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 Tuesday (11/9) North and Central California was getting new Gulf swell with waves in the 2-3 ft overhead range and improving conditions though still a little lump circulating through the surf zone. Southern California was getting limited wrap-around energy from this one with waves waist high up north with a few bigger sets at top spots and pretty good texture on it from northerly winds. Down south sets were pushing chest high and textured but not as bad as up north. Hawaii's North Shore was getting sideband background northwest windswell from the dateline region with waves chest high and clean with east trades in effect. The East Shore was getting locally generated east tradewind windswell at shoulder high and chopped. The South Shore was asleep for the winter with waves 2 ft or less.
The forecast for North and Central CA for Wednesday is for more of this same with waves 7.5 ft with local windswell on top. New swell is expected in after sunset peaking overnight and down to 10 ft Thursday sunrise from with some local windswell on top. Friday things settle down more with waves 7.0 ft. Theoretically new swell is expected in for Saturday at 10 ft+ from the north then fading to 8 ft on Sunday. Southern California is to see Gulf swell fading from waist to chest high Wednesday. New swell expected in for Thursday at head high to 1 ft overhead at exposed breaks fading from waist to chest high early Friday. Saturday possible head high north swell at exposed breaks fading from chest high Sunday AM. The North Shore of Oahu is to see waist high leftover northwest swell left on Wednesday and about the same Thursday. Another sideband pulse of northwest swell arrives early Friday at chest high fading from thigh high Saturday. Possible longer period datelines well arrives on Sunday building to 10 ft on the face. The East Shore is to see east windswell at chest high Wednesday through Friday then bumping up to head high for the weekend. The South Shore is effectively asleep for the winter.
A small gale developed just west of the dateline Sunday (11/7) with 45-50 kt west winds over a small fetch aimed well towards the US West Coast with seas building to 30 ft on Monday AM and 32 ft in the evening, then fading Tuesday with winds down to 35 kts and seas 25 ft pushing directly into Southern Oregon Wednesday AM. Swell for CA expected arriving after late Wednesday into Thursday (11/7). One more small gale is forecast forming north of Hawaii on Tuesday (11/9) wrapping up while tracking hard northeast with 50 kt west winds on Wednesday in the Northern Gulf of Alaska moving inland over Northern Canada later Thursday with 30 ft seas forecast up there, pushing mainly into Canada with sideband energy possibly tracking south to Central CA for the weekend. And yet one more gale is forecast forming off North Japan on Wednesday (11/10) tracking east-southeast with winds initially 45 kts fading to 40 kts and then 35 kts with seas in the 36 ft range, reaching the dateline late Friday and rapidly disintegrating with seas fading from 30 ft there. Perhaps some decent sized longer period west swell for Hawaii late in the weekend if all develops as forecast but just utility class swell for the US West Coast 2 days beyond, but well groomed. More swell for all, but nothing in the significant class category except for maybe the last dateline swell forecast for Hawaii.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (12/9) a decently organized jetstream flow continued over the North Pacific ridging mildly northeast off Japan with winds to 180 kts (over Japan itself), then fading some then tracking flat over the dateline an loosing energy only to rebuild some while falling into extreme Northern CA with winds 130 kts in a trough over the Pacific Northwest. Reasonable support for gale development in the trough of the US West coast and then again over Japan. Over the next 72 hours the Trough off Japan is to get slightly better organized but still pushing northeast with winds to 180 kts on Wednesday, fading some but then getting better organized falling southeast Thurs-Friday with winds to 190 kts, then stalling on the dateline. This trough to provide good support for surface level gale development. Also a small northeast lifting trough is forecast developing in the Western Gulf on Wednesday (11/10) with 140 kt winds feeding into it tracking fast to the east and moving into Northern Canada on late Thursday. Reasonable support for gale development there. Beyond 72 hours some degree of a trough is to persist on the dateline inching east through the weekend and almost pinching off on Tuesday (11/16). Limited odds for gale development there. Otherwise a large strong ridge is to take hold of over the Eastern Pacific suggesting only high pressure there.
At the surface on Tuesday (11/9) a weak gale was pushing into Oregon with a front pushing southeast over Northern CA (see Gulf Gale below). It has generated swell that is pushing towards the coast. Weak high pressure was 800 nmiles west of Southern CA settling up a mild pressure gradient and north winds at 25 kts over the outer Channel Islands. Otherwise a new low was building 900 nmiles north of Hawaii (see North Moving Gale below). Over the next 72 hours yet a third gale is forecast building over Japan tracking east targeting Hawaii (see Japan Gale below). In all a fair amount of swell generation potential exists, all in the utility class range other than the Japan Gale relative to Hawaii.
A small low started to wrap up on the dateline on Saturday (11/6) and by Sunday AM pressure was down to 976 mbs and winds building to 45 kts over a small area aimed due east at 44N 172W. Seas were on the increase from 20 ft. Winds were aimed about 60 degrees east of the 336 degree path to Hawaii but right up the 296 degree path to Central CA. This gale tracked east Sunday evening (11/7) with winds up to 50 kts at 47N 165W mostly bypassing the 347 degree path to Hawaii and aimed more directly up the 300 degree path to Central CA. Seas built to 23 ft at 45N 170W (296 NCal) but that seems low. 50 kt west winds held into Monday AM (11/8) at 47N 160W with seas at 30 ft at 47N 160W (300 Central CA) then fading as the gale pushes almost southeast. 35 kt west winds were indicated at 46N 147W with seas building to 32 ft (from previous fetch) at 46N 152W (301 degrees NCal). By Tuesday AM (11/9) fetch was fading from 35 kts at 45N 135W with seas fading from 25 ft at 45N 145W (305 degrees NCal). The gale is to push into Oregon late on Tuesday evening.
