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 Saturday (11/9) North and Central CA surf was shoulder to head high at exposed breaks and clean with some fun peaks but generally weak. Down in Santa Cruz surf was chest to head high on rare sets and clean. In Southern California up north surf was knee high and heavily textured. Down south waves were waist high and clean, even late. Hawaii's North Shore was getting wonky windswell with waves head high but still pretty bumpy with northeast trades in effect. 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 strong high pressure remained locked over the dateline. A new gale built in the Northeastern Gulf forming a gradient with the dateline high north of Hawaii on Monday (11/11) generating up to 32 ft seas aimed due south and forecast to linger into Thursday (11/14). Swell expected for the Islands. Otherwise a pretty slack pressure and wind pattern is forecast. A small gale is to track down the immediate coast of Canada and the Pacific Northwest Fri-Sat (11/16) offering only large windswell for those areas. And maybe another gale to form over the Western Gulf early next week but aimed mostly west of even Hawaii.
Note: NDBC has issued a schedule to start repairing buoys as of 11/12/13. Unfortunately no buoys of interest to California are scheduled through September 2014. Hawaiian buoys are set for maintenance in April 2014.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Tuesday (11/12) the jetstream was ridging hard north off Japan tracking up into the North Bering Sea well west of the dateline then tracking east before falling hard south into a developing trough in the Gulf of Alaska with 120 kt winds moving to within 900 nmiles north of Hawaii. From there the jet tracked weakly northeast up into the Pacific Northwest. There was some support for gale development in the trough in the Gulf. Over the next 72 hours the jet is to continue ridging north over the dateline and up into the Bering Sea with a return flow falling south into the Gulf forming a trough, but that trough is to be retrograding west and getting progressively pinched, if not fully cutoff by Thurs (11/14). Still through trough should support some degree of low pressure development into Friday (11/15). Beyond 72 hours that cutoff low is to dissipate with the jet generally flowing flat off Japan down at 30N reaching a point north of Hawaii late Sat (11/16) and eventually reaching the US West Coast by Monday, but with winds very weak not exceeding 110 kts and then only in one small pocket. Perhaps a bit of a trough to develop just east of the dateline Tues (11/20) with 130 kt winds flowing into it offering some hope for low pressure development there, but there's also signs the overall flow might be split with weak energy falling into the trough from the North Bering Sea. At least that's better than a huge ridge.
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (11/12) swell from a small gale that developed just north of Hawaii was falling south bound for the Islands (see Hawaii Gale below). And limited windswell was also still hitting the Islands from a fetch of local northeast winds. Otherwise no fetch of interest was occurring with high pressure at 1040 mbs locked over the dateline. Over the next 72 hours the Hawaiian Gale is to regenerate some (details below). Otherwise weak high pressure is to build along the Central CA coast on Thurs (11/14) perhaps producing 25 kt north winds and some local north short period windswell, then diminishing some Friday with winds dropping to 20 kts. In all a very quiet pattern.
Strong high pressure at 1048 mbs developed over the dateline with low pressure forming ahead/east of it late Sun (11/10). By Mon AM (11/11) that low reached gale status in the Gulf of Alaska fueled by cold air falling into the Gulf and back up against the strong high on the dateline. 45 kt north winds were produced in the AM with 24 ft seas at 43N 160W (296 degs NCal but mostly bypassing there, and aimed directly at HI on the 358 degree track). That fetch was falling hard south. By evening 40-45 kt north winds held aimed straight south with 32 ft seas developing at 37N 160W and falling south too (346 degs HI). Tuesday AM (11/12) winds are to be fading from 40 kts out of the north and seas dropping from 28 ft at 34N 158W (344 degs HI) aimed directly at Hawaii. By evening the gale is to be gone with residual seas fading from 24 ft at 32N 155W. Some decent size swell is possible for the Islands approaching significant class proportions. Nothing is expected for the US West Coast.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival near 1 AM Wed (11/13) with period 17 secs and size quickly on the increase. Swell to peak near sunrise at 9.8 ft @ 16 secs (16 ft Hawaiian) with size holding as period slowly fades to 14 secs. Residuals on Thursday AM at 8 ft @ 13 secs early (10-11 ft). Swell Direction: 347-354 degrees
The gale is to rebuild slightly on Wed PM (11/13) generating 45 kt northeast winds over a small area and 30 ft seas near 37N 162W aimed pretty well west of the Islands. Limited sidebands well is possible for Hawaii just before sunrise on Fri (11/15) at 7.5 ft @ 15 secs (10-11 ft) from 350 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Tuesday (11/12) no tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (11/12) weak high pressure was centered just over North California with winds light and clean conditions everywhere except from Pt Conception southward into Southern CA, with north winds 15 kts a bit off the coast. Wednesday high pressure retrogrades northwest with north winds building to 15+ kts over all of North and Central CA and on the increase pushing 20 kts on Thursday (11/14) and 25 kts late. Southern Ca to fall back into a calm wind regime. A full on pressure gradient is forecast holding over much of North and all of Central California on Friday with 25 kt north winds holding, perhaps fading to 20 kts late as low pressure builds towards the Pacific Northwest. The gradient to continue Saturday (11/16) with 20 kt north winds early building to 25 kts late over all of North and Central CA even pushing into Southern CA. By Sunday the gradient to fade with light winds in control holding through Tues (11/19).
