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.
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On Sunday (4/7) North and Central CA was seeing dateline swell was on it's way down but still producing decent waves pushing 3-4 ft overhead at top exposed breaks and a little textured with light south wind. Down south in Santa Cruz waves were 2-3 ft overhead on the sets and clean but a little soft. Southern California up north was waist to chest high and clean but weak and mushed. Down south waves were chest high with a few larger sets and clean but pretty soft. Hawaii's North Shore was still getting decent but smaller dateline swell with waves 1-2 ft overhead and sheet glass and well lined up. The South Shore was knee high and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around dateline swell with waves waist high and textured early.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Small swell from a gale that developed on the dateline Sat (4/6) with seas 35 ft over a tiny area is pushing east. Small swell expected for both Hawaii early week and California mid-week. But relative to California, local north short period windswell is to be the dominant swell source. A cut-off low is forecast developing on the dateline easing east mid-week into the weekend, but all fetch is to be aimed west with only a slight chance of any rideable swell reaching south towards Hawaii. Down south a small gale was developing in the deep southeast Pacific Sunday AM (4/7) expected to build while lifting northeast producing a tiny area of seas to 44 ft barely in the CA swell window late in the day but with most energy aimed towards Central and South America. Maybe some small swell to result. Otherwise no swell producing weather system are forecast for the next week. Hope you enjoyed our last blast of winter like surf. Details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Sunday (4/7) the jetstream was pushing off Japan and ridging slightly, then falling into a trough with winds to 130 kts on the dateline then splitting at the bottom of the trough with the northern branch ridging north into the Gulf of Alaska then gently pushing east into North CA. There was some support for gale development in the dateline trough. The southern branch tracked east and eventually pushed into Southern Baja. Over the next 72 hours the dateline trough is to track east and dissipate well north of Hawaii late Monday. After that the main energy flow is to run from Japan up into Northern Canada with some energy splitting off the main flow pushing north over the Kuril Islands up to Kamchatka then falling south joining the main flow in the Gulf of Alaska. A trough is to form on the dateline on Wed (4/10) cut off from the northern branch of the jet offering only minimal support for low pressure development. Otherwise no support for gale development is indicated. Beyond 72 hours the same basic pattern is expected to hold with the jet splitting off Japan and most energy tracking northeast through the Bering Sea then rejoining the main northern branch in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska pushing into Oregon.
Surface Analysis - On Sunday (4/7) no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring. Swell from a gale previously on the dateline was pushing east. High pressure at 1028 mbs was positioned 800 nmiles west of Pt Conception and starting to ridge into the coast there producing nearshore north winds at 25 kts and expected to start building northward later in the day. A large gale was landlocked just west of the Southern Kuril Islands and expected to make no westward progress, dying on Monday. Over the next 72 hours high pressure just off Central California to produce a local gradient and north winds at 30-35 kts from Pt Arena southward to Pt Conception Monday then fading into Tuesday resulting in local north windswell (see QuikCAST's for details). Otherwise a weak cutoff low is to develop on the dateline late Tuesday (4/9) generating 30 kt east winds in it's northern quadrant aimed only at Japan.
Tiny Dateline Gale
On Thurs PM (4/4) a small gale developed west of the dateline producing a tiny area of 40 kt northwest winds and seas 26 ft at 35N 164E (299 degs HI). Fetch held Friday AM (4/5) while pushing east with seas 28 ft at 36N 170E (305 degs HI). In the evening a small area of 45 kt west winds developed with seas building to 36 ft over a microscopic area at 37N 178E (312 degs HI, 288 degs NCal). By Sat AM (4/6) fetch was fading from 35 kts with seas dropping from 30 ft at 38N 176W (321 degs HI, 290 degs NCal).
Hawaii: Small swell expected to arrive at sunset on Sun (4/7) with swell near 3 ft @ 19 secs (5.5 ft). Swell to peak early on Mon (4/8) at 6 ft @ 16 secs (9.5 ft) with period dropping to 14 secs late (8.5 ft). Residuals on Tues (4/9) fading from 5.4 ft @ 13-14 secs (7 ft). Swell Direction: 300-315 degrees
NCal: Expect small swell to arrive on late Tues (4/9) at 2 ft @ 19 secs (3.5 ft) and barely noticeable. Swell to peak on Wed (4/10) in the AM at 3.5 ft @ 16-17 secs (5.5. ft) and very inconsistent. Swell fading Thurs (4/11) from 4 ft @ 14 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 188-192 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are occurring.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (4/7) a tiny little low was moving onshore over Oregon with high pressure just behind it already getting a toe-hold into the Pt Conception area and expected to take control after sunset for the whole coast. A front is to push down to maybe Morro Bay producing limited precipitation into first light Monday for coastal locations. 4-6 inches of snow possible for Tahoe with reasonably low snow levels (for the time of year). By Monday AM high pressure to create a gradient with 30 kt north winds forecast nearshore for the entire state, pushing 35 kts for Southern CA. Poor local conditions. The gradient to slowly fade and push away from the Southern CA coast Tuesday, though 30 kt north winds still forecast for all of Central CA in the morning fading to 25 kts late. Conditions still pretty much trashed though Southern CA to be cleaning up some. By Wednesday the remnants of the gradient to be over Pt Arena with a light northwesterly flow at 10 kts forecast for Central CA and light offshores for Southern CA. The gradient to fall south some on Thursday with 20 kt north winds for most of Central CA though Southern CA to remain in a light flow. Friday the gradient fires up again with 25-30 kt north winds in effect for all of North and Central CA and the Channel Islands fading to 25 kts on Saturday and less for the Channel Islands holding into Sunday.
