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 Thursday (11/7) North and Central CA s surf was 1-2 ft overhead on the sets at exposed breaks and lined up but warbled and textured from onshore winds over outer waters. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist to chest high and clean with easy conditions. In Southern California up north surf was knee high and pretty heavily textured by north wind. Down south waves were maybe waist high on the sets and and weak but pristine clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more dateline swell with waves 2 ft overhead but a little warbled with east-northeast trades. 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 tiny and weak system developed in the Northern Gulf on Mon (11/4) with 20-24 ft seas pushing small swell towards mainly the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Maybe dribbled for NCal too. Another gale formed over the Northern Dateline Tues-Wed (11/6) with 36 ft seas over a small area aimed mainly east. A cutoff low is forecast just off Washington on Thurs (11/7) with 26 ft seas but mostly out of even the NCal swell window. Another small and weak gale is forecast tracking southeast through the Northeastern Gulf on Fri (11/8) with 20-22 ft seas targeting the US West Coast. But strong high pressure is the name of the game for the dateline region by early next week. Perhaps remnants of the Northeast Gulf gale are to redevelop forming a gradient north of Hawaii with the dateline high pressure system generating up to 36 ft seas, but that's more a fantasy than anything at this early date.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Thursday (11/7) the jetstream was ridging gently northeast off Northern Japan then fading on the dateline and diffuse, reorganizing slightly pushing northeast through the Gulf with winds up to 140 kts falling into a tiny trough just off the coast of Vancouver Island, then pushing onshore. Minimal support for gale development in the trough off British Columbia, but nothing more. Over the next 72 the jet is to be ridging in a more pronounced fashion over the dateline and up into the Bering Sea by Fri (11/8) then falling into a weak trough running through the eastern Gulf of Alaska offering only minimal support for gale development there. This same basic pattern to hold with the dateline ridge becoming more pronounced and the trough in the Gulf falling south and almost getting cut off while retrograding west well off Central CA. Minimal support again in the trough. Beyond 72 hours the same pattern is to really dig in with the jet ridging hard north with 160+ kts winds tracking well up into the Bering Sea then falling hard south into the Gulf late Mon (11/11) with winds 130 kts carving out a broad trough there. If anything the bottom of the trough is to retrograde west to a point 600 nmiles north of Hawaii into Tues-Wed (11/13) with 120 kt winds still flowing into it offering more limited support for gale development. The trough to get continually pinched into Fri (11/15) while the ridge tries to ease east into the Gulf. No support for gale development indicated.
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (11/7) the last remnants of swell from a reasonably strong gale previously on the dateline were hitting the US West Coast. Swell from a far smaller gale previously in the Gulf was pushing southeast bound for Central CA late (see Small Gulf Gale below). Another stronger system developed over the Northern Dateline too (see North Dateline Storm below). And a tiny gale was developing off Washington on Thurs AM (11/7) with 40-45 kt northwest winds and 22 ft seas at 48N 130W outside of the NCal swell window, through some energy might wrap in. By evening it's to be inland over North Oregon with 20 ft seas impacting the coast there. Over the next 72 hours starting Friday AM (11/8) residual energy from the North Dateline Storm is to fall into the Gulf of Alaska possibly generating 30-35 kt northwest winds and 22 ft seas at 50N 150W (310 degs NCal). Fetch is to fall southeast in the evening while fading with 22 ft seas at 50N 145W (313 degs NCal). The gale to fade after that with 18 ft seas dissipating at 48N 143W (313 degs NCal). Maybe some more small swell to result for the US West Coast on Mon (11/11).
Also a persistent fetch of northeast winds at 30 kts is to develop 700 nmiles north-northeast of Hawaii on Sat (11/9) generating 18 ft seas late at 30N 155W producing windswell targeting Hawaii. The first part of the windswell to hit near sunset Saturday and building into Sunday reaching 10 ft @ 11 secs (10 ft faces). Swell Direction: 30 degrees
Small Gulf Gale
A tiny gale developed just south of the Central Aleutians on Sun AM (11/3) with 35 kt west winds and seas building over a tiny area. In the evening 35-40 kt west winds built with seas 24 ft at 50N 170W (306 degs NCal) and fading from 35 kts and 22 ft seas Mon AM (11/4) at 50N 163W. Residual seas were fading from 20 ft in the evening at 51N 144W (312 degs NCal).
