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 (12/15) North and Central California was getting minimal locally generated west windswell with waves waist to chest high and clean early. Southern California was getting the same minimal west swell with waves waist to maybe chest high on the sets and pretty clean mid-day. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more sideband northern semi-swell with waves head high or so and clean. The East Shore has no surf of interest. The South Shore was asleep for the winter.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for building westerly windswell on Wednesday pushing 2 ft overhead but hacked by south winds then wind dying on Thursday with new swell hitting several times overhead. Surf to be fading on Friday at 2-3 ft overhead pulsing a little on Saturday at 3 ft overhead, then dropping from head high on Sunday. Southern California to see pure windswell on Wednesday at waist high. Then new westerly swell arrives mid-day Thursday at 2-3 ft overhead, fading Friday from shoulder high. Reinforcing energy arrives for Saturday at shoulder high again then fading out Sunday. The North Shore of Hawaii is to see a new pulse of sideband swell arriving on Wednesday coming from a gale that was north of the Islands with waves 1-2 ft overhead holding Thursday then dropping to head high Friday. New northerly windswell arrives Saturday at 4 ft overhead then dropping from head high Sunday. The East Shore is to have no easterly windswell. The South Shore is in hibernation for the winter.
Longterm the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is in a neutral state providing no obvious support to enhance storm development. Swell from a modest gale that developed in the Central Gulf of Alaska on Sunday (12/13) pushing east into the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday with 40 kts winds and 35 ft seas is setting up swell for Thursday for the US West Coast and more very modest sideband swell for the Islands on Wednesday. Another gale to follow right behind on Thurs providing weak reinforcements for the weekend while a stronger one supposedly builds on the dateline into the weekend targeting the US West Coast best. Yet another decent storm is forecast for the dateline early next week, but any details are sketchy at best.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (12/15) the North Pacific jetstream has flowing flat west to east from Japan just north of Hawaii and then splitting just off Northern Baja with most energy on the 32N latitude with a pocket of 130 kts winds over Japan, but weak over the greater North Pacific. Something that almost resembled a trough was off the California coast, but was unremarkable and offering only limited support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hrs things are to change in a big way, with 170 kts winds building over Japan reaching to the dateline by late Thursday (12/17) with a new trough starting to dig-in over Hawaii and supporting the formation of a new gale in that area. The split flow is to hold over Southern CA with the northern branch pushing over extreme North CA and Oregon. Beyond 72 hours the Japan flow to build to 210 kts late on Saturday (12/19) with a new trough building on the dateline and steamrolling east, continuing non-stop into early next week with the trough slowly tracking east to a point just northeast of Hawaii. Good support for gale development is possible longterm from the dateline to the Central Gulf. If we didn't know better it almost looks like a new incarnation of the Active Phase of the MJO is to take root.
At the surface on Tuesday (12/15) a modest gale was tracking through the Central Gulf of Alaska with 40 kt west winds (see Gulf Gale below). Another pocket of low pressure was building just east of the dateline and well to the south with more energy streaming off Northern Japan. A weak area of high pressure was over Pt Conception, trying to hold off the inevitable. Over the next 72 hours as the Gulf gale moves inland over British Columbia a new gale is to form late Tuesday just north of Hawaii with 35 kt west winds providing some limited sideband potential for the Islands, and quickly lifting northeast on Thursday (12/17) with 40 kts winds at 42N 140W midday and then slamming into British Columbia in the evening. Perhaps 24 ft seas to result at 44N 139W pushing towards North CA down the 298 degree path with luck arriving Saturday AM. At the same time on Thursday (12/17) a new gale is to be wrapping up on the dateline with 45 kt+ winds developing at 45N 173E aimed well down the 322 degree path to Hawaii and 30 degrees south of the 300 degree path to NCal. 30 ft seas building at 42N 173E. On Friday AM (12/18) 55-60 kts west fetch is forecast at 47N 178E aimed 40 degrees east of the 330 degree path to Hawaii and right down the 301 degree path to NCal. Seas building from 40 ft at 45N 180W. Friday evening 45 kt pure west fetch is forecast at 48N 174W theoretically 45 ft seas over a small area at 48N 178W aimed towards NCal up the 303 degree path. This fetch is to be fading fast Saturday AM (12/19) with 44 ft seas decaying from 50N 170W pushing towards the Pacific Northwest. Possible longer period inconsistent swell to result for the CA north of Pt Conception up into Oregon and Washington with limited sideband swell for Hawaii. .
On Sunday (12/13) a new gale was starting to build in the Central Gulf of Alaska with 40 kt west winds modeled at 43N 160W targeting primarily the US West Coast with sideband energy towards Hawaii. This system held Sunday PM (12/13) with 40 kts northwest winds at 43N 158W and taking good aimed initially on Hawaii down the 345 degree great circle path but quickly swinging east. By Monday AM (12/14) a solid fetch of 35-40 kt west winds were modeled at 41N 155W pushing right down the 290 degree path to NCal with 29 ft seas modeled at 43N 153W. In the evening up to 40-45 kt west winds started re-building at 41N 151W aimed up the 289 degree path to NCal and mostly bypassing Hawaii. 30 ft seas were modeled building at 41N 155W. This system held Tuesday AM (12/15) with 40-45 kt west winds at 40N 145W aimed right up the 285 degree path to NCal with 35 ft seas modeled at 40N 148W. In the evening residual 35 kts winds are to be aimed due east at 40N 140W pushing up the 285 degree path to NCal with 30 ft seas fading at 40N 141W. 30 kt west winds to be fading Wednesday AM (12/16) as this system pushes into the Pacific Northwest with 27 ft seas 600 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino.
