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.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 2.2 ft @ 15.3 secs from 197 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.4 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.1 ft @ 14.2 secs from 172 degrees. Wind variable 4-6 kts. Water temperature 70.5 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.2 ft @ 8.7 secs from 250 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.2 ft @ 14.8 secs from 206 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.6 ft @ 14.5 secs from 197 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.4 ft @ 10.0 secs with windswell 6.4 ft @ 9.4 secs and southern hemi swell 2.0 ft @ 14.7 secs from 205 degrees. Wind northwest 6-8 kts. Water temp 55.6 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Saturday (7/16) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell was producing waves at chest to head high and warbled and chopped thanks to local south wind. At Santa Cruz minimal southern hemi swell was still lapping in producing waves at waist to near chest high on the sets and clean. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at knee to thigh high and clean. Down south southern hemi swell was producing set waves at waist high and clean. Further south top spots had sets at maybe shoulder high but with a little south lump intermixed. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was still getting small swell from New Zealand with set waves head high at top breaks and clean. The East Shore was getting Celia swell with waves chest high or so and chopped from east-northeasterly trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
A gale formed south of New Zealand on Wed-Thurs (7/7) with 32 ft seas aimed mainly east. Small swell is fading in Hawaii and expected to arrive in CA late in the weekend. A weak and fragmented gale developed Tues (7/12) in the Central Pacific with 28-30 ft seas aimed northeast for 18 hours. Small swell is possible for HI and CA. The South Pacific is to remain relatively quiet for the next week. Minimal Tropical Depression Celia was tracking west from a point 500 nmiles east of the Big Island of Hawaii and is forecast moving just north of the Islands late Mon (7/18), but very weak. And Hurricane Darby is 1830 nmiles east of the Big Island tracking west and forecast to fade before reaching within 500 nmiles of the Big Island. And Tropical Storm Estelle was developing 400 nmiles south of Baja and forecast to build while tracking west-northwest. The Tropical East Pacific is being fueled by the Active Phase of the MJO passing over that region. Otherwise the transition to La Nina continues.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday AM (7/16) no swell producing fetch is occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.
The California coastal pressure gradient was active on Saturday (7/16) resulting in northwest winds at 30 kts limited to North CA offering good support for local windswell production with an eddy flow over all of Central CA reaching up into Bodega Bay. Over the next 72 hours the gradient is to start weakening and easing south with the eddy flow collapsing Sunday AM (7/17). Still north winds to be 25 kts over North CA on Sunday AM reaching south to Pt Reyes but rapidly collapsing through the day and all but gone by Monday AM with only scattered patches of 15 kt northwest winds lingering off the North and Central portions of the state and fading from there on Tues 97/19). Windswell to be in rapid decline Sun (7/17) mid-day.
For Hawaii on Thurs (7/14) east trades are not of interest and are to continue to be below the 15 kt threshold through Tues (7/19). But the remnants of Celia were approaching from the east (see details in the Tropical Update below). No windswell expected but hurricane swell is to continue for exposed east shores of the Big Island with windswell from it reaching into most northeast shores of the other islands.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Tropical Depression Celia on Sat AM (7/16) was 600 nmiles east-northeast of the Hawaiian Islands with winds 30 kts tracking west at 11 kts and forecast to continue on the heading. The official track has Celia passing 175 nmiles north of Oahu on Mon PM (7/18) with winds 30 kts offering windswell generation potential, then Celia is to track west and out of the picture from there. Swell from when Celia was a legit tropical systems east of Hawaii is hitting the Islands and past it's prime, forecast to slowly fade into early next week.
Big Island (East Shore): Swell fading on Sun (7/17) from 5.0 ft @ 10-11 secs (4 ft). Swell Direction: 85 degrees
Hurricane Darby was peaking on Sat AM (7/16) 1830 nmiles east of the Big Island with winds 90 kts and heading west at 8 kts. Slow weakening is forecast over the coming days with Darby fading from hurricane status on Sun PM (7/17) 1538 nmiles east of Hawaii and then falling to minimal tropical storm status on Thus AM (7/21) 550 nmiles east of the Big Island. No fetch is to be aimed well up into California. And this system is to be a long ways from Hawaii. The GFS model has remnants of this system passing just south of the Big Island tracking east on Sat PM (7/23). Something to monitor.
Big Island (East Shore): Swell arrival computed to be Mon (7/18) with period 14-15 secs and size building to 2.0 ft @ at 14 secs near sunset (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell peaking on Tues (7/19) at 2.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) and holding into Wed (7/20) then possibly building beyond depending on Darbys track and strength. Swell Direction: 85-90 degrees.
