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, October 13, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 8.1 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 5.2 ft @ 13.5 secs from 331 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.8 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 13.6 secs from 219 degrees. Wind southeast 4-6 kts. Water temperature 66.2 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.1 ft @ 12.9 secs from 261 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.7 ft @ 13.6 secs from 214 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.2 ft @ 13.4 secs from 234 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.6 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 4.3 ft @ 12.7 secs from 281 degrees. Wind southeast 4-6 kts. Water temp 60.1 degs.
46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Thursday (10/13) in North and Central CA a second swell from the Northwest Pacific was showing producing set waves in the head high range and clean and lined up but slow. At Santa Cruz northwest swell was wrapping in producing waves in the chest to head high range and clean and lined up. In Southern California up north swell was producing waves at waist high and clean but weak. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were shoulder high and lined up and clean but very slow. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the tail end of the 2nd Northwest Pacific swell with waves in the 1-2 ft overhead range at top spots and clean. The South Shore was getting some new southern hemi swell with waves thigh to maybe waist high and clean early. The East Shore was getting wrap around northwest swell at head high or more and chopped from east trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
New swell from a second gale previously over the Northwest Pacific that produced 25 ft seas Fri-Sat (10/8) was fading in Hawaii and building in California. A much larger swell was pushing towards the US West Coast produced by a gale that was in the Western Gulf Mon-Wed (10/12) with up to 39 ft seas with 20-22 ft follow-on seas migrating east into Fri (10/14). Sideband swell to result for Hawaii too. And a local gale is forecast in the Southeastern Gulf on Fri-Sat (10/15) with up to 30 ft seas impacting Oregon. A final gale to follow for the Central Gulf on Sun (10/16) with 21 ft seas. After that the storm pattern is to fall apart. Fall has officially started, at least for a little while.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday AM (10/13) the jetstream was consolidated and streaming solidly off Japan at 140 kts ridging slightly over the dateline then falling into a broad trough with it's apex in the Central Gulf of Alaska with winds 180-190 kts early offering great support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to move onshore over Oregon on Fri (10/14) while winds start building in the gentle ridge over the dateline to 160-170 kts and start to fall over the Gulf with a new trough developing there on Sat (10/15) moving onshore over Oregon late. Support for gale development in that trough is likely. Winds to continue in the jet at 160 kts from the dateline eastward with another gentle trough off North California on Sun (10/16) moving onshore 24 hours later and likely supporting low pressure development. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to weaken substantially over the West Pacific on Mon (10/17) while the last of the stronger upper level winds move east over the Gulf of Alaska fading from 130-140 kts. A bit of an upper level low is to develop in the Northern Gulf on Wed (10/19) lifting northeast and moving inland 24 hours later. Back to the west the jet is to be fragmented but not .cgiit generally tracking northeast off Japan at 90 kts forming a bit of a ridge over the dateline then falling southeast into a weak and fragmented trough in the Western Gulf. It is curious why the wind levels either built so quickly over the past 2 weeks or then faded so fast in the absence of any coherent MJO signal over that period.
On Thursday (10/13) swell from the second in a series of gales that formed in the Northwest Pacific last weekend was hitting California (see 2nd Northwest Pacific Gale below). Of more interest is swell from a strong gale that is tracking through the Gulf of Alaska that is starting to hit Hawaii and bound for California (see Strong Gulf Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours the remnants of Typhoon Songda are to redevelop in the eastern Gulf of Alaska tracking into the Pacific Northwest (See ET Songda below).
Additionally a new fetch of northwest winds are to start developing in the Gulf of Alaska on Sat AM (10/15) at 30 kts starting to get traction on an already roughed up ocean surface. That fetch is to solidify in the evening with 30 kt northwest winds covering a large area filling the Gulf targeting primarily California with seas building from 20 ft at 40N 140W (286 degs NCal, 295 degs SCal). On Sun AM (10/16) that fetch is to build to 35 kts from the northwest winds seas building to 21 ft over a broad area at 41N 145W (290 degs NCal, 298 degs SCal). Fetch is to be fading in the evening from barely 30 kts with seas fading from 20 ft at 40N 140W (286 degs NCal, 295 degs SCal). More raw swell is expected for CA early in the work week.
