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 (11/4) North and Central California was getting leftover energy from Storm #1 with waves 2-3 ft overhead and clean. Southern California was getting more energy from Swell #1 with waves chest to head high up north with light to slightly offshore winds and good conditions. Down south sets were head high and lined up with pristine local conditions. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more follow on energy from Storm #1 with waves double overhead and a foot or two more and a bit warbled and stormy with trades brisk from the northeast. The East Shore was seeing wrap around energy coming from the north-northwest at 3 ft overhead and chopped by trades. The South Shore was asleep for the winter with waves 2 ft or less.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for swell fading from 7 ft (faces) on Friday. Swell to continue on Saturday at 8 ft dropping to 5.5 ft on Sunday. Possible new swell expected in for Monday at 8.5 ft holding at 8 ft on Tuesday. Certainly a fair amount of rideable surf expected. Southern California is to see chest high energy from Swell #1 on Friday and more chest high swell possible for Saturday fading from waist high plus early Sunday into Monday. New swell pushes surf to chest high on Monday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see fading energy from Swell #1 at 9-10 ft Friday. Head high or so leftovers expected on Saturday and maybe waist high on Sunday New swell expected in on Monday at maybe 8 ft on the face but fading fast from shoulder high Tuesday AM. The East Shore is to start seeing east windswell on Friday at chest high building to head high Saturday holding through Monday then easing off some but not out. The South Shore is effectively asleep for the winter.
Residual swell from a large strong storm that tracked through the Gulf of Alaska on Sat/Sun (10/31) generating 55 kt west winds and seas in the 40-47 ft range is to continue filtering into Hawaii and the US West Coast though way down from it's peak. Lingering winds associated with a secondary fetch from this system was north of Hawaii Tuesday resulting in 30 kt northwest winds and 24 ft seas, which should produce windswell for late week into the weekend along north facing shores of Hawaii on into the US West Coast. Also another gale was building over the dateline Thursday (11/4) expected to push into the Gulf on Saturday (11/6) resulting in 30-35 kt west winds and 24-26 ft seas, likely good for a little more swell along the US West Coast and Hawaii by Monday. Beyond another small gale is forecast forming on the dateline Sunday (11/7) with 28-30 ft seas, then fading while tracking east and effectively gone well off Washington on Tuesday (11/9). Small swell for Hawaii and the US West Coast mid-week. And yet one more small gale is forecast forming off the North Japan on Wednesday (11/10) tracking flat east with seas in the 28 ft range, reaching the dateline on Friday. Maybe some small swell for Hawaii if all develops as forecast.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (12/4) a energetic consolidated jetstream flow was tracking from Japan steadily northeast reaching into the Northern Gulf of Alaska, then falling hard south into a steep pinched trough 900 nmiles off of Central CA, then ridging hard north up into British Columbia. Winds were in the 130 kts range over the entire length of the jet, which wasn't too bad, but there were not real trough supportive of gale development. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold with the trough pushing into Central CA on Saturday while a bit of a new trough tried to build in the Northern Gulf and a secondary trough builds just west of the dateline. Both are to east east but winds are to not exceed 130 feeding those troughs, and in general the overall energy of the jet is to diminish some through Sunday (11/7). Beyond 72 hours more energy is to be building over Japan streaming east to the dateline with winds 150 kts and a bit of a trough setting up there offering improved odds for surface level gale development while in the east a bit of a mild ridge pattern is to set up falling from the northern Gulf down into Oregon. the dateline looks like the best place to support gale development long term (which favors Hawaii).
At the surface on Thursday (11/4) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was pancaked from the dateline east to about mid-way between Hawaii and the US West coast. Remnants of a gale were in the extreme Northern Gulf of Alaska setting up 25 kt west fetch there aimed at the Canadian coast and of no real interest to our forecast area. A second gale was circulating over the Western Aleutian Islands with 35 kts fetch extending south of there at 48N 174E resulting in 26 ft seas at 46N 167E. This system is likely to generate some swell for days ahead. Over the next 72 hours this gale is to build a little Thursday evening with winds 40 kts on the dateline at 50N 178W with 23 ft seas at 47N 174E. Seas building to 28 ft Friday AM at 48N 172W then down to 35 kts tracking steadily east-southeast and slowly decaying, reaching the Central Gulf of Alaska on Saturday AM (11/6) with winds down to 30 kts and seas faded to 23 ft at 45N 150W. Some degree of limited 13-14 sec period swell is likely for Hawaii on Monday (11/8) with 13 sec period energy into California up into Oregon Monday too.
