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 (11/7) North and Central California was getting wind whipped soggy leftover swell from Saturday in the chest to head high range at exposed breaks and miserable. Southern California was getting limited wrap-around energy from the Gulf of Alaska with waves up to chest high up north with some moderate texture on it from northwest winds. Down south sets were about the same at chest high and textured there as well. Hawaii's North Shore continued getting sideband leftover swell from the Gulf of Alaska with waves shoulder high and with strong trades blowing, putting a bit of warble on it. The East Shore was getting locally generated east tradewind windswell at chest to shoulder high and chopped. The South Shore was asleep for the winter with waves 2 ft or less.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for new swell moving in Monday at 8.5 ft (on the face) holding at 8 ft Tuesday. Wednesday more of that swell continues at 8 ft with local windswell on top. New swell theoretically is set for Thursday at 10-11 ft but with local windswell on top. Friday things settle down with surf down to 7.5 ft. Southern California is to see new Gulf swell pushing near chest high late on Monday up north then holding for Tuesday and fading from waist high Wednesday. New swell expected for Thursday at up to 1 ft overhead at exposed breaks fading from chest high early Friday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see new north dateline swell on Monday at 7 ft on the face but fading fast from shoulder high Tuesday AM. Waist high dribbles left on Wednesday before another sideband pulse of northwest swell arrives Thursday at head high fading from waist high Friday.The East Shore is to see east windswell at 1 ft overhead Monday then easing off slightly (head high) Tuesday, and then shoulder high Wednesday through Friday. The South Shore is effectively asleep for the winter.
A gale tracked over the dateline Thursday and into the Gulf on Saturday (11/6) resulting in 30-35 kt west winds and 26 ft seas initially then fading to the 23 ft range once in the Gulf (on Sat) and scheduled to arrive along the US West Coast and Hawaii Monday. Another small gale was starting to develop just west of the dateline Sunday (11/7) with 45-50 kt west winds over a small fetch aimed well towards the US west Coast with seas forecast building to 30-32 ft on Monday, then fading Tuesday with winds down to 35 kts and seas 25 ft pushing directly into Southern Oregon Wednesday AM. Swell for Central CA possible on Thursday (11/7). And yet one more small gale is forecast forming north of Hawaii on Tuesday (11/9) wrapping up while tracking hard northeast with 50 kt west winds on Wednesday in the far Northern Gulf of Alaska moving inland over Northern Canada on Thursday with 32-34 ft seas forecast up there, pushing mainly into Canada with sideband energy possibly tracking south to Central CA for the weekend. And yet one more gale is forecast forming off North Japan on Wednesday (11/10) tracking flat east with seas in the 32-34 ft range, reaching the dateline late Friday and rapidly disintegrating. Maybe some decent west swell for Hawaii if all develops as forecast. So for now the though is more swell focused best on the US West Coast but with rather jumbled conditions there.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (12/7) a reasonably cohesive jetstream flow was in effect through not particularly energetic, with a semi-trough with 140 kt winds in it just off Japan with another trough just off the Northern CA coast with 140 kt winds in it. Both these troughs held some promise to support gale development, but nothing too exciting. Over the next 72 hours the Trough off the US is to push inland quickly with a bit of a ridge setting up off the coast likely supporting high pressure down at the oceans surface. The trough off Japan is to lift northeast and kinda fall apart over the dateline, but more energy is to be pushing northeast off Japan with winds there at 170 kts, possibly providing the building blocks for a better overall jetstream configuration in the days ahead. Beyond 72 hours the ridge in the east is to build into a rather strong ridge pushing up into the Northern Gulf of Alaska likely meaning high pressure and no swell production for the Eastern Pacific long term. A rather nice looking trough is forecast developing on the dateline later Friday (11/12) with 190 kt winds flowing down into it and offering decent odds for gale development if all goes as planned. But that trough is to evaporate late in the weekend with the ridge holding pat in the East. Fortunately more energy is to be pushing off Japan but the expectation is with the demise of the Active Phase of the MJO, the jetstream is to become less cohesive and less production for the next few weeks.
At the surface on Sunday (11/7) modest high pressure at 1028 mbs was 600 nmiles north-northeast Hawaii and ridging into Southern CA. Low pressure was in the extreme northern Gulf of Alaska remnants of the Dateline to Gulf Gale (see details below) setting up 30 kt west fetch there aimed at the Canadian coast and of no real interest to our forecast area. Of some interest was a new gale brewing on the dateline. This small low started to wrap up on the dateline on Saturday (11/6) and by Sunday AM pressure was down to 976 mbs and winds building to 45 kts over a small area aimed due east at 44N 172W. Seas were on the increase from 20 ft. Winds were aimed about 60 degrees east of the 336 degree path to Hawaii but right up the 296 degree path to Central CA. Over the next 72 hours this gale is to track east Sunday evening (11/7) with winds up to 50 kts at 47N 165W mostly bypassing the 347 degree path to Hawaii and aimed more directly up the 300 degree path to Central CA. Seas building to 23 ft at 45N 170W (296 Ncal) but that seems low. 50 kt west winds to hold into Monday AM (11/8) at 47N 159W with seas at 30 ft at 47N 160W (300 Central CA) then fading as the gale pushes almost southeast. 40 kt west winds forecast at 46N 150W with seas building to 32 ft (from previous fetch ) at 46-47N 152W (301 degrees NCal). By Tuesday AM (11/9) fetch is to be fading from 35 kts at 45N 138W with seas fading from 28 ft at 46N 143W (307 degrees NCal). The gale is to push into Oregon late on Tuesday evening. Minimal sideband windswell possible for Hawaii on Thursday (11/11) with larger northwest swell for the US West coast pushing into Central CA on late Wed/Thurs but shadowed in the SF Bay area if all goes as modeled. Will monitor.
