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.
The Jason-1 Satellite has 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.
On Tuesday (7/9) North and Central CA had surf at thigh to waist high and reasonably clean at select spots but with underlying warble with wind light from the northwest with fog on top. Down in Santa Cruz surf was near flat (thigh high for those who are desperate) and clean inside the kelp with near whitecaps outside. Southern California up north was thigh high on the sets and and beautifully clean but weak, pure windswell. Down south waves were chest to shoulder high with some head high sets coming from the south and pretty textured with southerly wind on it. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was doing better than expected with surf in the chest to shoulder high range with some bigger sets and clean with trades in effect. The East Shore was thigh to maybe waist high and chopped with trades blowing.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
In the North Pacific no large scale swell producing fetch of interest is occurring or has occurred to produce swell, typical for the time of year. North winds near Cape Mendocino were barely producing small rideable north windswell for best breaks along the Central CA coast. Relative to the Hawaiian Islands easterly tradewinds were building at 15+ kts and making for small easterly tradewind generated windswell along east facing shores.
Beyond high pressure is to build in the Gulf of Alaska starting Wednesday (7/10) while easing east some ridging into the North CA coast generating a small fetch of north winds to 25 kts limited to the Cape Mendocino area resulting in small north windswell for North and Central CA into the weekend, then starting to fade some by Sunday (7/14). For Hawaii the same high pressure system is to hold through Thursday (7/11) with tradewinds at 15-20 kts generating modest easterly local tradewind generated windswell. It's to fade to barely 15 kts for the weekend with windswell dropping off then returning next week.
Down south a small but potent storm developed in the East Pacific on Sat (6/29) with 48-52 ft seas over an infinitesimal area traveling due east. It faded some Sunday with seas falling below 40 ft and tracked east of the California swell window. Next to nothing is expected up into California except for exposed breaks in Southern CA through Wed (7/10). This system was well east of the Hawaiian swell window.
Otherwise a pair of tiny small gales developed with the first tracking east under New Zealand Tues-Wed (7/3) into the Central Pacific with seas to 36 ft but heading flat east with the second following behind Wed-Fri (7/5) with seas in the 30 ft range but tracking a little more to the northeast. No swell expected for Hawaii given the storm headings and nothing for California either from the first with maybe with only bare minimal swell from the second for California.
Also a small but fairly powerful storm developed off Chile on Thurs-Fri (7/5) with seas to 39 ft aimed due north. Modest swell possible for Southern CA starting late Wed (7/10) then fading out by Sat AM (7/13).
The models continue hinting at a better storm system for the South Central Pacific starting Wed-Thurs (7/11) with a modest sized area of seas in the 33 ft range aimed well to the northeast then turning pure east with seas to 42 ft offering sideband potential. Another fetch to be right behind Saturday (7/13) with 30-34 ft seas aimed well northeast too. Nothing is certain yet but there is hope for Tahiti, Hawaii, California down into Central and South America. Something to monitor.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (7/9) solid high pressure at 1032 mbs was locked over the Gulf of Alaska ridging into the Pacific Northwest Coast generating 15 kt north winds down Vancouver Island into the Pacific Northwest pushing southward and peaking near Cape Mendocino at 20 kts generating bare minimally rideable north windswell for mainly Central CA. The high was also ridging over the Hawaiian Island generating easterly tradewinds in the 15-20 kt range resulting in modest easterly local windswell along east facing shores.
Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to hold and push east some. This is to result in a slow but steadily building limited fetch of 25 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino by later Wed (7/10) holding into mid-Sun (7/14). Some of this fetch is to be impacting the Central Coast Thurs-Fri (7/12). Relative to the Hawaiian Islands the high is hold north of the Islands through Thursday (7/11) producing east winds at 15-20 kts resulting in modest east windswell, then pushing east of the Islands Friday with trades settling down. Tradewind generated east windswell is to peak Wed-Thurs (7/11) then backing off some by Friday on through the weekend.
Otherwise no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Tuesday (7/9) Typhoon Soulik was positioned 300 nmiles south of Iwo To (or 900 nmiles south of Tokyo Japan) with winds 95 kts heading due west. Soulik is to continue on this path building to 115 kts late Wed (7/10) then taking a slight job to the west-northwest. By Friday Soulik is to be just northeast of Taiwan with winds 95 kts and expected to push inland over mainland China Sat AM (7/13). No fetch is to be aimed at out forecast area with no swell forecast.