Decent sized but raw swell is likely to result for the US West Coast with even some size into Southern CA if this comes to pass, with perhaps limited sideband energy for Hawaii (but indistinguishable from already present sideband swell, just bumping the size up a foot or so Tues into Wed (12/16) (See QuikCAST for SCal and Hawaii details).
Northern CA: Expect swell arrival on Thursday (12/17) at sunrise with swell quickly ramping up to 9.0-9.5 ft @ 16 secs (14-15 ft), then period slowly dropping to 14 secs by sunset. Swell fading out overnight. A fair amount of lump and lurp in the swell due to it's local position. Swell Direction: 285-289 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (12/15) south winds and rain was impacting the Cape Mendocino area in advance of the next front pushing into the state. This one is not to be the rain producer previous advertised for the SF Bay Area with most energy staying north of the region. The front is to pass as far south as perhaps Monterey Bay Wed AM with rain and south winds in effect, then dissipating with light winds and clearing skies forecast by Thursday and holding into the weekend, though a large local gale is to moving dangerously close to the coast Thursday but impacting only Oregon down into Cape Mendocino. Yet another system is to be pushing northeast up into Oregon on Sun/Mon (12/21) but again deflected away from CA (south of Cape Mendocino). And yet more is forecast off the coast by mid-next week with rain as far south as Monterey Bay on Tues (12/22), though locally things to remain calm. Take it while you can cause once El Nino gets it's feet dug in, you know the rain and wind will be coming.
The MJO has moved into a neutral state. No support for tropical activity is expected for the next 3-4 weeks.
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
At the surface no swell producing fetch was occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 yet another storm is forecast trying to develop west of the dateline Saturday (12/19) with 55 kt west winds well to the south at 38N 168E taking good aim on Hawaii initially, tracking northeast in the evening to 42N 178E and reaching to 44N 175W Sunday AM down to 45 kts. But there is much uncertainty about any of these details. Yet another storm is forecast on the dateline Tuesday (12/22) with winds building to 55 kts and seas to 36 ft, but this also remaining high ly uncertain with the models shifting significantly with each run. Regardless, the jetstream is likely to be having a positive impact on storm development if it does what it's supposed to.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tues (12/15) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was supposedly neutral though the SOI was diving into negative territory. The ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index was well negative with the Daily SOI at -20.86. The 30 day average was down some to -7.81 while the 90 average was down to -7.68.
Wind anomalies at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicating dead neutral winds over the entire equatorial Pacific with no change forecast into Jan 3. The Active Phase is theoretically over with no sign of an Inactive Phase behind it, a good thing. This pattern neither helps nor suppresses the development of storm in the North Pacific. But with El Nino in play, it will likely excerpt a steady but subtle push for the formation of storms.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (12/14) indicated that warmer than normal waters were consolidated on the equator from Ecuador and Columbia west to the dateline and even west of there, and starting to rebuild some along the Baja coast, but not much. A new strong Kelvin Wave (see below) was erupting along the coast and some evidence of it can be seen with a most solid warm anomaly signature present over and just west of the Galapagos Islands. It is expected that water temps will continue to increase yet more over the coming weeks as this Kelvin Wave (see below) continues impacting the coast there. This is classic El Nino. Overall the warm water signature remains non-exceptional from a historical El Nino perspective, but clearly in the moderate category and building slowly but steadily.
Below the surface on the equator things continue to look most favorable. 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. As of 12/15 the Kelvin Wave we've been tracking with a core of 5-6 deg C warmer than normal sub-surface water was impacting the Galapagos and Ecuador coast. This is fueling an increase in the warm water surface pool as it continues impacting the coast there. This pool is expected to continue building and eventually tracking back west on the equator driven by trades. This Kelvin Wave first appeared under the dateline on 9/17 and tracked steadily east through 12/1 and was 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. Of additional interest is the development of a new pocket of warm water on the dateline 3 deg C above normal starting on 12/10. As of 12/15 it continued to slowly grow in areal coverage and is easing east, currently at about 170W. This looks like the start of a new small mini-Kelvin Wave.
Over the Equatorial Pacific anomalous surface winds started to move from the west to the east on 11/28 extending the whole way from Indonesia to a point south of Hawaii, with fully blowing west winds confirmed in the far West Pacific. This was a new Westerly Wind Burst and continued very obvious on 11/30 with fully blowing west winds near 165E, and strong. This Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) continued on 12/2 through 12/8 with a most solid area of west winds pushing almost to the dateline. On 12/6 strong west anomalies pushed to 170W and held solid through 12/15, with fully blowing west winds reaching to the dateline and anomalies to 170W. This is likely helping to feed the a newly developing Kelvin Wave under the dateline (see above), which would be great to help fuel development of El Nino. If anything, subsurface water temps are expected to increase as the WWB continues pushing warm water into the depths on the dateline, feeding the developing Kelvin Wave there. And the Kelvin Wave currently hitting Ecuador was formed from a prolonged bout and multiple pulses of westerly winds and westerly anomalies that occurred from 9/8 through 11/2. At one point towards it's end the anomalies reached the whole way from the West Pacific to almost Ecuador. Embedded in that run were Typhoons Dujuan, Choi-Wan, Parma, Melor and Nepartak. All this helped to deepen the surface warm pool in the tropical Eastern Pacific. Typhoon Nida and Storm #5 was associated with the most recent WWB. So at this time two Kelvin Waves are in the pipe. Impressive.
El Nino is expected to affect the global atmospheric weather pattern at least through Spring of next year if not into the middle of summer. 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 no swell producing fetch is to develop.
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