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.
New Weather Models
With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon): http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
On Tuesday (10/26) North and Central California was getting more raw double overhead swell from the latest gale that pushed into Washington on Monday. Southern California was chest to shoulder high up north and pretty hacked mid-day all coming from the gale off Washington earlier. Down south sets were head high and a bit cleaner but still textured with a good amount of water moving around. Hawaii's North Shore was getting chest high blown out windswell with northeast trades ripping it apart. The East Shore was seeing easterly tradewind generated windswell at near head high and chopped. The South Shore was asleep for the winter with waves 2 ft or less.
The forecast for North and Central CA on Wednesday is for swell dropping with waves 8 ft (faces) with lots of wind lump on top and fading. Thursday windswell drops to 3.5 ft. Possible new local swell expected again on Friday (10/29) in the double overhead range but trashed then fading from 5.5-6.0 ft on Saturday with south windswell left at 2.5 ft on Sunday. Southern California is to see waist to chest high leftover local Gulf swell on Wednesday dropping to thigh high on Thursday. Possible new head high Gulf swell for exposed break later Friday fading from waist to chest high Saturday then flat Sunday. The North Shore of Oahu is to be flat on Wednesday and holding there through Sunday. The East Shore is to see tradewind generated east windswell on Wednesday (10/27) at head high or so and holding there Thursday then down to chest high Friday and waist high Saturday before dissipating. The South Shore is effectively asleep for the winter. Maybe some knee high sets on Friday fading out on Saturday.
Another small gale developed in the far Western Gulf of Alaska late Mon/Tues (10/26) while building and is to be falling into the Gulf of Alaska with 26 ft seas moving to within 800 nmiles of Northern CA on late Wednesday/early Thursday before sinking south and dissipating while paralleling the Central CA coast on Friday. Raw windy swell likely for Central CA northward late in the workweek. A larger system remains forecast developing in the Bering Sea on Wed-Thurs (10/28) then falling into the Gulf over the weekend with 55-60 kt winds and 42 ft seas by late Sunday, then moderating while tracking east into Central Canada on Tues (11/2). Possible solid sideband swell for Hawaii with larger swell for the US West Coast if all develops as modeled (still a long shot). Perhaps some more gale energy is forecast behind that too.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (10/26) the North Pacific jetstream was looking most energetic with a solid flow of 160 kt winds ridging northeast off Japan reaching to the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians, then falling southeast and moderating with 120 kt winds tracking from there on into Oregon. A bit of a trough remained in the northeastern Gulf of Alaska providing limited support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hours all the energy in the west is to track northeast then spill south into the Gulf of Alaska on Wednesday pushing 160 kt winds in the trough already present there and steepening it, almost pinching it off as it eases slowly east just off the Central CA coast on Friday (10/29). Decent support for gale development in that trough. Beyond 72 hours yet more energy is to start building off Japan with 190 kt winds taking hold in the jet and pushing flat east, wiping out the ridge over the dateline and spilling well into a new trough building in the Central Gulf. With 190 kt winds storm development seems likely there on Sat/Sun (10/31). That trough is to hold it's ground and not move any further east with 170 kt winds flowing through it on Tues (11/2) continuing to support gale development, then the whole mess is to start moving east looking bound for the US West coast. But for now, California looks to be protected by a small ridge of high pressure through early Wednesday.
At the surface on Tuesday (10/26) high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered just east of the dateline reaching almost north to the Aleutians supported by the ridging pattern in the jetstream aloft. The high was also ridging east and just impacting the North CA coast forming a mild pressure gradient over Pt Conception generating 20-25 kt north winds there. Along the south side of the high easterly trades at 20 kts solid were pushing over the Hawaiian Islands, generating easterly windswell impacting east shores there. A gale was tracking up the Kamchatka Peninsula riding up the western flank of the high bound for the Bering Sea, and a weaker gale was in the Western Gulf tracking over the northeastern flank of the high (see Next Gulf Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours the main focus is to be the gale tracking through the Central Gulf of Alaska taking aim on primarily California. Also the gale that is currently tracking over Kamchatka is to move northeast into the Bering Sea on Wed-Thurs (10/28) generating 45-50 kt west winds there and seas to 36 ft, but all totally shadowed relative to North Pacific interests by the Aleutians Islands. No swell production expected immediately for this system, though long term there are possibilities.
