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.
On Tuesday (11/1) North and Central CA was seeing swell from the dateline at about 3 ft overhead with locally generated windswell at about the same size. Winds light offshore early but north off the coast adding a rather raw warbled quality to the surf. Down south wrap around energy was chest high on the sets and pretty clean. Southern California was not getting much up north with windswell knee to thigh high and clean. Down south local windswell was in the thigh high range and slightly textured. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more dateline swell with waves 1 ft overhead high and clean. The South Shore was getting background southern hemi swell with sets near waist high and clean. The East Shore was getting north windswell with waves head high and chopped by easterly trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view
A decent gale developed on the dateline pushing into the Western Gulf Fri-Sat (10/29) with up to 30 ft seas providing swell that was fading in Hawaii and about peaking for Central CA but buried in locally generated windswell. Another local gale is to develop just off British Columbia late Wed (11/2) and fall southeast along the US West Coast into Friday with seas to 24 ft. Larger and very raw north angled swell expected to result for North and Central California on Fri-Sat (11/5). And yet another stronger gale is forecast to follow over the dateline Wed (11/2) with 30 ft seas, then fade fast and race east, redeveloping in the Northeastern Gulf on Sat (11/5) with 26 ft seas before pushing southeast into Oregon later in the day. Another pulse of raw protoswell possible for the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA. The Active Phase of the MJO is to try and make a showing next week, but no dramatic turnaround is expected from it.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (11/2) the jetstream continued on a rather northerly track with weak energy over Kamchatka falling into a weak trough just off the coast there, then ridging up into the Southern Bering Sea over the Aleutians before falling into another weak trough in the Northern Gulf of Alaska. Winds were generally 100 kts or less except in the ridge over the dateline and in the leaded edge of the trough in the Gulf pushing into Canada/Alaska. No real support for gale development was indicated. Over the next 72 hours the ridge on the dateline is to expand well to the north on Wed (11/2) with near 180 kts winds pushing up through it, then dropping into the trough in the extreme Northeastern Gulf. That trough is to provide some support for gale development, but is to be very close to the Canadian coast and dropping southeast eventually tracking into Central CA on late Thursday. Also the trough off Kamchatka is to try and develop a little as it moves toward the dateline on Wednesday, but winds speeds to be light. No much support for gale development forecast from it. Beyond 72 hours a generally broad ridging pattern is to persist over the Eastern Pacific generally supressing gale development. There is suggestions of a decent trough setting up off Japan a week out, but that holds no validity this early.
At the surface on Tuesday (11/1) strong high pressure at 1032 mbs was ridging into Washington with weak low pressure south of it, setting up a strong pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino with 30-35 kt north winds there generating larger local north windswell that was currently hitting Central CA. This gradient is to quickly fade into the evening with windswell on the way down in Central CA by Wed AM (11/2).
Over the next 72 hours low pressure is to start building in the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska on Wed AM (11/2) generating 35 kt northwest winds and 20 ft seas at 47N 145W (308 degs NCal). This gale is to continue into the evening while easing east with 24 ft seas forecast at 48N 141W (310 degs NCal). Fetch is to hold at 35 kts on Thursday AM while falling southeast with 26 ft seas moving to 46N 135W or just off the Oregon Coast (310 degs NCal). More of the same in the evening with the fetch just off Cape Mendocino and seas to 24 ft at 42N 132W (310 NCal). The core of the gale is to hit Central CA on Friday AM (11/4) with 30 kt northwest winds just off the coast and seas to 22 ft 200 nmiles out then moving onshore over Pt Conception in the evening with 20 ft seas dissipating just off the coast there. Based on this scenario large raw and windy northwest proto-swell is expected impacting North and Central CA on Friday with residuals fading on Saturday (11/5).
Also a gale forecast to start wrapping up Tues (11/1) midway between Japan and the dateline tracking east-northeast. By evening a solid fetch of 50-55 kt north to northwest winds are forecast in it's west quadrant almost aimed at Hawaii, but not quite. Wednesday AM (11/2) 55 kt northwest winds are forecast in it's southwest quadrant at 46N 170E (40 degs south of the 303 deg path to NCal and right up the 320 deg path to HI). Seas building to 30 ft at 46N 170E. Wed PM 45 kt northwest winds to hold while easing north with 26 ft seas forecast at 45N 176E (322 degs HI and 300 degs NCal). The gale itself is to be lifting fast to the north and moving almost entirely in the Bering Sea Thurs AM (11/3) with 40 kt northwest winds barely exposed south of the Aleutians and seas from previous fetch fading from 20 ft on the dateline 40S 180W, all generated from previous fetch. Perhaps some degree of modest northwesterly swell to result for Hawaii if all goes as forecast, but likely little for the US West Coast.
