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.
The next forecast update will be posted sometime over the long Thanksgiving weekend. We're taking a little break to enjoy ourselves and time with family and friends. We wish you all the very best and hope you also have a great and Happy Thanksgiving.
On Friday (11/23) North and Central CA had Gulf swell dying out with waves in the head high region early and clean with brisk offshore's early. Down south in Santa Cruz waves were waist to chest high, weak and clean. Southern California up north was waist high and clean and pretty lined up if you could see it through the fog. Down south waves were up to head high and clean, but totally fogged in at most spots. Hawaii's North Shore was getting north angled Gulf swell at chest high early and clean with light trades. The South Shore was effectively flat and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around swell with waves waist to maybe chest high and bumpy.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Another small gale started wrapping up off Oregon on Wednesday while lifting northeast fast reaching the extreme Northeastern Gulf on Thurs (11/22) with a good sized fetch of 30-35 kt west winds aimed at the US West Coast. Modest almost windswell expected for Central CA on Sat (11/24). Additional more north angled fetch developed on Thurs PM into Fri AM (11/23) producing 25 ft seas hopefully providing more very north angled swell exclusively for the US West Coast by Sunday (11/25). The models suggest another tiny gale to develop well northwest of Hawaii Saturday (11/24) with 25 ft seas targeting the Islands. And a far larger gale is forecast wrapping up in the Eastern Gulf starting mid-next week with seas in the 24-28 ft range holding into late week targeting primarily the US West Coast, but weather to likely accompany it.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Friday (11/23) a split jetstream flow continued in control with the split point on the dateline but still rather ill defined. The northern branch was meandering northeast pushing into British Columbia while the southern branch sagged southeast tracking over Southern Baja. Winds were up to 130 kt in pockets in the northern branch with something that almost looked like a trough over the Eastern Gulf of Alaska. But overall, there was no clear support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours a small and weak trough is forecast developing just shy of the Aleutians Fri-Sat (11/24) on the dateline falling southeast with 110 kts winds falling into it offering some support for gale development. That trough is to become very steep and nearly pinched off By Sunday pushing towards the US West Coast into Tuesday but likely not supportive of gale development. But it is looking to help prime the pump behind. Beyond 72 hours another trough is to develop over the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska falling southeast into the remnants of the previous trough with 130 kt winds feeding it Wed (11/28) and 140 kt reinforcing winds falling into it Thurs-Fri (11/30) providing good support for gale development. Back to the west the split jet flow is to continue not offering anything of interest.
Surface Analysis - On Thurs-Fri (11/23) a small gale developed in the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska generating small swell targeting the California coast but possibly larger size for the Pacific Northwest (see Northeast Gulf Gale below). Over the next 72 hours another small gale is forecast developing in the Northern Dateline Region falling southeast Fri-Sat (11/24). (see North Dateline Gale below). No other swell producing weather systems are forecast.
Northeast Gulf Gale
A pulse of low pressure energy developed in the Southwestern Gulf of Alaska Wed (11/22) tracking fast to the east and developing into a gale off the coast of Oregon in the evening with 30 kt west and northwest winds in it's west quadrant aimed at California and 35-40 kt south winds in it's east quadrant aimed at Alaska. Seas building. By Thursday AM (11/22) the gale was producing 30-35 kt west winds in it's southerly quadrant aimed from North CA northward and 40-45 kt south winds aimed at Canada and Alaska. 20-22 ft seas aimed east at 45N 140W (303 degs NCal) but mostly aimed northeast from Vancouver Island northward. Limited swell is expected to radiate south. In the evening 45-50 kt winds were wrapping around the core of the storm in mainly the gales southeast sector with 32 ft seas being generated targeting North Canada. 35-40 kt northwest winds were in the southwest quadrant producing 20-24 ft seas at 50N 144W targeting perhaps Central CA (317 degs) northward. This system to be moving inland Friday AM (11/23) with winds fading from 35 kts and seas dropping from 26 ft at 50N 140W (319 degs NCal). Possible very north angled swell for Central CA (arriving Sunday 11/25 at 6 ft @ 13 secs (7.5 ft) ) with lesser period energy on Saturday (11/24) (CCal: 5 ft @ 12 secs - 6 ft from 300 degs) and most energy targeting Oregon and points northward.
North Dateline Gale (Hawaii)
A new small gale was developing in the Northern Dateline region Friday AM (11/23) with 40 kt northwest winds and seas to 26 ft at 48N 178E targeting Hawaii (331 degs). It is to be falling southeast Friday evening (11/23) with northwest winds down to 35 kts over a small area and seas 25 ft at 48N 177W (333 degs HI). Saturday AM 35 kt northwest winds to continue falling southeast with seas 24 ft at 45N 174W (335 degs HI). By evening the gale is to be fading with winds 30 kts and seas dropping from 22 ft at 41N 168W (337 degs HI). This system is to be gone by Sunday AM.
