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.
Sunday, April 12, 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 2.3 ft @ 12.0 secs with swell 1.2 ft @ 14.5 secs. Wind southwest 8 kts. In Santa Barbara swell was 1.6 ft @ 12.7 secs from 259 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.3 ft @ 18.0 secs from 210 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.4 ft @ 17.3 secs from 205 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 5.9 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 4.2 ft @ 10.2 secs. Wind northwest 14-19 kts. Water temp 55.0 degs.
On Saturday (4/11) in North and Central CA surf was shoulder to head high at top breaks and basically just windswell with heavy texture if not chop on it. Down in Santa Cruz surf was maybe waist high on the sets and clean but weak. In Southern California up north surf was thigh to maybe waist high on the sets at top breaks and textured. Down south waves were barely waist high on the sets and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting wrap around windswell at waist to chest high and clean. The South Shore was getting wrap around windswell at knee to thigh high and clean at select breaks. The East Shore was getting chest high east windswell and chopped from brisk trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
High pressure was loosing control over the North Pacific and falling south with a weak low pressure regime was trying to build over the width of the Aleutians. Nothing dramatic, but a start. Previously a weak gale tracked into the the extreme Northern Gulf of Alaska Fri (4/10) generating 18-20 ft seas on Sat (4/11). Limited swell is pushing towards the US West Coast. But of far more interest is a storm forecast developing over the Dateline on Sun (4/12) tracking east through the Western Gulf with up to 43 ft seas before fading in the Central Gulf on Tues (4/14). This bears watching but has still not started blowing any wind over the oceans surface just yet. Down south a gale is starting to develop in the Tasman Sea on Sat-Sun (4/12) producing 28 ft seas targeting Fiji. And a tiny and weak gale is forecast tucked up on the east side of New Zealand on Mon (4/13) with 36 ft seas pushing northeast. Maybe background swell to result for Hawaii. But nothing else of interest is to follow.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream- On Saturday (4/11) the jet was .cgiit tracking off Asia with the southern branch tracking east over the dateline and Hawaii down at 20N then pushing into Baja and weak. The northern branch tracked east off the Kuril Islands and just south of the Central Aleutians roughly on the the 47N latitude line barely to 140 kts in the west but mostly 100 kts over the Gulf, eventually pushing into Oregon. No troughs of interest were in.cgiay offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours a pocket of 150 kt winds is to develop pushing off the Kuril Islands Sun (4/12) starting to carve out a trough, and building into Mon (4/13) while pushing east with 150 kt winds still feeding the trough, now repositioned over the dateline. Good support for gale development is forecast. By Tues (4/14) winds are to start fading as the trough moves into the Western Gulf offering continued but decreasing support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours winds are to build to 190 kts on Wednesday off the Kuril Islands forming a bit of a secondary trough over the dateline fading while moving into the Western Gulf Thursday (4/16) and then gone. Perhaps yet another weaker trough to result in the Western Gulf on Sat (4/18) but with no real wind velocity of interest projected. A more fragmented pattern is forecast in the west beyond.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (4/11) high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered 800 nmiles north of Hawaii but a bit further south than day past opening up the Gulf just a little bit. A weak low was tracking through the Northeastern Gulf generating a minimal amount of fetch (see North Gulf Low below). Otherwise no fetch of interest was occurring.
Over the next 72 hours a storm that has been on the charts for days continues to be projected forming in a developing upper trough west of the dateline Sun PM (4/12) with 50-55 kt west winds generating 36 ft seas over a tiny area at 44N 173E. By Mon AM (4/13) it is to be pushing over the dateline with 50 kt west winds making a decent footprint and seas 41 ft at 44N 180W aimed mainly east (326 degs HI, 298 degs NCal). By evening 45-50 kt west winds to be racing into the Western Gulf with seas peaking near 44 ft at 45N 172W targeting sideband energy at Hawaii (338 degs) and more direct but distant energy at the US West Coast (296 degs NCal). 45 kt northwest to west winds to hold in the Gulf on Tues AM (4/14) with 42 ft seas at 46N 163W (298 degs NCal). Fetch is to fade from 40 kts in the evening with seas fading from 34 ft at 47N 155W targeting only the US West Coast and mainly the Pacific Northwest. At this time the odds of this system developing are improving. but the storm track is slowly easing more north with each run of the model. Something to monitor. .
