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.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea Bay): Seas were 5.4 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 2.5 ft @ 11.9 secs from 323 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 5.0 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 2.5 ft @ 13.0 secs from 292 degrees. Wind northwest 8-10 kts. Water temperature 59.7. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.7 ft @ 14.5 secs from 261 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.3 ft @ 13.5 secs from 269 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.1 ft @ 13.6 secs from 267 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 15.9 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 11.2 ft @ 14.7 secs from 296 degrees. Wind northwest 8-12 kts. Water temp 54.7 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Thursday (4/14) in North and Central CA surf was 12-15 ft on the face and relatively clean early but with a fair amount of lump intermixed and relatively raw and unrefined. At Santa Cruz surf was 2-3 ft overhead and clean and lined up. Much more approachable than up north. In Southern California up north waves were waist high and clean and semi lined up. Core of the swell has not arrived yet. Down south waves were waist to maybe chest high and clean and somewhat lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was small with waves waist to maybe chest high and clean early. The South Shore was near flat with rare thigh to waist high sets and clean. The East Shore was northeast windswell at head high and chopped with moderate trades in effect.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
New swell was hitting California. It was a combination of energy from a small gale that developed on the dateline Sat (4/9) with up to 32 ft seas then faded Sunday while tracking east, then redeveloped in the Gulf Mon (4/11) producing up to 25 ft seas targeting the US West Coast before fading only to redevelop again off South Oregon Wed-Thurs (4/14) with seas to 28-30 ft before moving inland over Cape Mendocino. Yet another gale developed Tues (4/12) west of the dateline pushing east with seas to 39 ft targeting mainly Hawaii but also the US West Coast tracking east and fading Thurs (4/14) in the far Western Gulf with seas 25 ft. Swell is poised for Hawaii. And yet another is forecast behind that in the Northwest Pacific Fri-Mon (4/18) with seas to 34 ft tracking over the dateline then forecast to weakly hold in the Western Gulf Tues-Thurs (4/21) with seas in the 18-20 ft range. More swell for Hawaii and the US West Coast if this materializes. Nothing obvious is forecast from the Southern Hemi.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday AM (4/14) the jet was reasonably consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds to 130 kts forming a bit of a weak trough over the dateline then ridging slightly through the Gulf before falling into a steep trough pushing over North CA. There was some support for gale development in the dateline trough. The jet .cgiit slightly on the dateline with a thin stream of 70 kt winds tracking east from it into Southern Baja. Over the next 72 hours the dateline trough is to peak early Fri (4/15) with 170 kts winds building while falling into it over the Western Gulf offering good support for gale development and moving east while steepening into Sun (4/17) and pinching off later in the day. Support for gale development fading out then. But another trough is to be developing in the far Northwest Pacific on Sat (4/16) being fed by 140 kts winds quickly tracking east fading out in the Western Gulf late on Sun (4/17). Beyond 72 hours the jet is to hold together well and consolidated forming another trough west of the dateline on Thurs (4/21) being fed by a thin stream of 140 kts winds then the flow is to be lifting gently east-northeast at 130-140 kts pushing through the Gulf of Alaska moving into Washington. Some support for gale development possible in that trough.
On Thursday (4/14) swell from a smaller gale that developed on the dateline Sat (4/9) tracking east then redeveloped 2 more times was hitting North California (see Second Dateline Gale below).
A third gale developed west of the dateline Tues AM (4/12) (See Third Dateline Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours a new weather system is to start building off Japan. It is to develop over North Japan on Fri AM (4/15) starting to produce 40 kt northwest winds getting traction on the oceans surface. Those winds to push off Japan in the evening at 45 kts generating 28 ft seas at 41N 153E. Sat AM (4/16) a broad fetch of 40 kt northwest winds to be extending off the Kuril Islands with 32 ft seas at 42N 159E. 45 kt northwest winds to continue east in the evening generating 34 ft seas at 44N 165E. On Sun AM (4/17) a broad fetch of 40 kt northwest winds to continue pushing east resulting in 33 ft seas at 44N 172E. The fetch to fade from 35 kts in the evening over the dateline with seas 31 ft at 45N 179E. On Monday AM (4/18) fetch is to fade from 30 kts on the dateline with seas fading from 27 ft 45N 175W. Additional 30-35 kts west fetch to move into the area in the evening with seas fading from 23 ft at 45N 168W. Swell possible for Hawaii and the US West Coast.
