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.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
- Buoy 51201 (Waimea): Seas were 4.9 ft @ 7.7 secs with swell 3.4 ft @ 7.5 secs.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.3 ft @ 8.0 secs with swell 1.3 ft @ 14.5 secs. Wind northwest 4-6 kts. In Santa Barbara swell was 2.2 ft @ 11.3 secs from 261 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.8 ft @ 14.8 secs from 208 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.9 ft @ 14.8 secs from 205 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 10.7 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 6.1 ft @ 12.3 secs. Wind northwest 20-23 kts. Water temp 52.2 degs.
On Tuesday (4/11) in North and Central CA surf was 1 ft overhead and chopped and not particularly rideable. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist to chest high on the sets and heavily textured with chop outside the kelp. In Southern California up north surf was thigh to maybe waist high on the sets at top breaks and textured and weak. Down south waves were waist high on the sets and chopped. Hawaii's North Shore was getting wrap around windswell at waist to chest high and up to head high at top spots with sideshore lump running through it. The South Shore was getting wrap around windswell at waist high and clean at select breaks. The East Shore was getting chest high east windswell and chopped from brisk trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
A gale was tracking through the Western Gulf of Alaska on Tues (4/14) having previous generated up to 42 ft seas aimed east over the dateline. Sideband swell from this system is heading towards Hawaii with more direct energy towards the US West Coast. Down south a gale developed in the Tasman Sea on Sat-Sun (4/12) producing 28 ft seas targeting Fiji. Filtered swell may eventually reach the Hawaiian Islands. And a tiny and weak gale was tucked up along the east side of New Zealand on Mon (4/13) building Tuesday producing up to 32 ft seas pushing northeast. Maybe background swell to result for Hawaii. Beyond a pair of gales to track over the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf on Mon (4/20) generating 36 ft and 30 ft seas respectively, but aimed due east. No swell of interest is expected and nothing else is expected.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream- On Tuesday (4/14) the jet was .cgiit tracking off Asia with the southern branch tracking east over the dateline and Hawaii down at 20N then pushing over Southern Baja and weak. The northern branch tracked east off the Kuril Islands falling into a broad trough with its apex over the dateline and winds at barely 140 kts, then ridging slightly as the jet moved into the Central Gulf of Alaska before falling south into another weak trough that was moving onshore over North Oregon. Support for gale development was limited to the trough over the dateline. Over the next 72 hours winds are to start fading as the trough moves into the Western Gulf but a secondary patch of 190 kts winds are to build on Wednesday off the Kuril Islands feeding into the pre-existing Gulf trough, but not doing much to prolong it's life, with it pinching off in the Gulf on Thurs (4/16) and fading out. Beyond 72 hours another trough is to form over the dateline moving into the Western Gulf Fri-Mon (4/20) but with only with 110 kt winds feeding it offering only the weakest support for low pressure development. And an even weaker trough is forecast to develop again in the same area on Tues-Wed (4/22).
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (4/14) high pressure at 1032 mbs was centered 800 nmiles west of North CA while a gale was tracking east through the Western Gulf (see Dateline-Gulf Storm below). Another high pressure system at 1028 mbs was east of northern Japan reaching almost to the dateline. only the Dateline-Gulf Storm was generating fetch capable of supporting for swell development.
Over the next 72 hours another low pressure system is to develop over the dateline on Thurs (4/16) in association with an upper trough there, but winds in it's core are to remain below swell production thresholds. Southwest winds associated with the low pressures front are to build to 35-40 kts on Fri (4/17) generating 22-24 ft seas in the evening at 50N 153W but all aimed northeast at Alaska. Maybe some sideband swell to reach the Pacific Northwest with luck.
A storm that had been on the charts for days started developing in an upper trough west of the dateline Sun AM (4/12) with 50 kts northwest winds and getting traction on the oceans surface. By evening 50-55 kt west winds were generating 36 ft seas over a tiny area at 44N 172E. By Mon AM (4/13) the storm was pushing over the dateline with 50 kt west winds making a decent footprint and seas 41 ft at 44N 180W aimed mainly east (326 degs HI, 297 degs NCal). By evening 45 kt west winds were racing into the Western Gulf with seas holding at 41 ft at 45N 172W targeting sideband energy at Hawaii (338 degs) and more direct but distant energy at the US West Coast (298 degs NCal). 40 kt west winds were holding in the Gulf on Tues AM (4/14) with 37 ft seas at 47N 163W (299 degs NCal). Fetch is to fade from 40 kts in the evening with seas fading from 32 ft at 48N 155W targeting only the US West Coast and mainly the Pacific Northwest. This system is to be gone by Wed AM (4/15). Some moderate size swell is expected to result for Hawaii and the US West Coast, but limited by the storms relatively small footprint and fast forward speed.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Wed (4/15) starting mid-afternoon building to 4.8 ft @ 17 secs late (8 ft Hawaiian). Swell to peak overnight and be fading slowly Thurs AM (4/16) from 5.4 ft @ 15 secs (8 ft Hawaiian). Residuals to be fading Fri AM (4/17) from 4 ft @ 12-13 secs early (5 ft). Swell Direction: 324-330 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival at sunset on Thurs (4/16) pushing 3 ft @ 20 secs (6 ft). Swell to start peaking near sunrise Fri (4/17) at 6.5 ft @ 17 secs (11 ft) and partially shadowed in the SF Bay Area. Size slowly fading through the day. Residuals on Sat (4/18) fading from 6 ft @ 14 secs (8 ft) and fading fast. Swell Direction: 296-302 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Friday (4/17) building to 2.1 ft @ 18 secs late (3.5 ft). Swell peaking at sunrise Sat (4/18) at 3.4 ft @ 16-17 secs (5.5 ft at exposed breaks) and slowly fading. Swell fading on Sun (4/19) from 2.4 ft @ 14 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 300-306 degrees
