New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
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: 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.
New Weather Models
With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon): http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
On Thursday (10/28) North and Central California was getting remnant local semi-swell in the waist to chest high range and clean but not particularly well organized. Southern California was flat up north with a modest onshore winds and crumbled up pretty well. Down south sets were maybe waist high and pristine clean with sun and generally beautiful. Hawaii's North Shore was getting chest high windswell with pretty good trades putting a lump on it. The East Shore was seeing easterly tradewind generated windswell at head high and chopped. The South Shore was asleep for the winter with waves 2 ft or less.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for new local swell expected in on Friday (10/29) in the triple overhead range but likely affected by south winds then fading from 5.5-6.0 ft on Saturday dropping to 3.0 ft on Sunday with south winds both days. Monday northwest windswell bumps up to 5.5 ft. Southern California is to see new head high or so Gulf swell for exposed breaks on Friday fading from chest high Saturday then knee high Sunday. More knee high northerly windswell expected for Monday. The North Shore of Oahu is to be waist high on Friday then flat Saturday and Sunday. Possible larger swell building late Monday. The East Shore is to see tradewind generated east windswell at chest high Friday and waist high Saturday before dissipating and holding in the flat range through Tuesday (11/2). The South Shore is effectively asleep for the winter. Maybe some knee high sets on Friday fading out on Saturday (10/30).
Another small gale developed in the far Western Gulf of Alaska late Mon/Tues (10/26) building while tracking southeast into the Central Gulf with 26 ft seas moving to within 800 nmiles of Northern CA late on Wednesday/early Thursday with 40 kt winds and 28 ft seas before sinking south and dissipating while paralleling the Central CA coast on Friday. Somewhat raw swell likely for Central CA northward by Friday. A far larger system remains modeled developing in the Bering Sea on Wed-Thurs (10/28) then falling into the Western Gulf over the weekend with 55-60 kt winds and up to 48 ft seas by Sunday, then moderating while tracking east into Central Canada on Tues (11/2). Possible reasonable sideband swell for Hawaii with larger long period swell for the US West Coast if all develops as modeled (still just a forecast with no winds blowing on exposed waters yet). There continues to be more moderate gale energy forecast behind too.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (10/28) the North Pacific jetstream remained very energetic racing off Northern Japan with a pocket of 180 kts winds there pushing just south of the Aleutians into a mild ridge in the Gulf (winds still 150+kts), then dropping hard south off the Pacific Northwest coast down into a trough bottoming out off Central CA (winds still 150 kts) before tracking hard northeast up into Oregon. There was decent support for gale development in the trough off California. Over the next 72 hours that pocket of energy in the west is to track flat east reaching near 190 kts on Saturday (10/30) while spilling southeast into the Gulf of Alaska setting up a broad energetic trough there and holding through the weekend. Great support for storm development in that trough with winds in the 160+ kt range. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to hold it's ground and not move any further east with 190 kt winds again building and flowing into the trough on Tues (11/2) continuing to support gale if not storm development, then starting to move east almost bound for the US West coast but holding just off Central CA on Thursday (11/4). Even at that the entire jet is to be down at 37N by then with lingering 140 kt winds still holding over the Gulf . Pretty impressive.
At the surface on Thursday (10/28) high pressure at 1032 mbs was centered 900 nmiles north of Hawaii with a second high off Northern Japan. The Hawaiian high was not ridging east at all leaving the US West Coast unprotected. The high was generating trades at 20 kts pushing over the Hawaiian Islands resulting in moderate east windswell along east facing shores. The storm track was flowing over/north of the pair of highs. A gale was in the Bering Sea forecast to become something of real interest (see Possible Large and strong Gulf Storm below), and a weaker gale was off the Oregon/North CA coast (see Next Gulf Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours our entire focus is to be the large storm forecast for the Gulf.
