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.
On Saturday (12/6) in North and Central CA surf was head high and clean and reasonably lined up with light winds and glassy conditions. A bit on the closed out side but rideable. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high on the sets and warbled and swamped with tide. In Southern California up north surf was thigh high and clean and not really rideable. Down south waves were maybe waist high and clean and weak, looking just like remnant windswell. At least it was sunny. Hawaii's North Shore was getting secondary north dateline swell at 3-4 ft overhead and clean but with a little northerly morning lump intermixed, but not bad. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around north dateline energy at head high to a little more and lightly chopped.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Swell from a secondary pulse from the long lasting gale over the northern dateline region Sun-Tues (12/2) that produced 24-26 ft seas was still hitting Hawaii and the US Coast. On Fri-Sat (12/6) the first in a series of 3 MJO fueled gales formed in the Western Gulf tracking east-southeast with 26-30 ft seas. Swell is in the water expected to arrive in Hawaii late today and pushing towards CA. A second stronger storm developed on the dateline Sat (12/6) with up to 43 ft seas and is then to fade while pushing into the Western Gulf Sunday, with a third gale forecast developing north of Hawaii pushing east-northeast Mon-Tues (12/9) with 30-32 ft seas moving into the Eastern Gulf. A run of semi-legit surf looks possible for the US West Coast with solid sideband energy for Hawaii. And yet another solid gale is forecast longterm. Winter is waking up.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Saturday (12/6) the jet was flowing solid off of Japan with winds 190 kts ridging slightly over the dateline then falling into a small but steep trough in the Gulf then turning east from there and getting fragmented but with most energy pushing into North CA and Oregon. There was decent support for gale development in the trough. Over the next 72 hours the jet is to fall further south running flat east over the 36N latitude line pushing to 140W with a hint of a trough in the Gulf but not clearly defined. Still winds to be 180 kts over nearly the entire Pacific and very focused. Good support for gale development with the focus on the Gulf. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to continue running due east but weakening over Japan and the dateline with a trough building over the Gulf of Alaska with winds still 170 kts by Thurs (12/11) and working it's way into Central CA 24 hrs later. Good support for gale development in this trough. A secondary trough is to form in the Gulf on Saturday pushing east but with little upper level wind velocity to support it. Back the the west more wind energy is to be building over Japan on Sat (12/13) with winds back to 180 kts reaching to the dateline. Looks like the jetstream is forecast to pulse again a week out.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (12/6) swell from a gale that sat on the North Dateline was still hitting Hawaii and California. The first in a projected series of gales has developed as expected and is tracking through the Western Gulf of Alaska (see First Gulf Gale below). The second system, a small but solid storm is in flight too (see Dateline Storm below).
Over the next 72 hours a new gale is to develop in the Western Gulf on Thurs PM (12/4) tracking east-southeast with seas building to 30 ft (see First Gulf Gale below).
First Gulf Gale
A new gale developed in the Western Gulf on Thurs PM (12/4) with 40 kt northwest winds building over a small area with 23 ft seas building at 42N 173W aimed southeast. 40 kt northwest winds pushed east and built in coverage Fri AM (12/5) with 26 ft seas at 43N 170W (336 degs HI, 294 degs NCal). 40 kt northwest fetch pushed east in the evening and lost some coverage with seas 30 ft at 43N 164W (350 degs HI, 292 degs NCal). 35 kt northwest winds were fading Sat AM (12/6) with seas fading from 28 ft at 41N 157W (290 degs NCal). Fetch dissipating after that. Some decent sideband swell is to result for Hawaii with more direct energy for the US West Coast.
