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.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea Bay): Seas were 2.2 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 1.3 ft @ 8.9 secs from 331 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.9 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 13.5 secs from 200 degrees. Wind southeast 6 kts. Water temperature 59.0. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.0 ft @ 10.2 secs from 262 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.5 ft @ 12.9 secs from 222 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.0 ft @ 13.4 secs from 203 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 9.4 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 7.1 ft @ 8.2 secs from 310 degrees. Wind north 18-21 kts. Water temp 53.8 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Tuesday (4/5) in North and Central CA surf was 1-2 ft overhead at top spots but weak, warbled and mushed with light onshore winds making for more lump and texture. At Santa Cruz surf was waist to chest high and clean but generally weak and mushy with no marked form. In Southern California up north waves were thigh to waist high with some bigger set at top locations and mostly clean with a little warble intermixed. Down south waves were chest high on the sets and clean with some early morning light fog and a bit too high a tide. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was near flat with rare waist high sets and clean. The East Shore was flat and clean early to no trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Local north windswell was dominating along the California coast with a last remnants of southern hemi swell weakly hitting Southern CA. Hawaii as getting no swell from either the north or the south. Otherwise no swell has been generated or is in flight towards our forecast area. Looking at the models a tiny gale is to develop northeast of Hawaii on Wed (4/6) generating 20 ft seas targeting Central CA. A weak gale previously forecast developing over the North Dateline region on Wed (4/6) has vanished from the charts. But a broad system is to follow further south on Fri (4/8) producing 28-30 ft seas aimed southeast offering hope for Hawaii and the US West Coast. Another short lived system is forecast for the Gulf early next week while a strong system moves towards the dateline. Perhaps an uptick in swell activity if one is to believe the models. Nothing is forecast from the Southern Hemi.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday AM (4/5) the jet was reasonably consolidated pushing off Japan with winds to 150 kts pushing east then falling into a steep trough just east of the dateline with winds only 120 kts in it's western flank, then the jet .cgiit north of Hawaii with the northern branch tracking up into British Columbia while the southern branch pushed east over Northern Baja. There was some support for gale development in the trough northwest of Hawaii. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to track east and get progressively more pinched reaching a point 600 nmiles west of Central CA on Fri (4/8) being fed by only 100 kt winds. Still some support for low pressure development seems possible. To the west the jet is to be reasonably consolidated tracking from Japan over the dateline but with a new trough developing on the dateline on Thurs (4/7) being fed by 170 kts winds offering decent support for gale development while tracking east into the Western Gulf on Fri (4/8). Beyond 72 hours the steep trough of California is to cut off and move into Southern CA on Sat (4/9) possibly setting up some rain but nothing more. And at that time the West Gulf trough is to start pinching off in the Central Gulf still being fed by 150 kts winds but dissipating 24 hours later. By Sunday the jet is to be running flat west to east on the 40N latitude line with up to 160 kts winds west of the dateline and slowly fading before falling into a broad weak trough off the US West coast. That trough is to persist if not build into Tues (4/12) being fed by 180 kts winds offering a good shot at weather for the US West coast down into Southern CA with another trough developing west of the dateline and a ridge in between reaching north to the Eastern Aleutians. A reasonably decent pattern to emerge with some luck.
On Tuesday (4/5) no swell of interest was in the water nor being generated. Low pressure was trying to develop northeast of Hawaii but not fetch of interest was occurring. Also a gale was approaching the North Dateline region producing 35 kt southwest winds targeting only the Aleutians.
Over the next 72 hours the Aleutian low is to track northeast and move northeast over the Aleutians into the Bering Sea near the dateline resulting in no fetch of interest.
But the low northeast of Hawaii is to develop some Wed AM (4/6) producing 35 kt northwest winds and 20 ft seas at 33N 150W starting to target Southern CA. That gale to lift northeast fast in the evening with winds still 35 kts but getting less traction with seas falling from 18 ft at 38N 146W. Thurs AM (4/7) the gale is to stall off the North CA coast still producing 30 kts northwest winds targeting North CA well with seas to 18 ft at 41N 142W. Maybe some small windswell to result for CA late week into the weekend.