Next Gulf Gale
On Monday (10/25) a small gale developed on the dateline a bit south of the Aleutians producing 35 kt west winds at 46N 180W pushing up the 298 degree path to NCal and 30 degrees east of the the 330 route to Hawaii. It tracked east with little change indicated through the day. Seas were in the 18 ft range. By Tuesday AM (10/26) the gale reached the Central Gulf of Alaska with winds still 35 kts at 45N 155W almost bypassing Hawaii but aimed down the 296 degree track to NCal and covering a larger area with seas still 18 ft. By evening winds started building to 40 kts at 45N 150W and seas reaching 20 ft at 45N 150W. On Wednesday AM (10/27) 35 kt northwest fetch hung on dropping more to the southeast at 40N 143W with 25 ft seas at 42N 145W (292 degs Central CA and totally bypassing HI). The gale edged east in the evening and reorganized with up to 45 kt northwest winds at 42N 140W aimed bit south of the 292 degree path to Central CA with 23 ft seas at 40N 140W. On Thursday AM (10/28) the gale was fading while dropping south paralleling the Central CA coast with 35 kt north winds at 38N 140W (285 degs CCal). 28 ft seas from previous fetch were indicated at 39N 137W. By evening the gale is to be fading with barely 30 kt fetch left and seas from previous fetch at 25 ft at 38N 136W (283 degree relative to SCal) with swell from it pushing into the Pacific Northwest and likely radiating southeast towards Central CA for days ahead. Even swell is possible for Southern CA with luck.
Northern CA: Expect swell arrival late Friday AM (10/29) with pure swell pushing 9-10 ft @ 15-16 secs (15 ft faces) and holding through the day with period slowly fading to 14 sec by sunset. Lesser period raw energy to be intermixed. South winds likely. Swell Direction: 285-292 degrees
Possible Large and Strong Gulf Storm
The large gale forecast for the Bering Sea on Thursday (10/28) is to start drifting southeast while the jetstream builds under it and tropical moisture and energy from off Japan moves over the dateline. By Saturday AM (10/30) it is to all converge resulting in a huge area of 30-35 kt fetch developing at 45N 175W with embedded winds to 45 kts and pressure 980 mbs all aimed at both Hawaii and the US West coast. By evening the system is to rapidly intensify with a huge fetch of 35+ kt west northwest winds with a core of 55 kt west winds at 45N 160W aimed at the US West Coast down the 296 degree path and sideband energy aimed 70 degrees east of the 358 degree path to Hawaii. Seas on the increase fast from 32 ft at 45N 165W. By Sunday AM (10/31) 55-60 kt west-northwest winds are forecast at 45N 153W with seas building to 46 ft back at 45N 153W (296 NCal) with lesser seas at 34 ft back at 43N 165W (345 degs HI). This fetch is to be targeting primarily Central CA up to the Pacific Northwest. In the evening 50 kt west winds are to hold at 45N 147W aimed at Central CA up the 296-298 degree paths with seas building to 48 ft at 45N 149W. On Monday AM (11/1) a quick fading is to be occurring with 40 kt winds in the storms south quadrant at 47N 143W aimed up the 308 degree path to NCal with seas 43 ft at 47N 142W and with 30 ft seas all the back to 40N 160W, meaning lot's of backup though smaller energy in the 17 sec range pushing on a sideways angle to Hawaii and more direct towards the US West Coast. In the evening the storm is to be fading if not nearly gone with 35 kt southwest winds aimed mostly at Southern British Columbia with seas fading from 36 ft at 48N 137W and then effectively gone from there. If all goes as forecast large powerful swell seems likely for the entire US West coast. But it is still too early to expect any of this to occur. Will monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (10/28) south winds were blowing down to Pt Conception driven by another gale tracking south down the California coast. Rain was located from just north of the Golden Gate on up into Oregon. The models suggest more south wind from Monterey Bay south to Pt Conception Friday but possible offshore north of there with rain covering the coast down to Pt Conception. Yet another front is forecast for Saturday with rain moving into Northern CA late and south winds in control down to Morro Bay. South winds continuing Sunday from maybe Monterey Bay northward with the rain line just north of Pt Arena. There remains indication that high pressure might get just enough of a foothold into the Central CA region on Monday to produce light winds over all of Central CA while a huge weather system sets up off the coast and slamming into Oregon northward. A light winds regime to hold through the middle of the workweek but with rain reappearing on Wednesday down to Monterey Bay and more queuing up right behind.
