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.
On Tuesday (11/10) North and Central California was still getting swell from Storm #2 with waves in the 1-2 ft overhead range with a few bigger ones on occasion. But most of it was officially just windswell now with period below 13 secs. Light winds were in-play making for clean conditions. Southern California was still getting a little wrap-around energy from this storm too with better spots seeing waves at waist high with rare sets to chest high and reasonably clean even later. Hawaii's North Shore was fading out with residual north windswell at maybe waist high and a bit chunky with north-northeast winds in effect. The East Shore was also getting some of this northerly windswell with waves waist high at exposed breaks with northeast wind and chopped. The South Shore was getting minimal southern hemi background swell with waves thigh to maybe waist high and clean.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for the current swell to get reinforced by more weak energy coming out of the northeastern Gulf, resulting in windswell and waves holding at 1-2 ft overhead through Thursday, then head high Friday and chest high by Saturday. Southern California is to see some small portion of this reinforcing Gulf Swell too with surf waist high Wednesday and Thursday dropping to thigh high Friday and knee high on Saturday. The North Shore of Hawaii is to see head high northeast windswell on Wednesday pushing near double overhead on Thursday then down to 3 ft overhead on Friday then dropping out with all energy turning to the east. The East Shore is to be the focus over the weekend with windswell 3-4 ft overhead Saturday and down a little on Sunday. The South Shore is see another small pulse of southern hemi background swell starting late on Wed (11/11) at knee to thigh high and holding into Thursday then fading out.
Longterm the MJO has moved into the Inactive Phase over the Pacific suggesting a downward surf trend into Thanksgiving. A weak gale is forecast for the Northeastern Gulf on Friday but mostly outside the CA swell window. Maybe a little push of northerly small swell for CA for Sunday. And a bit larger one is forecast in the extreme northern Gulf on late Saturday with decent seas but still on the very eastern edge of the CA swell window and if anything, mostly outside of it. Weaker energy is forecast further south in the Gulf early next week, providing some better swell opportunity, but that is far from certain.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (11/10) the North Pacific jetstream was tracking northeast from Northern Japan north of the Aleutians and well into the Bering Sea, totally shadowed behind the Aleutians Islands. It finally dipped south int the Gulf of Alaska just barely off the Canadian Coast forming a bit of a backdoor trough off British Columbia, before pushing inland over Southern Oregon. No real support for gale development was indicated. Over the next 72 hrs that same pattern is to hold, but with the general flow drifting south and finally tracking directly over the Aleutians on Friday (11/13) with the trough in the gulf disappearing. Basically a flat flow tracking over the Aleutians and into Southern British Columbia. Winds to 130 kts in pockets but not clear support for gale development suggested. Beyond 72 hours a better looking jetstream flow is forecast with 190 kts on the dateline and driving southeast into the Gulf late Sunday (11/15) forming a nice trough in the Gulf Monday and offering decent support for gale development. That trough is to hold into mid-week with a long train of 130-140 kt energy snaking off Japan and drifting south of the Aleutians. Maybe something better in the weeks ahead, but nothing immediately obvious.
At the surface on Tuesday (11/10) high pressure at 1036 mbs was tracking east from the dateline pretty much taking over the core of the North Pacific. Weak low pressure was trying to hold on in the northeastern Gulf of Alaska, but to no avail. The only fetch of interest was an area of northeast winds at 20-25 kts located 500 nmiles north of Hawaii and associated with the high pressure system. Only windswell resulting. Over the next 72 hours swell from a weak gale that had barely 35 kt northwest winds in the Gulf on Monday (11/9) generating a small area of 20 ft seas at 47N 145W aimed at the Pacific Northwest is to result in small reinforcing 12 sec period windswell arriving in Central CA late On Wed (11/11). Otherwise high pressure just east of the dateline is to hold at 1036 mbs into Thursday (11/12) generating northeast winds at 30-35 kts 300 nmiles north of Hawaii offering good potential for 10-11 sec period east to northeasterly windswell with some size along east facing shores for the weekend. But by Friday the bulk of this fetch is east of the Islands at 20-25 kts generating only pure east short period windswell pushing into East Shores there.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (11/10) a light winds flow was in effect over all of California making for reasonably clean conditions. Building high pressure is expected off the coast Wednesday (11/11) starting to generating a light northerly flow amplifying Thursday with north winds to 15-20 kts everywhere but Southern CA and a chopped mess likely. This is to hold Friday and Saturday with only Cape Mendocino and Southern CA being spared. Finally on Saturday the high is to break up and low pressure builds in the Gulf with cleaner conditions expected into Sunday and Monday (11/16). A front and south winds might actually push south from the Gulf early next into Northern Ca and even tickling Central CA.