Second Dateline Gale
On Fri PM (4/8) another gale developed a bit west of the dateline generating 35 kts west winds over a small area and tracking east. By Sat AM (4/9) winds built to 50 kts from the west with seas building from 27 ft over a small area approaching the dateline at 41N 170E. Fetch faded some in the evening at 45 kts over a small area as the gale moved to the dateline with seas to 32 ft at 40N 177E. Sun AM (4/10) the gale increased in coverage but faded in strength with winds 35-40 kts generating 30 ft seas at 39N 174W. On Sun PM the gale lifted northeast slightly and moved into the Gulf of Alaska generating 30 kt west winds with seas faded some at 24 ft at 46N 166W. The gale built some on Mon AM (4/11) with winds to 40 kts over a solid area and seas building to 22 ft over a broad area aimed east at 43N 155W. In the evening the gale continued east with 30-35 kts winds targeting California and the Pacific Northwest with seas 26 ft at 44N 151W. On Tues AM (4/12) 30 kt west winds were positioned off Oregon generating 24 ft seas up at 48N 146W. The gale vaporized in the evening but a secondary gale developed from the remnants of this system generating a decent sized area of 35 kt northwest winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface with seas 23 ft at 43N 145W. By Wed AM (4/13) 40 kt northwest winds were off Oregon generating 28 ft seas at 44N 141W. 35 kt northwest winds were off the Oregon-CA border in the evening with seas 27 ft at 43N 136W. 35 kt northwest winds were pushing into Cape Mendocino on Thurs AM (4/14) with seas still 27 ft at 43N 139W. This system is to be inland by the evening.
Swell possible for Hawaii with larger but rawer energy for California. Certainly something to monitor.
North CA: By Thurs AM (4/14) swell to be 10.4 ft @ 14-15 secs (14.5 ft) and raw and jumbled. Swell fading by Fri AM (4/15) from 10 ft @ 13 secs and much of that local windswell. Swell fading Sat Am (4/16) from 5 ft @ 11-12 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction 296 degree moving to 302 degrees
Third Dateline Gale
On Mon PM (4/11) a new gale developed off the Southern Kurils generating a small fetch of 45 kt northwest winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By Tues AM (4/12) a broader fetch of 50-55 kt west winds were taking hold with seas 36 ft at 42N 165E. 45 kt west winds started tracking east in the evening with seas building to 39 ft at 41N 171E aimed east. Fetch built in coverage Wed AM (4/13) but loose velocity at 35 kts from the west with seas 33 ft at 42N 178E. Fetch faded in the evening from 30 kts with seas 27 ft at 42N 176W. Fetch faded from 30 kts just east of the dateline Thurs AM (4/14) with seas fading from 25 ft at 43N 170W. The gale to dissipate from there. Possible swell for Hawaii by the weekend and then eventually reaching the US West Coast.
Hawaii: Swell arrival possible on Fri afternoon (4/15) building to 5.0 ft @ 17 secs (8.5 ft). Swell holding early Sat (4/16) at 5.3 ft @ 15 secs (7.5-8.0 ft). Swell fading from 3.4 ft @ 13 secs (4.5 ft) early Sun (4/17). Swell Direction: 315 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (4/17) building to 4.2 ft @ 16-17 secs (7 ft) late. Swell to start fading Mon AM (4/18) from 5.9 ft @ 15 secs (8.5 ft). Residuals on Tues AM (4/19) from 4.5 ft @ 13 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 294 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (4/14) high pressure was trying to ridge into the California coast but being held off for the moment by low pressure moving into and over Oregon. Northwest winds light early but are to build to 15-20 kts later and up to 25 kts in nearshore waters of Southern CA. 2-3 inches of snow fell in Tahoe overnight. High pressure to move closer r Fri AM with northwest winds at 20-30 kts for the the entire coast strongest near Pt Conception. The high to start ridging into the Pacific Northwest Saturday with northwest wind fading to 15 kts early and even less later in the day. Sunday low pressure to start building well off the CA coast with winds fading to near nothing. Monday (4/18) the low to move closer with light south winds 5-10 kts from Pt Conception northward. The low to track north on Tuesday and fade with light south winds fading. Weak high pressure start building on Wed (4/20) with northwest winds building to 15 kts later building to 20+ kts on Thursday.
On Sunday AM (4/3) no swell producing fetch was occurring.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch 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 yet more fetch is to develop in the Western Gulf on Tues AM (4/19) at 30 kts from the west with seas 19 ft at 42N 165W. More of the same in the evening with 19 ft seas at 41N 167W. Additional 30-35 kts west fetch is forecast in the Gulf Wed AM (4/20) with 18-20 ft seas over a broad area at 42N 165W. 30 kt west winds to ease east in the evening with 20 ft seas at 45N 165W. More of the same on Thurs (4/21).
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.
More details to follow...
NINO1.2 Temps Collapsing
MJO Appears to be Trying to Turn Active
The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the.cgianet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).