A stronger gale dropping from the Bering Sea into the Western Gulf on Fri AM (10/28) with a solid fetch of 40 kt northwest winds south of the Aleutians and 45 kt northwest winds up in the Bering Sea falling southeast. Seas starting to build from 28 ft at 49N 178E (on the dateline). By the evening a fetch of 40-45 kts northwest winds were south and clear of the Eastern Aleutians. Seas were building from 30 ft at 48N 173W (338 degs HI). On Saturday AM (10/29) 40 kt northwest winds were starting to fade with seas dropping from 27 ft over a modest area at 47N 167W (303 degs NCal and mostly outside the HI swell window at 348 degrees). Theoretically 35 kt northwest fetch is to hold as the gale moves into the Northern Gulf of Alaska Saturday evening with 24 ft seas mostly from previous fetch moving east to 48N 158W (307 degs NCal). More 35 kt west fetch to building in the Northern Gulf Sunday AM (10/30) resulting in 20 ft seas up at 50N 145W (315+ degs NCal) pushing east in the evening and out of the NCal swell window. Seas holding at 22 ft at 54N 142W offering swell for the Pacific Northwest, but nowhere south of there.
Northern CA: Residual dateline swell continuing Wed (11/2) at 5 ft @ 13 secs (6.5 ft) with fading local windswell intermixed. Swell Direction from the dateline: 303 degrees with local windswell from 310+ degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (11/1) a defined gradient was in place over Cape Mendocino later generating north winds there to 35 kts and 30 kt north winds extending from Southern Oregon down to off Monterey Bay. Large local windswell was in the water. The gradient is to evaporate thought the evening and be gone by Wednesday AM with light winds expected for all CA coastal waters. But low pressure is to be dropping south with high pressure west of it on Thursday (11/3) and north winds to again be the result by late-afternoon, building from 15 kts. Rain moving into North CA Thurs AM and into Central CA late Afternoon pushing the whole way to Southern CA on Friday. Maybe 8 inches of snow for Lake Tahoe too. There's some suggestion the main fetch might stay off the Central CA coast early Friday, though 20 kt northwest fetch is to move onshore over the area south of Monterey Bay and then affecting all of North and Central CA by afternoon. Improving conditions Saturday but another south falling low and associated fetch is to be in the picture washing over all of North and Central CA late Saturday into Sunday. Rain for Central CA late evening Saturday pushing to Pt Conception Sunday AM and evaporating. Maybe 6 inches of snow for Lake Tahoe on Sunday. A little break perhaps on Monday while high pressure builds off the coast, but doesn't push onshore with maybe even clean conditions on Wednesday.
At the surface on Tuesday (11/1) in the South Pacific no swell producing fetch was occurring. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast.
Previously starting on Tuesday (10/25) in the South Pacific a series of small gales were tracking rapidly west to east just off the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. 32 ft seas were under New Zealand at 57S 170E with another tiny area of 36 ft seas at 60S 157W. By Tuesday evening the New Zealand fetch was producing 36 ft seas at 59S 180W and the other to 38 ft at 60S 140W. Again all fetch was aimed due east. On Wednesday AM (10/26) the New Zealand system was fading with seas dropping from 36 ft at 58S 170W with the other one producing 36 ft seas at 56S 122W and moving out of the CA swell window. Follow-on fetch is to continue from the New Zealand system with seas to 34 ft migrating to 52S 170W on Wednesday PM, then fading out. All the fetch from the New Zealand system was shadowed by Tahiti relative to CA and on a very easterly track relative to both HI and CA. Background swell expected from both at south facing breaks in California (starting Sat 11/5). Perhaps a little bit better size from the New Zealand system relative to Hawaii starting Wed (11/2). Surf forecast details to be posted in the QuikCASTs as swell approaches.
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 residuals from a gale scheduled for the Dateline Wed-Thurs (11/3) is to track though the Bering Sea an then fall into the Gulf of Alaska starting Friday (11/4) with 35 kt northwest winds starting to become exposed. By evening 35-40 kt northwest winds are forecast with seas building to 26 ft at 52N 148W (northern Gulf of Alaska). Fetch is to fad from 30 kts Saturday AM (11/5) with seas holding at 26 ft at 51N 141W (319 degs NCal) and focused mostly on the Pacific Northwest. residuals from this gale to push into British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest starting Friday evening with seas fading from 22 ft at 48N 134W (319 degs NCal). Residual seas to push into the Pacific Northwest on Sunday (18 ft) with possible raw north angled swell into Central CA on Monday (11/7). Will monitor.
