We'd like to take a minute to thank everyone for your support of Stormsurf over the past year and to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We really appreciate your use of the site and hope it helps you find good surf. We have many new projects in development and will be rolling those products out as we finish development and testing them. In the mean time, we hope you have a great holiday, catch some good waves, and get some time to spend with family and friends. Likewise, forecasts will be updated a bit sporadically over the holidays while we try and do some of the same. Happy Holidays!
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 Monday (12/30) North and Central CA surf was double overhead and offshore and well lined up attributable to swell arriving from the dateline. Down in Santa Cruz surf was head high plus on the sets and clean but warbled due to high tide. In Southern California up north surf was waist high on the sets and clean and well lined up. Down south waves were waist to maybe chest high and clean but weak. Hawaii's North Shore was also getting swell from the dateline in the 15 ft range but trashed by north-northeast winds. The South Shore was flat. No report was available for the East Shore.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
A smaller but fairly strong gale developed on the dateline Thurs (12/26) producing a small area of 45 ft seas aimed due east towards the US West Coast. That swell hit Hawaii on Sunday and has arrived along the North and Central California coast today. A far weaker storm pattern is forecast for the future. A small and weak gale is forecast for the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Wed (1/1) with maybe a tiny area of 30 ft seas good for small swell into the weekend. And a cutoff low is forecast forming north of Hawaii Thurs-Sat (1/40 generating maybe 20 ft seas aimed well at the Islands good for larger junky local swell. But after that nothing is on the charts. Make the most of what you have now.
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 Monday (12/30) the jetstream was tracking flat and solid off Japan with 160-170 kt winds pushing to the dateline then splitting with some energy tracking northeast up into British Columbia and the rest tracking southeast nearly over Hawaii and then into the tropical equatorial regions. There were no troughs indicated to clearly support gale development, but there was some support regardless. Over the next 72 hours winds in jet over the West Pacific are to build to 170 kts by Wed (1/1) with the split point moving to a point 900 nmiles north of Hawaii and holding into Thursday (1/2) but again no clearly defined troughs are forecast developing. Still there's some support for gale development possible. That said, a weak trough is to form in the Northern Gulf associated with the northern branch of the jet (east of the split point) possibly providing limited and short lived support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours winds in the main flow of the jet off Japan are to fade to 150 kts with a portion of the wind energy trying to peel off to the north just west of the dateline early Fri (1/3) tracking up into the Bering Sea with a second split point developing east of the (north of Hawaii) tracking up into the Northern Gulf of Alaska. none of this is supportive of gale development. There's some suggestion both split flows are to dissipate 170+ hours out on Mon (1/6), but with winds down to 140 kts streaming off Japan, it is unlikely much support for gale development will be present.
Surface Analysis - On Monday (12/30) swell from a gale on the dateline was hitting Hawaii and the US West Coast (see Dateline Gale below). Otherwise no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring. Weak high pressure was over the US West Coast providing a light offshore flow for all locations while a very weak low pressure tendency was over the Kuril and Western Aleutian Islands, but not strong enough to even produce 30 kt fetch. In short, and very quiet pattern was in effect.Over the next 72 hours low pressure is to start building in the Western Gulf on Tues AM (12/31) generating a moderate sized area of 30 kt west winds and 20 ft seas at 47N 165W aimed at the US West Coast. Winds to build to 40 kts while the gale lifts northeast in the evening with seas building to 22 ft at 47N 158W. The gale is to peak Wed AM (1/1) with a tiny area of 45 kt west winds tucked just south of the eastern most Aleutian Islands aimed at British Columbia generating a tiny area of 30 ft seas at 53N 152W. the gale is to track northeast in the evening and fade with no fetch of interest remaining. Maybe some tiny swell to result for the US West Coast. Also another tiny gale is forecast developing on the northern dateline region Wed AM (1/1) producing a tiny area of 45 kt west winds and 26 ft seas at 45N 177E tracking northeast in the evening with 40 kt west winds and 28 ft seas approaching the Central Aleutians at 49N 176W. This system to be gone by Thurs AM (1/2). Maybe a tiny pulse of small swell to result mainly for the US West Coast.
On Wed AM (12/25) a small gale started developing in the far West Pacific half way between Japan and the dateline with winds building from 40 kts. By the evening 55 ky northwest winds developed in the storm southwest quadrant with seas building from 30 ft at 38N 174E. Thurs AM (12/26) a solid fetch of 45-50 kt west winds was in place on the dateline with 38 ft seas at 41N 178W. By evening 45-50 kt west winds held on the dateline aimed due east with seas building to 45 ft at 43N 175W. On Fri AM (12/27) fetch was withering fast from 45 kts with 35 ft seas fading at 42N 175W. In the evening 35 kt northwest winds were fading with seas from previous fetch at 30 ft at 40N 171W. By Sat AM this system dissipated. No direct Jason-2 satellite passes occurred near the storm.
