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.
Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.
Sunday, July 3, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.3 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 1.3 ft @ 14.6 secs from 204 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.5 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.8 ft @ 14.1 secs from 200 degrees. Wind southwest 8-10 kts. Water temperature 68.7 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.1 ft @ 8.5 secs from 268 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.2 ft @ 14.8 secs from 201 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.8 ft @ 14.9 secs from 184 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.3 ft @ 7.7 secs with windswell 5.6 ft @ 8.3 secs and southern hemi swell 2.1 ft @ 15.1 secs from 195 degrees. Wind south 12-16 kts. Water temp 55.4 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Sunday (7/3) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell was producing waves at waist high and heavily textured from south winds. At Santa Cruz weak southern hemi swell was producing waves at waist high or so maybe pushing chest high on the sets and clean. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves in the thigh range and soft but clean early. Down south southern hemi swell was producing set waves at waist high and heavily textured from south wind. Top spots in Orange Co were head high to 1 ft overhead and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting minimal southern hemi sideband swell with waves in the waist high range on the sets and textured from trades. The East Shore was getting east windswell at chest to shoulder high and chopped from easterly trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
One last secondary pulse of south angled southern hemi swell is expected to arrive in California late Sun (7/3), but a downward trend is already in progress for Hawaii. fading in Hawaii. There is some good news with a small gale having developed just east of New Zealand on Fri (7/1) with seas to 37 ft over a small area aimed northeast. And another formed in the Southeast Pacific late Sat (7/2) producing 36 ft seas aimed briefly north. But neither system had much coverage or duration. So overall, the Inactive Phase of the MJO was suppressing the potential for gale development, at least for the moment. But there's some suggestion of a better pattern over the long term.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday AM (7/3) no swell producing fetch is occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.
A weak version of the California coastal pressure gradient was in effect on Sun (7/3) with high pressure at 1032 mbs 900 nmiles north of Hawaii ridging east producing a ill defined fetch of 20 kt north winds off North CA coast centered near Pt Arena. An eddy flow was over Central CA with south winds in effect. The fetch is expected to become more focused on Mon (7/4) with north winds building to 25-30 kts over a small area off Cape Mendocino fading to 25 kts on Tuesday and compressing along the coast while falling south to Bodega Bay and fading in coverage even more on Wed (7/6). The eddy flow is to collapse late Tuesday for Central CA. Small short period windswell is the expected result mainly for Central CA (see QuikCASTs for surf details).
For Hawaii, east trades were in control from the Islands 3/5ths of the way to California at 15 kts driven by the same high pressure system resulting in east windswell for exposed shores of Hawaii. The coverage of the fetch to shrink on Mon (7/4) down to an area just 450 nmiles east of Hawaii and 200 nmiles on Tues (7/5) and even less of Wed (7/6). The result is to be steadily shrinking east windswell of lesser period.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Tropical Storm Blas was 700 nmiles south of Cabo San Lucas Mexico with winds 50 kts tracking nearly due west. The forecast has it continuing on this heading for the next 5 days but building in strength into Wed AM (7/6) with winds to 105 kts positioned well south of Central CA with all energy aimed at Hawaii. A slow fade to follow from there. The GFS model has Blas tracking west-northwest weakening into Sunday (7/10) with winds 45 kts and positioned 1,000 nmiles east-northeast of Hawaii. Some long distance swell is possible for the Big Island if all goes as forecast.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (7/3) high pressure was still producing a weak version of the California pressure gradient but it was limited to a small area over the Cape Mendocino area with north winds there 20 kts. An eddy flow (south winds) were in control southward from just south of Pt Arena. Mon (7/4) to Tues (7/5) the eddy flow is to control all the state but the north most reaches near Cape Mendocino where north winds to be 20 to maybe 25 kts over a small area. But by Wed (7/6) north winds are to be back in control at 15-20 kts along the immediate coast of North and Central CA and starting to fall south, limited to the Pismo Beach area on Sat (7/9) then starting to rebuild over the entire North and Central coasts on Sunday.
