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.
On Saturday (9/14) North and Central CA had surf at waist to maybe chest high and junky with northwest winds blowing early and almost chopped. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist to chest high with a few head high sets at top spots and clean early. In Southern California up north waves were waist high and clean and a little bit lined up. Down south waves were chest high with bigger sets and a bit warbled and soft. Hawaii's North Shore was settling back into Flat mode with waves maybe thigh high and clean with light trades in effect. The South Shore was still getting tiny southern hemi swell with waves thigh to waist high and clean with light trades. The East Shore was knee high and lightly chopped from trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
In the North Pacific tiny swell from a gale that developed in the Northwestern Gulf with 21 ft seas aimed east for a short duration is pushing towards the Canadian and US West Coast. A weak area of low pressure to purist in the Eastern Gulf through the early part of next week with perhaps a gale forming off Washington late week. This one has been on and off the models for several days now.
Relative to California weak short period local windswell is occurring and expected to hold well into the early part of the coming week.
Relative to the Hawaii easterly tradewinds were below the 15 kt threshold but are expected to return later Mon (9/16) and hold into Wednesday as high pressure builds in the Gulf. Small easterly tradewind generated windswell is possible during that window.
In the South Pacific a solid gael is forecast forming on the eastern edge of the Southern CA swell window late Monday (9/16) with seas to 38 ft, but tracking flat east with little energy pushing due north. Seas forecast to 42 ft over a small area on Tuesday but east of the CA swell window targeting Chile nicely. Maybe some swell for that area if all goes as forecast. And a second fetch generating 28-30 ft seas is forecast southeast of New Zealand pushing decently northeast on Tues (9/17) offering decent odds of swell for Tahiti and Hawaii in the 15-16 sec range again if all goes as projected.
Suspect the models ar a bit overhyped though given none of this was on the charts with the intensity depicted 24 hours earlier.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Saturday (9/14) the jet was a disorganized and weak mess with no coherent flow in play. Two southward building semi-troughs were present, one on the dateline and the second 600 nmiles off the Central CA coast. Max winds in each were 80 kts offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours more energy is to build into the jet over the width of the North Pacific. The trough off California is to move inland on Sunday while the other trough of the dateline cuts off from the main flow while falling south and actually starts tracking west and of no interest. By the end of the period (Tues - 9/17) the jet is to be healed with 140 kt winds pushing over the Kuril Islands riding north over the dateline and tracking into the Bering Sea, then falling southeast with a broad trough starting to set up in the far Eastern Gulf of Alaska but with winds only 100 kts. No support for gale development from any of these system but the overall pattern is to be improving. Beyond 72 hours the wind energy over the Kuril Islands is to push up into the ridge in the Bering Sea by Wednesday then start falling into the Gulf trough early Thursday with 120 kts winds feeding into the trough, offering good support for gale development in the Eastern Gulf with a well developed trough forecast there. That trough to rapidly fade late Thursday but then be reinforced on Friday (9/20) with 130 kts winds.The trough to move onshore over Central CA on Sat (9/21). In all a very interesting early season set up if one is to believe the model.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (9/14) small weak swell from a weak gale that developed in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska was pushing towards California (see Gulf Low below). A weak cutoff low was circulating 600 nmiles west of San Francisco generating 20 kt northwest winds and 9 ft seas near 38N 141W of no real interest. Maybe background windswell to arrive early in the workweek but not noticeable with other more dominant swell arriving at the same time.
A local fetch of 15-20 kt north winds was setup along the Central California coast with the core over Pt Conception only serving to chop up local conditions and add some 6 sec period windswell into the mix. Trades were in the 10-15 kt range over the Hawaii Islands and doing nothing to produce easterly windswell.
Over the next 72 hours a weak cutoff low off the Coast of California is to fade and move inland over North CA Sunday (9/15) only serving to thicken the marine layer down into Central CA. High pressure is to start building north of Hawaii on Monday (9/16) to 1028 mbs ridging south to Hawaii and increasing trades there to the 15 kt range causing production of small easterly windswell along exposed east facing shores there and holding into Wed (9/18). Also on Monday the high is to start ridging into the North and Central CA coast generating the usual local north wind fetch at 15-20 kts building to 20+ kts on Tuesday with local short period north windswell on the increase. That fetch to hold into Wednesday then start fading as low pressure starts building in the Gulf. See QuikCASTs for windswell details.
Also starting on Sunday 99/15) low pressure in the extreme eastern Gulf of Alaska and along the Canadian coast is to start interacting with the high building north of Hawaii generating a fetch of 20 kt northwest winds in the northern Gulf targeting the US West Coast, building to near 25 kts on Monday and holding through Tuesday. 10-11 ft seas to persist under the fetch near 50N 142W perhaps good for more 8 sec period northerly windswell along the Pacific Northwest and California coast. Unremarkable.
