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.
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On Tuesday (4/2) North and Central CA was seeing Kamchatka swell fading with waves waist to maybe chest high and weak with light texture on it and crumbled. Down south in Santa Cruz waves were thigh to waist high and weak and pretty textured with chop outside the kelp. Southern California up north was near flat and clean with waves maybe thigh high and weak. Down south waves were waist to chest high with some bigger sets and well lined up coming out of the north with light texture on it and looking fun. Hawaii's North Shore was getting solid northerly windswell with waves 3 ft overhead but pretty warbled and all over the.cgiace though winds were relatively light. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was getting wrap around windswell from the north with waves head high and chopped.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Swell from a gale that developed just west of Kamchatka Tues-Wed (3/27) producing 32 ft seas just west of the dateline was on the way down along the California coast. Swell from a cutoff low north of Hawaii Sun (3/31) producing 20-22 ft seas was hitting Hawaii and expected to be fading on Wed (4/3). A compact but fairly strong storm was peaking out on the dateline Tues AM (4/2) with 45 ft seas over a small area aimed east, expected to fade while tracking east. Possible decent swell for all locations later in the week into the weekend. Nothing else is modeled behind. Down south a small gale peaked on Wed (3/27) southeast of New Zealand producing 38-40 ft seas over a small area then fading while lifting well to the northeast. Another small pulse of sideband swell for Hawaii and decent swell for the mainland by late in the week. Nothing else is modeled behind it. Details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Tuesday (4/2) the jetstream was .cgiit over Japan with the northern branch lifting northeast then falling into a well defined trough pushing off Kamchatka and reaching the dateline with 170 kt winds pushing into it offering good support for gale development. From there the jet tracked hard north up well up into the Bering Sea. A cutoff low/trough was circulating just northeast of Hawaii with 110 kt winds flowing down into offering limited support for low pressure development there and easing east. Over the next 72 hours the dateline trough is to track east and hold together fairly well till Thurs (4/4), when it starts to dissipate in the Western Gulf with winds falling from 140 kts over a tiny area eventually pushing east into Washington. The cutoff low/trough is to push east and fade off Central CA on Thurs (4/40 offering no real support for anything more than low pressure development. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to flow flat across the North Pacific with a large trough building on the dateline by Sat (4/6) with 140 kts winds falling into it and pushing steadily east, eventually pinching off well north of Hawaii on Tues (4/9). Some support for gale development possible then.
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (3/30) residual swell from a gale that formed off Kamchatka Wed (3/27) was fading along the CA coast. North windswell from a cutoff low that developed north Hawaii on Sun (3/31) was already on the way down. Of far more interest was a storm about peaked out on the dateline (see Small Dateline Storm below). Over the next 72 hours the dateline storm is to fade out while moving toward the Western Gulf. Otherwise no swell producing weather systems of interest are charted.
Possible Small Dateline Storm
A small storm developed just west of the dateline Monday (4/1) and getting solid by evening generating 55 kt west winds over a very small area aimed mostly east. Seas building to 39 ft over a tiny area at 43N 170E (299 degs NCal, 316 degs HI). By Tues AM (4/2) 50 kt west winds continued on the dateline with seas building to 45 ft at 43N 177E (322 degs HI, 297 degs NCal). In the evening 50 kt west winds to push east generating a decent area of 44 ft seas at 45N 177W (aimed mostly east of the 331 degree path to HI, 298 degs NCal). 40-45 kt west winds to hold into Wed AM (3/3) with 38 ft seas at 43N 175W (295 degs NCal). By evening fetch to be fading from 35 kts with residual 30 ft seas at 42N 170W (292 degs NCal). The models have held remarkably steady for several days now. If all goes as forecast some degree of utility class swell could reach the US West Coast with decent sideband swell for the Hawaiian Islands too. Preliminary forecasts issue below for.cgianning purposes.