2nd Northwest Pacific Gale
On Fri AM (10/7) a gale developed in the far Northwestern Pacific just off the North Kuril Islands with northwest winds 40 kts and seas building from 22 ft. In the evening 35 kt northwest winds were pushing east with seas 25 ft at 47N 165E targeting Hawaii well. On Sat AM (10/8) fetch continued tracking east-southeast with peak winds 35 kts imbedded in a broad area of 30 kt west winds on the dateline with seas still 25 ft at 45N 172E. Fetch is to be fading from 30 kts in the evening with 23 ft seas on the dateline at 44N 180W. Sun AM (10/9) this system is to dissipate with residual 25 kt west winds in the Western Gulf and seas fading from 19 ft at 44N 173W. If all goes as forecast a decent pulse of swell to result for Hawaii and the US West Coast.
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs 2 AM (10/13) with period 16 secs and size building, peaking near 10 AM at 4.5 ft @ 15 secs (6.5 ft). Residuals fading on Fri AM (10/14) from 4.5 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 301-304 degrees
Strong Gulf Gale (Swell #2)
A new gale started developing on Sun AM (10/9) when tropically infused low pressure started building over the Southern Kuril Islands extending almost to the dateline producing 35-40 kt west winds with seas on the increase. Fetch tracked east in the evening holding at 35-40 kts from the west with seas building to 22 ft roughly at 43N 173E targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. On Mon AM (10/10) the gale finally started organizing well over the North Dateline region with 40 kt northwest winds just south of the Aleutians generating 24 ft seas at 45N 180W. Fetch built to 45 kts solid in the evening in the Western Gulf embedded in a broad elongated area of 30+ kt west winds with seas building from 34 ft at 47N 172W (338 degs HI, 301 degs NCal) and 30 ft seas down to 45N 170W (297 degs NCal). On Tues AM (10/11) 45 kt westerly fetch was pushing through the Western Gulf generating 39 ft seas at 46N 165W (350 degs HI, 299 degs NCal). Fetch was fading some in the evening covering a large area in the Western Gulf from 35-40 kts with seas fading from 33 ft over a broad area centered at 45N 156W (360 degs HI, 297 degs NCal). This system tracked east on Wed AM (10/12) with 30-35 kt west winds still over the Western Gulf with 27 ft seas over a large area at 45N 150W (296 degs NCal). Fetch slowly lost coverage in the evening at 30-35 kts from the west with seas 25 ft at 48N 163W (355 degs HI, 302 NCal). This system started dissipating while falling southeast on Thurs AM (10/13) with winds fading from 35 kts and seas from 25 ft at 47N 159W. In the evening the gale is to dissipate with residual seas fading from 22 ft at 44N 150W targeting the US West Coast (297 degs NCal). A long run of north angled swell is expected for both Hawaii and California.
Hawaii: Swell arrival expected on Thurs AM (10/13) building to 6.5 ft @ 15 secs near 10 AM (9.5 ft). Swell fading on Fri (10/14) 4.8 ft @ 12-13 secs (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 330 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs PM (1013) building from 7.8 ft @ 17 secs (13 ft) by 10 PM. Swell is to peak at 6 AM Fri (10/14) with pure swell 8.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (15 ft) with copious lesser period energy intermixed. Period dropping to 16 secs early afternoon with size holding. Swell to continue on Sat (10/15) from 8 ft @ 14 secs (11 ft) fading to 7 ft @ 14 secs late (10 ft). Swell Direction: 297-301 degrees with lesser period energy down to 295 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on late Fri (10/14) building to 2 ft @ 18 secs late (3.5 ft). Swell is to peak Sat mid-day (10/15) 4.7 ft @ 16 secs (7.5 ft). Swell continues on Sun (10/16) but fading slowly from 4.0 ft @ 14-15 (5.5-6.0 ft) secs early. Residuals on Mon (10/17) from 4.3 ft @ 13 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 300-304 degrees
Starting Fri AM (10/14) the extratropical remnants of Typhoon Songda are to race over the dateline and start redeveloping in the Gulf of Alaska with 30 kt west winds and seas developing. In the evening fetch is to build to 40 kts from the west with seas 22 ft at 40N 145W. Winds to build to 45 kt from the northwest early Sat AM (10/15) off Oregon with seas 25 ft at 40N 135W (286 degs NCal, 295 degs SCal). The storm is to start pushing into the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver Island in the evening with winds up to 50 kts and seas 32 ft at 44N 125W and outside the CA swell window. Something to monitor.