Low pressure tracked from west of the dateline while organizing just south of the Aleutians and just east of the dateline Wed PM (9/12). Northwest winds were 30 kts over a small area targeting Hawaii best. Seas building. On Thursday AM (9/12) the gale was better defined with a tiny area of 40 kt northwest winds falling south and clear of the Eastern Aleutians targeting Hawaii and California with seas building to 21 ft at 48N 170W. By evening the gale was starting to fade while pushing into the Western Gulf. Winds fading from 30-35 kts out of the northwest with seas 19 ft at 49N 165W. The gale was gone by Friday AM with winds below 30 kts and no seas of interest being generated. 17 ft seas from previous fetch fading at 48N 162W. This system formed about as previously forecast, and has produced some small unremarkable swell mainly targeting The US West Coast and Canada.
North CA: expect swell arrival on Monday (9/16) building from mid-morning onward reaching 3 ft @ 13 secs late (4 ft faces). Swell starting to fade overnight fading from 3 ft @ 12 secs early Tues AM and buried in locally generated short period windswell. Swell Direction: 303 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Saturday (9/14) the following tropical systems were being monitored:
Tropical Storm Manuel was 125 nmiles west-southwest of Acapulco Mexico with winds 45 kts forecast building to 50 kts late tracking slowly north. Manuel is forecast moving inland southwest of Manzanillo Mexico on Sunday AM with winds 50 kts. No swell production is forecast for this system relative to our forecast area.
Tropical Storm Man-Yi was 525 nmiles south of Kyoto Japan with winds 45 kts turning towards the north. This system is expected to peak out Sunday AM with winds 60 kts while accelerating to the north-northeast grazing the coast of Japan near Tokyo Sunday evening with winds 55 kts. Man-Yi is forecast to enter the North Pacific late Sunday and get swept north-northeast and up into the Bering Sea late Tuesday. No swell production of interest is forecast.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (9/14) weak high pressure was trying to ridge into the coast but was being held mostly at bay by low pressure 600 nmiles out. Still the high had enough influence to generate 15 kt north winds from Cape Mendocino southward and up to 20 kts near Pt Conception. 15 kt northwest winds are to be limited to Pt Conception on Sunday (9/15) and far lighter for all of North and Central CA with the low moving inland over Cape Mendocino. Monday stronger high pressure starts building north of Hawaii but low pressure is to set up in the extreme eastern Gulf of Alaska holding the highs local impact at bay. Only north winds to 15 kts late for North and Central CA. The north flow to come up along the North and Central Coasts to 20 kts Tuesday and 25 kts on Wednesday then fading fast Thursday (9/19) as more low pressure moves towards the coast.
Surface - On Saturday (9/14) low pressure was southeast of Zealand generating no seas of interest. Another broad area of low pressure (really a weak gale) was in the deep Southeast Pacific half way over the Arctic Ice Sheet there and of no interest. Over the next 72 hours the low under New Zealand is to momentarily build Sunday AM (9/15) to 45 kts over a tiny area with seas 30 ft at 56S 167E holding into the evening then dissipating. Bare minimal swell possible for Tahiti and maybe Hawaii if this occurs.
A new storm is forecast building in the extreme Southeast Pacific on Monday PM (9/16) with 50 kt west-southwest winds setting up generating 34 ft seas at 55S 127W. The storm to hold Tues AM (9/17) while tracking east fast with seas building to 42 ft at 55S 114W (outside even the SCal swell window) and targeting Southern Chile. A rapid fade forecast thereafter. Maybe some sideband swell energy to push north into Southern CA with luck.
Another pulse of 45 kt southwest winds to build under New Zealand on Tues AM (9/17) lifting northeast generating a tiny area of 30 ft seas at 53S 177W mid-day. Maybe another pulse of small swell for Tahiti and Hawaii with luck.
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 there's suggestions that a decent low is to start organizing off Northern Oregon Wednesday evening (9/18) with pressure 988 mbs and winds building from 30 kts out of the northwest. By Thursday AM (9/19) pressure to drop to 978 mbs with 45 kt northwest winds forecast in the gale west quadrant aimed southeast with seas to 26 ft at 45N 140W. 45 kt northwest winds to hold into the evening with seas building to 29 ft at 43N 137W. 40 kt north winds to hold Fri AM with the gale not moving much and 24 ft seas still in position at 44N 136W. More of the same in the evening with 23 ft seas at 45N 134W. The gael to start fading just off the North Oregon coast Saturday AM (9/21) with another gale developing behind it in the Northern Gulf with 40 kt northwest winds and 22 ft seas.
None of this is believable at this early date but it's a nice tease! Fall appears to be coming if one is to believe the models. The interesting part of this is that the development is all centered in the extreme Eastern North Pacific. and it's no coincidence that the fading remnants of the Active Phase of the MJO happen to be tracking east positioned on the equator and due south of where all this activity is forecast. Will be interesting to see what really happens (if anything).
Unfortunately, Hawaii is to be well west of any of this activity.
