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 (10/10) North and Central CA surf was 1-2 ft overhead at exposed breaks and pretty torn up by south eddy winds. Down in Santa Cruz surf was knee high or so and clean but very weak - wrap around windswell with just some minimal southern hemi energy occasionally intermixed. In Southern California up north waves were flat to knee high and textured from onshore wind. Down south waves were waist to chest high on the sets and heavily textured from eddy winds. Hawaii's North Shore was thigh to maybe waist high and textured. The South Shore was flat and clean. 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 local north windswell was hitting Central CA generated by the normal pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino and on the way down. Swell from a small gale that developed just east of Kamchatka with seas to 28 ft early Wed AM (10/9) was pushing towards Hawaii, with arrival slated for later in the weekend. A tiny and weak gale is forecast for the northern dateline over the weekend with barely 20 ft seas forecast. Beyond a marginally better pattern is possible depending on how optimistic you are.
In the South Pacific a 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. Swell starting mid-week (10/9) for SCal. Nothing else is projected after that.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Thursday (10/10) the jet was tracking off the Kuril Islands flowing east flat on the 49N latitude pushing over the dateline and into British Columbia. winds were 100 kts kts or less with no trough or ridges on interest occurring offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours a pocket of 170 kt winds is to start building on the dateline late Friday (10/11) forming a small trough that is to be building in coverage as it tracks into the Gulf of Alaska Saturday while loosing strength, then regenerating Sunday while pinching off in the Eastern Gulf. It to offer only limited odds to support gale development down at lower levels of the atmosphere. Beyond 72 hours another broad trough is forecast developing west of the dateline Mon (10/14) with 130 kt winds pushing to the dateline 24 hours later, but fading all the while. Additional wind energy is to be building over Kamchatka and lifting north of the Aleutians Wed-Thurs (10/17) with up to 190 kt winds, with some of that energy spilling south into the dateline trough now repositioned in the Western Gulf of the Aleutians but pinching off some. More wind energy to possibly fall into that trough late in the week if one is to be hopeful.
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (10/10) high pressure at 1024 mbs was tracking east over the Eastern Gulf of Alaska continuing the usual pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino CA, but less than days previous generating 20-25 kt north winds early resulting in north windswell along exposed breaks of North and Central CA. A small low pressure system remnants of tropical Storm Danis was developing just west of the dateline but offering no swell producing fetch yet.
Over the next 72 hours low pressure is to try and start building over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians Friday with a small area of 30-35 kts southwest and northwest winds developing. No seas of interest forecast yet. Late Friday (10/11) the low is to continue generating 30-35 kts northwest winds over a small area resulting in a tiny area of 18 ft seas at 48N 180W targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. By Sat AM (10/12) 19 ft seas are forecast at 47N 177W, but gone 12 hours later. No swell of interest to result for anyone even if it does form as projected.
On Tues PM (10/8) a gale over the Kamchatka Peninsula was pushing east over open waters of the Northwest Pacific generating a small area of 40 kt west winds with seas building from 26 ft at 50N 164E and up to 27 ft by 06Z Wed (10/9) at 50N 167E. Unfortunately that gale started 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 was gone.
Some odds of small 13-14 sec period swell resulting for Hawaii, but well decayed when and if it arrives. Next to nothing is expected to reach the US West Coast, shadowed by the Aleutians and north of the 308 degree great circle track (pushing through the Bering Sea).
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival near sunset on Sat (10/12) with period 16 secs and size barely noticeable. Swell to arrive in earnest Sun AM (10/13) at 2.7 ft @ 14 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) and period dropping to 13 secs late. Residuals on Mon (10/14) 3.2 ft @ 12 secs (3.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 320-325 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Thursday AM (10/10) Typhoon Nari was positioned 250 nmiles east of the Northern Philippines with winds 75 kts and tracking west-northwest. This motion is to continue with Nari moving onshore Fri AM (10/11) with winds 85 kts, then tracing west over land and re-emerging in the China sea heading west. Nari is to rebuild with winds to 80 kts Sun AM (10/13) targeting the North-South Vietnam border arriving near 9Z on (10/15). No swell production for our forecast area is expected.
