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.
On Sunday (11/3) North and Central CA surf was 3-4 ft overhead at better breaks and warbled but almost clean at some spots, while blown at others. A mixture of windswell and dateline swell. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high and clean but pretty gutless with the tide sapping it. In Southern California up north surf was thigh to maybe waist high and clean but generally weak. Down south waves were chest high on the sets and lined up but with a southwest warbled and texture running through it. Hawaii's North Shore was waist high and weak with trades and clean conditions. 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 gale that tracked from Japan to the dateline Mon-Tues (10/29) with seas up to 26 ft was hitting California but buried in local north windswell. Swell from a compact gale that tracked northeast from the West Pacific reaching the dateline Friday (11/1) with seas in the 37-41 ft range over a small and short lived area that faded fast early Saturday was starting to register on the buoys in Hawaii and is expected to barely reach California late Monday (11/4). A tiny and weak system remains forecast for the Northern Gulf on Mon (11/4) with 20-24 ft seas possibly followed by another system over the Northern Dateline Tues-Wed (11/6) with 33 ft seas. A cutoff low is forecast well off California on Wed (11/6) with 26 ft seas falling south with another similar one a little closer to the coast on Sun (11/10) with 20 ft seas. So some degree of rideable surf is forecast but nothing of real size yet. A very slow start to the season continues.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Sunday (11/3) the jet was tracking flat off Southern Japan down at 35N with a pocket of 140 kt winds there weakly easing into a broad trough just west of the dateline but with no real wind energy associated with it. From there the jet ridged some northeast over the Gulf of Alaska with 140 kts winds pushing up into the ridge then falling down the California coast bottoming out near Southern CA. There was no clear support for gale development indicated. Over the next 72 hours the pocket of winds energy over Japan is to form a trough but lifting northeast fast with the trough peaking off the Northern Kuril Islands on early Tues (11/50 offering some support for gale development but quickly pushing into the Bering Sea. A ridge is to form east of that trough over the dateline moving to the Western Gulf Wednesday but with a steep almost pinched trough east of it in the extreme Eastern Gulf. 140 kt winds to be feeding this steep trough offering barely minimal support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours that pinched trough is to cut off midway between California and Hawaii still offering minimal support for gale formation through Friday (11/8). But to the west the jet is to ridge north tracking through the Bering Sea late Friday supporting high pressure at the surface through the weekend offering no support for gale development. Maybe another semi-cutoff trough to form east of the ridge off the Pacific Northwest on Sunday, but weak. At least no solidly split jetstream flow is indicated.
Surface Analysis - On Sunday (11/3) swell from the follow-on gale after Lekima was gone in Hawaii and starting to hit California, but buried in local windswell. More energetic swell from the Dateline Gale (below) was starting to show in Hawaii and bound for the US West Coast, but nothing remarkable is expected from it. Also a tiny gale is forecast forming just south of the Central Aleutians on Sun AM (11/3) with 35 kt west winds and seas building over a tiny area. In the evening 35-40 kt west winds to build with seas 25 ft at 50N 170W (306 degs NCal) and fading from 35 kts and 22 ft seas Mon AM (11/4) at 50N 163W. Residual seas forecast fading from 20 ft in the evening at 51N 144W (312 degs NCal). Maybe small 14 sec period swell to result for the US West coast late on Thurs (11/7). Over the next 72 hours another gale is forecast just west of the Northern Dateline (see Possible Northern Dateline Gale below).
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.
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.
Another gale developed Thurs AM (10/31) mid-way between North Japan and the dateline with pressure 988 mbs producing west winds over a small area at 45 kts and seas building from 30 ft at 39N 163E (306 degs HI, 296 degs NCal). In the evening 45 kts west winds held with the gale tracking east with seas building to 36 ft over a small area at 40N 172E (312 degs HI, 295 degs NCal). The gale started lifting northeast on Fri AM (11/1) with winds building in coverage still at 45 kts out of the west but still getting decent traction on the oceans surface with seas reaching 41 ft at 44N 178E (322 degs HI, 298 degs NCal). In the evening the gale moved north to the Eastern Aleutians with 40-45 kt west fetch holding just south of there with seas dropping from 37 ft at 48N 174W bypassing any route to Hawaii and aimed somewhat up the 303 degs path to Central CA. By Sat AM (11/2) residual 35 kt west winds held just barely clear of the Eastern Aleutians with seas fading from 32 ft up at 52N 170W (307 degs NCal). This system is to be gone by evening.
