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.
'Chasing Mavericks' Now Playing on Comcast/OnDemand and Available on DVD
On Thursday (3/14) North and Central CA was seeing no real swell of interest with a mix of windswell and background energy providing surf in the chest high range and fairly clean but weak. Down south in Santa Cruz waves were waist high with a few bigger peaks at top breaks and clean but generally weak. Southern California up north was flat to maybe knee high and clean but real soft. Down south waves were waist high on the sets and mushed texture and a good amount of fog obscuring the view. Hawaii's North Shore was the hot spot with waves 2-3 ft overhead on the sets and perfectly clean with light trades. Looks like fun. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was getting waist high wrap-around dateline leftover swell with light north winds and still fairly clean early.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Weak low pressure is falling southeast from the northern dateline Thurs-Fri (3/15) then expected to stall just north of Hawaii holding there through Sun (3/17) producing varying degrees of 18 ft seas initially building to 20 ft Sunday over a very small area but aimed right at the Islands. Fun sized windswell is the expected result for Hawaii over the later weekend then fading into the early part of next week. None of that energy is to be directed towards the mainland. Beyond a similar gale is to develop over the Northern Dateline region Mon (3/18) with 24 ft seas initially then fading while falling southeast, with maybe 18 ft seas a bit north of the Islands by mid-week. Maybe some more windswell. Otherwise no swell producing weather system are forecast in the North Pacific. Down south a fairly decent looking gale is to produce 40 ft seas in the Southeast Pacific late Friday (3/15) offering some small hope for the mainland (and much better hope for South America) over the long haul. Details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Thursday (3/14) the jetstream was split starting just off Japan with the northern branch peeling off hard to the north and tracking north up into the Bering Sea. That branch also split again over the Western Aleutians with some energy falling southeast into a broad trough set up north of Hawaii with winds to 120 kts feeding into the trough. This trough was providing some support for low pressure development in the Gulf of Alaska north of Hawaii. The remaining energy tracked northeast and was pushing over and into British Columbia. Over the next 72 hours the radical split off Japan is to fade with the split point moving east to the dateline and the northern branch limping northeast through the Gulf of Alaska and winds below 90 kts, offering no support for gale development. The southern branch is to track over Hawaii and then split again with some energy falling to the equator and the rest limping into California. Beyond 72 hours the split point is to again retrograde back west just off Japan by Wed (3/21) with the northern branch tracking northeast over the Aleutians near the dateline but with a quick and short lived trough trying to set up north of Hawaii offering a hint of support for gale development but quickly getting cut-off as the northern branch races past it into the Norther Gulf on Thurs (3/21). Perhaps a trough to build there though offering a glimmer of hope. But overall, the picture certainly looks like a portrait of Spring.
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (3/14) swell from a gale that off the Kuril Islands on Sat (3/9) was hitting the Hawaiian Islands, but on it's way down. A weak low pressure system was developing over the dateline and starting to sink south towards Hawaii and to continue that track for the next few days (see Hawaiian Low below). Another weak but broad gale is to develop on the dateline Sunday (3/17) producing 35 kts northwest winds and 20 ft seas by evening at 43N 170E but lifting northeast. Monday AM (3/18) it is to be consolidating just south of the Central Aleutians producing 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas rebuilding, with winds holding into the evening and seas up to 24 ft at 47N 180W. By Tues AM (3/19) the gale is to be fading while falling southeast winds winds 35 kts and seas still 24 ft at 47N 175W, then all gone by evening. Maybe some rideable 13-14 sec period swell to result for the Islands and the US West coast with luck, but size is to be small assuming this system even forms.
On Wed PM (3/13) a tiny non-closed isobar low pressure system was developing in the Western Gulf forming a pressure gradient with high pressure over the dateline resulting in a tiny fetch of 30 kt north winds aimed well at Hawaii. Seas building. The fetch fell southeast on Thurs AM (3/14) with pressure only 1012 mbs and no closed isobars with winds barely 35 kts and seas 17 ft. More of the same forecast in the evening with 30 kt northwest winds and 18 ft seas over an infinitesimal area moving south to 39N 170W (328 degs HI). The fetch is to hold at 30 kts Fri AM (3/15) with seas 18 ft at 35N 167W. In the evening additional 35 kt winds are forecast over a sliver of area with the low moving east now and seas up to 20 ft at 32N 162W (345 degs HI). More of the same is forecast into Sat AM (3/16) with 20 ft seas at 30N 160N (356 degs HI) holding into the evening. The gale is to dissipate by later Sunday (3/17).
For rough planning purposes and if all goes as forecast some degree of weak northwest angled windswell is expected arriving along north facing shores of the Hawaiian Islands starting Sat (3/15) at 5 ft @ 9 secs (4 ft) peaking Sunday at 7 ft @ 12 secs (8 ft) then heading down Monday morning from 6 ft @ 11 secs (6.5 ft). But at this time it's still a bit early to believe any of this.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are occurring.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (3/14) modest high pressure at 1024 mbs was centered just 500 nmiles west of Pt Conception was producing a light north wind flow at 10 kts just the immediate North and Central CA coast, and much less nearshore and down south. The high is to rebuild on Friday, generating a local gradient and north winds at 15-20 kts for the North and Central coasts early and 25 kts late, though Southern CA to remain protected. More of the same Saturday and Sunday. The high is to finally start fading Monday as low pressure north of Hawaii starts pushing east, but north winds to still be 15 kts north of Pt Conception (light winds for Southern CA) early but fading. The low is to push closer to the CA coast Tuesday with a light wind pattern forecast early for most of the state (except south winds and light rain building over extreme North CA). A front is to push south Tuesday afternoon with rain working its way south to maybe Pt Conception late. Wed AM northwest winds expected at 15-20 kts behind the front reaching Southern CA by sunset. Perhaps a short burst of heavy snow for Tahoe starting early Wed fading by late evening. 20 inch accumulation possible. Clearing and north winds to continue Thursday driven by high pressure that might start moving into the Pacific Northwest late week.