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 Tuesday (4/14) high pressure at 1032 mbs was 800 nmiles off the North CA coast and ridging east generating north winds at 15-20 kts for all of North and Central CA. North winds to build over North and Central CA on Wed (4/15) at 25 kts lifting north and fading to light everywhere but Cape Mendocino on Thursday. More of the same is expected Friday (light winds) then maybe building to 10 kts from the north later Saturday for North and Central CA. A weak summer time gradient is forecast for Sunday over Cape Mendocino at 15-20 kts reaching down to Pt Conception late. North winds to be fading from 10 kts on Monday and less than 10 kts Tuesday as low pressure builds off the coast.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
A tiny gale developed tucked along the east edge of New Zealand Mon AM (4/13) producing 45 kt south winds and 28 ft seas over a pinpoint sized area at 46S 177E aimed north. This system held its ground while building in the evening with 40 kt south winds growing in coverage and seas building to 26 ft at 45S 1780E. This system built Tues AM (4/14) with 45-50 kt south winds and covering more area with seas to 32 ft at 45S 179W aimed due north. The gale is to fade in the evening but with 35-40 kt south winds over a solid area aimed north with 24-26 ft seas fading at 43N 172W. Winds fading from 35 kts from the south on Wed AM (4/15) with seas 24 ft at 45S 178E. Perhaps some modest background swell to result for Hawaii.
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: 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
On Saturday AM (4/11) a small gale started developing in the South Tasman Sea with 40 kt southwest winds over a broad area generating 24 ft seas at 52S 148E targeting Fiji. 40 kt southwest winds to start pushing better up into the Tasman Sea in the evening resulting in 28 ft seas at 46S 155E. South winds to be fading from 30-35 kt then moving into the core of the Tasman Sea on Sun AM (4/12) producing 26 ft seas at 42S 159E targeting Fiji well. Fetch to fade from 30 kts pushing northeast in the evening with seas fading from 24 ft at 38S 165E. Something to monitor relative to Fiji.
Fiji: Swell arrival expected near noon on Wed (4/15) local time with period 16 secs and building pushing 7.5 ft @ 15-16 secs late (11-12 ft Hawaiian). Swell fading from 8.4 ft @ 15 secs (12-13 ft Hawaiian) Thurs AM (4/16). Swell Direction 203 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 another gale is to develop over the date4line pushing into the Western Gulf on Thurs (4/16) generating 30-35 kt west winds and by Fri AM (4/17) maybe generating 20 ft seas near 45N 160W targeting mainly the US West Coast with 22 ft seas up into the Northern Gulf by evening. Something to monitor. Nothing else to follow.
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 Tuesday (4/14) the daily SOI was rising from 6.20. The 30 day average was rising from -7.78 and the 90 day average was steady at -7.04. The near term trend based on the daily and 30 day average was indicative of a fading Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a weak steady state Active Phase of the MJO. Neutral pressure was over Tahiti and expected to slowly build over the coming week with the SOI expected to slowly rise, then perhaps starting to fall by Tues (4/21). .The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated weak westerly anomalies over the entire Eastern Maritime Continent reaching over the dateline then turning to neutral anomalies and holding south of Hawaii on to the Galapagos Islands. Down at the surface the TOA array indicated modest westerly anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area fading but not gone south of Hawaii and holding into nearly the Galapagos. A moderate Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) occurred from 1/15-2/20 then regenerated 2/25 building steadily into the strong category by 3/7, before peaking 3/10 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 4/11. This was already a decent event attributable to the Jan-Feb anomalies, before it raged in mid-March. A week from now (4/22) weak westerly anomalies are to hold in pockets over the East Maritime Continent reaching to the dateline, then fading to neutral east of there 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 4/13 suggests a very weak version of the Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the dateline while the Active Phase of the MJO was weak in the Eastern Indian Ocean. Beyond the Statistic model suggests the Inactive Phase is to fade just east of the dateline 5-10 days out with the Active Phase pushing weakly into the West Pacific 15 days out. 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 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model run on 4/14 depicts a weak Inactive MJO pattern trying to form near the dateline and forecast to slow track east and fading, with remnants arriving in Central America on 5/9. A weak Active Phase is suppose to build in the West Pacific 5/14 and is to be tracking east, arriving in Central Pacific on 5/24. 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 (4/13) 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. A warmer pocket previously in the far East Pacific was gone. A broad pocket of +1.0-1.5 deg anomalies was reaching west from 135W to the dateline and beyond. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggest water temps are steady at +0.7 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 4/14 a +2.0 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 fed more warm water into that Kelvin Wave, but not as much as expected. The Kelvin Wave 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 4/8 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific east of 170E with a core to +10 cm from 170W to 110W indicative of an open pipe with an embedded solid Kelvin Wave. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (4/8) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 172E-88W with +1.0-1.5 degs from 180E-92W and +1.5 deg anomalies from 170W-108W. And now a building core of 2 deg anomalies are indicated between 156W-120W. 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 4/14 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 late 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 gale is to be tracking flat east over the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf with 40 kt southwest fetch pushing into ice free waters generating 30 ft seas aimed more east than northeast. Something to monitor but odds appear low of any swell resulting.
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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