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 Tuesday (3/26) North and Central CA was seeing new swell from the Kuril Islands producing waves in the chest to maybe shoulder high range and clean but inconsistent. Down south in Santa Cruz residual southern hemi swell was producing waves at waist to chest high with a few bigger sets and textured. Southern California up north was thigh high and clean but weak and unremarkable. Down south waves from southern hemi swell were chest high with some head high peak and textured but still pretty nice. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more Kuril Island swell with set waves still 2 ft overhead and fairly clean, though trades were up a bit.The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was getting wrap around Kuril energy with waves waist to maybe chest high and pretty warbled.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
A gale pushed off the Northern Kuril Islands and Kamchatka Thursday (3/21) peaking in the evening with seas to 42 ft, then quickly tracked northeast and moved into the Bering Sea within 24 hours. Decent swell has peaked and is fading in Hawaii with early arrivers starting to hit Central CA on Tuesday (3/26). Another gale was developing just west of the Kuril Islands on Tuesday expected to peak Wed (3/27) tracking east producing 36 ft seas just west of the dateline, then quickly fading 24 hours later on the dateline with seas below 30 ft. Nothing else projected to follow. Down south a small gale is to peak on Wed (3/27) southeast of New Zealand producing 38 ft seas over a small area then fading while lifting well northeast.Maybe another small pulse of sideband swell for Hawaii and shadowed energy for the mainland. Details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Tuesday (3/26) the jetstream was split just east of Japan with the northern branch tracking northeast to the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians with winds 130 kts forming a bit of a trough off the Northern Kuril Islands and Kamchatka, then impacting the Aleutians and falling southeast with the start of a new weak trough with 110 kt winds feeding in in the Gulf. Some support for gale development in the trough off Kamchatka and weaker support in the trough over the Gulf of Alaska. Over the next 72 hours the Kamchatka trough is to push east and actually hold together repositioned in the Western Gulf but with winds down to 100 kts. The Gulf trough is to fall southeast and almost be cutoff circulating just off the California coast also with only 100 kts winds. Both troughs to offer only minimal support for gale development given the weak wind speeds. Beyond 72 hours the two troughs to hold together into Sat (3/30) with the one off the US Coast finally moving onshore and the Gulf trough getting steeper and almost cutting off and eventually do that by Tues (4/2). No support for gale development indicated. Perhaps another trough to build in the Western Gulf on Tues-Wed (4/3) with 140 kts winds feeding it, which seems pretty optimistic. At least it's something to watch.
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (3/26) swell from a gale that pushed off the Kuril Islands on Thurs (3/21) (see Kuril Island Gale below) had passed Hawaii and was starting to impact California. Otherwise a gale was developing off the Northern Kuril Islands and Kamchatka producing a modest sized are of 40 kts west winds winds the morning forecast to 45 kts in the evening with seas pushing 32 ft at 47N 168E (304 degs NCal and pushing east of the 321 deg path to HI). On Wed AM (3/27) a broader fetch of 40-45 kt west winds to be holding while pushing east almost reaching the dateline with seas building to 37 ft at 46N 173E (319 degs HI, 302 degs NCal). Winds to fading in the evening pushing east at 40 kts with seas fading from 32 ft at 45N 178E (326 degs HI, 299 degs NCal). A quick fade is forecast Thurs AM (3/28) as the gale hits the dateline with winds falling to 35 kts and seas dropping from 27 ft at 44N 178W (329 degs HI, 296 degs NCal). Winds fading from 30 kts in the evening with seas fading from 24 ft at 44N 173W (334 degs HI, 296 degs NCal). Assuming all goes as forecast some degree of decent utility class swell could result for Hawaii with smaller energy from the US West Coast. Will monitor.
Kuril Island Gale
A storm started developing mostly landlocked over the North Kuril Islands on Thurs AM (3/21) with winds from the west at 55 kts and seas building from 28 ft. In the evening 50 kt west winds pushed out over exposed waters of the extreme Northwest Pacific with seas building to 43 ft at 47N 159E (305 degs NCal, 318 degs HI) and tracking northeast. By Friday AM (3/22) the storm was fading fast with barely 45 kt west winds hanging on while lifting northeast winds with seas fading from 37 ft at 49N 165E (307 degs NCal and almost shadowed by the Aleutians, 320 degs HI). By evening the gale was almost gone moving into the Bering Sea with 30 ft seas tucked up at 52N 173E and shadowed for everyone. Maybe some fun sized swell to result for Hawaii early the next week and much smaller swell beyond for California.