At the oceans surface on Thursday (10/28) no swell producing fetch was occurring at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast with no swell producing weather systems modeled.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
72 hrs another small local gale is to wrap up just off Washington on
Wednesday with 40 kt west winds and 22 ft seas, all targeting there on
up into British Columbia. Yet another local one is to form just about
1000 nmiles west of Central CA on Thursday (11/4) pushing straight east into Friday with seas building to 23 ft. this looks like it will trash the Central coast up with lots of raw ill-formed swell. And yet another gale is forecast developing on the dateline late Thursday (11/4) with 35 kt northwest winds and seas on the rise. Certainly no lack of activity, but nothing to compete with the big storm projected above.
See the official El Nino/La Nina Forecast using the link posted below.
As of Thursday (10/28) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was dipping negative, the first time in months. The daily SOI was down to -4.77. The 30 day average was down to 21.31 with the 90 day average down slightly at 21.20.
Wind anomalies as of Wednesday (10/27) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated that the MJO continued settling down. The last easterly remnants of the Inactive Phase were pushing over Central America. In the West a modest Active Phase (west anomalies) was filling the eastern 30% of the Indian Ocean and tracking into the far Western Pacific but not reaching the dateline. The core remained over the Philippines. The Active Phase is forecast to dissipate on 11/1 in the West Pacific with a totally neutral wind pattern forecast by 11/6 and holding through 11/16.
This was the first real Active Phase of the MJO so far this Fall and it continues to offer at least some potential fuel to support formation of North Pacific gales starting 10/18 and continuing for a few weeks (into the first week in November). The models continue to pick up on this trend with a series of gales if not storms forecast for the East Pacific into at least 11/4. It is pretty typical for MJO Phases to be not well defined during summer months or during El Nino years, and to then become much more apparent as Fall develops, with the effects at the surface more obvious then too. The swing from Active to Inactive and back to Active becomes more pronounced too during La Nina years. So this current development of a strong Active Phase is not unexpected. We'll be following the phase shifts much more closely this Winter because only during the Active Phase will there be good potential for storm development.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (10/21) continues to indicate that downright colder than normal waters (-2 C degs or cooler) expanding their grip on the equator covering solidly from South America west to the dateline and beyond and are in fact getting cooler and covering a larger area over time, extending the whole way to New Guinea. The coldest waters were on the equator, but a broad secondary area extended from a point off Chile pushing gently northwest towards the dateline, a clear signal of strong easterly winds there and solid upwelling. Feeder bands of cooler than normal water continued building off the US West Coast and South America sweeping fully to the dateline, only serving to reinforce what is already an impressive if not mature La Nina pattern, suggesting stronger than normal high pressure has built in both hemispheres and upwelling is in full effect in the Gulf of Alaska and off South America. Looks like a classic La Nina setup. Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present and if anything colder than normal water was building strong over the dateline and pushing east (sort of like a cold Kelvin Wave). This pocket was -6 degs below normal on 10/18 (getting a little warmer than previous readings of -7 degs in mid- Sept). regardless, this is still not good.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond. And now from a historical perspective these easterly winds were now fully anomalous, blowing harder than normal from the east to the west, as would be expected looking at all the other data. But this is a rather recent development, with only normal winds indicated prior to 9/11. The interesting twist to all this is that the Pacific current that runs along the equator turned abruptly from flowing towards South America to flowing towards the Philippines in mid-March (2010), right as the SOI started it's impressive drive into positive territory and the North Pacific winter storm machine abruptly shut down. And it has not wavered since. But trades never waiver from the normal range. This suggests trade wind anomalies might be a byproduct of the Pacific equatorial current change and not the other way around i.e. the trades do not drive the temperature change initially, but the current change does. And then the atmosphere responds in kind to the change, building high pressure and reinforcing the flow and water temps. Said a different way, the change in the current might actually foretell a coming change in the trades, and then with the advent of the trade wind change, it only serves to reinforce the current in a self amplifying loop, until such time as the cycle runs it's course and the self feeding system collapses over a multiyear period. At that time the current then switches direction, and a whole new self-enforcing cycle stars anew. Something to consider (regarding the formation and El Nino/La Nina).