Surface - On Sunday (4/7) a storm was building in the deep Southeast Pacific. 50-55 kt southwest winds were positioned just off Antarctica with seas building from 38 ft over a tiny area at 65S 137W aimed well up the 187 degree great circle path to SCal. The storm is to track northeast in the evening with southwest winds holding at 50-55 kts resulting in a tiny area of 44 ft seas at 62S 125W aimed 25 degrees east of the 184 degree great circle path to Southern CA. By Monday AM (4/8) the core of the fetch is to east of any clear path to Southern CA but with lingering 40-45 kt southwest fetch still in-play resulting in 38 ft seas at 57S 120W aimed 20 degrees east of the 180 degree path to Southern CA. By evening the gale is to be dissipating with no significant fetch remaining in the SCal swell window. Assuming all goes as forecast a decent little pulse of southern hemi swell is likely for most of California, favoring the south end of the state and doing better for Central America.
Otherwise over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.
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 fetch of interest is forecast. A cutoff low is to continue circulating on the dateline easing slowly east generating a steady fetch of 30-35 kt east and northeast winds in it's northern quadrant eventually moving to a point 1500 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii, with no solid fetch aimed at the Islands. High pressure is to hold in some form off the US West Coast generating north winds at 25 kts again by Fri (4/12) into the weekend likely resulting in local north windswell mainly for Central CA.
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 Sunday (4/7) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up some at 7.50. The 30 day average was down some to 7.77 with the 90 day average up some at 2.27. Overall this is neutral territory and not indicative of El Nino.
Current equatorial wind analysis indicated modest easterly anomalies over the Maritime Continent and dateline regions. Light easterly anomalies continued east almost to Central America. This indicated a continuation of the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in-play. A week from now (4/15) lighter east anomalies are forecast holding over the Maritime Continent and fading but still holding over the dateline extending almost to Central America. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to fade some but still remain in control of the greater part of the equatorial Pacific. This scenario provides no support for El Nino development and is the exact opposite of the pattern desired for the time of year.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 4/6 are in some agreement suggesting the core of the Inactive Phase of the MJO was located near 175E and is to slowly fade over the next 7 days. The longer range outlook is a bit more uncertain with both models having the Inactive Phase dispersing while the statistic model has the Active Phase of the MJO building in the Indian Ocean pushing in to the West Pacific (150E) 8 days out and almost to the dateline 15 days out while the dynamic model suggests the Active Phase is to disperse while never making any headway into the West Pacific, with a dead neutral pattern 15 days out. Regardless, there is no support from the MJO towards development of even a weak El Nino.
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 (4/4) a faint pool of slightly warmer water that was in the equatorial East Pacific, appears to be fading. Instead it appears it is being undercut by a tiny plume of markedly cold water pushing off the Central American coast. A plume of modestly cool water continues radiating off the California coast tracking southwest over Hawaii to the equatorial dateline, typical of the effects of a stronger than normal East Pacific high pressure system. Subsurface waters temps continue indicating cooler water (-2 deg C) in place at 140W and down at 125 meters, blocking the transport path. In short, temperatures on the surface are cooling and the subsurface path is blocked by cooler water to. And the coastal pattern off the US mainland also suggests increase high pressure and cooler water temps, all signs of a weak La Nina-like pattern.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 4/7 continue mostly unchanged. They suggest water temps have peaked at Nino 3.4 at (+0.1 degs C) and it's all downhill from here with temps falling in July (-0.3 degs C) and holding with Oct and November remaining at -0.3 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. So for now the outcome is uncertain, but not trending towards anything that would be considered warm. Historically, if a warm water buildup indicative of any significant El Nino pattern were to occur, it would be starting to happen by now. But clearly that is not the case.
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 smaller 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.
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!
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table