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 (11/23) North and Central CA surf was near dead flat with sets knee high but very clean with offshore's in control. Down in Santa Cruz surf was flat and clean with no wind. In Southern California up north surf was dead flat and clean early with offshore's in effect. Down south waves were about knee high and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was waist high and a bit warbled. Quite unremarkable but bigger than anywhere on the mainland. The South Shore was flat and clean. Exposed breaks on the East Shore were flat.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
In the North Pacific the recovery of the storm track is progressing. It started with a weak low pressure system developing north of Hawaii producing 16-17 ft seas aimed somewhat at the Islands on Thurs (11/21). Small swell to arrive late Sat into Sun (11/24). Another somewhat stronger low started developing over the Northern Dateline region on Friday into the early weekend generating a tiny area of 26 ft seas aimed due east, but never really getting much coverage. Perhaps some small sideband swell for Hawaii by late Monday (11/25) and more direct but decayed swell for US West Coast to result. The models suggest remnants of that low are to redevelop in the Gulf Tues-Wed (11/27) producing up to 28 ft seas targeting the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA well, though coverage to still be small. And then Wednesday (11/27) a stronger gale is projected just east of the dateline producing 40+ ft seas aimed east. But all of this is still just hype from the model. A more accurate assessment can be made starting Tuesday.
Note: NDBC has issued a schedule to start repairing buoys as of 11/12/13. Unfortunately no buoys of interest to California are scheduled through September 2014. Hawaiian buoys are set for maintenance in April 2014.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Saturday (11/23) the jetstream was pushing generally flat off Japan down at 25N gently lifting east-northeast with winds building to 150 kts just east of the dateline and forming a bit of a trough just east of there, then falling apart and splitting with the northern stream pushing up into North Canada and the southern branch diving just north of Hawaii, then lifting hard north to up into North Canada with a backdoor flow moving inland then back out over Southern California only to return back into Baja. Limited support for gale development in the trough. Over the next 72 hours the trough is to fade some and continue tracking east as the split flow ahead of it moves inland, with the trough finally starting to redevelop on Tuesday in the eastern Gulf of Alaska. Back to the west a new trough is to start developing on Tuesday (11/26) on the dateline with 110-120 kts winds feeding it initially. Beyond 72 hours both troughs are to develop nicely late Tuesday into Wednesday (11/27). The trough on the dateline is to deepen with a good counterclockwise hook developing, but wind speeds are to remain only in the 110 kt range. Some reasonable support for gale development possible. The trough in the Gulf is to also exhibit a good circulation pattern with 120 kt winds feeding it initially and holding in the 110 kt range late Wed as it approaches the Central CA coast. Good support for gale development expected.The gulf trough is to move inland Thurs-Fri (11/29) over Central CA while the dateline trough moves east with a building pocket of 180 kt winds building west of it off Japan and some of the energy falling into the remnants of the trough almost directly over Hawaii Fri-Sat (11/30). But the trough is to get progressively more pinched off with little hope for further development expected. A split flow to redevelop east of there.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (11/23) a very modest gale was just east of the dateline and south of the Aleutians (see Dateline Gale below). Small swell from a previous low north of Hawaii was approaching the Islands (see Hawaiian Low below). Otherwise weak high pressure was pushing into the Great Basin (Utah) setting up offshore's for the US West Coast. the good news is no significant high pressure was in-play over the North Pacific. Over the next 72 hours two low pressure systems are to develop, one on the dateline and one in the Eastern Gulf starting late Monday (11/25). Both are forecast to develop more (see Long term Forecast for details).
On Tuesday evening (11/19) low pressure developed just east of the dateline producing a small area of north winds in the lows west quadrant building barely to 35 kts holding into Wed AM (11/20) generating 16-17 ft seas at 45N 178W and 30 kt north winds holding to Thurs AM with 17 ft seas at 44N 172W all aimed decently at Hawaii down the 335-338 degs paths. The low is to be fading fast Thurs PM (11/21) with no swell generation potential expected.
This is to be good for maybe tiny windswell for Hawaii starting late Sat at 3 ft @ 12 secs (3.5 ft) peaking Sun AM (11/24) at 4.5 ft @ 11 secs (4.5-5.0 ft) from 340 degrees.
