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.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
- Buoy 51201 (Waimea): Seas were 5.1 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 2.8 ft @ 9.6 secs.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.0 ft @ 13.0 secs with swell 1.0 ft @ 13.9 secs. Wind southwest 2-4 kts. In Santa Barbara swell was 1.5 ft @ 9.3 secs from 262 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.2 ft @ 13.7 secs from 210 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.3 ft @ 13.7 secs from 208 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 4.2 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 2.8 ft @ 8.6 secs. Wind northwest 8-10 kts. Water temp 54.0 degs.
On Thursday (4/9) in North and Central CA surf was waist high and weak with some moderate texture on it. Unremarkable. Down in Santa Cruz surf was not really rideable at maybe thigh high and textured. In Southern California up north surf was up to waist high on the sets and top breaks and clean. Down south waves were waist high on the sets and modestly chopped and not inspirational. Hawaii's North Shore was getting wrap around windswell at thigh high and weak, with texture on it. The South Shore was getting background swell at maybe waist high and clean. The East Shore was getting waist to near chest high east windswell and chopped from brisk trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
High pressure remains in control of the core of the North Pacific while low pressure is trying to fall in the the extreme Northern Gulf of Alaska possibly setting up some swell generation potential over the weekend. The models amazingly continue teasing concerning a storm developing over the Dateline on Sun (4/12) tracking east through the Western Gulf with up to 42 ft seas before fading in the Central Gulf on Wed (4/15). This bears watching but is still not believable. Down south a tiny and weak gale is forecast tuck up on the east side of New Zealand on Mon (4/13) with 34 ft seas pushing northeast. Maybe backgrounds well to result for Hawaii. And a gale remains forecast in the Tasman Sea on Sat-Sun (4/12) producing 28-30 ft seas targeting Fiji. But nothing else of interest is to follow. Still, there's hope on the charts.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream- On Thursday (4/9) the jet was .cgiit tracking off Asia with the southern branch tracking east over the dateline and Hawaii down at 20N then pushing into Baja and weak. The northern branch tracked northeast just east of the Kuril Islands and just south of the Central Aleutians with winds to 150 kts reaching to the Western Gulf, then falling into a weak trough with it's apex 600 nmiles off Central CA. This was the only area remotely supportive of gale development. The 2 branches of the jet somewhat joined off Southern California and were pushing inland over a broad area south of there. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast but with winds in the northern branch fading and the flow falling steadily south, tracking on the 45N latitude line by Sun (4/12). Beyond 72 hours a pocket of 150 kt winds is to develop over the Kuril Islands pushing east later Sun (4/12) starting to carve out a trough, and building into Mon (4/13) while pushing east with 140 kt winds feeding the trough, now repositioned over the dateline. By Tues (4/14) 170 kt winds to start building in the jet falling into this trough while moving into the Western Gulf offering great support for gale development, if one is to believe the models. Winds to build to 190 kts on Wednesday with the trough now in the Western Gulf still offering great support for gale development. The trough is to slowly fade while tracking east into Thurs night (4/16) starting to pinch off in the Central Gulf while a ridge builds inland over Nevada and Utah. A more fragmented pattern is forecast in the west beyond.
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (4/9) high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered 1000 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii locking down the entire central North Pacific extending west to half way between Japan and the dateline, and east to a point 900 nmiles west of Central California. A weak low was trying to develop off Central CA but not fetch of interest was evident and none was expected to develop, with the low falling south and dissipating off Southern CA late Friday (4/10). Up north a modest low was circulating over the juncture of the East Aleutians and Alaska and trying to push southeast into the Northern Gulf of Alaska. A limited area of 30 kt west winds were starting to make headway into exposed waters of the Gulf offering some hope (See 72 hour forecast below). .
