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, June 25, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.8 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 15.4 secs from 202 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.4 ft @ 17.2 secs with swell 3.4 ft @ 17.4 secs from 195 degrees. Wind southwest 2-6 kts. Water temperature 67.1 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.3 ft @ 17.2 secs from 222 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 4.0 ft @ 17.2 secs from 203 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 5.6 ft @ 17.5 secs from 192 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 8.3 ft @ 8.3 secs with southern hemi swell 3.6 ft @ 17.2 secs. Wind northwest 16-18 kts. Water temp 55.6 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Saturday (6/25) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell was interacting with southern hemi swell producing waves at shoulder high and a bit warbled with some chop on top. At Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was solid producing waves at 2-3 ft overhead and clean early, but with windswell warbling it later. In Southern California up north southern hemi swell was producing surf at chest to head high and lined up with some wind lump in it in the afternoon. Down south southern hemi swell was in control with waves 2-3 ft overhead and closing out most breach breaks pushing north up the coast and fairly clean in the afternoon. Top spots were Maybe 4 ft overhead on the bigger sets. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting southern hemi sideband swell with waves in the waist high range on the sets at top spots and clean. The East Shore was waist high and chopped from easterly trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
More southern hemi swell is in the water and arriving along the California coast, but starting to move beyond it's peak. The current swell is a combination of energy from a gale that tracked under New Zealand on Wed-Thurs (6/16) moving to the mid-Pacific with 42-43 ft seas and another one that developed in the Southeast Pacific on Fri-Sat (6/18) with up to 45 ft seas aimed slightly northeast. And yet one more small gale tracked under New Zealand on Sun-Mon (6/20) with 38-39 ft seas. And its remnants redeveloped in the Central South Pacific on Wed (6/22) producing 31 ft seas aimed well northeast. But from here forward a total shutdown of the storm track is projected so make the most of what swell is hitting. Surf till your arms fall off.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday PM (6/25) no swell producing fetch is occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.
A modest version of the normal summer time local California coastal pressure gradient was in effect on Sat (6/25) with high pressure at 1032 mbs in the Western Gulf of Alaska ridging into North CA producing a broad fetch of 20-25 kt north winds over the North and Central coasts centered near San Francisco. The fetch is expected to unchanged into Mon (6/28) Then strengthen on Tues (6/28) to 25 kts solid over all of North CA resulting in modest short period north windswell building to moderate size (see QuikCASTs for surf details).
For Hawaii, east trades were focused 300 nmiles north of the Islands on Sat (6/25) driven by high pressure displaced north and west some, generating no real fetch aimed at the Islands with no real windswell resulting. More of the same is forecast through Tues (6/28).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (6/25) high pressure and the usual pressure gradient was in control of California coastal waters producing north winds at 20 kts over the north and central portions of the state making for poor surf conditions at exposed breaks. More of the same is forecast through Monday (6/27) then the gradient starts building in strength and coverage (north winds to 30+ kts) by Wed AM 96/29) Finally on Thursday a weak eddy flow (south winds) is forecast developing for Central CA (Pt Reyes southward) becoming more pronounced on Friday (7/10) holding through the weekend. Southern CA to remain protected throughout the forecast period, but with a stronger than normal eddy flow (south winds) possible into Tues (6/28), then fading.
On Saturday PM (6/21) the southern branch of the jet was ridging hard south under New Zealand pushing well to Antarctica on the 70S latitude line and sweeping east to 120W (due south of California) then lifting hard north over the far Southeast Pacific starting and only at 80 kts forming a large but weak trough reaching a point a bit east of Chile and offering limited and fading support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to dissipate (by Mon (6/27) with the ridge holding in the west offering no support for gale development. Beyond 72 hrs the ridge is to control the entire South Pacific with nary a trough to be found through Sun (7/3). This is the likely result of a recent development of the Inactive Phase of the MJO.
On Saturday (6/25) swell associated with the last 2 of a series of 4 weather systems that developed while sweeping across the entire South Pacific starting Mon (6/13) was arriving in California. 2 more significant class swells have resulted on top of the 5 that have already occurred so far this summer (total of 7). Like the past storm series, the resulting swells are stacked up one behind the other in quick succession, and are overlapping with no distinct break between the swells. Details of each below (see Gales #1-3). And 3 more weather systems have followed with 3 more swells expected to result (see Gales #4, #5 and #6 below) one of which is to reach significant class status (Swell #9S).
Over the next 72 hours no more swell producing weather systems are forecast.