With the MJO moving into the Inactive Phase, net tropical activity is heading down and expected to stay there through 11/20.
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.
At the surface on Sunday (11/8) a small gale was forming under New Zealand producing a tiny fetch of 40 kt southwest winds aimed well at Hawaii from 55S 175E and tracking northeast while fading resulting in up to a tiny area of 25 ft seas at 50S 178E in the evening. This is to regenerate on Monday with more 40 kts southwest winds at 47S 173W resulting in possibly 30 ft seas at 45S 173W. Hawaii to possibly see some more background southern hemi swell if this comes to pass.
And yet another similar gale is forecast under New Zealand on Wed (11/11) with 29 ft seas.
Another New Zealand Gale
Third New Zealand Gale
Another weak gale pushed under New Zealand on Monday AM (11/2) generating 28 ft seas at 55S 170E aimed a bit to the northeast. Fetch faded through the day with 26 ft seas at 55S 174E then dissipating Limited background swell for Hawaii is possible starting roughly Wednesday (11/11).
On Sunday (11/8) a small gale was forming under New Zealand producing a tiny fetch of 40 kt southwest winds aimed well at Hawaii from 55S 175E and tracking northeast while fading resulting in up to a tiny area of 25 ft seas at 50S 178E in the evening. This system regenerated on Monday with more 40 kts southwest winds at 47S 173W resulting in 26 ft seas at 45S 173W. Hawaii to possibly see some more background southern hemi swell starting Mon (11/16) at 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces) building to 2 ft @ 14 secs on Tuesday (3 ft faces) from 195 degrees.
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 the models suggest high pressure is to ease allowing a little more room for lower pressure to take root in the Gulf of Alaska. A small storm is forecast on Saturday in the northeastern corner of the Gulf with up to 55 kt northwest winds, but mostly targeting British Columbia down into the Pacific Northwest, with only limited fetch in the Central CA swell window. Seas modeled to 40 ft or so, but mostly outside the swell window for anyone but the Pacific Northwest. A broader gale is forecast for the Gulf Mon/Tues (11/17) with 45 kt northwest winds pushing far more to the south, generating 26 ft seas and offering better odds of swell pushing into the entire Wes Coast swell window assuming the models are correct. That is not a bet worth making quite yet though.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (11/10) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the Inactive Phase and signaling the start of a weaker North Pacific Storm pattern for the next 3 weeks (running to 11/25). The ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index has gone positive with the Daily SOI index at 0.51 (positive 6 days in a row). The 30 day average has bottomed out and is starting to rise, currently at -14.23 while the 90 average was up slightly to -4.50. This last negative run of the SOI and the Active Phase of the MJO did wonders for feeding El Nino.
Wind anomalies at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated a moderate strength area of easterly anomalies pretty much filling the equatorial Pacific from west to east. This episode bloomed rather quickly. It appears to have already maxed out, and is expected to slowly fade while pushing east over the dateline on 11/14, and then into Central America on 11/19 with remnants in the far Eastern Pacific through Thanksgiving (11/25). All the while a building version of a new Active Phase is starting to organize in the Indian Ocean pushing east into the West Pacific on 11/19 and reaching the dateline 11/24, stronger than previously projected and holding into the end of the month. All this remains just a projection by the models, but seems appropriate. In shore the Inactive Phase is already maxed and and is to be short-lived, a good thing to not suppress our building El Nino. We'll see what really happens. But for now the assumption is the net storm actively is likely to be suppressed through 11/20, then on the upswing.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (11/9) indicates warm anomalies are holding, extending the length of the equator from Ecuador to the dateline at 1.5 degs C higher than normal or more. This remains good news . In short, the Kelvin wave that hit Central America nearly a month ago has manifest itself at the surface in warmer waters across the length of the tropical Pacific, exactly what is required for a legitimate El Nino to develop. The expanse of the warmer waters continues to hold north of the equator, solidifying it's grip up the coast of Mexico and Baja (though still retreated from Southern and Northern CA, and extending west almost to Hawaii then southwest to the dateline. A cool trail, the result of upwelling from Super Hurricane Rick, was evident off Central Mainland Mexico to Baja. This overall warmer water signature remains not not anything exceptional, but clearly is a moderate El Nino. In reviewing surface water temp anomalies over the past decade and more, this is in no way similar to the monumental ENSO event of '97/98. But as previously stated, it still surpasses any event since then (over the last 12 years) in terms of water temps and areal coverage and is only building on that position.
