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, October 2, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.1 ft @ 5.7 secs with swell 3.8 ft @ 6.7 secs from 33 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.4 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 2.1 ft @ 15.7 secs from 186 degrees. Wind north 4-6 kts. Water temperature 71.2 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 3.5 ft @ 6.4 secs from 272 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.4 ft @ 16.1 secs from 195 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 3.1 ft @ 15.8 secs from 188 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.7 ft @ 15.9 secs with southern hemi swell 2.8 ft @ 15.9 secs from 182 degrees and north windswell 3.5 ft @ 10 secs from 304 degrees. Wind west 6 kts. Water temp 57.6 degs.
46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Sunday (10/2) in North and Central CA southern hemi swell was producing waves in the chest to head high range and textured from southerly winds. At Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was producing waves in the chest to head high range but very slow and clean. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at waist high and warbled but clean early. Down in Northern Orange Co sets waves were head high to 1 ft overhead and lined up and closed out with modest southerly texture and lump running through it. Further down south top spots had set waves at 1-2 ft overhead but a bit textured from southerly winds. Hawaii's North Shore was getting wrap around northeast windswell with rare waves to waist high and pretty ruffled from northeast trades. The South Shore had some little weak waves up to waist high and clean early. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at chest high and chopped from east trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Swell from the Southeast Pacific was on it's way down in California (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). Another small gale followed in the Southeast Pacific on Tues (9/27) with 32 ft seas aimed northeast. tiny swell is tracking north. Looking at the forecast charts nothing else is forecast from the South Pacific. Looking north a weak gale is projected in the Northeast Gulf on Tues (10/4) producing maybe 21 ft seas and barely in the Central CA swell window. There suggestions of a better pattern emerging this week with a gale producing 30-32 ft seas just west of the Northern Dateline region on Wed (10/5) with tropical energy recurving northeast and tapping the residuals of the dateline gale in the Northwestern Gulf on Fri-Sat (10/8) with seas possibly to 40 ft. Something to monitor through probably over hyped by the model at this early date.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday AM (10/2) the jetstream was tracking east generally over the 42N latitude line extending from the Southern Kuril Islands with winds to 150 kts falling southeast some over the dateline but winds fading to 80 kts then moving back north in the Gulf of Alaska with winds up to 130 kts before falling south along the immediate coast of California moving inland over Central CA. There was something that almost looked like a trough over the dateline but winds were too weak to be supportive of gale development. And a trough was falling south over the ORegon and North CA coast offering only cloudiness and a hint of drizzle at select locations. Over the next 72 hours the jet is to remain fairly cohesive tracking west to east on the 45N latitude line with a pocket of 140 kts winds building over the Kuril Islands forming a trough over the Northwest Pacific on Tues (10/4) building to 180 kts on Wed (10/5) with the apex of the trough moving to the North Dateline region offering good support for gale formation. East of there the jet is to be weak and ill defined. Beyond 72 hours the trough over the dateline is to falter on Thurs (10/6) but winds are to hold in the 170 kts range tracking east and by Sunday (10/9) the jet is to be fully consolidated over the width of the North Pacific on the 42N latitude line with winds 150-160 kts over that area and a bit of a trough starting to develop on the dateline. Improved support for gale development possible.
On Sunday (10/2) no swell of interest was in the water and no fetch of interest was occurring. High pressure at 1028 mbs was 800 nmiles west of South California with weak low pressure trying to develop in the Northeast Gulf of Alaska. No fetch capable of generating meaningful swell was in.cgiay.
Over the next 72 hours weak low pressure is to be trying to develop just off the coast of Western Canada and British Columbia on Mon (10/3) while falling south. Winds are to build to 40 kts in the evening over a small area aimed southeast with seas to 20 ft at 52N 139W and mostly outside the NCal swell window. This system is to fall southeast Tues AM (10/4) with winds still 35 kts and seas 20-21 ft at 49N 135W and just outside the 319 degree track to NCal. fetch is to be fading from 30-35 kts in the evening with seas fading from barely 20 ft at 47N 130W and outside the swell window from Pt Reyes southward. Swell is possible for the Pacific Northwest down to Pt Arena or so.
Relative to North CA no windswell of interest is forecast.