Remnant low pressure from Storm #1 tried to reorganize north of Hawaii in a highly energetic trough in the upper levels of the atmosphere. It generated a fetch of 30 kt northwest winds at 35N 160W aimed at Hawaii resulting in 24 ft seas there, good for more semi-swell for the days ahead. This low rapidly wrapped up and lifted fast to the north producing 35 kt north winds but moving to the north just as fast, having little swell production potential. Wednesday evening it was to be in the northeastern Gulf of Alaska with 45 kt northwest winds for 6 hours before moving inland over Alaska. Limited reinforcing windswell is already hitting Hawaii and expected into Central California on Saturday (11/6) but unremarkable.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (11/4) a near neutral pressure pattern was in control of the US West Coast with light winds on control, though low pressure was encroaching on the Pacific Northwest with south winds expected momentarily. A light wind regime to hold through Friday, then perhaps a weak low is to set up off Pt Conception on Saturday with 10-15 kt south winds along the coast there also pushing up into Southern CA. It's to move inland fast but another weak low is to form in the same place Sunday (11/7) with south winds for all of Central CA and rain over the coast pushing down to from Pt Conception late. By Monday (11/8) high pressure is to get a foothold between Hawaii and CA with increased north winds at 15+ kts forecast along the entire Central and North coasts backing off some Tuesday as low pressure pushes into the Pacific Northwest, only to rebuild with a vengeance on Wednesday with 25 kt north winds nearshore from Pt Conception northward holding into Thursday.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was occurring. 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 low is to try and wrap up on the dateline on
Saturday (11/6) with pressure 980 mbs in the evening and winds building
to 55 kts at 43N 180W. Winds to hold at near 50 kts Sunday AM at 42N
160W aimed well at Hawaii down the 331 degree path but 40 degrees south
of the 292 degree path into Central CA. Seas building to 28 ft at 42n 174W but that might be a little low. The gale is to track east while fading some with winds down to 40 kts in the evening at 43N 162W mostly bypassing Hawaii and aimed more directly up the 292 degree path to Central CA. Seas holding at 29 ft at 43N 166W. 35-40 kt west winds to hold into Monday AM (11/8) at 44N 155W with seas at 27 ft at 44N 160W (295 Central CA) then fading fast as the gale itself disintegrates. Possible swell to result for Hawaii with lesser energy for the US West coast if all goes as modeled. Will monitor.
Another far broader gale is forecast developing west of the dateline on Wed (11/10) with a larger swatch of 35 west winds and easing to the east, but blocked by what is to be a concentrated area of high pressure building off Northern CA and ridging up into Canada into Friday (11/12) building brisk north winds along the CA coast. No other swell producing fetch is projected.
See the official El Nino/La Nina Forecast using the link posted below.
As of Thursday (11/4) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was falling slightly. The daily SOI was down to 11.13. The 30 day average was down to 17.93 with the 90 day average effectively steady at 21.52.
Wind anomalies as of Wednesday (11/3) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated that no MJO signal was present. Neutral winds were in control of the entire Tropical Pacific signaling neither the Active or inactive Phase. A totally neutral wind pattern forecast and holding through 11/23.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (11/4) continues to indicate that downright colder than normal waters (-2 C degs or cooler) had a stable grip on the equator covering solidly from South America west to the dateline and beyond, but are not getting any colder nor covering a larger area. 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 also were building off the US West Coast sweeping fully to the intersection of the dateline and the equator, 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).
A moderate plus strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) is expected 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.
Need Chiropractic Help? Visit our friends at Darrow Chiropractic. Not only will Dr. Darrow fix you up, he might give you some big wave surfing tips too! See more here: http://www.darrowchiropractic.com/
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!
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table