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.
Note: NDBC has no immediate plan to replace or repair any non-operational buoys due to funding shortages and the sequester. Expect inoperable buoys to remain off-line for the 2013-2014 winter season. Even if NOAA is fully funded in 2014 (unlikely), maintenance of the buoys will likely not start occurring till at least late Spring of 2014.
On Tuesday (10/1) North and Central CA surf was 3-4 ft overhead and lined up but pretty raw with northwest winds blowing and chop developing. Down in Santa Cruz surf was head high with sets 1-2 ft overhead and relatively clean but with some warble intermixed. In Southern California up north waves were waist high with sets a little bigger and relatively clean but a little warbled. Down south waves were waist high and chopped. Hawaii's North Shore was waist high on the sets and clean. The South Shore was thigh high but weak looking. No report was available for the East Shore.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
In the North Pacific swell from a gale that formed in the Gulf of Alaska over last weekend was still hitting California and the Pacific Northwest. A new gale is forecast for the Dateline and Western Gulf Wed (10/2) with seas 20 ft aimed mainly at the US West Coast. Nothing else of interest to follow.
In the South Pacific a gale developed in the West Pacific Tues (9/24) with 26 ft seas peaking late Wed (9/25) with seas up to 28 ft offering minimal hope for Hawaii but better odds for the US West Coast. That gale continued east Thursday again building 28 ft seas aimed north then fading late Friday (9/27). Another gale formed late Mon-Early Tues in the Southeast Pacific with 30 ft seas aimed mainly east. The models suggest a stronger system in the Central Pacific Thurs (10/3) with 34 ft seas aimed a bit northeasterly offering more hope for Southern CA. So it isn't quite over yet.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Tuesday (10/1) the jet was diffuse and weak in the west falling into the smallest of troughs on the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians but with only 90 kts winds flowing into it providing bare minimal support for gale development. The jet rose north some east of there, then fell into another trough in the eastern Gulf with 120 kts winds feeding it, providing limited support for gale development just off the coast of British Columbia. Over the next 72 hours the trough off British Columbia is to move inland and fade while the trough on the dateline pushes east and falls marginally further south offering limited support for gale development moving through the Western Gulf, then pinching off Fri (10/4) while moving into the North-Central Gulf. Beyond 72 hours winds are to start building over the Kuril Islands on Sat (10/5) building to 160 kts 24 hours later and pushing southeast into a building trough on the dateline. That trough is to look decent by late Mon (10/7) with 130 kts winds flowing cleanly into it and pushing east, but then starting to get pinched off by early Wed (10/9) as it moves over the Western Gulf of Alaska. Decent support for gale development possible. And yet more 140 kts winds to be building over the Kuril Islands offering hope beyond.
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (10/1) remnant fetch from the Gulf gale was fading from 25 kts (see Third Gulf Gale below). A new circulation center was developing on the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians with a small fetch of 30 kt west winds developing. Otherwise high pressure at 1024 mbs was positioned north of Hawaii and ridging into the US West Coast with north winds along the North and Central CA coasts at 15 kts. Trades were suppressed over Hawaii. Another high pressure system was building off the Kuril Islands tracking east.
Over the next 72 hours the developing low over the dateline is to build starting Tues PM (10/1) with northwest winds to 35 kts over a small area aimed east with seas on the increase. Wed AM (10/2) the gale is to hold while easing east with it's core just south of the Eastern Aleutians generating 35 kt northwest winds and 20 ft seas at 48N 173W (304 degs NCal, 340 degs HI). In the evening winds to fade from 30 kts over a decent sized area while pushing east with seas fading from 20 ft at 46N 168W (306 degs NCal and east of the HI swell window). Winds to be below 30 kts on Thurs AM (10/3) with seas fading from 18 ft at 46N 162W. This system to be gone by evening. Assuming all goes as forecast some degree of small 13 sec period swell should result for Hawaii over the weekend and the US West Coast late in the weekend.
Also high pressure is to hold off the US West Coast resulting in development of the usual pressure gradient over North and Central CA on Wed (10/2) with north winds 25 kts holding Thursday then fading while pulling west of the North CA Coast. Limited local north windswell to result during the period.
