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, October 8, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.6 ft @ 18.2 secs with swell 4.7 ft @ 18.4 secs from 316 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 1.9 ft @ 12.8 secs with swell 1.1 ft @ 15.6 secs from 203 degrees. Wind south 4 kts. Water temperature 67.5 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.8 ft @ 7.8 secs from 271 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 0.8 ft @ 16.2 secs from 205 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.1 ft @ 15.9 secs from 197 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.1 ft @ 8.3 secs with north windswell 3.7 ft @ 8.0 secs from 311 degrees. Wind northwest 10-12 kts. Water temp 58.3 degs.
46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Saturday (10/8) in North and Central CA north windswell was producing waves in the thigh to waist high range and clean but weak with beginners everywhere. At Santa Cruz no real swell was present with waves knee high and clean. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at knee high on the sets and clean and mostly unrideable. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were maybe thigh high coming from the south and clean but gutless. Hawaii's North Shore was getting swell from the Northwest Pacific and dateline regions producing waves in the 4 ft overhead range and clean and lined up. The South Shore had some little waves in the thigh to waist high range and clean early. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at thigh to waist high and chopped from east trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
The North Pacific is waking up resulting in a gale that produced 32 ft seas in the far Northwest Pacific Wed-Thurs (10/6). Swell from that system is hitting Hawaii and propagating towards California. Tropical energy followed producing a tiny short lived fetch and 31 ft seas on the North Dateline region Fri (10/7). A broader area of 25 ft seas followed in the Northwest Pacific Fri-Sat (10/8). And looking at the charts a broader gale forecast hanging in the dateline and Western Gulf regions on Mon-Wed (10/12) with 26 ft seas holding steady with yet more energy starting to migrate east and building in the Gulf of Alaska later next week. Odds of semi-real swell resulting are looking more possible.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday AM (10/8) the jetstream was consolidated and streaming strongly off the Kuril Islands with winds building to 180 kts approaching the dateline while falling into a gentle trough on the dateline, then .cgiitting in the Gulf of Alaska loosing organization east of there. There was good support for gale development in the dateline trough. Over the next 72 hours the dateline trough is to track eastward into the Western Gulf while steepening on Sun (10/9) with 160-170 kt winds extending from the Kurils into the trough still offering good support for gale development. The Gulf trough is to nearly pinch off with the apex of it moving to a point just 600 nmiles west of North CA on Tues (10/11) with 140-150 kt winds consolidated running over the entirety of the North Pacific on the 42N latitude line offering some support for gale development but really starting to set up a zonal pattern. Beyond 72 hours the zonal flow is to continue into Wed 910/12) but with a pocket of 180 kts winds starting to build over the dateline feeding into a gentle trough in the Gulf becoming more defined on Fri (10/14) off Oregon and North CA likely supporting gale development. And finally Sat (10/15) the jet is to be running mostly flat across the North Pacific on the 43N latitude line with 160 kt winds across it's length feeding yet another trough off North CA offering good support for gale development and weather into CA. It looks like Fall is coming.
On Saturday (10/8) swell from a gale that was over the far Northwest Pacific was hitting Hawaii and bound for California (see Northwest Pacific Gale below). Tiny swell from what was Typhoon Chaba that grazed Japan was also pushing southeast (See ET Chaba below).
Over the next 72 hours another gale started developing in the far Northwestern Pacific on Fri AM (10/7) just off the North Kuril Islands with northwest winds 40 kts and seas building from 22 ft. In the evening 35 kt northwest winds were pushing east with seas 25 ft at 47N 165E targeting Hawaii well. On Sat AM (10/8) fetch continued tracking east-southeast with peak winds 35 kts imbedded in a broad area of 30 kt west winds on the dateline with seas still 25 ft at 45N 172E. Fetch is to be fading from 30 kts in the evening with 23 ft seas on the dateline at 44N 180W. Sun AM (10/9) this system is to dissipate with residual 25 kt west winds in the Western Gulf and seas fading from 19 ft at 44N 173W. If all goes as forecast a decent pulse of swell to result for Hawaii and the US West Coast.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tuesday mid-day (10/11) with period 16 secs building and peaking near 6 PM at 5.2 ft @ 15 secs (7.8 ft). Residuals fading on Wed AM (10/12) from 4.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 318-320 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs 2 AM (10/13) with period 16 secs and size building, peaking near 10 AM at 4.5 ft @ 15 secs (6.5 ft). Residuals fading on Fri AM (10/14) from 4.5 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 301-304 degrees
A small secondary fetch possibly to redevelop in the Gulf on Sun PM (10/9) with 35-40 kt northwest fetch starting to wrap up over a tiny area and seas building from 22 ft at 44N 159W. By Mon AM (10/10) at 40 kt northwest winds to be falling southeast over a small area with seas building to 25 ft at 42N 155W targeting only the US West Coast. Fetch is to be gone in the evening with seas fading from 22 ft at 43N 149W targeting the Pacific Northwest and California.