Of interest, the water temp anomaly data provided by NOAA/NESDIS (satellite based) versus the TAO/TRITON buoy array, present different depictations of the same event. The TAO array suggests max heating is occurring on the dateline, with temps easing as one tracks east, while the satellite based data from NOAA presents an analysis of continuous warm waters over the length of the equator from Ecuador to the dateline. The difference is in how the data is collected (buoys at fixed points versus a satellite view of the entire playing field). We're siding with the satellite view not because it is more favorable, but because we believe it more accurately represents reality. The buoy arrays strength is in waters temps at depth (i.e. for detecting Kelvin Waves). This is exactly what the array was built to detect. The satellite view cannot do that. Likewise, the satellite has far superior coverage.
Below the surface on the equator things continue to look most excellent. A steady flow of warmer than normal subsurface water continues tracking from the West Pacific (150 m below the surface) under the dateline and breaking the surface near Central America as it has for months now. A core of 2 deg warmer than normal sub-surface water that first appeared under the dateline on 9/17 moved east to 175W by 9/22 and 172W on 9/24, then built to 3 degrees above normal (9/29) and continued growing as of 10/18 at 160W. Data on 10/20 depicted intensification with temps pushing solidly 4 degrees C above normal. And as of 10/22 that anomaly looked to be broaching the 5 degree mark and was holding if not expanding on 10/25. On 10/26 it was confirmed at 5 degrees above normal and racing east, much faster than previous Kelvin Waves and located at 145W , and then 135W on 10/29 and 125W on 10/31 with 4 degree anomalies extending the whole was back to the dateline. On 11/3 the Kelvin Wave built yet more, with temps to 6 degrees above normal at 130W with the leading edge at 125W, holding on 11/5. By 11/8 the 6 degree anomalies had expanded with the leading edge still at 125W. There was no change on 11/10. This is a very solid Kelvin Wave indeed, and large in areal coverage too extending 3600 nmiles miles long. This sub-surface temperature wave is the result of a prolonged persistent westerly surface wind flow that had been in-place west of the dateline from 9/8 and continued into 11/5. It is expected to reach the coast of Ecuador possibly late November (previous forecast for December). This should have a significant positive impact enhancing the existing warm pool when it hits Central America.
On 10/1 a solid patch of westward winds were depicted in-control of the West Pacific with strong west anomalies extending to almost the dateline. This had been in-play since 9/27 and was associated with tropical systems Parma and Melor. A full on Westerly Wind Burst was in effect. As of 10/3 fully blowing west winds were subsiding, though westerly anomalies continued reaching to the dateline. And by 10/6 just light west winds were in effect west of the dateline. But then again on 10/7 another group of fully blowing west winds were depicted extending all the way to the dateline, with decent force too. Anomalies were in full effect to the dateline and beyond to the east. On 10/11 light west winds were still in effect to the dateline with solid anomalies over the dateline and to a point south of Hawaii. And by 10/13 a light west flow was in effect with full west anomalies still in place to the dateline and east to about Hawaii fading some into 10/20 but still light west winds were west of the dateline and anomalies east of there. Then on 1021 another batch of fully blowing west winds were in-play with solid anomalies to 160W (south of Hawaii) and almost to 140W, making further eastward progress than anything so far this El Nino event. By 10/24 that pattern continued if not intensified with fully blowing west winds to the dateline a solid anomalies to 140W and maybe even more. And on 10/26 the pattern continued, with anomalies pushing even further eastward to near 130W. On 10/29 full blowing west winds and anomalies continued as documented above. This put anomalies over almost the entire equatorial Pacific. Impressive. And on 10/31 the pattern continued with weak west winds in the west and anomalies all the way to 110W, basically covering the entire equatorial Pacific Ocean. finally on 11/2 the westward blowing winds died on the far West Pacific as the Inactive Phased took control there. But anomalous west winds continued from the dateline almost the whole way into Ecuador through 11/5. But this is likely the end of this event. In fact on 11/7 only the faintest hint of westerly anomalies existed mainly south of Hawaii. But by 11/10 only neural/normal winds were in control. All this suggests a significant eastward propagation of warm water is in-play and remains very good news for the development of El Nino. Again, this is classic El Nino symptoms. This is the first such event for this El Nino. For almost 2 months (since 9/8) a continuous moderate westerly anomaly has been in-play from the west up to the dateline. These westerly anomalies started with Typhoon Dujuan and continued with Choi-Wan gently feeding the subsurface warm water flow. And then with Parma, Melor and Nepartak, that flow was enhanced. At this time all these anomalies appear to be consolidating the resulting warm waters into one strong Kelvin Wave, the one currently pushing east from the dateline (see above). This one is expected to reinforce if not deepen the warm anomalies on the surface over the equator.
