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 Saturday (11/9) North and Central CA surf was shoulder to head high at exposed breaks and clean with some fun peaks but generally weak. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high on the sets and clean early, but wonky later. In Southern California up north surf was knee high with maybe a stray thigh hi set and textured later. Down south waves were waist to near chest high on the sets and and weak but clean, even late. Hawaii's North Shore was getting new north dateline swell with waves 3-4 ft overhead but generally pretty chunked up with northeast trades in effect. The South Shore was flat and clean. No report was available for the East Shore.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
In the North Pacific swell from a gale that formed over the Northern Dateline Tues-Wed (11/6) with 36 ft seas over a small area aimed mainly east was hitting Hawaii and starting to show late in Northern CA. Another small and weak gale tracked southeast through the Northeastern Gulf on Fri (11/8) with 20-22 ft seas targeting the US West Coast. Swell possible for Northern CA early in the workweek. But strong high pressure is building over the dateline and forecast to remain there through the middle of the week. That said, remnants of the Northeast Gulf gale are to redevelop forming a gradient with the dateline high pressure system north of Hawaii on Monday (11/11) generating up to 30 ft seas aimed due south and lingering through the end of the workweek. It's certainly something for the Islands to monitor. Otherwise a pretty slack pressure and wind pattern is forecast.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Saturday (11/9) the jetstream was ridging northeast off Northern Japan reaching barely up into the Bering Sea on the dateline then tracking east before falling south into a pinched and almost cutoff trough running through the Central Gulf of Alaska. From there the jet tracked northeast up into British Columbia. Winds were up to 140 kts in two pockets over the West Pacific but only 110 kts falling into the trough, offering only limited support for gale development. Over the next 72 the jet is to continue ridging northeast in a more pronounced fashion over the dateline and up into the Bering Sea with winds 140+ kts supporting only high pressure down at the oceans surface and amplifying into Tues (11/12). The trough in the Gulf is to fully cutoff on Sun (11/10) but is to them regenerate as 140 kt winds tracking well up into the Bering Sea start falling hard south into the Gulf late Mon (11/11) carving out a broad trough there. Good support for gale development possible. If anything the bottom of the trough is to retrograde west to a point 600 nmiles north of Hawaii into Tues-Wed (11/13) with 110 kt winds still flowing into it offering more limited support for gale development. The trough to get continually pinched and cut off on Thurs (11/14) while the big ridge in the Bering Sea and dateline region eases east into the Gulf. No support for gale development indicated. By next weekend (11/16) an extremely weak and diffuse jetstream flow is forecast pushing off Japan down at 30N, but falling apart as it pushed east offering no support for gale development.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (11/9) swell from a stronger system that developed over the Northern Dateline was hitting Hawaii and moving towards California (see North Dateline Storm below). Small swell from a weak gale in the Gulf on Fri (11/8) was tracking towards the US West Coast (see Small Gulf Gale below). Also a persistent fetch of northeast winds at 30 kts was developing 700 nmiles north-northeast of Hawaii on Sat (11/9) generating 17 ft seas late at 30N 155W producing windswell targeting Hawaii. The first part of the windswell to hit near sunset Saturday and building into Sunday reaching 10 ft @ 11 secs (10 ft faces). Swell Direction: 30 degrees
Over the next 72 hours strong high pressure at 1048 mbs is to develop over the dateline with low pressure forming ahead/east of it late Sun (11/10). By Mon AM (11/11) that low is to develop to gale status in the Gulf of Alaska fueled by cold air falling into the Gulf and back up against the strong high on the dateline. 45 kt north winds are projected in the AM with 24 ft seas near 43N 160W (296 degs NCal but mostly bypassing there, and aimed directly at HI on the 358 degree track). That fetch is to be falling hard south. By evening 40 kt north winds are to hold aimed straight south with 30 ft seas developing at 37N 160W and falling south too (346 degs HI). Tuesday AM (11/12) winds are to be fading from 435kts out of the north and seas dropping from 24 ft at 32N 160W (344 degs HI) aimed directly at Hawaii. By evening the gale is to be gone with residual seas fading from 20 ft at 30N 155W. Some decent size swell is possible for the Islands approaching significant class proportions if the models hold true. This is something to monitor.