Over the next 72 hours a gale that was starting to track into the Northern Gulf from the Bering Sea is to finally start getting expose in the Northern Gulf of Alaska Thurs PM (4/9) generating 35 kt northwest winds and seas to 21 ft at 51N 155W targeting mainly the Pacific Northwest up into British Columbia. 30-35 kt westerly winds to continue into Fri AM (4/10) generating more 21 ft seas at 53N 149W (315 degs NCal). 35 kt west winds to hold in the evening with 23 ft seas taking root at 54N 149W (319 degs NCal). More of the same is forecast into Sat AM (4/11) but with fetch starting to fade and 21 ft seas moving to 53N 145W (319 degs NCal) before the gale dissipates. If all this occurs some 13-14 sec period swell could result for the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA (315 degs NCal) by late in the weekend with luck.
Also a tiny secondary storm is now forecast to develop just off Washington Sun PM (4/12) with 55 kt northwest winds and seas building to 24 ft at 46N 141W (306 degs NCal). This storm to lift north still with 55 kt northwest winds Mon AM (4/13) with 32 ft seas at 49N 136W with limited energy pushing down the 319 degree track to North CA. Something to monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Tuesday (4/7) no tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (4/9) weak low pressure was 650 nmiles west of Central California holding high pressure at bay. As a result a generally light local wind pattern was in.cgiay. That low dissipates off the coast on Friday without moving onshore and light winds remain coast side. But later Saturday the linger effects of that low are to be gone and north wind starts building to 15 kts for North and Central CA building to 20 kts Sun AM (4/12) fading to 15 kts Monday as a small storm moves over outer waters off Washington. But by Tuesday high pressure takes control off the Coast and a gradient and low pressure falling from the north over the state generating 20-25 kt north winds from Pt Conception northward. Rain possible for extreme North CA Monday night but the state is to be clear by Tuesday. North winds move north over North CA on Wed (4/15) and off the Central Coast at 20-25 kts fading to light everywhere on Thursday.
On Thursday (4/9) no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring.
Over the next 72 hours a small gale is forecast developing in the South Tasman Sea on Sat AM (4/11) with 40 kt southwest winds over a broad area generating 26 ft seas at 54S 146E targeting Fiji. 40 kt southwest winds to start pushing better up into the Tasman Sea in the evening resulting in 30 ft seas at 49S 155E. 35 kt south winds to moving into the core of the Tasman Sea on Sun AM (4/12) producing 28 ft seas at 43S 160E targeting Fiji well. Fetch to fade from 35 kts pushing north in the evening with seas fading from 26 ft at 40S 163E. Something to monitor relative to Fiji.
Small New Zealand Gale
On Tues AM (3/31) a new gale developed in the South Tasman Sea tracking east with 45 kt west winds over a small area. By evening 50-55 kt west winds were in.cgiay over a small area aimed east with 34 ft seas over a tiny area at 58S 164E. 45 kt southwest winds were pushing east Wed AM (4/1) with 34 ft seas over a small area at 57S 178E (194 degs HI) (210 degs SCal, 209 degs NCal and shadowed by Tahiti). Winds to be fading from 40 kts in the evening with 32 ft seas at 58S 170W. This system to be gone after that. Possible tiny sideband swell to result for Hawaii and shadowed swell for the US West Coast.
