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.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
- Buoy 51201 (Waimea): Seas were 5.1 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 2.8 ft @ 9.6 secs.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 15.0 secs with swell 1.3 ft @ 14.5 secs. Wind south 6-12 kts. In Santa Barbara swell was 1.3 ft @ 10.4 secs from 257 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.2 ft @ 13.2 secs from 219 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.5 ft @ 14.5 secs from 192 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 6.9 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 4.9 ft @ 8.9 secs. Wind southwest 8-10 kts. Water temp 55.4 degs.
On Tuesday (4/7) in North and Central CA surf was head high and blown out with northwest winds in control. Down in Santa Cruz surf was chest high on the sets and wonky, mainly just windswell. Heavy texture was on it too. In Southern California up north surf was knee high and chopped and weak. Down south waves were waist high on the sets and modestly chopped and looking very weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting wrap around windswell at waist high on the sets and weak, but clean. The South Shore was near flat and clean. The East Shore was getting head high or so east windswell and chopped from brisk trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
High pressure remained in control of the core of the North Pacific with low pressure tracking through the Bering Sea then into the Northern Gulf of Alaska and down the immediate US West Coast. No swell producing fetch of interest was occurring. A modest gale developed off Kamchatka Sat (4/4) tracking northeast generating 22 ft seas briefly, then faded while impacting the Central Aleutians. Low odds of background swell for Hawaii at best. The models are teasing concerning a storm developing over the Northern Dateline a week out, but not believable. Down south a weak gale pushed under New Zealand on Wed (4/1) with 36 ft seas tracking flat east but quickly fading. Sideband swell is in the water pushing northeast. Longer term a gale is forecast in the Tasman Sea on Sat (4/11) producing 30 ft seas targeting Fiji. But nothing else.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream- On Tuesday (4/7) the jet was .cgiit tracking off Asia with the southern branch pushing off South Japan tracking east over Hawaii and into Baja and weak. The northern branch tracked northeast over the Kuril Islands to the Central Aleutians with winds to 140 kts, then faded while falling southeast into the Northern Gulf of Alaska forming a pinched trough there offering nothing in terms of support for gale development. It fragmented from there eventually pushing over Central CA. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast but with winds in the northern branch slowly fading and the flow falling a bit further south and fully south of the Aleutians by Fri (4/10). Still no troughs forecast with a .cgiit flow in control. Beyond 72 hours a pocket of 150 kt winds to develop over the Kuril Islands pushing southeast some on Sun (4/12) starting to carve out a trough, and building into Mon (4/13) while lifting northeast with winds feeding the trough to 170 kts. The apex of the trough to be on the dateline offering good support for gale development and holding while easing east and slowly loosing energy into Tues (4/14). It looks interesting on the charts, but likely has little chance of forming in reality given the pattern of late. Something to monitor.
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (4/7) high pressure at 1024 mbs was locking down the entire central North Pacific near the dateline and extending west to nearly Japan and east to just off California. A modest low was circulating over Alaska and trying to push southeast into the Northern Gulf of Alaska. No swell producing fetch of interest was being produced from it or any other system occurring though. tiny swell from a gale previously off Kamchakta was pushing towards Hawaii (see Kamchatka Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours another gale is to push through the Bering Sea falling into the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Thurs PM (4/9) generating 35 kt northwest winds and seas to 23 ft at 53N 156W targeting mainly the Pacific Northwest up into British Columbia. 30-35 kt westerly winds to continue into Fri AM (4/10) generating more 22 ft seas at 53N 149W. More of the same is forecast into Sat AM (4/11) with 23 ft seas moving to 52N 143W before the gale dissipates. If all this occurs some 13-14 sec period swell could result for the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA (315 degs NCal) by late in the weekend with luck.
A small gale developed just off Kamchatka Sat PM (4/4) tracking northeast. 40 kt west winds were getting traction on the oceans surface just south of the Western Aleutians generating 22 ft seas at 48N 166E targeting mainly the Aleutians. By Sun AM (4/5) that fetch was down to 30 kts and lifting up into the Bering Sea with 20 ft seas at 50N 172E mostly shadowed to everyone by the Central Aleutians. Beyond the system tracked through the Bering Sea while falling apart. No additional swell production occurred. There are low odds of tiny sideband swell reaching Hawaii at best.
Hawaii: Tiny swell building late on Wed (4/8) peaking Thurs (4/9) at 1.8 ft @ 13 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 325 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Tuesday (4/7) no tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (4/7) low pressure was moving inland over California with weak high pressure at 1020 mbs off the coast. Scattered showers were over the Central Coast with the front having already pushed through. Snow was falling in Tahoe with accumulations projected to 13-16 inches at top locations by Wed AM. North winds at 15 kts to build in behind Tues evening over the the entire state. A generally light north wind flow is forecast Wednesday at 5-10 kts but up to 15 kts for Pt Conception into Southern CA late with rain gone by sunrise. A light wind pattern to take over on Thursday as another low trying to build off the Central Coast. That low dissipates off the coast on Friday without moving onshore and light winds remaining coast side. North winds start building later Saturday to 15 kts for North and Central CA building to 20 kts Sun AM (4/12) holding Monday and Tuesday with high pressure off the Coast and a gradient and low pressure falling from the norther over the state. rain possible for extreme North CA Monday with a stronger system behind over North CA early Tuesday pushing to San Francisco in the evening.
