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 (10/29) North and Central CA surf was chest to head high and warbled but clean - pure windswell. Down in Santa Cruz surf was knee to waist high and clean but not real rideable. In Southern California up north surf was knee high with rare thigh high sets and clean but weak. Down south waves were knee to thigh high and clean but weak. Hawaii's North Shore was still getting decent swell with waves 1-2 ft overhead and clean, down from Monday evening. 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 swell from a weak gale that developed on the southern dateline Fri (10/25) with 18-20 ft seas initially then redeveloped just south of the Aleutians at 22 ft mid-Saturday has hit Hawaii and is on the way down. Pieces of this swell to hit California on Wed (10/30). Extratropical remnants of Typhoons Lekima and Francisco merged off Japan on Saturday AM (26) then tracked east approaching the dateline with seas 26 ft offering another small but decent pulse of swell mainly for Hawaii starting mid-week. Another pulse was right behind tracking from Japan to the dateline Mon-Tues (10/29) with seas up to 26 ft. More modest swell for Hawaii by Fri (11/1). And one more compact gale is forecast tracking northeast from the dateline Friday (11/1) with seas in the 30-32 ft range over a small area then fading fast. A tiny system to follow in the Northern Gulf on Mon (11/4) with 24 ft seas followed by another system west of the dateline Tues (11/5) again with 24 ft seas. But no solid storm development is indicated. In all a very weak pattern for the time of year.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Tuesday (10/29) the jet was tracking flat off Southern Japan reaching to the dateline with winds building to 130 kts then turning northeast and pushing up through the Gulf of Alaska, again with winds to 130 kts. A bit of a weak trough was present on the dateline offering some weak support for gale development down at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to ease east tracking through the Gulf of Alaska into Friday (11/1) but with winds falling below 130 kts and not offering much in terms of support for gale development at lower levels of the atmosphere. At the same time a weak trough is to develop west of the dateline Thurs-Fri (11/1) lifting northeast but with winds barely 130 kts in one tiny pocket (and much less elsewhere in the trough) offering only marginal support for gale development and bound for the Bering Sea. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to remain well to the south with a singular flow over the West Pacific forming another broad trough on Sat (11/2) but with winds only 120 kts, tracking east-northeast but no real support for gale development is indicated. Yet another trough is to be pushing off the Southern Kuril Islands on Mon (11/14) and well defined, but with only 110 kts winds associated with it and peaking out well before even reaching the dateline. Another false start.
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (10/29) small swell from a weak gale previously on the dateline was fading in Hawaii and approaching CA (see Weak Dateline Gale below). Over the next 72 hours swell from the extratropical remnants of Typhoon Lekima was approaching Hawaii (see Extratropical Storm Lekima below). Also swell from a second follow-on gale to be approaching Hawaii (see Dateline Follow-on Gale below). Yet another gale is forecast starting to develop mid-way between North Japan and the dateline on Thurs AM (10/31) with pressure 992 mbs producing west winds over a small area at 40 kts and seas building form 28 ft at 39N 162E (306 degs HI, 296 degs NCal). In the evening 40 kts west winds to hold with the gale tracking east with seas building to 32 ft over a small area at 40N 170E (312 degs HI, 295 degs NCal). The gale is to lift hard northeast on Fri AM (11/1) with winds building to 45 kts out of the west but getting less traction on the oceans surface given the hard northeast track with seas holding at 31 ft at 43N 178E (322 degs HI, 296 degs NCal). In the evening the gale is to move north of the Eastern Aleutians with 40 kt west fetch holding just south of there with seas dropping from 28 ft at 48N 177E bypassing any route to Hawaii and aimed somewhat up the 304 degs path to Central CA. By Sat AM (11/2) residual 35 kt west winds to hold just barely clear of the Eastern Aleutians with seas fading from 28 ft up at 52N 170W (306 degs NCal). This system is to be gone by evening. For the most part all this systems swell energy is to be targeting the US West Coast and bypassing Hawaii. The down side is this is to be a small system relative to the US west coast and a long ways away. Only small longer period energy is possible, assuming it forms at all.
