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 Thursday (10/3) North and Central CA surf was waist to chest high and weak but clean with offshore's and beautiful out. Down in Santa Cruz surf was thigh to maybe waist high and clean. In Southern California up north waves were knee to thigh high and clean but with a onshore eddy making for texture at some locations. Down south waves were waist high from southern hemi swell but untouchable early due to howling offshore winds. Hawaii's North Shore was knee to waist high with Gulf sideband swell trying to hit and clean. The South Shore was thigh high and clean with minimal southern hemi background swell hitting. 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 small swell from a gale that developed east of the Dateline and into the Western Gulf regions on Wed (10/2) with seas 18-20 ft was pushing towards it's primary target, the US West Coast. A new pinpoint sized gale was starting to wind up off Washington too, with seas forecast building to 20 ft on Sun (10/6). Otherwise nothing of interest was occurring. The only other hope this week is a small gale forecast to develop just east of Kamchatka on Wed Am (10/9) with 22 ft seas for 12 hours. Next to nothing to result. In short, the storm track has taken a dive.
In the South Pacific swell from a gale that developed in the West Pacific Tues (9/24) with 26 ft seas peaking Wed-Fri (9/27) with seas up to 28 ft was hitting the US West Coast over the weekend, but will be gone by Mon (10/7). Another gale formed late Mon-Tues (10/1) in the Southeast Pacific with 30 ft seas aimed mainly east. A stronger gale was in the Central Pacific Thurs AM (10/3) with 38 ft seas aimed a bit northeasterly offering more hope for Southern CA. But after that nothing is projected till maybe Fri (10/11) with a small cutoff gale possible in the Central Pacific.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Saturday (10/5) the jet tracking more or less flat off the Kuril Islands centered on the 50N latitude with winds 110 kts in pockets all the way to the Eastern Gulf of Alaska with no troughs in-play offering no support for gale development. In the Eastern Gulf the jet then fell into a small steep trough with winds 110 kts feeding into it. But the trough was almost pinched offering only minimal support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to open up some starting late Sat (10/5) into early Sunday while sliding east but with winds fading. Perhaps minimal support for gale development is possible but the trough is to be inland by Mon AM (10/7). Another small steep trough is forecast over the Northern Dateline on Mon (10/7) with winds less than 90 kts feeding it, and then moving north into the bering Sea on Tuesday. No support for gale development is forecast from this one. Beyond 72 hours starting Tues (10/8) a strong ridge is to push north of the Gulf of Alaska up into Alaska proper supporting high pressure there while a pocket of 160 kt winds push off the Kuril Islands and trying to form a weak trough, but dissipating into late Wednesday offering only limited support for gale development in the far Northwest Pacific. BY late Thursday (10/10) a weak flow is to be tracking flat across the North Pacific centered on the 45N latitude, with a pocket of 140 kt winds building in it on the dateline Sat (10/12) forming a small steep trough, offering only minimal odds for support of gale development down at lower levels of the atmosphere. Pretty quiet.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (10/5) one small pocket of weak low pressure was trying to start circulating off the Washington coast. Otherwise high pressure at 1032 mbs was on the dateline pushing hard east centered in the heart of the North Pacific storm corridor and shunting all weather north through the Bering Sea. A cutoff low was trapped south of the high on the dateline generating only 30 kt east winds aimed only at Japan and Asia. High pressure was over the US Great Basin (Utah) setting up offshore winds for the California coast. A nice break from the onshore pattern of the past 6 months.
Over the next 72 hours a tiny gale is forecast developing off Washington Sun AM (10/6) with 35 kt north winds building and seas building. By evening 35-40 kt north winds to hold with seas building to 20 ft over a tiny area at 46N 132W targeting North CA down the 319 degree track but mainly aimed at Oregon. By Mon AM (10/7) the gale is to be inland over Washington. Some degree of small very north angled 12-13 sec period north swell could result for North and Central CA on Tuesday (10/8) if this system develops as forecast. But high pressure at 1032 mbs is to be building strong over the Eastern Gulf tracking east Monday PM (10/7) with local north winds on the increase from British Columbia southward covering all of Central CA and getting only more entrenched Tuesday pushing near 30 kts over Cape Mendocino early and 15 kts down to Pt Conception. Local north windswell developing with north winds over Cape Mendocino 35 kts late Tuesday. .
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 Saturday AM (10/5):
Typhoon Fitow was 220 nmiles east of northern Taiwan with winds 90 kts tracking west-northwest. This heading is to continue with Fitow moving inland into mainland China well clear and north of Taiwan and well south of Shanghai on Sunday afternoon (10/6) with winds 70 kts. No swell production expected for our forecast area.
