New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
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: 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 (12/10) North and Central California was still getting decent size from swell from Storm #5 with waves 20-3 ft overhead with hard offshore winds, but less size than hoped for. Southern California was getting a nice shot of Swell #5 with waves head high to 1 ft overhead up north and clean, and pushing 2 ft overhead and clean down south. Pretty nice when it comes. Hawaii's North Shore was still getting solid energy from Storm #5 with surf in the 3-4 ft overhead range and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around energy from the northwest with waves shoulder high or so. The South Shore was asleep for the winter.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for Swell #5 to fade out completely Friday and Saturday while a local storm pattern sets up with brisk south wind and rain expected through the weekend then turning north and drying out Monday. A miserable weekend for surf is expected. Southern California is to see some more energy from Storm #5 Friday but south winds and rain to be making their mark there too, continuing into Saturday then winds turns northwest with clearing on Sunday. Looks to be pretty much a mess there as well. The North Shore of Hawaii is to see some more lingering energy from Swell #5, but definitely down from earlier this week. Waves fading to 2-3 ft overhead on Friday with limited reinforcing energy on Saturday at 3-4 ft overhead dropping from 2 ft overhead on Sunday. Head high or so on Monday then hold at near that range Tuesday. The East Shore is to have no easterly windswell. The South Shore is in hibernation for the winter.
Longterm the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is fading fast from the Active Phase but should continue to support storm development into 12/21. A series of modest gales are on the charts, with one already pushing from the dateline towards the Gulf with 23 ft seas in the Hawaiian swell window, and seas perhaps pushing up to near 28 ft later today over a tiny area aimed at the North CA and Pacific Northwest coasts. Limited swell perhaps for early next week. A stronger gale is forecast well off NCal/Oregon Tues/Wed (12/160 with up to 32 ft seas forecast, perhaps offering swell potential for the mainland late next week. And another gale to be right behind targeting Hawaii Wed/Thurs (12/17) with 26 ft seas. And yet a stronger system is to be building off Japan about the same time. So things to be a little less energetic, but not out for the coming week. This is looking a bit like a modest El Nino swell pattern.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (12/10) the North Pacific jetstream has flowing flat west to east from Japan to Northern Baja on the 35N latitude with a generalized flow of 130-140 kts winds over it's length. No clearly defined troughs were in place, so there was no good support for gale development in the upper levels of the atmosphere for the moment. Over the next 72 hrs that's to change, with two troughs setting up late Friday, one broad one off the US West Coast and another just west of the dateline. The dateline one is to have a little more energy associated with it, but not much. By Sat (12/12) the trough off the West coast is to be starting to move inland supporting a windy/rainy pattern there with perhaps some support for a small gale forming just off the coast. The dateline trough is to continue pushing east over the dateline supporting gale development there. By Sunday it's all to decay again with just a flat flow forecast perhaps even further south down near 30N offering no immediate support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to split just east of Hawaii on Tues (12/15) offering storm protection for the US West Coast while more energy builds off Japan to the dateline and a broad trough starts to carve out north of Hawaii by Thurs (12/17) with 170 kt winds feeding into it. And 180 kt winds are to start building over Japan. Looks like decent support for gale development is possible in both these areas longerterm.
At the surface on Thursday (12/10) the broad remnants of Storm #5 were circulating over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians helping support the eastward migration of low pressure off Japan. The leading and detached edge of this broad area of low pressure was trying to nudge into California, but effectively falling apart as it pushed east. But this was helping to establish lower pressure off the California coast, where high pressure has been locked seemingly forever. A gale was fading in the far Western Gulf (see Weak Dateline Gale below). Over the next 72 hours the a new gale is to build directly off the Central CA coast Sat/Sun (12/13) with 35 kts winds and lot's of rain, resulting in only local windswell and miserable conditions for the Golden state. The dateline low pressure pool is to get somewhat better organized Fri-Sun (12/13) with pockets of 30 kts northwest winds , but generally short lived other than one one the dateline late Saturday into early Sunday AM (12/13) at 46N 180W resulting in 20 ft seas near 41N 180W into the evening. 13 sec period swell is likely for Hawaii if this occurs coming down the 319-328 degree paths on Tues (12/15) at 6 ft @ 13 secs (8 ft faces).