Hawaii (Oahu): Expect swell arrival in Hawaii starting late Saturday (12/6) after dark building over night, peaking near sunrise at 8.5 ft @ 14 secs (12 ft Hawaiian) with longer period energy building underneath to 8.4 ft @ 16-17 secs (13.5 ft Hawaiian) by 8 PM. Swell fading from 6.6 ft @ 13 secs early Mon (12/8). Swell Direction: 335-350 degrees
North CA: Swell arrival expected on Monday (12/8) near sunset with size near 4.7 ft @ 17 secs (8 ft faces). Swell peaking near midnight and size holding decently at sunrise Tues (12/9) at 6.8 ft @ 15 secs (10 ft faces). period dropping to 14 secs later in the afternoon. Swell Direction: 288 degrees
Also tropical energy was migrating northeast off Japan on Thurs (12/4) and started forming into a legitimate gale Fri AM (12/5) with 45 kt northwest winds south of the Aleutians and west of the dateline with seas building. It bloomed in the evening with 50-55 kt west-northwest winds and seas building from 40 ft at 46N 170E. 50 kt west winds held over a small area Sat AM (12/6) with 43 ft seas building over a small area at 45N 177E (326 degs HI, 299 degs NCal). 45 kt west winds to be tracking east-southeast over the dateline and into the Western Gulf in the evening with 41 ft seas at 44N 174W (334 degs HI, 296 degs NCal). 45 kt west winds to continue Sun AM (12/7) with 37 ft seas at 43N 166W (347 degs HI, 294 degs NCal). Winds to be fading in the evening from 35 kts with sea fading from 30 ft at 41N 157W (288 degs NCal). Something to monitor.
Hawaii: Rough data for.cgianning purposes suggests early arriving forerunners are to hit Hawaii starting sunset on Mon (12/8) with pure swell 6 ft @ 19 secs (11 ft Hawaiian). Swell building through the evening peaking at 8.7 ft @ 16 secs (14 ft Hawaiian) first light Tues AM (12/9) fading some through the day. Residuals fading Wed AM (12/10) and being overrun by potential new more local and rawer swell. Swell Direction: 327 degrees
North CA: Forecast will be posted after the storm has been through most of it's lifecycle.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Typhoon Hagupit formed Tues AM (12/2) 800 nmiles south-southwest of Guam with winds 85 kts and seas 28 ft. This system was tracking west-northwest and continued on that track. Hagupit was peaking Thurs AM (12/4) with winds 150 kts (173 mph - Super Typhoon status) 325 nmiles east of the Central Philippines and still pushing west-northwest. A slow fade continued beyond with Hagupit tracking more westerly positioned just east of the Central Philippines Sat AM (12/6) with winds 110 kts (125 mph). It is to make a steady track over the North Central Philippines positioned directly over Manila Tues AM (12/9) with winds 75 kts (86 mph). The GFS model supports this track. No recurvature to the northeast is forecast.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (12/6) low pressure was building in the Eastern Gulf with a weak south flow ahead of it pushing into the North and Central Coasts with light winds over Southern CA waters. Wind turning southerly Sunday AM for Pt Conception northward pushing 20+ kts for a short time for Cape Mendocino and 20 kts for San Francisco late afternoon. Rain for Cape Mendocino to San Francisco by 10 PM reaching down to Big Sur later Monday AM. No precip for Tahoe. A light southerly flow is forecast for San Francisco northward Monday (12/8) but up to 20 kts at Cape Mendocino. Light winds Tuesday from Pt Reyes southward. But another front is to be queuing up hitting Cape Mendocino Wednesday AM with south winds 25 kts pushing into San Francisco late (25 kts) and Pt Conception Thurs AM while holding for all of North and Central CA. Heavy rain for North CA Wed PM reaching San Francisco Thurs AM (and still heavy) and blasting Big Sur at sunset. Heavy snow for Tahoe starting Thurs AM working into the Southern Sierra and continuing for the entire Sierra overnight then slow fading through the day Friday. Of course, that is subject to change based on the models.
