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 (11/19) North and Central CA surf was surf was thigh high and warbled with light chop on top pushing from the south. Down in Santa Cruz surf was knee high on the sets and clean. In Southern California up north surf was knee high and chopped. Down south waves were knee high and heavily textured. Not rideable. Hawaii's North Shore was waist high on the sets and clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. Exposed breaks on the East Shore had northeast windswell at waist high and lightly textured.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
In the North Pacific a near neutral pressure pattern was in control other than a weak low pressure system that was circulating just south of the Aleutians near the dateline, but with no fetch of interest associated with it. In short, there was no swell being generated anywhere in the North Pacific. The low north of Hawaii is to get a little better footing maybe producing 18 ft seas aimed somewhat at the Islands Thurs (11/21) while high pressure develops and ridges into Washington perhaps generating a local gradient over Cape Mendocino CA producing 35 kt north winds and 18 ft seas, good for windswell for CA. Another small low is to try and develop over the Northern Dateline region early in the weekend perhaps generating a tiny area of 20 ft seas, but never really getting any good footing. Perhaps another tiny low to try and develop just northwest of Hawaii on Tues (11/26), but that's too far off to be believable. In all a very quiet pattern was becoming the norm.
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 (11/19) the jetstream was tracking off Japan from 30N ridging northeast with winds to 140 kts then falling into a weak trough just east of the dateline. No real support for gale development was indicated in association with the trough. The jet ridged northeast from there into Northern CA. The jet was still repairing itself from last weeks bout of strong high pressure west of the dateline with residual energy still tracking through the Bering Sea and falling southeast down the Canadian and US West Coasts. Over the next 72 hours all Bering Sea wind energy is to have migrated east out of the picture, with the dateline trough easing east and positioned north of Hawaii on Friday (11/22) with a pocket of 160 kt winds over the dateline trying to feed into the trough but not really making it, with the trough becoming almost pinched. Minimal support for gale development there. Beyond 72 hours this trough is to pinch off just northeast of Hawaii on Sun (11/24) offering no support for gale development. Back to the west a generally flat jet flow is projected tracking from Japan to a point north of Hawaii centered near 35N. A split flow is forecast north of Hawaii into the US West Coast. By Mon (11/25) a ridge is to boil northward off Japan but loose it's organization 24 hours later while a pinched trough sets up on the dateline and positioned well to the south. But the jet is only to ridge north from there before turning east and tracking into Oregon. No clear support for gale development indicated.
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (11/19) a neutral pressure pattern was in control of the North Pacific. Only weak low pressure at 996 mbs was circulating just east of the dateline and south of the Aleutians with pressure 996 mbs and northerly producing a northerly breeze at 20 kts. By evening north winds in the lows west quadrant to build to 35 kts holding into Wed AM (11/20) generating 16-17 ft seas at 45N 178W holding to Thurs AM at 44N 170W then faltering with the low lifting north fast. This is to be good for maybe tiny windswell for Hawaii. Also north winds are to build Wed (11/20) in association with high pressure building into Washington generating 17 ft seas Thurs AM just off Cape Mendocino CA, but faltering with winds fading and falling south and seas fading to 16 ft well off San Francisco late. Windswell possible for Central CA. In short, no solid 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 Tuesday (11/19) a weak front was draped over the North CA coast trying to fall southward, but not making much progress. A light to modest south wind flow was in effect down to Monterey Bay. A light to perhaps slightly south wind regime continues Wednesday down to Pt Conception with 35 kt north winds developing over Cape Mendocino later as high pressure at 1030 mbs builds into Washington. Rain is now forecast for all of Central CA to Pt Conception with light snow for Tahoe on Wed too. North winds to hold over North CA on Thursday but only 10 kts for Central CA. Light rain early with 4 inches of snow for Tahoe. Friday a light wind flow is forecast everywhere with perhaps some northeast tendencies as high pressure moves inland over the Pacific Northwest. Light offshores continue Saturday then calm Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
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 suggestions of another weak low pressure system developing just west of the Northern Dateline region on Fri (11/22) producing 30-35 kt northwest winds and holding into Sat AM (11/23). 24 ft seas to result Sat AM (11/23) at 48N 178E over a tiny area aimed east. The low is to continue tracking east into Monday (11/25) reaching the Western Gulf with 25-30 kt west winds and 17 ft seas near 47N 168W, then dissipating. Maybe windswell for Hawaii and the US West Coast with luck. The models suggest another low forming northwest of Hawaii on Tues (11/26) with 30 kt northwest winds targeting Hawaii.A little something to monitor, but nothing serious is indicated.
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 (11/19) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down some at -1.78. The 30 day average was up some at -2.35 and the 90 day average was up to 1.58. 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 Maritime Continent weakening and turning neutral on the dateline and holding neutral south of Hawaii, then turning weak easterly over a small pocket, then weakly westerly on into Central America. A week from now (11/27) fading east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent turning neutral near the dateline only to return to easterly reaching 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 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 11/18 are more in-sync than previously. Initially both models suggest a weak and fading Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the West Pacific. Both suggest it is to be gone with a dead neutral pattern taking hold 4 days out and holding for the next 15 days. The statistic model suggests perhaps a new Active Phase building in the Indian Ocean starting to get a toe in the door of the West Pacific 15 days out with the dynamic model more aggressive with the Active Phase fully moving into the West Pacific. It's anyones guess what will actually develop. The ultra long range upper level model updated on 11/19 suggests the same with the Inactive Phase currently over the mid-Pacific and fading while tracking east. Of more interest is a modest Active Phase already building in the far West Pacific forecast to moderate while tracking east reaching the dateline 12/4 and then into the East Pacific around 12/19. This might help fuel the NPac storm track a little. A weak Inactive Phase to follow pushing into he West Pacific around mid Dec but fading fast. A pure neutral pattern is expected by late December. 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 (11/18) 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 moved east impacting extreme North CA but quickly retreated with cooler waters still setting up along the North CA coast. This is result of high pressure, north winds and cool water upwelling 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 large 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 140W and tracking east while holding together nicely. And a smaller pocket of 2 deg warmer water has developed 70 meters down off Central America. NOAA is calling the larger warm pool 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 11/19 remain optimistic but have retreated some. 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. Then on 11/12 is suggested rapid warming starting March 2014 building to +1.0 deg C by late July 2014. As of 11/19 that has backed off with warming expected only to +0.6 deg C by Aug 2014. Will believe it when it happens. But for the immediate future (this Winter) a neutral pattern is expected with temps actually falling in Feb to neutral 0.0 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 (11/17) - http://youtu.be/uPFoOsHgYnw
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Epic TV goes to Rapa Nui and scores. Nice Stormsurf plug too: Rapa Nui
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