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 Thursday (10/24) North and Central CA surf was head high and lined up but a little wonkey with northwest wind bump on it. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high with some chest high peaks and fairly clean. In Southern California residual Kamchatka swell was waist high on the sets and lined up but a bit bumpy with northwest wind coming up. Down south waves were waist high and textured but some decent lines. Hawaii's North Shore still had swell with waves chest to head high with a little cross wind on it. 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 a small gale developed in the Northern Gulf Thurs (10/24) with up to 26 seas but aimed mainly at Canada and only lasting 6-12 hours. Maybe small swell down into Central CA late in the weekend. What was supposed to be a stronger gale forecast on the dateline Fri-Sat (10/26) has been downgraded, with only with 18 ft seas targeting Hawaii and one small pocket just south of the Aleutians at 25 ft mid-Saturday, again targeting Hawaii with swell starting over the weekend. Two pulses of 24-26 ft seas are forecast tracking from Japan to the dateline Sun-Mon (10/28) offering more small swell for the Islands, but after that things are to really quiet down.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Thursday (10/24) the jet was pushing firmly off North Japan at 140 kts on the 42N latitude falling gently into a broad trough over the dateline, weakening and turning hard north north of Hawaii moving into Alaska. A small split flow was falling from the Gulf southeast and into Baja. In all there was ongoing support for gale development in the trough over the dateline, but nothing remarkable. Over the next 72 hours the trough over the dateline is to hold if not build Friday (10/25) with up to 190 kt winds projected flowing into it holding into late Saturday then starting to pinch off and lift hard north into Sunday. More support for gale development expected. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to lift up into Alaska with support for gale development fading out on Monday. By Tuesday (10/29) a generally flat flow is forecast with 130 kt winds off Japan and the whole jet down near 40N, gently tilting northeast and pushing onshore over British Columbia. A bit of a trough is again to form on the dateline Wed 910/30) but pinching off 24 hours later while moving into the Western Gulf. Bare minimal support for gale development possible.
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (10/24) residual swell from what was extratropical storm Wipha was still arriving in California, but on the way down. A weak cutoff low pressure system at 1008 mbs was off California but no longer producing fetch. It previously was in the Gulf generating 30 kt north winds and 16 ft seas Wednesday (10/23) at 41N 142W but mainly aimed south-southeast offering no windswell potential for California or Hawaii.
Of slightly more interest was a gale that tracked northeast off Japan and was in the Western Gulf on Wednesday (10/23) with 35 kt west and northwest winds but those winds were getting little traction on the oceans surface with the gale moving as fast northeast as the winds it was producing. The gale finally stalled Thurs AM (10/24) just shy of the Eastern Aleutian Islands with winds building to 45 kts over a tiny area with seas 26 ft at 53N 163W before moving over the Aleutians. 22 ft seas held in the evening at 53N 162w (311 degs NCal). There's some possibility for small sideband swell pushing towards the US West Coast affecting Central CA northward. But pure swell to reach only 3 ft @ 13 secs late Sunday (10/27) in the SF Bay area from 300-311 degs. Maybe some sideband swell for Hawaii too at 3.5 ft @ 11-12 secs (4 ft faces) on Sat (10/26) from 320 degrees.
Over the next 72 hours a small low is forecast falling southeast from Kamchatka and developing on the southern dateline region Fri AM (10/25) with a broad area of 30-35 kt northwest winds generating 18 ft seas at 40N 180W. Winds to fade in the evening 30 kts over a broad area but relocated northwest and aimed southeast at Hawaii with seas holding at 18 ft at 41N 177W. Sat AM (10/26) winds to build to 40 kts just south of the Aleutians with seas building to 24 ft over a tiny area up at 49N 180W targeting Hawaii best. Winds fading and falling southeast from 35 kts in the evening with 24 ft seas at 45N 180W again targeting the Hawaiian Islands. By Sunday AM (10/27) the gale is to be gone. Maybe some swell to result mainly for Hawaii starting Monday (10/28) if all goes as forecast.
Also starting Sat AM (12/26) the extratropical remnants of Typhoon Francsico and Lekima are to merge off North Japan tracking northeast with winds fading from 65 kts and seas near 40 ft at 38N 154E. This system is to be reorganizing in the evening with winds down to 35-40 kts and seas mainly from previous fetch fading from 32 ft over a small area at 42N 161E. Residual 35 kt westerly fetch to be racing east Sun AM (10/27) producing 23 ft seas at 40N 163E. 35 kt west winds to continue approaching the dateline in the evening with seas to 26 ft at 38N 170E (310 degs HI). By Mon AM 910/28) this system is to be fading out with seas from previous fetch 24 ft at 36N 177E (311 degs HI). This system to dissipate after that. Maybe another small pulse of swell for Hawaii to result.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Thursday (10/24) the remnants of Typhoon Francisco were positioned 300 nmiles south of Southern Japan with winds 60 kts tracking northeast. This track to continue while forward speed accelerates Fri AM (10/25) with winds down to 45 kts. Francisco to merge with Lekima (below).
