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.
New Weather Models
With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon): http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
On Sunday (10/23) North and Central California was getting modest raw swell from a gale that was off the coast 24 hours earlier with waves 3-5 ft overhead and trashed by south winds and lot's of rain. Southern California was waist high up north and clean with a mix of southern hemi and Gulf swell in the water. Down south rare sets in the chest to maybe head high range were showing coming from the southern hemi and clean with sun and nice conditions, a big difference from up north. Hawaii's North Shore was getting some Gulf leftover swell with waves waist high or so and clean early. The East Shore was effectively flat and warbled with light trades in effect. The South Shore is asleep for the winter with waves 2 ft or less.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for new larger Gulf swell arriving Monday pushing 10 ft with unshadowed breaks to maybe 15 ft but likely trashed by unfavorable local winds. Swell to be settling down on Tuesday from 7 ft in SF and 8-9 ft elsewhere then dropping from 7 ft on Wednesday. Thursday windswell at 5 ft is expected with possible new raw swell for Friday. Southern California is to see larger northerly swell later on Monday at 6-7 ft at exposed breaks holding into early Tuesday then fading (though this might be a bit on the high side). Chest high leftovers expected for Wednesday dropping to knee high or so Thursday. Possible chest to shoulder high Gulf swell for Friday with luck. The North Shore of Oahu is to see energy from the northern dateline region building to head high Monday and then waist to chest high Tuesday before going flat on Wednesday and holding there through Friday. The East Shore is to see tradewind generated east windswell on Monday (10/25) at chest high and holding there (maybe up to head high) through Friday. The South Shore is asleep for the winter.
One more in a series of weak local gales is positioned off Washington on Sunday (10/24) with 36 ft seas but on the very northern edge of the Central CA swell window and is expected to produce more raw jumbled local swell for Central CA northward on Monday, but instead of rain and south wind it's to be strong north winds from clearing high pressure building in. Yet another small gale is forecast to develop in the far Western Gulf of Alaska late Mon/Tues (10/26) building while falling into the Gulf of Alaska with 26 ft seas moving to within 600 nmiles of Northern CA on Wednesday before pushing into Northern Oregon on Friday. Raw windy swell likely for Central CA northward late in the workweek. A bigger system is forecast developing on the northern dateline region on Thursday too (10/28) and falling into the Gulf over the weekend with seas in the 37-38 ft range initially, then moderating while tracking east towards the Pacific Northwest. Possible sideband swell for Hawaii with larger swell for the US West Coast if this develops as forecast (a long shot)
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (10/24) the Pacific jetstream was energetic with a solid flow of 180-190 kt winds tracking from the dateline flat east into Oregon on the 43N latitude. There was a weak trough trying to organize as this flow was pushing into Oregon likely supporting some degree of gale development at the oceans surface there. Back to the west an almost split flow was pushing off the Southern Kurils with winds at 130 kts not offering any support for gale development, then the flow came together on the dateline and picked up velocity as previously discussed. Over the next 72 hours another pocket of 160 kt winds is to be building over the Kuril Islands ridging northeast fast (Mon-Tues 10/26) and targeting the Bering Sea, then diving hard south into the Gulf of Alaska Wednesday with winds to 180 kts and forming a steep trough there providing potential for more solid gale development in the Eastern Gulf. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to push into Central CA on Friday while yet more solid energy builds on the dateline with another pocket of 190 kt winds setting up and pouring into the Gulf with a mild trough forecast there pushing into Central CA on late Sat (10/31). This to provide more support for local gale development off the US West Coast. And by Sunday yet more 180 kts winds are forecast over the dateline moving into developing trough north of Hawaii looking poised to push towards the US West Coast again. Yet more support for gale development likely.
At the surface on Sunday (10/24) another gale was poised just off the Pacific Northwest. It formed 1200 nmiles west of there on Saturday AM (10/23) with 40 kt west winds at 43N 145W with seas building. IN the evening 50 kt west winds were modeled at 44N 137W and seas to 23 ft at 43N 138W. This system continued growing in areal coverage on Sunday AM (10/24) with 45 kt west winds at 45N 135W aimed entirely at North Oregon with 30 ft seas at 44N 133W (315 degs Central CA). This system is to be holding in the evening with 50 kt west winds at 47N 134W and 34 ft seas way up at at 45N 130W outside even the NCal swell window then and pushing into British Columbia Monday AM (1/25). Rough data suggest some degree of very north angled swell reaching into Central CA Monday AM (10/25) peaking around noon at 11-12 ft @ 15 secs (16 ft) from 315+ degrees but likely very raw, shadowed in the SF Bay Area, and not particularly good.
Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to get a foothold over the Northeast Pacific and dateline regions fueling trades over Hawaii by Monday AM (1025) and local easterly windswell development there. Also it is to fuel the development of a pressure gradient centered over Pt Conception but affecting all region of Central CA resulting in local north winds and windswell with poor conditions forecast. But at the same time more low pressure is to be queuing up north of the high pressure system over the dateline with 35 kt west winds forecast in this gale at 47N 175W tracking east with seas building. Tuesday the gale is to reach the Central Gulf of Alaska with winds building to 40 kts at 45N 158W and seas reaching 20 ft. In the evening things are to start getting a little more interesting with 40 kt northwest winds at 44N 148W aimed decently at Central CA down the 296 degree path but for the most part totally bypassing Hawaii. Seas forecast at 35 ft at 45N 150W. On Wednesday (10/27) 40 kt northwest fetch is to hang on dropping to 43N 143W with 26 ft seas at 44N 142W (302 degs Central CA). The gale is to edge east and try to reorganize in the evening with more 35 kt northwest winds Thursday AM (10/28) at 43N 137W (303 degs NCal) with 20 ft seas at 40N 135W. The gale is to fade Thursday with swell from it pushing into the Pacific Northwest and likely radiating southeast towards Central CA for days ahead. This is to be another local weather situation for the Central CA coat with raw and unrefined swell the likely result. Will monitor.
