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 Thursday (10/3) the jet was ridging hard north over the Kamchatka Peninsula with winds in the 150 kt range then falling south into a trough over the Western Gulf with winds 140 kts starting to push into that trough and offering some support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to start pinching off Sat (10/5) while moving into the North-Central Gulf. Support for gale development fading then. the jetstream is to generally be tracking flat west to east near 50N or nearly over the Aleutian Islands offering no support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours on Monday (10/7) a strong ridge is to push north of the Gulf of Alaska up into Alaska proper supporting high pressure there while a generally weak flow pushes off the Kuril Islands, positioned well but with no velocity to support formation of a trough. Perhaps by Wed (10/9) a weak trough to develop on the dateline with 120 kts winds pushing into it offering limited support for gale development and pushing towards the Western Gulf by Fri (10/11).
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (10/3) weak low pressure continued circulating in the Gulf of Alaska but generating no fetch of interest. High pressure at 1028 mbs was ridging into the Pacific Northwest forming a pressure gradient over North and Central CA with north winds there 25 kts over outer waters generating short period north windswell for exposed breaks down to Pt Conception. This high was also generating east trades over Hawaii at 15 kts making for small easterly windswell along east facing shores. A second high was approaching the dateline from the west at 1032 mbs blocking the storm track and driving it up into the Bering Sea.
Over the next 72 hours no other swell producing fetch is forecast. A tiny area of low pressure is forecast trying to develop off the Pacific northwest, but not quite getting organized yet.
Weak Gulf Gale
A small gale developed over the dateline Tues AM (10/1) with 35 northwest winds and tracking east into the evening, just barely south of the Aleutians. At that time northwest winds held at 35 kts over a small area aimed southeast with seas on the increase. Wed AM (10/2) the gale held 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 wind held barely at 35 kts over a small sized area while pushing east with seas fading from 20 ft at 47N 169W (306 degs NCal and east of the HI swell window). Winds were still barely 35 kts on Thurs AM (10/3) with seas fading from 19 ft at 46N 163W (298 degs NCal). 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.
Hawaii: Expect small swell of 3.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.5 ft) arriving late Sat (10/5) and holding into Sunday from 340 degrees
NCal: Expect swell building to 3 ft @ 14 secs (4 ft) late Sun (10/6) from 305 degrees and holding into Monday.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Thursday AM (10/3) Typhoon Fitow was 450 nmiles east of Taiwan with winds 80 kts tracking north. A gradual turn to the northwest and then almost west is forecast through Saturday (10/5) with winds peaking near 95 kts (on Friday). Fitow to move inland into mainland China well clear and north of Taiwan and south of Shanghai on Sunday AM (10/6) with winds 70 kts south of southern Japan with winds 50 kts. No swell production expected for our forecast area.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (10/3) high pressure at 1028 mbs was ridging into the Pacific Northwest generating a pressure gradient and north winds at 25 kts over outer water of Central CA and chopped conditions at exposed breaks nearshore. By Friday the high is to be moving into the Great Basin (Utah) with an offshore flow getting up along the Central and South CA coast. A light offshore flow is forecast by Saturday (except select spots in Southern CA - stronger) everywhere turning just calm on Sunday. A light flow is forecast for North and Central CA turning light north late Monday. Light winds again Tuesday with low pressure just off North CA and then the low moving onshore Wednesday near Pt Conception. Light winds holding. North winds developing over Northern CA Thurs (10/10) at 20 kts but light south of the there.
Surface - On Tuesday (10/1) swell from a gale that traversed the South Pacific was moving into the the US West Coast (see South Pacific Gale below). Swell from another far smaller gale was tracking northeast towards Southern CA. Also a storm formed in the deep South Central Pacific (see SPac Storm below).
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast over the South Pacific relative to our forecast area.
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.
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
Tiny SPac Gale
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 was gone. Another small pulse of swell is possible for Southern CA starting about Wed (10/9).
A new gale developed 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 36 ft over a small area at 58S 167W. The fetch started pushing northeast on Thurs AM (10/3) with 50 kt winds building over a small area and 38 ft seas building at 56S 155W targeting Central CA up the 299 degree path (and mostly east of the Hawaiian swell window). In the evening the gale is to rapidly dissipate winds dropping from 40 kts and 34 ft seas from previous fetch fading at 52S 141W. This system is to be gone by Fri AM (10/4).
Possible swell from this fetch for Southern CA starting late Thurs (10/10) with period 20 secs peaking first light Sat (10/12) with period 17 secs.
Energy also radiating into Central America sown to Northern Chile.
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 1028 mbs is to be in control of the Western Gulf of Alaska by late Sun (10/6). a tiny gale is forecast developing off Washington at that time with 40 kt north winds building and 19 ft seas at 44N 138W targeting mainly Central CA. Winds to be fading from 35-40 kts on Mon AM (10/7) with seas 19 ft at 43N 137W (300 degs NCal). 30-35 kt fetch to hold over a slightly larger area in the evening with seas to 18 ft at 43N 134W (302 degs NCal). Fetch at 30 kts to hold into Tues AM (10/8) with 18 ft seas at 41N 130W (296 degs NCal). Fetch to be falling south and fading after that. Some degree of larger 12 sec period north windswell could result for North and Central CA if this system develops as forecast.
Otherwise no swell producing fetch is forecast with high pressure and the jetstream driving the storm track north through the Bering Sea.
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 (10/3) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) fell to -2.45. The 30 day average was up to 5.99 with the 90 day average up to 4.57. 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 hard west anomalies over the far western Maritime Continent looking like a small Westerly Wind Burst. East of there neutral anomalies were in-play extending to the dateline. Wind anomalies turned slight easterly south of Hawaii and continued lightly on into Central America. A week from now (10/11) neutral anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent, the dateline region on to a point south of Hawaii and then turning light easterly from there 1/2 way to Central America. In all this suggests the Active Phase of the MJO was in control of the West Pacific and expected to deteriorate some a week out. maybe this will give a burst of energy to the North Pacific jetstream, but it likely will not have enough duration for that.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 10/2 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 has strengthened/pulsed while 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 (10/3) 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 and faded recently, has returned but displaced well east. This is a result of local high pressure and north winds off California. But a wall of warmer than normal water is holding pat along the North CA coast. It 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 10/3 remains unchanged. The model indicates water temps have been hovering near neutral since January within only a +-0.25 deviation. The model has 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