favor Northern CA. Still, it's the best thing so far this Fall (which isn't saying much). Rideable long period swell is heading towards all Northeast Pacific locations.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival Sunday (10/20) building to 5.1 ft @ 18 secs (9-10 ft Hawaiian) with lots of push behind it. Swell to hold Mon AM (10/21) at 5.0 ft @ 16 secs (8-9 ft) early and fading through the day. Residuals on Tuesday fading from 5 ft @ 13-14 sec (6.5-7.0 ft) early Swell Direction: 323-330 degrees
NCal: Expect swell arrival Monday AM (10/21) with period 21 secs and size small but building steadily through the day pushing 5.5 ft @ 19-20 secs late (10 ft). Swell to continue on Tuesday (10/22) at 5.5 ft @ 17 secs early (9.5 ft) and holding as period drops to 16 secs late. Swell fading Wednesday (10/23) from 5.5 ft @ 15 secs (8 ft). Residuals on Thursday fading from 4 ft @ 13-14 secs (5 ft). Swell Direction: 303-308 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival Monday AM (10/21) with period 23 secs and size tiny and but building through the day pushing 1.1 ft @ 22 secs late (2.5 ft at exposed breaks). Swell to continue on Tuesday (10/22) building to 2.2 ft @ at 18 secs late (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell peaking Wednesday (10/23) at 2.7 ft @ 16 secs (4.0-4.5 ft early at exposed breaks). Residuals on Thursday fading from 2.3 ft @ 14 secs (3 ft). Swell Direction: 305-311 degrees
A broad low pressure system started developing off the Kuril Islands on Mon AM (10/14) with 35 kt west winds building in it's southwest quadrant and seas to 19 ft at 43N 160E and 24 ft up at 51N 168E and slowly fading while tracking east into the evening with winds down to 30 kts and seas 20 ft at 51N 170E. On Tues AM (10/15) 30-35 kt northwest winds barely were reaching south of the Aleutians near the dateline with 19 ft seas resulting at 50N 177E. On last patch of 18 ft seas to hold in the evening at 50N 176W before this system dissipates. Possible tiny 13-14 sec period swell for Hawaii and maybe dribbles for the US West Coast.
Also a weak low pressure system developed late Wednesday (10/16) on the northern dateline and falling southeast Thurs AM producing northwest winds at 35 kts and generating 20 ft seas at 42N 167W (1200 nmiles northwest of Hawaii on the 342 deg track) and fading. Small 13 sec period swell is to result for the Islands late Saturday (10/19) mixing with previous swell originating near Kamchatka (see forecast below).
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival late on Friday (10/18) with swell to 3.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.5 ft faces). Swell building Saturday (10/19) to 5.5 ft @ 12 secs late (6.5 ft faces). Swell fading Sunday from 6 ft @ 11 secs (6.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 335 degrees.
NCal: Small swell to arrive Sun (10/20) building to 3.0 ft @ 13 secs mid-day (4 ft faces) and very inconsistent. Swell continuing Mon (10/21) at 3 ft @ 12 secs (3.5 ft faces). Very inconsistent. Swell Direction: 305-308 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Saturday (10/19) Super Typhoon Francisco was positioned 1000 nmiles south-southeast of Kyoto Japan with winds 140 kts (161 mph) tracking slowly north-northwest. This track to continue with winds peaking in the evening at 145 kts (167 mph), then a slow fade to begin. By Wednesday (10/23_ Francisco to be 450 nmiles south-southwest of Kyoto with winds 100 kts, then turning more to the northeast. The GFS model has it moving inland over Southern Japan while the official track has it staying at sea. It's anyone's guess what will actually occur, but this system bears watching, especially if it turns northeast.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (10/19) high pressure at 1024 mbs was locked over the Canadian Coast with the tail end of it draped off California. A light north winds pattern was in effect for the North and Central Coast. The same is expected Sunday (10/20) but with north winds building to 20 kts off Cape Mendocino late holding into Monday AM, then fading. A weak northerly flow is forecast over the North and Central Coasts. Low pressure northeast of Hawaii is to build a little Tuesday and a near dead local wind pattern is to take hold of California through Friday (10/25) into Saturday.
