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 (12/7) North and Central CA surf was shoulder high and chopped with northwest wind in full effect. A mess. Down in Santa Cruz surf was knee high and clean. In Southern California up north surf was flat and clean. Down south waves were maybe knee high and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was 3-4 ft overhead and clean and lined up. The South Shore was flat. Exposed breaks on the East Shore were getting wrap around energy at shoulder high but a bit jumbled with light onshore winds.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
In the North Pacific a gale that developed modestly just northwest of Hawaii in the Western Gulf of Alaska producing 22-24 ft seas is now lifting north positioned just south of the Aleutians with seas to 28 ft aimed southeast targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast. Swell from the early incarnation of this gale is hitting Hawaii. Residuals from this system are to redevelop off Oregon on Tues-Wed (12/11) with seas to 24 ft offering some more direct energy for California. And another gale is forecast for the Eastern Gulf on Fri-Sat (12/14) again with seas in the 20+ ft range but there's much variability concerning the long term outlook. Still, it looks like there will be a little swell to go around for all.
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. TOA Array (El Nino Monitoring) 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 (12/7) the jetstream was pretty much a mess. It was pushing off Japan starting down at 28N with winds building to 140 kts streaming flat east with a portion of it's energy splitting off off the main flow tracking north up into the Bering Sea. The main flow made it to the dateline forming a very weak trough there then continued east with a secondary trough forming 1200 nmiles west of Oregon, then splitting again with some energy peeling off to the north retrograding up into the Bering Sea while the rest pushed southeast down the California coast heading inland over North Baja. Very limited support for low pressure development was possible in the two troughs. Over the next 72 hours much the same pattern is to hold with the main energy of the jet tracking flat east but weaker (down to barely 120 kts) with 2 portion splitting off and tracking north, one just east of the Kuril Islands and the second in the Western Gulf. Energy that is streaming up into the Bering Sea to finally fall southeast inland over the Western US. Some degree of weak troughiness to persist north of Hawaii but remain unremarkable. Beyond 72 hours a bit more of a cohesive flow is forecast by Friday (12/13) with a nice trough setting up in the Gulf of Alaska with 120 kts winds feeding into it (rather than being diverted up into the Bering Sea) and tracking east into Washington late Sat (12/14). Some support for gale development possible there. And another trough is to be building over the Kuril Islands. It will be interesting to see if this trough forces the jet to split east of there, or whether the jet holds together.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (12/7) swell from the first part of a gale was starting to circulate north of the Islands (see Another West Gulf Gale below) was hitting Hawaii. High pressure at 1024 mbs was off the immediate US West Coast forming a pressure gradient with low pressure falling south down the interior Southwest US generating brisk cold north winds along the California coast resulting in junky windswell. A secondary small gale was trying to develop on the dateline with bare minimal fetch aimed at Hawaii resulting in 20 ft seas at 33N 177E (304 degrees). But in reality only the West Gulf Gale was of interest. Over the next 72 hours the Western Gulf Gale is to fade while the little dateline gale is to fall southeast Sat Pm (12/7) again generating 18 ft sea aimed at Hawaii at 31N 180W (298 degs HI) then gone by Sun AM. Remnants of this little low are to then swing northeast and start rotating in the Central Gulf by early Tues (12/10) generating 35-40 kt northwest winds Monday evening into Tues AM (12/10) with seas building from 18 ft at 40N 158W. This will be something to monitor long term (see Longterm forecast). No other swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
Another West Gulf Gale
Remnants of a previous small gale redeveloped 1100 nmiles north of Hawaii on Wed PM (12/4) with winds to 40 kt in it's west quadrant targeting the Islands with seas to 24 ft over a tiny area at 36N 167W (336 degs HI). By Thurs AM (12/5) the gale was pushing east with pressure 984 mbs and 40 kt northwest winds building in coverage it's south quadrant targeting Hawaii with seas fading from 23 ft at 38N 162W (352 degs HI and targeting the US West coast better (284 degs NCal). In the evening fetch grew in coverage with winds still 40 kts producing 24 ft seas at 38N 162W aimed east of Hawaii and a bit south of California (348 degs HI, 284 degs NCal, 292 degs SCal). By Fri AM (12/6) the fetch was starting to stretch north with northwest to west winds still 35-40 kts and seas 26 ft at 40N 160W (357 degs HI, 286 degs NCal, 294 degs SCal). The low amplified Fri PM with wind up to 50 kts over a small area just south of the Eastern Aleutians in the Western Gulf and lifting north producing 28 ft seas way up at 48N 167W (347 degs HI, 304 degs NCal). Fetch retrograded southwest Sat AM (12/7) with winds fading from 45 kts positioned a bit more south of the Aleutians aimed due south with seas up to 30 ft at 47N 169W (340 degs HI, 302 degs NCal) targeting Hawaii best. Fetch is to fade in the evening from 35 kts with residual 26 ft seas at 45N 170W (340 degs HI, not really aimed at NCal up the 296 degs path).