Northwest Pacific Gale
A gale developed off the Kuril Islands on Tues AM (10/4) generating a fetch of 45 kt west winds and tracking east with seas on the increase. In the evening winds faded in coverage from 45 kts from the northwest with 40 kt winds building in coverage with seas up to 33 ft over a modest area at 43N 162E tracking east (313 degs HI, 301 degs NCal). A fetch of 40 kt northwest winds continued tracking east Wed AM (10/5) with seas holding at 33 ft at 42N 170E (315 degs HI, 300 degs NCal). In the evening fetch lifted northeast some fading to 40 kts turning more westerly with seas 31 ft at 46N 175E (323 degs HI, 303 degs NCal) embedded in a larger area of 28+ ft seas. Fetch and seas to faded Thurs AM (10/6) with seas dropping from 27 ft at 45N 177W. Swell possible for Hawaii and the US West Coast.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on the North Shore of Oahu on Sat (10/8) building to 6.5 ft @ 16 secs later (10.0 ft). Swell fading on Sun (10/9) from 6.5 ft @ 14 secs early (9.0 ft) but pretty steady through the day. Residuals dropping out on Mon AM (10/10) from 4.2 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.0 ft). Swell DIrection: 314-322 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival Sun (10/9) at 7 PM with period 18 secs and size build. Swell peaking Mon AM (10/10) at 4.6 ft @ 16 secs (7.0 ft) and holding with period dropping to 15 sec later. Swell fading Tues AM (1011) from 5.2 ft @ 13-14 secs (7.0 ft). Swell Direction: 300 degrees
Extratropical Storm Chaba
The remnants of what was Typhoon Chaba organized just east of North Japan and the Kuril's on Thurs AM (10/6) with winds building from 35 kts with seas starting to develop. By evening the system is to start turning extratropical with 40 kt west winds developing over a tiny area while tracking east-northeast and seas building from 19 ft at 42N 170E. A tiny fetch of 50 kt west winds were tracking over the North Dateline region on Fri AM (10/7) with 25 ft seas at 48N 180W. The fetch rapidly was fading in the evening while tracking northeast over the Aleutians and into the East Bering Sea with 30 ft seas at 51N 175W. this system dissipated thereafter. A tiny pulse of small swell could result mainly for the US West Coast. This is a significant downgrade from previous projections.
North CA: Expect swell arrival at 9 AM Tues (10/11) with period 17 secs and size tiny but building, pushing maybe 2.0-2.5 ft @ 16 secs by 2 PM (3-4 ft faces) and mostly buried in the Northwest Pacific swell above. Swell Direction: 305-307 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday AM (10/6) weak low pressure was starting to build in the Southern Gulf of Alaska, a harbinger of things to come. A generally weak wind pattern was in control of the coast other than 15 kt north winds over extreme North CA. This same general pattern is to hold but with a broad area of low pressure approaching the Gulf from the west and backfilling the local low pressure already present there. By Wed (10/12) a teaser front and south winds 10-15 kts are to be just off the North CA Coast but not moving onshore. But by Thurs (10/13) a far stronger gale is to be building in the Gulf with a front moving into North CA with 30-35 kt south winds and rain down to Pt Arena reaching San Francisco Fri AM (10/14) with rain to Big Sur later in the day with another stronger pulse moving into North CA on Sat AM (10/15) and south winds down to Monterey Bay and far more copious rain with it. This seems hard to believe.
On Saturday (10/8) no swell of interest was in the water and no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
On Sun AM (10/9) a new tropically infused low is to start building over the Southern Kuril Islands extending almost to the dateline producing 35-40 kt west winds and seas on the increase. Fetch is to track east in the evening holding at 35-40 kts from the west with seas building to 22 ft roughly at 44N 173E targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. On Mon AM (10/10) the gale is to finally organize over the North Dateline region with 45 kt northwest winds just south of the Aleutians generating only 23 ft seas at 46N 177W. Fetch is to hold at 40-45 kts in the evening embedded in a broad elongated area of 30+ kt west winds over the dateline and Western Gulf with 28 ft seas at 50N 174W (306 degs NCal) and 22 ft seas down to 45N 170W (296 degrees). On Tues AM (10/11) 40 kt westerly fetch is to push into the Western Gulf generating more 26 ft seas at 50N 170W with 20 ft seas well east of there to near 45N 160W. Fetch is to be fading some in the evening on the dateline but still covering a large area with seas fading from 25 ft over a broad area centered at 50N 167W. This system is to pulse again on Wed AM (10/12) with 40 kt west winds holding just south of the Aleutians with 24 ft seas at 50N 176W and 20 ft seas reaching east to 48N 160W. Fetch is to be fading in the evening from 35 kt from the west with seas 25 ft at 49N 170W. A long run of north angled swell is possible for both Hawaii and California. Something to monitor.