A weak gale started to develop just west of the Northern Dateline region on Fri AM (11/22) producing 40 kt northwest winds with seas building to 20 ft at 43N 172E. In the evening winds held if not expanded some at 40 kts from the northwest with seas building to 22 ft at 43N 180W targeting midway between Hawaii and the US West Coast (326 degs HI). Fetch was fading from 35-40 kts Sat AM (11/23) aimed due east with seas peaking at 26 ft at 45N 174W over a tiny area aimed east (331 degs HI, 298 degs NCal). The low is to continue tracking east Sat evening with winds fading from 30 kts and seas dropping from 24 ft 43N 168W (293 degs NCal). the gale is to dissipate 12 hours later.
This system has effectively done the bulk of it's swell production. Some small swell to result for Hawaii and the US West Coast.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Mon (11/25) with dribbles hitting at sunset (3 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft faces) peaking near 11 PM with swell 5.1 ft @ 15 secs (7.5 ft faces). swell to continue but fading sunrise Tues (11/260 from 5 ft @ 12-13 secs (6 ft). Residuals on Wed (11/270 fading from 4 ft @ 11 secs (4.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 328-337 degrees.
NCal: Expect tiny swell arriving Wednesday (11/27) near 1 AM and peaking near 9 AM at 3 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft faces) and holding through the day as period drops towards 14 secs. Inconsistent and shadowed in the immediate SF Bay area. Swell Direction: 298 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (11/23) a light offshore flow was in control of all California waters with weak high pressure moving into the Great Basin (Northwest US). A near calm wind pattern is expected Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Then a change is forecast starting Wed (11/27) as low pressure starts to move into the north coast from the west with south winds building to 15 kts down to Pt Conception late and up to 25 kts off Pt Arena and rain down to nearly Monterey Bay late. The core of the low is to be nestled right up along the North and Central Coasts on Thursday with south winds 15 kts even into Southern CA and rain continuing pushing into LA and snow for the Sierra starting in the evening. If this were to occur, it would mark a significant change in the pattern so far this year. Friday wind to turn offshore for Central and North CA at 10+ kts but continue light southwest into Southern CA early and fading slowly. Rain fading along the Central Coast but continuing for Southern CA with snow slowly fading for Tahoe but continuing solidly for the Southern Sierra. Saturday northeast winds to take over at 10 kts north of Pt Conception as high pressure again moves into the Great Basin and a dry pattern sets up.
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 things are supposed to get much more interesting, approaching the normal range for the time of year.
Possible Gulf Gale
Remnants from low pressure crossing the dateline are to redevelop 750 nmiles north of Hawaii Sun PM (11/24) generating 30 kt northwest to west winds and lifting gently northeast. By Monday PM (11/25) winds are to still only be 30 kts with the low lifting northeast and positioned 1200 nmiles west of Central CA. Finally on Tues AM (11/26) a tiny area of 35 kt northwest winds are forecast building AM (11/26) with seas on the increase. By evening 45 kt northwesterly fetch is to be in place with the gale stalling allowing those winds to get better traction on the oceans surface with 26 ft seas building at 42N 140W (295 degs NCal) targeting Ncal southward. A decent sized area of 40 kt northwest winds to hold into Wed AM (11/27) with seas peaking at 28 ft at 40N 139W (290 degs NCal and only 800 nmiles out). Winds to hold at 40 kts into the evening with seas fading from 26 ft at 38N 137W (280 degs NCal and 600 nmiles out) and falling into the critical 290 degree window for SCal. The gale to fade with winds barely 30 kts 12 hours later and seas fading from 24 ft at 35N 133W (282 degs SCal). Possible larger but raw swell for the US West Coast all attributable to this system close proximity to the coast.
