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 Thursday (7/11) North and Central CA had surf at thigh to waist high and clean with a light northwest flow but weak - just pure windswell at north facing breaks. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high on the sets and clean with no wind early. Southern California up north was thigh high on the sets and and clean but weak, pure windswell. Down south waves were chest high on the sets and inconsistent from a very south angle and well lined up but with a bit of south warble intermixed. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting tradewind generated windswell at head high and well lined up and clean but with some sideshore ripple running through it with trades in effect. The East Shore was getting solid easterly tradewind generated windswell at near head 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 has occurred nor is forecast to occur to produce swell, typical for the summer. North winds near Cape Mendocino were just strong enough to barely produce small rideable north windswell for best breaks along the Central CA coast. Relative to the Hawaiian Islands easterly tradewinds were in full effect making for decent easterly tradewind generated windswell along east facing shores and wrapping into the South Shore of Oahu.
Beyond high pressure is to hold in the Northeast Pacific lightly ridging into the North CA coast generating a small fetch of north winds at 20 kts limited to the Cape Mendocino area through Saturday (7/13) and pulsing to maybe 25 kts Sunday but drifting a little further north resulting in nothing more than tiny to small north windswell for North and Central CA through the weekend, then building in coverage Monday (7/15) but only at 20 kts perhaps pushing 25 kts later Tuesday. In all just small windswell expected. For Hawaii the same high pressure system is to back off a little generating tradewinds at 15 kts Friday with somewhat less easterly local tradewind generated windswell then dissipating on Saturday as a weak local low builds north of the Islands (no fetch at all associated with it). But by Tues (7/16) the low is to be gone and high pressure again takes control with trades at 15 kts and holding over a decent sized fetch area through at least Thurs (7/18) with windswell again on the increase, but just in the modest range.
A small but fairly powerful storm developed off Chile on Thurs-Fri (7/5) with seas to 39 ft aimed due north. Modest swell is hitting Southern CA and expected to hold Friday, then fading out by Sat AM (7/13).
Also 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 system with maybe with only bare minimal swell from the second for California for the weekend fading out mid-Monday (7/15).
Otherwise a modest gale form in the South Central Pacific Wed-Thurs (7/11) with seas in the 34 ft range aimed well to the northeast then turning pure east with seas to maybe 32 ft Friday offering limited sideband potential. Nothing significant is expected but some rideable swell is likely to result 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 Thursday (7/11) solid high pressure at 1032 mbs was locked over the Gulf of Alaska ridging into the Pacific Northwest Coast and extending west too across the dateline almost to the Kuril Islands. It was generating 15-20 kt north winds near Cape Mendocino generating minimally rideable north windswell for mainly Central CA. The high was also ridging over the Hawaiian Island generating easterly tradewinds there in the 20 kt range resulting in modest easterly local windswell along east facing shores.
Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to back off some fading to 1028 mbs on Friday (7/12) resulting in a weak 20 kts north fetch over Cape Mendocino building to maybe 25 kts on Sunday there as the high regroups some. Some of this fetch is to be impacting the Central Coast making for somewhat less than ideal conditions. But only minimal northerly windswell is expected to results for the Central CA coast and next to nothing down into Southern CA. Relative to the Hawaiian Islands the high is to get undercut by weak low pressure falling south from the Aleutians on Friday with east winds fading from 15 kts and windswell heading down, with trades below 15 kts during the weekend into Monday (7/15) resulting in no east windswell.
Otherwise no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Thursday (7/11) Typhoon Soulik was positioned 500 nmiles south of the southern tip of Japan with winds 95 kts heading due west. Soulik is to continue on this path building to 105 kts Friday AM (7/12) taking aim directly at Northern Taiwan moving over Taipai in the evening with winds 90 kts. It is to be make a slight jog to the west-northwest pushing inland over mainland China early Sat AM (7/13). No fetch is to be aimed at out forecast area with no swell forecast.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (7/11) north winds were holding over Cape Mendocino at 20 kts with a weak westerly flow barely hanging on for the Central Coast and near clan down in Southern CA. Friday the gradient is to fall south slightly with light winds nearshore for Central CA early building from the north to 10 in the afternoon. Light winds for Southern CA. This same pattern is to hold through Sunday (7/14) with north winds 20-25 kts over Cape Mendocino down to maybe Pt Arena and 10 kt north winds from there down to Pt Conception in the afternoon. Winds likely less nearshore in the mornings. Southern CA to remain protected in a light wind pattern. Beyond a variation on the same theme to persist through most of next week with no eddy flow forecast for the Central and north half of the state, but not particularly strong north winds either for Central CA, with the worst being Sun-Mon (7/15) then winds slowly backing down. Southern CA to remain in a seasonal pattern.