Typhoon Danis formed 300 nmiles south of Iwo To or 900 nmiles south of Tokyo with winds 65 kts. Danis was heading northwest with slow strengthening forecast and forward speed steadily accelerating. Danis is to be 300 nmiles south of Southern Japan on Monday AM (10/7) with winds 90 kts, then turning north and northeast while tracking just west of Japan through the China Sea. Forward speed is to accelerate with Danis pushing into open waters of the North Pacific after quickly traversing over North Japan on Wed (10/9) with winds 35 kts. Maybe something could result from this system long term, but that's more just hope than anything real.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (10/5) high pressure was inland over the Great Basin setting up the first real offshore flow of the Fall-Winter season. A far lighter offshore flow is forecast Sunday as the high dissipates and low pressure starts tracking into the Pacific Northwest. By Monday solid high pressure at 1034 mbs is forecast building in the Central Gulf of Alaska riding into the US West Coast with north winds on the increase from Pt Conception northward up to 20-25 kts late. Tuesday a north winds event is possible with north winds to 30 kts early over North CA and 15-20 kts down to Pt Conception. Wednesday north winds to peak at 30-35 kts late over North CA but with a possible eddy flow (south winds) setting up for Central CA. Thursday the gradient is to start fading with light winds for all of Central CA and north winds fading from 25 kts mainly off the North CA coast. Friday a light northerly flow is forecast for North and Central CA at 10-15 kts then dissipating with light winds on Saturday (10/12).
Surface - On Saturday (10/5) swell from a gale that traversed the South Pacific was hitting 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: Swell fading from 2 ft @ 14 secs (2.5 ft) early Sat (10/5). Swell Direction: 195 degrees
North CA: 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).
Small sideband swell is possible for Southern CA starting Wed AM (10/9) with swell building to 1.4 ft @ 16-17 sec late (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell to continue Thurs (10/10) at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft), then fading. Swell Direction: 192 degrees.
Another 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 199 degree path (and mostly east of the Hawaiian swell window). In the evening the gale rapidly dissipated with winds dropping from 40 kts and 34 ft seas from previous fetch fading at 52S 142W. This system is to be gone by Fri AM (10/4).
Swell from this fetch expected for Southern CA starting late Thurs (10/10) with swell 1.3 ft @ 20 secs (2.5 ft) building Fri (10/11) to 2 ft @ 18 secs (3.5 ft). Swell to peak first light Sat (10/12) at 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell fading on Sunday (10/11) from 2.3 ft @ 15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees
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 is to start fading from 1028 mbs Wed AM (10/9) in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska with north winds fading from 25 kts off the North and Central CA coast and the local gradient all but gone by Thursday.
Also on Tues PM (10/8) a gale is forecast developing just off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula generating 40 kts west winds with seas building from 22 ft at 50N 165E. unfortunately that gale is to be fading by Wed AM (10/9) with a broad fetch of 30 kt west winds dissipating and seas fading from 23 ft at 50N 170E (aimed a bit east of the 326 deg path to Hawaii and 2200 nmiles out). By evening this system is to be gone. Maybe there's some odds of small 13-14 sec period swell resulting for Hawaii, but well decayed when and if it arrives.
Otherwise no swell producing fetch is forecast with high pressure and the jetstream driving the storm track generally 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 Saturday (10/5) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) fell to -3.87. The 30 day average was up to 7.07 with the 90 day average down to 4.11. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO. 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 mid-Maritime Continent and continuing to look like a small Westerly Wind Burst (WWB). This is the first one of these in a very long time and is good news. East of there neutral anomalies were in-play extending to the dateline and south of Hawaii the turned slightly easterly from there on into Central America. A week from now (10/12) 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, but still not give way to anything indicative of an Inactive Phase. Maybe the WWB is will give a much needed 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 10/4 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 fully dissipated 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 yet more than 2 days ago while easing east, forecast moving into Central America by 10/15 with a modest Inactive Phase building to the west and over the West Pacific by 10/25, and traversing the equatorial Pacific by 11/4 with a weak Active Phase again starting to take over in the West again. 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 10/5 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 +0.8 deg C by Dec then slowly tapering down to +0.5 by the end of the model run on May-June 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.
We are in a neutral ENSO pattern with neither a solid El Nino or La Nina imminent. Expect a neutral pattern for Winter of 2013-2014 with perhaps a slightly warmer pattern by early 2014. 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 the models hint at a small cutoff low forming in the Central Pacific on Fri AM (10/11) generating a small area of 45 kt south winds and 31 ft seas at 48S 144W aimed directly north towards Hawaii and the US West Coast. 40 kt south winds to hold into the evening with 30 ft seas at 47S 137W targeting primarily California and northern Mexico. The gale is to start fading Sat AM (10/12) with seas fading from 25 ft at 45S 134W. Will believe it when it happens.
Otherwise 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.
Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast: Here's our first attempt at a video surf forecast for the week starting October 6, 2013. Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqLN9D6aIMc
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