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 Thursday (12/5) North and Central CA surf was head high to 1 ft overhead and clean with light offshore's - nice little windswell. Down in Santa Cruz surf was flat and clean. In Southern California up north surf was flat and clean. Down south waves were waist to chest high on the peak and clean but very weak. Hawaii's North Shore was 2-3 ft overhead and clean. The South Shore was flat. Exposed breaks on the East Shore were getting wrap around energy at waist high or so and bumpy with onshore winds.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
In the North Pacific high pressure was in control of the Eastern Gulf off the US West Coast and had previously produced a gradient with north winds resulting in local windswell in conjunction with low pressure inland. That fetch is now gone but the windswell remains, but is fading. At the same time a new gale was developing modestly north of Hawaii in the Western Gulf of Alaska and is expected to hold through early Sat (12/7) with seas in the 22-24 ft range targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast. Previously a very small gale developed 1200 nmiles northwest of Hawaii on Mon (12/2) producing 22 ft seas aimed at the Islands for 24 hours, and swell from that system was peaking in Oahu now (Thurs AM). Perhaps another small gale is to develop north of HAwaii and targeting the Islands early next week with 22 ft seas. Residuals from that system to redevelop off Oregon perhaps on Thurs (12/12). So there's a little hope for everyone, but nothing remarkable.
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 (12/5) the jetstream was much unchanged from 2 days earlier with it pushing off Japan starting down at 27N with winds building to 150 kts streaming east while ridging slightly over the dateline. But no energy was peeling off the main flow tracking north, a good thing. The main flow made it to the dateline and then fell southeast into a small trough about 1000 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii with 150 kt winds feeding it before splitting with most energy turning hard north and pushing up into the Eastern Bering Sea. Residual energy tracked southeast from the split point south of Hawaii bound for Baja. The northern branch fell from the extreme northeast Bering Sea down the Canadian and US West Coasts and joined the southern branch near San Diego CA and pushed inland from there. Only the little trough north of Hawaii held any hope of support gale development. Over the next 72 hours the trough north of Hawaii is to hold while easing east continuing to provide support for gale development into Sat AM (12/7) before finally dissipating. At that time the jet is to again split with the northern branch peeling off the main flow just off Japan and tracking hard northeast up into the Bering Sea while the main flow continues flat east on the 33N latitude line pushing into Central CA. The northern branch is to not rejoin the main flow until it falls south inland over the interior states of the Canadian and Us West Coast. This is not good. Beyond 72 hours the split flow is to hold until early Tues (12/10) while the northern split flow dissipates. The southern branch is to continue tracking flat off Southern Japan over the dateline but with winds only in the 110 kt range, then ridging north in the East Pacific starting north of Hawaii, finally falling south just off the Southern CA coast forming a bit of a trough there Mon (12/9) and moving onshore over the next 48 hours. But by Wednesday (12/11) the jet is to again start splitting off Japan with the whole weak jet scenario likely starting again. Until the MJO moves into some flavor of the Active Phase, one can expect a split flow to persist with weak upper level support for gale development in low levels of the atmosphere.
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (12/5) swell from a small gale previously on the dateline was hitting Hawaii (see Small Dateline Gale below). A new gale was starting to circulate north of the Islands (see Another West Gulf Gale below). Solid high pressure at 1032 mbs was off the immediate US West Coast. Only the gale north of HAwaii was of interest from a swell production standpoint. Over the next 72 hours only the Western Gulf Gale is to be of interest. Weak low pressure is also supposed to develop over the immediate Oregon coast on Fri (12/6) falling southeast and inland by Sat AM over NCal forming a pressure gradient with high pressure just off the coast and generating a small fetch of 25 kt north winds through Saturday early evening, then dissipating. Some local windswell to result for Central CA on Sunday (12/8). Also a cutoff low to form west of Hawaii near the dateline on Sat (12/7) but with all fetch aimed west towards Japan. No swell to result for our forecast area.
Another West Gulf Gale
Remnants of the Small Dateline Gale chronicled below were redeveloping 1100 nmiles north of Hawaii on Wed PM (12/4) with winds to 40 kt in it's west quadrant targeting the Islands with seas to 24 ft over a tiny area at 36N 167W (336 degs HI). By Thurs AM (12/5) the gale was pushing east with pressure 984 mbs and 40 kt northwest winds building in coverage it's south quadrant targeting Hawaii with seas fading from 23 ft at 38N 162W (352 degs HI and targeting the US West coast better (284 degs NCal). In the evening the fetch is to grow in coverage with winds still 40 kts producing 24 ft seas at 38N 162W aimed east of Hawaii and a bit south of California (348 degs HI, 284 degs NCal, 292 degs SCal). By Fri AM (12/6) the fetch is to be stretching north with northwest to west winds still 35-40 kts and seas 24 ft at 40N 160W (357 degs HI, 286 degs NCal, 294 degs SCal). The low to start fading Fri PM but still with 35-40 kt northwest winds in the Western Gulf and lifting north producing 24 ft seas at 41N 162W (356 degs HI, 290 degs NCal, 295 degs SCal). Fetch is to move north Sat AM (12/7) with winds fading from 40 kts positioned just south of the Aleutians aimed due south with seas up to 27 ft at 48N 168W (346 degs HI, 305 degs NCal) targeting Hawaii best. Fetch is to fade in the evening from 35 kts with residual 22 ft seas at 45N 165W (347 degs HI, not really aimed at NCal up the 296 degs path).
Assuming all the plays out as forecast some degree of moderate 14 sec period swell could be expected for Hawaii with smaller sideband energy from CA. Something to monitor.
