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.
Next Forecast Update scheduled for 8/4. We're taking a short summer break
On Thursday (7/25) North and Central CA had surf that was flat and clean at protected north facing breaks but heavily textured otherwise and still near flat with modest south wind on it. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high on the sets and clean coming from the southern hemi. Southern California up north was flat and heavily textured with northwest winds building some. Down south waves were waist high with a few bigger sets and lightly textured with a light northwest flow coming up. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was still getting swell from a cutoff low with waves chest to shoulder high with a few bigger sets and clean with light trades in effect. The East Shore was getting small easterly tradewind generated windswell at thigh high and chopped from trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
A tiny gale developed in the Central South Pacific on Wed-Fri (7/19) with 32 ft seas aimed due north towards Tahiti but very small in coverage. Small sideband is hitting Hawaii with energy starting to move into the US West Coast and expected to hold for a few days.
In the North Pacific no large scale swell producing weather systems of interest have occurred nor are forecast to occur, typical of the summer. For California no north fetch of interest was occurring near Cape Mendocino but the usual gradient is forecast to build for the weekend with north winds 25-30 kts, making for limited north windswell at exposed breaks down into Central CA. But by Tuesday (7/30) that's to fade with no decent return forecast through the work week. Relative to the Hawaiian Islands easterly tradewinds were not reaching the 15 kt threshold thanks to weak low pressure north of the Islands with no change forecast till Saturday. At that time trades to return and easterly tradewind generated windswell to build minimally and hold into early next week. The models suggest a tropical low is starting to take root well east of the Islands and build while tracking flat west through the weekend moving up to the Big Island on Monday (7/29), but winds barely 20-25 kts. Maybe some windswell to result.
Another system built off the Ross Ice Shelf Sat (7/20) with 28-30 ft seas aimed due east then faded only to rebuild Sunday (7/21) with up to 42 ft sea but falling southeast and crashing into Antarctica 24 hours later with no real energy aimed northeast. Limited swell for Hawaii and California.
A third stronger system formed under New Zealand hovering over the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf Sun (7/21) with up to 38 ft seas, then faded only to rebuild Tuesday (7/23) with seas up 38 ft and aimed better to the northeast but positioned on the edge of only the California swell window with again a pure easterly track, problematic for everywhere but Chile. Some modestly rideable swell is expected for Hawaii on Sun (7/28) and California by Tues (7/30).
And a stronger system was tracking under New Zealand pushing east again Wed-Thurs (7/25) with seas to 34 ft over a solid area aimed decently northeast. Possible swell for Hawaii and the US West Coast. After that a storm drought sets in.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (7/25) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was off Oregon barely ridging into the North CA coast forming a weak pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino CA resulting in 15-20 kt north winds and generating no north windswell of interest. A weak local wind pattern was in control of nearshore California waters. Relative to Hawaii, weak cutoff low pressure was still north of the Islands at 1016 cutting any high pressure out of the local picture. As a result trades were suppressed blowing below 15 kts, with no windswell of interest resulting.
Over the next 72 hours the low north of Hawaii is to lift north and fade while high pressure tries to build off Oregon to 1032 mbs by Friday PM (7/26) with a pressure gradient and north winds starting to redevelop over Cape Mendocino at 25 kts and north windswell trying to develop pushing down the North and Central CA coast. Winds to push 30 kts over a tiny area by Sat AM (7/27) holding to mid-day Sunday before starting to fade from barely 25 kts Monday AM and then gone by Tuesday AM (7/30). Windswell size minimal initially, ramping up on Saturday then peaking Sunday in Central CA before starting to drop off Monday.
Relative to the Hawaiian Islands high pressure is to continue to not be a factor with weak low pressure north of the Islands and easterly trades remaining below 15 kts through Friday (7/26). As a result, tradewind generated east windswell to remain below rideable levels. Saturday the the low is to dissipate and easterly winds might develop to 15 kts holding through the weekend. But of more interest is a tropical storm Flosse that developed well off Mexico this morning and is forecast pushing east and about half way to the Islands by the early weekend (7/27) with winds peaking at 50 kts. It's something to monitor (see Tropical Forecast below).