Next Gulf Gale
On Monday (10/25) a small gale developed on the dateline a bit south of the Aleutians producing 35 kt west winds at 46N 180W pushing up the 298 degree path to NCal and 30 degrees east of the the 330 route to Hawaii. It tracked east with little change indicated through the day. Seas were in the 18 ft range. By Tuesday AM (10/26) the gale reached the Central Gulf of Alaska with winds still 35 kts at 45N 155W almost bypassing Hawaii but aimed down the 296 degree track to NCal and covering a larger area with seas still 18 ft. By evening winds are to be building to 40 kts at 45N 150W and seas reaching 20 ft at 45N 150W. On Wednesday AM (10/27) 35 kt northwest fetch is to hang on by dropping more to the southeast at 40N 143W with 25 ft seas at 42N 146W (292 degs Central CA and totally bypassing HI). The gale is to edge east in the evening and try to reorganize with up to 45 kt northwest winds at 42n 140W aimed bit south of the 292 degree path to Central CA with 23 ft seas at 40N 140W. On Thursday AM (10/28) the gale is to be fading while dropping south paralleling the Central CA coast with 35 kt north winds at 38N 140W (285 degs CCal) with 26 ft seas from previous fetch at 40N 140W. By evening the gale is to be fading with barely 30 kt fetch left and seas from previous fetch at 25 ft at 36N 137W (283 degree relative to SCal) with swell from it pushing into the Pacific Northwest and likely radiating southeast towards Central CA for days ahead. Even swell is possible for Southern CA with luck. Will monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (10/26) the last of the fetch associated with a local Gulf Gale was pushing into Washington and high pressure was ridging into the Pt Conception area generating north winds there to 25 kts. A more moderate but none-the-less unfavorable north flow was pushing down the North and Central Coasts pretty much making a mess of things. By Wednesday winds are to die early as another gale sets up just off the Central coast with south winds moving into the North Coast mid-morning. South winds are expected down to Big Sur on Thursday but rain holding just north of the Golden Gate. More south wind pushing down to Pt Conception later Friday but rain holding just off the coast. Yet another front is forecast for Saturday with rain moving onshore early from Pt Conception north and south winds in control associated with a new gale forecast for the Gulf. South winds continuing Sunday too down to Pt Conception with the rain line just north of the Golden Gate. There some indication that high pressure might get a toe into the Central CA region on Monday with light wind south of Pt Reyes while a huge weather system sets up off the coast and slamming into Oregon northward. More light winds from Pt Arena south on Tuesday (11/2) while the Pacific Northwest gets doused.
At the oceans surface on Tuesday (10/26) no swell producing fetch was occurring at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast with no swell producing weather systems modeled.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
72 hrs the large gale forecast for the Bering Sea on Thursday (10/28) is to start drifting southeast while the jetstream builds under it and tropical moisture and energy from off Japan moves over the dateline. By Saturday AM (10/30) supposedly it is to all converge resulting in a huge area of 30-35 kt fetch developing at 45N 175W with pressure 992 mbs aimed at both Hawaii and the US West coast. By evening the system is to rapidly build with a huge fetch of 35+ kt west northwest winds with a core of 50 kt west winds at 45N 160W aimed at the US West Coast down the 296 degree path and sideband energy aimed 70 degree east of the 358 degree path to Hawaii. Seas on the increase fast. By Sunday AM (10/31) 55-60 kt west-northwest winds are forecast at 46N 155W with seas building to 36 ft, though that is likely low and a large area of 28-30 ft seas back at 45N 172W (336 degs Hawaii and 296 NCal). This fetch is to be targeting primarily Central CA up to the Pacific Northwest. In the evening 50-55 kt west winds are to hold at 46N 150W aimed at Central CA up the 296-298 degree paths with seas building to 42 ft at 45N 150W. On Monday AM (11/1) 50 kt winds to continue in the storms south quadrant at 46N 147W aimed up the 299 degree path to NCal with seas 44 ft at 46N 147W and with 30 ft seas all the back to 40N 165W meaning lot's of backup though smaller energy in the 17 sec range pushing on a sideways angle to Hawaii and more direct towards the US West Coast. In the evening the storm is to be fading with 35-40 kt west winds still aimed mostly at the Pacific Northwest up into Southern British Columbia with seas fading from 40 ft at 47N 140W and then effectively gone from there. If all goes as forecast large powerful swell seems likely for the entire US West coast. But it is still way to early to expect any of this to occur. Regardless, the Active Phase of the MJO appears to be living up to expectations.
See the official El Nino/La Nina Forecast using the link posted below.
As of Tuesday (10/26) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued in the positive range regardless what the MJO was doing. The daily SOI had dipped to 5.74 (one day). The 30 day average was down to 23.09 with the 90 day average down slightly at 21.92 (it can't get much higher).
Wind anomalies as of Monday (10/25) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated that the MJO was settling down even more. Fading but stubborn easterly anomalies continued in the far Eastern Pacific pushing into Central America, indicating a fading Inactive Phase of the MJO was still holding on. In the West a moderate Active Phase (west anomalies) was filling the eastern 50% of the Indian Ocean and tracking into the far Western Pacific though no longer reaching the dateline. The core remained over the Philippines. The Inactive Phase is forecast to dissipate on 10/30 with the Active Phase holding on west of the dateline and moderating almost gone by 11/4. There is no suggestion it will reach Central America anymore. A totally neutral wind pattern is forecast by 11/9 and holding through 11/14.