On Sunday AM (7/3) a weak trough was well south of New Zealand coverage a small area with no real winds feeding it, then a ridge was dominating the rest of the South Pacific pushing into Antarctica from the dateline east to South America. There was no support for gale development indicated. Over the next 72 hours through Wed (7/6) the trough is to slow ease east with 130 kt winds pushing under New Zealand on Wednesday perhaps offering a little support for gale development there. The ridge is to move east not getting organized till it hits about 150W and points east of there, steadily loosing coverage. Beyond 72 hrs another pulse of wind energy is to build under New Zealand late on Thurs (7/7) with winds to 150 kts at 63S setting up a more defined trough there offering a little hope for supporting gale development. But the Antarctic Ice lines is to be at 65S so there isn't much room in ice free waters to allow any gale to get traction on the oceans surface. More 150 kts winds are forecast there on Sun (7/10) but again di.cgiaced south at 63S, presenting the same issues with winds not getting exposure to ice free waters. At least the southern branch is to not be pushing directly into Antarctica. suspect the Inactive Phase of the MJO is hampering trough development.
On Sunday (7/3) wave energy associated with the remnants of Swell #9S was trickling into California, but already past it's peak. 2 other small swell were in the water tracking north (see New Zealand Gale and Southeast Pacific Gale below).
Otherwise no swell production has occurred or is occurring.
Over the next 72 hours no swell production is forecast.
Gale #4 (Swell #9S)
On Sun AM a small system tracked well south of the Tasman Sea producing 45 kt west winds and seas to 36 ft over a tiny area aimed east. In the evening 45 kt west winds continued tracking east generating up to 38 ft seas at 58.5S 162E pushing reasonably up the great circle tracks to California (214 degs NCal and unshadowed, 214 degs SCal and shadowed, well east of the 200 degree track to Hawaii). On Monday AM (6/20) fetch continued at 45 kts over a solid area aimed east with seas fading from 37 ft at 59.5S 178.5E (190 degs HI, 206 degs NCal and shadowed, 207 degs SCal and unshadowed). Fetch was fading from 40 kts in the evening with seas fading from 36 ft at 59S 170.5W. On Tues AM (6/21) fetch was fading from 40 kts from the southwest with seas dropping to 32 ft at 60S 160W (183 degs HI, 202 degs NCal and unshadowed, 203 degs SCal). This system is to be gone after that. Small inconsistent swell to result for all locations.
Southern CA: A second pulse is forecast on Mon (7/4) at 2.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell fading Tues (7/5) from 2.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Residuals on Wed (7/6) fading from 2 ft @ 12-13 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 202-214 degrees Part1, 194-202 degs Part 2) Focused on 197 degs
NCal: A second pulse is forecast on Mon (7/4) at 2.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell fading Tues (7/5) from 2.6 ft @ 14 secs (3.5 ft). Residuals on Wed (7/6) fading from 2 ft @ 13 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 202-214 degrees Part1, 192-199 degs Part 2) Focused on 195 degs
Gale #6 (Really it's Gale #4 Part 2)
And yet another gale followed Wed AM (6/22) directly in the same trough in the Southeast Pacific producing a broad area of 35-40 kt southwest winds and seas building from 30 ft at 50S 152W aimed northeast (199 degs NCal, 202 degs SCal). In the evening 40 kt southwest winds pushed northeast with seas tracking northeast at 30 ft at 46S 145W (196 degs NCal, 198 degs SCal). On Thurs AM (6/23) fetch was fading from 35 kts over a broad area aimed northeast with seas fading from 30 ft at 43S 137W (192 degs NCal, 194 degs SCal) aimed northeast. This system to dissipate after that. Small swell to result targeting California but focused mainly on Central America.