Expect swell arrival in Hawaii on Monday afternoon (11/26) building to 4 ft @ 15 secs (6 ft faces) and holding overnight. Swell still 5.1 ft @ 13 secs Tuesday AM (11/27) (6.5 ft faces) slowly fading through the day. Swell Direction: 331-337 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
A developing low pressure system is being monitored in the equatorial West Pacific near 5N 160E. Otherwise no tropical systems of interest are occurring.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Friday (11/23) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was just off the Central CA coast ridging northeast. This resulted in modest offshore winds early along the Central coast and dead calm wind pattern over Southern CA. On Saturday a light north wind pattern is suggested for the whole state though offshore's are likely in the morning nearshore. No real change Sunday either other than a building offshore flow over extreme northern CA with high pressure ridging into the Pacific Northwest. Monday a change is to start setting up as a broad low pressure system builds off the US West Coast. Light winds early turning light south for Northern CA. By Tuesday (11/27) south winds to be building into the entire state even affecting Southern CA late. Wednesday south winds at 25-30 kt forecast for all of North and Central CA but only 10 kts down into Southern CA. Rain building by late morning for the entire state. 6 inches of snow for the Southern Sierras. 2 inches for Tahoe. Thursday (11/29) south winds continue but the worst of it for North CA, with south winds 20 kts from Morro Bay northward. Rain continue in the north but dry during daylight hours for Central CA southward. Possible heavy rain starting Thursday night for San Francisco. More south winds Friday with rain well down into Southern CA. Maybe good snowfall developing for Tahoe.
Surface - No swell producing weather systems were occurring. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast.
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 starting Monday AM (11/26) the models suggest a primer gale is to develop 1200 nmiles west of San Francisco in the bottom of a steep upper trough located there and from the remnants of the North Dateline Gale (see above). 30 kt north winds are forecast at 37N 150W targeting only open ocean (east of Hawaii and aimed south of the US West Coast). seas 20 ft at 36N 146W. Winds to build to 35 kts in the evening with the same results. Tuesday AM (11/27) the gale is to fall apart while easing east off the US West Coast. But by the evening a far stronger batch of winds energy is to be falling southeast towards the remnants of the primer gale with a broad fetch of 35-40 kt northwest winds forecast in the Western Gulf targeting the US West Coast.Seas 24 ft at 50N 158W but 20 ft seas covering a broad area extending south to 44N 152W (296 degs NCal). Wednesday AM (11/28) 35-40 kt northwest winds to be tracking southeast with 28 ft seas at 45N 152W (296 NCal) and 20 ft seas down to 39N 148W (285 degs NCal). Winds to be fading from 35 kts in the evening but 30 kt northwest winds to be covering a broad area off the US West Coast. 28 ft seas forecast at 41N 148W (288 degs NCal, 293 SCal) and lesser seas over a broad area south of there. The gale to fade and regroup some to the north in the evening. 22 ft seas filling the Eastern Gulf reaching down to 38N 140W (280 degs NCal, 290 degs SCal).
Larger raw warbled swell possible for the US West Coast. Weather a possibly concern too upon swell arrive.
Additional 30-35 kt northwest fetch to develop in the same area Thurs-Fri (11/30) with seas to 22 ft. Something to monitor.
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 Friday (11/23) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down to 2.10. The 30 day average was down to 5.09 with the 90 day average down at 3.73. This is neutral territory and not indicative of El Nino and if anything more indicative of a weak La Nina.
Current equatorial wind analysis indicated neutral anomalies over the Maritime Continent (WPac) turning to light east anomalies over the dateline before fading south of Hawaii then neutral from there into Central America. This is slightly indicative of the Inactive Phase of the MJO holding over the dateline, but equally suggestive of just a neutral pattern. A week from now (12/1) no real change is forecast with perhaps a weak patch of west anomalies over the Maritime Continent turning to modest easterly anomalies on the dateline fading fast east of there and neutral on into South America. This suggests no coherent MJO signal. This remains a disappointment as the Active Phase was to be moving into the area. The split jetstream flow over the North Pacific is likely a result of no coherent MJO signal too. In short, we're in a weak meandering weather pattern with no forceful direction one way of the other.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 11/22 suggest a weak Active Phase in-play over the West Pacific/Maritime Continent. The statistical model suggests this modest version of the Active Phase holding if not building slightly a week out in the West Pacific (by 11/29) and holding there into 12/6 (2 weeks out). The dynamic model continues to be conservative suggesting a neutral pattern taking hold with no real change for the next 15 days. Given the demise of what was almost an El Nino pattern earlier in the year, we believed a return to a normal MJO cycle was occurred with the Inactive and Active Phases becoming more pronounced and regular. But this latest collapse of the MJO has us rethinking that position. Maybe El Nino is not completely gone? The interesting part of this equation is warm surface water is still present in the equatorial Pacific and if anything building every so slightly. The update on 11/22 depicts no cold water intrusion anywhere on the equator over the width of the Pacific, with pockets of imbedded warmer water to maybe +1.0 C out near the dateline. This is an improvement. Perhaps the last Kelvin wave was more beneficial than previously suspected. But the split jetstream throws the El Nino supposition into question. A split jet suggests a very weak wind flow aloft. If any flavor of El Nino or an Active Phase was in play, the jet would not be split. If anything, perhaps we're still in the netherlands between a weak El Nino in the ocean and a dissipating La Nina in the upper atmosphere. Until such time as some sort of Active Phase develops strong enough to reunite the split jetstream flow over the North Pacific, storm potential is to remain dampened. Unfortunately, no model is predicting such an outcome with any believability. So we will likely remain in a weak but consistent gale pattern favoring the East Pacific.