Relative to Hawaii high pressure is in control of the Southern Gulf at 1028 mbs on Sun (10/2) generating a broad fetch of east trades off it's southern flank at 15 kts from almost Baja and the Islands with a core to 20 kts (the remnants of Ulika) 400 nmiles east of Hawaii resulting in increased easterly windswell. The high is to hold and continue producing enhanced trades into Tues (10/4) before starting to fade, finally gone on Thurs (10/6). East windswell is expected for the Islands during that window.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Typhoon Chaba was 600 nmiles south of the southwestern most tip of Japan with winds 110 kts tracking north-northwest and expected to turn more to the north on Mon AM (10/3) peaking with winds 120 kts. This system is to continue north and then turn northeast on Tues AM (10/4) with winds 110 kts tracking over inland Japan and accelerating in forward speed. The remnants of Chaba are to eventually push into open waters of the North Pacific east of Northern Japan on Thurs AM (10/6) with winds 40 kts and start redeveloping (see the Long Term North Pacific Forecast below).
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday AM (10/2) high pressure at 1028 mbs was over the Southern Gulf weakly ridging into Central CA but being held at bay by low pressure pushing into North CA. Northwest winds were 10-15 kts along the Central CA coast and up to 20 kts near Pt Conception. Another wave of low pressure is to move onshore over North CA on Mon (10/3) with light winds holding over North CA but north winds still over Pt Conception at up to 25 kts. Tues (10/4) the core of the low is to move inland over the Pacific Northwest late with north winds still 20+ kts over Pt Conception but the gradient lifting north on Wednesday with north winds building to up to Cape Mendocino and 25 still over Pt Conception. The gradient is to weaken on Thurs (10/6) with 15-20 kts north winds limited to North CA and a light northwest flow over Central CA. Friday northwest winds to be 15 kts for Central and North CA continuing Sat and Sun (10/9) but 20 kt north winds building near Pt Conception.
On Sunday (10/2) a tiny swell was in the water tracking towards California and points south of there (see Small Central South Pacific Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
Small Central South Pacific Gale
Another small gale developed starting Mon AM (9/26) well southeast of New Zealand with winds from the south at near 45 kts over a small area. In the evening the gale was lifting northeast with winds from the south at 45-50 kts over a broader area with seas to 31 ft at 54S 143W. On Tues AM (9/27) fetch was fading from 40 kts turning more northeast with seas 32 ft at 50S 135W. This system dissipated by evening. This system was very small in coverage, but winds were straight from the south and the gale itself tracked well northeast. Perhaps a little more swell than would normally be expected could result targeting California down into Central America and Peru.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (10/5) with swell building to 1.4 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell holding on Thurs (10/6) at 1.6 ft @ 15 secs early (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fading out on Fri (10/7) from 1.2 ft @ 13-14 secs early (1.5 ft). Swell Direction: 194 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (10/5) with swell 1.0 ft @ 18 secs later (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell peaking on Thurs (10/6) at 1.4 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fading on Fri (10/7) from 1.1 ft @ 14 secs early 91.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 191 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 pattern is to become much more active.
A small gale is forecast developing Thurs AM (10/6) off Vancouver Island generating a decent sized fetch of 35 kt northwest winds moving east and starting to pushing into British Columbia in the evening with northwest wind fading from 30 kts in the evening and seas building to 18 ft at 47N 135W. Windswell possible relative to NCal possibly to result.
But of more interest is to be a gale developing off the Kuril Islands on Tues AM (10/4) generating a fetch of 40 kt northwest winds and tracking east. in the evening winds to build to 45 kt from the northwest with seas up to 32 ft over a small area at 45N 163E tracking east. A broader fetch of 40 kt northwest winds is to continue east Wed AM (10/5) with seas holding at 32-33 ft at 45N 170E. In the evening fetch is to lift northeast some still at 40 kts turning more westerly with seas 32 ft at 48N 173E. Fetch and seas to fade Thurs AM 910/6) but a new system is to be building off Japan. Swell is possible if all goes as forecast.
Beyond the remnants of Typhoon Chaba are to be organizing North Japan and the Kuril's on Thurs AM (10/6) with winds building from 40 kts from the northwest. By evening the system is to turn extratropical with 55 kt northwest winds developing while tracking east-northeast and seas building from 26 ft at 46N 171E. A small fetch of 50 kt west winds is to be tracking over the North Dateline region on Fri AM (10/7) with 37 ft seas at 48N 180W. The fetch is to hold while tracking east in the evening with 40 ft seas at 50N 171W moving into the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska. The fetch is to fade Sat AM (10/8) from 45 kts with seas 37 ft at 52N 165W. This system to fade out after that. If all goes as forecast some north angled swell could result for all our forecast locations.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Easterly Wind Burst Continues
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 but weaker than expected.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Saturday (10/1) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south. Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific and moderately east over KWGA. This is the first easterly wind burst of this La Nina cycle.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderately strong east anomalies are over the KWGA as they have been since this Easterly Wind Burst occurred starting 9/12 and are to hold while easing slowly east to the dateline on 10/8. This indicates the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in control resulting in a suppressed swell production pattern both north and south. This is in contrast to what the models below suggest. It is actual wind direction/speed in the KWGA that matters more than anything else, so we're attributing more weight to these models.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 10/1 a modest Active MJO signal was indicated over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern to continue for the next 2 weeks, fading some late while holding stationary. The dynamic model depicts a weaker version of the same and gone 2 weeks out with a weak Inactive Phase moving into the West Pacific.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (10/2) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak near the Dateline. The forecast projects it collapsing while racing east and all but gone somewhere near Africa 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. No positive affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is forecast.