For the most part all this systems swell energy was targeting the US West Coast and bypassing Hawaii. The down-side is it was a small system relative to the US west coast and a long ways away. Only modest mid-period swell is expected for Hawaii and smallish longer period energy possible for the US West Coast.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Sun (11/3) with swell building to 3.3 ft @ 17 sec late (5.5-6.0 ft). Swell to continue on Monday (11/4) fading from 3.3 ft @ 14-15 secs early (4.5-5.0 ft) and down to 3 ft @ 13 sec late (4 ft). Swell Direction: 310 degrees
North CA: expect swell arrival late on Mon (11/4) with pure swell possibly to 5.0 ft @ 20 secs late (10 ft) but that is likely optimistic. Swell to continue Tuesday (11/5) at 5.5 ft @ 17 secs (9.0-9.5 ft). Residuals on Wednesday fading from 5.0 ft @ 14 secs (7 ft). Swell Direction: 298-304 degrees
Possible North Dateline Gale
One more gale is forecast developing west of the dateline on Tues AM (11/5) with a decent fetch of 45 kt northwest winds developing in it's west quadrant while lifting northeast getting less than optimal traction on the oceans surface and targeting Hawaii decently. Seas building from 22 ft near 44N170E. In the evening the storm is to lift hard north with 45-50 kt northwest winds barely clear south of the Western Aleutians generating 32 ft seas at 48N 172E (326 degs HI and 306 degs NCal). By Wed AM (11/6) 40 kt fetch is to be lifting fast north with the core of the storm in the Bering Sea. 36 ft seas are forecast at 51N 178E targeting Hawaii (332 degs) and the US West Coast (307 degs). By evening this system is to be all in the Bering Sea. Some small northwest swell is possible for hawaii and less for the US West Coast. Will monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked. On Sunday AM (11/3) Typhoon Krosa was stalled 130 nmiles southeast of Hong Kong China with winds 80 kts. Krosa is expected to fall southwest with winds gradually fading making landfall late Monday (11/4) over Vietnam, down to tropical storm force then. No swell to result for our forecast area.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (11/3) high pressure at 1032 mbs was centered 700 nmiles off the North CA coast and ridging into the Central CA coast generating a pressure gradient and north winds at 25 kts over outer water off most of North and Central CA and 20 kts nearshore. The gradient is to build some Monday AM at 30 kts out of the north, then down to 25 kts late fading from 20 kts early Tuesday falling to 15 kts late and then light from the north-northeast at 10 kts early Wednesday. A local low is forecast forming off Washington Thursday keeping winds light over CA, then high pressure rebuilds Friday pushing towards CA with north winds 15-20 kts over all of North and Central CA. More of the same Saturday while a new low builds off the Northwest on Sunday with winds fading to near calm them. Southern CA to remain protected.
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 weak cut off low is forecast forming in the Southern Gulf of Alaska Wed Am (11/6) with a tiny area of 45 kt north winds targeting midway between Hawaii and the US West Coast. Seas forecast to 26 ft at 41N 145W. The gale to fall south in the evening with winds still 40 kts and seas 26 ft at 38N 145W. The gale to be gone Thurs AM (11/7) with seas fading from 24 ft at 35N 145W. Maybe some sideband swell to result for the Northeast side of the Islands over the early weekend.
Another cutoff low to form off British Columbia on Sat (11/9) with 35 kt north winds and 20 ft seas late near 48N 140W. On Sunday (11/10) the gale to fall south and build some in coverage with north winds still 35 kts and seas 20 ft near 45N 139W. More development possible. This is something to monitor, mainly for the US West Coast.
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 Sunday (11/3) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up some to 4.39. The 30 day average was up to -1.57 and the 90 day average up to 1.14. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of a neutral to slightly Inactive Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was near neutral and holding. 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 almost slightly easterly near the dateline holding to a point south of Hawaii, then neutral from there into Central America. A week from now (11/11) modest or more east anomalies are forecast building over the Maritime Continent turning light east over the dateline, then turning neutral south of Hawaiian and holding into Central America. In all this suggests the Active Phase of the MJO is all but over and fading while a modest Inactive Phase sets up over the West Pacific a week out. This will cut the legs out of the storm track if it happens.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 11/2 are in-sync. Both models suggest a modest Inactive pattern was peaking over the West Pacific today, with the dynamic model suggesting the Inactive Phase to be fading 5 days out and the statistic model having it remain moderately strong. From there the dynamic model is more aggressive than the statistical model regarding the decline of the Inactive Phase, with it all but gone 10 days out rebounding barely at 15 days while the statistic model suggests the Inactive Phase is to steadily decline over the next 15 days but not completely out.The ultra long range upper level model updated on 11/3 suggests the Inactive Phase has already peaked in the west and is to track over the mid-Pacific and move out of the East Pacific by 11/18. At that time a nearly imperceptible pulse of the Active Phase is forecast developing over the far West Pacific 11/23 and never get any legs, gone by 12/8 with a new Inactive Phase building in the west. Overall MJO signal is weak but now possibly back to favoring the Inactive 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 (10/31) 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 cover the equator from Central America to the Philippines with just a few small pockets of slightly cooler water mainly south of Hawaii. If anything a weak tongue of warmer than normal water is in the East Pacific at 2N extending west from Ecuador to 120W, starting developing about mid October. This is interesting and signals the strength of the current Active Phase of the MJO. Slightly cooler water is just off the coast of Peru. 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. And even that neutral pattern is just a month old (starting late Sept), with any effect on the atmosphere probably 3 months from developing (mid-Dec).
Subsurface waters temps on the equator indicate a pocket of warm water 2 degs C above normal is down at 150 meters and moving from just west of the dateline (170E) to the dateline (180W) and now to 165W and tracking east. And warm subsurface waters are in-place 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 11/3 have backed off. 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 neutral in the Nino region 3.4 and slowly building to near +0.2 deg C by April 2014 and up to +0.3 C by July. This would suggest weak warming, but nothing suggestive of EI Nino 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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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