No other swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Thursday (7/25) Tropical Storm Flosse had developed well off Mexico in the early morning hours and was pushing east at 17 kts. Slow strengthening is expected with Flosse about half way to the Islands by late Friday (7/26) with winds peaking at 50 kts. A slow decrease in strength is forecast while Flosse increases forward speed putting her just 50 nmiles northeast of the Big Island Tuesday AM (7/30) with winds down to 30 kts. Sizable but raw northeasterly windswell is possible for all northeast facing shores of Hawaii if this were to occur. Something to monitor.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (7/25) a weak local wind flow was in control of the entire California Coast with 15-20 kt north winds over the Southern Oregon coast radiating southwest off North CA. By Friday (7/26) the normal gradient is to return to North CA at 20-25 kts with north winds maybe 10 kts in the afternoon down into Central CA to Pt Conception. 25-30 kt north winds expected Saturday over extreme North CA with a light northerly flow from Pt Arena southward at 5 kts or so and holding Sunday (7/28) but with an eddy flow (south winds) developing for Central CA. Monday the gradient is to be in full retreat with north winds fading fast from 25 kts over North CA and the eddy flow continuing for Central CA but relaxing late. Tuesday (7/30) north winds to be 15 kts over North CA with a light northerly flow pushing down the Central Coast. Wednesday the gradient is to fall south with 15 kt north winds over all of Central and North CA early building to 20 kts solid Thursday (8/1) and likely holding Friday too. There's goes whatever semblance of warm water we had in Central CA.
Southern CA to remain under a light and seasonal wind flow for the duration.
Jetstream - On Thursday (7/25) the jet was split over New Zealand but joined just east of there with a big ridge in the northern branch crashing south causing the northern and southern branchs to join over the far Southeast Pacific with winds 130 kts and moving over the northern edge of Antarctic Ice eliminating support for gale development there. But a bit of trough was present under New Zealand though winds were very light, at only 100-110 kts. Minimal support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to fade fast with the southern branch of the jet flattening out and tracking east down at 65S with no real wind energy associated with it, offering no support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours a new ridge is to build under New Zealand pushing south but scooping out a bit of a trough ahead of it Mon (7/29) with winds pushing north at 110 kts perhaps offering some bare minimal support for gale development. But 24 hours later that trough is to get pinched off with the remaining winds energy tracking well south of the Ross Ice Shelf. The southern branch is to remain displace well south and running flat west to east through the end of the workweek with no support for gale development forecast.
Surface - On Thursday (7/25) small swell from a cut off low in the Central Pacific mid-last week was fading over Hawaii and starting to show for California (see Tiny Cut-off Gale below). Swell from the first of 2 southward displaced storms was behind it relative to California, but almost invisible (see 1st Antarctic Storm below). Larger swell from yet another storm (see 2nd Antarctic Storm below) was tracking northeast behind it. And yet a third gale was developing under New Zealand (see New Zealand Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours another gale is to push under New Zealand Wed AM (7/24), but this time positioned a bit further north with 45 kt southwest winds and seas building from 34 ft at 52 S 162E. In the evening 50-55 kt southwest winds to build over a tiny area with seas building to 42 ft at 56S 170E. 45 kt southwesterly fetch to hold Thursday AM (7/25) with a small area of 42 ft seas at 53S 180W. 45 kt southwest fetch to hold in the evening tracking east with seas still 40 ft over a tiny area at 52S 168W. The gale is to fade Friday AM with seas dropping from 32 ft at 46S 163W. Perhaps a nice shot of swell for Tahiti and Hawaii with lesser long distance energy for California.
No other swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
Tiny Cut-off Gale
Southern CA: Swell continues Fri AM (7/26) at maybe 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3 ft). Swell fading out on Saturday from 2 ft @ 14 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 200 degrees.
A cutoff low pressure system developed well east of New Zealand late Tuesday (7/16) producing 40 kt south winds aimed due north with seas building while traveling north. On Wed AM (7/17) 45 kt south fetch built over a small area with seas 30 ft at 43S 150W targeting mainly Tahiti. Fetch started breaking up in the evening from 40 kts over a tiny area aimed due north with seas from previous fetch peaking at 32 ft at 40S 148W targeting Tahiti and California (201 degs) with some sideband swell for Hawaii (174 degs). Fetch was fading from 35 kts Thurs AM (7/18) with seas dropping from 26 ft at 37S 147W. This system developed stronger than originally forecast but still was very small in areal coverage. In all some rideable swell expected for Tahiti with background energy for Hawaii and better energy directed at California but with small size given the tiny fetch. Expect peak size in the 16 sec period band.
North CA: Swell continues Fri AM (7/26) at maybe 2.2 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading out on Saturday from 2 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 202 degrees.