Small Dateline Gale
A small low developed on the dateline Sun (12/1) producing a tiny area of 35-40 kt northwest winds in the evening with seas building from 22 ft over a pinpoint sized area at 38N 177W. 35-40 kt west winds moved into the gales southern quadrant Mon AM (12/2) generating 20 ft seas at 38N 172W. Fetch held at 35-40 kts in the evening with 22 ft seas moving to 38N 171W, then fading. 30 kt west winds were fading Tues AM (12/3) with seas dropping from 22 ft at 37N 169W.
Hawaii: Swell to peak Thurs AM (12/5) at 5.4 ft @ 13 secs (7 ft faces) holding pretty well through the day. Residuals on Fri (12/6) fading from 3.6 ft @ 11 secs (4 ft faces). Swell Direction: 320 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (12/5) high pressure at 1032 mbs was in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska ridging south into open ocean. Nearshore a light offshore flow was in effect for all of California other than the north end of the state, where north winds were indicated at 15 kts. A light north wind flow is expected Friday over the state as another low builds over Oregon and falling south down the coast with high pressure holding strong off the coast. North winds to 20 kt for Cape Mendo down to Pt Arena with rain developing late afternoon reaching San Francisco early evening and snow for higher elevations down to Tahoe. Saturday another local gradient to set up with north winds 20+ kts for all of California (including Southern CA) as the low falls south. Rain early for Central CA moving into Southern CA late morning. Decent snow for Tahoe early (7-9 inches) clearing just after sunset. But by Sunday that wind is to quickly fade with a light offshore flow possible early mainly for Central CA. A light offshore flow is forecast for the whole state Mon into early Tues (12/10). A light north flow possible on Wed mainly for Northern CA with lighter winds early south of there and building to maybe 15 kts on Thurs (12/12). Light rain for the north end of the state late Thursday too.
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 another small gael might try to develop north of Hawaii on Mon-Tues (12/10) with seas in the 18 ft range, but the models have backed off from previous projections of higher seas. Another gale is forecast 700 nmiles west of Oregon on Thurs (12/12) with seas in the 20 ft range pushing due east. But it's way too early to believe even this modest projection. A cutoff low is forecast developing on the dateline too on Thurs (12/12) with 28 ft seas projected,. but all aimed west towards Japan. Otherwise no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
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 (12/5) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down to -17.80. The 30 day average was well up into positive territory but falling from 7.73 and the 90 day average wa falling from 4.39. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of a Inactive Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was rising above neutral territory. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator running a week behind surface level weather trends, so the move into positive readings is not unexpected.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated light to modest east anomalies over the Maritime Continent weakening and turning pure neutral on the dateline continuing south of Hawaii and holding all the way into Central America. A week from now (12/13) moderate easterly anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent fading to near neutral over the dateline region but still light easterly south of Hawaii and halfway to Central America. A neutral wind pattern is forecast from there into Central America. In all this suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is over the West Pacific, and according to the dynamic model, is to build over the West Pacific a week out.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 12/4 are mixed. Both models suggest a very weak Inactive Phase was established over the West Pacific. The statistic model suggests this pattern is quickly dissipate 4 days out and remain unchanged at dead neutral for the next 2 weeks. But the dynamic model suggests the Inactive Phase is to build some while tracking east 4 days out, and strengthen 8 days out on the dateline then slowly start to dissipate while pushing east 15 days out. This is the strongest MJO forecast we've seen for a few years. At the same time a building Active Phase of the MJO is to follow behind. If this were to occur, it would signal a significant departure from almost 2 years of weak MJO activity. It's seems hard to believe. The ultra long range upper level model updated on 12/5 suggests the Inactive Phase was tracking over the mid-Pacific and is to be exiting over the East Pacific by 12/15. At that time a weak Active Phase is to then start building over the West Pacific reaching the dateline 12/20 while fading, then slowly easing east into Dec 30. A new stronger Inactive Phase is to build over the West Pacific 12/30 and move into the mid-Pacific by Jan 14. The 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 (12/5) a completely neutral water temp pattern covers the equator from Central America to the Philippines if not biased on the warm side of neutral (+0.25 degs C). 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. Some slight erosion occurred thereafter, but that has stopped and a neutral to warmish pattern persists. A small pocket of warmer water previously developing over Southern Peru has moderated, but water temps are certainly no cool along the Peruvian coast, a good sign. 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 but in-place. The wall of warmer than normal water just off the North CA coast remains displaced west, held off by high pressure and local upwelling. Still, thousands of nmiles of warmer water is lurking between Japan and just off the North CA coast. In short, there's no sign of a legitimate warm pattern developing. We remain in a pure neutral pattern (as neutral as it can get). It will take 3 months from the time the cool eddy ended off the Galapagos and a fully neutral pattern developed (mid-Sept) till anything helpful to the jetstream manifests in the upper atmosphere (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) with it's leading edge to 140W. NOAA is calling the larger warm pool an eastward moving Kelvin Wave. Today's chart indicates +2 deg C waters are now starting to show 100 meters down at 120W, suggesting the Kevin Wave has crossed the dead spot in the East PAcific where no buoys exist. The expectation is it will now impact Ecuador and provide slight warming to the surface warm pool near the Galapagos (a good thing).
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 12/5 remain stable. The model previously had suggested rapid warming starting March 2014 building to +1.0 deg C by late July 2014. But recent runs have backed off with warming expected only to +0.5 deg C by Aug 2014. For the immediate future (this Winter) a neutral pattern is expected with temps hovering near neutral (0.0 deg C). A consensus of other models suggests slow warming, but not passing beyond 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 Summer 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 Updated 12/4/13
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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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.
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table