Monday, March 19, 2018
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): This buoy is down and not updating.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.2 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.1 ft @ 14.3 secs from 263 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 10-12 kts. Water temperature 58.3 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.2 ft @ 9.9 secs from 265 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.1 ft @ 15.2 secs from 228 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.1 ft @ 15.0 secs from 217 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.2 ft @ 15.0 secs from 203 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 3.4 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.8 ft @ 14.0 secs from 297 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northeast at 10-12 kts. Water temp 54.0 degs.
See Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (bottom of the page)
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.
On Monday (3/19) in North and Central CA minimal swell was was hitting producing waves in the waist to maybe chest high range and clean with offshore winds but generally weak. Protected breaks were flat to thigh high and clean. At Santa Cruz surf was maybe waist high on the sets and clean and weak. In Southern California up north surf was thigh high and inconsistent and clean with offshore winds. In North Orange Co surf was waist to maybe chest high on the peaks and clean with light offshore winds. South Orange Country's best breaks were maybe waist high on the biggest sets and clean with light offshore winds. In North San Diego surf was thigh high on the sets and weak but clean with light offshore winds. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northeast windswell at chest high with clean conditions though a little jumbled with modest trades in control. The South Shore was waist high with some chest high sets at top breaks and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at head high and chopped from northeast winds.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
On Monday (3/19) generic background swell from the far North Pacific was hitting making for barely rideable surf in North and Central CA. In Hawaii northeast windswell was still hitting providing some rideable surf but nothing more. Beyond a cutoff low is to form off California Mon-Tues (3/20) with up to 30 ft seas aimed southwest possibly targeting the Hawaiian Islands and providing some opportunity to produce northeast swell there. And a weak low is to fall south through the Northeastern Gulf Wed-Thurs (3/22) targeting north and Central CA with 18-20 ft seas. Otherwise a generally quiet pattern is in control driven by a fading La Nina combining with the Inactive Phase of the MJO.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Monday AM (3/19) the jetstream was splitting while tracking east over Japan with the northern branch pushing off North Japan forming a weak trough over the Kuril Islands then lifting northeast pushing over the Western Aleutian Islands and through the Bering Sea into Alaska then falling south if not southwest off the US West Coast forming a weak trough before turning east and moving inland over Southern CA. There was very limited support for gale development in the trough. The southern branch was tracking east from a point south of Japan over the dateline and then just south of Hawaii before joining the northern branch pushing into Southern CA and Baja Mexico. Over the next 72 hours the trough off the California coast is to continue circulating into early Wednesday (3/21) before being joined by another pulse of energy falling south into that trough on Wednesday before all of it starts moving inland over the Pacific Northwest on Thurs-Fri (3/23). By Sat (3/24) a more consolidated jetstream flow is to start pushing off Japan with winds building to 140 kts tracking northeast about to the dateline before splitting with the northern branch tracking east and then the Pacific Northwest while the southern branch tracks southeast over Japan then east into Baja Mexico. No real troughs of interest are forecast offering no support for gale development. By Mon (3/26) the consolidated flow is to continue focused just west of the dateline with winds building to 150 kts forming a bit of a trough there offering support for gale development. But the jet is to split east of there near 170W with the northern branch pushing east into Oregon and then southern branch falling southeast over Hawaii and then east from there into Baja.
On Monday AM (3/19) two cutoff lows were developing, one nearly on the dateline and another 900 nmiles east of Central CA.
Over the next 72 hours these gale are to be the only ares of weather of interest.
A cutoff low started developing west-northwest of Hawaii on Sat PM (3/17) producing a tiny area of east winds at 40 kts and seas 21 ft at 27N 177W all aimed west and of no interest to Hawaii. Sun AM (3/18) winds were fading from 30-35 kts from the east with 20 ft seas over a tiny area not aimed anywhere of interest (away from Hawaii). In the evening winds continued at 30- 35 kts from the east with 20 ft seas at 31N 173W again aimed only to the west and not at Hawaii. On Mon AM (3/19) more of the same was occurring with east winds at 35 kts aimed west with 20 ft seas at 33N 173W aimed mainly to the west. In the evening fetch is to hold with 30-35 kt east winds aimed west with 22 ft seas at 33N 174W. On Tues AM (3/20) fetch is to build to 35 kt over a somewhat larger area with 22 ft seas at 35N 174W aimed west. In the evening east winds to continue at 35 kts with seas 23 ft at 35N 172W aimed east. This system is to rapidly dissipate from there. There are no odds of any swell radiating towards Hawaii since all fetch was aimed west of the Islands towards Japan.