Surface Analysis - 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
Beyond 72 hours another broad gale is forecast developing in the Western Gulf on Sun PM (12/7) with a modest fetch of 45 kt west-northwest starting to get traction on an already roughed up ocean surface with a tiny area of 29 ft seas developing at 41N 180E. The gale is to start moving into the Central Gulf on Mon AM (12/8) with 45 kt west winds 900 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii and seas 31 ft over a building area at 39N 168W (336 degs HI, 287 NCal, 293 degs SCal). Fetch is to race east still at 45 kts in the evening with seas 30 ft at 39N 150W targeting only the US West Coast (284 degs NCal, 292 degs SCal). 45-50 kt west winds to lift northeast on Tues AM (12/9) off Oregon with 34 ft seas at 44N 138W (302 degs NCal). The core gale to fade after that. But a broad area of 30-35 kt northwest to west winds to be in.cgiace Tues AM stretching from the dateline into the Gulf aimed at Hawaii and the US West Coast with 26 ft seas at 35N-37N 163W (347 degs HI, 280 degs NCal, 287 degs SCal). Secondary swell possible. A large area of 30 kt west winds to continue into the evening with 26 ft seas moving to 38N 153W bypassing Hawaii but targeting the US West Coast (281 degs NCal, 288 degs SCal). This fetch to hold into Thursday AM (12/11) producing 27 ft seas at 41N 150W (286 degs NCal, 296 degs SCal).
And yet another small but potent storm is forecast developing on the dateline on Thurs (12/11) moving to the Western Gulf on Fri midday (12/12) with seas to 43 ft aimed east. More solid period swell is possible.
Note: 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. 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. 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).
(1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data. 2nd paragraph where present is analysis data and is updated only as required).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) On Saturday (12/6) the daily SOI was up some at 1.87. The 30 day average was rising from -6.97 and the 90 day average was steady at -7.72. The near term trend based on the 30 day average was indicative of a weak Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a steady-state Active Phase of the MJO with the 90 day average near -8 since 10/20. A weak pressure pattern was south of Tahiti and expected to hold in some fashion for the foreseeable future. 30 and 90 day averages expected to rise some and then.cgiateau. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated solid west anomalies over the Central Maritime Continent turning to light to easterly anomalies over the dateline to a point south of Hawaii. Neutral anomalies continued into the Galapagos. A week from now (12/14) modest east anomalies are to redevelop over the Central Maritime Continent fading to modest west over the dateline turning neutral south of the Hawaiian Islands and extending to the Galapagos. Down at the surface the TOA array indicated modest east anomalies at 160E and light west anomalies on the dateline.
Looking at the trend over the past year there has not been a extended period of enhanced trades, other than the one occurring now. The trend is clearly towards westerly anomalies (suppressed trades) which suggests a bias towards El Nino. Big westerly wind bursts occurred Jan-April, followed by a neutral period May into early June. The TOA array surface sensors (the ground truth) indicated moderate westerly anomalies re-developed west of the dateline 6/25-7/6, then again 7/11-7/20, building into a WWB and holding through 8/10. Light westerly anomalies developed again 8/20-8/22, 8/29-9/2, 9/10-9/17, and stronger 9/20-10/8 (a WWB) west of the dateline with another 10/12-10/31 (WWB) on the dateline. More weak west anomalies occurred 11/11-14. Neutral anomalies filled the gaps. A modest Kelvin Wave impacted the Galapagos (11/3-11/30) associated with westerly anomalies during June, July into mid-August. And another Kelvin Wave is in flight under the 160W region being fed by westerly anomalies in late October there. We're in great shape for the 2014 year into early 2015. The question now becomes what, if any, effect the easterly wind event that ran 11/18-12/1 will have.
See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here .
The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 12/5 are in sync. They both suggest a modest Inactive Phase of the MJO was fading between the dateline and a point south of Hawaii with the Active Phase of the MJO pushing east over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model depicts the a solid version of the Active Phase slowly easing into the West Pacific over the next 15 days reaching the dateline. The Dynamic model has the Active Phase pushing east and into the West Pacific but fading quicker, then redeveloping over the West Pacific weakly 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model run on 12/6 depicts a moderate to strong Active Phase over the West Pacific tracking east and fading quickly through 12/31. A modest Inactive Phase to follow 12/26-1/15 and fading quickly with another Active Phase behind that starting 1/10/15.