At this time we are saying this developing El Nino will survive with effects continuing in the atmosphere until at least the late Spring of next year. All data suggests this will not be a strong El Nino, more likely a moderate one. NOAA's last update (11/5) forecasts the same outcome, though hints at some uncertainty. In short, all the best models aren;t exactly sure how this is going to play out. Regardless a solid accumulation of warm water in the equatorial East Pacific is evidence in-favor of continued development. As long as there continues to be WWB's (as there obviously is), then warm water will be migrating east, and the warm water pattern will hold if not build, and the atmosphere above it will respond in-kind to the change (towards El Nino). At this point there is no evidence to suggest this El Nino will stall or dissipate. The only remaining question is whether it will hold, or grow. And current data indicates that the warm pool will hold if not slowly build. And historically it is already larger and strong than any other in the past 12 years.
The current El Nino is gaining strength, with a 2 degree water temp anomaly in the tropical East Pacific the likely outcome. Coverage is pretty solid for this event, but the lack of really high water temp anomalies will likely limit it's strength. Strong El Ninos bring lot's of bad weather to the US West Coast, along with the potential for storm and swell enhancement. A moderate El Nino provides storm and swell enhancement, a gentle but steady push/momentum in-favor of storm development rather than the manic frenzy of a strong El Nino, but without all the weather associated with a strong event. So in many ways a moderate El Nino is more favorable from a surf perspective. As of right now things remain better than anything the Pacific has seen in the past 12 years regarding anomalous sea surface temperatures, besting anything since the big El Nino of 1997. That is very good news. But the lack of anomalous water temps exceeding 3 degrees and an unremarkable SOI suggests a modest El Nino at best. Still, it should be enough to provide storm enhancement, and a better than average winter surf season for the North Pacific, and still likely better than anything in the past 10 years. Better yet, if it's not too strong (as this event appears to be) perhaps it will not degrade into La Nina the year after (which typically happens after stronger El Ninos), but hold in some mild El Nino like state for several years in a row. This would be an even better outcome.
See more details in the new El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours the models suggest yet more small gales forming under New Zealand, on on Wednesday (11/11) and another on Thursday (11/12) producing 40 kt southwest winds aimed well at Hawaii with a tiny area of 30 ft seas at 50S 180 Wed AM (11/11) and 26 ft seas Thurs PM (11/12) respectively and tracking northeast. Hawaii to possibly see some more background southern hemi swell if this occurs. After that things to calm down. Not too bad for so late in the season though.
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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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
Mavericks - Everest of the Sea & Longboard Vineyards: Come late October Sonoma County will not only welcome a new crop of world class wines, but the award winning photography of some of Action Sports best lensmen. “ Mavericks – Everest of the Seas” comes alive again just in time to set the stage for another epic Big Wave Season. Mix two of Northern California's finest institutions – big wave surfing and the wine country – and you have what promises to be an amazing weekend at the Longboard Vineyards Tasting Room in Healdsburg
October 23 – 25.