Remnants of the above system are to track east and start redeveloping in the Gulf of Alaska Wed PM (10/12) with a small area of 30 kt northwest winds taking shape Fetch is to build Thurs AM 910/13) from 30-35 kts over a broad area in the Gulf with seas on the increase from 20 ft at 45N 143W and in reasonably close proximity to the Pacific Northwest. Theoretically fetch is to build to 45-50 kts in the evening tracking east off Oregon with seas to 34 ft at 45N 140W. On Fri AM (10/14) the gale is to be just off Washington with 40 kt northwest winds and seas to 30 ft at 44N 135W. This is not believable but it's a nice tease.
And additional fetch is to be building in the Gulf behind it on Fri AM (10/14) at 45 kts with seas 26 ft building to 30 ft in the evening and falling southeast pushing 32 ft on Sat AM (10/15) at 40N 143W targeting California well but with weather likely associated with it.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Pulsing 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 but weaker than expected.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Friday (10/7) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weaker 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 the KWGA. This appears to be the end of the first easterly wind burst of this La Nina cycle (9/12-10/7).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderately strong east anomalies are fading over the KWGA focused mainly on the dateline and are to be gone late on 10/9. The model suggest a weak return of east anomalies 10/12-10/15 over a small area in the KWGA with west anomalies west of 150E. This indicates the Inactive Phase of the MJO might be loosing control offering an increase opportunity for swell production in the North Pacific. It is actual wind direction/speed in the KWGA that matters more than anything else, so we're attributing more weight to these models. That is a good sign.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 10/7 a weak Active MJO signal was indicated over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern holding stationary and fading some but not gone 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts the active Phase fading in 5 days with a weak Inactive Phase moving into the West Pacific 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (10/8) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was indiscernible and is forecast holding inside the cone of weakness for the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing but with the Active Phase trying to become weakly pronounced over Africa 2 weeks out. No positive affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is forecast.
40 day Upper Level Model: (10/8) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern over the Dateline. The Active Phase is to track east while slowly fading moving over Central America by 10/28 and incoherent. A modest Inactive Phase to follow in the West starting 10/26 moving to Central America 11/15. A stronger but still weak Active Phase is to follow in the West 11/7.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (10/8) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern over the Dateline tracking east dissipating in the East Pacific 10/21. Neutral wind anomalies are expected. A weak Inactive Phase is forecast follow in the West Pacific 10/20 tracking east into 11/9 supporting weak east anomalies. then a stronger Active Phase is forecast to develop 11/10-12/19 with decent west anomalies for the KWGA. Overall the MJO signal is very weak and is to hold as we move into Fall. 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: (10/8) No Change - Actual temperatures are stratifying with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 160E) and the 28 deg isotherm line retracting west to 180W 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 neutral to weak negative anomalies east of there to Ecuador. The cool subsurface flow looks a bit more defined over the past 10 days at depth but the peak weakening raising from -3 degs to -2 degs at 145W and continuous 0.0 to -1 degs from the far West Pacific east in to Ecuador. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is r.cgiaced with cooler than normal water. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 9/30 depicts the same thing. 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: (10/7) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a slight rebuilding of cool water along the immediate coast of Peru building in coverage towards the Galapagos but with warmer than normal water further off the coast limiting the cool waters exposure. Cooler waters have dug out a path flowing continuously west from the Galapagos on the equator out to 120W, then becoming more established out to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. Coverage of the cooler waters west of 120W is a bit less than weeks previous. La Nina is in control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, and is rebuilding in the equatorial East Pacific now (Nino1.2 region between 80W-120W). Almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino 3.4 region.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/7): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru extending west to the Galapagos. A weak cooling trend is in.cgiace from the Galapagos westward out to 135W, weakening west of there. A modest warming trend continues off Africa to Brazil.
Hi-res Overview: (10/7) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. Slightly warmer temps that were from Ecuador to 120W on the equator are now fading, being r.cgiaced by cooler waters. An pulse of upwelling is occurring, but not too bad. .
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (10/8) Today's temps were steady at -0.140 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (10/8) temps were steady but well negative at -0.859 degs, falling from a recent peak on 9/25 at +0.45 degs (9/25). 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 (10/8) This model suggests La Nina was steady from July thru Oct 1 at -0.5 degs. The forecast indicates temps are to start falling reaching -1.0 degs in early Dec, then rising steadily from Jan reaching neutral in April 2017 and up to +0.2 degs 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 (10/8): The daily index was down some at -0.84 but has been hovering in the +15-20 range since 9/10. The 30 day average was up some at +13.76. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average has stabilized at +8.33, 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): (10/8) Today's value was falling slightly at -1.62 (the lowest it has been so far in this event was -1.65 on 10/4) suggesting La Nina is getting a little better established. 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