Third Gulf Gale
On Friday AM (9/27) high pressure at 1032 mbs was lodged over the dateline with tropical low pressure riding over top of it falling southeast into the Northern Gulf of Alaska with 35 kt northwest winds building over open waters and seas building from 20 ft at 53N 157W. By evening a solid fetch of 40-45 kt northwest winds were falling southeast with seas on the increase from 28 ft at 53N 152W (316 degs NCal). Sat AM (9/28) a broad fetch of 40 kt northwest winds was in place with lesser winds filling the Gulf while falling southeast with seas building to 32 ft at 49N 145W (315 degs NCal). In the evening winds were holding at 40 kts out of the northwest but over a smaller area with seas holding at 32ft at 47N 138W (315 degs NCal). The original gale was nearly gone Sun AM (9/29) with winds 30 kts the core starting to push into British Columbia with seas fading from 26 ft at 46N 133W (317 degs NCal). But additional 35-40 kt northwest winds were falling into the Northern Gulf from the Bering Sea with seas on the increase. By evening 35-40 kt northwest winds were again be filling the Gulf with 26 ft seas at 47N 140W (310 degs NCal) pushing into Oregon (319 degs NCal). Northwest winds were fading from 30 kts and pushing inland over Northern Oregon Mon AM (9/30) with 24 ft seas at 46N 133W (319 degs NCal). The gale is to be gone by evening.
Northern CA: Wednesday (10/2) swell fading from 6 ft @ 13 secs (7.5 ft) with copious local chop and windswell on top. Swell Direction: 315 degrees with lesser period energy from 308+ degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Tuesday AM (10/1) Tropical Storm Fitow was 900 nmiles south of southern Japan with winds 50 kts. Slow strengthening is forecast while Fitow tracks north-northwest with winds building to 100 kts 400 nmiles south of Southern most Japan on Friday AM (10/4). After that a slow fade is forecast with Fitow accelerating north-northwest and pushing into Southern Korea Sun AM (10/6) with winds 70 kts. No swell to result for our forecast area. The model do show the remnants of this system becoming exposed over water off the Kuril Islands on Tues (10/8) but that's a complete guess by the computer.
Tropical Storm Sepat was 330 nmiles south-southeast of Tokyo Japan with winds 35 kts tracking north. A slow turn to the north-northeast is forecast with the core of this system just off the southern Kuril Islands late Wed (10/2) with winds 30 kts and fading. No swell to result.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (10/1) high pressure at 1026 mbs was starting to ridge into the Central CA coast generating north winds at 15+ kts and chopped conditions at exposed breaks. The high pressure system is to move even closer on Wednesday (10/2) with 20-25 kt north winds building over a ll of North and Central CA the starting to push into Washington late Thursday with a full gradient in effect for Cape Mendocino oat 30 kts and 20 kts north winds for San Francisco southward. Southern CA to remain protected. By Friday the gradient is to be limited to North CA at 25 kts with a light flow from Pt Arena southward. A light offshore flow is forecast by Saturday everywhere turning just calm on Sunday. A light northerly flow is forecast for North and Central CA late Monday at barely 15 kts holding Tuesday (10/8) at 10-15 kts.
Surface - On Tuesday (10/1) swell from a gale that traversed the South Pacific was tracking towards the US West Coast (see South Pacific Gale below). A gale developed Mon (9/30) just off the Ross Ice Shelf in the deep Central Pacific with a small area of 45 kt southwest winds and seas building over a tiny area pushing northeast. In the evening a moderate sized area of 40 kt south winds were holding with seas building to 28 ft at 55S 143W. 40 kt southwest winds held Tues AM (10/1) with 30 ft seas at 54S 134W. By the evening this system is to be gone. Another small pulse of swell is possible for Southern CA starting about Wed (10/9).
Over the next 72 hours a new gale is forecast developing well southeast of New Zealand on Wed PM (10/2) with 45 kt west winds building just off the Ross Ice Shelf and seas to 32 ft at 58S 163W. The fetch is to start pushing northeast on Thurs AM (10/3) with 50 kt winds building over a small area and 34 ft seas forecast at 55S 150W targeting Central CA with sideband energy up into California. In the evening the gale is to rapidly dissipate with 30 ft seas from previous fetch fading at 50S 138W. Possible swell from this fetch for Southern CA down into Northern Chile.
South Pacific Gale
On Tuesday AM (9/24) a broad but weak gale was circulating in the Southwest Pacific generating 35-40 kt southwest winds and 26 ft seas just off the Ross Ice Shelf aimed decently north at 58S 171W targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. Winds built to 35-40 kts in the evening with 26 ft seas at 55S 161W. Wed AM (9/25) 35-40 kt southwest winds held easing east with seas still 26 ft over a broader area at 55S 155W. The fetch turned more northerly in the evening at 35 kts with seas building to 28 ft at 52S 150W targeting Tahiti and California but mostly east of Hawaii. Fetch started fading Thurs AM (9/26) from 35 kts with 28 ft seas at 48S 143W. The fetch held at 35 kts by evening with seas from previous fetch still 28 ft at 47S 136W. Fri AM (9/27) 35 kt southwest winds held with seas still miraculously 28 ft at 45S 130W targeting Southern CA down into Central and South America. In the evening 35 kt southwest winds held if not expanded coverage with 26 ft seas at 43S 120W offering more hope for Southern CA. Sat AM (9/28) the gale was fading with 26 ft seas from previous fetch at 45S 199W barely targeting Southern Ca and mainly South America.