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 a local low is forecast developing over the British Columbia coast on Fri (11/15) producing 40 kt north winds just off the coast and 24 ft seas at 51N 133W well east of the California swell window. 35 kt north winds to fall south on Sat AM (11/16) generating 24 ft seas at 46N 131W on the 322 degree path to North CA with 20 ft seas barely in the 319 degree swell cutoff window relative to the SF Bay Area. By evening the fetch is to dissipate over Cape Mendocino with 19 ft seas at 41N 130W moving into the 302 degree swell window for Central CA. Basically windswell.
And the cutoff low north of Hawaii is to redevelop some on Sun (11/17) generating 40 kt northeast winds late and 20 ft seas at 46N 170W targeting Japan more than anyone. That fetch to hold and fall south into Tues (11/19) with 22 ft seas at 38N 170W again bypassing our forecast area and targeting Japan and points south of there.
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 Tuesday (11/12) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down to 0.44. The 30 day average was down some at -3.68 and the 90 day average down to 0.93. 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 if not falling. 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 weakening and almost turning neutral on the dateline and continuing unchanged from a point south of Hawaii into Central America. A week from now (11/20) moderate east anomalies are forecast over the extreme western Maritime Continent fading to neutral over the dateline, then weak east south of Hawaii and fading to neutral then turning westerly on into Central America. In all this suggests some weird west displaced version of the Inactive Phase of the MJO was setting up over the West Pacific and should hold for the next week. This will hamper storm development in the North Pacific.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 11/11 are out of sync. Both models suggest initially a neutral pattern was over the West Pacific. But the dynamic model suggests the Inactive Phase is to weak redevelop 4 days out and build over the next 15 days. Conversely the statistic model has a dead neutral pattern holding for the next 15 days. It's anyone's guess what will develop, but the odds are in favor of a neutral Phase holding. The ultra long range upper level model updated on 11/12 suggests the Inactive Phase is gone, moving inland over the extreme East Pacific. aA weak pulse of the Active Phase is supposedly developing over the far West Pacific and is to slowly ease east, getting to only weak status before moving inland over Central America 11/27. At that time a new Inactive Phase builds in the west easing to the mid-Pacific by 12/12 and into the East tropical Pacific 12/19 with a new weak Active Phase building in the west. Overall the MJO signal is weak not favoring the Inactive or Active Phases. This 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 (11/11) a neutral water temp pattern covers the equator from Central America to the Philippines. If anything a weak tongue of warmer than normal water started developing mid-October in sync with a building Active Phase of the MJO over the East Pacific at 2N extending west from Ecuador to 130W. Data from 11/11 suggests some slight erosion of this warm pool with slightly cooler waters streaming off Peru likely signaling the return of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. 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 150W and tracking east while holding together nicely. Neutral subsurface waters are in-place off Central America. NOAA is calling this warm pool a eastward moving Kelvin Wave, though there is doubt as to how far east it will actually travel while remaining cohesive. It would be great to have it remain intact to Ecuador, but we're not holding our breath. Will monitor.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 11/12 have radically changed. The model previously had been suggesting a turnaround with a warming trend taking hold and accelerating early Oct 2013. It then fell in October to a pure neutral temperature regime in 2013, with weak warming by April 2014 to +0.5 deg C. Now it suggests rapid warming starting March 2014 building to +1.0 deg C by late July 2014. Will believe it when it happens because this suggests El Nino next year. But for the immediate future (this Winter) a neutral pattern is expected with temps actually falling in Feb to -0.3 deg C. A consensus of other models suggests slow warming, 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 Sunday (11/10) - http://youtu.be/J9JBexG9xJw
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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/
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.
Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's simple and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet Explorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way!
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table