Weak Dateline Gale
A new gale was building just west of the dateline on Tuesday AM (12/8) with winds modeled at 35 kts. That gale continued east in the evening with 35-40 kts west winds modeled at 37N 170E producing 28 ft seas at 38N 165E then pushed east over the dateline Wednesday (12/9) evening with 35-40 kts west winds at 42N 170W with 23 ft seas at 37N 178W. This fetch was aimed well at Hawaii down the 305-312 degree great circle paths. The gale is to fade some on Thursday (12/10) with 35 kt west winds covering less area but consolidating with 28 ft sea over a tiny area at 44N 171W late. The gale is to dissipate near there on Friday AM with residual 23 ft seas at 43N 164W pushing towards NCal up the 294 degree path and bypassing Hawaii. This system to dissolve after that.
Small 15 sec period swell is expected to reach Hawaii late Friday night with swell down to 5 ft @ 13-14 secs Saturday (6.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 305-310 degrees
Swell of 5 ft @ 15-16 secs (7.5 ft faces) is expected for NCal by Monday AM (12/14) from 292-295 degrees though that size estimate might be a little optimistic.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (12/10) weak low pressure at 1008 mbs was 500 nmiles west of Pt Reyes CA pushing east with what appears to be a weak front developing off the coast. east to southeast winds were in control of coastal regions north of Pt Conception. This is the start of what might prove to be a wet weekend. On Friday south winds and rain are forecast for the entire state, but not overly aggressive, and most likely rain only in the light category. But while that's occurring a broad gale is forecast building off the coast late Friday evening with strong south winds and heavier rain forecast impacting the coast (including SCal) Saturday with the core of the low moving inland over Cape Mendocino Sunday AM (12/13) with rain reaching south to near Pt Conception. After that weak high pressure is to build in off Southern CA protecting the region up to nearly San Francisco from south winds while another gale and rain loads up off the coast. That front is to push over extreme NCal reaching down to maybe San Francisco early Wednesday with another front and piles of moisture moving in right behind reaching south to Pt Arena through Thursday (12/17).
The MJO is in the last portion of the Active Phase in the Pacific, net tropical activity is expected to slowly diminish through 12/18.
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
At the surface no swell producing fetch was occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hrs semi tropical energy is forecast migrating east from Japan on Friday (12/11) pushing over the dateline then starting to build Monday PM (12/14) with 40 kts northwest winds at 40N 165W and taking good aimed initially on Hawaii down the 345 degree great circle path. This system is to quickly bloom with 50 kts west winds forecast Tuesday AM (12/15) at 40N 158W aimed right up the 285 degree path to NCal while lifting northeast, with 30 ft seas forecast at 39N 160W. In the evening 40-45 kts winds are to be aimed due east at 42N 150W pushing up the 291 degree path to NCal with 32 ft seas at 40N 152W. No fetch is to be aimed at Hawaii. 40 kt west winds to hold Wednesday AM (12/16) at 45N 42W aimed at NCal up the 302 degree path as starting to favor Oregon. 32 ft seas forecast at 43N 145W. This system is to be targeting Northern British Columbia by evening with 32 ft seas at 48N 142W and of no use to anyone but northern Canada. Possible decent utility class swell to result for the US West Coast if this comes to pass, with perhaps sideband energy for Hawaii.
Yet another gale is to form right in this ones wake, on the dateline Tuesday PM (12/15) with 45 kt northwest winds at 35N 178E targeting Hawaii down the 310 degree path . Seas to be on the increase from 23 ft. Wednesday AM (12/16) 40 kt northwest winds to hold at 33N 172W with 25 ft seas at 33N 175W pushing to 28 ft in the evening at 32N 168W heading down the 322 degree path to the Islands and very nearby. More fetch is to build in the same area with 28 ft sea holding Thursday AM (12/17) at 30N 163W, a mere 600 nmiles out. Raw swell likely for Hawaii if all goes as planned (low odds at this early date).