North CA: Swell arrived Tuesday building to 3 ft @ 18-19 secs (5 ft). Swell to hold on Wed (3/27) at 3 ft @ 16 secs (5 ft) fading Thurs (3/28) from 3 ft @ 14 secs (4 ft). Swell Direction: 302-305 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are occurring.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (3/26) a weak low pressure system was holding off the Oregon and Washington setting up a light wind flow for all of California. Near calm winds to continue Wednesday as new low pressure starts building well off the Central Coast. Light scattered drizzle possible from San Francisco northward through Wednesday evening. The low is to build some and drift east Thurs-Fri with light south to southeast winds the norm from Pt Conception northward. Heavier drizzle possible especially toward nightfall Thursday for all of North and Central CA. Even Friday into Saturday the low is to continue it's slow drift to the east, with south to southeast winds 10 kts building to near 15 kts on Saturday for Central CA. No rain Friday but then a weak front to start pushing from the west Saturday afternoon covering all of Central CA. Maybe a few inches of snow for Tahoe. The low to finally move onshore later Sunday with winds turning offshore for Monterey Bay northward but light southwest down into Southern CA. A few more inches of snow for Tahoe. A light wind flow is forecast for early the following week with yet another low forecast taking a similar router behind it.
Surface - On Tuesday AM (3/26) a gale was trying to organize in the deep Southwest Pacific south of New Zealand. Over the next 72 hours and by the Tuesday evening the gale is forecast building southeast of New Zealand lifting northeast with southwest winds 45 kts over a decent sized area of ice free waters with seas building to 34 ft at 63S 180W (205 degs SCal, 190 degs HI). The gale is to push slightly northeast Wed AM (3/27) with winds fading to 45 kts over a smaller area and seas peaking at 38 ft at 61S 169W (203 degs SCal, 186 degs HI). Residual 40 kt southwest winds to be fading in the evening with 36 ft seas at 59S 160W (201 degs SCal, 181 degs HI). 35-40 kt southerly winds to start pushing almost due north Thursday AM (3/28) with 32 ft seas lifting to 54S 157W (180 degs HI, 201 degs SCal). The fetch is to dissipate in the evening with 28 ft seas at 49S 150W (201 degs SCal). Assuming all goes as forecast some modest swell to radiate northeast. Sideband energy for Hawaii and somewhat shadowed energy (by Tahiti) for California.
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 a small cut off low is forecast developing northeast of Hawaii on Sun PM (3/30) producing a tiny area of 35 kt northwest winds and seas to barely 20 ft at 35N 152W aimed east of Hawaii and Southeast of the US West Coast. The gale is to fall southeast on Monday AM (4/1) while fading with seas fading from 19 ft at 32N 150W. Maybe some sideband windswell to result for Hawaii with luck. Nothing else to follow.
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 Tuesday (3/26) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up some at 5.60. The 30 day average was down to 7.44 with the 90 day average holding in positive territory at 0.62. Overall this is neutral territory and not indicative of El Nino. The 30 day average is retreating from the high mark it hit last week (highest it's been since Jan of 2012 when we started coming out of the big La Nina event of 2010-2011).
Current equatorial wind analysis indicated light westerly anomalies over the western Maritime Continent with light easterly anomalies over the Eastern Maritime Continent to the dateline. Neutral anomalies extended from the dateline the rest of the way into Central America. This indicates no particular phase of the MJO was in play. A week from now (4/3) light to modest east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent fading to neutral on the dateline and points east of there. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to remain in control in the West Pacific. This scenario provides no real support for storm development in the North Pacific attributable to the MJO.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 3/25 are in general agreement suggesting a very weak if even noticeable Inactive of the MJO was located near 155E. Over the next 15 days this minimal Inactive Phase is to ease east becoming centered on the dateline (4/9) and fading. At the same time the Active Phase of the MJO is to be building in the Indian Ocean, just barely pushing west 15 days out but fading at the same time. None of it is expected to reach the West Pacific intact.
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 (3/25) a faint pool of slightly warmer water is developing in the equatorial East Pacific, but very faint. The plume of slightly cooler water continues radiating off the California coast tracking southwest typical of the effects of a stronger than normal East Pacific high pressure system. Subsurface waters temps continue indicating cooler water (-3 deg C) in place at 135W and down at 115 meters, blocking the transport path. In short, though temperatures on the surface remains normal, the subsurface path blocked with the coastal pattern off the US mainland also suggested increase high pressure and cooler water temps, all signs of a weak La Nina-like pattern.
Projections from the CFSv2 model continue retreating slightly. They suggest a slow build up to barely warm temps by April (+0.1 degs C) only to give that up in July (-0.3 degs C) and falling into Oct and November (-0.5 deg C). 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 moving into the Spring unpredictability barrier with accuracy of all the ENSO models historically low.
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 did not materialize with the pattern looking more like La Nina than anything. This past season was more of a 3 rating than the 5 that was predicted. That said, there was good consistency, with the west dateline area very productive and almost machine-like. But the storms were very small in areal coverage and rarely made enough eastern headway to even reach over the dateline. The result was very westerly but reasonably sized utility class swells for the Islands with far small and more inconsistent swell energy for the US West Coast. Longer term the expectation there will be at least one year of neutral to 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.
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 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.
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New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.
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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