Tropical Depression Erick was fading off San Carlos Baja Mex with winds 25 kts heading northwest with no swell production capacity indicated and even less potential as this system dissipates over the next 36 hours.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (7/9) north winds were holding over Cape Mendocino at 20 kts with a weak eddy flow barely hanging on for the Central Coast and north winds 5-10 kts at many locations down near Pt Conception. Wednesday the gradient is to build at 25 kts over Cape Mendocino with 5-10 kt north winds nearshore down to Pt Conception, perhaps coming up some in the afternoon. Thursday the gradient is to fall south some with north winds 10-15 kts perhaps reaching nearshore for all of Central CA. Southern CA to remain in a weak eddy flow. This same pattern with north winds 25 kts over Cape Mendocino down to maybe Pt Arena and 10-15 kt north winds from there down to Pt Conception is to hold Friday through Sunday (7/14). Winds likely less nearshore in the mornings. Perhaps a real eddy flow to develop early next week for Central CA.
Jetstream - On Tuesday (7/9) most energy in the jet was consolidated in it's northern branch with winds 160 kts in one pocket over the Central Pacific tracking east-southeast towards southern South America. A nice northward pushing pulse of wind energy was building under New Zealand associated with the southern branch of the jet with winds 150 kts, looking to form a trough east of it as it reaches up into presumably the northern branch of the jet. Over the next 72 hours that pocket of wind energy is to start feeding into the northern branch of the jet on Wed (7/10) forming a decent trough there and steadily pushing east into Friday (7/12) offering decent support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the trough is to push east and slowly pinch off on the edge of the California swell window (120W). Back to the west a fully split jet is to be in control with the southern branch running flat west to east down at 63S offering no support for gale development until late Tues (7/16) when another pocket of 140 kt winds pushes under New Zealand lifting northeast some. perhaps a trough to result increasing odds for gale development down at lower levels of the atmosphere.
Surface - On Tuesday (7/9) fading sideband swell from a small but powerful storm that was previous in the Southeast Pacific (see Southeast Pacific Storm below) was hitting Southern CA from a very southeasterly direction. Two other systems formed in the Southwest Pacific last week but their impact on Hawaii is to be nonexistent and on California only slightly better (see 1st and 2nd Southwest Pacific Gales below). A stronger storm formed in the extreme Southeast Pacific off Chile Fri-Sat (7/6) pushing north and having some odds for pushing swell into Southern CA on Wed (7/10) (See Southeast Pacific Storm below). Also of decent interest was a gale starting to form south of New Zealand (see Central Pacific Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours the Central Pacific Gale is to be the only system of interest.
Central Pacific Gale
A small gale was building in the Southwest Pacific on Tues AM (7/9) with pressure 968 mbs and winds to 45 kt over a tiny area aimed somewhat northeast and turning more to the northeast in the evening resulting in seas forecast to 28 ft at 61S 172W. By Wed AM (7/10) winds to be down to 40-45 kts over a decent size area aimed well northeast resulting in seas of 30 ft at 56S 168W. By evening 40-45 kt south winds are to hold pushing well north with seas building to 33 ft at 48S 157W. A new fetch of 45 kt south winds are to be pushing northeast Thurs AM (7/11) with seas from previous fetch to 32 ft at 42S 145W. 45 kt southwest fetch to hold in the evening with a new tiny fetch of 55 kt south winds building just south of it resulting in seas of 38 ft up at 43S 139W. 45 kt southwest fetch is to be fading Fri AM (7/12) with seas up to 42+ ft at 46S 129W aimed mainly east with sideband fetch pushing northeast. In the evening the original fetch is to be falling southeast and of no interest to anyone but Antarctica. But a new secondary fetch of 45 kt southwest winds are to build west of the core of the old low resulting in 30 ft seas at 48S 144W. By Sat AM (7/13) 40 kt west southwest winds to be holding resulting in 34 ft seas at 45S 137W. By evening residual 30 kt south winds to be fading aimed due north with seas fading from 30 ft at 41S 131W. Beyond no fetch or seas of interest are forecast.
If all this develops as forecast perhaps some degree of decent swell to for Tahiti, with sideband swell up into Hawaii could be expected. More solid direct energy is forecast pushing up into the US West Coast, Mexico and Central America. It's something to monitor.