Surface - On Saturday (10/19) 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.
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 starting Tues (10/22) a small low is to race east off Japan building some while crossing the dateline late but getting sucked up into another circulation over the Eastern Aleutians. On Wed (10/23) it is to finally start wrapping up with a small area of 40 kt north winds developing in it's west quadrant aimed at Hawaii with 22 ft seas building near 47N 172W. By Thurs AM (10/24) all fetch is to wrap into the gale south and east quadrants aimed mainly northeast at the Aleutians with a small area of 26 ft seas developing at 50N 163W before the entire gale lifts north into the Bering Sea and over Alaska. Maybe a small pulse of sideband swell to radiate into the Pacific Northwest and Northern CA with luck.
Of more interest is a small but strong storm forecast falling southeast from Kamchatka and developing on the southern dateline region Fri AM (10/25) with a thin area of 45-50 kt northwest winds slowly easing east into Sat AM (10/26) with seas building to 36 ft over a small area at 40N 177W targeting Hawaii best and the US West Coast from a more distant position. This one bears monitoring. And more tropical activity is forecast approaching the gale from off Japan. Nice little setup if it materializes.
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 (10/19) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) fell to -7.74. The 30 day average was falling at 2.96 with the 90 day average falling from 3.39. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was neutral if still not slightly biased toward Inactive Phase/La Nina territory but weakening.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated limited pockets of weak west anomalies over the Maritime Continent continuing to the dateline but fading and turning more neutral progressing to a point south of Hawaii. Neutral wind anomalies dominated from there on into Central America. With westerly anomalies holding on, tropical development in the West Pacific should continue. A week from now (10/27) weak easterly anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent turning to light easterly anomalies on the dateline fading to neutral south of Hawaii, and continuing if not turning westerly from there into Central America. In all this suggests the Active Phase of the MJO is holding on, but not strong, and is to start giving way to the Inactive Phase a week out. And maybe the WWB of 10/7-10/12 will provide a much needed burst of energy to the North Pacific jetstream (as it appears to already be doing) 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 10/18 are generally in-sync. Both models suggest the Active Phase was gone with a weak Inactive Phase trying to get a toehold in the far West Pacific making only the faintest eastward progress over the next 15 days. So some flavor of weak Inactive Phase seems possible. The ultra long range upper level model suggests the Active Phase is dissipating over the East Pacific, and is to be all but gone by 10/27 with a modest Inactive Phase building to the west and over the West Pacific by 10/27, traversing the equatorial Pacific through 11/10 then moving into Central America. At that time a very weak Active Phase is to again start building over the West Pacific (11/11) and moving slowly east into 11/26. 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 (10/17) the weak La Nina-like pattern that has held all summer is dead with a pure neutral water temp pattern in-play. The 10/14 image hinted at cooler water building along the immediate coast of Peru, but that's gone as of today's update. Otherwise 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 was gone but has returned slightly, displaced well east. A wall of warmer than normal water that was holding tight along the North CA coast has retrograded slightly, allowing cooler water to move in locally, the result of multiple north wind events. Still thousands of nmiles of warmer water is lurking just off the coast and moving east. And high pressure is breaking up along the CA coast, with water temps already on the increase. Still 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 have not changed since before the government shutdown, with a pure neutral pattern in play. A pocket of warm water 2 degs C above normal is down at 150 meters just west of the dateline (170E). Will monitor to see if it starts making eastward headway 9indicative of a Kelvin Wave).
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 10/19 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 +0.5 deg C by Dec and holding into 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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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
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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
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Cortes Bank Mission (12/21-12/22/2012)
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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