Swell #2 (Swell #7S)
Also on Tues PM (6/14) a storm with 45-50 kt west winds was tracking south of the Tasman Sea. By Wed AM (6/15) 45-50 kt west winds were just under New Zealand generating 42 ft seas at 55S 163E (barely in the 201 degs path to Hawaii, 219 degs NCal and SCal and unshadowed by Tahiti). In the evening 45 kt southwest winds were over a solid area producing 40 ft seas at 53S 180W (193 degs HI, 212 degs NCal and barely unshadowed by Tahiti, 213 degs SCal and well shadowed). On Thurs AM (6/16) 45 kt southwest winds continued east loosing coverage generating 39 ft seas at 52S 165.5W (185 degs HI, 206 degs NCal and in the middle of the Tahiti swell shadow, 208 degs SCal and unshadowed). In the evening fetch rebuild to 50 kts from the southwest aimed better northeast and lifting northeast with seas to 43 ft at 50S 154W (179 degs HI, 200 degs NCal and unshadowed, 203 degs SCal and unshadowed). Fetch to be fading Fri AM (6/17) from 40 kts with seas fading from 38 ft at 45S 144W (196 degs NCal, 199 degs SCal). This system dissipated after that. Possible solid swell to result for California down into Central America and South America with sideband swell for Hawaii.
Southern CA: Residuals on Sunday (6/26) at 2.3 ft @ 14 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 199-208 degrees focused on 203 degrees
North CA: Residuals on Sunday (6/26) at 2.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 197-206 degrees focused on 201 degrees
Swell #3 (Swell #8S)
A third storm developed southeast of New Zealand on Fri AM (6/17) with 45 kt southwest winds over a tiny area and seas building from 32 ft at 54S 168.5W. In the evening southwest winds built to 55 kt aimed northeast with seas building fast to 44 ft at 52S 151.5W (199 degs NCal and unshadowed, 202 degs SCal). 50 kt south winds held into Sat AM (6/18) with seas building to 45 ft at 49.5S 141W (east of the HI swell window, 192 degs NCal, 195 degs SCal). Fetch was fading from 45 kts from the south in the evening pushing well north with seas still solid at 44 ft at 48S 131W aimed northeast (188 degs NCal, 190 degs SCal). Fetch and seas faded from from there Sun AM with winds 45 kts from the west and seas 39 ft at 47S 122W (182 degs SCal, 180 degs NCal). Solid swell possible for California and larger down into Mexico, Central America and Peru.
Southern CA: Swell still solid on Sun AM (6/26) at 3.9 ft @ 16-17 secs (6.6 ft with sets to 8.3 ft) and steady through the day. Swell fading Mon AM (6/27) from 3 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft). Residuals on Tues AM (6/28) fading from 2.2 ft @ 14 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 182-202 degs focused on 195 degrees
North CA: Swell still solid on Sun AM (6/26) at 2.6 ft @ 17 secs (4.4 ft with sets to 5.5 ft) and steady through the day. Swell fading Mon AM (6/27) from 2 ft @ 15-16 sec (3.0 ft) early. Swell Direction: 180-199 degs focused on 192 degrees
Gale #4 (Swell #9S)
On Sun AM a small system tracked well south of the Tasman Sea producing 45 kt west winds and seas to 36 ft over a tiny area aimed east. In the evening 45 kt west winds continued tracking east generating up to 38 ft seas at 58.5S 162E pushing reasonably up the great circle tracks to California (214 degs NCal and unshadowed, 214 degs SCal and shadowed, well east of the 200 degree track to Hawaii). On Monday AM (6/20) fetch continued at 45 kts over a solid area aimed east with seas fading from 37 ft at 59.5S 178.5E (190 degs HI, 206 degs NCal and shadowed, 207 degs SCal and unshadowed). Fetch was fading from 40 kts in the evening with seas fading from 36 ft at 59S 170.5W. On Tues AM (6/21) fetch was fading from 40 kts from the southwest with seas dropping to 32 ft at 60S 160W (183 degs HI, 202 degs NCal and unshadowed, 203 degs SCal). This system is to be gone after that. Small inconsistent swell to result for all locations.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Sun (6/26) with pure swell building to 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs late (2.5 ft with sets to 3.1 ft). Swell continues on Mon (6/27) at 2.1 ft @ 14 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading on Tues (6/28) from 2 ft @ 12-13 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 185 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival at sunset on Tues (6/28) with pure swell to 1.3 ft @ 21 secs (2.5 ft with sets to 3.5 ft). Swell building some on Wed AM (6/29) with period 19 secs and size still small building through the day at 3 ft @ 18-19 secs late (5.5 ft with sets to 7.0 ft). Size holding overnight peaking early Thurs (6/30) at 3.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (6.0-6.5 ft with sets to nearly 7 ft) as it interacts with Swell #6 below. Swell holding Fri AM (7/1) at 3.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (5.5 ft with sets to 7.0 ft). Swell fading Sat (7/2) from 3.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.8-6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 202-214 degrees