North Gulf Low
A gale tracked tracked into the Northern Gulf from the Bering Sea getting exposure over open waters Thurs PM (4/9) generating 30 kt northwest winds and seas to 18 ft at 53N 155W targeting mainly the Pacific Northwest up into British Columbia. 30 kt westerly winds continued into Fri AM (4/10) generating more 18 ft seas at 52N 150W (315 degs NCal). 35 kt west winds built in the evening with 20 ft seas taking root at 54N 149W (319 degs NCal). More of the same occurred into Sat AM (4/11) but with fetch starting to fade and 22 ft seas moving to 54N 143W (319+ degs NCal and moving out of the swell window). By evening the gale is to dissipate. Some 13 sec period swell seems likely for the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA (315 degs NCal) by late in the weekend.
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (4/12) near noon building to 5.5 ft @ 11-12 secs (6 ft) with local windswell intermixed. Swell building overnight to 6 ft @ 12-13 secs (7 ft) Mon AM (4/13). Swell fading from 5 ft @ 12 secs (6 ft) on Tues (4/14). Swell Direction: 315 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 Saturday (4/11) weak high pressure was pushing into California coastal waters generating northwest winds at 15 kts along portions of the North and Central coasts. Those winds to build to 20 kts Sun AM (4/12) mainly over outer waters and much lighter nearshore, if not calm early. North winds to continue at 15 kts Monday as a small storm develop over coastal Central Canada. But by Tuesday clearing high pressure takes control off the Coast and a gradient and low pressure falling from the north over the state generating 20-25 kt north winds from Pt Conception northward. Rain possible for extreme North CA Monday night but the state is to be clear by Tuesday. North winds move north over North CA on Wed (4/15) and off the Central Coast at 20-25 kts fading to light everywhere but Cape Mendocino on Thursday. More of the same early Friday then the gradient builds to 25= kts over Cape mendocino late and pushing south into Central CA late. A summer time gradient is forecast for Saturday over Cape Mendocino at up to 35 kts late but perhaps an eddy flow to set up for Central CA.
On Saturday AM (4/11) a small gale started developing in the South Tasman Sea with 40 kt southwest winds over a broad area generating 24 ft seas at 52S 148E targeting Fiji. 40 kt southwest winds to start pushing better up into the Tasman Sea in the evening resulting in 28 ft seas at 46S 155E. South winds to be fading from 30-35 kt then moving into the core of the Tasman Sea on Sun AM (4/12) producing 26 ft seas at 42S 159E targeting Fiji well. Fetch to fade from 30 kts pushing northeast in the evening with seas fading from 24 ft at 38S 165E. Something to monitor relative to Fiji.
Fiji: Rough data suggest swell arrival near noon on Wed (4/15) local time with period 16 secs and building pushing 7.5 ft @ 15-16 secs late (11-12 ft Hawaiian). Swell fading from 8.4 ft @ 15 secs (12-13 ft Hawaiian) Thurs AM (4/16). Swell Direction 203 degrees
Over the next 72 hours a tiny gale is forecast developing tucked along the east edge of New Zealand Mon AM (4/13) producing 45-50 kt south winds and 28 ft seas over a pinpoint sized area at 43S 177E aimed north. This system to hold its ground while building in the evening with 50 kt south winds growing in coverage and seas building to 32 ft at 45S 180E. This system to fading after that with winds dropping from 45 kts and some more east and seas falling from 34 ft at 45N 174W. Perhaps some background swell to result for Hawaii.
