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.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.3 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 1.1 ft @ 11.7 secs from 198 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 5.6 secs with windswell 3.1 ft @ 6.0 secs from 274 degrees. Wind northwest 10-12 kts. Water temperature 71.1 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 3.0 ft @ 5.7 secs from 262 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.0 ft @ 13.5 secs from 204 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 3.4 ft @ 6.4 secs from 298 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.3 ft @ 14.7 secs with Typhoon Omais swell 2.8 ft @ 14.0 secs and windswell 3.1 ft @ 9.6 ft. Wind northwest 6-8 kts. Water temp 58.8 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Tuesday (8/16) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell and background swell from Typhoon Omais was producing surf in the waist to chest high range and somewhat lined up with heavily textured conditions at exposed breaks from south winds with some fog early. At Santa Cruz rare sets were waist high on the peak and clean but weak. In Southern California up north surf was flat with thigh high sets and clean. Down south background southern hemi swell was producing waves in the waist high range and clean but with some wind lump intermixed and weak. Further down south top spots had rare set waves in the near chest high range on the peak and clean but soft. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was flat to thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting easterly windswell at knee to thigh high and chopped.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
A gale developed in the South Central Pacific Wed (8/10) with seas to 28 ft aimed northeast with a second pulse developing Thurs (8/11) to 37 ft but aimed very much to the east. Yet a third pulse developed on Sat (8/13) with 29 ft seas pushing due north. But all three were tiny in coverage. Small swell is pushing north towards Central America up to the US Mainland. In the North Pacific Tropical Storm Omais redeveloped on Tues-Wed (8/10) off the Kurils with seas 27 ft sending some sideband swell towards the US mainland and it is hitting now. It moved through the Bering Sea and fell into the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Sat (8/13) with seas at 17 ft, but it faded quickly offering low odds of swell generation potential. More tropical development is occurring and forecast in the West Pacific, but nothing recurving northeast with no swell generation potential expected.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (8/16) small swell from what was Tropical Storm Omais was in the water hitting exposed breaks in California (see below).
Also low pressure has developed just south of the Eastern Aleutians Mon PM (8/15) and by Tues AM (8/16) pressure was 992 mbs creating a small fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds aimed at the US West Coast with seas 18 ft over a tiny area at 47N 165W. The low is to fade in the evening with west fetch dropping from 25 kts and seas falling below the level of interest. With the fetch 1900 nmiles out from NCal and seas so small, there very low odds of any swell resulting (arriving Sat PM 8/20 - 1.8 ft @ 12 secs - 2.0 ft faces).
Tropical System Omais
Omais was in the Northwest Pacific turning from northward track to a northeast track again on Tues AM (8/9) with winds barely 40 kts on the east side of the core with seas to 28 ft over a tiny area at 41N 151E (303 degs NCal). Fetch turned more northeast in the evening but faded at 35 kts with seas 26 ft at 45N 155E (306 degs NCal). More of the same occurred on Wed AM (8/10) with winds 35 kts and seas 25 ft at 47N 159E (306 degs NCal). Fetch held at 35-40 kts in the evening off Kamchatka but aimed east with seas up to 27 ft at 49N 167E (308+ degs NCal) and starting to become shadowed by the Aleutians. Omais then moved into the Bering Sea.
North CA: Swell built slightly on Tues (8/16) to 2.0 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell peaking on Wed (8/17) to 3.6 ft @ 11 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) then fading thereafter. Swell Direction: 300-305 degs
Omais tracked through the Bering Sea and then into the northwestern Gulf of Alaska on Sat AM (8/13) producing a tiny fetch of 30 kt west winds and seas to barely 17 ft at 51N 163W holding in tot he evening at 50N 159W. Small 12 sec period swell is possible for the Pacific Northwest down into North CA.
North CA: Swell arrival expected on Wed (8/17) at 10 AM at 3.6 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.5 ft) from 307 degrees but quickly being overcome by local north windswell.
The California coastal pressure gradient was building in coverage and intensity on Tuesday (8/16) with north winds reaching 25+ kts over North CA waters but an eddy flow holding along the Central CA coast and up into NCal to Pt Arena. More strengthening is forecast Wed (8/17) with north winds over Cape Mendocino waters to 35 kts but with the eddy flow building north of Pt Arena. Increasing period on local north windswell expected for Central CA. On Thurs (8/18) north fetch is to build in coverage well north to British Columbia at 25 kts targeting NCal early producing more windswell, but then fading and moving off the coast. Windswell starting to fade. By Friday (8/19) the fetch is to still be 20-25 kts from the north-northeast well off the coast, still producing windswell but size fading relative to North CA.
For Hawaii on Tuesday (8/16) trades were from the east at 10-15 kts in patches east of the Islands driven by high pressure centered off North CA making for some minimal easterly windswell along exposed easterly shores. On Wed (8/17) that fetch is to build some 400 nmiles east of the Islands and then start building over the Islands on Thurs-Fri (8/19) but still only in the barely 15 kt range, generating minimal east windswell at exposed breaks.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were occurring.
