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 chest to head high at exposed breaks and a mess with northwest wind and chop in control. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high and warbled with some wind on it early. In Southern California up north surf was knee high and clean and swamped by tide. Down south waves were waist high and pretty bumped up from southerly wind early. Hawaii's North Shore was getting leftover remnant gale swell from the north with waves head high and reasonably clean early. 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 high pressure was still in control on the main storm corridor and shutting swell production down. No swell has been generated nor is heading towards any of our forecast locations. The high was generating a pressure gradient along the US West Coast producing 20-25 kt north winds and up to 30 kts near Washington associated with a low pressure system falling south just inland of the coast. But that is expected to fade by Sat PM (11/16) leaving some windswell for exposed breaks in California for Sunday, then fading. The good news is high pressure is expected to start fading around mid-week and finally by late Thursday (11/21) a small a weak gale is forecast developing north of Hawaii. 20 ft seas might result targeting the Islands for a short window on Fri (11/22), then fading possibly resulting in some swell for Hawaii. The bad news is otherwise no swell producing weather systems are forecast with the North Pacific still not energized in any broad scale sense.
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 Saturday (11/16) the jetstream was tracking off Japan down at 30N but only reaching a couple hundred nmiles east of there. Most energy was tracking through the North Bering Sea then falling southeast down the Canadian and US West Coast with winds there 150 kts. A cutoff upper low was circulating north of Hawaii. In effect the atmosphere was hung over from a large high pressure ridge that was over the dateline and East Pacific from last week with no support for gale development indicated. Over the next 72 hours a more seasonally normal pattern is to try and develop with a modest stream of 130 kt winds starting to push east from Southern Japan on Monday (11/18) ridging a little while reaching towards the dateline. From there the jet is to fall slightly southeast and resemble something that almost looks like a a trough just east of the dateline, then loosing energy but holding together and continuing east-northeast tracking just a bit north of Hawaii almost reaching North California.In all no support for gale development is indicated, but it's better than being the in grip of strong high pressure. Beyond 72 hours the dateline semi-trough is to ease east Wednesday (11/20) tracking to a point almost 600 nmiles north of Hawaii with 110 kts winds falling into it offering minimal support for gale development there. The trough to hold in that position into Sat (11/23) with 140 kt winds falling into it offering some support for gale development, then ridging gently up into British Columbia. No signs of splits in the flow are indicated suggesting a normal jetstream configuration by next weekend.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (11/16) residual swell from a second pulse of a persistent gale north of Hawaii was fading out. Otherwise for the mainland only local windswell and blown out north wind conditions were in effect north of Pt Conception. No other swell was in the water. Over the next 72 hours a trio of spurious weak low pressure systems are to track east over the periphery of the North Pacific, one over the Kuril Islands, one over the Aleutians near the dateline and one in the far Eastern Gulf. None are to develop any wind of interest and all are to be fading. In short, no swell production is forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (11/16) high pressure at 1026 mbs was located midway between Hawaii and British Columbia with low pressure inland over East Washington generating north winds at 30 kts just off Washington with 20 kt north winds extending from up in Canada all the way down to Pt Conception. Windswell and chop were in effect. Southern CA was somewhat protected. As low pressure moves inland and high pressure fades the gradient is to be gone mid-Sunday AM with a light pressure pattern taking control and weak low pressure moving into the Central Gulf of Alaska. A light wind regime is forecast Sunday, Monday and Tuesday but with a weak front pushing up to the Cape Mendocino coast (early-Tues) with 15-20 kt south winds there. The front is to be gone late Tuesday and a light wind regime continues Wednesday other than 15-20 kts near Pt Conception and over outer waters off Southern CA. That pattern to hold Thursday (11/21) as high pressure ridges into North CA, followed by light winds everywhere Friday.and Saturday (11/23).
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 there's some suggestions of a weak low pressure system developing north of Hawaii starting Thurs (11/21) with 25 kt northwest winds possible aimed at the Islands. That low is to east east Friday with northeast winds building to 30-35 kts possibly building 20 ft seas 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii and aimed well at the Islands. At least it's something to monitor. Nothing else is on the forecast charts.
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 (11/16) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down some at 1.46. The 30 day average was up some at -3.50 and the 90 day average was up to 1.40. 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 or slightly rising. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator running a week behind surface level weather trends.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated modest east anomalies over the far west Maritime Continent weakening some but still easterly on the dateline the fading to neutral south of Hawaii, then turning weak westerly east of there and continuing on into Central America. A week from now (11/23) moderate east anomalies are forecast building over the Maritime Continent and the dateline to a point south of Hawaii, then turning neutral and holding on into Central America. In all this suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be setting up over the West Pacific and should hold for at least the next week. This will continue to hamper storm development in the North Pacific.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 11/15 are out of sync. Initially both models suggest a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the West Pacific. The dynamic model suggests the Inactive Phase is to hold if no weakly redevelop 10 days out, only to collapse 15 days out. Conversely the statistic model has a dead neutral pattern taking holding 4 days out and holding for the next 15 days. It's anyone's guess what will develop, but the odds are in favor of a neutral to slightly Inactive Phase holding for the next 2 weeks. The ultra long range upper level model updated on 11/16 suggests the same with the Inactive Phase currently over the West Pacific and it is to inch it's way slowly east not reaching the East Equatorial Pacific until Christmas. Perhaps the faintest signs of a weak pulse of the Active Phase are supposed to develop over the far West Pacific starting Dec 6th, easing east. So for now it seems the Inactive Phase is to remain in control which tends to suggest a real damper on storm development in the North Pacific into nearly Christmas. 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 (11/14) a neutral water temp pattern covers the equator from Central America to the Philippines. A weak tongue of warmer than normal water started developing over the East Pacific mid-October in sync with a building Active Phase of the MJO. But data starting 11/11 to the present 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 just off the North CA coast has now moved east impacting extreme North CA but remains slightly retrograded from the Central 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 has been moving from just west of the dateline (170E) to the dateline (180W) and now with it's leading edge to 145W and tracking east while holding together nicely. And a pocket of 2 deg warmer water is developing 70 meters down off Central America. NOAA is calling the larger warm pool back at 145W an 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 and impact to Ecuador, but we're not holding our breath. Will monitor.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 11/16 remain optimistic. 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. Since 11/12 is has been suggesting 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
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
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Updated - Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (11/17) - http://youtu.be/uPFoOsHgYnw
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.
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