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, July 23, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.5 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 13.4 secs from 204 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.6 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 2.4 ft @ 15.3 secs from 169 degrees. Wind north 6-8 kts. Water temperature 69.3 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.8 ft @ 7.8 secs from 263 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.8 ft @ 15.0 secs from 198 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 3.4 ft @ 14.1 secs from 183 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.3 ft @ 8.3 secs with windswell 6.0 ft @ 8.0 secs and southern hemi swell 2.5 ft @ 15.3 secs from 180 degrees. Wind northwest 16-18 kts. Water temp 57.4 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Saturday (7/23) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell was producing waves at chest high and clean early but with a fair amount of warble intermixed and generally weak. At Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was still producing waves at waist high with chest high sets and clean but foggy early. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at waist high and clean but with a warble intermixed and weak. Down south southern hemi swell was producing set waves at chest to shoulder high and clean but fogged in early. Further south top spots had rare sets at up to 2 ft overhead high and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was thigh to waist high and textured from northeast winds. The South Shore was waist high on sets at top spots and clean. The East Shore was getting Darby swell with waves head high and chopped from northeast wind.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
A gale formed in the Tasman Sea on Wed-Thurs (7/14) with 34 ft seas aimed northeast. The last residual swell energy from it is fading in Hawaii. Swell from a gale in the far Southeast Pacific on Wed-Thurs (7/14) is arriving along the CA coast making for rideable surf. A gale pushed under New Zealand on Wed (7/20) with 32-34 ft seas aimed east, but making little headway east of New Zealand. Possible small swell to result for Hawaii and the US West Coast. A weak gale is forecast trying to develop in the Southeast Pacific on Sun-Mon (7/25) with 28-30 ft seas aimed north over a modest sized area. Small south angled swell is possible. In the tropics Tropical Storm Darby was 50 nmiles east of the Big Island forecast to track directly over the Island chain with winds 45 kts, making more weather than surf. What was Tropical Storm Estelle is down to depression status and of no interest positioned mid-way between California and Hawaii. tropical storm Frank was 250 nmiles south of Cabo San Lucas tracking west-northwest and forecast to strengthen. And tropical Storm Georgette was 1200 nmiles south of Southern CA tracking west-northwest and also forecast to strengthen. The Tropical East Pacific continues to be fueled by a fading Active Phase of the MJO passing over that region.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday AM (7/23) no swell producing fetch is occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.
The California coastal pressure gradient was in effect on Saturday (7/23) generating north winds at 20-25 kts along the entire North and Central coast focused mainly near Pt Arena offering windswell production potential. Over the next 72 hours the gradient is to build a little on Sun (7/24) to 25+ kts and well focused on Cape Mendocino to Pt Arena with 20 kts winds reaching south to a point just off Pt Conception. More of the same is forecast through Tues (7/26) but with winds pulling away from the Central Coast. Good odds for windswell to result for Central CA with improving conditions.
For Hawaii on Sat (7/23) northeast winds generated by TS Darby were in control over the Islands and forecast to build to 40-45 kts over the Big Island late today with Darby tracking northwest from the Big Island eventually reaching Kauai Mon AM (7/25) with winds steadily fading, down to 35-40 kts on Monday. Trades to follow directly after passage of Darby at 15 kts from the east-southeast through Tues (7/26). Windswell potential weak with most fetch obscured by the Island chain.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Tropical Storm Darby was 50 nmiles east of the Big Island on Sat AM (7/23) with winds 50 kts and was tracking west-northwest. Darby is to track directly over the Hawaiian Island chain with winds fading to 40-45 kts reaching Kauai Mon AM (7/25) with winds near 35 kts and accelerating off to the northwest with winds dropping off from there. There is reduced odds for swell generation potential given the fact that the core wind field is to be over land and getting shredded by the mountains.
Big Island (East Shore): Swell to peak Sat (7/23) at 9 ft @ 10-11 secs (8 ft) then fading rapidly Sun AM (7/24) from 4.5 ft @ 7-8 secs (3 ft).
Tropical Depression Estelle was positioned 1200 nmiles east of the Big Island of Hawaii with winds 25 kts tracking west-northwest and expected to dissipate in the next 24 hours. No swell generation potential is forecast.
Tropical Storm Frank was 275 nmiles south of Cabo San Lucas with winds 60 kts tracking west-northwest at 10 kts. Steady strengthening is forecast with Frank peaking at 70 kts Sun AM (7/24) in the Pt Dume swell window (160 degs) and 850 nmiles out. Some swell generation potential is possible with swell arriving near 1 AM Tues (7/26). Frank to start fading Mon PM (7/25) falling below hurricane forecast and continuing on a west-northwest track.