NCal: Expect swell arrival on Wed AM (6/29) with period 19-20 secs and size building through the day to 2 ft @ 19 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) at sunset. Swell builds on Thurs (6/30) to 3 ft @ 17-18 secs (5.0-5.5 ft with sets to 6.5 ft) later as it interacts with Swell #6 below. Swell holding Fri AM (7/1) at 3 ft @ 16 secs (4.8 ft with sets to 6.0 ft). Swell fading Sat (7/2) from 2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 202-214 degrees
Another gale developed in an upper trough in the Southeast Pacific on Mon (6/20) producing up to 45 kt west winds and 32 ft seas in the evening over a small area at 48S 138W mainly targeting Chile. On Tues AM (6/21) a solid fetch of 50-55 kt southwest winds developed at 53S 125W generating 33 ft seas at 51.5S 126W aimed northeast possibly producing south angled swell targeting California with westerly swell for Chile. In the evening all fetch is to wrap into the north quadrant of the storm at 50 kts aimed west and positioned east of even the SCal swell window targeting only Chile with 40 ft seas at 51.5S 115.5W and outside the CA swell window. A quick fade followed.
Whatever swell was generated is to be mostly too southerly to reach CA cleanly. And whatever does will be buried in the swell from Gale #4 above.
Gale #6 (Gale #4 Part 2)
And yet another gale followed Wed AM (6/22) directly in the same trough in the Southeast Pacific producing a broad area of 35-40 kt southwest winds and seas building from 30 ft at 50S 152W aimed northeast. In the evening 40 kt southwest winds pushed northeast with seas tracking northeast at 30 ft at 46S 145W. On Thurs AM (6/23) fetch was fading from 35 kts over a broad area aimed northeast with seas fading from 30 ft at 43S 137W aimed northeast. This system to dissipate after that. Small swell to result targeting California but focused mainly on Central America.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival at Thurs AM (6/30) with swell period 17 secs and overlapping with the New Zealand Swell from Gale #4 above. Refer to that forecast for details. Swell Direction: 196 degrees
NCal: Expect swell arrival at Thurs PM (6/30) with swell period 17 secs and overlapping with the New Zealand Swell from Gale #4 above. Refer to that forecast for details. Swell Direction: 193 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 local California pressure gradient is to build on with north winds to 30+ kts on Wed (6/29) over North CA with a bit of an eddy possible for Central CA and the eddy becoming more pronounced on Thurs (6/30) while north winds hold at 30+ kts isolated to Cape Mendocino. Windswell to build some. The gradient is to fade in coverage some Fri (7/1) but still at 30 kts and dropping to 25 kts Sat (7/2) with the eddy flow holding for Central CA. Windswell fading as the gradient weakens.
For Hawaii trades are to start building on Wed (6/29) as high pressure build northeast of the Islands with east winds to 15 kts late and building steadily into Fri (7/1) at 15-20 kts just east of the Islands holding into Sun (7/3). Better odds for windswell development.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Pulsing 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 planet, 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 split 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 fading out. La Nina is emerging.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Fri (6/24) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA). Anomalies were neutral over the entire equatorial Pacific but trending weak easterly in the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderate to strong east anomalies were over the KWGA reaching east to a point south of CA and are to hold into 6/27. After that they are to fade to neutral by 6/30 in the KWGA and holding into 7/2 (end of model run).
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 6/24 a modest Active MJO signal was over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects this Active Phase easing east reaching the dateline 1 week out and starting to fade but still in play 2 weeks from now. The dynamic model depicts the same thing, only with the Active Phase fading 1 week out and gone 2 weeks out. No enhancement of the jetstream is expected from the MJO per these models.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (6/24) The ECMF model indicates a moderate Active MJO signal was present over the Maritime Continent. The forecast projects the Active Phase migrating east while fading in the next 5 days, collapsing before even reaching the dateline 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the Active Phase making it to the Maritime Continent 3 days out then collapsing.