Southeast Pacific Storm
A strong but tiny storm developed in the Southeast Pacific Sat AM (6/29) generating 60 kt west winds with seas pushing 52 ft at 44S 137W tracking due east targeting primarily South America. No fetch was aimed up at the US Mainland. 55 kt east winds held into the evening with seas 50 ft at 42S 128W, barely in the California swell window but with most energy pushing due east towards South America. By Sunday AM (6/30) the gale developed a small fetch of 45 kt south winds along with 45 kt west winds but positioned barely in the Southern CA swell window. 45 ft seas were modeled over a tiny area at 40S 120W pushing mostly east. By evening the storm was east of even the California swell window with 45-50 kt southwest winds positioned off the coast of Chile generating 38 ft seas at 39S 111W targeting only Chile and Peru. Fetch held while the gale pushed east into Monday AM (7/1) with 42 ft seas at 43S 104W, again targeting only South America. By evening wind was fading from 40 kts but covering a decent sized area finally with seas 39 ft at 39S 95W. Fetch was fading from 35 kts Tues AM (7/2) with seas fading from 36 ft at 38S 88W targeting Chile and Peru.
This will be a good swell producer for Chile and Peru, with decent sideband swell working it's way up into Central America and Southern Mexico. But only weak background sideband swell is forecast for California - mainly Southern CA, arriving on Fri (7/5) with period 20 secs and barely even noticeable. The issue is the the fetch was exceedingly small while the storm was in the CA swell window, and the fetch was all aimed due east or 90 degrees east of any great circle path up into California.
Southern CA: Swell fading Wed (7/10) from 2.3 ft @ 14 secs (3 ft) . Swell Direction: 175 degrees.
1st Tiny Southwest Pacific Gale
A tiny gale developed southeast of New Zealand Mon PM (7/1) building Tues AM (7/2) with winds barely 55 kts over a tiny area and seas up to 36 ft at 55S 168W tracking flat east and tiny in areal coverage. This system to continued east in the evening with southwest winds 45 kts and seas 36 ft at 55S 155W. This system was all but gone Wed AM (7/3) with seas fading from 32 ft at 57S 145W.
No odds of any swell reaching up into Hawaii or the US West Coast given this storms tiny footprint and due east trajectory.
Southeast Pacific Storm
On Thurs PM (7/4) a storm rapidly developed off the Chile coast with 50 kt south winds aimed due north. Seas were barely 36 ft over a tiny area at 40S 108W. 45 kt south winds held into Fri AM (7/5) generating seas to 39 ft at 35S 105W pushing due north. 40 kts south winds held into the evening generating 36 ft seas at 31S 101W. This system faded thereafter.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival late on Wed (7/10) reaching 2 ft @ 20 secs late (3.5 ft). Swell to peak on Thurs (7/11) at 3 ft @ 17 secs (5 ft with sets to 6.5 ft). Swell fading some Fri (7/12) at 3.3 ft @ 15-16 secs (5 ft). Residuals fading on Saturday (7/13) from 3 ft @ 14 secs early (4 ft). Swell Direction: 169 degrees
2nd Tiny Southwest Pacific Gale
A second smaller gale developed in the same area starting Tues PM (7/2) with a tiny area of 45 kts west winds. By Wed AM (7/3) with 45 kt west winds were holding with 36 ft seas over a tiny area at 56S 177W, then winds fading by evening with seas 30 ft at 55S 172W moving slightly northeast. This system redeveloped some Thursday with 32 ft seas at 54S 163W fading from 30 ft in the evening at 52S 153W. Given this system slightly northeast trajectory, limited odds for swell pushing up into California (but not Hawaii).
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri (7/12) with swell to 1.6 ft @ 18 secs late (2.5 ft). Swell to peak on Saturday (7/13) at 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5 ft) fading Sunday from 2.3 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 200 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri (7/12) with swell period at 18 secs late but not rideable. Swell to peak on Saturday (7/13) at 2.0 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0 ft) fading Sunday from 2.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 198 degrees
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 high pressure is to lift north off the British Columbia coast later Sunday (7/14) with a decent sized fetch of 20 kts north winds extending from North Vancouver Island south to Cape Mendocino through Tues (7/16) producing short period north windswell down into Central CA. After that the high is to retrograde west with fetch starting to fade along the US West Coast with windswell on the downswing.
Relative to Hawaii as the high pushes east of the Hawaiian Islands tradewind fetch is to be fading from 15 kts on Friday (7/12) and down to 10 kts through the weekend into Mon (7/15) with windswell fading out. But by Tues (7/16) as the high starts retrograding west it is to again start building trades over the Islands with trades back up to the 15 kt mark and the potential for small easterly short period windswell on east facing shores of the Islands on the increase.
No other swell sources projected.