This is the first real Active Phase of the MJO so far this Fall and it continues to offer at least some potential fuel to support formation of North Pacific gales starting 10/18 and continuing for a few weeks (into the first week in November). The models have now picked up on this trend with a continuing series of gales forecast for the East Pacific. It is pretty typical for MJO Phases to be not well defined during summer months or during El Nino years, and to then become much more apparent as Fall develops, with the effects at the surface more obvious then too. The swing from Active to Inactive and back to Active becomes more pronounced too during La Nina years. So this current development of a strong Active Phase is not unexpected. We'll be following the phase shifts much more closely this Winter because only during the Active Phase will there be good potential for storm development.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (10/21) continues to indicate that downright colder than normal waters (-2 C degs or cooler) expanding their grip on the equator covering solidly from South America west to the dateline and beyond and are in fact getting cooler and covering a larger area over time, extending the whole way to New Guinea. The coldest waters were on the equator, but a broad secondary area extended from a point off Chile pushing gently northwest towards the dateline, a clear signal of strong easterly winds there and solid upwelling. Feeder bands of cooler than normal water continued building off the US West Coast and South America sweeping fully to the dateline, only serving to reinforce what is already an impressive if not mature La Nina pattern, suggesting stronger than normal high pressure has built in both hemispheres and upwelling is in full effect in the Gulf of Alaska and off South America. Looks like a classic La Nina setup. Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present and if anything colder than normal water was building strong over the dateline and pushing east (sort of like a cold Kelvin Wave). This pocket was -6 degs below normal on 10/18 (getting a little warmer than previous readings of -7 degs in mid- Sept). regardless, this is still not good.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond. And now from a historical perspective these easterly winds were now fully anomalous, blowing harder than normal from the east to the west, as would be expected looking at all the other data. But this is a rather recent development, with only normal winds indicated prior to 9/11. The interesting twist to all this is that the Pacific current that runs along the equator turned abruptly from flowing towards South America to flowing towards the Philippines in mid-March (2010), right as the SOI started it's impressive drive into positive territory and the North Pacific winter storm machine abruptly shut down. And it has not wavered since. But trades never waiver from the normal range. This suggests trade wind anomalies might be a byproduct of the Pacific equatorial current change and not the other way around i.e. the trades do not drive the temperature change initially, but the current change does. And then the atmosphere responds in kind to the change, building high pressure and reinforcing the flow and water temps. Said a different way, the change in the current might actually foretell a coming change in the trades, and then with the advent of the trade wind change, it only serves to reinforce the current in a self a.cgiifying loop, until such time as the cycle runs it's course and the self feeding system collapses over a multiyear period. At that time the current then switches direction, and a whole new self-enforcing cycle stars anew. Something to consider (regarding the formation and El Nino/La Nina).
El Nino is effectively gone and slowly losing it's grip on the global upper atmospheric weather pattern. Still some lingering impact might continue through early Fall 2010, but likely not enhancing the storm track in the South Pacific any longer. The expectation is that we'll see a building moderate.cgius strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) for the remainder of 2010 extending well into 2011 and likely to early 2012. In short, the next year and half is going to be tough for surfers on west facing shores in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, though east facing shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance. That is not to say there will be no storms, in fact, there could be short periods of intense activity when the Active Phase gets an opportunity to come to fruition, but that will be the exception rather than the rule, with the Inactive Phase trying to keep a cap on storm activity.
See more details in the El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch 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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New Weather Models With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon): http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
New Weather Model Server Stormsurf has installed another weather model production server. This has enabled us to spread the load across more servers allowing us to post both wave and weather model updates much quicker. Also we are testing new content (like North America jetstream, winds and precipitation, local wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments). The model menus will be updated shortly with these new links.
Interview with Stormsurf: Coastviews Magazine has written up a very nice article on Stormsurf in their latest edition. You can read it here: http://coastviewsmag.com/master-forecaster-mark-sponsler-and-stormsurf
Stormsurf Hi-Res Coastal Precipitation Models Upgraded Though a bit late in the season, on 3/20 we i.cgiemented the same basic technology used in our new snow/ski models into the coastal hi-res precipitation models. So now you can not only determined whether rain is forecast for your area, but also snow. And not just light, medium or heavy snow like most sites, but the exact snowfall amount (in inches) for each 3 hr frame of the animation. Here's a sa.cgie, but now this approach is used in all our precipitation models. http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=nwcoast_precip
Stormsurf Precip Models Upgraded! On 2/20 we upgraded some of the broader precipitation models driven by the hi-def GFS model to include snow fall. The algorithm used is similar to the recently released snow models for the Southwest US in that the areas where snow is expected are identified and the exact amount of snow forecast over a 3 hr window is e.cgiicitly color coded. For East and West Coast US interests the following links provide good exa.cgies:
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Stormsurf Weather Models have all been upgraded! Over the New Years break we installed all new and upgraded weather models. Also new are experimental snow models for the Southwest US. Take a look here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html
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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
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.
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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/
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table