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 if not chopped. Down south waves were maybe waist high and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was still getting gale swell from the north (Swell #1 of the 2013-2014 Season) but smaller than the day before with sets 10-12 ft on the face and still a bit raw with 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 high pressure was tracking east from the Western Gulf with a weak cutoff low stuck under it north of Hawaii offering nothing of interest. Residual swell to continue for the Islands mainly from previous fetch. Otherwise a pretty slack pressure and wind pattern is forecast. A small low is to track down the immediate coast of Canada and the Pacific Northwest Fri-Sat (11/16) offering only modest windswell for those areas. Nothing else is forecast till Thurs (11/21) when a small gale is to try and develop off Japan tracking east, but seas only reaching 18 ft. The good news is at least the storm track south of the Aleutians is to be in repair mode instead of being choked by high pressure.
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 Thursday (11/14) the jetstream continued ridging hard north starting half way between Japan and the dateline tracking up into the North Bering Sea with winds 160+ kts, then moving east before starting to make a turn towards falling down the US West Coast, but not quite doing that yet. This pattern supports high pressure down at the oceans surface. Some energy from the jet was peeling off the main flow over Canada retrograding west into a nearly cutoff upper low circulating 750 nmiles north west of Hawaii. This cutoff low had potential to support gale development, but any fetch was likely aimed more towards the West Pacific than anything. Over the next 72 hours the jet is to start migrating into a more normal pattern with the ridge over the dateline and the cutoff low north of Hawaii dissipating by Sun (11/17) and a modest stream of 110 kt winds to start pushing east from Southern Japan reaching to the dateline while loosing energy and reaching to a point north of Hawaii. The flow to be running generally along the 30N latitude, pretty far south by the end of the period. Almost a return to something normal looking. Beyond 72 hours 150 kt winds are to start building off Japan forming a weak ridge west of the dateline then falling into a weak trough just west of Hawaii but with winds weak in the trough late Tues (11/19). That trough to push east reaching a point north of Hawaii by Thurs (11/22) with 130 kt winds over much of the jet still centered on the 30-35N latitude and things returning to normal at that time. Limited support for gale development in the trough.
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (11/14) swell from a gale that developed just north of Hawaii was still hitting the Islands with size. Large surf occurred on Wednesday along the north shores of all Islands. This was the first significant class storm of the season and arrived bigger than expected. Another pulse of smaller swell was pushing south towards Hawaii from the reformed remnants of the previous gale (See Hawaiian Gale - Part 2 below). Otherwise no fetch of interest was occurring with high pressure at 1038 mbs tracking east over the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska and remnant low pressure tracking west from a point 900 nmiles north-northwest of Oahu. Over the next 72 hours that low is to progress east and dissipate just east of the dateline. High pressure is to fall from the Northwestern Gulf southeast while fading off the US West Coast on Sun (11/17). And a local low is forecast developing over the British Columbia coast on Fri (11/15) producing 30 kt northwest winds literally over the coast with 17 ft seas at 51N 132W well east of the California swell window. 30 kt north winds to fall south on Sat AM (11/16) generating 18 ft seas at 47N 130W on the 323 degree path to North CA with 16 ft seas barely in the 319 degree swell cutoff window relative to the SF Bay Area. By evening the fetch is to dissipate over Oregon with 12 ft seas at 42N 130W moving into the 304 degree swell window for Central CA. Basically just windswell, arriving in Central CA on Sunday (11/17). And even that remains a bit uncertain.
Hawaiian Gale (Part 2)
The gale previously north of Hawaii rebuilt slightly on Wed AM (11/13) generating 45 kt northeast winds over a small area and 28 ft seas near 41N 157W aimed pretty well west of the Islands. The fetch fell southwest and was fading from 35 kts over a broader area in the evening with 30 ft seas at 37N 160W and falling south. Limited sideband swell is possible for Hawaii just before sunrise on Fri (11/15) with pure swell 9.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (13-14 ft) from 350 degrees. Swell fading through the day.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (11/14) high pressure at 1034 mbs was moving east into the Gulf of Alaska with the first finger of it ridging into North and Central CA waters with north winds 25 kts off all of the coast north of Pt Conception. A light winds regime was in control of Southern CA. The pressure gradient is forecast holding over all of North and Central California on Friday with 20-25 kt north winds in control, perhaps fading to 20 kts early Saturday and 15 kts late as low pressure builds in from Pacific Northwest. The gradient is to be gone mid-Sunday AM with a light pressure pattern taking control and low pressure moving into the Central Gulf of Alaska. A light wind regime is forecast Monday and Tuesday with a weak front pushing up to the Cape Mendocino coast (mid-Tues) with 15 kt south winds there. Light winds Wednesday too other than 15-20 kts near Pt Conception with that pattern holding Thursday (11/21).
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 the cutoff low currently north of Hawaii is to retrograde west almost to the dateline almost dissipating, then reverse direction and start building while moving northeast through the Gulf of Alaska Monday (11/18) with 30 kt northeast fetch developing in it's northerly quadrant into Tuesday, moving onshore over Vancouver Island late. Maybe 12 ft seas to result aimed at really nowhere of interest. Also weak low pressure is to start circulating over the Kuril Islands on Wed (11/20) generating maybe 30 kt west winds and seas to 18 ft just off Northern Japan, but again, nothing of interest.
There's also some suggestions of a rather normal looking low developing north of Hawaii on Thurs (11/21) with 25-30 kt northwest winds possible aimed at the Islands. At least it's 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 Thursday (11/14) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up some to 7.06. The 30 day average was down some at -3.81 and the 90 day average was up to 1.16. 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 of surface level weather trends.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated moderate east anomalies over the far west Maritime Continent weakening and almost turning neutral then rebuilding from the east on the dateline and continuing unchanged to a point south of Hawaii, then fading if almost turning westerly on into Central America. A week from now (11/22) moderate east anomalies are forecast building over the Maritime Continent and the dateline to a point south of Hawaii, then turning westerly continuing into Central America. In all this suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO was setting up over the West Pacific and should hold for the next week while the Active Phase fades over the extreme East Pacific. This will continue to hamper storm development in the North Pacific.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 11/13 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 weakly redevelop 4 days out and build on the 9 day forecast, then starting to fade 15 days out. 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 to slightly Inactive Phase holding. The ultra long range upper level model updated on 11/14 suggests Inactive Phase is rebuilding over the West Pacific, and is to slowly migrate east reaching the East Equatorial Pacific on Dec 19th. Perhaps a weak pulse of the Active Phase is supposed to develop over the far West Pacific starting Dec 14th, easing east. So for now it seems the Inactive Phase is to remain in control. 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 moving from just west of the dateline (170E) to the dateline (180W) and now to nearly 140W and tracking east while holding together nicely. And a pocket of 1 deg warmer water is developing 70 meters down off Central America. NOAA is calling the large 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 11/14 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
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Updated - Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (11/10) - http://youtu.be/J9JBexG9xJw
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.
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table