And yet a storm is forecast forming off Japan on Thursday (12/17) with 50 kt west winds well to the south at 37N 150E lifting gently east-northeast. Another one to watch.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (12/10) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was fading fast from the Active Phase in the Pacific, but still supporting the continued evolution of El Nino. The ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index was up to the positive range with the Daily SOI up at 6.28 (almost 27 consecutive negative days before this reading). The 30 day average was holding at -8.31 while the 90 average was up a slice to -7.26.
Wind anomalies at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicating a weakening area of westerly anomalies centered on the dateline and pushing into the East Pacific from there. The last vestiges of the Active Phase are to continue pushing east reaching into the Eastern Pacific on 12/14 and tracking into Central America while still holding minimal ground on the dateline, then slowly dissipating through 12/19. A very weak version of the Inactive Phase is forecast trying to get a toe into the West Pacific not even reaching New Guinea on 12/24, then completely dissipating with neutral conditions after that. This Active Phase episode increased storm activity in the North Pacific, and might help to modestly continue that trend through 12/20 or so.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (12/10) indicates that warmer than normal waters are consolidated on the equator from Ecuador and Columbia west to the dateline and even west of there, and starting to rebuild some along the Baja coast, but not much. A new strong Kelvin Wave (see below) was erupting along the coast and some evidence of it can be seen with a more solid warm anomaly signature present over the Galapagos Islands extending west from there to 2 deg C above normal. It is expected that water temps will increase yet more with the introduction of this a Kelvin Wave (see below). Overall the warm water signature remains non-exceptional from a historical El Nino perspective, but clearly in the moderate category and building slowly but steadily.
Below the surface on the equator things still look favorable. A steady flow of warmer than normal subsurface water continues tracking from the West Pacific (150 m below the surface) under the dateline and breaking the surface near Central America as it has for months now. As of 12/10 the Kelvin Wave we've been tracking with a core of 5-6 deg C warmer than normal sub-surface water was impacting the Galapagos and Ecuador coast. This should fuel an increase in the warm water surface pool as it continues impacting the coast there building and eventually tracking back west on the equator driven by trades. This Kelvin Wave first appeared under the dateline on 9/17 and tracked steadily east through 12/1 and was the result of a prolonged persistent westerly surface wind flow that had been in-place west of the dateline from 9/8 and continued into 11/5. Of additional interest is the development of a new pocket of warm water on the dateline 3 deg C above normal. It is very small in areal coverage, but could possibly be the start of a new Kelvin Wave.
Over the Equatorial Pacific and consistent with the Active Phase, anomalous surface winds started to move from the west to the east extending the whole way from Indonesia to a point south of Hawaii, with fully blowing west winds confirmed in the far West Pacific. This was a new Westerly Wind Burst which started on 11/28 and was very obvious on 11/30 with fully blowing west winds near 165E, and strong. This Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) continued on 12/2 through 12/8 with a most solid area of west winds pushing almost to the dateline. On 12/6 strong west anomalies pushed to 170W and held on 12/8. And on 12/9 the trend continued with fully blowing west winds reaching to the dateline and anomalies to 170W. This is likely helping to form yet another Kelvin Wave under the dateline, which would be great to help fuel development of El Nino. The Kelvin Wave currently hitting Ecuador was formed from a prolonged bout and multiple pulses of westerly winds and westerly anomalies that occurred from 9/8 through 11/2. At one point towards it's end the anomalies reached the whole way from the West Pacific to almost Ecuador. Embedded in that run were Typhoons Dujuan, Choi-Wan, Parma, Melor and Nepartak. All this helped to deepen the surface warm pool in the tropical Eastern Pacific. Typhoon Nida and Storm #5 was associated with the most recent WWB.