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). The ASCAT satellite confirmed winds at 10Z on the 6th at 50 to near 60 kts mainly directly over the Aleutians but some 50 kts winds south of there. 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).
Hawaii: Swell fading Sunday from 4.2 ft @ 15 secs (6 ft). Much local windswell in the mix too (see Short Term forecast above). Swell Direction: 326-330 degrees
NCal: Expect swell arrival at 10 PM Saturday (11/9) with period 19 secs and size on the increase. Swell to peak near sunrise with pure swell 5.3 ft @ 18 secs (9.5 ft) with decent size holding through the day as period fades towards 16 secs late. Swell fading Mon AM (11/11) from 5 ft @ 14 secs (7 ft). Swell Direction: 304-308 degrees Fairly long waits between sets.
Small Gulf Gale
On Friday AM (11/8) residual energy from the North Dateline Storm fell into the Gulf of Alaska generating 30-35 kt northwest winds and 20 ft seas at 50N 150W (310 degs NCal). Fetch fell southeast in the evening while fading with 22 ft seas at 50N 145W (313 degs NCal). The gale faded after that with 18 ft seas dissipating at 48N 140W (316 degs NCal) on Sat AM (11/9). Some more small swell to result for the US West Coast on Mon (11/11). See QuikCASTs for details.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Saturday AM (11/9) former Super Typhoon Hiayan was positioned 220 nmiles east of South Vietnam with winds 100 kts, tracking west-northwest. this system is to curve up into North Vietnam making land fall Sunday evening (11/10) with winds at tropical storm force (60 kts). No swell to result for our forecast area. No other tropical system are forecast. This is likely the end of the typhoon/hurricane season, especially with the Inactive Phase of the MJO in control over the tropical West Pacific.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (11/9) a weak pressure pattern was in play over California with winds well below 15 kts everywhere. A light southerly flow was pushing up the Central CA coast while a new low was building 1000 nmiles west of Southern CA. That low is to ease east and build Sunday centered just 600 nmiles west of Central CA with light south winds in place from Pt Conception northward building to 15 kts over Cape Mendocino late. Southern CA to remain in a light variable wind flow. protected. The low is to be off Washington on Monday with south winds holding over the Central and North Coast less than 15 kts except Cape Mendocino, up to 20 kts there later. Rain for Northern CA late. The low to lift northeast on Tuesday with a weak front push south to maybe San Francisco early. A lighter south flow early with clearing conditions later and north winds over Pt Conception 15-20 kts late. Light rain possible for the SF Bay Area early. Wednesday high pressure builds in with north winds 15+ kts over all of North and Central CA and on the increase pushing 20 kts on Thursday (11/14). A full on summer pressure gradient is forecast over Cape Mendocino on Friday with 30 kt north winds there early and holding with winds less than 15 kts from Pt Reyes southward and maybe even a light eddy flow to set up at select locations. .The gradient to fade Saturday (11/160 with light winds everywhere but cape Mendo and north there 15 kts.
Surface - 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 strong high pressure is forecast holding just east of the dateline at 1040 mbs on Tues PM (11/12) totally blocking the prime storm corridor through the North Pacific and holding but weakening steadily into Friday (11/15), then dissipating. The models suggest the Gulf gale forecast to take aim at HAwaii is to redevelop some on Wed (11/13) generating 35-40 kt northeast winds and 24 ft seas late at 43N 154W aimed decently at Hawaii. 30-35 kt northeast winds to hold into Thurs AM (11/14) with 20 ft seas at 40N 157W aimed a bit west of the Islands. Still some sideband swell could result. But relative to the US West Coast, nothing is forecast with a slack pressure pattern in control. Maybe high pressure and north winds to develop of Cape Mendocino on Fri (11/15) offering local windswell, but that's it.