Overview: The 2014-2016 El Nino is fading out. The last of the ocean subsurface warm water reservoir is dissipating and surface temperatures are rapidly fading.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wed (4/13) no west winds were occurring in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) but anomalies were from the west from 175E to 155W mainly from 5S and points southward. A very weak expression of El Nino was occurring.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Extremely light west anomalies started developing in the KWGA on (4/10) and are forecast to hold till 4/16, then weakening some but holding through 4/21. A very weak El Nino pattern continues to hold control.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Comparison of 2 Strong Westerly Wind Bursts (WWB)
On left the massive WWB in late June/July that created large Kelvin Wave #3. On right the current WWB that is generating Kelvin Wave #4.
Scales are a little different but notice anomalies in the July event at 12-14 m/s est (24-28 kts) and now in Oct at 13-14 m/s (26-28 kts)
(Click to Enlarge Images)
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 4/13 a very weak Inactive Phase MJO signal was over the dateline. The Statistic model projects the Inactive Phase dissipating a week out with a weak Active Phase of the MJO trying to build into the West Pacific 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts a variation of the same theme but with the Active Phase weaker and more centered over the Maritime Continent. This suggests El Nino influence of the jetstream is being lightly suppressed by the Inactive MJO but fading some with a better expression of El Nino possible 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (4/14) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was over the Maritime Continent and very weak. It is to ease east some then crash. The GEFS depicts the same basic pattern.
40 Day Upper Level Model: (4/14) A mixed pattern was indicated weak continuing through 5/2. Finally the Active Phase of the MJO is to ease into the West Pacific on 5/7. But with the change of season in.cgiay, it is likely to have any real positive impact. This marks of the end of El Ninos support for the jetstream in the North Pacific for the Winter 2015-16 season. It's been a fun run.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): This model suggests the tail end of a weak Active Phase of the MJO was all but gone on the dateline moving east. No west anomalies of interest are in.cgiay. There is no fuel to support enhancing the jetstream and therefore storm production was minimal. The model depicts a very weak Inactive Phase trying to get a foothold 4/17-4/24 but west anomalies are forecast developing starting 4/22 getting decently strong by 4/25. A weak Active pulse of the MJO is to start 4/29. Weak west anomalies are to continue through 5/15. A weak Inactive Phase of the MJO is to develop at that time.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (4/14) Actual temperatures continue to retreat daily. A pocket of 29 deg temps were holding at depth but retreating west fast from 178W. The 28 deg isotherm line was shallow stretching east only to 127W and retreating west. Anomaly wise things are collapsing fast. +1 deg anomalies extend from 167W eastward and no more than 50 meters deep near 150W and only 25 meters deep just west of the Galapagos. This is the last of the El Nino subsurface warm reservoir. Cool subsurface waters are down at 100m and racing east reaching the Ecuador Coast with -2 deg anomalies reaching east to 105W down at 60 meters and -3 degs anomalies pushing east to 128W. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 4/8 the reservoir is fading and very shallow from 170E eastward. Anomalies were +1-2 deg over the area and only extending down 25 meters with one tiny pocket of +2-3 degs anomalies under the Galapagos. The subsurface reservoir is shrinking steadily. The onset of La Nina looks imminent.
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA): (4/8) The image depicts the warm pool is gone with no anomalies remaining over the entire equatorial region from the dateline to Ecuador. -5 cm anomalies are easing east fast to 115W.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: (4/8 - but updated daily) Warm temps are gone. +0.0-0.5 deg anomalies are from 100W and points east. -1.0 deg anomalies are racing east reaching 120W. La Nina is coming closer every day and is likely only 2-3 weeks from materializing at the surface.
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 : (4/13) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates temps are in total collapse with no +2.25 deg anomalies remaining. Instead a diffuse pattern of 1.5-2.0 deg anomalies is present straddling the equator from the Galapagos west to 160W. Temps are crashing along the coast of Peru streaming northwest to the Galapagos at -0.5 degs with pockets at -2.0 or lower. The warm pool is collapsing and La Nina is setting up.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (4/12): Massive cooling is setting up occurring from Peru, Columbia and Ecuador over the Galapagos out to 120W. It looks like strong east trades are in effect in this area.
Hi-res Overview: (4/10) The El Nino signal is quickly collapsing. A generalized pattern of +1-2 deg above normal temps are present from a bit west of the Galapagos to 155W over the equator. Warmer water is also present south and north of the equator, but quickly becoming less relevant with negative temps building off Ecuador and advecting west, now pushing just west of the Galapagos.
TAO Data: (4/2) +1.0 anomalies were over the equatorial East Pacific advecting west from the Galapagos covering out to 150W. Overall the warm water signature was in steep decline.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (4/14) Today temps were in a freefall fading from +0.896 degs 2 days ago to -0.133 today.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (4/14) temps have been steadily fading but ticked up a little starting 4/7 but have stabilized today at +1.357 degs.