40 day Upper Level Model: (10/2) This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern over the West Pacific. The Active Phase is to track east while slowly fading moving over Central America by 10/19. A stronger and moderate Inactive Phase to follow in the West starting 10/17 moving to Central America 11/8.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (10/2) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern starting to move over the Dateline tracking east dissipating in the East Pacific 10/20. Weak east anomalies are to hold over the dateline and hold through 10/20. A weak Inactive Phase if not neutral phase is forecast following in the West Pacific 10/20 tracking east into 11/20 supporting a dead neutral wind anomaly pattern. Overall the MJO signal is very weak and is to hold as we move into Fall. The model does show west anomalies building to modest status starting 11/27 and holding to the end of Dec, but that seems optimistic and has been on the charts for months yet never materializes. La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, but not biasing it towards the Inactive Phase.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (10/2) Actual temperatures are stratifying with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to only 157E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 177W and getting steeper, suggesting a hard break between warm water in the west and cool water in the east at depth. This is expected with La Nina developing. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 175W with weak negative anomalies east of 125W then weak warm anomalies from there to Ecuador. The cool subsurface flow looks a bit more defined over the past week at depth peaking at -4 degs at 140W and continuous 0 to -1 degs from the far West Pacific reaching east to 120W then weaker into Ecuador. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is r.cgiaced with cooler than normal water. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 9/25 a steady flow of +1-2 deg anomalies are traversing the Pacific equator down at 100-150 meters. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so.
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: (10/1) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a collapse of cool water along the immediate coast of Peru with warmer than normal water in control tracking towards the Galapagos. Strong warmer pockets exist further off the Peruvian coast to almost Ecuador. Cooler waters no longer flow continuously west from the Galapagos along the equator and have been r.cgiaced with warmer than normal water, with cooler waters only re-emerging at 120W, becoming more established out to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. La Nina is in control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, but weak, with remnant El Nino warm water holding well in the East (Nino1.2 region) mainly between 80W-120W. Almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino 3.4 region, but warm water still is having a significant influence in the Nino 1.2 region.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (9/30): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru extending west to the Galapagos. A mix of warmer and cooler pockets are in control from the Galapagos westward out to 160W, but with cooling temps in greater control than warming temps. A broad warming trend continues off Africa to the Caribbean and Brazil.
Hi-res Overview: (9/30) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. But neutral to slightly warmer temps are from Peru to 120W. No cool waters exist along Ecuador and Peru suggestive of westward dis
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (10/2) Today's temps were steady at +0.004 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (10/2) temps were falling hard -0.815 degs from a peak on 9/25 at +0.45 degs. Temp are oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.3 to -1.0 degs until the warming spike in late Sept. Temps bottomed out 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 (10/2) This model suggests La Nina was steady at -0.5 degs from July to present. Temps are to start falling to -0.95 degs in early Dec before starting to rise steadily reaching neutral in April 2017 and up to +2.5 by June. This is very interesting with the model holding the strength of La Nina at minimal ' La Nina' territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Sept Plume depicts temps have reached their peak minimum and are to hold there at -0.5 to -0.6 through Nov. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to -0.3 in Feb 2017 and to -0.2 in March holding into May. This is up again from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs and barely in La Nina territory. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (10/2): The daily index was down some at +7.09 but had been hovering in the +15-20 range since 9/13. The 30 day average was steady at +13.82. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was up some at +7.93, 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 and La Nina is becoming pronounced
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (10/2) Today's value was down some at -1.57 (the lowest it has been so far in this event) suggesting La Nina is getting a little better toe hold. During El Nino this year 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 after that La Nina took over with it falling steadily dropping as low as -1.50 in early Aug.
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-Aug) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.41, +0.76, +0.18 and now -0.66 in Aug.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Aug) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03, +1.25 and now +0.52 in Aug.
The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive until Aug 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina. 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