North CA: Expect windswell on Thurs (4/7) at 4 ft @ 12 secs early (4.5 ft) fading to 2.8 ft @ 11 secs (3.0 ft) early Fri (4/8). Swell Direction 290 degrees. Perhaps more by the weekend.
Of more interest is to be a broad gale developing over the dateline on Thurs AM (4/7) producing 30-35 kt northwest winds targeting Hawaii well. Seas building. In the evening a broad fetch of 30-35 kts northwest winds to persist over the dateline aimed like before generating 22 ft seas at 43N 178W. a fetch of 40 kt northwest winds to develop Fri AM (4/8) just east of the dateline targeting mid-way between Hawaii and the US West coast with seas building to 26 ft at 44N 175W. In the evening 40 kt west winds to push east with seas building to barely 30 ft at 43N 169W. The gale is to start lifting east-northeast in the Gulf on Sat AM (4/9) with winds 35 kts from the west and seas 26 ft at 45N 162W. Fetch is to dissipate in the evening with seas fading from 23 ft at 48N 157W. Possible decent swell to result for Hawaii and the US West Coast if all goes as forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (4/5) high pressure was just off Central CA at 1032 mbs riding northeast into the Pacific Northwest generating a gradient and producing northwest winds at 20-25 kts streaming down the CA coast from Cape Mendocino to Pt Conception but with Southern CA protected. The high is to be moving onshore over the Pacific Northwest Wed AM and winds in CA fading if not turning light offshore all locations. Light winds with perhaps a southerly tilt are forecast Thurs AM (4/7) from Pt Conception northward at 5-10 kts associated with a weak non-closed isobar low off the North Coast. More of the same is forecast Friday with the low moving nearshore late with south winds building to near 15 kts at sunset for Central CA. Light rain building for the entire state through the day. Light snow in the Southern Sierras. Sat AM South winds to continue from San Francisco southward into San Diego at 15 kts as the low starts pushing onshore over Pt Conception late. Light steady rain for the entire state all day and maybe more for Southern CA especially near 4 PM. Snow continuing from Lake Tahoe into the Southern Sierras. More light snow overnight. A 10 kt westerly flow is forecast on Sunday (4/10) for SCal while light winds prevail from Pt Conception northward. Patchy light rain statewide. Light snow through the day Sunday for mainly the Southern Sierra. Light winds forecast Monday everywhere with patchy light rain for the state. Some light snow for the Sierra late. Then high pressure arrives Tuesday with north winds at 15 kts forecast from Pt Conception northward.
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 another gale is forecast developing on the Northern Dateline region on Mon AM (4/11) generating a tiny area of 40 kt west winds and 24 ft seas at 48N 172W. 35 kt west winds to hold into the evening moving into the Gulf with 24 ft seas at 49N 162W targeting mainly the Pacific Northwest. 35 kt west winds to be fading in the Gulf on Tues AM (4/12) with seas fading from 22 ft at 48N 155W. Something to monitor.
A far stronger gale is to track off Japan building on Tues AM (4/12) generating 45 kt northwest winds and 28 ft seas at 40N 170W targeting Hawaii. Something to monitor.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.
More details to follow...
