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 (10/26) North and Central CA surf was thigh to waist high with top spots having maybe a few chest high peaks and weak but clean but with some underlying warble. Down in Santa Cruz surf was thigh to waist high and clean but very weak. In Southern California up north surf was thigh high on rare sets and very clean early. Down south waves were thigh to waist high and clean but foggy early. Hawaii's North Shore was small with waves maybe thigh 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 tiny swell from a small gale that developed in the Northern Gulf Thurs (10/24) with up to 26 seas aimed mainly at Canada was heading towards California for late in the weekend into early next week. A weak gale developed on the southern dateline Fri (10/25) with 18-20 ft seas initially then redeveloped just south of the Aleutians at 22 ft mid-Saturday, all targeting Hawaii. Small swell to arrive Monday (10/28). Extratropical remnants of Typhoons Lekima and Francisco were merging off Japan Saturday AM (26) and forecast to push east barely reaching the dateline with seas 25 ft offering another small but decent pulse of swell mainly for Hawaii mid-week. Another pulse to be right behind tracking from Japan to the dateline Mon-Tues (10/29) with seas 24 ft. And then one more gale is forecast on the northern dateline late in the workweek with seas pulsing to 36 ft supposedly then fading fast. The storm pattern is all focused in the far West Pacific for now with high pressure in control of the East.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Saturday (10/26) the jet was ridging north over the Kuril Islands then falling hard into a well developed trough over the dateline with winds in the trough to 190 kts and pushing east offering good potential for gale development. The jet is to be ridging hard north over the Gulf of Alaska supporting high pressure down at the surface. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to pinch off and lift hard north into Sunday all but gone over the Western Gulf on Monday with support for gale development fading out. 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 (10/30) but is to pinch off 24 hours later while moving into the Western Gulf. No real support for gale development possible. Another weak trough is forecast west of the dateline late Thurs-Fri (11/1) but winds 110 kts and lifting hard northeast. Not much likely from this one. Beyond the jet is to remain well to the south with most energy over the West Pacific, but no real support for gale development is indicated.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (10/26) tiny swell from a gale that developed just shy of the Eastern Aleutians was building in Hawaii and heading towards California (see Tiny Aleutian Gale below). Of slightly more interest was a small low that fell southeast from Kamchatka and started developing on the southern dateline region Fri AM (10/25) producing a broad area of 30-35 kt northwest winds generating 18-20 ft seas at 40N 178W at 18Z. Winds were faded in the evening to 30 kts over a broad area but relocated northwest and aimed southeast at Hawaii with seas barely holding at 18 ft at 39N 175W. Sat AM (10/26) winds were building to 35 kts just south of the Aleutians aimed south with seas building to 19 ft over a tiny area up at 49N 180W targeting Hawaii best. Winds fading and falling southeast from 35 kts in the evening with 22 ft seas forecast at 45N 179W again targeting the Hawaiian Islands. By Sunday AM (10/27) the gale is to be gone. Assuming all this to be true some swell is to start result hitting Hawaii on Monday (10/28) building to 5.4 ft @ 12-13 secs (6.5 ft faces) from 315 degrees. Swell to be fading Tues (10/29) from 4.8 ft @ 12 secs(5.5-6.0 ft faces).
Also on Sat AM (12/26) the extratropical remnants of Typhoon Francisco were being absorbed by Typhoon Lekima off North Japan and tracking northeast with winds fading from 65 kts and seas near 40 ft at 37N 155E aimed well up the 297 degree track to NCal and decently towards HAwaii down the 300 degree track. This system is to be reorganizing in the evening with winds down to 35-40 kts and seas mainly from previous fetch fading from 28 ft over a small area at 40N 161E (297 degs NCal, 306 degs HI). Residual 30-35 kt westerly fetch to be racing east Sun AM (10/27) producing 24 ft seas at 39N 167E (310 degs HI, 294 degs NCal). 35 kt west winds to continue approaching the dateline in the evening with seas to 26 ft at 38N 173E (312 degs HI, 295 degs NCal). By Mon AM (10/28) this system is to be fading out with seas from previous fetch 25 ft at 38N 178E (314 degs HI, 290 degs NCal). This system to dissipate after that with no additional fetch expected. Maybe another small pulse of swell for Hawaii to result starting late Wed (10/30) with swell to 4.8 ft @ 15 secs (7 ft faces) from 308-312 degrees.