El Nino is expected to affect the global atmospheric weather pattern at least through Spring of next year if not into the middle of summer. All data suggests this will not be a strong El Nino, more likely a moderate one. NOAA's last update (11/5) forecasts the same outcome, though hints at some uncertainty. In short, all the best models aren't exactly sure how this is going to play out. Regardless a solid accumulation of warm water in the equatorial East Pacific is evidence in-favor of continued development. As long as there continues to be WWB's (as there obviously is), then warm water will be migrating east, and the warm water pattern will hold if not build, and the atmosphere above it will respond in-kind to the change (towards El Nino). At this point there is no evidence to suggest this El Nino will stall or dissipate. The only remaining question is whether it will hold, or grow. And current data indicates that the warm pool will hold if not slowly build. And historically it is already larger and strong than any other in the past 12 years.
The current El Nino is gaining strength, with a 2 degree water temp anomaly in the tropical East Pacific the likely outcome. Coverage is pretty solid for this event, but the lack of really high water temp anomalies will likely limit it's strength. Strong El Ninos bring lot's of bad weather to the US West Coast, along with the potential for storm and swell enhancement. A moderate El Nino provides storm and swell enhancement, a gentle but steady push/momentum in-favor of storm development rather than the manic frenzy of a strong El Nino, but without all the weather associated with a strong event. So in many ways a moderate El Nino is more favorable from a surf perspective. As of right now things remain better than anything the Pacific has seen in the past 12 years regarding anomalous sea surface temperatures, besting anything since the big El Nino of 1997. That is very good news. But the lack of anomalous water temps exceeding 3 degrees and an unremarkable SOI suggests a modest El Nino at best. Still, it should be enough to provide storm enhancement, and a better than average winter surf season for the North Pacific, and still likely better than anything in the past 10 years. Better yet, if it's not too strong (as this event appears to be) perhaps it will not degrade into La Nina the year after (which typically happens after stronger El Ninos), but hold in some mild El Nino like state for several years in a row. This would be an even better outcome.
See more details in the new El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours the models suggest no swell producing fetch is to develop.
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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Interview With Stormsurf: The crew at SurfScience.com worked with Stormsurf on a feature about why surfers should be able to read wave charts themselves. They are firm believers that a little learning can go a long way to help your surfing. This is a great article to help convince your friends that they can benefit from being able to read the data themsleves rather than just relying on the forecasts of others. See the full thing here: Create Your Own Surf Forecast with Stormsurf
Mavericks - Everest of the Sea & Longboard Vineyards: Come late October Sonoma County will not only welcome a new crop of world class wines, but the award winning photography of some of Action Sports best lensmen. “ Mavericks – Everest of the Seas” comes alive again just in time to set the stage for another epic Big Wave Season. Mix two of Northern California's finest institutions – big wave surfing and the wine country – and you have what promises to be an amazing weekend at the Longboard Vineyards Tasting Room in Healdsburg
October 23 – 25.
Relive heroic battles between man and wave as seen through the eyes of the cutting-edge photojournalists who risk life and limb to document the wave's intense man-against-the-sea drama and obsessive lifestyle of Maverick's elite riders. Oded Shakked, a longtime surfer who founded Longboard Vineyards, will be unveiling his latest release, The Peter Mel/Mavericks Cabernet Sauvignon. This signature wine will be blended by not only Shakked but guest vintner, Peter Mel. Mel, one of the most respected names in Big Wave Surfing is known as perhaps the most skillful surfer ever to ride Mavericks. The famed spot off the Half Moon Bay. In October of 1998 he was whipped into to what is now considered the biggest wave ever ridden… Mel along with the featured photographers, surfboard shapers and wine makers will be on hand for the Friday night reception. The reception will begin at 5pm and run until roughly 9pm.
Longboard Vineyard has always had a soft spot for surfers. It's a place where you can hangout at a redwood-surfboard bar, or sample one
of its award winning wines while kicking back on a comfortable sofa watching surf movies. For this harvest weekend event Shakked has
enlisted “Mavericks: Everest of the Seas,” the heralded collection of Mavericks surf photography from Frank Quirarte, Doug Acton, Seth
Migdail and Ed Grant.
“Everest of the Seas” first made its debut recently at the Coastal Arts League Gallery in Half Moon Bay, drawing large crowds and an
enthusiastic response. It just finished a one-month highly successful run at San Francisco's world class Museum and Gallery, SFMOMA.“Everyone who sees the exhibit is just blown away,” said Grant, the curator of the Coastal Arts League Gallery. “Both surfers and non-surfers can't help but get caught up in the energy and stoke that surrounds Maverick's, the surfers and photographers who put it on the
line every time they go out there.”