Weak La Nina Predicted This Fall by Most Models
Modest Inactive MJO In Play Now - Forecast to Fade
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: A strong El Nino is fading out. It began its lifecycle in late 2013 as a primer WWB and Kelvin Wave developed. Then in early 2014 a historically strong push by the Active Phase of the MJO resulted in a large Kelvin Wave, and anomalies continued in the Spring into early Summer transporting more warm water eastward. But the cycle faltered in July due to a protracted bout of the Inactive Phase of the MJO which enabled the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle to manifest driving cooler water east, muting warm water buildup along the Ecuador coast. Still the warm water pipe remained open, but surface temperatures near the Galapagos never recovered and any atmospheric momentum was lost. Then in early 2015, another historically strong push from the MJO occurred, effectively a repeat of the early 2014 event, invigorating the warm water transport process and, adding more heat to an already anomalously warm surface pool off Ecuador. That pool built steadily in spurts, peaking in the Oct-Nov, timeframe, then began a slow decline. But even in Jan 2016, the strongest Westerly Wind Burst of the event occurred, with another Kelvin Wave developing. And another weaker one occurred in Feb. But it was too little, too late. There was not any real warm water left in the West Pacific to transport east. El Nino was in a steady collapse by mid-Feb with the subsurface warm reservoir in the East Pacific in steep decline with cool water ready to move in migrating from the west. The paragraphs below describe the current status of various El Nino indicators, followed by a paragraph that ties all the pieces together and provide our analysis of what is to come.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Mon (4/4) a small area of moderate west winds and anomalies were south of the equator in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) from 155E to 170W mainly from 5S and points southward. A weak expression of El Nino was occurring.
1 Week Forecast (GGFS Model): Near calm winds are forecast in the KWGA with no west anomalies projected. Weak west anomalies are forecast developing on 4/10 on the dateline and holding through at least 4/12. For now 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 4/4 a modest Inactive Phase MJO signal was over the West Pacific moving over the dateline. The Statistic model projects the Inactive Phase in control for the next 2 weeks, holding at it's current strength. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Inactive Phase fading steadily through the period and all but gone 1 week out and holding into week 2. This suggests El Nino influence of the jetstream is being suppressed by the Inactive MJO, but that suppression might fade some 1 week out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (4/5) The ECMF model indicates the Active phase of the MJO was over the Indian Ocean and very weak. It is to stall there and weaken more over the next 2 weeks. The GEFS depicts the same basic pattern. West wind anomalies in the KWGA attributable to El Nino are expected to get no help from the MJO anytime soon and if anything are to be slightly suppressed by the Inactive Phase. There is to be no real fuel to supporting strengthening of the jetstream.
40 Day Upper Level Model: (4/5) A weak Active Phase was over the West Pacific and is forecast to track east to Central America through 4/18. A weak pattern to follow until a weak Inactive Phase builds over the West Pacific 4/30 moving east and dissipating into 5/15.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): This model suggests a weak Active Phase of the MJO was on the dateline moving east, and is to hold through 4/13. But no west anomalies of interest are to be associated with it. 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 but fading 4/15-4/24 followed by a neutral MJO signal into June. Weak west anomalies are to be developing 4/19 and holding for the foreseeable future driven mainly by El Nino.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (4/5) Actual temperatures continue to retreat. A pocket of 29 deg temps were holding at depth between 140E to 167W (retreating west) with the 28 deg isotherm line shallow but stretching across the entire equatorial Pacific. Anomaly wise things are collapsing. +1 deg anomalies extend from 172E eastward with 2 degs anomalies over one small area from 132W eastward and +3 degs anomalies from 110W eastward. No warmer anomalies are present. The entire warm pool only extends no more than 75 meters deep at it's deepest point at 165W but mostly only 25 meters deep. This is the last of the El Nino subsurface warm reservoir. Cool subsurface waters are down at 150m and racing east reaching the Ecuador Coast with -2 deg anomalies reaching east to 111W down at 75 meters and pushing towards the surface. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/29 the reservoir is fading and very shallow and no longer continuous with 3 distinct pockets remaining from 170E eastward. Each pocket has temps at +1-2 deg anomalies with the third pocket under the Galapagos pushing barely +2-3 degs. The subsurface reservoir is shrinking steadily. Kelvin Wave #5 and #6 are resisting the total collapse of this ENSO event and the onset of La Nina, but that resistance will likely be short lived.