Southern CA: Expect this swell to overlap with the New Zealand Swell from Gale #4 above. Refer to that forecast for details. Swell Direction: 194-202 degrees
NCal: Expect this swell to overlap with the New Zealand Swell from Gale #4 above. Refer to that forecast for details. Swell Direction: 192-199 degrees
New Zealand Gale
A cutoff low developed southeast of New Zealand on Fri AM (7/1) generating 40 kt south-southwest winds at 45S 174W aimed north and seas starting to build. By evening winds build from the south-southwest at 50 kts and seas building to 31 ft over a small area at 45S 172W and up to 37 ft at 42S 169.5W at 06Z (unshadowed in NCal, barely unshadowed in SCal). Fetch was fading from 40 kts Sat AM (7/2) aimed northeast with seas fading from 35 ft at 40.5S 168W. This system was very short lived and small in coverage but was still capable of producing decent swell for Tahiti with small swell for Hawaii.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival late on Thurs (7/7) pushing 1.6 ft @ 17-18 secs at sunset (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell peaking on Fri (7/8) at 2.3 ft @ 16 secs 3.5 ft with sets to 4.6 ft). Swell fading on Sat (7/9) from 2.3 ft @ 14 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). residuals on Sun (7/10) at 2.0 ft @ 12-13 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 193 degrees
South CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (7/10) building to 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.7 ft with sets to 3.4 ft). Swell Direction: 216 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (7/10) building to 2.0 ft @ 17 secs (3.4 ft with sets to 4.3 ft). Swell Direction: 213-214 degrees
Southeast Pacific Gale
On Sat AM (7/2) a small cutoff gale developed in the far Southeast Pacific generating 40 kt southeast winds and seas on the increase. By the evening fetch built to 55 kts from the south -southeast aimed well at California with seas to 32 ft at 51.5S 124 (182 degs NCal, 184 degs SCal), peaking at 06Z at 35 ft over a tiny area at 51.5S 125W. Fetch was fading from 45-50 kts from the south Sun AM (7/3) with seas fading from 29 ft at 51.5S 127W (182 degs NCal, 185 degs SCal). This system is to be gone after that.
South CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun PM after sunset (7/10) with period 17 secs and size tiny. Swell Direction: 184 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon AM (7/11) with period 17 secs and size tiny. Swell Direction: 182 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 the local California pressure gradient is to weaken on Thurs (7/7) due not to any movement of high pressure, but from low pressure moving south towards the CA coast from off British Columbia. North winds to be limited to a shallow area centered over the Central CA coast then falling to Pt Conception by Sat (7/9) and continuing on Sun (7/10). No windswell of interest is expected to result for California.
For Hawaii trades are to return on Thurs (7/8) not so much due purely to high pressure but from the interaction of high pressure and projected Hurricane Blas, setting up 15 kt fetch again aimed at east shores. This to continue into Sun (7/10) with 15 kts trades filling the ever shrinking distance between Blas and Hawaii. Some degree of modest windswell to result.
Beyond 72 hours a gale is forecast tracking under New Zealand on Wed AM (7/6) producing an elongated fetch of 35-40 kts winds aimed east. One pocket of 30 ft seas to develop at 54S 180W but gone by sunset. In the evening another fetch of 40-45 kt southwest winds is forecast building behind it with seas building to 34 ft at 57S 160E. 40 kt southwest winds to continue east on Thurs AM (7/7) with 32 ft seas at 56S 172E. Fetch to fade from there. Something to monitor.
More details to follow...
La Nina Backing off Slightly for the Moment
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, though most noticeable in the Pacific. 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. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases help support the formation of El Nino. 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).Overview: The 2014-2016 El Nino is fading out. La Nina is emerging.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Sat (7/2) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but near calm in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA). Anomalies were neutral over the most of the equatorial Pacific but light westerly in the KWGA
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Neutral to very light west anomalies were over the KWGA on 7/3. A neutral to weak westerly anomaly pattern is to continue over the KWGA through 7/10 suggestive of a weak Active MJO pattern.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 7/2 a modest Active MJO signal was over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects this Active Phase easing east and fading some over the next week, then dissipating 2 weeks from now. The dynamic model depicts much the same pattern. There is likely some probability for some enhancement of the jetstream in the South Pacific over the next 2 weeks.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (6/30) The ECMF model indicates a weak Active MJO signal was present over the dateline. The forecast projects the Active Phase crashing and becoming inconsequential 3 days out. The GEFS model depicts a variation on the same theme.