The troubling development is that an Inactive Phase that produced legitimate easterly anomalies occurred and is now being followed by an Active Phase. The presence of any Inactive Phase at all would not occur if El Nino were in effect. This means the MJO is returning, which in turns suggests El Nino might be giving up some ground. Normally the MJO fades away during El Nino events. But since this is a very weak El Nino to start with, maybe it should not be surprising that the MJO is making a showing. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.
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. As of the most recent low res imagery (12/4) a moderately warm water regime remains in control of the equatorial East Pacific (up some since early Sept) and still building. A clear but weak El Nino signature is holding. Warm water (not just pockets) has gotten good traction while tracking continuously east between 90W to 160W, likely the result of the first of a pair of Kelvin Waves impacting the Galapagos region (as expected). This weak El Nino signature has stabilized but is not getting any stronger, TAO data suggests +1.0 deg C anomalies are present over a continuous area on the equator from the Galapagos to the far West Pacific and appears to be pushing east. Warm water is clearly present on the surface in the NINO 3.4 region based on TAO and hi res imagery.
Elsewhere, the entire North Pacific Ocean is full of warmer than normal water. There are virtually no signs of high pressure induced upwelling streaming southwest off California. Warm water remains entrenched along the California coast suggesting the Gulf of Alaska High pressure system is much weaker relative to normal years, with north winds and upwelling much suppressed. The South Pacific is also starting to build in warmth with only on small cool pocket well off Chile, not reaching even north to 10S and in decline. A warm regime has the upper hand over the entire Pacific Basin.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator continue solidly warm. As of 12/6 a +1.0 C anomaly flow was filling the equatorial Pacific from 150 meters up and east of 150E with a broad embedded pocket of +3-4 deg anomalies centered near 125W pushing east and starting to reach the Galapagos embedded in with a steady stream of +2.0 deg anomalies pushing east from the dateline into the Galapagos. The +3-4º C anomalies are the second in a pair of recent Kelvin Waves in-flight. Satellite data from 11/29 depicts a broad area of 0-5 cm anomalies are covering the entire equatorial Pacific from New Guinea to the Galapagos, with +5-10 cm anomalies midway between Hawaii and the Galapagos indicative of a Kelvin Wave in flight pushing east. Other models collaborate the presumption that a Kelvin Wave is in flight. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (11/29) indicates the second of a pair of recent modest Kelvin Waves started building back at 145E-160W in Sept and is now pushing east reaching to 100W and is the second strongest Kelvin Wave of this ENSO event.
When this second Kelvin Wave arrives in the east (about Dec 30) we will be set for the winter. Of course what is good enough to feed storm develop and what constitutes an official El Nino are two different things. We are focused on the former. The quandary now is whether this will be a one year event, or something longer.
Pacific Counter Current data as of 12/1 remains improved. The current is pushing moderately west to east over the entire Pacific north of the equator focused on the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) reaching into Central America. It is strongest north of New Guinea. There was one pocket of easterly anomalies south of Hawaii. Anomaly wise - west anomalies were just north of the equator over the width of the equatorial Pacific strongest near 125W. This data continues to suggest an improved picture is continuing to evolve and supportive of warm water transport to the east.
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 12/3 for the Nino 3.4 region are holding in an upgraded position. It suggests water temps are up to +1.0 deg C and are to fade some to between +0.8-0.9 through April 2015. But the real interesting part is that water temps are to start building from +1.0 degs in May 2015, pushing +1.8 degs C by early August 2015.
This suggests that perhaps we are moving towards a multi-year warm event, and not a weak one either. See the chart based version here - link. A consensus of other models are not as optimistic.
Analysis: A downwelling Kelvin Wave was generated and pushed east starting in Aug 2013, followed by a stronger one in Oct-Nov, and a massive one in Jan-April 2014. A weaker one followed in July with yet a modestly stronger one building under the dateline in October. The only interruptions have been attributable to the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle. Water temps in the Galapagos-Ecuador-Peru triangle have held remarkably consistent from May 2014 onward, even during upwelling phases. Continued suppressed trades with embedded weak westerly anomalies have held in the West Pacific all year so far producing the aforementioned Kelvin Wave with +3 degs C in flight now. There has been no signs of easterly anomalies or a shut down of the Kelvin Wave pipe for better than a year now. This is a huge step forward. See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here.