Centered Nino3.4 Monthly Temps The centered Nino3.4 temps for the month of March were +1.63 degs (beating '98 at +1.32 degs and '83 at +1.44 degs). Feb was +2.19 (beating '98 which was +1.89 and '83 which was +1.84). Jan readings were +2.23 (beating '98 which was +2.21 and '83 which was +2.13). December was +2.31 (beating 97 which was +2.23 and 82 at +2.21). November was +2.36 degs (beating the highest temp recorded in '97 Nov - +2.32 degs and beating '82 +2.03 degs). Oct temps were +2.03 degs. See updated graphs above. This make this year El Nino the strongest ever. That is not reasonable looking at other evidence.
ONI For 2015 for the 3 month period centered on Sept, Oct, Nov , Jan and Feb the values are: +1.8, +2.1. +2.2 +2.3, +2.2 and +2.0. For the same period in '97 the values were: +2.0, +2.2, +2.3, +2.3, +2.1 and +1.8. And for '82 the values were: +1.5, +1.9, +2.1, +2.1, +2.1 and +1.8. This make this years El Nino the second strongest on record since 1950. The ONI uses a 3 month running average.
Note: ERSSTv4 'centered' data is not available for Nino1, 3 and 4 regions, only Nino3.4.
Pacific Counter Current: As of 4/1 the current was strong from the east on the equator from 90W to 150E. Anomaly wise - they were strong from the east over the same area. There were no pockets of west anomalies indicated. El Nino is in solid decline and La Nina is on the rise based on this data, which is normal for this point in the El Nino lifecycle.
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data depicts peak temps reached +2.95 degs on Nov 5, then faded slightly in early December to +2.8 holding to Feb 1. Then a sharp decline started with temps down to +2.5 degs mid-Feb and falling from +2.0 degs in early March and +1.5 degs April 1. The forecast indicates temps fading from here forward into Oct at -1.5 degs and down to -1.9 degs Dec. This would be solid La Nina territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-March Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.5 by December. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Co.cgiing Index's (lagging indicators rather than driving oceanic change):
Southern Oscillation Index (4/14): The daily average was down some today -19.70. The 30 day average was falling from -9.86. The 90 day average was rising from -13.28. El Nino was still quite evident in this index and the daily and 30 day averages suggested some form of Active MJO was in.cgiay.
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): On 4/14 weak low pressure was over Tahiti and is forecast to hold if not build into Tues (4/20) then falling southeast from Tahiti in the Thurs (4/21). The SOI is expected to hold if not fade some based on the Tahiti contribution perhaps providing some support to enhance El Nino and fuel the jetstream.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (4/19) Today's value was building some +0.90. It peaked recently on 3/12 at +1.57 but has generally fallen ever since until today.
Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (March) These numbers were released April 6th and indicate the index decreased slightly to +1.96. The Feb reading was +2.12. In Jan the reading increased slightly by 0.08 to +2.20, holding it in the third highest since 1950 behind the '82/83 and '97/98 El Ninos. Since it has not reached the +3.0 standard deviation level, it is NOT considered a Super El Nino, nor is it expected to reach that status. The Dec reading was +2.12. The Nov ranking was +2.31, up barely from +2.23 (Oct), down from it's peak of +2.53 in Sept, and from +2.37 in Aug. The top 6 events since 1950 in order are: '97, '82, '15, '91, '86, and '72 with '97 and '82 classified as 'Super El Nino's' because they reached 3 standard deviations (SD) above normal. '91 and '86 were at about 2.2 and 2.1 respectively with '72 peaking at 1.8 SD's above the norm. This years El Nino was the third strongest since 1950 per this index.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been mostly above +1.5 all of 2015. In Jan 2016 it was +1.53 and up to +1.75 in Feb. 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.
Conclusion: This El Nino is the 3rd strongest El Nino since 1950 based primarily on the MEI. Centered Monthly Nino3.4 data suggests it is the strongest. Based on California precipitation, this one does not compared to any major El Nino in recent memory. Based on surf, El Nino has had the expected effect producing 13 significant class swells in the North Pacific so far this season. The target is 16, but that appears ambitious. From a pure El Nino perspective, the peak of the event is over. But from a teleconnection standpoint, the warm pool in Nino3.4 is still imparting solid energy to the atmosphere. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is destructively interacting with the influence on the jet stream and storm production. And this will continue until the next Active Phase of the MJO comes into.cgiay (if at all). With the season moving towards Spring, and SST anomalies fading in the Ninos zones, the MJOs influence will not be a strong as previous Active Phases in winter.
The focus now turns to how quick and how much will the jet be affected for the Fall and Winter of 2016-2017. It's too early to know anything definitive yet, but with the PDO still positive, it is possible the transition to La Nina may not be a strong as in past events.
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