And a second weak gale is to be pushing off the Kuril Islands on Sun PM (10/27) with 35-40 kt northwest winds generating 25 ft seas at 43N 155E. That gale is to track southeast with winds down to 35 kts Mon AM (10/28) with seas 25 ft at 41N 162E, continuing southeast in the evening with winds still 35 kts and seas 24 ft at 40N 170E. The gale is to be gone Tues AM (10/29) with seas fading from 20 ft at 40N 180W. Hawaii to possibly get a second pulse of swell if all goes as forecast. swell.
Tiny Aleutian Gale
On Wednesday (10/23) a gale that tracked northeast off Japan was in the Western Gulf with 35 kt west to 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 and 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 2.6 ft @ 13 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces) late Sunday (10/27) fading to 3 ft @ 11-12 secs (3.0-3.5 ft) Monday AM in the SF Bay area from 300-311 degs. Maybe some sideband swell for Hawaii too building to 3.5 ft @ 11-12 secs (4 ft faces) on Sat (10/26) from 320 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Saturday AM (10/26) the remnants of Typhoon Francisco were positioned 300 nmiles east of Tokyo Japan with winds 35 kts tracking east northeast and getting absorbed by Typhoon Lekima (below).
Also on Saturday Typhoon Lekima was 1000 nmiles east of North Japan with winds fading from 65 kts tracking north-northwest. Lekima was loosing tropical characteristics and becoming absorbed by a non-tropical low over the Kuril Islands that is forecast to develop more and track east to the dateline (see Short Term forecast above). This is the last update for Lekina.
ON Sat AM (10/26) Tropical Storm Raymond was 500 nmiles south of Cabo San Lucas tracking west-southwest with winds 60 kts. Raymond is forecast to develop some reaching minimal hurricane status Sunday, the start fading and turning to the north on Monday. But it is to be fading fast. No swell is expected to be generated for CA or HI.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (10/26) a weak pressure pattern was in control off the US West Coast. Weak low pressure at 1018 mbs was was 500 nmiles west of Central CA falling south while weak high pressure at 1028 mbs was moving inland over British Columbia. A weak northerly wind flow was in effect for the CA coast. As this low moves slowly south high pressure is to build in behind relative to CA setting up north winds at 20-25 kts off Oregon to Cape Mendocino Sunday, with a near calm local flow neashore from Pt Arena southward early but with north winds taking over Central CA late Sunday at 15 kts and building to 25 kts Mon AM over all of Central CA, then starting to fade late. But this is to be a short lived wind event, with winds fading to calm by Tuesday AM and holding. A light north wind pattern is expected for the entire state by Wed building some Thursday to maybe 10 kts then fading Friday as low pressure builds off Oregon on Friday. Light winds forecast Saturday but with a local low off Oregon with 45 kt north winds possible. A front and north winds possibly to follow behind on Sunday (11/3).
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 another small gale is forecast forming west of the dateline Thurs PM (10/31) tracking northeast with northwest winds at 50-55 kts and seas building to 38 ft Fri (11/1) at 18Z at 44N 178E but quickly fading while lifting up to the Eastern Aleutians. It looks nice on the charts but is hardly believable at this early date.
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 (10/26) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down at -26.95. The 30 day average was holding at 0.90 with the 90 day average falling from 2.34. 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. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator or surface level weather trends.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated light west anomalies over the Western Maritime Continent turning neutral east of there and continuing to the dateline and holding neutral south of Hawaii on into Central America. With light westerly anomalies holding on, tropical development in the West Pacific should continue. A week from now (11/3) neutral anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent holding over 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 a neutral pattern sets up over the West Pacific a week out.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 10/25 are not in-sync. Both models suggest a neutral pattern was over the Pacific today, with the dynamic model suggesting 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 15 days out, while the statistic model has a dead neutral pattern in play over the next 15 days. It will be interesting to see what happens. The ultra long range upper level model has not updated since 10/22 but then it 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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New - Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (10/27) - http://youtu.be/XypogcVpUoY Subscribe to the Stormsurf001 YouTube channel for automatic notifications of updates - jut click the Subscribe button below the video.
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