Hawaii: The first part of the swell arrived in Hawaii late Friday and was peaking Sat AM (12/7) at 6 ft @ 12-13 secs (7,5 ft faces) from 330 degrees. On Sunday (12/8) swell to hold at 6 ft @ 13 secs (nearly 8 ft faces) from 340 degrees. The next part of the swell (when it was just south of the Aleutians) to hit on Monday AM (12/9) building to 4.7 ft @ 14-15 secs (6.5-7.0 ft faces) holding through the day, then fading Tuesday (10/10) from 4.5 ft @ 14 secs early (6 ft). Swell direction for the second part 340-345 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival (from the first part of the gale) on Mon (12/9) with swell 4.6 ft @ 14-15 secs early (6.5 ft faces) and holding through the day. Residuals on Tuesday (12/10) fading from 4 ft @ 13 secs (5 ft). Swell Direction: 284 degrees
Southern CA: Some energy from this system to reach Southern CA starting late Mon (12/9) but likely not rideable. Swell up to 2.2 ft @ 14 secs (3 ft faces) Tues AM (12/10). Swell fading Wed AM (12/110 from 1.9 ft @ 12-13 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290-295 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 (12/7) high pressure at 1024 mbs was 600 nmiles west of Southern CA with low pressure inland over Nevada falling southeast forming a local pressure gradient resulting gin local north winds at 20+ kts along most of the California coast. 15-21 inches of new snow were reported falling overnight in Tahoe. By Sunday north winds are to quickly fade with a light offshore flow possible early mainly for Central CA. A light offshore flow is forecast for the whole state Monday and Tues (12/10). A light north flow possible on Wed mainly for Northern CA with lighter winds early south of there and building to maybe 15 kts later on Thurs (12/12) mainly for Central CA. Light rain for the north end of the state late Thursday too. Friday high pressure is to get a little better footing off the coast with north winds 15 kts for San Francisco southward to Pt Conception building northward late. But those winds to subside down to the 10 kts range on Saturday. No precipitation is forecast for the next week.
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 another small gale might try to develop lifting north of Hawaii late on Mon (12/9) with a small area of 35 kt west winds and seas on the increase from 26 ft at 41N 157W, By Tues AM (12/10) 35-40 kt west winds to persist over a small area with seas 25 ft at 41N 154W. By evening winds to be covering a good sized area aimed east but fading from 35 kts with seas 21 ft at 41N 150W.The gale to be fading from there. If this were to come to pass some degree of 13-14 secs periods well could result for the US West Coast. The models also hint as another gale forming in the same area in the Central Gulf on Friday (12/13) with seas in the 37 ft range aimed east per the 06Z run on Sat (12/7), but the 12Z run totally wiped that out. So it's anyone's guess what will happen beyond that. But is seems the storm track is trying to get somewhat better organized long term.
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 (12/7) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up slightly at -10.33. The 30 day average was well up into positive territory but falling from 7.33 and the 90 day average was falling from 4.05. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of a weak Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was above neutral territory suggestive of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. 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 light to modest east anomalies over the Maritime Continent weakening and turning neutral on the dateline continuing south of Hawaii and holding all the way into Central America. A week from now (12/15) weak to modest easterly anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent fading to neutral over the dateline and holding south of Hawaii and into Central America. In all this suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is over the West Pacific but is weaker than the dynamic model previously projected and is to continue weakening.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 12/6 are coming into consensus. Both models suggest a very weak Inactive Phase was established over the West Pacific centered near the dateline. The statistic model suggests this pattern is slowly dissipate over the next 15 days with the Active Phase of the MJO moving from the Indian Ocean into the far West Pacific 15 days out. The dynamic model suggests the Inactive Phase is to build some while tracking east 4 days out, holding on the dateline 8 days out then be almost gone while holding it's position 15 days out. The Active Phase of the MJO is to remain bottled up in the Indian Ocean. The ultra long range upper level model updated on 12/7 suggests no real activity was occurring in the upper atmosphere and that pattern is to hold into Dec 22. After that a very weak Inactive Phase is to develop on the dateline (12/27) and slowly east east through 1/16. No signs of support for the Active Phase are noted. 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 (12/5) a completely neutral water temp pattern covers the equator from Central America to the Philippines if not biased on the warm side of neutral (+0.25 degs C). 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. Some slight erosion occurred thereafter, but that has stopped and a neutral to warmish pattern persists. A small pocket of warmer water previously developing over Southern Peru has moderated, but water temps are certainly not abnormally cool along the Peruvian coast, 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 but in-place. The wall of warmer than normal water just off the North CA coast remains displaced west, held off by high pressure and local upwelling. Still, thousands of nmiles of warmer water is lurking between Japan and just off the North CA coast. In short, there's no sign of a legitimate warm pattern developing. We remain in a pure neutral pattern (as neutral as it can get). It will take 3 months from the time the cool eddy ended off the Galapagos and a fully neutral pattern developed (mid-Sept) till anything helpful to the jetstream 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. NOAA is calling the larger warm pool an eastward moving Kelvin Wave. Today's chart indicates +2-3 deg C waters are positioned 100 meters down at 120-110W, suggesting the Kevin Wave has crossed the dead spot in the East Pacific array where no buoys exist and the warm pocket is in fact still coherent and pushing east. This is great news. The expectation is it will now impact Ecuador and provide slight warming to the surface warm pool near the Galapagos (a good thing) over the next 30-45 days.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 12/7 remain stable. 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 +0.45 deg C by Aug 2014. For the immediate future (this Winter) a neutral pattern is expected with temps hovering near 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 Summer 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 Updated 12/4/13
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
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
Updated - Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (12/1) - http://youtu.be/bvX92xqKp48?hd=1
Subscribe to the Stormsurf001 YouTube channel for automatic notifications of updates - just click the 'Subscrib'e button below the video.
- - -
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:
||Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here: http://www.casanoble.com/
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.
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!
Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here
Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here
Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table