Of more interest is another weak low that was developing 900 nmiles west of Central CA on Sun PM (3/18) starting to generate 30 kt east winds in it's north quadrant targeting Hawaii. On Monday AM (3/19) winds were building to 35 kts from the east and northeast while holding position with seas building to 20 ft over a small area at 38N 147W aimed mainly back at Hawaii. Fetch is to build in the evening to 45 kts from the northeast with seas building to 31 ft at 36N 143W targeting Hawaii. Tues AM (3/20) fetch is to be fading and falling south at 35 kts from the northeast targeting Hawaii well with 25 ft seas at 35N 145W aimed directly at Hawaii. In the evening fetch is to fade from 30-35 kts from the northeast with seas fading from 18 ft at 34N 143W targeting Hawaii well. This system is to be in rapid decline Wed AM (3/21) with 30-35 kt northeast winds and 18 ft seas at 34N 139W over a tiny area still targeting Hawaii. The core of the system is to start tracking east moving over North CA on Thurs (3/22).
Hawaii: Rough data based purely on the forecast models suggests northeast swell arriving at Oahu on Wed AM (3/21) with swell to 7.3 ft @ 14-15 secs mid-day (10 ft). Lesser energy to follow behind. Swell Direction: 30-35 degrees
Another low pressure system is to be building over the North Canadian Coast Wed AM (3/21) producing 30 kt north winds streaming south off Alaska with a tiny area of 20 ft seas building at 53N 142W targeting the British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest Coast. The low and associated fetch is to fall south in the evening with 30 kt north winds off British Columbia and seas 19 ft at 50N 140W (319 degs NCal). On Thurs AM (3/22) fetch is to basically hold position at 30 kts with 19 ft seas at 45N 140W (307 degs NCal). The low is to fade some in the evening with 25 kt northwest winds targeting Northern CA and 18 ft seas at 42N 138W (297 degs NCal). This system is to fade from there. Possible weak swell to result for North and Central CA. Something to monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Monday AM (3/19) a new low pressure system was building 900 nmiles off Pt Conception generating a light east wind flow along the California coast and forecast to turn more southeasterly later in the day and the low start moving closer. Tuesday (3/20) the first front from this low is push towards the coast with southeast winds building from 10-15 kts from Pt Conception northward building to 20-25 kts for the entire Central CA coast and up into North CA by nightfall. Rain developing for all of Central and North CA mid-morning and up to Cape Mendocino and south to Los Angeles by late afternoon. Snow building for the Tahoe area late afternoon and into the evening with snow levels at 6800 ft. Wednesday (3/21) south winds to be 10-15 kts for the North and Central coasts early building to 20 kts later afternoon. Light scattered rain is expected for all of North and Central CA and South CA down to Ventura County and pretty heavy there. Light snow for higher elevations of the North and Central Sierra (6700-7000 ft) and rising in the evening to 8100 ft. Thursday (3/22) the low is poised to move onshore over Central CA with south winds 10 kts for Central CA, southwest winds 10-15 kts from South CA and northwest winds 15-20 kts for North CA. Rain building to heavy from San Francisco to Pt Conception early with the front falling south and heavy rain into Santa Barbara county then fading while pushing over Southern CA in the afternoon. Blizzard conditions for the entire Sierra starting sunrise holding through the day fading in the early evening. Fri AM (3/23) North winds forecast at 15-20 kts for the Pt Conception area but light for the San Francisco area and west at 20 kts for Cape Mendocino. Light rain building south from Cape Mendocino south to Monterey Bay later. Scattered snow showers for the Sierra building to moderate snow for Tahoe later in the evening. Saturday north winds to be 10-15 kts for North and Central CA. Light rain mainly for North CA. Snow fading early for Tahoe northward. Total accumulation for Tahoe on the crest forecast at 41-42 inches and 48 inches for Mammoth. Sunday high pressure building into the state. North winds 15 kts for North CA building to 20 kts for Pt Conception. No precip forecast. More of the same on Monday (3/26).
No swell producing weather systems of interest are occurring.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are 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 no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast.