NCal: Small 14 sec period swell to result for the US West coast late on Thurs (11/7) to 3 ft @ 14 secs (4 ft). Swell to be fading Fri AM from 4.2 ft @ 12-13 secs (5 ft). Swell Direction: 308 degrees.
North Dateline Storm
One more gale was developing west of the dateline on Tues AM (11/5) with a decent fetch of 45 kt northwest winds developing in it's west quadrant while lifting northeast getting less than optimal traction on the oceans surface and targeting Hawaii decently. Seas building from 24 ft near 45N 165E. In the evening the storm is to lift north with stronger than previous expected winds at 50-55 kts from the northwest barely clear south of the Western Aleutians generating 32 ft seas at 48N 172E (326 degs HI and 306 degs NCal). The ASCAT satellite confirmed winds at 10Z on the 6th at 50 to near 60 kts mainly directly over the Aleutians but some 50 kts winds south of there. By Wed AM (11/6) 40-45 kt fetch is to be lifting fast north with the core of the storm in the Bering Sea. 39 ft seas are forecast at 51N 178E targeting Hawaii (332 degs) with sideband energy and more direct energy at the US West Coast (307 degs). By evening this system is to be all in the Bering Sea with residual seas 32 ft at 50N 174W (306 degs NCal).
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival at sunset on Fri (11/8) with period 19 secs and size tiny (2 ft @ 19 secs - almost 4 ft faces). Swell peaking Sat AM (11/9) at 4.5 ft @ 16 secs (7 ft faces). Swell fading Sunday from 4.2 ft @ 15 secs (6 ft). Much local windswell in the mix too (see Short Term forecast above). Swell Direction: 326-330 degrees
NCal: Expect swell arrival at 10 PM Saturday (11/9) with period 19 secs and size on the increase. Swell to peak near sunrise with pure swell 5.3 ft @ 18 secs (9.5 ft) with decent size holding through the day as period fades towards 16 secs late. Swell fading Mon AM (11/11) from 5 ft @ 14 secs (7 ft). Swell Direction: 304-308 degrees Fairly long waits between sets.
Some small northwest swell is possible for Hawaii and bigger but less consistent energy for the US West Coast. Will monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Thursday AM (11/7) Super Typhoon Hiayan was peaking with sustained winds 150 kts (172 mph) a mere 300 nmiles east of the Central Philippines tracking just north of due west. It is forecast to be inland near 0Z Fri (11/8) with winds still 135 kts (155 mph). This is a very powerful storm, especially give n the time of year. The storm is to continue west-northwest eventually hitting Central Vietnam early Sun (11/10) with winds 90 kts. No swell to result for our forecast area.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (11/7) weak high pressure at 1020 mbs was just off Central CA with a local low just off Washington making for a light northwest flow over CA. Weak high pressure is to rebuild Friday pushing towards CA with north winds to 15 kts over all of North and Central CA by late morning. Lighter north winds are forecast Saturday while a new low builds off the Northwest. That low to build Sunday with winds south from Pt Conception northward. Southern CA to remain protected. South winds to build Monday AM (11/11) as low pressure builds off the US West Coast. Rain for Northern CA late. The low to lift northeast on Tuesday with a lighter south flow and clearing conditions possible. Light rain possible for the SF Bay Area early. Wednesday high pressure builds in with north winds 15 kts and on the increase pushing 20 kts on Thursday (11/14).
Surface - 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 gale is to form in the Gulf of Alaska on Mon AM (11/11) fueled by cold air falling into the Gulf and back up against strong high pressure on the dateline. 35 kt north winds are projected in the AM with 20-21 ft seas near 45N 160W (296 degs NCal, mostly bypassing Hi on the 358 degree track). 45-50 kt north winds to build in the evening falling straight south with 30 ft seas developing at 43N 157W and falling south too (360 degs HI). Tuesday AM (11/12) winds are to be fading from 40 kts out of the north and seas peaking at 36 ft at 37N 157W (359 degs HI) aimed directly at Hawaii. By evening the gale is to be gone with residual seas fading from 26 ft at 36N 153W. Some small swell possible for the US West Coast with larger size for the Islands. At least it's something to monitor.