Hawaii (Oahu): Expect swell arrival on Thurs (4/4) building through the day and starting to peak right at sunset with a few sets with pure swell up to 9 ft @ 18 secs (16 ft Hawaiian). Swell peaking overnight. Swell starting to fade at sunrise Fri (4/5) but still solid with pure swell 9 ft @ 16 secs (14.5 ft) and fading steadily from there. Swell down on Saturday (4/6) to 7.5 ft @ 15 secs (11 ft). 13 secs residuals on Sun (4/7). Swell Direction: 320-325 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival after sunset on Fri (4/5) with period 21 secs and size tiny but building. Modest inconsistent energy to be building in by early Saturday (4/6) with swell peaking late afternoon at 7 ft @ 17-18 secs (12 ft). 15-16 sec residuals on Sunday (4/7). Swell partially shadowed in the San Francisco area. Swell Direction: 294-298 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are occurring.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (4/2) a weak local pressure pattern was in.cgiay with one low existing to the east and another one easing east from a point northeast of Hawaii, Light winds were in.cgiay other than 15 kt northwest winds over Pt Conception. But even that wind is to fade Wednesday as the warm core Hawaiian low starts moving towards the coast but fading all the while. By Thursday AM (4/4) light south winds forecast for North CA in the morning (San Francisco northward) with modest light rain developing from Pt Conception northward. Light rain for Tahoe by 10 AM. Clearing for most of CA on Friday while a series of weather system starts moving east targeting primarily Oregon with south winds down to maybe Pt Arena on Friday but with weak high pressure getting a toe in the door over South CA with north winds building to 15 kts from Monterey Bay southward. A bit of light rain possible from San Francisco northward starting in the afternoon. Saturday more high pressure building in from San Francisco southward with north wind to 25 kts for Pt Conception and the Channel Islands but maybe only 10-15 kts up to San Francisco. Light rain late morning from San Francisco northward. Sunday AM (4/7) a tiny little low to move onshore over Oregon and behind it high pressure to take control. By the afternoon north winds to be blow 15 kts over the entire state and up to 30 kts near Pt Conception. High pressure to create a gradient with 30 kt north winds forecasts nearshore for the entire state Monday, then pushing away from the coast Tuesday and fading to 25 kts, with Central CA still pretty much trashed though Southern CA to be cleaning up with a light eddy flow building in.
Surface - On Tuesday (4/2) swell from a gale off New Zealand was pushing northeast (see New Zealand Gale below). Otherwise no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring. Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.
New Zealand Gale
On Tuesday AM (3/26) a gale was trying to organize in the deep Southwest Pacific south of New Zealand. By the evening the gale was building southeast of New Zealand lifting northeast with southwest winds 50 kts over a decent sized area of ice free waters with seas building to 34 ft at 63S 180W (205 degs SCal, 190 degs HI). The gale was pushing slightly northeast Wed AM (3/27) with winds fading from 45-50 kts over a smaller area and seas peaking at 40 ft at 62S 171W (203 degs SCal, 186 degs HI). The Jason-1 satellite passed over the leading edge of the gale at 18Z and confirmed seas at 36.1 ft with on peak reading at 40 ft where the model indicated 36 ft seas. The model was right on track. Residual 40 kt southwest winds were fading in the evening with 34 ft seas at 59S 160W (201 degs SCal, 181 degs HI). Jason-1 again passed near the core of the fetch and reported seas at 33.5 ft with on reading to 37.4 ft where the model suggested 33-34 ft ft seas, The model was right on track. 35 kt southerly winds were starting to push almost due north Thursday AM (3/28) with 30 ft seas lifting to 54S 157W (180 degs HI, 201 degs SCal). At 18Z Jason-1 passed over the core of the fetch and reported seas 28.8 ft with one reading to 33.1 ft where the model indicated 29 ft seas. Again the model was right on track. The fetch dissipated in the evening with 26 ft seas at 49S 150W (201 degs SCal). Some modest swell is radiating northeast. Sideband energy for Hawaii and somewhat shadowed energy (by Tahiti) for California.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Wed (4/3) with swell building to 1.9 ft @ 18 secs late (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell to continue on Thurs (4/4) at 1.9 ft @ 17 secs early (3 ft) slowly fading as period drifts down to 16 secs late. Swell 1.7 ft @ 15 secs (2.5 ft) early Fri (3/5) and fading. Swell Direction: 181-186 degrees
South California: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (4/4) with swell building to 1.9 ft @ 20 secs late (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell to start peaking later Fri (4/5) with pure swell 2.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (4.5 ft with sets to 5.5 ft). Swell to continue solid on Saturday at 3.0 ft @ 16-17 secs early (4.5-5.0 ft with sets to 6.0 ft). Residual energy on Sunday at 2.3 ft @ 15 secs early (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 200-205 degrees
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 no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast. Locally generated north windswell expected to develop for nearshore waters of Southern and Central Central Mon-Tues (4/9).
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.cgianet. 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 .cgiit 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 Tuesday (4/2) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down some at 8.00. The 30 day average was up some to 9.55 with the 90 day average up slightly at 1.41. Overall this is neutral territory and not indicative of El Nino.
Current equatorial wind analysis indicated modest easterly anomalies over the Maritime Continent. But from the dateline eastward neutral anomalies were in control continuing the rest of the way into Central America. This indicates a continuation of the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in.cgiay. A week from now (4/10) modest east anomalies are forecast building over the Maritime Continent and extending over the dateline then fading to neutral southeast of Hawaii and continuing into Central America. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to build some and remain in control in the West Pacific. This scenario provides no support for storm development in the North Pacific attributable to the MJO.
