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, October 11, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.9 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 2.6 ft @ 12.9 secs from 325 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.4 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 1.3 ft @ 15.6 secs from 204 degrees. Wind west 4-6 kts. Water temperature 65.5 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.2 ft @ 11.5 secs from 266 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.2 ft @ 15.8 secs from 230 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.3 ft @ 15.6 secs from 230 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.9 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 5.8 ft @ 13.9 secs from 299 degrees. Wind southeast 6 kts. Water temp 57.7 degs.
46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Tuesday (10/11) in North and Central CA swell from the Northwest Pacific was producing set waves in the 1-2 ft overhead range and clean and lined up but a bit slow. At Santa Cruz northwest swell was wrapping in producing waves at chest high and clean but soft. In Southern California up north swell was producing waves at waist high or so and clean and lined up. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were chest high and lined up and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting leftovers from the Northwest Pacific and dateline regions with waves in the chest to head high range at top spots and clean. The South Shore had some little waves at thigh high 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.
Residual swell from a gale that produced 32 ft seas in the far Northwest Pacific Wed-Thurs (10/6) is still weakly hitting Hawaii and California. Tropical energy followed producing a tiny short lived fetch and 31 ft seas on the North Dateline region Fri (10/7). And a broader gale produced 25 ft seas in the Northwest Pacific Fri-Sat (10/8). Both those swells are tracking simultaneously towards Hawaii and then California. And the charts suggest a much more active pattern is to follow with a gale developing in the Western Gulf Tues-Wed (10/12) with up to 39 ft seas on Mon-Wed (10/12) with 20-22 ft followed on seas migrating east into Fri (10/14). And a local gale is forecast in the Southeastern Gulf on Fri-Sat (10/15) with up to 38 ft seas. Another gale to follow for the Central Gulf on Mon (10/17) with 25 ft seas. And maybe more behind that. Sure looks like Fall is officially here.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday AM (10/11) the jetstream was consolidated and streaming strongly off the Southern Kuril Islands building to 170 kts at 45N while flowing over the dateline then fading while falling southeast over the Gulf of Alaska weakly limping into Central CA. There were no troughs present but wind speeds alone were providing some support for gale development mainly over the dateline. Over the next 72 hours winds energy is to be building to 190 kts falling into a developing trough in the Western Gulf on Wed (10/12) then fading some while sweeping east pushing into the PAcific Northwest on Fri (10/14). Great support for gale development expected. And back to the west winds energy is to be rebuilding to 170 kts off North Japan feeding directly across the width of the North Pacific providing fuel for future gale development. Beyond 72 hours the pocket of wind off Japan is to track east building to near 190 kts on Sat (10/15) in the Western Gulf and feeding the trough in the Eastern Gulf into Sunday. On Monday (10/17) wind energy is to continue seeping east focused on the Gulf with another trough developing off North CA but with less velocity than previous and moving onshore 24 hours later. And by Tuesday (10/18) the jet is to become very weak in the west and fragmented while one last trough tries to develop over the dateline but supported by only 120 kts winds. Limited support for gale development possible.
On Tuesday (10/11) tiny swell from what was Typhoon Chaba that grazed Japan then moved to the dateline was pushing southeast (See ET Chaba below). Of more interest is swell from a gale that formed in the Northwest Pacific last weekend (see Northwest Pacific Gale below).
We are retroactively labeling the swell that hit Hawaii on Saturday (10/8) from a gale in the Northwest Pacific as Swell #1 of the season. A peak pure swell reading of 11 ft @ 17 secs was recorded at the Waimea Bay buoy.
Over the next 72 hours a new gale is to be developing. It started on Sun AM (10/9) when tropically infused low pressure started building over the Southern Kuril Islands extending almost to the dateline producing 35-40 kt west winds with seas on the increase. Fetch tracked east in the evening holding at 35-40 kts from the west with seas building to 22 ft roughly at 43N 173E targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. On Mon AM (10/10) the gale finally started organizing well over the North Dateline region with 40 kt northwest winds just south of the Aleutians generating 24 ft seas at 45N 180W. Fetch built to 45 kts solid in the evening in the Western Gulf embedded in a broad elongated area of 30+ kt west winds with seas building from 34 ft at 47N 172W (338 degs HI, 301 degs NCal) and 30 ft seas down to 45N 170W (297 degs NCal). On Tues AM (10/11) 45 kt westerly fetch is to be pushing through the Western Gulf generating 39 ft seas at 46N 165W (350 degs HI, 299 degs NCal). Fetch is to be fading some in the evening covering a large area in the Western Gulf from 35-40 kts with seas fading from 33 ft over a broad area centered at 45N 156W (360 degs HI, 297 degs NCal). This system is to hold on Wed AM (10/12) with 30-35 kt west winds still over the Western Gulf with 27 ft seas over a large area at 45N 150W (296 degs NCal). Fetch is to slowly loose coverage in the evening at 30-35 kts from the west with seas 25 ft at 48N 162W (355 degs HI, 302 NCal). This system is to quickly dissipate thereafter. A long run of north angled swell is possible for both Hawaii and California. Something to monitor.