Oahu: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (4/9) at 1 ft @ 16 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 190 degrees
California: Rough data suggests swell arrival starting Fri (4/10) at 6 PM with swell 1.2 ft @ 18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) and size slowly building, with period 17 secs near 8 AM Sat (4/11) at 1.3 ft @ 17 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell peaking and pushing 2 ft @ 16 secs (3 ft) on Sun (4/12). Swell Direction: 210-213 degrees
Tiny Southeast Pacific Gale
On Tues AM (4/7) a tiny gale developed on the southern edge of the California swell window generating 40 kt southwest winds and barely 30 ft seas at 48S 123W. In the evening southwest winds pushed northeast and building to 45 kts with 32 ft seas at 46S 118W targeting mainly Chile and Peru with sideband energy reaching up into Southern CA on the 180 degree track. By Wed AM (4/8) fetch was fading from 40 kts tracking east with seas fading from 30 ft at 43S 110W targeting only Chile and Peru with sideband energy into Central America. Not much if anything is expected from this system given it's infinitesimal footprint.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival late Tues (4/14) pushing 1.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (2 ft). Swell peaking on Wed (4/15) at 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3 ft with 3.5 ft sets). late. Swell fading Thurs (4/16) from 2 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 190 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 a storm that has been on the charts for days now remains projected forming in a developing upper trough west of the dateline Sun PM (4/12) with 50-55 kt west winds generating 32 ft seas over a tiny area at 43N 171E. By Mon AM (4/13) it is to be pushing over the dateline with 50-55 kt west winds making a decent footprint and seas 40 ft at 43N 180W aimed mainly east. By evening 45 kt west winds to be pushing towards the Western Gulf with seas peaking near 44 ft at 43N 176W targeting sideband energy at Hawaii and more direct but distant energy at the US West Coast. 45 kt northwest to west winds to hold in the Gulf on Tues AM (4/14) with 41 ft seas at 43N 164W. Fetch is to fade from 35 kts in the evening with seas fading from 36 ft at 44N 157W targeting only the US West Coast. At this time this remains a pure fantasy of the model, but one that is starting to look more 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 Thursday (4/9) the daily SOI was dropping -19.80. The 30 day average was falling some from -9.99 and the 90 day average was dropping at -6.95. The near term trend based on the daily and 30 day average was indicative of a steady Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a weak steady state Active Phase of the MJO. Weak low pressure was southwest of Tahiti falling southeast and expected to no longer have an impact in Tahiti by Fri (4/10) with the SOI likely at its minimum. A weak high pressure regime to develop after that. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated modest westerly anomalies were over good sized piece of the Eastern Maritime Continent reaching just over the dateline then turning to light east anomalies south of Hawaii and continuing light easterly on to the Galapagos Islands. Down at the surface the TOA array indicated modest westerly anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area fading to neutral at a point south of Hawaii. A moderate Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) occurred from 1/15-2/20 then regenerated 2/25 building to the strong category on 3/7, before peaking 3/10 and holding to 3/17. A more modest version of it continued into 3/27 then slowly faded into 3/30 but not out even to 4/9. This was already a decent event attributable to the Jan-Feb anomalies, before it raged in mid-March. A week from now (4/17) very weak westerly anomalies are to hold in pockets over the Maritime Continent reaching over the dateline, building some south of Hawaii. Neutral to weak westerly anomalies are forecast from 130W continuing on to the Galapagos. This suggests the Active Phase is to be fading and tracking east but is to not be gone a week out.
See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here .
The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 4/8 suggests a moderate version of the Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the dateline while the Active Phase of the MJO was building in the Eastern Indian Ocean seeping into the far West Pacific. Beyond the Statistic model suggests the Inactive Phase is to fade just east of the dateline 5 days out with the Active Phase pushing into the West Pacific in the modest category and in control 15 days out approaching the dateline. The Dynamic model suggests the exact opposite with the Inactive Phase weak and fading on the dateline, only to redevelop in the far West Pacific 10 days out and pushing east 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model run on 4/9 depicts a modest Active MJO pattern in.cgiay in the West Pacific slow easing east and fading, with remnants arriving in Central America on 4/27. A modest Inactive Phase to follow in the West Pacific 4/29 tracking east and arriving in Central America on 5/17 with a new Active Phase building in the West Pacific on 5/19. 