North CA: For.cgianning purposes and assuming the model are accurate swell arrival is expected on Sun (10/16) at 6 AM with pure swell 9.2 ft @ 15-17 secs (13.5-15.0 ft) from 288 degrees wit longer period energy up to 315 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 (10/13) a broad low pressure pattern was filling the Gulf of Alaska and moving east. The front from it was starting to impact the North CA coast generating 25+ kt south winds over Cape Mendocino pushing south and forecast to reach the Pt Reyes area by 10 PM with south winds building from 15 kts. On Friday (10/14) that front is to reach San Francisco with south winds 20 kts with moderate rain and pushing to Big Sur mid-day and dissipating there with light rain maybe down to Morro Bay late in the evening. Maybe some snow at higher elevations of Tahoe down into Yosemite but mainly rain. Saturday the next gale is to be queuing up in the Gulf reaching storm status midday and pushing well east. The front is to impact North CA at sunrise with south winds building to 40+ with rain building and pushing south reaching San Francisco late (10 PM) with south winds 20 kts and modest rain. On Sunday the front is to backfill and push south to Big Sur with south winds and light rain everywhere north of there, heaviest in North CA. Snow is to continue heavy for Tahoe into Monday AM Better chances for snow for Tahoe Sat night into Sunday but mainly at higher elevations. A break is forecast on Monday (10/17) with light northwest winds forecast.
No swell of interest was in the water and no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Another gale is forecast developing on the dateline on Mon AM (10/17) producing a small area of 35 kt west winds and seas 20 ft at 42N 178W. This system to move east fast in the evening with 35+ kt west winds in the Western Gulf with those winds not getting much traction and seas fading below 20 ft. This system is to be moving into the Northern Gulf on Tues AM (10/18) with 30-35 kt west winds building in coverage and seas building from 19 ft at 44N 160W. In the evening 30 kt southwest winds are to be rapidly moving into the Northern Gulf with seas 19 ft at 45N 150W. This system is to fragment beyond producing no seas of interest.
Perhaps one more gale is to try and develop off the Northern Kurils on Thurs (10/20) but odds of any meaningful swell resulting are low given the upper atmospheric dynamics at this time.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Backing Off 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 all but gone except for remnants in the upper atmosphere. La Nina is developing but weaker than expected.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wednesday (10/12) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weakening over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south. Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific and weakly easterly over the KWGA. This appears to be the end of the first easterly wind burst of this La Nina cycle (9/12-10/7).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderately strong east anomalies are starting to rebuild over the KWGA focused mainly on the dateline and are to rebuild in coverage filling the KWGA by 10/17 and holding through 10/20. This indicates the Inactive Phase of the MJO lost a little control over the past week, but is to rebuild some over the coming week. It is actual wind direction/speed in the KWGA that matters more than anything else, so we're attributing more weight to these models. That is a good sign.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 10/12 a weak Active MJO signal was indicated over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern fading to neutral in 5 days and holding for the next 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts the active Phase fading slightly in 7 days then rebuilding to moderate status and holding 2 weeks out. This is no change from what both models have been indicating for weeks and is not believable.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (10/13) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was indiscernible and is forecast holding inside the cone of weakness for the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing initially, possible reappearing in the West Pacific a week out. We suspect no positive affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is to result.