The models do hint at a small weather system developing in the Central Pacific on Fri PM (3/23) lifting gently east-northeast for 24 hours producing 30-33 ft seas. Maybe some background swell to result for California.
More details to follow...
Large Kelvin Continues Pushing East
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 equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing 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 planet, 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 in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.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: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. A double dip La Nina was in control and continued through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018, suggesting La Nina was fading.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Sunday (3/18) 5 day average winds were from the east over the bulk of the equatorial Pacific but calm over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were light easterly over the equatorial Pacific but weak westerly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (3/19) Moderate to strong east anomalies were from 180W and points east of there but moderate westerly winds were over the bulk of the KWGA. This pattern is to hold for the coming weak with west anomalies in the moderate category from 165-170E and point west of there while east anomalies build west slightly to 165E 3/22 and beyond.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: (3/18) The Inactive/Dry Phase of the MJO was weak centered in the KWGA with the Active/West Phase over the Indian Ocean. The statistical model depicts the Inactive Phase easing east and weakening and gone 6 days out with a weak Active/Wet Phase of the MJO building east while fading and a dead neutral pattern over the KWGA 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO weak but present in the KWGA 15 days out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/19) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO very weak in strength over the Indian Ocean. It is to remain weak tracking east into the West Pacific over the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts a variant of the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (3/19) This model depicts the Inactive/Dry Phase over the East equatorial Pacific tracking east. A weak Active/Wet pattern was over the West Pacific. The weak Active Phase is to track east from the West Pacific moving east into the East Pacific and Central America through 4/13. A new Inactive Phase is to be developing weakly in the far West Pacific on 4/5 migrating to the East Pacific on 4/23. More Inactive Phase activity is suggested developing over the West Pacific 4/23 tracking east through the end of the model run on 4/28. This model runs about 1-2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (3/19) This model depicts the Inactive Phase was moving east and all but gone over the KWGA with weak east anomalies mainly from the dateline and points east of there with moderate west anomalies from 170E and point west of there with this west wind pattern slow building in intensity 3/23 fully taking over the KWGA 3/27. From that point forward no east anomalies are forecast anywhere in the Pacific for the duration of the model run. A weak Active Phase is to follow in the West Pacific starting 3/25 holding through 4/12 with a more modest west anomaly pattern developing and filling the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Beyond no coherent MJO signal is forecast through 5/30 but with weak west anomalies holding and no sign of east anomalies in the KWGA or even in the East Pacific. The low pass filter indicates a modest low pressure bias over the bulk of the KWGA at 170E and is to push east steadily from here forward reaching the dateline 4/12 with a high pressure bias over the East KWGA at 175E and steadily moving east and out of the KWGA on 4/6. Basically the La Nina bias is to be gone in 3 weeks. But no significant oceanic change is expected until 3 months after the change has taken place in the atmosphere.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (3/19) The overview pattern depicts that warm water is sequestered to the west but building east with cooler water steadily loosing control of the East Pacific. Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 29-30 degs at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line has eased east to 180W and steep (meaning there is a headwind of cooler water pushing into it from the east - La Nina). The 24 deg isotherm was shallow but has made significant eastward progress migrating across the entire Pacific to Ecuador and 25-35 meters deep the whole way east and 90 meters deep at 140W. Anomaly wise in the East Pacific negative temperatures at -1 degs were in two conjoined but shrinking pockets at 140W down 25 meters and the second at -1.0 degs at 110W 75 metes deep. Cooler waters are steadily loosing coverage and density and being squeezed to the surface by warm water building in from the west at depth. Warm anomalies were building in the West at +3.5 degs at 170W down 150 meters and appears to be building east with the dividing line between that and cool waters moving east to 130W indicative of a large Kelvin Wave pushing east. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/14 depicts warm water in the west at +3.5 degs reaching east to 120W. Cool water at -1.5 degs was holding in one shallow pocket in the East Pacific from Ecuador to 170W down 50-70 meters and has significantly lost density, intensity and depth. The cool pool appears to be slowly discharging to the surface. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data.
Sea Level Anomalies: (3/14) Positive anomalies were over the West equatorial Pacific at +5-10 cms centered at 180W reaching east to 135W. Neutral anomalies were east of there except for scattered pockets of negative anomalies at -5 cms over the area near 3S 140W east to Peru and getting progressively diffuse. the La Nina cool pool is dissipating.