1st Antarctic Gale
A broad gale built southeast of New Zealand on Fri (7/19) producing a decent sized area of 40 kt northwest by the evening with winds all targeting Antarctica and right over the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. By Sat AM (7/20) winds built to 45 kts but again all aimed mostly southwest with seas building to 28 ft at 59S 163W. In the evening winds built to 55 kts from the southwest aimed northeast but with the fetch falling southeast towards Antarctic Ice and over ice with seas only 30 ft over exposed waters at 59S 142W. By Sun AM (7/21) 55 kt west winds were barely clear of Antarctic Ice aimed due east to southeast and almost east of the CA swell window with seas to 42 ft at 62S 128W. This system moved southeast of the CA swell window in the evening with the core of the storm crashing into Antarctica and 46 ft seas off the edge of the Ice Shelf all moving inland at 64S 116W.
Given this storms extremely easterly track and fast forward speed, and close proximity to Antarctica, little if any swell expected to radiate north. Best target in the non-frozen world to be Southern Chile.
Southern CA: Expect sideband swell arrival on Monday (7/29) with period 18 secs and size building to 1.3 ft @ 17 secs late (2 ft). Swell peaking Tues (7/30) at 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft) and being overridden by another swell. Swell Direction: 185-195 degrees
Northern CA: Expect sideband swell arrival on Monday (7/29) with period 18 secs and size building to 1.3 ft @ 17-18 secs late (2 ft). Swell peaking Tues (7/30) at 1.4 ft @ 16 secs (2.0 ft) and being overridden by another swell. Swell Direction: 182-192 degrees
Second Antarctic Storm
On Sat PM (7/20) a moderately powerful storm was forming under New Zealand with 50-55 kt west-southwest winds building and seas pushing near 32 ft at 60S 172E. By Sun AM (7/21) the storm was tracking flat east fast with southwest winds at 50 kts and seas building to 38 ft at 60S 176W right off the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf and pushing a little to the northeast. Fetch faded from 45 kts in the evening aimed due east with 35 ft seas mainly from previous fetch at 60S 159W almost hitting ice. 40 kt west winds and secondary fetch built Mon AM (7/22) but obscured by northward jutting ice with seas limited to 34 ft at 59S 155W over a tiny area. This system continued east from there with 40-45 kt southwest fetch rebuilding over ice free waters in the far Southeast Pacific with 32 ft seas Mon PM at 55S 138W aimed pretty much east and fading from there. A broad area of 45 kt southwest fetch was pushing out of the CA swell window Tues AM (7/23) with 38 ft seas at 54S 127W. By evening all fetch to be east of the CA swell window with 38 ft seas barely in the SCal swell window at 54S 119W.
At this time there is some odds of limited sideband swell energy radiating northeast towards Hawaii and the US West Coast. Chile and Peru to be the best targets.
Expect swell arrival in Hawaii on Sun (7/28) with period 19 secs early building to 1.0 ft @ 17-18 secs late (1.5 ft). Swell to fade Monday (7/29) from 1 ft @ to 16 secs (1.5 ft) early. Swell Direction: 185 degrees
Expect swell arrival in Southern CA on Mon (7/29) with period 21 secs early building to 1.6 ft @ 20 secs late (2.5 ft). Swell to build Tuesday (7/30) to 2.6 ft @ 18 secs (4.5 ft). Swell continues Wednesday at 2.6-3.0 ft @ 16-17 secs (4-5 ft). Swell fading Thursday from 2.6 ft @ 15 secs (4.0-4.5 ft) early. Swell Direction: 193 degrees
Rough data suggest swell arrival in Northern CA on Mon (7/29) with period 21 secs late. Swell to build Tuesday (7/30) to 2.0 ft @ 19 secs (3.5 ft). Swell continues Wednesday at 2.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading Thursday (8/1) from 2.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 190 degrees
New Zealand Gale
Another gale pushed under New Zealand Wed AM (7/24), but this time positioned a bit further north with 45 kt southwest winds and seas building from 34 ft at 52 S 162E. In the evening 45 kt southwest winds held but repositioned southeast over a modest area with seas still 34 ft at 55S 170E. 45 kt southwesterly fetch held Thursday AM (7/25) over 2 small areas with a modest sized area of 34 ft seas at 53S 174E. 40 kt west fetch is to be fading in the evening tracking east with seas still 34 ft over a moderate sized area at 49S 173W. The gale is to fade Friday AM with seas dropping from 32 ft at 48S 163W. This system is to be gone by evening.
Perhaps a nice shot of swell for Tahiti and Hawaii with lesser long distance energy for California in the utility class range.