40 day Upper Level Model: (10/13) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern over the far West Pacific. The Active Phase is to track east while slowly fading moving over Central America by 11/2 and incoherent. A modest Inactive Phase to follow in the West starting 10/28 moving to Central America 11/22. Another weak Active Phase is to follow in the West 11/10 moving to the dateline on 11/20.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (10/13) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern over the Dateline tracking east dissipating in the East Pacific 10/21. Neutral wind anomalies are expected. A weak Inactive Phase is forecast follow in the West Pacific 10/23 tracking east into 11/6 supporting more neutral wind anomalies. . A stronger Active Phase is forecast to develop 11/14-12/9 with decent west anomalies for the KWGA and holding into 1/9 with a neutral MAJO pattern in control. Overall the MJO signal is very weak and is to hold as we move into Fall. La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, but not biasing it towards the Inactive Phase.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (10/12) No Change - Actual temperatures are stratifying with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 159E) and the 28 deg isotherm line retracting west to 180W and getting steeper, suggesting a hard break between warm water in the west and cool water in the east at depth. This is expected with La Nina developing. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 180W with neutral to weak negative anomalies east of there to Ecuador. The cool subsurface flow looks a bit more defined over the past 10 days at depth but the peak negative temps rose from -3 degs to -2 degs at 145W and continuous 0.0 to -1 degs from the far West Pacific east in to Ecuador. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is r.cgiaced with cooler than normal water. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 10/5 depicts the same thing. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so.
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: (10/12) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a marked rebuilding of warm water along the immediate coast of Peru cutting off any cool flow migrating towards the Galapagos. Cooler waters have retracted Galapagos on the equator out to 110W also, then becoming more established out west of 120W to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. Still coverage of the cooler waters west of 120W is a bit less than weeks previous. La Nina is in control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, but is fading in the equatorial East Pacific (Nino1.2 region between 80W-120W).
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/12): A weak warming trend is developing over waters of Chile and Peru extending northwest to the Galapagos. A strong warming trend extends from Ecuador over the Galapagos and out to 120W, weakening west of there. A modest warming trend continues off Africa to Brazil.
Hi-res Overview: (10/12) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. Warming temps are rebuilding from Ecuador to 110W on the equator. A recent pulse of upwelling is over, with warming now in control.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (10/13) Today's temps were rising at +0.811 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (10/13) temps were rising some but well negative at -0.585 degs, falling from a recent peak on 9/25 at +0.45 degs (9/25). Temp are oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.3 to -1.0 degs until the warming spike in late Sept. Temps bottomed out at -1.0 degs near 7/21-7/26.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (10/13) This model suggests La Nina was building slightly from July thru Oct 1 dipping to -0.75 degs. The forecast indicates temps are to start falling reaching -1.0 degs in early Dec, then rising steadily from Jan reaching neutral in April 2017 and up to +0.5 degs by June. This is very interesting with the model holding the strength of La Nina at minimal ' La Nina' territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Sept Plume depicts temps have reached their peak minimum and are to hold there at -0.5 to -0.6 through Nov. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to -0.3 in Feb 2017 and to -0.2 in March holding into May. This is up again from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs and barely in La Nina territory. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (10/13): The daily index was down some at -18.24. The 30 day average was down some at +9.50. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average is holding at +7.93, transitioning from negative to positive the first time in years on 7/20. El Nino is gone in all dimensions of the SOI Index now and La Nina is becoming pronounced
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (10/13) Today's value was steady at -1.77 (the lowest it has been so far in this event as of 10/12) suggesting La Nina is getting better established. During El Nino this year 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 after that La Nina took over with it falling steadily dropping as low as -1.50 in early Aug.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker in July than June (as expected with La NIna setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Aug) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.41, +0.76, +0.18 and now -0.66 in Aug.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Aug) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03, +1.25 and now +0.52 in Aug.
The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive until Aug 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina. 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