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 Saturday (11/9) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up to 15.46. The 30 day average was up some at -2.37 and the 90 day average down to 1.25. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of a developing Inactive Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was near neutral and holding. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator of surface level weather trends.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated modest east anomalies over the Maritime Continent weakening and almost turning neutral on the dateline and continuing unchanged from a point south of Hawaii into Central America. A week from now (11/17) moderate east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent fading to neutral over the dateline, then weak westerly south of Hawaii and fading to neutral east of there into Central America. In all this suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO was setting up over the West Pacific and will hold for at least the next week. This will hamper storm development in the North Pacific.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 11/8 are in-sync. Both models suggest a weak Inactive pattern was over the West Pacific, with the dynamic model suggesting the Inactive Phase to be fading 6 days out and the statistic model having it remain weakly moderate. 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 only to moderately return 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 Active Phase is to be building in the Indian Ocean per the statistical model. The ultra long range upper level model updated on 11/9 suggests the Inactive Phase has already peaked and is tracking from the Central Pacific to the east and is to be gone by 11/19. As of now a weak pulse of the Active Phase is supposedly developing over the far West Pacific and is to slowly ease east, getting only weak strength through 12/4 before moving inland over Central America . At that time a new Inactive Phase builds in the west easing to the mid-Pacific by 12/14 and into the East tropical Pacific 12/19.Overall the MJO signal is weak not favoring the Inactive or Active Phases. 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 (11/7) 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 there 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 neutral subsurface waters are in-place off Central America. NOAA is calling this warm pool a eastward moving Kelvin Wave, though there is doubt as to how far east it will actually travel while remaining cohesive. It would be great to have it remain in tact to Ecuador, but we're not holding our breath.
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 Sunday (11/10) - http://youtu.be/J9JBexG9xJw
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Wall of Skulls - Here's a great video featuring Tahiti's famous wave. There's also a nice little plug for Stormsurf in it too. http://vimeo.com/70308073
Super Natural - Powerlines Productions has released their new big wave surf video chronicling the epic El Nino winter of 2009-2010 plus many other big wave event through the 2012-2013 winter season. It's a must see event for any big wave rider. It's for sale here: http://www.mavz.com/movies/super-natural/
Nantucket Marine Mammals has documented a short video concerning whale conservation and awareness off the Northeast US Coast. See it here: https://vimeo.com/68771910
Jason-1 Satellite Decommisioned - On June 21 an error occurred on board the Jason-1 satellite and it automatically shut down all critical functions. The satellite has since officially been decommissioned. It's last working transmitter failed on 6/21. All efforts have been made to get a response to no avail. The satellite has been placed in a parking orbit with it's solar panels turned away from the the sun. It's batteries are to discharge in the next 90 days. No additional data is expected from this satellite. We are working to start capturing data from the Jason-2 satellite, but that will take some time. More information to follow.
'CBS This Morning' with the Mavericks Invitational Surf Contest - See a nice morning TV show piece on the Mavericks Contest held Sun 1/20/13. The show aired Wed 1/23. Interviews with Colin Dwyer, Jeff Clark, Mark Sponsler and Grant Washburn: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50139546n
Jaws Redbull Contest Forecast Explained By Stormsurf
Cortes Bank Mission (12/21-12/22/2012)
The Making of 'Chasing Mavericks' - See some background footage on how the movie was made: Part1, Part2
The Psychology of Big Wave Surfing with Greg Long - A must see for any aspiring big wave rider: http://vimeo.com/51117940
Greg Long XCel Core Files - Here's a great profile of Greg Long and his contributions toward pushing the state of big wave surfing. Well Done - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd9pqgiXfxk&feature=player_embedded
Chasing Mavericks - The Jay Moriarty Movie: Two trailers for the new movie about Jay, Frosty and Mavericks has been posted. Movie opens on 10/26/12. Here's the link: http://www.mtv.com/videos/movie-trailers/818957/chasing-mavericks.jhtml & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNdYoX9Vfxg&feature=relmfu
Props from the Pros: Stormsurf was mentioned over the past week in two different media sources. One was in an interview Kelly Slater did with the New York Times and another was in a promotional piece Ramon Navarro did for the Big Wave World Tour. Many thanks to Curt Myers from Powerline Productions for alerting us and of course thanks to Kelly, Ramon and the Tour for using our service. Here's the links:
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table