A gale started circulating over the Western Aleutian Islands on Thursday AM (11/4) with 35 kt fetch extending south of there at 48N 174E resulting in 26 ft seas at 46N 167E. This gale built a little Thursday evening with winds 40 kts on the dateline at 50N 178W with 23 ft seas at 47N 174E. Seas building to 28 ft Friday AM at 48N 172W but winds were down to 35 kts and tracking steadily east-southeast while slowly decaying, in the Western Gulf in the evening with seas 24 ft at 46N 162W and reaching the Central Gulf of Alaska on Saturday AM (11/6) with winds down to 30 kts and seas faded to 23 ft at 45N 150W. This system was effectively gone.
Some degree of limited 13-14 sec period swell is likely for Hawaii on Monday (11/8) at sunrise with pure swell 5.1 ft @ 13-14 secs (7 ft faces) from 330 degrees and energy into Central California peaking at sunset Monday on into first light Tuesday (11/9) at 5-6 ft @ 13-14 secs (6.5-8.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 297-303 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (11/7) a weak front was pushing down the Central CA coast generating brisk south winds along the coast and rain in lower elevations with snow at the base of the higher ski resorts with Sugar Bowl looking to have about 6 inches on the ground and a few inches less at Kirkwood as of 4 PM. The front was down to about Pt Conception at that time. By Monday high pressure is to be building in hard directly behind at 1030 mbs with 15 kt north winds covering nearshore waters north of Pt Conception ad expected to build a little from there through the day. Those winds are to back off on Tuesday as low pressure pushes into the Pacific Northwest, only to rebuild again on Wednesday as another high pressure system sets up off the coast, with 15 kt northwest winds building into nearshore waters pushing to near 25 kts near Pt Conception in the afternoon and continuing in some fashion into Thursday. But by Friday the core of the high is to be pushing onshore over Washington with the gradient moving up to Cape Mendocino and a generally light flow forecast from Pt Reyes southward by Saturday (11/13) and beyond though local short period windswell is a likely result of the gradient over Cape Mendo relative to Central CA .
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was occurring. 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 another
gale is forecast developing just 900 nmiles north-northwest of HAwaii Tuesday AM
(11/9) with 35 north winds trying to take root aimed at Hawaii at 38N 167W aimed down the 334 degree path to the Islands. The core of the gale is to be lifting northeast with 35 kt northwest winds continuing up at 40N 160W (356 degs HI) with seas to maybe 19 ft. Relative to Hawaii the gale is to disintegrate while racing northeast and not reorganized until Wednesday Pm (11/10) with 50 kt west winds way up at 52N 152W (310 degrees NCal) with seas on the increase. 45 kt west winds to persist Thursday AM (11/11) at 54N 150W with 32-34 ft seas at 53N 147W pushing 30 degrees north of the 318 degree path to NCal. and then moving out of the swell window aimed at Alaska. Small swell possible pushing towards Central Ca with most side heading well north of there.
Also the model depict another gale developing just off Northern Japan on Wednesday (11/10) with 40 kt west winds near 43N 150E and tracking almost flat east and holding wind speed reaching almost to the dateline on Friday AM (11/12) before the fetch fades out. Sea if 34 ft to hold over this period tracking to 38N 172E and on the 308-310 degree path to Hawaii. Possible nice little swell for the ISlands if all comes to pass.
And yet another more modest gale is to follow behind it.
See the official El Nino/La Nina Forecast using the link posted below.
As of Sunday (11/7) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was falling slightly. The daily SOI was down to 8.01. The 30 day average was down to 17.00 with the 90 day average down some to 21.18.
Wind anomalies as of Saturday (11/6) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated a slightly better pattern with weak easterly anomalies over the tropical Eastern Pacific suggesting a fading INactive Phase there and a renewed area of westerly anomalies over most of the tropical Indian Ocean pushing almost halfway between the Philippines and the dateline. This is indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO and is a good thing to support gale formation in the Northern Pacific. Per the models this Active Phase is to push a little more east then stall before reaching the dateline on 11/11, the decay there into 11/16 before dissipating. A dead neutral pattern is to persist through 11/26. But the models have shown this area fully dissipated almost a week ago, only to reappear as of this update. This suggests it was always there and instead there was an anomalies in the historical wind record. Regardless of what caused the error, the fact that westerly anomalies persist is a good thing in that it support the formation of low pressure if not gales in the North Pacific, at least for another week or so.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (11/4) continues to indicate that downright colder than normal waters (-2 C degs or cooler) had a stable grip on the equator covering solidly from South America west to the dateline and beyond, but are not getting any colder nor covering a larger area. 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 also were building off the US West Coast sweeping fully to the intersection of the dateline and the equator, 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).
A moderate plus strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) is expected 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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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table