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.
California: Swell peaking and pushing 2 ft @ 16 secs (3 ft) on Sun (4/12). Swell fading Mon AM (4/13) from 2 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft).Swell Direction: 210-213 degrees
Tiny Southeast Pacific Gale
On Tues AM (4/7) a tiny gale developed 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 pushed 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 was fading from 40 kts tracking east with seas fading from 30 ft at 43S 110W 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.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival late Tues (4/14) pushing 1.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (2 ft). Swell peaking on Wed (4/15) at 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3 ft with 3.5 ft sets). late. Swell fading Thurs (4/16) from 2 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 190 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 another gale is to develop over the date4line pushing into the Western Gulf on Thurs (4/16) generating 30-35 kt west winds and by Fri AM (4/17) maybe generating 20 ft seas near 45N 160W targeting mainly the US West Coast with 22 ft seas up into the Northern Gulf by evening. Something to monitor. Nothing else to follow.
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 Saturday (4/11) the daily SOI was rising from 1.50. The 30 day average was rising from -9.02 and the 90 day average was dropping at -7.02. 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. Neutral pressure was over Tahiti and expected to slowly build over the coming week with the SOI expected to slowly rise. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated weak westerly anomalies over the Eastern Maritime Continent reaching just over the dateline then turning to neutral anomalies and holding south of Hawaii 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 steadily into the strong category by 3/7, before peaking 3/10 holding to 3/17. A more modest version of it continued into 3/27 then slowly faded into 3/30 but not out even to 4/11. This was already a decent event attributable to the Jan-Feb anomalies, before it raged in mid-March. A week from now (4/19) very weak westerly anomalies are to hold in pockets over the East Maritime Continent reaching over the dateline, building some south of Hawaii. Neutral to weak westerly anomalies are forecast from 135W continuing on to the Galapagos. This suggests the Active Phase is to be fading and tracking east but is to not be 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 4/10 suggests a weak 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 but not reaching the West Pacific. Beyond the Statistic model suggests the Inactive Phase is to fade just east of the dateline 5 days out with the Active Phase pushing into the West Pacific in the modest category and in control 15 days out approaching the dateline. The Dynamic model suggests the exact opposite with the Inactive Phase weak and fading on the dateline, only to redevelop in the far West Pacific 5 days out and pushing east 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model run on 4/11 depicts a modest Active MJO pattern in.cgiay in the East Pacific slow easing east and fading, with remnants arriving in Central America on 4/21. A modest Inactive Phase was supposedly building in the West Pacific now and is to be tracking east, arriving in Central America on 5/11 with a new Active Phase building in the West Pacific on 5/18. 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 (4/9) 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, then expanding in areal coverage. TAO data indicates +0.5 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial East Pacific. A warmer pocket previously in the far East Pacific was gone. A broad pocket of +1.0-1.5 deg anomalies was reaching west from 135W to the dateline and beyond. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggest water temps are steady at +0.7 degs, previously peaking late Nov at about +1.0 then falling to 0.0 in early January.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator are no longer warming and are pushing hard east. As of 4/10 a +2.0 C anomaly flow was in control under the equatorial Pacific from 150 meters up. And a large pocket of +4 deg anomalies continued holding coverage with its core at 135W, suggesting that the extended WWB that occurred 1/15-2/20 created a Kelvin Wave and additional strong westerly anomalies in March fed more warm water into that Kelvin Wave, but not as much as expected. The Kelvin Wave 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. Perhaps our forecast is a bit behind what appears to be actually happening. 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 4/11 for the Nino 3.4 region continue upward. It suggests water temps are at +1.0 deg C and are to slowly warm into July reaching +1.7 degs C, and continuing to +2.35 degs by Oct and 2.45 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, especially of the magnitude projected by the model (rivaling the all time great '97 El Nino). The mid-March consensus Plume suggests a continuation of Modoki ENSO, though some models are now suggesting something more. 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 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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