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.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea Bay): Seas were 5.1 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 3.4 ft @ 11.7 secs from 329 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 5.2 ft @ 7.1 secs with swell 4.4 ft @ 6.5 secs from 266 degrees. Wind northwest 8-10 kts. Water temperature 60.8. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.5 ft @ 14.7 secs from 260 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.8 ft @ 15.0 secs from 236 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.7 ft @ 14.9 secs from 242 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 12.4 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 9.0 ft @ 12.6 secs from 280 degrees. Wind northwest 8-10 kts. Water temp 54.5 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Saturday (4/23) in North and Central CA surf was 3-4 ft overhead and pretty warbled and unorganized even though winds were light early. Looks like pure windswell. At Santa Cruz surf was 1 ft overhead and soft but fairly clean but with not great shape trending on the closed out side. In Southern California up north waves were waist to maybe chest high and clean but a little warbled and shifty looking. Down south waves were waist high and weak with some texture on it. Hawaii's North Shore was getting residual dateline windswell with waves head high on the sets and clean with some nice form. The South Shore was getting some background swell with set waves to waist high and clean on the sets. The East Shore was getting wrap around windswell producing waves at waist to maybe chest high early and chopped with modest trades in effect.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Swell from a gale that tracked through the Gulf of Alaska Tues-Thurs (4/21) with seas in the 23 ft range was hitting California and all but gone in Hawaii. A gale is forecast developing in the Northeast Gulf on Sat (4/23) producing 26 ft seas on the northern edge of the Central CA swell window. Another gale is forecast for the Northwest Gulf on Sun-Mon (4/25) with seas to 30 ft aimed east. Perhaps another system to develop just off Japan 7 days out. Down south the models project a small storm forming in the Southeast Pacific on Sat-Sun (4/24) with up to 45 ft seas aimed northeast. Nothing else to follow.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday AM (4/21) the jet was pushing off Japan with winds to 130 kts in pockets running flat east on the 40N latitude line with a weak trough trying to develop on the dateline and then another in the Eastern Gulf before pushing inland over North CA. Very limited support for gale development was possible it the two troughs. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern to continue Sun (4/24) but with a trough building in the Northwest Gulf being fed by 140 kt winds offering some support for gale development and a weaker trough again setting up just off North CA moving onshore in the evening offering only the prospect light weather there. The West Gulf trough is to track east into Tues (4/26) being fed by 140 kts winds offering some support for gale development while another broader trough builds west of the dateline. Beyond 72 hours the Gulf trough is to fade then redevelop just off California Wed-Thurs (4/28) pushing hard south reaching down into Southern CA late Thursday offering another shot at weather and rain. The dateline trough is to remain pretty weak and tracking east into the Gulf early Sat (4/30) not offering anything in terms of support for gale development. One final trough is to develop just east of Japan on Fri (4/29) pushing east with 160 kt winds developing in it's apex perhaps offering some support for gale development. But behind that the jet is to start .cgiitting over Japan hinting at a far weaker pattern thereafter. But for now a weak Active Phase of the MJO is having a little more interaction with El Nino than previously expected.
On Saturday (4/23) swell from the 4th NPac Gale was peaking in North CA but nearly gone in Hawaii.
Also on Sat AM (4/23) a gale was developing in the Northeast Gulf of Alaska generating 35 kt west winds and seas building from barely 20 ft at 52N 145W. Winds are to build to 45 kts in the evening aimed east with seas to 26 ft at 52N 147W (317 degs NCal). By Sun AM (3/24) the gale is to be rapidly fading while moving east with seas fading from 23 ft at 51N 144W barely in the NCal swell window at 319 degrees. Small sideband north angled swell is expected but will likely be buried in stronger Gulf swell arriving at the same time.
Over the next 72 hours another gale is forecast developing in the Western Gulf on Sun PM (4/24) producing a decent sized fetch of 35 kt west winds with seas building from 20 ft at 46N 162W. On Mon AM (4/25) 45 kt northwest winds are to be building with seas 28 ft at 47N 163W falling southeast. By evening 40 kt west winds are forecast tracking east-southeast with seas 30 ft at 46N 158W (300 degrees NCal). Fetch is to be fading Tues AM (4/26) from 30 kts with seas from previous fetch fading from 25 ft at 46N 151W lifting northeast and targeting the Pacific Northwest. The gale to fade from there. Maybe some swell to result for Central CA and points northward of there. Something to monitor.