40day Upper Level Model: (6/25) The Active Phase was developing in the far West Pacific and is to track east easing into Central America on 7/18 but generally weak. A new Inactive Phase of the MJO is to push into the West Pacific 7/15 moving east from there almost reaching Central America 8/4.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): This model suggests a weak Inactive MJO signal building over the KWGA moving east with weak east anomalies in play offering no support for enhancing the jetstream. The model depicts this Inactive Phase of the MJO fading out 7/1. A weak Active Phase to follow with some enhanced west anomalies forecast 7/2-7/18. An Inactive MJO pattern to follow with moderate east anomalies taking root 7/21-8/7. And Active MJO signal to follow 8/8 to 9/21 with west anomalies over the far West Pacific and stationary with east anomalies from 160W and point east to Central America. The low pass filter suggests the remnants of El Nino are shifting east and are now south of Hawaii (rather than in the KWGA) and offering nothing to enhance the jetstream and are to dissipate (gone) south of California by 8/28. At the same time lo pass anomalies are building over the Indian Ocean, typical of La Nina.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (6/25) Actual temperatures are building in the west and fading in the east daily. A pocket of 30 deg temps were building in the far West Pacific with the 28 deg isotherm line retreating to 162W. No El Nino subsurface anomalies remain. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 155W with weak negative anomalies between there and 120W. Neutral to +1 deg anomalies are east of there. Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting between 130W-150W with -3 degs anomalies reaching east down 100 meters to 135W (steady). The Kelvin Wave pipeline has been replaced with a cold river rushing east. But it appears to be not reaching Ecuador, but rather is westward displaced. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 6/17 a weak pocket of +0.5 deg anomalies is building from 130E to 160W and a tiny one at 100-110W. Cool waters at 3-4 degs below normal were under the entire width of the equator, undercutting any residual warm water above it and forming a bubble near 140W and upwelling from 120-150W. La Nina has begun.
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: (6/25) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates cooler than normal water continues over the equator region with negative anomalies building solidly along the coast of Peru pushing north and then extending west from Ecuador over the Galapagos with a big pocket between 115W to 160W at -1.75 degs. La Nina is firmly in control of surface waters, though remnant El Nino warm water is 3 degs north and south of the equator. No warm water remains anywhere in the Nino regions on the equator.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (6/24): A cooling trend is developing weakly along Chile and Peru. But a vigorous cooling trend is developing from the Galapagos building strongly west out to 160W (increasing coverage). This is expected based on a cool burst that occurred 2 weeks ago off Africa. The mirror image cooler trend that developed in the Atlantic on 6/9 dissipated but has started to return today. Temps are building markedly along the Baja coast but cooling some off California due to high pressure and northwest winds in control in that area. The PDO warm pool is holding solidly from Oregon out to a point north of Hawaii and west from there to Japan.
Hi-res Overview: (6/24) The El Nino signal is dissipating. A clear La Nina cool water pool is tracking from Ecuador and building some recently south of Hawaii. A generalized pattern of +1-2 deg above normal temps remains 3 degs north and south of the equator and west of 160W. Cooler water is over the north dateline region in the North Pacific with warm water off the Pacific Northwest streaming over Hawaii looking very much like the classic Active PDO pattern.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (6/25) Today's temps were falling slightly at +0.103 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (6/23) temps were steady at -0.051 degs.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
Pacific Counter Current: As of 6/6 the current was moderately but continuously from the east on the equator from 90W to 150E. Anomalies were stronger still from the east over the same area. There were no pockets of west anomalies indicated. La Nina is firmly entrenched based on this data, which is normal for this point in the El Nino lifecycle.
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (6/25) indicates temps on a steady downward trajectory falling to -0.15 degs early July and continuing down till Oct 1 at -0.8 degs and holding through Dec, then slowly rising in Jan 2017. This is solid La Nina territory but it's up from the -1.5 and -1.25 degs indicated even a few weeks ago.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-June Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.7 by Sept then holding there to March. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Decoupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (6/25): The daily index was rising at +13.10. The 30 day average was rising from +2.29. It transitioned from negative to positive for the first time in 2 years on 5/27. The 90 day average was rising from -5.61. El Nino was still evident only in the 90 day average, but even that will soon be a distant memory.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (6/25) Today's value was falling some from -0.90. It peaked on 3/12 at +1.57 then fell until 4/14, when it started rising again peaking 4/23 at +1.12. But it has been falling steadily ever since.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues solid. Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-May) have been +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.60, and +1.45. The Washington EDU index for the Jan-May period indicates +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62 and +2.35. April's value was the highest since 1941. The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been mostly above +1.5 all of 2015. 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