This gale is nothing of notice for a usual winter, but with this being a La Nina season, were tending to watch everything and search for any hint of swell. At that, minimal sideband windswell is possible for Hawaii on Thursday (11/11) at 4 ft @ 11 secs (4.5 ft faces) from 330 degrees.
Larger northwest swell is expected for the US West coast pushing into Central CA after sunset on Wednesday (11/10) peaking overnight at 8.3 ft @ 16 secs (13-14 ft) then fading from 7.1 ft @ 14 secs on Thurs AM (11/11) but shadowed in the SF Bay area at 302 degrees.
North Moving Gale
Another gale was developing just 900 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii Tuesday AM (11/9) with 35 north winds trying to take root aimed at Hawaii at 38N 167W aimed down the 334 degree path to the Islands. The core of the gale is to be lifting northeast in the evening with 45 kt northwest winds continuing up at 40N 160W (356 degs HI) with seas to maybe 19 ft. Relative to Hawaii the gale is to disintegrate while racing north with 45 kt west winds at 48N 153W (307 degs NCal) Wednesday AM and not stable until Wednesday PM (11/10) with 50+ kt west winds way up at 51N 150W (310 degrees NCal) with seas to 28 ft at 50N 150W (310 NCal) and on the increase. 40 kt west winds to persist Thursday AM (11/11) at 53N 150W with 30 ft seas at 50N 145W pushing 30 degrees east of the 315 degree path to NCal and then moving out of the swell window aimed at Alaska.
Small swell possible pushing towards Central CA for the early weekend with most side heading well north of there towards the Pacific Northwest.
Also the models depict another gale pushing east of Northern Japan on Wednesday AM (11/10) with 45 kt west winds near 43N 153E and tracking almost flat east. A broader area of 45 kt west winds to hold in the evening at 43N 157W pushing right down the 310 degree path to Hawaii and too far away to have any real effect relative to the US mainland. 34 ft seas forecast at 43N 159E. On Thursday AM (11/11) 40 west northwest winds to be positioned at 40N 162E (308 Hawaii) with 36 ft seas at 42n 165E and turning even more northwesterly in the evening and totally cutting off any energy to the US West coast in the evening. 40kt northwest winds to be at 38N 166E (306 HI) with 34 ft seas at 39N 168W. Fetch is to be down to 35 kts reaching almost to the dateline on Friday AM (11/12) with seas 34 ft at 37N 1`71E before effectively fading out in the evening with residual 35 kt northwest winds on the dateline at 35N 180W (310 deg HI) and seas dropping from 32 ft at 35N 177E.
In general this is to be your standard small little winter time dateline class gale providing about 48 hours of 40-45 kt fetch and seas in the 30-34 ft range. Most energy is to be aimed well at the Hawaiian Islands, possible providing the first real taste of direct small but significant class energy of the season for there. 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 Tuesday (11/9) northwest winds from Monday were backing off as low pressure was pushing into the Pacific Northwest sending a weak front south. That front was producing rain over Northern CA and expected to push south into maybe Monterey Bay by early Wednesday AM. But all the while a large and strong high pressure system is to be building behind it to 1036 mbs, with 15 kt northwest winds building into nearshore waters pushing to near 25 kts near Pt Conception in the afternoon and continuing in some fashion into early Thursday AM. There's some suggestions of a northeast flow taking root Thursday mid-morning south of Pt Reyes, then perhaps returning Friday AM, but just as likely turning into a north wind event at 20 kts as a new pressure gradient builds over Pt Arena. Nearshore winds issues are to likely be short lived though the gradient itself is to hold for quite a while over Cape Mendocino with up to 30 kt north winds there Saturday through Tuesday (11/16). Nearhshore a light if not offshore flow currently seems possible from Pt Reyes northwards and building north into the early week.
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 yet one more modest gale is to track fast off the Kuril Islands then stall on the dateline as it hit's an impenetrable wall of high pressure over the Eastern Pacific generating 35-40 kt northwest winds there Sun-Mon (11/15) possibly generating 22 ft seas at 40N 178W (318 degs Hawaii). Perhaps some small 13 sec period swell to result for Hawaii. All the while high pressure at 1036 mbs is to take up residence in the Central Gulf of Alaska Monday (11/15) and beyond pretty much shutting the rain, snow and swell production machine down there.
See the official El Nino/La Nina Forecast using the link posted below.
As of Tuesday (11/9) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was falling slightly. The daily SOI was down to 7.12. The 30 day average was down to 16.18 with the 90 day average down some to 20.97. Still-overall averages were quite high through down from the peak in October.
Wind anomalies as of Monday (11/8) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models continued to indicate a slightly improved pattern with weak easterly anomalies over the far Tropical Eastern Pacific suggesting a fading Inactive Phase there and a renewed and building area of westerly anomalies over the eastern 50% of the tropical Indian Ocean pushing over the Philippines almost reaching the dateline. This is surprisingly indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO and is good for supporting gale formation in the Northern Pacific. Per the models this Active Phase is to push a little more east then stall on the dateline on 11/13, then decay there into 11/18 before slowly dissipating and moving east with remnants off Central America through 11.28. This is an upgrade from previous model runs and a pleasant surprise. The models have shown this area fully dissipated almost a week ago, only to reappear as of the past few updates. This suggests it was always there and instead there was an anomaly in the historical wind record. Regardless of what caused the error, the fact that westerly anomalies persist is a good thing in that it support the formation of low pressure if not gales in the North Pacific, at least for another week or so.
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
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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
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table