4th NPac Gale
A gale started building off Japan on Fri AM (4/15) producing 40 kt northwest winds getting traction on the oceans surface. Those winds pushed off Japan in the evening at 45 kts generating 28 ft seas at 41N 153E. Sat AM (4/16) a broad fetch of 40 kt northwest winds extended off the Kuril Islands with 31 ft seas at 42N 159E. 40 kt northwest winds continued east in the evening generating 31 ft seas at 44N 165E. On Sun AM (4/17) a broad fetch of 35-40 kt northwest winds continued pushing east resulting in 30 ft seas at 43N 171E. The fetch faded from 35 kts in the evening over the dateline with seas 27 ft at 44N 178E. On Monday AM (4/18) fetch faded from 30 kts on the dateline with seas fading from 24 ft 47N 177W. Additional 35 kt west fetch was moving into the area in the evening with seas fading from 20 ft at 43N 173W. Swell possible for Hawaii and the US West Coast.
Additional fetch was moving towards the Western Gulf from west of the dateline on Tues AM (4/19) at 35 kts from the west with seas 20 ft at 42N 174W. More of the same occurred in the evening with a broader area of 30-35 kt west winds taking hold just east of the dateline with seas 19 ft at 42N 175W. Fetch built to 35 kts in the Western Gulf on Wed AM (4/20) with 21 ft seas over a modest area at 43N 163W. 30-35 kt west winds eased east in the evening with 23 ft seas at 43N 155W. On Thurs AM (4/21) fetch was still 35 kts from the northwest in the Gulf with seas fading from 22 ft moving to 43N 149W. The gale to start falling southeast from there while moving towards North CA. Winds barely 35 kts in the evening with seas fading from 22 ft at 42N 142W. The gale to dissipate from there. More swell targeting only the US West coast to result.
Hawaii: Swell dropping Sat AM (4/23) from 3.9 ft @ 12-13 secs (5 ft). Swell Direction: 315-320 degrees
North CA: Swell from the second pulse of this system to arrive on Sat AM (4/23) peaking at 8 ft @ 13-14 secs (10 ft). Swell fading Sun (4/24) from 6.5 ft @ 12-13 secs (8 ft). Swell Direction: 290-295 degrees. Much windchop and bump intermixed for the weekend.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday AM (4/23) low pressure was moving east over Nevada with high pressure starting to build in the Gulf ridging towards the California coast. A pressure gradient and northwest winds were building from 25 kts over Pt Conception early and expected to build up into San Francisco with winds 15 kts by nightfall. 18 inches of snow fell the previous night at Tahoe with passage of the low. High pressure and north winds build Sunday at 20-25 kts everywhere including Southern CA later in the day and up to 30 kts for Central CA. Light snow possible in the evening for the Sierra. Monday high pressure rules with north winds 25-30 kts for all of California including SCal with water temps diving. Light snow for the Sierra with accumulations 2-4 inches. North winds still 20 kts on Tuesday for North and Central CA but Southern CA to be near calm starting mid-day. Wednesday a new low develops over North and Central CA with light winds early and rain from Morro Bay northward. Light snow for the Sierra through the day and into the evening. Thursday the low to move inland with high pressure taking control and north winds 25+ kts for all of North and Central CA building into SCal late. Light snow for the Sierras later afternoon into the evening. More north winds for North and Central CA on Friday (4/29) strongest over North CA. Saturday winds fading some but still 15 kts from Pt Reyes northward.