Relive heroic battles between man and wave as seen through the eyes of the cutting-edge photojournalists who risk life and limb to document the wave's intense man-against-the-sea drama and obsessive lifestyle of Maverick's elite riders. Oded Shakked, a longtime surfer who founded Longboard Vineyards, will be unveiling his latest release, The Peter Mel/Mavericks Cabernet Sauvignon. This signature wine will be blended by not only Shakked but guest vintner, Peter Mel. Mel, one of the most respected names in Big Wave Surfing is known as perhaps the most skillful surfer ever to ride Mavericks. The famed spot off the Half Moon Bay. In October of 1998 he was whipped into to what is now considered the biggest wave ever ridden… Mel along with the featured photographers, surfboard shapers and wine makers will be on hand for the Friday night reception. The reception will begin at 5pm and run until roughly 9pm.
Longboard Vineyard has always had a soft spot for surfers. It's a place where you can hangout at a redwood-surfboard bar, or sample one
of its award winning wines while kicking back on a comfortable sofa watching surf movies. For this harvest weekend event Shakked has
enlisted “Mavericks: Everest of the Seas,” the heralded collection of Mavericks surf photography from Frank Quirarte, Doug Acton, Seth
Migdail and Ed Grant.
“Everest of the Seas” first made its debut recently at the Coastal Arts League Gallery in Half Moon Bay, drawing large crowds and an
enthusiastic response. It just finished a one-month highly successful run at San Francisco's world class Museum and Gallery, SFMOMA.“Everyone who sees the exhibit is just blown away,” said Grant, the curator of the Coastal Arts League Gallery. “Both surfers and non-surfers can't help but get caught up in the energy and stoke that surrounds Maverick's, the surfers and photographers who put it on the
line every time they go out there.”
The event also represents a high point in the career of Oded Shakked, who was born in Israel and grew up near a beach just north of Tel
Aviv. Immersed in surfing from the start, he made several trips around Europe's Atlantic coast while discovering, to his delight, that “it
was easier, cheaper and safer to drink good red wine than bottled water.” His twin loves of surfing and wine brought him to California,
where he studied winemaking at UC Davis and became enamored with the people, climate and rich soil of Sonoma County. He founded Longboard Vineyards with the motto “Wine, waves and soul,” making it a highly unique fixture in wine country.
The October 23-25 weekend will also feature the sale of surfboards and memorabilia, along with Acton's acclaimed book, “Inside Maverick's.”
Admission is free. Opening reception sponsored by Maverick Events and Longboard Vineyards
The Kelly Slater Project - A fundraiser is scheduled for Aug 29th at the Cocoa Beach Country Club to help raise funds for both the Kelly Slater Project and the Central Florida Animal Reserve. A Casino night is planned including a silent auction and raffle. Sponsors are also needed. Learn more about these projects at : http://www.thekellyslaterproject.com/
Rebuild Jeff Clark: Jeff Clark the first pioneer of Mavericks, recently underwent hip resurfacing surgery due to severe pain from deterioration of his hip. Needless to say the procedure is very expensive and his insurance only covers tiny portion of the bill. If you're interested in learning about the procedure or would like to donate to help Jeff out, please take a look here: http://www.rebuildjeffclark.blogspot.com/
North California Surf Report Works Again: After an extended downtime we finally got the North California Surf Report working again. Thanks for your patience. See it here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/report/ncal.html
Shark Video: Our friend Curt Myers of Powerlines productions shot this footage of 2 great whites munching on a whale carcass off Devils Slide (south of San Francisco) on Thursday. Kind of interesting to watch. Check it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I4rZYEZMWQ (Fixed link)
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.
Stormsurf Wave Models Updated: On Friday (2/6) we installed the latest upgrade to our wavemodels. A year in the works, this upgrade essentially is a total re-write of every wave model product we produce. They now take advantage of the new Version 3 of the Wavewatch wavemodel. This version runs at a much higher resolution, specifically 0.0 X 0.5 degrees for the global grib with local products at 0.1667 X 0.1667 degrees, and it uses the hi-res GFS model for wind speeds. And of even more interest, the model now identifies primary swell and windwave variables. As such we now have new model images which displays this data. Also we've included out special 3D topographic land masks into all models. In all it makes for a radical step forward in wave model technology. We'll be upgrading minor components (FAQ, new menu pages etc) for a few weeks to come, but all the basics are available for your use now. Check it out here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wam.html
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