Extratropical Storm Lekima
Weak Dateline Gale
A small low fell southeast from Kamchatka and started developing on the southern dateline region Fri AM (10/25) producing a broad area of 30-35 kt northwest winds generating 18-20 ft seas at 40N 178W at 18Z. Winds faded in the evening to 30 kts over a broad area but relocated northwest and aimed southeast at Hawaii with seas barely holding at 18 ft at 39N 175W. Sat AM (10/26) winds rebuilt to 35 kts just south of the Aleutians aimed south with seas building to 19 ft over a tiny area up at 49N 180W targeting Hawaii best. Winds faded from 35 kts and fell southeast in the evening with 22 ft seas at 45N 179W again targeting the Hawaiian Islands. By Sunday AM (10/27) the gale was gone. Swell hit Hawaii on Monday (10/28) fading on Tues (10/29). Perhaps some energy to reach Central CA on Wed (10/30) at 2.9 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.0 ft) fading Thurs (10/31) from 3.0 ft @ 11-12 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290-295 degrees
On Sat AM (12/26) the extratropical remnants of Typhoon Francisco were being absorbed by Typhoon Lekima off North Japan and tracking northeast with winds fading from 65 kts and seas near 40 ft at 37N 155E aimed well up the 297 degree track to NCal and decently towards Hawaii down the 300 degree track. This system was reorganizing in the evening with winds down to 35-40 kts and seas mainly from previous fetch fading from 28 ft over a small area at 40N 161E (297 degs NCal, 306 degs HI). Residual 30-35 kt westerly fetch was racing east Sun AM (10/27) producing 24 ft seas at 39N 167E (310 degs HI, 294 degs NCal). 35 kt west winds continued approaching the dateline in the evening with seas to 26 ft at 38N 173E (312 degs HI, 295 degs NCal). By Mon AM (10/28) this system was fading out with seas from previous fetch 23 ft at 38N 178E (314 degs HI, 290 degs NCal). This system dissipated after that with no additional fetch expected.
Another pulse of swell is expected for Hawaii starting late Wed (10/30) with swell to 5.7 ft @ 15 secs (8.5 ft faces). Swell to continue Thurs AM (10/31) at 5.7 ft @ 13-14 secs (7.5 ft) and fading. Swell Direction: 308-312 degrees.
Small swell expected for Central CA starting Fri (11/1) building to 2.4 ft @ 16 secs (3.5 ft faces). Swell to peak Saturday (11/2) at 4.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (6.5 ft faces). Swell fading Sunday (11/3) from 4 ft @ 14 secs (6.5 ft faces) but totally overrun by locally generated north windswell. (Swell Direction: 290-295 degrees).
Dateline Follow-On Gale
A second weak gale pushing off the Kuril Islands on Sun PM (10/27) with 35-40 kt northwest winds generating 26 ft seas at 43N 155E. That gale tracked southeast with winds down to 35 kts Mon AM (10/28) with seas 27 ft at 41N 162E, continuing southeast in the evening with winds still 35 kts and seas 24 ft at 40N 171E. This gale was gone Tues AM (10/29) with seas fading from 20 ft over a broad area at 40N 180W. Hawaii to get a second pulse of swell.
Early arrivers to hit Hawaii late on Thurs (10/31) building to 4 ft @ 15+ secs (6 ft faces) . Swell to peak first light Fri (11/1) at 5.7 ft @ 14 secs (8 ft) fading through the day. residuals on Sat AM (11/2) fading from 3.5 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 310 degrees
This swell to hit Central California on Sun (11/3) at 4 ft @ 14 secs (6.5 ft ft faces) but overrun by locally generated north windswell.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (10/29) high pressure at 1022 mbs was centered 900 nmiles off the Central CA coast far enough away so no local gradient was in effect with a light northwest flow for all of CA. A light north wind pattern is expected to hold for the entire state into Thursday AM, then north winds building to maybe 15 kts over Cape Mendocino, then fading Friday as low pressure builds off Oregon tracking east. Light winds are forecast Saturday AM from Central CA southward. But as the low off Oregon builds and moves inland later Saturday, high pressure is to build in behind with a front and north winds building over North CA by the late afternoon to 30 kts with 20 kt winds down to Pt Conception. A full summer like gradient to hold over North CA at 30 kts with perhaps a weak eddy flow over Central CA. the gradient is to fade some Monday down to 25 kts late and 20 kts Tuesday. In short, a north wind event looks likely for Central and North CA.
Surface - On Saturday (10/19) 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.
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 a tiny gale is forecast forming just south of the Central Aleutians on Sun (11/3) with 30-35 kt west winds and seas to 22 ft at 48N 172W in the evening. 35 kt west winds to hold Mon AM (11/4) with seas to 24 ft at 50N 166W (307 degs NCal) and fading from 20 ft in the evening at 50N 160W. Maybe small 13-14 sec period swell to result for the US West coast on Thurs (11/7).