El Nino is effectively gone and slowly losing it's grip on the global upper atmospheric weather pattern. Still some lingering impact might continue through early Fall 2010, but likely not enhancing the storm track in the South Pacific any longer. The expectation is that we'll see a building moderate plus strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) for the remainder of 2010 extending well into 2011 and likely to early 2012. In short, the next year and half is going to be tough for surfers on west facing shores in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, though east facing shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance. That is not to say there will be no storms, in fact, there could be short periods of intense activity when the Active Phase gets an opportunity to come to fruition, but that will be the exception rather than the rule, with the Inactive Phase trying to keep a cap on storm activity.
See more details in the El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch 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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New Weather Models With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon): http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
New Weather Model Server Stormsurf has installed another weather model production server. This has enabled us to spread the load across more servers allowing us to post both wave and weather model updates much quicker. Also we are testing new content (like North America jetstream, winds and precipitation, local wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments). The model menus will be updated shortly with these new links.
Interview with Stormsurf: Coastviews Magazine has written up a very nice article on Stormsurf in their latest edition. You can read it here: http://coastviewsmag.com/master-forecaster-mark-sponsler-and-stormsurf
Stormsurf Hi-Res Coastal Precipitation Models Upgraded Though a bit late in the season, on 3/20 we implemented the same basic technology used in our new snow/ski models into the coastal hi-res precipitation models. So now you can not only determined whether rain is forecast for your area, but also snow. And not just light, medium or heavy snow like most sites, but the exact snowfall amount (in inches) for each 3 hr frame of the animation. Here's a sample, but now this approach is used in all our precipitation models. http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=nwcoast_precip
Stormsurf Precip Models Upgraded! On 2/20 we upgraded some of the broader precipitation models driven by the hi-def GFS model to include snow fall. The algorithm used is similar to the recently released snow models for the Southwest US in that the areas where snow is expected are identified and the exact amount of snow forecast over a 3 hr window is explicitly color coded. For East and West Coast US interests the following links provide good examples:
West Coast: http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=nepac_precip
East Coast: http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=watla_precip
Stormsurf Weather Models have all been upgraded! Over the New Years break we installed all new and upgraded weather models. Also new are experimental snow models for the Southwest US. Take a look here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
Read about Eric Nelson and Curt Myers, the makers of Ride-On and other Big Wave Surf Movies here: http://coastviewsmag.com/powerlines-productions-filming-the-art-of-big-wave-surfing
Ride On! Powerlines new big wave epic is now available on DVD. Get the entire big wave story of the 2008-2009 season here: http://www.mavz.com/
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Interview With Stormsurf: The crew at SurfScience.com worked with Stormsurf on a feature about why surfers should be able to read wave charts themselves. They are firm believers that a little learning can go a long way to help your surfing. This is a great article to help convince your friends that they can benefit from being able to read the data themsleves rather than just relying on the forecasts of others. See the full thing here: Create Your Own Surf Forecast with Stormsurf
Wave Model Upgrade Status Report: At this point we believe the installation of the new wave models is complete, with no problems being reported, the server stabilizing and the much requested return of the old style hemispheric Surf Height models now operational (again) and running side-by-side along the new ones. We thank you for your patience and input as we went though this process. Your feedback helps guide our efforts and ultimately results in a better product for everyone. Now we're off to start providing better menus to some wave model products most of you probably haven't uncovered yet (site specific graph and text forecasts), updateing the wave model FAQs and then upgrading the Weather Models.
New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.
Story About Stormsurf: The folks at SurfPulse (and specifically author Mike Wallace) have written up a really nice article about Stormsurf, complete with some good pics. Learn about how we came to be and a little of where we are going. Check it out here: http://www.surfpulse.com/2009/01/visceral-surf-forecasting-with-mark-sponsler/
Stormsurf Video: Just for fun - here's a clip about Stormsurf that ran on Bay Area TV a while back. Thought you might enjoy it: http://vimeo.com/2319455
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.
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table