40 day Upper Level Model: (7/3) A weak Active Phase was over the far West Pacific and is to track to the dateline and dissipate on 7/13. A new moderate Inactive Phase of the MJO is to push into the West Pacific 7/13 moving east from there reaching Central America 8/12.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO signal was over the KWGA moving east with weak west anomalies in.cgiay and offering minimal support for enhancing the jetstream. It projects the weak Active Phase moving east and fading 7/3-7/22. An Inactive MJO pattern to follow with moderate east anomalies taking root 7/24-8/15. And Active MJO signal to follow 8/20 to 10/1 with west anomalies over the far West Pacific to 170E and stationary with east anomalies from 170W and point east to Central America. The low pass filter suggests the remnants of El Nino are shifting east and are now south of Hawaii (rather than in the KWGA) and offering nothing to enhance the jetstream and are to dissipate (gone) south of California by 9/6. At the same time low pass anomalies are over the Indian Ocean and forecast to build into Sept, typical of La Nina.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (7/3) Actual temperatures are building in the west near the surface and fading in the east daily. A pocket of 30 deg temps were building in the far West Pacific with the 28 deg isotherm line retreating to 165W. No El Nino subsurface anomalies remain. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 160W with weak negative anomalies between there and 125W. Neutral to +1 deg anomalies are east of there. Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting between 130W-160W with -3 degs anomalies reaching east down 100 meters to 140W (steady). The Kelvin Wave pipeline has been r.cgiaced with a cold river rushing east. But it appears to be not reaching Ecuador, but rather is westward di.cgiaced. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 6/27 a weak pocket of +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies is building from 130E to 160W and a tiny one at 110W (fading). Cool waters 3-4 degs below normal were under the entire width of the equator, undercutting any residual warm water above it and forming a bubble near 140W and upwelling from 120-150W but also making progress towards Ecuador. La Nina has begun.
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. All data is from blended infrared and microwave sensors.
Hi-res Nino1.2 & 3.4: (7/2) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates cooler than normal water continues over the entire equator Pacific with negative anomalies along the coast of Peru pushing north building while extending west from Ecuador over the Galapagos, tracking solidly west out to at least 160W with with peak temps down to -1.75 degs (near Ecuador). The cool pattern over the Central equatorial Pacific seems to have backed off some recently. La Nina is firmly in control of surface waters, with remnant El Nino warm water 3 degs north and south of the equator in pockets but quickly getting edged out. No warm water remains anywhere in the Nino regions on the equator.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (6/28): A cooling trend continues weakly along Chile and Peru. The strong cooling trend from the Galapagos out to 180W appears to be backing off. The mirror image cooler trend that developed in the Atlantic on 6/9 dissipated, then returned 6/25, but has faded today. Temps are cooling markedly along California due to high pressure and northwest winds in that area. The PDO warm pool is holding solidly from Oregon out to a point north of Hawaii and west from there to Japan.
Hi-res Overview: (7/2) The El Nino signal is dissipating. A clear La Nina cool water pool is tracking from Ecuador and building some recently south of Hawaii. A generalized pattern of +1-2 deg above normal temps remains 3 degs north and south of the equator and west of 180W. Cooler water is over the north dateline region in the North Pacific with warm water off the Pacific Northwest streaming over Hawaii looking very much like the classic Active PDO pattern.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (7/3) Today's temps were steady at -0.256 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (6/23) temps were up slightly at +0.110 degs.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
Pacific Counter Current: As of 6/6 the current was moderately but continuously from the east on the equator from 90W to 150E. Anomalies were stronger still from the east over the same area. There were no pockets of west anomalies indicated. La Nina is firmly entrenched based on this data, which is normal for this point in the El Nino lifecycle.
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (7/3) indicates temps on a steady downward trajectory falling to -0.1 degs early July and continuing down till mid-Sept at -0.65 degs and holding through Dec, then slowly rising in Jan 2017. This is moderate La Nina territory but it's up from the -1.5 and -1.25 degs indicated even a few weeks ago.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-June Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.7 by Sept then holding there to March. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (6/30): The daily index was neutral at -0.90. The 30 day average was rising from +3.82. It transitioned from negative to positive for the first time in 2 years on 5/27. The 90 day average was rising from -4.00. El Nino was still evident only in the 90 day average, but even that will soon be a distant memory.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (7/3) Today's value was steady at -0.99. It peaked on 3/12 at +1.57 then fell until 4/14, when it started rising again peaking 4/23 at +1.12. But it has been falling steadily ever since.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues solid. Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-May) have been +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.60, and +1.45. The Washington EDU index for the Jan-May period indicates +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62 and +2.35. April's value was the highest since 1941. The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been mostly above +1.5 all of 2015. Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data suggests that could be a real possibility. We've been in the negative phase since 1998 through at least 2013 (15 years). By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool
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