Tropical Depression #25 was in the West Pacific forecast to build some while tracking northwest reaching typhoon status on Sat (10/12) about 800 nmiles south of Kyoto Japan. Winds to peak at 85 kts Mon AM (10/14) 650 nmiles south of Kyoto then making a turn to the north-northeast. the GFS model has this system skirting the East Japan coast on Thurs (10/17) with it's energy being sheared and sucked into a developing gale just east of Kamchatka. See the Long Term forecast for details.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (10/10) high pressure at 1028 mbs was locked off the US West Coast in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska forming a pressure gradient over North CA, though far weaker than days previous. North winds were down to 20 kts over open waters off Cape Mendocino. Friday a light northerly flow is forecast for North and Central CA at 10 kts building to 15 kts late. Saturday renewed high pressure to start building forming a secondary gradient over North CA with north winds to 20 kts (25 kts late) and lesser winds down to Pt Conception pulling away from the coast mid AM Sunday (still 25 kts up north) with a light wind regime in effect for everywhere but North CA. The gradient to fade Monday and hold Tuesday with low pressure well off the Oregon coast holding high pressure at bay.A light wind regime is forecast through Friday (10/18).
Surface - On Thursday (10/10) swell from tiny gale that tracked northeast towards Southern CA was fading in California. Also swell from a storm that formed in the deep South Central Pacific was starting to arrive in CA (see SPac Storm below). Otherwise no swell producing weather systems were in play.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing gale activity is forecast aimed up into our forecast area.
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 (10/13) from 2.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0 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 the models suggest some form of broad low pressure starting to develop well west of the dateline on Mon (10/14) with 35 kt west winds building in it's southwest quadrant and slowly fading while tracking east into late Tues (10/15) with 24 ft seas resulting Mon AM at 44N 162E targeting Hawaii. Additional 22 ft seas forecast Tues AM (10/15) at 50N 177E targeting the US West Coast. Possible tiny 13-14 sec period swell for Hawaii and maybe dribbles for the US West Coast.
And a tropical system is to be building and tracking north along Eastern Japan possibly feeding yet another gale building over the Western Aleutians Fri (10/18). Something to monitor, especially considering the jet is to be troughing well into the Gulf.
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 (10/10) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) rose to 10.44. The 30 day average was holding near 7.19 with the 90 day average was flat at 4.18. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was weakly indicative of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was neutral if not still slightly biased toward Inactive Phase/La Nina territory.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated moderate west anomalies holding over the mid-Maritime Continent and continuing to look like a small Westerly Wind Burst (WWB). This has been occurring for almost a week now and is the first one of these in a very long time (good news). East of there neutral anomalies were in-play extending to the dateline, then turning lightly east south of Hawaii and continuing from there on into Central America. This westerly winds burst was supporting tropical storm development in the West Pacific. A week from now (10/18) neutral anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent, turning weakly westerly on the dateline to a point just south of Hawaii and then neutral from there into Central America. In all this suggests the Active Phase of the MJO was in control of the West Pacific now and expected to deteriorate some a week out, but still not give way to anything indicative of an Inactive Phase. Maybe the WWB will provide a much needed burst of energy to the North Pacific jetstream and push some warm water eastward towards Central America long term, but it likely will not have enough duration for that.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 10/9 are more 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, gone 8 days out and fully dissipated 15 day out. The statistic model suggests a weak Inactive Phase is to start building in the far West Pacific 15 days out while the dynamic model suggests just a neutral pattern holding. The ultra long range upper level model suggests the Active Phase is on the dateline and is weakening some, expected to dissipate while easing east, all but gone 10/25 in the mid-Pacific with a modest Inactive Phase building to the west and over the West Pacific at that time, traversing the equatorial Pacific through 11/7 and moving into Central America. At that time a weak Active Phase is to again start building over the West Pacific. 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 (10/10) 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 this summer is gone, with no real outflow from it present except remnants generated months ago lingering south of Hawaii. At this point it looks like the Active Phase is starting to get the upper hand of surface water temps, or at least be in parity with the Inactive Phase. The sympathetic anomalous cool pool off West Africa is gone too, replaced by slightly warm water. Further north the plume of slightly cooler than normal water that had been radiating southeast off California for 2 years is all but gone and displaced well east. A wall of warmer than normal water is holding tight along the North CA coast, having previously built off Japan and 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). 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 either. In short, we're moving into a pure neutral pattern.
Subsurface waters temps on the equator are not available due to the government shutdown.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 10/10 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. A consensus of other model suggest gradual warming too, but not passing into mildly positive territory till Spring of next year.
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 models. Other models suggest a continuation of neutral conditions, though trending warmer. All this is good news. If anything the ocean is in a recharging mode, with cold water from the 2010-2011 La Nina dispersed 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 presence of the Inactive Phase of MJO in the summer of 2013 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 is forecast.
Details to follow...
External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave
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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:
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table