Over the next 72 hours a cluster of tropical systems are forecast in the far West Tropical Pacific through Fri (8/19) but none are to recurve northeast. One is to generate 35 ft seas over a small area Thurs AM (8/18) at 25N 154E aimed north offering a slim hope for some swell to develop. But overall no swell production is expected.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (8/16) high pressure at 1030 mbs was 750 nmiles off the North CA coast ridging east producing the usual pressure gradient over North CA with north winds there to 25+ kts but with a local eddy flow (south winds) from Pt Arena southward. North winds to build to 35 kts on Wed (8/17) over Cape Mendocino but the eddy flow is to be in.cgiay south of there. Thursday the north wind flow is to start moving off the North CA coast just barely holding at 25 kts near the Oregon border late with a light eddy flow over all of North and Central CA. On Fri (8/19) winds over North CA to fall below 15 kts from the north with a calm wind pattern from Pt Arena southward. A dead calm flow is forecast for all of California from there through Mon (8/22). On Tues (8/23) north winds at 15 kts to start building over North CA and near Pt Conception.
On Tuesday AM (8/16) the northern branch of the jet was dominant running west to east on the 30S latitude line steady at up to 150 kts in two large pockets. The southern branch was weak and .cgiit from the northern branch running south of New Zealand at 120 kts down to 60S then dissipating while crashing into Antarctica near 150W. It was offering no fuel to support gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere. Over the next 72 hours that same general pattern is to continue but with the southern branch building with winds to 120 kts over a broader area tracking due east on the 62S latitude line (over Antarctic Ice) reaching the Southeast Pacific and offering no support for gale development. And by Fri (8/19) that flow is to start ridging even further southward. Beyond 72 hours the southern branch of the jet is to continue ridging south over the Southwest Pacific but pushing north on Sat (8/20) with 140 kts winds at 145W forming a trough and offering some support for gale development. But even that trough is to start weakening quickly on Sun (8/21) while pushing east to the edge of the California swell window then dissipating quickly on Mon (8/22). After that the southern branch is to be tracking east down at 70S over almost the entirety of the South Pacific likely shutting down support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere through Tues (8/23).
On Tuesday (8/16) small swell was pushing north from a gale that developed in the Central South Pacific (see Central South Pacific Gale below).
Otherwise no swell producing fetch was occurring.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast.
Central South Pacific Gale
On Tues AM (8/9) a broad fetch associated with an area of low pressure was filling the South Central Pacific producing southwest winds at 30-35 kts with seas on the increase. Winds built to 35 kts in the evening with seas building from 25 ft at 48S 155W. On Wed AM (8/10) southwest fetch was 35-40 kts in pockets with 27 ft seas over a broad area at 48S 148W aimed northeast. Fetch was fading some in the evening from 35 kts with seas with 26 ft at 43S 138W. Given the sub 30 ft sea height, small swell with period in the 15-16 secs range to result for CA and points south of there.
SCal: Expect swell arrival on Wed (8/17) building to 2.5 ft @ 17 secs (4.0-4.5 ft) in the afternoon. Swell peaks Thurs AM (8/18) at 3.3 ft @ 16 secs (5.0-5.5 ft). Swell fading Sat AM (8/19) from 3 ft @ 14 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees
NCal: Expect swell arrival on Wed (8/17) at 10 PM with period 17 secs peaking on Thurs 10 AM (8/18) with swell 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading Fri AM (8/19) from 2.5 ft @ 15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 194 degrees
On Thurs AM (8/11) a new fetch tiny fetch of 55 kt south winds was building in the same area with 32 ft seas building at 50S 139W. 55 kt south fetch held in the evening over a tiny area with 37 ft seas at 49S 130W tracking east and covering only a tiny area. 40-45 kts south fetch continued Fri AM (8/12) but falling southeast with a tiny area with 31 ft seas at 50S 125W and aimed mostly east and out of the California swell window. A second pulse of swell to result from CA southward.
SCal: Expect swell peaking on Fri AM (8/19) pushing 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell continues Sat AM (8/20) at 3.6 ft @ 14-15 secs early (5.0-5.5 ft), then fading on Sun AM (8/21) from 3 ft @ 14 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees
NCal: Expect swell arrival on Fri AM (8/19) pushing 2.0 ft @ 17-18 secs early (3.5 ft) Swell continuing on Sat AM (8/20) at 3 ft @ 15 secs (4.0-4.5 ft) then fading on Sun AM (8/21) from 2.6 ft @ 14 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 190 degrees
On Friday evening (8/12) a new fetch of 45-50 kt south wind developed from the remnants of the previous fetch with seas again on the increase from 26 ft at 52S 130W. On Sat AM (8/13) 40 kt south winds were pushing north while fading with seas 29 ft over a tiny area tracking north at 49S 132W. In the evening 40 kt south winds to be tracking north-northeast with seas fading from 29 ft at 47S 129W. This system to fade there after. A possible 3rd pulse of swell to result.