Jetstream - On Thursday (7/11) the jet was fully split over New Zealand then consolidating over the South Central Pacific with winds building to 160 kts in a pocket just east of the merge point but tracking slightly southeast. A decent trough was present at the merge point offering some support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hours that trough and pocket of wind energy is to track slowly east while fading some but still be positioned in the CA swell window at 125W by Sun AM (7/14). Continued support for gale development expected but fading with winds feeding the trough down to barely 90 kts by Sunday offering no more support for gale development. At the same time a very split and weak jetstream pattern is to be taking hold west of there offering nothing of interest. Beyond 72 hours a fully split jet is forecast with the southern branch tracking flat east down at 60S and rather weak with winds 90 kts or less setting up a zonal flow and offering no support for gale development through Wed (7/17). But late Wednesday a pocket of 150 kt winds are to push under New Zealand lifting northeast some and growing in coverage and strength into Thursday. Perhaps a trough to result increasing odds for gale development down at lower levels of the atmosphere.
Surface - On Thursday (7/11) swell from a stronger storm that formed in the extreme Southeast Pacific off Chile Fri-Sat (7/6) was pushing north and hitting Southern CA (See Southeast Pacific Storm below). Two other systems formed in the Southwest Pacific last week but their impact on Hawaii is to be nonexistent and in California only slightly better and only from the second of the two (see 2nd Southwest Pacific Gales below). Also of decent interest was a gale tracking through the south Central Pacific (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 it turned more to the northeast in the evening resulting in seas to 28 ft at 60S 172W. By Wed AM (7/10) winds were down to 40-45 kts over a decent size area aimed well northeast resulting in seas of 30 ft at 56S 167W. By evening 40-45 kt south winds were hold pushing well north with seas building to 35 ft at 48S 160W. 45 kt south winds were pushing northeast Thurs AM (7/11) with seas to 36 ft at 48S 152W. 40-45 kt southwest to west fetch to hold in the evening with seas of 33 ft up at 42S 141W. 35 kt southwest fetch is to be fading Fri AM (7/12) with seas dropping from 29 ft at 42S 134W 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 small secondary fetch of 40 kt southwest winds are to build west of the core of the old low resulting in 32 ft seas at 44S 132W. Sideband energy tracking northeast. By Sat AM (7/13) residual 35-40 kt southwest winds to be holding resulting in 28 ft seas at 43S 128W. By evening residual 30-35 kt west winds to be fading aimed mainly east with seas fading from 28 ft at 40S 129W. Beyond no fetch or seas of interest are forecast.
At this time some swell is already in the water pushing towards Tahiti with sideband swell for Hawaii. If the remainder of the gale develops as forecast additional swell to for result for Tahiti, with sideband swell up into Hawaii. More solid direct energy is forecast pushing up into the US West Coast, Mexico and Central America. Will monitor.
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: 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 regroup off the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia Monday (7/15) 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 fetch is to be limited to just Cape Mendocino at 20-25 kts Wednesday (7/17) and fading in size and strength beyond as the high retrogrades to the Western Gulf. As a result windswell for California is to be on the downswing.
Relative to Hawaii as the local low tracks west of the Hawaiian Islands high pressure is to build back in with tradewind fetch regenerating to 15 kts on Mon (7/15) and windswell starting to make a comeback. By Tues (7/16) the high is to have solid footing north of the Islands with trades trades back up to the 15 kt mark and growing in coverage east of Hawaii increasing the potential for small to modest easterly short period windswell on east facing shores of the Islands through Thurs (7/18).
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 Thursday (7/11) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was seesawing up to 11.63. The 30 day average was down to 7.37 with the 90 day average down to 5.60. Overall this is holding stable 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 weak easterly anomalies over the Maritime Continent fading to neutral on the dateline turning weak easterly again south of Hawaii then neutral east of there on into Central America. A week from now (7/19) very weak easterly anomalies are forecast over the western Maritime Continent turning neutral east of there to the dateline, and then weak easterly at a point south of Hawaii extending 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 7/10 are in agreement initially suggesting the Inactive Phase was fading fast 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 the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to fade over the next 8 days to almost nothing while a new Active Phase builds in the East Indian Ocean. 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 and pushing more south than the previous Inactive Phase. 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 if not sooner.
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 (7/11) a weak La Nina-like pattern continues in the East Pacific on the equator, almost gone, but not completely. In fact - a few tiny pockets of cooler water are now appearing on the latest imagery propagating northwest off the immediate coast of Peru to the Galapagos and beyond. This is a step back from what we thought was the death of this pattern just a few days before. The source of this cool water is a small pool of cooler than normal water holding directly along the coast of Peru with small increments outflowing to the northwest. The anomalously cool pool off West Africa, thought to be eroding some, is still in-place and not completely dispersed, and if anything, appears to be recharging. It had previously built almost to the coast of South America then retrograded in late June. But as of now it's still in-play. This was a direct reflection of what previously occurred in the Pacific, an unforeseen burst of cool water gurgling up off both South America and West Africa - a global teleconnection. 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 and Africa, but is fully closed off now with warmer than normal waters taking root. With the cold pool fading down south, or at least appears to be loosing strength, 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. Neutral water is generally in control over the entire equatorial Pacific down 50-100 meters below the surface. Temperatures on the surface appear to be neutral too. 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 7/1 indicate water temps have been hovering near neutral since early May. 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 -0.1 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 hours a small gale is forecast building under New Zealand on Wed (7/16) producing a small area of 45 kt southwest winds with seas building to 30 ft Thurs AM (7/18) at 56S 163W. 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
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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