And yet one more small gale is forecast west of the dateline on Tues (11/5) with 40 kt northwest winds and lifting northeast getting less than optimal traction on the oceans surface. 25 ft seas forecast at 37N 160E targeting Hawaii best (303 degs HI).
In short, there's plenty of gale formation, but there's no real energy in the jetstream to charge these systems up, resulting just small and weak fetch areas. We need a catalyst from the MJO to charge the jetstream. but as of right now, all focus is in the North Atlantic.
Note: The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).
As of Tuesday (10/29) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up some to -14.38 but has been negative for 15 consecutive days). The 30 day average was down to -1.28 and the 90 day average was down to 0.72. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was neutral and weakening. But assuming the Active Phase is about over, the average will rise again into positive territory and suggest a hint of Inactive/La Nina influence. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator of surface level weather trends.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated light west anomalies holding over the Western Maritime Continent turning lighter if not neutral on the dateline. Anomalies turned light westerly south of Hawaii on into Central America. With light westerly anomalies holding on, tropical development in the West Pacific should continue. A week from now (11/6) modest east anomalies are forecast over a small area over the Maritime Continent turning neutral over the dateline, then turning westerly south of Hawaiian into Central America. In all this suggests the Active Phase of the MJO is still in control and is to be slowly fading while tracking east over the East Pacific while a neutral to slightly Inactive pattern sets up over the West Pacific a week out.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 10/28 are back in-sync. Both models suggest a weak Inactive pattern was over the West Pacific today, with the dynamic model suggesting the Inactive Phase building in the far West Pacific 5 days out and the statistic model having it weakening some. From there the dynamic model diverges from the statistical model, with the dynamic model showing a developing Inactive Phase of the MJO over the West Pacific reaching moderate strength 10 days out, then starting to fade 15 days out while the statistic model has a weak Inactive Phase slowly fading and all but gone 15 days out. It will be interesting to see what happens. The ultra long range upper level model updated on 10/28 suggests the Active Phase is dissipating over the East Pacific, and is to be all but gone by 11/6 with a weak Inactive Phase building in the west and quickly tracking east moving into the East Pacific by 11/16. At that time a new pulse of the Active Phase is forecast developing over the far West Pacific and meandering slowly east holding into 12/8. Overall MJO signal is very weak but favoring the Active Phase. 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 (10/28) the weak La Nina-like pattern that has held all summer and for the past 3 years is dead with a pure neutral water temp pattern in-play. Neutral water temps are over the equator from Central America to the Philippines with just a few small pockets of slightly cooler water mainly south of Hawaii. Slightly cooler water is just off the coast of Peru. This suggests the Active Phase is getting the upper hand on surface water temps, or at least be in parity with the Inactive Phase. Water temps off West Africa remain neutral if not slightly warm too. the North Pacific plume of slightly cooler than normal water tracking southwest to the equator driven by high pressure off California remains weak. The wall of warmer than normal water that was holding tight along the North CA coast remains slightly retrograded from the coast, allowing cooler water to upwell locally. Still thousands of nmiles of warmer water is lurking between Japan and just off the North CA coast. High pressure remains off CA, with water temps holding in the cool range. So there's neutral to warm water over the balance of the North Pacific (which is to good news). Still there's no sign of a legitimate warm pattern developing. In short, we're in a pure neutral pattern.
Subsurface waters temps on the equator indicate a pocket of warm water 2 degs C above normal is down at 150 meters and now relocated from just west of the dateline (170E) to the dateline (180W) and now to 165W and tracking east. and warm subsurface waters are building off Central America. Will monitor to see if it continues and is a real trend or just a momentary spike. It it's real then a a eastward moving Kelvin Wave is in flight.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 10/29 have backed off some. The model has consistently been suggesting a turnaround with a warming trend taking hold and accelerating early Oct 2013. It now suggests temps hovering at +0.2 C above normal in Nino region 3.4 slowly building to near +0.5 deg C by April 2014 and holding into July. This would suggest a weak El Nino possible for next year. But for the immediate future (this Winter) a neutral pattern is expected. A consensus of other models suggests slow 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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New - Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (10/27) - http://youtu.be/XypogcVpUoY Subscribe to the Stormsurf001 YouTube channel for automatic notifications of updates - jut click the Subscribe button below the video.
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