On Tues AM (4/7) a tiny gale was developing on the southern edge of the California swell window generating 40 kt southwest winds and barely 30 ft seas at 48S 123W. In the evening southwest winds are to be pushing northeast and building to 45 kts with 32 ft seas at 46S 118W targeting mainly Chile and Peru with sideband energy reaching up into Southern CA on the 180 degree track. By Wed AM (4/8) fetch is to be fading from 40 kts tracking east with seas fading from 33 ft at 43S 109W targeting only Chile and Peru with sideband energy into Central America. Not much if anything is expected from this system given it's infinitesimal footprint. Something to monitor none the less.
Over the next 72 hours no other swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
Small New Zealand Gale
On Tues AM (3/31) a new gale developed in the South Tasman Sea tracking east with 45 kt west winds over a small area. By evening 50-55 kt west winds were in.cgiay over a small area aimed east with 34 ft seas over a tiny area at 58S 164E. 45 kt southwest winds were pushing east Wed AM (4/1) with 34 ft seas over a small area at 57S 178E (194 degs HI) (210 degs SCal, 209 degs NCal and shadowed by Tahiti). Winds to be fading from 40 kts in the evening with 32 ft seas at 58S 170W. This system to be gone after that. Possible tiny sideband swell to result for Hawaii and shadowed swell for the US West Coast.
Oahu: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (4/9) at 1 ft @ 16 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 190 degrees
California: Rough data suggests swell arrival starting Fri (4/10) at 6 PM with swell 1.2 ft @ 18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) and size slowly building, with period 17 secs near 8 AM Sat (4/11) at 1.3 ft @ 17 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell peaking and pushing 2 ft @ 16 secs (3 ft) on Sun (4/12). Swell Direction: 210-213 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 a storm is forecast forming in a developing upper trough on the dateline by Mon PM (4/13) with 50 kt northwest winds and seas building from 26 ft at 40N 177W targeting Hawaii. 55 kt northwest to west winds to build on the dateline Tues AM (4/14) with 41 ft seas at 42N 175W. Fetch is to fade from 45 kts in the evening with seas fading from 38 ft at 42N 173W again targeting Hawaii well. At this time this is a pure fantasy of the model. Still, sometimes it's fun to believe.
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).
(1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data. 2nd paragraph where present is analysis data and is updated only as required).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) On Tuesday (4/7) the daily SOI was holding at -2.90. The 30 day average was rising slightly from -9.60 and the 90 day average was steady at -6.48. The near term trend based on the daily and 30 day average was indicative of a fading Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a weak steady state Active Phase of the MJO. Weak low pressure was developing just southwest of Tahiti and is expected to fall southeast into Thurs (4/9) with falling SOI values possible. A weak high pressure regime to develop after that. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated modest westerly anomalies were still over a small area of the Eastern Maritime Continent barely reaching to the dateline then turning to light east anomalies south of Hawaii and continuing light easterly on to the Galapagos Islands. Down at the surface the TOA array indicated modest westerly anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area fading to neutral at a point south of Hawaii. A moderate Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) occurred from 1/15-2/20 then regenerated 2/25 building to the strong category on 3/7, before peaking 3/10 and holding to 3/17. A more modest version of it continued into 3/27 before fading out 3/30. This was already a decent event attributable to the Jan-Feb anomalies, before it became strong in March, and supported Kelvin Wave development. A week from now (4/15) very weak westerly anomalies are to hold in pockets over the Maritime Continent reaching almost to the dateline. Neutral to weak westerly anomalies are forecast from there to a point south of Hawaii, fading to neutral and continuing on to the Galapagos. This suggests the Active Phase is to be fading but not gone a week out.
See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here .
The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 4/6 suggests a moderate version of the Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the dateline while the Active Phase of the MJO was building in the Eastern Indian Ocean seeping into the far West Pacific. Beyond the Statistic model suggests the Inactive Phase is to continue holding just east of the dateline but slowly fading and gone 15 days out with the Active Phase pushing into the West Pacific in the modest category and in control 15 days out. The Dynamic model suggests the Inactive Phase is to fade 5 days out and totally dissipate, only to redevelop in the far West Pacific 10 days out and pushing east 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model run on 4/7 depicts a moderate Active MJO pattern in.cgiay in the West Pacific slow easing east into Central America on 4/27. A modest Inactive Phase to follow in the West Pacific 4/27 tracking east into 5/17 with a new Active Phase building in the West Pacific on 5/27. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.