The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 4/1 are in general agreement suggesting a small and weak version of the Inactive of the MJO was located near 175E and is to hold for the next 5 day at least. The longer range outlook is a bit more uncertain with the statistic model having the Inactive Phase fading and dispersing while the dynamic model has it holding if not building slightly just west of the dateline 10 days out, then finally fading. At the same time both models suggest the Active Phase of the MJO is to be building in the Indian Ocean, with the statistical model having it pushing in to the far West Pacific (160E) 15 days while the dynamic model suggesting the Inactive Phase is to try and hold on the dateline 15 days out, holding off the Active Phase, though it is still to be making eastward headway. At this time it seems likely some flavor of the Active Phase is to start easing into the West Pacific 15 days out. But there is no support from the MJO towards development of even a weak El Nino. Conversely there's no support for a La Nina either.
The more warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). As of now (4/1) a faint pool of slightly warmer water is holding in the equatorial East Pacific, but very faint. A .cgiume of slightly cooler water continues radiating off the California coast tracking southwest over Hawaii to the equatorial dateline, typical of the effects of a stronger than normal East Pacific high pressure system. And now a tiny.cgiume of markedly cold water is developing along the South American coast drifting east along the equator. Subsurface waters temps continue indicating cooler water (-3 deg C) in.cgiace at 125W and down at 115 meters, blocking the transport path and growing in coverage. In short, though temperatures on the surface remains normal, the subsurface path is blocked with the coastal pattern off the US mainland also suggested increase high pressure and cooler water temps, all signs of a weak La Nina-like pattern.
Projections from the CFSv2 model run 4/2 continue mostly unchanged. They suggest water temps have peaked at Nino 3.4 at (+0.1 degs C) and it's all downhill from here with temps falling in July (-0.3 degs C). But that's the worst of it, with Oct and November holding at (-0.3 deg C). A consensus of all the other ENSO models suggest near normal water temps into Spring, Summer and early Fall 2013 with no warming indicated. We are moving into the Spring unpredictability barrier with accuracy of all the ENSO models historically low. So for now the outcome is uncertain, but not trending towards anything that would be considered warm. Historically, if a warm water buildup indicative of any significant El Nino pattern were to occur, it would be starting to happen by now. But clearly that is not the case.
We are in a dead neutral ENSO pattern with neither El Nino or La Nina imminent. But that is a far better.cgiace than the previous 2 years under the direct influence of La Nina. We had expected a normal number of storms and swell for the 2012-2013 winter season, but that did not materialize with the pattern looking more like La Nina than anything. This past season was more of a 3 rating than the 5 that was predicted. That said, there was good consistency, with the west dateline area very productive and almost machine-like. But the storms were very small in areal coverage and rarely made enough eastern headway to even reach over the dateline. The result was very westerly but reasonably sized utility class swells for the Islands with far small and more inconsistent swell energy for the US West Coast. Longer term the expectation there will be at least one year of neutral to slightly warmer temps (2013-2014) ultimately converging in a stronger warmer pattern and possible El Nino 2-3 years out (2014 or 2015). 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 Finally 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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The Mavericks Invitational Big Wave Surf Contest is scheduled to air on CBS on Thurs (2/7) at 7 PM (PST) r.cgiaying again on Sunday (2/10) at 7 PM. Set your DVR.
'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
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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:
Steve Colleta Surfboards - Check out surfboards by local shaper Steve Coletta - A long time Santa Cruz local and master shaper. Progressive shapes for North and Central CA waves http://www.naturalcurvesboards.com
Chasing the Swell has been nominated for a Webby Award. See details of this great piece of video journalism below. Some say this is the "Oscars" of online awards.One of the awards is voter based. If you have a moment,.cgiease cast your ballot by going to: http://webby.aol.com, register, then click on the "Get Voting" tab and then to the "Online Film and Video" > "Sports" category and vote for "Chasing the Swell".
Timmy Reyes - Curt Myers from Powerlines Productions found this little gem with Timmy Reyes providing a brief statement about which sites he uses for swell chasing. Thought we'd pass it on. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P30ZCQOsYwY
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Chasing The Swell: Sachi Cunningham from the LA Times spent the entirety of last winter chasing surfers and swells around the North Pacific with her high def video cam. Her timing couldn't have been any better with the project exactly coinciding with the strongest El Nino in 12 years resulting in the best big wave season in a decade. And being an acco.cgiished surfer herself helped her to bring a poignant and accurate account of the what it's like to ride big waves and the new (and some not so new) personalities that are revitalizing the sport. This is must-see material for any surfer or weather enthusiast. Check it out here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/chasingtheswell/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table