Possible Dateline Storm
Of more interest is a broader gale forecast developing northwest of Hawaii on Tuesday (11/26) with 55 kt northwest winds starting to get decent traction and seas on the increase from 30 ft at 42N 178W in the evening. On Wed AM (11/27) the storm is to have pressure to 964 mbs and 45-50 kt northwest to west winds holding in the storm south's quadrant aimed mostly due east generating seas of 41 ft at 39N 172W (329 degs HI, 289 degs NCal). 40 kt west winds to barely hold into the evening with seas fading from 34 ft at 40N 165W (345 degs HI, 292 degs NCal) but mostly bypassing HI to the east. 30-35 kt west winds to be fading Thurs AM (11/28) in the Southwestern Gulf with seas dropping from 26 ft at 40N 160W (286 degs NCal). Winds fading from 25-30 kts over a broadish area in the evening with seas dropping from 21 ft at 40N 158W (286 degs NCal). At this time this is all remains a fantasy of the model, but bears watching, especially considering how it's been consistently projected for a few days now.
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 (11/23) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up to 33.46. The 30 day average was back up to positive territory at 0.87 and the 90 day average up to 2.73. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of a Inactive Phase of the MJO and rising. The longer term pattern was near neutral and slightly rising. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator running a week behind surface level weather trends, so the move into positive readings is not unexpected.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated modest east anomalies over the Western Maritime Continent weakening but still easterly on the dateline then fading to neutral south of Hawaii and holding that way the rest of the way into Central America. A week from now (12/1) neutral anomalies are forecast over the far Western Maritime Continent turning slightly westerly over the dateline to a point south of Hawaii, then turning neutral and holding on into Central America. In all this suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is over the West Pacific and appears to be dying, and nearly gone a week out. This should continue to hamper storm development in the North Pacific, but progressively less over the week long window.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 11/22 are in-sync initially. Both models suggest a dead neutral MJO pattern was in control over the West Pacific. Both suggest a weak Active Phase was building in the Indian Ocean and is to move into the extreme West Pacific 8 days out but not getting much traction. the dynamic mode depicts it quickly fading with another Inactive Pulse developing in the West Pacific 15 days out while the statistic model depicts the Active Phase holding 15 days out.In short, no consensus in these models. The ultra long range upper level model updated on 11/23 suggests the Active Phase was already over the West Pacific and is to fade while tracking east reaching the dateline 12/3 and then into the East Pacific around 12/13. This might help fuel the NPac storm track a little. A weak Inactive Phase to follow pushing into the West Pacific around 12/11 moving into the East Pacific 1/2 with yet another Active Phase building behind in the West Pacific on 12/28. 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 (11/21) a neutral water temp pattern covers the equator from Central America to the Philippines. A weak tongue of warmer than normal water started developing over the East Pacific mid-October in sync with a building Active Phase of the MJO. But starting 11/11 through the present some slight erosion of this warm pool has occurred due to slightly cooler waters streaming off Peru, likely attributable to the current Inactive Phase of the MJO. Of note, a small pocket of warmer water is present in the latest imagery over Southern Peru. Maybe this is a good sign. 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 just off the North CA coast moved east impacting extreme North CA but quickly retreated with cooler waters still setting up along the North CA coast. This is result of high pressure, north winds and cool water upwelling 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, but there's some indication that may be breaking down. 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. It will take 3 months from the time it developed (mid-Sept) till anything manifests in the upper atmosphere (mid-Dec).
Subsurface waters temps on the equator indicate a large pocket of warm water 2 degs C above normal is down at 150 meters and has been moving from just west of the dateline (170E) to the dateline (180W) with it's leading edge to 140W and tracking east while holding together nicely. A smaller pocket of 2 deg warmer water that had developed 70 meters down off Central America is dissipating. NOAA is calling the larger warm pool an 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 intact and impact to Ecuador, but we're not holding our breath. Will monitor.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 11/23 have stabilized. The model previously had suggested rapid warming starting March 2014 building to +1.0 deg C by late July 2014. But recent runs have backed off with warming expected only to +0.4 deg C by Aug 2014. Will believe it when it happens. But for the immediate future (this Winter) a neutral pattern is expected with temps hovering near neutral (0.0 deg C). A consensus of other models suggests slow warming, but not passing beyond 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 (11/24) - http://youtu.be/pjcYjZBST8c?hd=1
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Epic TV goes to Rapa Nui and scores. Nice Stormsurf plug too: Rapa Nui
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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New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.
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.
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table