Tropical Storm Estelle was positioned 450 nmiles south of Cabo San Lucas Baja Mexico with winds 45 kts tracking west-northwest at 6 kts and forecast strengthening. Estellte to reach hurricane status on Sun PM (7/17) with winds 65 kts and building some from there, to 85 kts on Tues AM (7/19) on a more westerly heading positioned 800 nmiles south of San Diego or . 2159 nmiles east of Hawaii. Estelle to continue west fading to minimal hurricane status on Thurs AM (7/21) 1583 nmiles east of Hawaii then lifting more northerly and dissipating. Minimal odds of swell reaching the Islands and little to none relative to CA.
A weaker tropical pattern to follow.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (7/16) high pressure continued ridging into North California resulting in north winds at 30 kts over North CA coast with an eddy flow (south winds) nearshore for Central CA. By Sunday the eddy flow is to collapse mid-day and the gradient is to fall south with north winds 15-20 kts moving into Central CA waters and up to 25 kts for North CA. Monday the gradient is to collapse as high pressure retrogrades to the Western Gulf with local winds for North and Central CA from the north at 15 kts, weaker still on Tuesday, then rebuilding to 15 kts Wednesday and unchanged until later Friday, building to 20 kts for North CA and up to 25 kts over southern Central CA. By Sat (7/23) a weak version of the gradient is to be in.cgiay with northwest winds 20-25 kts for all of North and Central CA.
On Saturday AM (7/16) the jet was .cgiit over the West Pacific with the southern branch dragging over Antarctic Ice south of New Zealand continuing east to the Southeast Pacific finally lifting north into a trough near 100W but well east of the California swell window and weak with winds only 90 kts, offering little support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the ridge is to hold over the entirety of the South Pacific, though weakening some into Tues (7/19) with no troughs forecast and offering no support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours a new weak ridge is to try and develop south of New Zealand on Fri (7/23) but weakness of the jet west of it might help support formation of a weak trough under New Zealand by Sat (7/23). A glimmer of hope.
On Saturday (7/16) swell from a gale that developed under New Zealand Wed-Thurs (7/7) was fading some in Hawaii and tracking towards CA (see New Zealand Gale below). And yet one more small fetch developed behind that in the Central Pacific likely sending small swell towards HI and CA (see Central Pacific Gale below). But behind that, no swell was in the water.
On Sat (7/16) high pressure at 1020 mbs continued locking down the Central Pacific with virtually no swell producing fetch in the Hawaiian or California swell window. Over the next 72 hours through Tues (7/19) the high is to weaken and ease east but still is to be locking down the Southeastern Pacific. Weak lower pressure is to be building in the West Pacific, but no organized weather systems are forecast. No swell producing fetch is forecast.
New Zealand Gale
A gale started tracking under New Zealand on Wed AM (7/6) producing an elongated fetch of 40-45 kts winds aimed east starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By evening 40 kts west winds were pushing east getting traction on the oceans surface with seas building to 32 ft at 57.5S 165E (199 degs HI, 214 degs NCal and unshadowed, 214 degs SCal and shadowed). 40 kt southwest winds continued moving east on Thurs AM (7/7) with 32 ft seas at 58S 174E (210 degs NCal and almost shadowed, 211 degs SCal and shadowed, 193 degs HI). Fetch faded from 35+ kts in the evening while tracking east from there with seas fading from 29 ft at 58S 177W (207 degs NCal and shadowed, 208 degs SCal and just becoming unshadowed, 190 degs HI). The gale dissipated thereafter.
Hawaii: Swell holding Sun (7/17) from 1.6 ft @ 15 secs (2.5 ft). Swell holding Mon (7/18) at 2 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) then fading Tues (7/19) from 1.8 ft @ 13 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (7/16) at sunset with period 18 secs and size near 1.3 ft @ 18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell building on Sun (7/17) to 2 ft @ 16-17 secs late (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell holds on Mon (7/18) at 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.7 ft with sets to 4.6 ft). Swell continues on Tues (7/19) at 2.2 ft @ 15-16 sec early (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 211 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (7/16) at sunset with period 18 secs and size near 1.3 ft @ 18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell building on Sun (7/17) to 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.7 ft with sets to 3.5 ft). Swell holds on Mon (7/18) at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft with sets to 3.0 ft). Swell fades Tues (7/19) at 1.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 210 degrees
Central Pacific Gale
On Tues AM (7/12) a weak gale developed while lifting up into the aforementioned trough in the Central South Pacific producing a small area of 40 kt south winds and seas to 30 ft at 58S 158W. In the evening those winds to continued tracking northeast and holding speed while loosing coverage with seas fading from 28ft over a small sized area at 53S 151W. By Wed AM (7/13) this system is to be gone. Small swell is possible.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed AM (7/20) at 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5 ft) holding through the day. Swell fading Thurs AM (7/21) from 2.0 ft @ 14 sec early (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 201 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed AM (7/20) at 2 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0-3.5 ft) holding through the day. Swell fading Thurs AM (7/21) from 1.8 ft @ 15 sec early (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 200 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 high pressure is to be retrograding from the Central Gulf of Alaska into the Western Gulf Wed (7/20) with the gradient continuing to be mostly suppressed resulting in only northwest winds in the 15 kt range over Central and North CA and holding into Thurs (7/21). No real windswell to result. the high is to try and ease east a little on Fri (7/21) with northwest winds building to 25 kts southward di.cgiaced over Pt Conception and 20 kts reaching up to maybe Cape Mendocino and building northward into Sat (7/23). Improving odds for windswell for Central CA then.