Beyond there hints of a new gale building the Central Gulf on Tues (11/8) with 30 kt west winds and a stronger one west of the dateline in a building trough off Japan. something to give us hope.
As of Tuesday (11/1) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down again at 3.62. The 30 day average was down some at 8.83 with the 90 day average up some to 7.92.
Current wind analysis indicated modest to weak easterly anomalies were blowing from the Central Pacific over the dateline and into Indonesia. Moderate easterly anomalies were also over the East Pacific. This indicates the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in control of the entire Pacific but focused more on the Central Pacific than the West. This offers some hope. The models indicate that a large area of Westerly Anomalies are to start building over Indonesia a week out (11/9) but not reaching the Pacific Ocean just yet. This is out big hope for the Active Phase of the MJO. Weak easterly anomalous are to continue over the West, Central and East Pacific, indicative of the fading core of the Inactive Phase holding in that region. The longer range models all suggest that by Nov 9 or so the Active Phase of the MJO is to be returning to the West Pacific and tracking east through 11/21. And the 40 day upper level model is suggesting all little more strength to it than previous projected holding out till 11/25. This window is our best shot at swell, until another Active Phase appears probably not till the later half of December.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (10/31) continues to indicate that cooler waters (-1 C degs) had a grip on the equator covering from a point south of Southern CA to the dateline and increasing their coverage. Embedded were pulses of cooler water still pushing from east to west. Cooler than normal waters were also present in feeder bands originating off the US West Coast and Chile sweeping fully to the intersection of the dateline and the equator, serving to continue the existing La Nina pattern. This is typically what is referred to as a 'horseshoe pattern'. At least the cooler waters off the US West Coast were not expanding coverage anymore nor getting cooler as they had in late July into August. But warmer than normal waters are not building any over the Galapagos Islands, and if anything were getting eroded pretty quickly on into Central America. Overall the big picture looks very much like La Nina.
Below the surface on the equator things are unchanged. Colder than normal water that had been locked all winter (2010-2011) southeast of Hawaii under the equator evaporated in late February 2011, then returned starting in early July. An impenetrable wall of colder than normal water (-3 degs C) developed in mid-July locked at 140W separating warm anomalies in the east and west, blocking any eastward progress of warmer subsurface water. On 7/21 it vaporized, with a clear subsurface path present allowing warmer subsurface water to flow eastward. But then as quickly as it redeveloped, it died with the cold pool re-emerging starting on 7/30 and built far stronger by early August with waters -5 deg C below normal and holding strength and position on the equator and south of Hawaii blocking the warm water flow eastward. It weakened some in late August then reappeared in early Sept and dropped to -4 degs C slowly rebounding to -2 deg C in mid-Sept, holding there until early October when it dropped back down to -4 degs and then -5 mid-month. But by 10/20 thru 10/31 it was up to -3 C and trying to push east initially, then stalling, presumably the effect of the Active Phase of the MJO that occurred in late Sept/early Oct. Regardless, this area of cool subsurface water was blocking the normal warm flow to the east and suggests that overall a pattern biased towards the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in control.
Ocean currents for the equatorial Pacific on 9/5 were unchanged from the previous month flowing anomalously west in the far West Pacific with a small pocket of strong easterly flow at 120W. Previously we found anomalies developed flowing from west to east starting in February and were continuing through June 2011 (a little weaker towards mid-June than earlier in the month). Westerly anomalies continued in July to (thru 7/22) Easterly anomalies were isolated to a small area on the equator at 120W. We oft look at such symptoms as an El Nino indicator, but that does not seem likely given all the other data. But that coupled with a falling SOI at least it depicts a tendency towards normal conditions. Will monitor. Historically it is very unlikely if not impossible to have an El Nino form directly behind a La Nina. More typical is several years of a slow buildup before an actual El Nino event occurs. This suggest the warm waters currently pooling up off Ecuador will likely dissipate as summer progresses but at the same time, the cooler than normal horseshoe pattern over the North and South Pacific will dissipate too.
Remnants of what was a moderate plus strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) are still evident and momentum from this La Nina event are expected to hold well into the Spring of 2012. In short, it's 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, especially in summer months. 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 imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino update.