The event also represents a high point in the career of Oded Shakked, who was born in Israel and grew up near a beach just north of Tel
Aviv. Immersed in surfing from the start, he made several trips around Europe's Atlantic coast while discovering, to his delight, that “it
was easier, cheaper and safer to drink good red wine than bottled water.” His twin loves of surfing and wine brought him to California,
where he studied winemaking at UC Davis and became enamored with the people, climate and rich soil of Sonoma County. He founded Longboard Vineyards with the motto “Wine, waves and soul,” making it a highly unique fixture in wine country.
The October 23-25 weekend will also feature the sale of surfboards and memorabilia, along with Acton's acclaimed book, “Inside Maverick's.”
Admission is free. Opening reception sponsored by Maverick Events and Longboard Vineyards
The Kelly Slater Project - A fundraiser is scheduled for Aug 29th at the Cocoa Beach Country Club to help raise funds for both the Kelly Slater Project and the Central Florida Animal Reserve. A Casino night is planned including a silent auction and raffle. Sponsors are also needed. Learn more about these projects at : http://www.thekellyslaterproject.com/
Rebuild Jeff Clark: Jeff Clark the first pioneer of Mavericks, recently underwent hip resurfacing surgery due to severe pain from deterioration of his hip. Needless to say the procedure is very expensive and his insurance only covers tiny portion of the bill. If you're interested in learning about the procedure or would like to donate to help Jeff out, please take a look here: http://www.rebuildjeffclark.blogspot.com/
North California Surf Report Works Again: After an extended downtime we finally got the North California Surf Report working again. Thanks for your patience. See it here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/report/ncal.html
Shark Video: Our friend Curt Myers of Powerlines productions shot this footage of 2 great whites munching on a whale carcass off Devils Slide (south of San Francisco) on Thursday. Kind of interesting to watch. Check it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I4rZYEZMWQ (Fixed link)
Wave Model Upgrade Status Report: At this point we believe the installation of the new wave models is complete, with no problems being reported, the server stabilizing and the much requested return of the old style hemispheric Surf Height models now operational (again) and running side-by-side along the new ones. We thank you for your patience and input as we went though this process. Your feedback helps guide our efforts and ultimately results in a better product for everyone. Now we're off to start providing better menus to some wave model products most of you probably haven't uncovered yet (site specific graph and text forecasts), updateing the wave model FAQs and then upgrading the Weather Models.
New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.
Stormsurf Wave Models Updated: On Friday (2/6) we installed the latest upgrade to our wavemodels. A year in the works, this upgrade essentially is a total re-write of every wave model product we produce. They now take advantage of the new Version 3 of the Wavewatch wavemodel. This version runs at a much higher resolution, specifically 0.0 X 0.5 degrees for the global grib with local products at 0.1667 X 0.1667 degrees, and it uses the hi-res GFS model for wind speeds. And of even more interest, the model now identifies primary swell and windwave variables. As such we now have new model images which displays this data. Also we've included out special 3D topographic land masks into all models. In all it makes for a radical step forward in wave model technology. We'll be upgrading minor components (FAQ, new menu pages etc) for a few weeks to come, but all the basics are available for your use now. Check it out here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wam.html
Story About Stormsurf: The folks at SurfPulse (and specifically author Mike Wallace) have written up a really nice article about Stormsurf, complete with some good pics. Learn about how we came to be and a little of where we are going. Check it out here: http://www.surfpulse.com/2009/01/visceral-surf-forecasting-with-mark-sponsler/
Stormsurf Video: Just for fun - here's a clip about Stormsurf that ran on Bay Area TV a while back. Thought you might enjoy it: http://vimeo.com/2319455
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.
Need Chiropractic Help? Visit our friends at Darrow Chiropractic. Not only will Dr. Darrow fix you up, he might give you some big wave surfing tips too! See more here: http://www.darrowchiropractic.com/
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