For Hawaii trades or wind is to not be an issue until Wed (7/20). At that time the remnants of Darby are to be approaching from the east with high pressure building in from the north and trades returning from the east-northeast at 15 kts holding Thurs (7/21) while turning northeast and building to 20 kts Fri (7/22). The remnants of Darby are to be moving just south of the Big Island on Sat (7/23).
Beyond 72 hours no swell production is forecast. There's suggestions of fleeting areas of low pressure developing under and just east of New Zealand by Wed (7/20), but short lived and very small in coverage. Something to monitor though.
More details to follow...
La Nina Building
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 Thurs (7/15) east winds were over the equatorial Pacific east of 170W but near calm west of there through the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA). Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial Pacific.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Light east anomalies were over the KWGA on 7/16. Moderate easterly anomalies are to build and hold in the KWGA through 7/22 suggestive of a moderate Inactive Phase of the MJO.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 7/15 a modest Inactive MJO signal was over the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects it fading over the next week with neutral anomalies in.cgiay 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts a stronger Inactive Phase developing 4 days out, then fading 2 weeks out. Neither of these outcomes is encouraging from a swell production viewpoint.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (7/16) The ECMF model indicates no Active MJO signal. The forecast projects no change for the coming 2 week window. The GEFS model depicts a variation on the same theme with maybe a hint of the Active Phase developing in the far West Indian Ocean 2 days out and holding for 8 days then collapsing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (7/16) A moderate Inactive Phase was over the far West Pacific and expected to move east from there through 8/15. A weak Active Phase to follow in the west on 8/12 easing east through 8/25.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Active MJO signal was fading over the KWGA moving east with weak west anomalies in.cgiay and offering minimal support for enhancing the jetstream. It projects this Active Phase moving east and gone by 7/21. An Inactive MJO pattern to follow with weak east anomalies taking root 7/24-8/23. An Active MJO signal to follow 8/24 to 10/11 with west anomalies over the far West Pacific (barely in the KWGA) to 165E and stationary with east anomalies from 175W and points 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 9/4. At the same time low pass anomalies are over the Indian Ocean and forecast to build into Oct, typical of La Nina.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (7/16) Actual temperature are building in the West Pacific near the surface to 30 degs C and the 28 deg isotherm line stable reaching east to only 165W. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 160W with weak negative anomalies between there and 130W. Neutral anomalies are east of there over a shallow pool near the surface and are fading. Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting between 135W-160W with -3 degs anomalies reaching east down 100 meters to 130W (building east). The Kelvin Wave pipeline is chocked with a cold river rushing east. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 7/12 a pocket of +1.0 deg anomalies is building from 130E to 170W. Cool waters 3-4 degs below normal was under the entire width of the equator, undercutting any residual warm water above it and forming a bubble near 150W and upwelling from 120-150W but also reaching east to Ecuador. La Nina is in control of the ocean.
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: (7/15) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates cooler than normal water continues over the entire equatorial Pacific with negative anomalies along the coast of Peru pushing north and expanding coverage then 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 the Galapagos and south of Hawaii). This cool pattern is building over all regions. La Nina is firmly in control of surface waters, with remnant El Nino warm water 3 degs north and south of the equator being pushed further north and south away from the equator with cool water now reaching up to 10N in pockets quickly edging out the warmer water. No warm water remains anywhere in the Nino regions on the equator.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (7/14): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru. Strong cooling that was in control from the Galapagos out to 140W continues backing off some. A warming pattern was off Africa. The PDO warm pool was pulsing solidly from Oregon out across the Pacific at 40N to Japan.
Hi-res Overview: (7/15) A clear La Nina cool water pool is tracking from Ecuador and building 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: (7/16) Today's temps were steady at +0.060 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (7/16) temps were falling down to -0.580 degs.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (7/16) indicates temps on a steady downward trajectory falling to -0.75 degs in mid-Sept and holding through Dec, then slowly rising in Jan 2017 and neutral by March. 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 (7/15): The daily index was falling negative at -17.60. The 30 day average was falling at +2.93. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was rising from -1.79. El Nino was evident only in the 90 day average, and even that will soon be a distant memory.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (7/16) Today's value was building negative at -1.18. 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 positive, though a little weaker in June (as expected with La NIna setting in). Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-June) have been +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.60, +1.45 and +0.78. The Washington EDU index for the Jan-May period indicates +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62 and +2.35. The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive since then. 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