At this point a teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere is in.cgiay. Evidence includes a total breakdown of the Gulf of Alaska high pressure system this summer, resulting in very high water temps off California. Also the early season recurving of mult.cgie tropical low pressure systems tracking northeast off Japan bound for the dateline. And the pulse of tropical activity near Hawaii on the week of 8/4 and those systems continued evolution in the West Pacific is most telling. And then the near record pulse of tropical activity off Mexico (8/18-9/20) resulting in Lowell, Super Hurricane Marie, followed by Odile and Polo (though these last 2 produced no swell) and finally Rachel. And then even a few inches of snow in the Sierra on Sept 27 and again on Oct 15 and 6 inches on Oct 31. The last time any of this happened was during the '97 and '83 El Ninos. And mult.cgie recurving tropical systems pushed off Japan reaching the Gulf of Alaska in October (Fengshen and Vongfong). And then one more recurving tropical system in November (Super Typhoon Nuri). And even the Pacific Counter Current is now falling in line.
About 3 months of undisturbed heating is required for the atmosphere to start responding on a global level where the point of 'no return' could be achieved from our perspective. The warm pool starting forming in earnest on 5/1, and so the atmosphere would not trip over the 'no-return' point till 8/1. We have passed that threshold. As of 9/2, all the arguments against a feedback loop being in.cgiace were gone.
Note that what we consider 'teleconnected' and what NOAA considers threshold El Nino conditions are two different things and serve different purposes. We are focused on monitoring weather events that contribute to the production of open ocean storms (and therefore swells) mainly in the Pacific Basin that may or may not have the same impacts as a full blown El Nino. So our criteria is certainly less than the threshold of NOAAs. That said, considering the size and duration of the westerly wind bursts in Jan-April, and the Kelvin Wave that preceded it, it seem hard to believe that at least some Pacific Basin wide 'change' was not already well entrenched even early this year, and had been developing since perhaps as early and Aug of 2013 (when the first Kelvin Wave of the series started taking shape). We will continue monitoring westerly wind anomalies and warm subsurface water buildup in and under the Kelvin Wave Generation area. Also monitoring of the NPac jetstream (which has already been productive) and Atlantic hurricane activity (which was nonexistent) are key. But at this time odds continue stacking up in favor that a global teleconnection is now established. If that's true, the focus then becomes estimating how deep the ENSO cycle will become, or whether it will stay shallow but transition into a multi-year event. At this time we're predisposed to the multiyear, Midoki scenario. And that is actually the better of all options.
Officially we are still in a neutral ENSO atmospheric pattern, with no El Nino in.cgiay. But given all current signs, from a winter storm and swell production perspective, atmospheric transition is well underway and we are in a far better.cgiace than previous years (2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013) under the direct influence of La Nina.
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
Details to follow...
External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
Updated - Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (12/7) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvD02kO4mHo&feature=youtu.be&hd=1
For automatic notification of forecast updates, subscribe to the Stormsurf001 YouTube channel - just click the 'Subscribe' button below the video.
- - -
Greg Long - To the Edge and Back, a Big Wave Journey: An edge-of-your-seat lecture tour of the world of gigantic waves, predator encounters, remote e.cgioration, high seas adventure and more, woven into a true-life saga celebrating a remarkable journey through life. Historic Cottage, San Clemente State Beach Campground, 225 Avenida Calafia, San Clemente, CA 92672. September 16, 2014 Lecture at 7:00 p.m., reception 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m and September 17, 2014 Lecture at 7:00 p.m., reception 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $10 in advance, $15 at the door. LIMITED SEATING Purchase Online: Tuesday, Sept. 16 th : www.greglong2.eventbrite.com Wednesday, Sept. 17th: www.greglong.eventbrite.com Seating on the Historic Cottage patio, under the stars. Parking included with lecture ticket price.
||Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here: http://www.casanoble.com/
Mavericks Invitational Pieces Featuring Stormsurf:
Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.
Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's si.cgie and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet E.cgiorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way!
Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here
Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here
Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table