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 Tuesday (11/5) North and Central CA surf was near double overhead on the sets and well lined, but with long waits between sets and a bit of warble in the mix even though local wind was calm and surface conditions were clean. Down in Santa Cruz surf was 2 ft overhead and clean. In Southern California up north surf was waist high and lined up but textured with sideshore winds blowing. Down south waves were waist high or so and lined up but with a building northwest texture on it. Hawaii's North Shore had residual dateline swell with waves head high to 1 ft overhead and clean with a little sideshore warble driven by east-northeast trades. 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 compact gale that tracked northeast from the dateline region Fri-Sat (11/1) with seas in the 37-41 ft range over a small area was hitting California. A tiny and weak system developed in the Northern Gulf on Mon (11/4) with 20-24 ft seas pushing small swell towards mainly the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Another gale is to form over the Northern Dateline Tues-Wed (11/6) with 38 ft seas now forecast aimed mainly east. A cutoff low is forecast just off Washington on Thurs (11/7) with 26 ft seas but mostly out of even the NCal swell window. And yet another small gale might develop in the Eastern Gulf tracking southeast on Fri (11/8) with 20-2233 ft seas. But strong high pressure is the name of the game for the dateline region by next week.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Tuesday (11/5) the jet was tracking flat off Southern Japan down at 35N then lifting hard north forming a trough east of Kamchatka with 140 kt winds flowing up into it on up into the Bering Sea providing good support for gale development there. East of there the jet tracked back southeast through the Bering Sea falling barely in to the Northeast Gulf of Alaska with winds again 140 kts forming a small trough providing some support for gale development. Over the next 72 the Kamchatka trough is to quickly track up into the Bering Sea and dissipate with the trough in the Northern Gulf developing slightly and pushing into British Columbia on Thurs (11/7). Minimal support for gale development possible in this trough. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to be tracking northeast off the Kuril Islands ridging into the Bering Sea near the dateline late Fri (11/8) with more weak troughiness in the Eastern Gulf and the pattern getting only more ingrained through the weekend into Monday (11/11) with 150 kt winds driving up into the dateline ridge making it bullet proof with residual winds falling south through the Gulf of Alaska. Later Tuesday up to 130 kt winds to be falling into the Eastern Gulf carving out a pretty good trough offering some support for gale development. This to be the only hope for the North Pacific.
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (11/5) energetic swell from the Dateline Gale (below) was hitting the US West Coast providing well ridable surf but with not optimal local conditions. Swell from a smaller gale previously in the Gulf was pushing southeast too. A new gale was developing over the Northern Dateline too (see Possible North Dateline Storm below). Over the next 72 hours another tiny gale is forecast developing off Washington on Thurs AM (11/7) with 40 kt northwest winds and 26 ft seas at 47N 130W outside of the NCal swell window, through some energy might wrap in. By evening it's to be inland over North Oregon. By Friday AM (11/8) residual energy from the North Dateline Storm is to fall into the Gulf of Alaska possibly generating 30 kt northwest winds and 22 ft seas at 52N 148W (315 degs NCal). Fetch is to fall southeast in the evening while fading with 22 ft seas at 51N 141W (319 degs NCal). The gale to fade after that. Maybe some more small swell to result for the US West Coast.
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.
North CA: Residuals on Wednesday fading from 5.0 ft @ 14 secs (7 ft). Swell Direction: 298-304 degrees
Small Gulf Gale
A tiny gale developed 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 built with seas 24 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 were fading from 20 ft in the evening at 51N 144W (312 degs NCal).
NCal: Small 14 sec period swell to result for the US West coast late on Thurs (11/7) to 3 ft @ 14 secs (4 ft). Swell to be fading Fri AM from 4.2 ft @ 12-13 secs (5 ft). Swell Direction: 308 degrees.
Possible North Dateline Storm
One more gale was 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 24 ft near 45N 165E. In the evening the storm is to lift north with stronger than previous expected winds at 50-55 kts from the northwest 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) 40-45 kt fetch is to be lifting fast north with the core of the storm in the Bering Sea. 39 ft seas are forecast at 51N 178E targeting Hawaii (332 degs) with sideband energy and more direct energy at the US West Coast (307 degs). By evening this system is to be all in the Bering Sea with residual seas 32 ft at 50N 174W (306 degs NCal).