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 Saturday (9/14) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) rose to 23.06. The 30 day average was up to 0.37 with the 90 day average up some at 4.38. We are at the end of the Active Phase of the MJO, with the 30 day SOI is still higher than any Active Phase since March of 2012. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of a weak Active Phase of the MJO while overall longer term pattern was neutral if not still in weak La Nina territory and not indicative of El Nino. This was illustrative of a dominance of the Inactive Phase of the MJO.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated modest east anomalies over the Maritime Continent holding on the dateline to a point south of Hawaii, then dying. Neutral anomalies continued from there into the coast of Central America. A week from now (9/22) neutral anomalies are forecast re-taking the Maritime Continent turning lightly easterly over the dateline region to a point south of Hawaii then neutral from there into Central America. In all this suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in control but is weaker than forecast and to rapidly fade a week out (a good thing).
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 9/10 remain in sync (No new data posted by NOAA). Both models suggests an Inactive Phase was already fading fast over the West Pacific. This pattern is to dissipate 5-7 days out. A weak pulse of the Active Phase to start building 8-10 days out per both models holding through the 15 day end of the model run. The ultra long range upper level model suggests the Inactive Phase was already over the far-east equatorial Pacific with the Active Phase starting to set up over the Maritime Continent. The Active Phase is expected to slowly track east over the Pacific through 10/9 with a modest Inactive Phase building behind that in control for the second half of October. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.
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. Regardless of what the atmospheric models and surface winds suggest, actual water temperatures are a ground-truth indicator of what is occurring in the ocean. As of now (9/12) a very weak and fading La Nina-like pattern continues in the far East Pacific on the equator. The small pocket of cooler water we've been monitoring off the immediate coast of Peru is fading more, almost gone, with the outflow from it tracking to the Galapagos Islands, then fading west of there, breaking up into small pockets barely making it to a point south of Hawaii. Imagery for Sept indicates this pattern has continued to dissipate, likely the result of a weak Active Phase of the MJO occurring simultaneously. Historically this is a little different from what has been occurring during the summer with the cool pool fluctuating and sporadically spitting occasional larger pockets of cool water westward along the equator and keeping a lid on any legitimate warm water from developing. At this point it looks like the Active Phase is getting the upper hand. The sympathetic anomalous cool pool off West Africa appears to have lost ground if not dissipated now while the Active Phase is in control. Both these plumes are likely to resurge if a normal Inactive Phase develops. But we're thinking that may not happen. Further north a plume of slightly cooler than normal water that had been radiating southeast off California for 2 years fully closed off in July. In late August it tried to make a weak comeback off the California coast but was shut down by a considerably wall of warmer than normal water that had build off Japan and migrated east, slamming into California on 9/5 with thousands of nmiles of warmer water behind it moving east. Looking briefly at the historical record this is the result of the seasonal collapse of high pressure and north winds off the California coast (suppressing upwelling). And it also appears to be part of a oceanic exchange of warm water that has been pent up in the far tropical West Pacific through the early summer, and in this case for two + years, now released and following the jet across the northern latitudes into the US West Coast. One thing is for sure, water temps are up in Central CA, the first time in a few years, pushing near 60 degrees. This appears to be the final demise of La Nina and the start of the Fall season. Looking at the big picture, cooler waters over the equatorial East Pacific are under control, but still present, with no sign of a legitimate warm pattern developing. In short, we're in a neutral pattern (and were tempted to say it's no longer biased slightly cool). A significant transition appears to be in-play. We're certainly nowhere near as cold as the previous 2 years.
Subsurface waters temps on the equator indicate a neutral temperature pattern. Of some interest is a warmer tongue of +2.0 deg C water radiating east down 125 meters extending from a point south of Hawaii almost to Ecuador. It certainly looks like a weak Kelvin Wave, but given the lack of strong Active Phase activity recently, that seems optimistic. But it's certainly worth monitoring. For now we'll say no Kelvin Wave is present, but that could change.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 9/14 remains unchanged. The model indicates water temps have been hovering near neutral since January within only a +-0.25 deviation. Recent runs of the model have consistently been suggesting a turnaround with a warming trend (up to +0.25 degs C) taking hold by September into Oct 2013 (+0.2 C) and up to near +0.5 C by Nov holding till the end of the model run on May 2014. This would suggest a weak El Nino possible for next year. But for the immediate future a neutral pattern is expected. Overall the immediate outlook remains nothing stellar, but trending towards something that would be considered right on the threshold of warm, by Spring 2014, assuming one were to believe the model. Other models suggest a continuation of neutral conditions. All this is good news. If anything the ocean is in a recharging mode, with cold water from the 2010-2011 La Nina dispersing and temperatures gradually on the rise again in fit's-and-starts. Historically, if a warm water buildup indicative of any kind of El Nino pattern were to occur in 2013, 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 with perhaps a slightly warmer pattern by early 2014.
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 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
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
|| Boardshorts - Looking for a sick pair of boardshorts? Check out the selection at Boardshorts.com with brands from O'Neill, Quiksilver and Rusty and free shipping on every order. They won't disappoint.
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's for sale here: http://www.mavz.com/movies/super-natural/
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:
||Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here: http://www.casanoble.com/
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!
Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here
Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here
Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table