On Thurs AM (10/13) residuals from the Gulf Gale above are to race east and try and reorganize off the coat of Oregon and North CA in the evening with 30-35 kt west winds nearshore and seas 20-24 ft near 43N 137W moving east to a point just off South Oregon on Fri AM (10/14) at 43N 129W. More raw swell radiating towards Central CA and points northward.
On Fri AM (10/14) the extratropical remnants of Typhoon Songda are to race over the dateline and start redeveloping in the Gulf of Alaska with 40 kt west winds and seas 22 ft at 42N 160W. In the evening fetch is to build to 45 kts from the west with seas 29 ft at 41N 146W. Winds to build to 55 kt from the northwest early Sat AM (10/15) off Oregon with seas 37 ft at 42N 136W. The storm is to start pushing into the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver Island in the evening with winds still 50 kts and seas 37 ft at 45N 129W and outside the CA swell window. Something to monitor.
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
Northwest Pacific Gale
On Fri AM (10/7) a gale developed in the far Northwestern Pacific 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
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Typhoon Songda on Tues AM (10/11) was 450 nmiles southeast of Tokyo Japan with winds 100 kts tracking northeast and poised to start accelerating in that direction. The long range forecast have this system redeveloping on Fri (10/14) after passing over the dateline. See Short Term Forecast for details.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (10/11) a weak pressure and wind pattern was over California waters making for clean conditions and no windswell development. By Wed (10/12) a front and south winds are to be approaching extreme North CA with south winds to 15 kts reaching Cape Mendocino near 10 PM. By Thurs (10/13) the front is to start being enhanced with low pressure from the Gulf and the storm door is to open. The front is to push south to near Monterey Bay with 25 kt south winds down to San Francisco well after dark with rain to SF near 10 PM and heavy in Northern CA. On Friday (10/14) that front is to reach down to near Pt Conception through the day with south winds to 15 kts there, but light west in the SF Bay area later in the day. Maybe some snow at higher elevations of Tahoe down into Yosemite. Saturday the next gale is to be queuing up in the Gulf reaching storm status late and pushing well east. The front is to impact North CA mid-day with south winds 30+ kts and solid rain fading reaching Monterey Bay late with south winds only 20 kts and light rain reaching south to Morro Bay. rain for Tahoe. The next pulse to impact NCal on Sunday (10/16) with 20 kt south winds reaching SF at sunset and light rain expected continuous through the day on Sunday down to Morro Bay. Snow for higher elevations of Tahoe and Yosemite by later evening. A break is forecast on Monday (10/17) with another gale queuing up off Oregon with the front hitting North CA late in the day but high pressure deflecting it away from Pt Reyes southward. Maybe light rain pushing south to San Francisco Tuesday AM (10/18) and snow flurries for Tahoe at higher elevations.
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
Another gale is forecast developing in the Gulf on Mon AM (10/17) with a broad area if 35-40 kt northwest winds developing and seas building from 26 ft at 45N 150W (297 degs NCal). This system to build while lifting northeast quickly in the evening with 50+ kt west winds just off Oregon in the evening and seas 29-20 ft at 43N 133W (308 degs NCal). This system is to be moving onshore over Oregon on Tues AM (10/18) with seas 34 ft at 44N 127W and outside the Central CA swell window.
Perhaps one more gale is to follow.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Pulsing Fading More
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 Monday (10/10) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific and solid 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 but modestly easterly over 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 but are to rebuild on 10/12 and shift west some into the middle of the KWGA through 10/18. This indicates the Inactive Phase of the MJO might be loosing some control at the moment, but is to rebuild some over the coming week. 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 10/10 a weak Active MJO signal was indicated over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern holding stationary but not gone 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts the active Phase fading in 7 days with a weak Inactive Phase moving into the West Pacific 2 weeks out. This is no change from what both models have been indicating for weeks and is not believable.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (10/11) 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. No positive affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is forecast.
40 day Upper Level Model: (10/11) 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 moving to the dateline on 11/20.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (10/11) 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 11/20 supporting weak east anomalies at worst. A stronger Active Phase is forecast to develop 11/10-12/19 with decent west anomalies for the KWGA and holding into 1/7. 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: (10/11) No Change - Actual temperatures are stratifying with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 158E) 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 180W 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 10/5 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: (10/10) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a rebuilding of warm water along the immediate coast of Peru cutting off any cool flow migrating towards the Galapagos. Cooler waters have retracted with a weakening path flowing in pockets from the Galapagos on the equator out to 120W, then becoming more established out west of 120W 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 fading now 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 (10/10): A weak warming trend is developing over waters of Chile and Peru extending northwest to the Galapagos. A strong warming trend extends from Ecuador over the Galapagos and out to 110W, weakening west of there. A modest warming trend continues off Africa to Brazil.
Hi-res Overview: (10/10) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. Slightly warmer temps are rebuilding from from Ecuador to 120W on the equator. A recent pulse of upwelling is over, with warming now in control.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (10/11) Today's temps were rising at -0.509 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (10/11) temps were steady but well negative at -0.795 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 (10/11) 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 (10/11): The daily index was down some at -5.80 but has been hovering in the +15-20 range since 9/10. The 30 day average was down some at +12.18. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average is falling at +7.85, 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): (10/11) Today's value was falling more at -1.77 (the lowest it has been so far in this event was -1.65 on 10/4) suggesting La Nina is getting 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