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 (7/9) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down to -0.86. The 30 day average was up to 8.04 with the 90 day average holding at 5.80. Overall this is holding in weak La Nina territory and not indicative of El Nino and illustrative of a dominance of the Inactive Phase of the MJO.
Current equatorial wind analysis indicated very weak easterly anomalies over the Maritime Continent fading to neutral on the dateline turning westerly south of Hawaii then neutral east of there on into Central America. A week from now (7/17) very weak easterly anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent turning almost neutral over the dateline, and holding to a point southeast of Hawaii. Neutral anomalies are forecast from there into Central America. This suggests that a near neutral phase is to hold over the equatorial Pacific.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 7/8 are in agreement initially suggesting the Inactive Phase was pushing east of the Philippines and West Pacific into the Central Pacific but displaced north of the equator arching up over Hawaii. Both models are in agreement suggesting a fragment of the Active Phase of the MJO is holding on the intersection of the dateline and the equator for the next 5 days, while the Inactive Phase of the MJO tracks just north of it and fades. A new Active Phase is building in the Central Indian Ocean. 10 days from now a near neutral pattern is forecast with the Inactive Phase fully dissipated. But 15 days out the models diverge with the statistic model indicating the Active Phase of the MJO is to move into the West Pacific while the dynamic model inexplicably has the Inactive Phase reappearing over the Philippines. it's way to early to know with any certainty what will happen but our guess is the coming of the Active Phase is the more likely outcome. Even longer range models support the arrival of the Active Phase by 7/24.
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. As of now (7/8) a very weak La Nina like pattern continues fading in the East Pacific on the equator, almost gone, but not completely. This is good news. A small pool of cooler than normal water continues to hold directly along the coast of Peru but is not outflowing tot he northeast. No pockets of cold water exist from Ecuador tot he Galapagos and beyond, just a generalized -0.5 deg C anomaly. The cold pool that was on the equator continues to shrink as it has over the past 33 days. But the cool pool off West Africa , though eroding some, is till in place and not completely dispersed. It had previously built almost to the coast of South America. But as of now it's limited to the immediate West Africa coast and appears to be fading, but not totally dispersing. This was a direct reflection of what previously occurred in the Pacific, a global teleconnection. But with the East Pacific cold pool continuing to erode, and the African pool eroding too, maybe it's over. A plume of slightly cooler than normal water that has been radiating southeast off California for 2 years closed off mid-May, returned in June when the cold pool emerged off Peru, but is fully closed off now with warmer than normal waters taking root. With the cold pool fading down south, it make sense the cold pool off CA is fading and high pressure is receding.
Subsurface waters temps on the equator indicate a mainly neutral temperature pattern. Warm water from the West Pacific has migrated east over top of a previous cold pool - eliminating it's impact. +1.0 deg C water is generally in control over the entire equatorial Pacific down 50-100 meters below the surface. Temperatures on the surface appear to be warming some with the subsurface blocking pattern gone. Still of concern is the fact the Atlantic responded to the cold push in May, in what could have been a global pattern that is still not totally dislodged.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 7/9 indicate water temps bottomed out (in May) near normal (-0.1 degs C). A gradual rebound to the +0.1 degree C level is possible later in July and holding in the +0.2 range into Nov before fading to neutral if not diving slightly negative in Jan 2014 -0.2 degs C. A consensus of other ENSO models suggest a less wide spread of outcomes compared to earlier projections all centered near neutral to just a bit cooler than that into Summer and early Fall 2013. The dynamic models favor slight warming, while the statistical models favor slight cooling. Overall the outlook remains nothing stellar, not trending towards anything that would be considered warm, but not anything particularly cold either. Instead the ocean is in recharge mode, with cold water dispersing and temperatures gradually on the rise again. Historically, if a warm water buildup indicative of any significant El Nino pattern were to occur, it would be starting to happen by now (normally would start building in Feb-Mar). That is clearly not the case for this year. Expect a neutral pattern for Winter of 2013-2014 if not bordering weakly on La Nina.
We are in a neutral ENSO pattern with neither a solid El Nino or La Nina imminent. But that is a far better place than previous years (2010-2011 and 2011-2012) 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 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 Last Updated 10/6/12
Beyond 72 a small but strong storm is forecast building under New Zealand on Tues (7/16) with a small area of up to 55 kt south winds with seas building to at least 36 ft at 55S 168W. It's still a long ways from occurring, but it's something to monitor.
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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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 should be posted for sale on Mavfilm.com shortly.
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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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table