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA): (3/29) The image depicts the warm pool is gone with no anomalies remaining. -5 cm anomalies are easing east fast to 120W.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: (3/29 - but updated daily) Warm temps are gone. +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are all that is left and fading from the Galapagos (84W) to Ecuador. -1.0 deg anomalies are moving east reaching 140W with a pocket east to 130W. La Nina is coming closer every day.
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 : (4/4) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates temps are trying to hold on at +2.25 degs straddling the equator from the Galapagos west to 120W. A pocket of cooler water (0.0 degs) is from Columbia to the Galapagos but fading some from days past. Warmer temps also continue in pockets along the coast of Peru streaming northwest and joining the main pool at the Galapagos. The whole flow actually looks a little warmer compared to days past.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (4/4): Marked warming is occurring from the Galapagos to 120W. Otherwise temps are holding.
Hi-res Overview: (4/1) The El Nino signal is still very much present but is on the decline. A pocket of +2 deg above normal temps is present from Ecuador to 135W attributable to the eruptions of the last of the subsurface reservoir. 1-2 deg anomalies are also out at 165W in pockets, the advection west of the warm pool.
TAO Data: (4/2) +1.0 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial East Pacific advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to 170E. One pocket of +1.5 deg anomalies was present from 138W to Ecuador with a pocket of +2.0 deg anomalies embedded in it from 110W and points eastward. Overall the warm water signature is decent but on the decline.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (4/5) Today temps were up some at +1.254 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (4/5) temps were steadily fading from +1.182 degs. From 2/25-3/11 they were steady at about +2.023. They fell below the +2.1 mark on 2/25 for the first time since when this El Nino first started developing, and below the +2.5 deg range that was reached in late Dec through Feb 11. The all time peak was reached at +3.041 on 12z 11/19. This temp beat the previous all time high of +3.028 degs (12Z 11/17), Temps have not been below +2.0 degs since 8/21.
Nino3.4 Monthly Temps The centered Nino3.4 temps for the month of Feb were +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. The ONI uses a 3 month running average.
ONI For 2015 for the 3 month period centered on Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec the values are: +1.8, +2.1. +2.2 +2.3. For the same period in '97 the values were: +2.0, +2.2, +2.3 and +2.3. And for '82 the values were: +1.5, +1.9, +2.1 and +2.1. This make this years El Nino the second strongest on record since 1950.
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. The forecast indicates temps fading fast to +1.3 by 4/1, then continuing to decline through Aug stabilizing at -0.7 degs in August holding into Dec. This would be weak La Nina threshold temps.
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 (4/5): The daily average was steady near -12.60. The 30 day average was falling from -4.30. The 90 day average was rising from -14.20. El Nino was still quite evident in this index.
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): On 4/5 neutral pressure was in control south of Tahiti and is forecast to hold. Interestingly a series of small low pressure cells were developing west of Tahiti on Tues (4/5) and are forecast tracking southeast building south of Tahiti Thurs-Fri (4/8), holding into Mon (4/11). High pressure is likely to follow. The SOI is expected to fall some based on the Tahiti contribution and offer better support to enhance El Nino and fuel the jetstream into Tues (4/12).
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (4/6) Today's value was falling some at +0.92. It peaked recently on 3/12 at +1.57 but has generally fallen ever since.
Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (Feb) These numbers were released March 5th and indicate the index decreased slightly to +2.12. In Feb the readings 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 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.
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 2nd 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, perhaps sometime in April. 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
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
Updated - Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (4/3): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neFD5JoAq2o&feature=youtu.be&hd=1
For automatic notification of forecast updates, subscribe to the Stormsurf001 YouTube channel - just click the 'Subscribe' button below the video.
Titans of Mavericks on HBO Sports with Bryant Gumbel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luQSYf5sKjQ
- - -
||Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here: http://www.casanoble.com/
Mavericks Invitational Pieces Featuring Stormsurf:
Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.
Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here
Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table