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 (4/9) a weak warm water/El Nino like regime has taken control of the entire equatorial Pacific. And warmer water is getting traction along the Chilean and Peruvian coasts pushing north up to the equator, with marked warming depicted between the Galapagos and the mainland. This is something not seen last year at this time. Warmer water extends west from there but only reaching 2-3 degrees south of the equator until it reaches the dateline, then expanding in areal coverage. TAO data indicates +0.5 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial East Pacific with a warmer pocket to +1.0 degs from Peru to 105W with a larger pocket of +1.0-1.5 deg anomalies from 135W to the dateline and beyond. Both pockets are tracking east, something that did not occur last year. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggest water temps are steady at +0.65 degs, previously peaking late Nov at about +1.0 then falling to 0.0 in early January.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator are no longer warming and are pushing hard east. As of 4/9 a +3.0 C anomaly flow was in control under the equatorial Pacific from 150 meters up. And a large pocket of +4 deg anomalies continued holding coverage with its core at 140W, suggesting that the extended WWB that occurred 1/15-2/20 created a Kelvin Wave and additional strong westerly anomalies in March are feeding more warm water into that Kelvin Wave. It is expected to start erupting over the Galapagos on roughly 5/1 peaking on 6/10. But according to TAO data, +3 degs anomalies are already rushing east, flowing into the Galapagos ahead of schedule and deflecting up and down the South America Coast. Perhaps our forecast is a bit behind what appears to be actually happening. Satellite data from 4/3 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific east of 155E with a core to +10-15 cm from 160W to 130W indicative of an open pipe with an embedded solid Kelvin Wave. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (4/3) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 167E-92W with +1.0-1.5 degs from 173E-92W and +1.5 deg anomalies from 180W-112W. And now a building core of 2 deg anomalies are indicated between 166W-134W. Their coverage is building while pushing east. This also supports the thesis that another Kelvin Wave, and strong at that, is in-flight. A quick analysis of last years Large Kelvin Wave event that occurred in this same time frame, and this years event are remarkably similar in size and strength. Theoretically the peak of what was thought to be a developing El Nino occurred last December (12/21/14) with no more Kelvin Wave development expected beyond if last year was to be a single year event. But if this is a true multiyear Modoki El Nino event, then it would not be unexpected to see another Kelvin Wave develop in the Jan-Feb 2015 timeframe (as is actually occurring). See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here.
Pacific Counter Current data as of 4/2 is improving. The current is pushing moderately west to east over the entire equatorial Pacific and with a solid pulse just west of the Galapagos. A very weak easterly current was positioned 2-3 degrees south of the equator. Anomaly wise - modest west anomalies were in control on the equator over the West Pacific then north of the equator from Hawaii to the Galapagos.
This data suggests a general west to east bias in the current suggesting warm water transport to the east.
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 4/9 for the Nino 3.4 region continue upward. It suggests water temps are at +1.0 deg C and are to slowly warm into July reaching +1.7 degs C, and continuing to +2.35 degs by Oct and 2.45 degs by Nov, then dropping off. This suggests that perhaps we are moving from a multi-year steady state Modoki event to perhaps a full blown El Nino. But it is too early to believe that just yet. The model is likely just picking up on the Kelvin Wave in flight and will settle back down after it erupts over the Galapagos. Much more warm water would be too be transported east over the coming 6 months for a legit El Nino to develop, especially of the magnitude projected by the model (rivaling the all time great '97 El Nino). The mid-March consensus Plume suggests a continuation of Modoki ENSO, though some models are now suggesting something more. See the chart based version here - link.
Analysis: Mult.cgie downwelling Kelvin Waves generated by suppressed trades and occasional Westerly Wind Bursts occurring late 2013 though 2014 in the West Pacific. Those Kelvin Waves warmed waters over the Eastern equatorial Pacific, but not sufficiently to declare an official El Nino until Fed 2015 and then very weak at that. Still some degree of teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere is in.cgiay with some greater force dictating the pattern (possibly the PDO). The focus now becomes whether this warming and resulting teleconnection will persist into 2015 and transition into a multi-year event, or fade in the March-June 2015 Spring Unpredictability Barrier. At this time we're assuming the situation will move to a multiyear, Modoki event (the better of all options).
We continue monitoring Westerly Wind Bursts and Kelvin Wave development, suggestive of continued warming East Pacific equatorial waters for the 2015 (meaning enhanced support for the jetstream and storm development in Fall/Winter 2015-2016).
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13
Beyond 72 hours a tiny gale is forecast developing tuck along the east edge of New Zealand Mon AM (4/13) producing 50 kt south winds and 30 ft seas over a pinpoint sized area at 50S 173E aimed north. this system to lift north and fade with winds dropping from 40 kts in the evening and seas fading from 32 ft at 46S 177E. this system to die after that. Perhaps minimal background swell to result for Hawaii with luck.
Otherwise no fetch of interest is forecast for the greater South Pacific.
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
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