But of most concern is strong high pressure forecast forming over the dateline to 1048 mbs on Sun PM (11/10) totally blocking the prime storm corridor through the North Pacific and holding steady into Friday (11/15) still at 1040 mbs.
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 (11/7) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up some at -2.04. The 30 day average was down some at -2.42 and the 90 day average down to 1.37. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of a neutral Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was near neutral and holding. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator of surface level weather trends.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated modest east anomalies over the Maritime Continent (except near Haiyan) turning neutral on the dateline and continuing unchanged from a point south of Hawaii into Central America. A week from now (11/15) modest east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent holding easterly and building some over the dateline, then fading to neutral south of Hawaii and holding that way to Central America. In all this suggests the Active Phase of the MJO is all but over and fading while a modest Inactive Phase sets up over the West Pacific a week out. This will cut the legs out of the storm track if it happens. The GFS model is picking up on this change too.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 11/6 are in-sync. Both models suggest a modest Inactive pattern was peaking over the West Pacific, with the dynamic model suggesting the Inactive Phase to be fading 5 days out and the statistic model having it remain moderate. From there the dynamic model is more aggressive than the statistical model regarding the decline of the Inactive Phase, with it gone 10 days out only to weakly return 15 days from now while the statistic model suggests the Inactive Phase is to steadily decline over the next 15 days but not completely out. We tend to agree with the statistic model. The Active Phase is to be building in the Indian Ocean. The ultra long range upper level model updated on 11/7 suggests the Inactive Phase has peaked and is tracking from the Central Pacific to the east and is to be gone by 11/17. As of now a nearly imperceptible pulse of the Active Phase is supposedly developing over the far West Pacific and is to slowly ease east, never getting any real legs through 12/7. At that time a new Inactive Phase builds in the west easing to the mid-Pacific by 12/17. Overall the MJO signal is weak not favoring the Inactive or Active Phases. 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 (11/7) a neutral water temp pattern covers the equator from Central America to the Philippines. If anything a weak tongue of warmer than normal water is over the East Pacific at 2N extending west from Ecuador to 130W, and started developing there about mid October. This is interesting and signals a slight return of the Active Phase of the MJO (or at least a demise of the Inactive Phase). Slightly cool water is just off the coast of Peru. Water temps off West Africa remain slightly warm. The North Pacific plume of slightly cooler than normal water tracking southwest to the equator driven by high pressure off California remains modest. The 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. High pressure remains off CA, with water temps holding in the cool range. So there's neutral to warm water over the balance of the North Pacific (which is to good news). Still there's no sign of a legitimate warm pattern developing. In short, we're in a pure neutral pattern. And even that neutral pattern is just a month old (starting late Sept), with any effect on the atmosphere probably 3 months from developing (mid-Dec).
Subsurface waters temps on the equator indicate a pocket of warm water 2 degs C above normal is down at 150 meters and moving from just west of the dateline (170E) to the dateline (180W) and now to 155W and tracking east. And warm subsurface waters are in-place off Central America. NOAA is calling this a eastward moving Kelvin Wave, though there is doubt as to how far east it will actually travel while remaining cohesive.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 11/4 have backed off. The model previously had been suggesting a turnaround with a warming trend taking hold and accelerating early Oct 2013. It now suggests temps hovering at neutral in the Nino region 3.4 and slowly building to near +0.2 deg C by April 2014 and up to +0.5 C by July. This would suggest weak warming, but nothing suggestive of El Nino next year. But for the immediate future (this Winter) a neutral pattern is expected. A consensus of other models suggests slow 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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Updated - Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Tuesday (11/5) - http://youtu.be/hhy-QUyYN8c Subscribe to the Stormsurf001 YouTube channel for automatic notifications of updates - just click the 'Subscrib'e 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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New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.
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