Also on Thursday Typhoon Lekima was in the far West Pacific 750 nmiles southeast of Tokyo with winds 115 kts tracking north-northwest. Lekima to turn north and northeast, positioned 450 nmiles east of Tokyo Japan on Fri AM (10/25). and making a curve to the northeast. The GFS model has Lekima and Francisco merging east of Japan. See the short term forecast above.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (10/24) a weak pressure pattern was in control off the US West Coast. Weak low pressure was 700 nmiles west of North CA. A weak northerly wind flow was in effect for the CA coast. As this low moves slowly east moving northeast, a near dead local wind pattern is expected for California through Saturday (10/26). There's suggestions of high pressure building just off British Columbia late Saturday setting up north winds at 20 kts off Oregon to Cape Mendocino Sunday, but a near calm local flow is suggested from Pt Arena southward and holding into Monday AM. But by the afternoon the high and north winds are to build into Central CA at 15 kts and up to 25 kts over North CA, but then fading to calm through the day Tuesday with light winds for the entire state by Wed. More high pressure is to be ridging into the Pacific Northwest on Thurs (10/31) with northwest winds building in the afternoon to 20 kts over Cape Mendocino and maybe 15 kts over Pt Conception.
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 another weak gale is to be pushing off the Kuril Islands on Mon-Tues (10/29) with 35 kt northwest winds and 22 ft seas reaching to 40N 170E, then dissipating, if one is to believe the models. Maybe Hawaii to get a background pulse of swell. Another small gale is forecast forming off the Kuril Islands on Thurs (10/31) tracking east. So there's a little hope.
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 Thursday (10/24) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down at -8.25. The 30 day average was holding at 0.88 with the 90 day average falling from 2.69. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was neutral if not still just barely biased toward Inactive Phase/La Nina, but weakening.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated light to modest west anomalies over the Maritime Continent and light easterly anomalies just west of the dateline turning neutral on the dateline, and holding that was over the dateline progressing to a point south of Hawaii. Neutral wind anomalies continued from there on into Central America. With westerly anomalies holding on, tropical development in the West Pacific should continue. A week from now (11/1) very weak easterly anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent turning dead neutral on the dateline to a point south of Hawaii, and then turning moderately westerly from there into Central America. In all this suggests the Active Phase of the MJO is to be exiting over the East Pacific while the Inactive Phase tries to make an entrance over the West Pacific a week out.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 10/24 are not quite in-sync. Both models suggest a neutral pattern was over the Pacific today, with a weak Inactive Phase trying to get a toehold in the far West Pacific 5 days. From there the dynamic model diverges from the statistical model, with the dynamic model showing a developing Inactive Phase of the MJO over the West Pacific reaching moderate strength, while the statistic model has it effectively barely being present at all over the next 15 days. It will be interesting to see what happens. 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 10/31 with a modest Inactive Phase building in the west 10/31 and peaking over the Central Pacific by 11/15. Another pulse of the Active Phase is forecast developing over the far West Pacific 11/21, but reaming exceedingly weak. Overall MJO signal is very weak and is likely to weak further. 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 (10/24) the weak La Nina-like pattern that has held all summer is dead with a pure neutral water temp pattern in-play. There's even some small pockets of warmer water off the immediate coast of Peru but not building. This suggests 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 remains invisible. In the North Pacific the plume of slightly cooler than normal water tracking southwest to the equator that has been driven by high pressure off California is weak. A wall of warmer than normal water that was holding tight along the North CA coast remains slightly retrograded from the coast, allowing cooler water to upwell locally. Still thousands of nmiles of warmer water is lurking between Japan and just off the North CA coast. And high pressure is gone off CA, with water temps already on the increase. Still there's no sign of a legitimate warm pattern developing either. In short, we've moved into a pure neutral pattern.
Subsurface waters temps on the equator indicate a pocket of warm water 2 degs C above normal is down at 150 meters and now relocated from just west of the dateline (170E) to the dateline (180W) and tracking east. Will monitor to see if it continues making eastward headway (indicative of a Kelvin Wave).
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 10/23 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
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/
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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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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