SCal: Expect swell arrival on Sun AM (8/21) building to 2 ft @ 16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell holding Mon AM (8/22) at 2 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Residuals fading on Tues AM (8/23) from 2.3 ft @ 13 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 192 degrees
NCal: Expect swell arrival on Sun AM (8/21) building to 2 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell holding on Mon AM (8/22) at 2.3 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5 ft). Residuals fading on Tues AM (8/23) from 2.6 ft @ 14 secs(3.6 ft). Swell Direction: 185 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 low pressure is to develop just south of the Eastern Aleutians on Mon (8/22) perhaps generating 25 kts west winds for a short timespan. No swell to result. But the fact that low pressure is starting to be charted in the North Pacific is encouraging.
For California high pressure is to dissipate in the Eastern Gulf on Sat (8/20) with no signs of local fetch forecast. No change is forecast through Tues (8/23). A calm local flow is forecast for all of CA.
For Hawaii trades to fall below the 15 kt threshold on Sat (8/20) with no return forecast through Tues (8/23). East winds to remain in the 10 kt range.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Fading Some
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 all but gone except for remnants in the upper atmosphere. La Nina is developing.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Monday (8/15) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weaker over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south of there) and into the West Pacific. Anomalies were weak westerly over the equatorial East Pacific, and neutral over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): No anomalies were present on 8/16. Weak west anomalies are forecast in the KWGA 8/17-8/20 suggestive of the Active Phase of the MJO,, then fading with east anomalies back in.cgiay through 8/23. East anomalies to hold in the East Pacific 8/17-8/23.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 8/15 a moderate Active Phase of the MJO was over the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects it fading in the West Pacific and dissipated 5 days out and holding neutral through week #2. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with the Active Phase building in the West Pacific 2 weeks out to nearly strong status. This pattern, if it materializes would help to support storm development.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (8/16) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was modest and positioned over the dateline. The forecast projects it holding position and strength for the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (8/16) This model depicts a weak Active Phase over the dateline tracking east through 9/5. At the same time a weak Inactive Phase is to be building in the far West Pacific on 8/31 tracking east into the East Pacific through 9/25. A Neutral pattern to follow at that time in the West.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern peaking over the KWGA with weak west anomalies in.cgiay from the dateline westward and forecast holding while tracking east thru 9/6. An very weak Inactive Phase is to follow 9/10-9/25 but west anomalies holding still reaching east to the dateline (in the KWGA). Then another Active MJO signal is to follow 9/26 -10/18 with moderate west anomalies still to the dateline and possibly moving east some. East anomalies are forecast holding in the East Pacific from 170W eastward through mid Oct, then dissipating once the Active Phase of October takes root. 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 8/24. At the same time low pass anomalies are over the Indian Ocean and forecast to build weakly into Nov, typical of La Nina.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (8/16) Actual temperatures are building in the West Pacific on the surface at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 163E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 170W. Cooling continues in the east. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 165W with weak negative anomalies east of there towards Ecuador. Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting between 135W-145W. At depth -3 degs anomalies reach east down 100 meters at 155W (building east). The Kelvin Wave pipeline is chocked with cold water rushing east through it. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/11 depicts a pocket of +1.0 deg anomalies building in the West Pacific to 170W. Cool water 2-3 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: (8/15) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a very weak cool flow is present along the coast of Peru but building some off Ecuador. Those cooler waters are flowing west from the Galapagos tracking solidly out to at least 160W with with peak temps down to -1.5 degs with what appears to be a resurgence of of cool water developing off Ecuador over the Galapagos out to 100W. There waters extend north and south from the equator about 8 degrees but have contracted some to 3 degs north and south of the equator recently near and just west of the Galapagos to 115W. La Nina is in control of surface waters, with remnant El Nino warm water holding in a few small pockets 3 degs north and south of the equator. Almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino regions on the equator.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (8/14): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru. A mixed trend is redeveloping from Ecuador over the Galapagos out to 145W with pockets of cooling and warming water present. A neutral trend is off Africa.
Hi-res Overview: (8/14) A clear La Nina cool pool is present in the Central equatorial Pacific. But the stream is very thin and weak tracking west from the Galapagos and nonexistent along Ecuador and Peru suggestive of westward di.cgiacement. A generalized pattern of +1-2 deg above normal temps remains 4-8 degs north and south of the equator and west of 180W. Cooler water is also 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: (8/16) Today's temps were trending steady at -0.214 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/13) temps were trending weakly upward at -0.420 degs. Temps bottomed out recently at -1.0 degs near 7/21-7/26.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (8/16) indicates temps are to rise to -0.2 degs in Oct, then fall to -0.5 degs in Dec before starting to rise in Jan 2017 and neutral by April. This is a major upgrade from previous projections. This is barely in La Nina territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-July Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.6 by Nov and holding there to Feb, then rising. This is up from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (8/16): The daily index was down some -3.04. The 30 day average was up some at +5.26. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was steady at +2.93, transitioning from negative to positive the first time in years on 7/20. El Nino is gone in all dimensions of the SOI Index now.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (8/16) Today's value was steady at -1.60, continuing it's downward trend. 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 much weaker in July than June (as expected with La NIna setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-July) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.60, +1.43, +0.75 and +0.18.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-July) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03 and +1.25.
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