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 Friday (11/12) North and Central California was getting leftover Gulf swell with waves in the head high range and a bit ragged with warble in the water and onshore winds just off the coast. Southern California was getting limited wrap-around energy from the Gulf too with waves waist high or so up north and clean but blowing outside with waves waist high up north. Down south it was the same, only with textured conditions nearshore. Hawaii's North Shore was getting sideband Gulf swell with waves shoulder to near head high at top spots, lined up and clean with light east trades in effect. The East Shore was getting the same sideband swell with waves shoulder to head high and chopped. The South Shore was asleep for the winter with waves 2 ft or less.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for new swell on Saturday in the 11 ft range (faces) then fading to 7 ft on Sunday). Windswell continues Monday at 6 ft holding Tuesday with small longer period swell from the west building to 7-8 ft late but very inconsistent. Size to hold on Wednesday. Southern California is to see head high north swell at exposed breaks fading from chest to shoulder high Sunday AM. Waist high north residuals expected Monday and Tuesday down to 2 ft on Wednesday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see sideband northwest swell fading from thigh high Saturday. Longer period datelines well arrives on Sunday building to 13 ft on the face late then 14 ft Monday, fading from 8 ft early Tuesday. Another possible pulse to arrive Wednesday building to 10 ft late. The East Shore is to see east windswell at head high for the weekend pushing 1 ft overhead Monday and Tuesday then fading from chest high Wednesday. The South Shore is effectively asleep for the winter.
A small gale developed 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 34-35 ft seas up there, pushing mainly into Canada with sideband energy possibly tracking south to Central CA for the weekend. And another gale formed 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, expected to reach the dateline late Friday and rapidly disintegrating with seas fading from 30 ft there. Perhaps some decent sized west swell for Hawaii by late Sunday on into the early workweek but just utility class swell for the US West Coast, but well groomed. Another little gale is forecast spinning up on the dateline Sun-Mon (11/15) producing 26 ft seas, but all aimed south at Hawaii making little eastward progress. Beyond only small fragmented weather systems are forecast with high pressure locking down the Eastern Pacific. This is starting to look very much like a typical La Nina pattern.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Friday (11/12) a well organized jetstream flow continued over the North Pacific tracking flat off Japan with winds 170 kts falling slightly into a trough on the dateline, the ridging solidly to the northeast and pushing up through the core of the Gulf of Alaska with winds in the 120-130 kt range. Only the trough on the dateline was supporting potential for gale development. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to get better organized but making no eastward progress, with up to 190 kt winds falling into it off from Japan into Sunday AM, while the ridge in the east builds yet more pushing up into the Northern Gulf of Alaska. More support for gale development there. But by Monday a defined split in the jet is forecast developing on the dateline typical of La Nina and problematic. Beyond 72 hours varying degrees of the split pattern are to persist with a good amount of energy peeling off and being directed up into the Bering Sea, significantly reducing the total amount of wind energy available running through the core of the North Pacific to support gale development.
At the surface on Friday (11/12) the fading remnants of a gale that tracked that tracked off Japan was fading on the dateline with winds still 35 kts all targeting Hawaii (see Japan Gale below). Swell from a gale that developed north of Hawaii and tracked north into the Gulf is headed towards the US West Coast (see North Moving Gale below). Otherwise high pressure at 1034 mbs was locked 600 nmiles off Central CA ridging into the Pacific Northwest generating a small fetch of 20 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino CA and starting to produce northerly local windswell there. It was also generating easterly winds pushing up to the HAwaiian Islands at 15 kts and building in areal coverage, with windswell the expected result. Over the next 72 hours the dateline gale is rapidly dissipate on Saturday while high pressure blooms more off the US West Coast generating 30 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino and up to 20 kt east winds pushing towards Hawaii, resulting in windswell for both locales. Also another modest gale is to track fast off the Kuril Islands then stall on the dateline Sunday (11/14) as it hit's that impenetrable wall of high pressure over the Eastern Pacific, generating 40-45 kt north-northwest winds there into Monday (11/15) possibly generating 26 ft seas at 33N 175E (312 degs Hawaii) late Sunday and holding there into late Monday. Perhaps some moderate 14 sec period swell to result for Hawaii by mid-week.
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 Friday (11/12) northwest winds were building over outer waters as high pressure at 1028 mbs was positioned 600 nmiles off Central CA and was ridging into the Pacific Northwest. 25 kt north winds were indicated off Pt Arena in the afternoon and were forecast to build in coverage and strength by Saturday AM at 25 kts pushing south from Cape Mendo to Pt Conception. Nearshore winds, though possible much lighter will still be trending north with increased velocity and up to 30 kts by Sunday.Still nearshore, there's decent odds for a much calmer windflow early. Finally by Monday the gradient is to push well off the coast and even an eddy flow might take over (south winds) holding through Wednesday (11/17). Finally on Thursday low pressure is to be dropping out of the Gulf of Alaska down the Pacific Northwest coast with a front perhaps reaching Central CA on late Thurs (11/18) with rain possible.
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 high pressure is to hold in some fashion over the Northeastern Pacific. A weak low is to try and organize off Japan tracking east Thurs (11/18) but with no real fetch aimed even at Hawaii, and a backdoor low is to try and sink south along the Canadian coast at the same time, but never generating much fetch of interest. This is not looking good.
See the official El Nino/La Nina Forecast using the link posted below.
As of Friday (11/12) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued falling slightly. The daily SOI was up to 21.50. But the 30 day average was down to 15.79 with the 90 day average at 21.07. Still-overall averages were quite high, though down from the peak in October.
Wind anomalies as of Thursday (11/11) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models continued to indicate an improved pattern with no easterly anomalies and a building area of westerly anomalies over the eastern 40% of the tropical Indian Ocean pushing over the Philippines to the dateline and building under Hawaii. This is 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 while slowly dissipating, reaching Central AMerica on 11/16 then fading there 11/26. This continues to be an upgrade from previous model runs and supports the formation of low pressure if not gales in the North Pacific, at least for another week or so. But the Inactive Phase of the MJO is shown just starting to build over Africa and the Western Indian Ocean and is expected to drift east, reaching the Philippines about 11/26 and easing east from there. This will suppress gale development when it materializes. Actually the global models already suggest the early signs of the Inactive Phase taking root about a week from now with a split jetstream flow forecast over the North Pacific.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (11/11) 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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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/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table