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: (3/18) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a generic and diffuse cool pocket was in the deep Southeast Pacific centered at 20S 100W. Warm anomalies were holding off the coast of Chile and Peru up to Ecuador while cooler temps from the Inactive/Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle were along the immediate coast of Peru. Very warm anomalies are present off Central America and Mexico and on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos out to 105W. Cool pockets were generally weak and diffuse west of there to 160W and with a continuing smaller footprint.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/18): A generally neutral trend was off Chile. A weak warming trend was developing along Peru and over the Galapagos. Two cool pockets were present along the equator, along Ecuador and at 105W. The upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle appears to be starting to fade.
Hi-res Overview: (3/18) A significant erosion of La Nina is underway with warming building in the entire Nino1.2 region even though the Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle was negating some of that. A broad weak cool pocket is still present well off Chile and Peru (10S 120W) cojoined with the La Nina core on the equator from 100W to the dateline peaking at 120W, starting to look like a Modoki La Nina than anything solid (meaning the core of La Nina is advecting west). Cool water at depth is still erupting to the surface with the breach point south of Hawaii. Overall the cooling pattern is steadily loosing density and drifting west. It appears La Nina is in steady decline.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/19) Today's temps were rising at -0.946 degs, up from the peak of the upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave Cycle on 3/12 at -1.5 degs and retreating from the peak of the first Kelvin Wave hitting at +0.898 degrees on 2/28. Overall temps are steadily marching upwards since late December. Temps in this area bottomed out on 12/23 at -2.1 degs, a third near peak negative reading. The lowest point so far in this La Nina was -2.248 degs reached on 11/5. And that low point was lower than the previous coldest point reached on 10/11 at -1.9 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/19) Today temps were steady at -0.850. A surge in temps occurred 1/12-1/28 reaching up to -0.600 deg range. Since then temps have eased off some. Previously a peak low was observed on 1/10-1/12 to -1.577. On (12/7) temps hit a previous record low at -1.219, just below the previous coldest peak so far this La Nina on 11/22 at -1.156. And the third previous low peak was reached at -1.1 on 11/23. The long arc suggests perhaps a rising pattern. La Nina is in control, but it's taking a hit.
CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (3/19) The forecast depicts temps bottomed out at -0.75 in Nov 2017 and have been slowly rebounding since, up to -0.55 in early Feb and expected to rise to -0.5 in April. The model indicates temps slowly falling to to -0.65 in early Aug, then starting to rise into the Fall to -0.35 degs in Nov. This suggests the peak of La Nina occurred in 2017 but is to linger into the Summer of 2018 before fading some in the Fall. This would make it a 3 year La Nina which is exceedingly rare (3 year La Ninas 17%, 2 year La Ninas 50%, 1 year La Ninas 33% 1951-2017). This model is the outlier with others suggesting La Nina is to die this Spring.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-March Plume depicts temps at -0.5 degs and are to slowly rise, to +0.0 in May and +0.2 in August and +0.5 in November. See chart here - link. It looks like La Nina is fading out. The CFSv2 is in the low end of that pack.
Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (3/19): The daily index was falling some at -7.28. The 30 day average was rising at 7.35 suggesting the Inactive Phase of the MJO was still affecting the index. The 90 day average was rising at 1.57 suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (3/19) This index is still falling today at -0.90, down from -0.33 in late Feb, up from -1.11 on 1/29. The trend suggests La Nina is fading but not gone. Last years La Nina reached -1.94 on 11/2/16 and then fell to -2.20 on 6/28/17. It held pretty negative through Jan 2018. This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina events. The goal is to have it rise to at least -0.5 before a significant change could be suggested.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly positive, even though La Nina is in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.12, Feb = +0.05, March = +0.14, April=+0.53, May=+0.29, June=+0.21, July= -0.50, Aug= -0.62, Sept = -0.25, Oct= -0.61, Nov = -0.45, Dec= -0.13, Jan=+0.29, Feb=-0.10. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.77, Feb = +0.70, Mar = +0.74, April=+1.12, May=+0.88, June=+0.79, July=+0.10, Aug=+0.09, Sept = +0.32, Oct=+0.05, Nov = +0.15, Dec = +0.50, Jan +0.70. No negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 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 strongly suggests that could be a possibility. 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