Small Hawaiian Swell
Remnants of a broad gale that circulated just off Kamchatka on Tues (10/19) generated 40 kts west winds over exposed waters and got some traction on the oceans surface with seas to 25 ft. Some small energy from this system is likely to result in minimal background swell for Hawaii starting late Saturday (10/23) at 2.5 ft @ 15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) building slightly in to Sunday then lingering well into next week.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (10/24) the front associated with the last in the immediate series of gales was pushing into Central California, with south winds and rain down to Morro Bay. Theoretically some sprinkles;are forecast down into Southern CA over night. Regardless, by Monday AM high pressure is to to be building into the state with a pressure gradient setting up over Pt Conception and north winds building there to 30 kts by sunset with north winds at 10 kt or greater reaching up into the SF Bay area early and building. Southern CA is to remain mostly protected from the north winds event. North winds to cover the entire North and Central Coast Tuesday before fading Wednesday as another gale sets up just off the Central coast. South winds and rain are expected down to Big Sur on Thursday with rain pushing down to Pt Conception later Friday. Yet another front is forecast for Saturday for the same region too from a new gale forecast for the Gulf.
At the oceans surface on Sunday (10/24) no swell producing fetch was occurring at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast with no swell producing weather systems modeled.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
72 hrs a large gale is to be developing in the Bering Sea on Thursday (10/28) with 45 kts west winds north of the Aleutians Islands but limited 40 kt west fetch just barely south of the Aleutians on the dateline. Supposedly seas building to 30 ft over the extreme North Pacific. Regardless, the gale is to be dropping into the Western Gulf of Alaska on Friday with a decent sized fetch of 40 kt northwest winds free and clear of obstruction in the evening with supposedly 30-32 ft seas up at 50N 160W (307 degs Ncal - 358 degs HI). The gale is to quickly wither while more energy builds behind dropping into the Western Gulf on Sunday (10/31) with 40 kt northwest winds forecast. It's way too early to know if any of this will really occur but at least it suggests more swell development potential exists for the long term. The Active Phase of the MJO is doing as it is supposed to.
See the official El Nino/La Nina Forecast using the link posted below.
As of Sunday (10/24) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued in the positive range regardless what the MJO was doing. The daily SOI was at 29.14. The 30 day average was up to 24.22 with the 90 day average effectively unchanged at 22.33 (it can't realistically get any higher).
Wind anomalies as of Saturday (10/23) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated that the MJO was settling down more. Fading but stubborn easterly anomalies continued in the far Eastern Pacific pushing into Central America, indicating a fading Inactive Phase of the MJO was still holding on. In the West a more moderate Active Phase (west anomalies) was filling the eastern 50% of the Indian Ocean and tracking into the far Western Pacific though not reaching the dateline any longer. The core remained over the Philippines. The Inactive Phase is forecast to dissipate on 10/28 with the Active Phase holding on west of the dateline and moderating almost gone by 11/2. There is no suggestion it will reach Central America anymore. A totally neutral wind pattern is forecast by 11/7 and holding through 11/12.
This is the first real Active Phase of the MJO so far this Fall and it continue to offer at least some potential fuel to support formation of North Pacific gales starting 10/18 and continuing for a few weeks (into the first week in November). The models have now picked up on this trend with a continuing series of gales forecast for the East Pacific. It is pretty typical for MJO Phases to be not well defined during summer months or during El Nino years, and to then become much more apparent as Fall develops, with the effects at the surface more obvious then too. The swing from Active to Inactive and back to Active becomes more pronounced too during La Nina years. So this current development of a strong Active Phase is not unexpected. We'll be following the phase shifts much more closely this Winter because only during the Active Phase will there be good potential for storm development.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (10/21) continues to indicate that downright colder than normal waters (-2 C degs or cooler) expanding 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 were on the equator, but a broad secondary area extended from a point off Chile 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 if not mature 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. 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 -6 degs below normal on 10/18 (getting a little warmer than previous readings of -7 degs in mid- Sept). regardless, 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 now fully 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. The expectation is that we'll see a building moderate plus strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) for the remainder 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. That is not to say there will be no storms, in fact, there could be short periods of intense activity when the Active Phase gets an opportunity to come to fruition, but that will be the exception rather than the rule, with the Inactive Phase trying to keep a cap on storm activity.
See more details in the El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch 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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New Weather Models With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon): http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
New Weather Model Server Stormsurf has installed another weather model production server. This has enabled us to spread the load across more servers allowing us to post both wave and weather model updates much quicker. Also we are testing new content (like North America jetstream, winds and precipitation, local wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments). The model menus will be updated shortly with these new links.
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/
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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.
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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!
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table