Hawaii: Rough data suggests swell arrival on Wed (7/31) building to 2 ft @ 20 secs late (4 ft). Thurs (8/1) swell to hold peaking at 2.5 ft @ 16 secs (4.0 ft with sets to 5.0 ft). Swell fading Fri AM (8/2) from 2.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (3 ft). Swell Direction: 190-197 degrees
California: Rough data suggests swell arrival Sat AM (8/3) with period 18 secs and size building. Period dropping to 17 secs just past sunset with swell peaking Sunday mid-AM (8/4) at 2.0 ft @ 16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 206-215 and partially shadowed by Tahiti. This remains just a rough guess.
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 fade to 1024 mbs over the Eastern Gulf on Tues (7/30) with the typical Northern CA pressure gradient fading and north winds down to 15 kts offering no real windswell generation potential. But by Thurs (8/1) the high is to build to 1032 mbs ridging into Cape Mendocino with the pressure gradient increasing and north winds resulting in the 20-25 kt range and pushing nearshore down the entire North and Central coasts into Friday (8/2). Local north windswell potentially on the increase some, but only to the modest size category.
Relative to Hawaii high pressure is to build after TS Flosse passes over the Islands and by Wednesday (7/31) trades to be in the normal range from the east at 15 kts with windswell continuing along east facing shores. By Friday there's some suggestion a continuous fetch of 15 kt east winds to extend from off California the whole way to Hawaii, offering some increase in easterly tradewinds generated windswell. Nothing remarkable though.
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 (7/25) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down to 3.02. The 30 day average was up to 8.94 with the 90 day average up some at 7.61. 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 surface wind analysis indicated neutral to light east wind anomalies over the Maritime Continent fading to neutral anomalies over the dateline then building to modest east anomalies south of Hawaii then neutral on into the coast of Central America. A week from now (8/2) moderate east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent fading over the dateline region with neutral anomalies south of Hawaii on into Central America. This suggests perhaps another pulse of the Inactive Phase developing over the equatorial Pacific.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 7/24 are in agreement initially suggesting no MJO activity was occurring with a neutral pattern over the West Pacific. But starting 4 days out the models diverge with the statistic model continuing a dead neutral pattern out 15 days while the dynamic models depicts the exact opposite, with a building Inactive Phase taking control over the Philippines 4 days out and peaking 8 days from now, then starting to fade 15 days out. but it's only to be a weak event at best. The longer range model has a weak Inactive Phase building in the Indian Ocean, moving into the far West Pacific mid-August and continuing till the end of the month. Odds are favoring formation of an Inactive Phase for August.
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 (7/25) a building La Nina-like pattern continues in the East Pacific on the equator. A strengthening pocket of cooler water continues in control off the immediate coast of Peru with the outflow from it tracking to the Galapagos, then breaking up with pockets of cooler water radiating west almost to a point south of Hawaii. This is a step back from what we thought was the death of this pattern 2 weeks ago (7/10). The anomalously cool pool off West Africa, thought to be eroding some, is still in-place and holding it's own if not building. 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 and if anything looks to be pulsing slightly with a defined cool tongue starting to radiate west along the equator. 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 simultaneously - 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, then fully closed off in July with warmer than normal waters the rule for the North Pacific. A some signs of weakness in that warm pool are continuing to develop. For now cooler waters over the equatorial East Pacific are under control, but still present, with no sign of a warm pattern developing. In short, we're still under some weak influence of La Nina or at least a neutral pattern biased cold.
Subsurface waters temps on the equator indicate a mainly neutral temperature pattern. Warm water from the West Pacific previously migrated east over top of a cold pool - eliminating it's impact and continues holding. But we suspect that to be short lived based on all the other indicators.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 7/25 indicate water temps have been hovering near neutral since January within only a +-0.25 deviation and no significant change is forecast into April 2014. In short, a neutral pattern is expected. So 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 in fit's-and-starts. Historically, if a warm water buildup indicative of any kinda of El Nino pattern were to occur, it would have started 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 a weak prevalence of the Inactive Phase of MJO seems to be biasing the weather global pattern. This is a better place than previous years (2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013) under the direct influence of La Nina, but we're still not in a pure neutral pattern either. We're still recovering from the 2009-2010 El Nino. Longer term the expectation is there will be at least one to two years of neutral temperatures ultimately converging in a stronger warmer pattern and possible El Nino 2-3 years out (2015 or 2016). 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 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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Wall of Skulls - Here's a great video featuring Tahiti's famous wave. There's also a nice little plug for Stormsurf in it too. http://vimeo.com/70308073
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