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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Powerlines Productions, Big Wave Filmmakers since 1994, deliver their latest project, Super Natural on November 3rd in San Francisco at the Balboa Theater at 7:15 PM. The documentary film takes you on a tour with some of the best big wave surfers in the world riding giant waves from powerful Pacific winter storm systems. Filmed during the epic El Niño and La Niña winter seasons the movie takes you on an insiders journey to the fa bled big wave breaks of Maui's Pe'ahi (Jaws) and Northern California's Mavericks . World class surfers and underground legends tell their stories as they go back to the roots of paddling into giant waves thought to be unfeasible years ago without the use of jet skis. Mixed with a hand picked soundtrack and edge-of-your-seat highlights, see what makes these athletes 'Super Natural' as they risk it all chasing waves and dreams for the ultimate thrill. Featured Surfers: Shane Dorian, Chris Bertish, Danilo Couto, Yuri Soledade, Carlos Burle, Ion Banner, Travis Payne, Alex Martins, Tim West, Twiggy, Greg & Rusty Long, Shawn Dollar, Peter Mel, Skindog Collins, Ed Guzman, Pato Teixeira and Zach Wormhoudt. Advance tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/204985
Steve Colleta Surfboards - Check out surfboards by local shaper Steve Coletta - A long time Santa Cruz local and master shaper. Progressive shapes for North and Central CA waves http://www.naturalcurvesboards.com
Chasing the Swell has been nominated for a Webby Award. See details of this great piece of video journalism below. Some say this is the "Oscars" of online awards.One of the awards is voter based. If you have a moment, please cast your ballot by going to: http://webby.aol.com, register, then click on the "Get Voting" tab and then to the "Online Film and Video" > "Sports" category and vote for "Chasing the Swell".
Timmy Reyes - Curt Myers from Powerlines Productions found this little gem with Timmy Reyes providing a brief statement about which sites he uses for swell chasing. Thought we'd pass it on. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P30ZCQOsYwY
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Stormsurf Mobile App (1/9/11) We are proud to announce the official public release of our smartphone mobile app. It provides access to our most popular and commonly used products, optimized for use on the road, on the beach or anywhere you don't have a desktop or laptop. With a smart phone and signal, you will have access to our data. And we're not talking just a few teaser products - We're talking full feature wave models, weather models, real-time buoy data, manually built forecasts and hundreds of spot wave and wind forecasts enabling you to construct a surf forecast for any location on the planet, all from your cell phone and all for free. No subscription required and no hidden fees. And better yet, there's a few new things sprinkled in that are not yet available even on our full-featured web site. From your smart phones browser just navigate to: www.stormsurf.com/mobile
Mavericks Surf Shop Grand Opening - Sunday, December 19 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. rain or shine! Check out the new home of Jeff Clark's Mavericks Surf Shop, now located at 25 Johnson Pier in Pillar Point Harbor. The shop features much of Clark's surfing memorabilia, classic boards and photos, as well as an entirely new line of Jeff Clark original Mavericks clothing, accessories and surfboards. The shop has been open in the new location since December 8, and the Grand Opening party is set for this coming Sunday, just in time for Christmas. The party starts at 2 p.m., with live music, food and drinks. Jeff Clark and many Mavericks surfers will be there to meet the public. Local restaurants Ketch Joanne's and Princeton Seafood will serve up delicious food, while San Francisco Wine Trading Company is providing the beverages. The shop will be open all weekend, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Stormsurf Maintenance Upgrades: Buoy 46059 and 46012 were replaced a month or so ago. Totally new buoys were installed. Here on Stormsurf we had to reset the algorithms used to calculate 'pure swell' for them. That was accomplished on 11/13. Pure swell numbers are now correct. Links: 46012, 46059
Also since we moved to the new weather model server last month we discovered that our Longrange Precipitation Models ceased to display frozen precipitation (as they once did). Some of our scripts did not get installed on the new server. That has been fixed (11/13) and now snow is again viewable worldwide. Here the new North America sample.
Chasing The Swell: Sachi Cunningham from the LA Times spent the entirety of last winter chasing surfers and swells around the North Pacific with her high def video cam. Her timing couldn't have been any better with the project exactly coinciding with the strongest El Nino in 12 years resulting in the best big wave season in a decade. And being an accomplished surfer herself helped her to bring a poignant and accurate account of the what it's like to ride big waves and the new (and some not so new) personalities that are revitalizing the sport. This is must-see material for any surfer or weather enthusiast. Check it out here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/chasingtheswell/
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.
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table