Surface - No swell producing weather systems were occurring but small swell is radiating northeast from the Southeast Pacific (see First Small Gale below). Over the next 72 hours one more small system is forecast (see Second Gale below).
First Small Gale
On Tues (3/12) a small gale developed east-southeast of New Zealand producing a small fetch of 45 kt southwest winds and racing east. By Wed AM (3/13) winds were holding with seas building to 28 ft at 53S 153W. In the evening fetch built to near 50 kts over a small area aimed northeast with seas to 36 ft at 54S 143W aimed somewhat to the northeast (195 degs SCal). By Thurs AM (3/14) winds were fading fast from 45 kts with seas fading from 36 ft at 53S 133W (189 degs). Maybe some background swell for Southern CA by Fri AM (3/22) with period 17 secs from 189-195 degrees. More size for South America.
A stronger system is forecast for the same area Thurs PM (3/14) producing a decent sized fetch of 45 kt west winds in the deep Central South Pacific with seas building from 34 ft at 62S 165W. By Fri AM (3/15) fetch to build in coverage still at 45 kts and aimed better to the northeast producing a small area of 38 ft seas at 60S 150W aimed somewhat northeast (195 degs SCal). By evening up to 50 kt southwest winds are forecast embedded in a larger area of 45 kt southwest winds with seas up to 40 ft at 56S 142W (194 degs SCal). The gale is to be dissipating Sat AM (3/16) with winds 40 kts and seas fading from 37 ft at 53S 135W (190 degs SCal). This gale to be gone by evening. Again maybe a better shot for modest swell for Southern CA from 190-195 degrees and more for South America.
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 no swell producing weather systems of interest are 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 (3/14) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down some to 10.96. The 30 day average was up to 10.66 with the 90 day average up into positive territory at 0.24. Overall this is neutral territory and not indicative of El Nino.
Current equatorial wind analysis indicated very light west anomalies over the Maritime Continent reaching 160E then hitting a brick wall, giving way to moderate easterly anomalies over the dateline covering to a point south of Hawaii, then fading to neutral anomalies extending the rest of the way into Central America. This indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak and fading and making no eastern headway. A week from now (3/22) weak westerly anomalies are to make no headway but also giving up no ground, with east anomalies weaker over the dateline and fading to neutral over the Central Pacific. This suggests the weak Inactive Phase of the MJO is to maybe loose some of it's grip on the dateline, but the Active Phase of the MJO is be be just as weak, offering only a draw and no support to fuel storm development in the North Pacific.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 3/13 are in agreement suggesting a modest version of the Active Phase was in control of the far West Pacific centered just west of the dateline (165E) and is to start moving east reaching the dateline by 3/25, then starting to fade while moving east of there by 3/28 while the Inactive Phase builds in the Indian Ocean reaching mid-Indonesia to the extreme West Pacific 15 days out. The coming of Spring could even amplify what is projected to be a weak Inactive Phase long term.
The more warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). As of now (3/14) no pockets of warmer or colder subsurface water are in play on the equator. But a noticeable plume of cooler water is radiating off the California coast tracking southwest typical of the effects of a stronger than normal East Pacific high pressure system. Subsurface waters temps, previously indicating an open path for warm water migration east, are now indicating cooler water (-3 deg C) are starting to build at 135W and down at 115 meters, blocking the transport path. In short, though temperatures on the surface remains normal, the subsurface path is still tending towards a blocked pattern and the coastal pattern off the mainland also suggested a La Nina like pattern.
Projections from the CFSv2 model have regressed yet more. They suggest a slow build up to barely warm temps by April only to crash back slightly negative by July (-0.3 degs C) then slowly rebuilding to near-normal by November (-0.1 deg). A consensus of all the other ENSO models suggest near normal water temps into Spring, Summer and early Fall 2013 with no warming indicated.
We are in a dead neutral ENSO pattern with neither El Nino or La Nina imminent. But that is a far better place than the previous 2 years under the direct influence of La Nina. We had expected a normal number of storms and swell for the 2012-2013 winter season, but that has not materialized with the pattern looking more like La Nina than anything. This season is more of a 3 rating than the 5 that was predicted. Longer term the expectation is this winter will be followed by at least one year of slightly warmer temps (2013-2014) 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 of interest is forecast with the storm track moving decidedly southeast (rather than northeast).
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
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
|| Boardshorts - Looking for a sick pair of boardshorts? Check out the selection at Boardshorts.com with brands from O'Neill, Quiksilver and Rusty and free shipping on every order. They won't disappoint.
The Mavericks Invitational Big Wave Surf Contest is scheduled to air on CBS on Thurs (2/7) at 7 PM (PST) replaying again on Sunday (2/10) at 7 PM. Set your DVR.
'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:
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.
||Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here: http://www.casanoble.com/
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!
Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here
Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here
Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table