Some small northwest swell is possible for Hawaii and bigger but less consistent energy for the US West Coast. Will monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Tuesday AM (11/5) Typhoon Haiyan was 1100 nmiles east if the Southern Philippines with winds 80 kts tracking just north of due west. Haiyan is to build reaching 130 kts on Thurs AM (11/7) 300 nmiles east of the Central Philippines tracking just north of due west, then pushing over land there 24 hours later. This would be a significant hit for that nation if this forecast were to develop. The storm is to continue west-northwest eventually hitting Central Vietnam later Sun (11/10). No swell to result for our forecast area.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (11/5) high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered 600 nmiles west of Central CA and was ridging slightly into the Central CA coast generating a weak pressure gradient and north winds at 15 kts over outer waters off Central CA and less elsewhere. The gradient is to fade by Wed AM with a light northeast flow in effect. A local low is forecast forming off Washington Thursday keeping winds light over CA, then weak high pressure rebuilds Friday pushing towards CA with north winds to 15 kts over all of North and Central CA by late morning. Lighter north winds are forecast Saturday while a new low builds off the Northwest on Sunday with winds fading to near calm then if not light south. Light rain possible for North CA late afternoon. Southern CA to remain protected. South winds to build Monday AM (11/11) as low pressure builds off the US West Coast. Rain down to Monterey Bay late. The low to lift northwest on Tuesday with a lighter south flow and clearing conditions possible.
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 another gale is to form in the Gulf of Alaska on Mon (11/11) with 30-35 kt north winds and 20-24 ft seas Tuesday AM (11/12) at 42N 150W aimed midway between Hawaii and the US West Coast then dissipating. Some small swell possible for both locations.
But of most concern is strong high pressure forecast forming over the dateline to 1048 mbs on Sun PM (11/10) totally blocking the prime storm corridor through the North Pacific.
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 (11/5) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down some at -3.76. The 30 day average was down some at -1.80 and the 90 day average up to 1.59. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of a neutral 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 east anomalies over the Western Maritime Continent (except near Haiyan) turning neutral on the dateline and continuing unchanged from a point south of Hawaii into Central America. A week from now (11/13) modest or more east anomalies are forecast building over the Maritime Continent holding easterly over the dateline, continuing south of Hawaiian and halfway to 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. Other models (GFS) are now picking up on this change too.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 11/4 are in-sync. Both models suggest a modest Inactive pattern was peaking over the West Pacific, 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 gone 10 days out and holding 15 days from now while the statistic model suggests the Inactive Phase is to steadily decline over the next 15 days but not completely out.We tend to agree with the statistic model. The ultra long range upper level model updated on 11/5 suggests the Inactive Phase has already peaked and is tracking over the east-Pacific and is to be gone by 11/15. As of now a nearly imperceptible pulse of the Active Phase is supposedly developing over the far West Pacific and is to hold, never getting any legs through 12/5. At that time a new Inactive Phase builds in the west but never does anything. Overall the MJO signal is weak but is 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 (11/4) a neutral water temp pattern covers the equator from Central America to the Philippines. If anything a weak tongue of warmer than normal water is over the East Pacific at 2N extending west from Ecuador to 130W, and started developing about mid October. This is interesting and signals a slight return of the Active Phase of the MJO (or at least a demise of the Inactive Phase). Slightly cool water is just off the coast of Peru. Water temps off West Africa remain slightly warm. The North Pacific plume of slightly cooler than normal water tracking southwest to the equator driven by high pressure off California remains modest. 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 155W 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 an eastward moving Kelvin Wave is in-flight.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 11/4 have backed off. The model previously had 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 +0.5 C by July. This would suggest weak warming, but nothing suggestive of El 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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Updated - Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Tuesday (11/5) - http://youtu.be/hhy-QUyYN8c Subscribe to the Stormsurf001 YouTube channel for automatic notifications of updates - just click the 'Subscrib'e 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