Surface Water Temps: 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 the most recent low res imagery (4/6) a weak warm water/El Nino like regime has taken control of the entire equatorial Pacific. And warmer water is getting traction along the Chilean and Peruvian coasts pushing north up to the equator, with marked warming depicted between the Galapagos and the mainland. This is something not seen last year at this time. Warmer water extends west from there but only reaching 2-3 degrees south of the equator. until it reaches the dateline. TAO data indicates +0.5 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial East Pacific with a warmer pocket to +1.0 degs from Peru to 115W with a larger pocket of +1.0-1.5 deg anomalies from 140W to the dateline and beyond. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggest water temps are steady at +0.65 degs, previously peaking late Nov at about +1.0 then falling to 0.0 in early January.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator continue warming and expanding while pushing east. As of 4/7 a +3.0 C anomaly flow was in control under the equatorial Pacific from 150 meters up. And a large pocket of +4-5 deg anomalies continues building in coverage positioned at 140W, suggesting that the extended WWB that occurred 1/15-2/20 created a Kelvin Wave and additional strong westerly anomalies in March are feeding more warm water into that Kelvin Wave. It is expected to start erupting over the Galapagos on roughly 5/1 peaking on 6/10. But according to TAO data, +3 degs anomalies are already rushing east, flowing into the Galapagos ahead of schedule and deflecting up and down the South America Coast. Satellite data from 4/3 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific east of 155E with a core to +10-15 cm from 160W to 130W indicative of an open pipe with an embedded solid Kelvin Wave. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (4/3) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 167E-92W with +1.0-1.5 degs from 173E-92W and +1.5 deg anomalies from 180W-112W. And now a building core of 2 deg anomalies are indicated between 166W-134W. Their coverage is building while pushing east. This also supports the thesis that another Kelvin Wave, and strong at that, is in-flight. A quick analysis of last years Large Kelvin Wave event that occurred in this same time frame, and this years event are remarkably similar in size and strength. Theoretically the peak of what was thought to be a developing El Nino occurred last December (12/21/14) with no more Kelvin Wave development expected beyond if last year was to be a single year event. But if this is a true multiyear Modoki El Nino event, then it would not be unexpected to see another Kelvin Wave develop in the Jan-Feb 2015 timeframe (as is actually occurring). See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here.
Pacific Counter Current data as of 4/2 is improving. The current is pushing moderately west to east over the entire equatorial Pacific and with a solid pulse just west of the Galapagos. A very weak easterly current was positioned 2-3 degrees south of the equator. Anomaly wise - modest west anomalies were in control on the equator over the West Pacific then north of the equator from Hawaii to the Galapagos.
This data suggests a general west to east bias in the current suggesting warm water transport to the east.
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 4/7 for the Nino 3.4 region have skyrocketed. It suggests water temps are at +0.9 deg C and are to slowly warm into July reaching +1.7 degs C, and continuing to +2.2 degs by Oct and 2.4 degs by Nov, then dropping off. This suggests that perhaps we are moving from a multi-year steady state Modoki event to perhaps a full blown El Nino. But it is too early to believe that just yet. The model is likely just picking up on the Kelvin Wave in flight and will settle back down after it erupts over the Galapagos. Much more warm water would be too be transported east over the coming 6 months for a legit El Nino to develop. The mid-March consensus Plume suggests a continuation of Modoki ENSO. See the chart based version here - link.
Analysis: Mult.cgie downwelling Kelvin Waves generated by suppressed trades and occasional Westerly Wind Bursts occurring late 2013 though 2014 in the West Pacific. Those Kelvin Waves warmed waters over the Eastern equatorial Pacific, but not sufficiently to declare an official El Nino until Fed 2015 and then very weak at that. Still some degree of teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere is in.cgiay with some greater force dictating the pattern (possibly the PDO). The focus now becomes whether this warming and resulting teleconnection will persist into 2015 and transition into a multi-year event, or fade in the March-June 2015 Spring Unpredictability Barrier. At this time we're assuming the situation will move to a multiyear, Modoki event (the better of all options).
We continue monitoring Westerly Wind Bursts and Kelvin Wave development, suggestive of continued warming East Pacific equatorial waters for the 2015 (meaning enhanced support for the jetstream and storm development in Fall/Winter 2015-2016).
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13
Beyond 72 hours a small gale is forecast developing in the South Tasman Sea on Sat AM (4/11) with 40 kt southwest winds over a broad area generating 28 ft seas at 50S 150E targeting Fiji. 40 kt southwest winds to start pushing better up into the Tasman Sea in the evening resulting in 32 ft seas at 47S 152E. 35-40 kt south winds to moving into the core of the Tasman Sea on Sun AM (4/12) producing 28-30 ft seas at 42S 155E targeting Fiji well. Fetch to fade from 30 kts pushing north in the evening with seas fading from 26 ft at 38S 161E. Something to monitor relative to Fiji.
Otherwise no fetch of interest is forecast for the greater South Pacific.
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