The more warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). A weak Kelvin Wave propagated east erupting along the Central American coast late October and initially we thought it did little to replenish the warm water pool, only holding it at a steady state. But the latest analysis suggests a more positive impact (see above). Fragments of it showed up in the Nino1+2 temp analysis mid-November and have migrated west now, centered in the region south of Hawaii to the dateline. This is looking almost like the start of a Midoki El Nino (a guess). A second Kelvin wave developed due to a prolonged WWB event in the West Pacific between Sept 2 and Oct 9. That Kelvin Wave has 2-3 deg C warmer than normal subsurface water and is located in pockets under the equator centered near 140W. It's actually racing east. It is expected to reach the Central America coast by December (if not sooner) and will possibly provide a little boost to water temps at that time. At a minimum it should keep things in the normal range to slightly enhanced range.
And what initially appeared to be a strengthening MJO pattern (both Active and Inactive Phases) suggested a return to a neutral ENSO pattern. But that has collapsed (see above). That said, projections from the CFSv2 model are not supporting any form of El Nino development but rather a return to a neutral state by November or almost a return to La Nina with -0.4 deg C water temps by late January into February, then slowly returning to normal if not slightly warmer by June 2013. But virtually all the other ENSO models predict a slow decline from El Nino threshold temps into Spring 2013, but never dipping into negative territory. The CFSv2 model is a minority opinion, if not a complete outlier. This is a bit better than hoped for and still gives us a glimmer of hope for a normal Winter in terms of storm production. But looking at the atmosphere, there's no overt signs of anything remotely resembling El Nino, and if anything, with a split jetstream pattern over the North Pacific, it looks still like some vestiges of La Nina. Regardless, the warm spurt in July 2012 was just a false start.
It appears that neither El Nino or La Nina is imminent. But we are in a far better place than the previous 2 years under the direct influence of La Nina. The exact outcome for this Winter is in doubt. A complete lack of ENSO energy typically signals a lack of storm energy, and is perhaps a harbinger of the coming 5 months. But it's still a bit early to tell. The expectation is this winter will be followed by at least one year of slightly warmer temps (2013) ultimately converging in a stronger warmer pattern and possible El Nino 2-3 years out (2014 or 2015). 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 Finally updated 10/6/12
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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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:
Steve Colleta Surfboards - Check out surfboards by local shaper Steve Coletta - A long time Santa Cruz local and master shaper. Progressive shapes for North and Central CA waves http://www.naturalcurvesboards.com
Chasing the Swell has been nominated for a Webby Award. See details of this great piece of video journalism below. Some say this is the "Oscars" of online awards.One of the awards is voter based. If you have a moment, please cast your ballot by going to: http://webby.aol.com, register, then click on the "Get Voting" tab and then to the "Online Film and Video" > "Sports" category and vote for "Chasing the Swell".
Timmy Reyes - Curt Myers from Powerlines Productions found this little gem with Timmy Reyes providing a brief statement about which sites he uses for swell chasing. Thought we'd pass it on. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P30ZCQOsYwY
Buell Wetsuits - When surfing in Santa Cruz, we've been seeing a new wetsuit in the line-up worn by many top flight surfers. They're getting good traction and are well respected. Take a look: http://www.buellwetsuits.com/
Stormsurf Mobile App (1/9/11) We are proud to announce the official public release of our smartphone mobile app. It provides access to our most popular and commonly used products, optimized for use on the road, on the beach or anywhere you don't have a desktop or laptop. With a smart phone and signal, you will have access to our data. And we're not talking just a few teaser products - We're talking full feature wave models, weather models, real-time buoy data, manually built forecasts and hundreds of spot wave and wind forecasts enabling you to construct a surf forecast for any location on the planet, all from your cell phone and all for free. No subscription required and no hidden fees. And better yet, there's a few new things sprinkled in that are not yet available even on our full-featured web site. From your smart phones browser just navigate to: www.stormsurf.com/mobile
Chasing The Swell: Sachi Cunningham from the LA Times spent the entirety of last winter chasing surfers and swells around the North Pacific with her high def video cam. Her timing couldn't have been any better with the project exactly coinciding with the strongest El Nino in 12 years resulting in the best big wave season in a decade. And being an accomplished surfer herself helped her to bring a poignant and accurate account of the what it's like to ride big waves and the new (and some not so new) personalities that are revitalizing the sport. This is must-see material for any surfer or weather enthusiast. Check it out here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/chasingtheswell/
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.
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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