Some late season 15-16 sec period swell has been generated targeting primarily the US west Coast with sideband swell for Tahiti and 14-15 sec range sideband energy for Hawaii.
Background swell for Hawaii starting on Wed (10/2) at 1.0 ft @ 16-17 secs with luck (1.5-2.0 ft) from 180 degrees. Swell holding Thurs (10/3) at 1 ft @ 15-16 secs (1.5-2.0 ft).
Southern CA to see swell starting on Thurs (10/3) at 2 ft @ 18 secs late (3.5 ft) from 195 degrees but that is likely optimistic. Friday (10/4) swell to build to 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5 ft) holding Saturday (10/5) at 2.4 ft @ 15 secs (3.5 ft). Swell fading from 2 ft @ 14 secs (2.5 ft) early Sat (10/5). Swell Direction: 195 degrees
North CA to see swell starting on Friday (10/4) building to 1.8 ft @ 17 secs (3.0 ft) late holding Saturday (10/5) at 2.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5 ft). Residuals fading Sun AM (10/6) at 1.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (2 ft). Swell Direction: 192 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 at 1032 mbs is to take over the dateline at 1032 mbs by Fri (10/4) then slowly fading late into the weekend. A weak low is forecast falling from the Bering Sea south of the Aleutians Mon (10/7) sandwiched between high pressure east of the Kuril Islands a second one in the Gulf of Alaska. unfortunately no solid fetch is forecast to develop.
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 (10/1) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) rose to 11.79. The 30 day average was up to 4.93 with the 90 day average up to 4.33. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of the Inactive Phase though the Active Phase of the MJO was supposedly in effect. The longer term pattern was neutral if not still slightly biased toward La Nina territory.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated neutral anomalies over the Maritime Continent on to the dateline. Wind anomalies turned slight easterly south of Hawaii and continued in pockets on into Central America. A week from now (10/9) modest east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent, dateline regions on to a point south of Hawaii and then neutral from there into Central America. In all this suggests the weak Active Phase of the MJO currently in control is expected to deteriorate a week out. Given this we should see a fade of the North Pacific jetstream and storm track over the next week.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 9/30 are in sync. Both models suggest the Active Phase was in control of the far West Pacific. This pattern is to hold for the next 5 days then start dissipating nearly gone 8 days out and gone 15 day out. The statistic model is more aggressive concerning the demise of the current Active Pattern while the statistic model has it barely holding on 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model suggests the Active Phase is on the dateline and easing east, forecast moving into Central America by 10/18 with a modest Inactive Phase building to the west at the same time, and traversing the equatorial Pacific by 11/10 with a weak Active Phase again starting to take over in the west. 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 (9/30) the weak La Nina-like pattern that has held all summer is dead with a pure neutral water temp pattern now in-play. The small pocket of cooler water that we've been monitoring off the immediate coast of Peru is gone, with no real outflow from it present except near the Galapagos Islands, and dissipating immediately west of there. Imagery for Sept indicates this pattern has continued to dissipate, likely the result of a weak Active Phase of the MJO occurring simultaneously. At this point it looks like the Active Phase is starting to get the upper hand. The sympathetic anomalous cool pool off West Africa is gone. Further north a plume of slightly cooler than normal water that had been radiating southeast off California for 2 years is all but gone. Instead a wall of warmer than normal water that previously built off Japan has migrated east, slamming into California on 9/5 with thousands of nmiles of warmer water behind it moving east. No change is forecast. This is the result of the collapse of high pressure and north winds off the California coast (suppressing upwelling). That said, high pressure is in control and local water temps have dropped some over the past 2-3 weeks, but nothing worse than 'normal'. This long term pattern also appears to be part of a oceanic exchange of warm water that has been pent up in the far tropical West Pacific for two + years, now released and following the jet across the northern latitudes into the US West Coast. This appears to be the final demise of La Nina and the start of the Fall season. But there's no sign of a legitimate warm pattern developing. In short, we're moving into a pure neutral pattern no longer biased slightly cool. The transition to a fully normal pattern has occurred in the ocean.
Subsurface waters temps on the equator indicate a neutral temperature pattern. No Kelvin Waves are present, as are no cold pools present either.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 10/1 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 taking hold and accelerating early Oct 2013 (+0.2 C) and up to near +0.7 deg C by Nov then slowly tapering down to +0.5 by 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. The weak prevalence of the Inactive Phase of MJO still seems to be biasing the weather global pattern. But with the ocean turning neutral, we suspect the atmosphere will make the turn as well over the next few months (into Dec 2013). This is a better place than previous years (2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013) under the direct influence of La Nina. It is becoming apparent we've finally recovered 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
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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'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:
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table