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (12/29) at 8 PM with period 22 sec and size tiny but building. Swell to continue upwards overnight peaking near 10 AM Mon (12/30) at 7 ft @ 18 secs (12 ft) and holding through the day as period drops to 17 secs late afternoon. Swell to be fading Tues AM (12/31) from 6 ft @ 15-16 secs (9 ft). Residuals fading on Wed (1/1) from 5.4 ft @ 14 secs (7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 293-296 degrees.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (12/30) at 6 AM with period 22 sec and size tiny but building to 1.6 ft @ 20 secs late (3 ft). Swell to continue upwards overnight peaking near 10 AM Tues (12/31) at 3.4 ft @ 17-18 secs (6.0 ft) and holding through the day as period drops to 16 secs at sunset afternoon. Swell to be fading Wed AM (1/1) from 3 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.5 ft). Residuals fading on Thurs (1/2) from 2.4 ft @ 14 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 297-300 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Monday (12/30) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was parked over the US West Coast providing clear skies and a light offshore wind pattern. No change is forecast till Wednesday when the high is to start pushing into the Pacific Northwest and a light north winds pattern becomes established for North and Central CA (5-10 kts) continuing on Thursday. On Friday a weak gradient is to set up over North CA with north winds 15 kts and pushing close to nearshore waters of Central CA then fading some later Saturday. The gradient to dissolve with just a light north wind pattern (5-10 kts) for North and Central CA Sun-Mon (1/6).
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 a cutoff low is to develop 900 nmiles northwest of Hawaii on Thurs AM (1/2) with 35 kt north winds producing 18 ft seas at 37N 170W targeting Hawaii. This system to peak in the evening while falling southeast generating 20-22 ft seas at 35n 170W still 900 nmiles out. 30 kt north fetch to hold into Fri AM (1/3) generating 18 ft seas at 30N 164W just 600 nmiles out. Additional 30-35 kt northerly fetch to build north of there through the day Sat (1/4) targeting Hawaii well resulting in 20 ft seas up at 38N 161W. In all some degree of 13 sec period proto-swell remains possible for the Islands if all goes as modeled.
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 Monday (12/30) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down some at -2.44. The 30 day average was down to -0.76 and the 90 day average was down some at 2.25. The nearterm trend based on the SOI was indicative of potentially a building Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was just above neutral territory suggestive of an overall neutral MJO pattern. 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 neutral anomalies over the Maritime Continent continuing to the dateline dateline holding that way south of Hawaii and continuing into Central America. A week from now (1/7) west anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent turning easterly over the dateline holding south of Hawaii then turning neutral east of there into Central America. In all this suggests a neutral Phase of the MJO is currently over the West Pacific and potentially turning Active longer term.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 12/29 are mostly in-sync. Both suggest a new Active Phase is over the far West Pacific expected to hold if not east east some 5 days out then build a little 10-15 days out while moving to the dateline. Even the conservative dynamic model is in agreement. This remains an upgrade from previous runs. The ultra long range upper level model updated on 12/30 suggests a weak Active Phase is pushing over the dateline and slowly tracking east before pushing into Central America on Jan 14. In parallel a new strong Inactive Phase is to set up in the west on Jan 9 easing east and moving into the East Pacific 2/3 with a new weak Active Phase building behind it. 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 (12/30) 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). It remains similar to previous updates over the past 2 weeks. 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 has stopped and a neutral to warmish pattern started setting up in Dec and has not stopped. 0.0-0.5 degree anomalies cover the entire equatorial Pacific east to west. The pocket of warmer water continues over Chile and all of Peru too, through perhaps just slightly eroded. Water temps off West Africa have eroded slightly too. The California cool plume tracking southwest to the equator driven by high pressure off California remains in-place driven by offshore winds and upwelling. The wall of warmer than normal water just off the North CA coast remains displaced west, held off by high pressure and local upwelling all the result of much offshore winds. 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 yet, but there are some interesting suggestions of such a pattern trying to develop. And certainly there's no troubling cool water on the charts and if anything, warm water is getting the upper hand. We remain in a pure neutral pattern (as neutral as it can get). It will take at least 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 solid pocket of warm water 2 degs C above normal has again developed at 75 meters depth near 110W and is moving through the far East equatorial Pacific about ready to impact (if not already impacting) the coasts of Ecuador and Columbia. This is a eastward moving Kelvin Wave. This is great news in that it is expected to provide slight warming to the already warming surface warm pool near the Galapagos (a good thing) over the next 30-45 days. The hope is this will add some fuel to the jetstream over the next 2 months.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 12/30 remain unchanged and optimistic. The model previously had suggested rapid warming starting March 2014 building to +1.0 deg C by late July 2014. Then the model backed off some, but more recent runs started again suggesting warming expected. Today's run suggests warming to +0.8 deg C by Aug-Sept 2014. For the immediate future (this Winter) a neutral pattern is expected with temps hovering near 0.0 deg C through late January, then a slow but steady increase is to set in. 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
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table