Tropical Storm Georegette was 1200 nmiles south of Southern CA with winds 55 kts tracking west-northwest. Georgette is to build through Sunday PM (7/24) with winds to 85 kts, then fading from there. Low odds of swell generation potential for California mainly due to the relative distant local of this storm.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (7/23) high pressure was ridging into the North CA coast from 600 nmiles out producing the usual pressure gradient over North and Central CA with north winds 20-25 kts along and off the coast. On Sunday (7/24) the focus of the fetch is to lift north to North CA at 25+ kts and 20 kts down into Central CA. More of the same to continue on Monday (7/25) with north winds 25+ kts but limited to Pt Arena northward with an eddy flow (south winds) starting to develop along nearshore Central CA coastal waters. That pattern is to only get more entrenched Tues (7/26) with 30 kts north winds over North CA from Pt Arena northward and and eddy flow south of there holding into Thurs (7/28). More of the same is forecast Fri (7/29) but winds over North CA dropping to 25 kts but covering a good sized fetch area then fading some Sat (7/30) while the eddy flow holds over Central CA and reaching north to nearly south Cape Mendocino.
On Saturday AM (7/23) the jet was consolidated under the Tasman Sea at 160 kts positioned up at 43S forming a weak trough then .cgiitting slightly east of there falling south to 55S well southeast of New Zealand before consolidating again over the Central Pacific forming another trough being fed by 100 kt winds and generally holding that way on into Chile. there was some limited support for gale development in both troughs, but neither was optimally positioned relative to California and Hawaii. Over the next 72 hours through Tues (7/26) the trough over the Tasman Sea is to push east over the Southwest Pacific but winds are to be light not offering much in terms of support for swell production. The ridge east of there is to push east and build, pretty much locking down the Central and Southeast Pacific. Beyond 72 hours starting Wed (7/27) a broad but ill defined trough is to be covering the Tasman Sea east to the Southeast Pacific with a ridge east of there. There's some suggestions that a bit of south southwest winds at 130 kts are to be feeding up into the flow over the Tasman Sea late on Wed (7/27) offering some potential to support gale development. But by Friday (7/29) a ridge is to be building over the Southwest Pacific and rapidly building east shutting down gale formation and continuing into Sat (7/30).
On Saturday (7/23) swell from a small fetch that developed on the eastern edge of the California swell window in the far Southeast Pacific on Wed-Thurs (7/14) is providing small rideable surf in CA. Tiny swell from a gale that pushed under New Zealand is heading northeast (see New Zealand Gale below), but small is the operative word.
Over the next 72 hours a weak gale is forecast coalescing in the Southeast Pacific on starting Sat PM (7/23) producing a tiny area of 40-45 kt southwest winds with seas 27 ft at 40S 135W. On Sun AM (7/24) 40 kt southwest fetch is to hold generating seas of 28 ft at 36S 128W with a new fetch of 40 kt south winds developing south of it aimed north. In the evening the new fetch is to become dominant still at 40 kts from the south with 29 ft seas building at 43S 126W aimed north. More of the same is forecast Monday AM (7/25) with 30 ft seas at 47S 122W. fetch is to fade from 35 kts in the evening with seas fading from 30 ft at 44S 115W and moving out of the Southern CA swell window. Small 16 sec period swell is possible for North and South CA from a rather southerly direction with more energy targeting Central America.
New Zealand Gale
On Tues PM (7/19) a gale low was tracking well south of the Tasman Sea with west winds 45 kts generating 35 ft seas at 53.0S 151.5E and barely unshadowed by New Zealand relative to North and South CA (222 degs). On Wed AM (7/20) 40 kt southwest winds tracked under New Zealand generating 34 ft seas at 53S 162E and unshadowed relative to CA (219 degs) and not quite clear of New Zealand relative to Hawaii (203 degs). Fetch was rapidly fading in the evening from 35 kts from the southwest with seas fading from 30 ft at 54S 171E (214 degs CA, 197 degs HI). This system was gone after that. Some small 17-18 sec period swell should result.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Wed PM (7/27) with swell 1 ft @ 17 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell peaking Thurs AM (7/28) at 1.2 ft @ 14-15 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 198 degrees
South CA: Expect swell arrival early Sat AM (7/30) with period 18 secs building to 1.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 219 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival Sat AM (7/30) with period 18 secs building to 1.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 218 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 high pressure and the pressure gradient is to be holding on Wed (7/27) generating 25-30 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino producing windswell relative to North and Central CA with an eddy flow in control from Pt Arena southward. More of the same is expected on Thurs (7/28), the winds in the core of the gradient fade to 25 kts Friday and start shrinking in coverage on Sat (7/30) while the eddy holds south of there. Windswell holding.
For Hawaii trades to be building into the 15 kt range from the east-northeast on Wed (7/27) pushing 15-20 kts Thurs-Fri (7/29) and extending from North CA the whole way to the Islands continuously offering good support for windswell development along exposed east shores. This fetch to fade a little in velocity Sat (7/30) while starting to lift a little north of the Islands but still generating windswell.
Beyond 72 hours a solid storm system is forecast pushing into the Tasman Sea on Wed AM (7/27) with 55-60 kt southwest winds generating seas to 40 ft at 48S 150E. In the evening 50 kt southwest winds to be fading with seas 44 ft at 45S 159E. By Thurs AM (7/28) 45 kt west winds to be impacting Central New Zealand with 39 ft seas hitting the South Islands at 43S 168E. Solid swell is possible for Fiji with filtered swell possible for Hawaii longer term. Something to monitor.
There's also suggestion of a gale forming in the Southeast Pacific on Fri-Sat (7/30) with seas to 33 ft aimed north at 43S 130W. Something to monitor.
More details to follow...
La Nina Continues Fading Some
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 fast. La Nina is developing.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Fri (7/22) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south of there). Anomalies were modest easterly over the KWGA but neutral to weak westerly well east of there (thanks to the Active Phase of the MJO tracking east over the East Pacific).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderate easterly anomalies were over the KWGA on 7/23 and are to hold while easing just east of the dateline through 7/30 suggestive of a moderate Inactive Phase of the MJO.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 7/22 a modest Inactive MJO signal was over the West Pacific and dateline region. The Statistic model projects it fading over the next week with the Active Phase of the MJO trying to build into the West Pacific 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with the Inactive Phase pulsing again in the West Pacific 2 weeks out. The dynamic forecast is not encouraging from a swell production viewpoint.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (7/23) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak and positioned in the far east Indian Ocean. The forecast projects it fading to nothing while easing east over the next 3 days. The GEFS model depicts basically the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (7/23) A strong Inactive Phase was over the Central Pacific and expected to move east through 8/7. A modest Active Phase to follow in the west starting on 8/15 easing slowly east and over the Central Pacific by 9/1.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak and fading Active MJO signal in.cgiay south of California tracking east and offering fading support for enhancing the tropics in the East Pacific. An Inactive MJO pattern was taking hold over the KWGA with weak east anomalies in.cgiay and forecast holding to 7/31. The Inactive Phase is to pause with west anomalies redeveloping in the KWGA a few days either side of 7/31. Then the Inactive Phase returns with east anomalies 8/13-9/1. A large Active MJO signal to follow 9/4 to 10/19 with west anomalies over the far West Pacific to 170E and stationary with east anomalies from 175W and points 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 9/4. At the same time low pass anomalies are over the Indian Ocean and forecast to build into Oct, typical of La Nina.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (7/23) Actual temperature are building in the West Pacific near the surface at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 172E) and the 28 deg isotherm line stable reaching east to only 165W. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 155W with weak negative anomalies between there and Ecuador. Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting between 145W-160W with -3 degs anomalies reaching east down 100 meters at 140W (building east). The Kelvin Wave pipeline is chocked with cold water rushing east through it. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 7/17 depicts a pocket of +1.0 deg anomalies is building in the West Pacific to 170W. Cool waters 3-4 degs below normal was under the entire width of the equator, undercutting any residual warm water above it and forming a bubble near 150W and upwelling from 120-150W but also reaching east to Ecuador. La Nina is in control of the ocean.
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: (7/22) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates cooler than normal water is gone along the coast of Peru and Ecuador with warmer water returning, at least for the moment. Cool water extends west from the Galapagos tracking solidly out to at least 160W with with peak temps down to -1.75 degs (mostly south of Hawaii). This cool pattern is weakening in the east but solid in the west. La Nina is firmly in control of surface waters, with remnant El Nino warm water 3 degs north and south of the equator being pushed further north and south away from the equator with cool water now reaching up to 10N in pockets quickly edging out the warmer water. No warm water remains anywhere in the Nino regions on the equator.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (7/21): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru. Strong cooling that was in control from the Galapagos out to 140W continues backing off some, but the trend is still negative. A modest cooling trend is off Africa. The PDO warm pool was pulsing solidly from Oregon out across the Pacific at 40N to Japan.
Hi-res Overview: (7/20) A clear La Nina cool water pool is tracking from Ecuador and building 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 180W. 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: (7/23) Today's temps were steady at +0.570 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (7/23) temps had reached the bottom (for now) at -0.887 degs.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (7/23) indicates temps on a slow downward trajectory falling to -0.6 degs Oct 1 and holding through Dec, then slowly rising in Jan 2017 and neutral by March. This is moderate 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-July Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.6 by Nov and holding there to Feb, then rising. This is up from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (7/22): The daily index was holding at +11.00. The 30 day average was rising at +2.74. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was now positive at +0.94, transitioning from negative the first time in years on 7/20. El Nino is gone in all dimensions of the SOI Index now.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (7/23) Today's value was up slightly at -0.97. 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 positive, though a little weaker in June (as expected with La NIna setting in). Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-June) have been +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.60, +1.45 and +0.78. The Washington EDU index for the Jan-May period indicates +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35 and +2.03 . The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive since then. 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