On Sat AM (4/23) a small storm was developing in the Southeast Pacific Sat with southwest winds 45 kts over a tiny area and seas building from 30 ft at 50S 140W. The storm to track northeast in the evening with winds building to 55 kts from the southwest with seas building to 44 ft at 48S 134W over a tiny area. 50 kt southwest winds to lift hard northeast Sun AM (4/24) with seas fading from 44 ft at 42S 129W targeting California reasonably well but better at Mexico down into Peru. In the evening 40 kt southwest winds to continue lifting northeast and fading with 35 ft seas at 38S 122W. The gale to fade from there with residual seas 30 ft at 37S 115W targeting Southern CA reasonably well and mainly focused on Mexico down into Chile. Something to monitor.
Over the next 72 hours a gale is to develop just southeast of New Zealand on Sun AM (4/24) generating 50 kt southwest winds and seas building from 32 ft at 49S 172E. 55 kt west winds to building into the evening with seas building to 37 ft at 48S 172W. The gale is to fade Mon AM (4/25) and start falling southeast from there with seas fading from 32 ft at 50S 164W. Something to monitor.
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 a gale is forecast developing off Japan on Sat (4/30) with 40 kt northwest winds and seas building from 23 ft. Something to monitor.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Taking Hold of Southeast Equatorial Pacific
Last Active Pulse of the MJO of this El Nino Occurring
The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the.cgianet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).
Overview: The 2014-2016 El Nino is fading out. La Nina is emerging.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Fri (4/22) light west were occurring in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) near the dateline and calm elsewhere south of the equator with anomalies moderate to strong from the west from the dateline to 150W from 5S and points southward. This was attributable to Tropical Cyclone Amos just east of the dateline over Pago Pago with winds 90 kts and south of the KWGA that was being driven by the Active Phase of the MJO. A weak expression of El Nino was occurring.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Modest west anomalies started 4/19 and are to hold through 4/23, then weakening but not out through 4/30. A weak El Nino pattern to hold perhaps aided by a weakly Active MJO Phase (or at least no Inactive MJO over the KWGA).
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 4/22 a neutral MJO signal was over the dateline and the Maritime Continent. The Statistic model projects the exact same pattern holding for the next 2 weeks (a dead neutral MJO pattern) until day 15 , and then only a hint of the Active Phase developing on the dateline. The dynamic model depicts the same thing. This suggests El Nino to continue to slightly enhance the jetstream and the MJO is to have little to no influence either enhancing or suppressing it.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (4/23) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was over the Maritime Continent and as weak as it could be. It is to ease east some into the West Pacific and build strength, then collapse. The GEFS depicts the exact same pattern.
40 Day Upper Level Model: (4/23) A modest Active Phase was exiting east from the dateline and is expected to move east and out of the picture through 5/1. An Inactive Phase is already building in the far West Pacific and is to reach the dateline 4/28, tracking east into Central America through 5/11. A weak Active pulse to follow 5/18 tracking east through 6/2. But with the change of season in.cgiay, it is unlikely any Active Phase will have any real positive impact.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): This model suggests no MJO signal was present over the dateline. It also depicts west anomalies are over the dateline and are starting to provide fuel to support enhancing the jetstream and maybe storm production. The model depicts a weak Active Phase developing 5/3-5/13 with light west anomalies forecast holding from now through 5/10. After that the Inactive Phase is to return 5/11 with west anomalies fading out completely by 5/16.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (4/23) Actual temperatures continue to retreat daily. A pocket of 29-30 deg temps were building in the far West Pacific with the 28 deg isotherm line retreating west from 132W. Anomaly wise temps continue collapsing. One last little pocket of +1 deg anomalies exist from 180W eastward to 118W and no more than 35 meters deep and tracking west. This is the last of the El Nino subsurface warm reservoir. Cool subsurface waters are at depth racing east reaching the Ecuador Coast with -2 deg anomalies reaching east to 105W and lesser cool waters reaching the surface east of 110W. Instead of warm Kelvin Waves pushing east at depth, we now have cold Kelvin Waves pushing east. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 4/18 the reservoir is all but gone with +1-2 degs above normal temps confined to a pocket between 170E to 120W and 40 meters deep and tracking west. Cool waters at 3-4 degs below normal were undercutting it and upwelling near Ecuador. The onset of La Nina has begun.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: (4/18 - but updated daily) Warm temps are gone. -1.0 deg anomalies are racing east reaching 103W. La Nina is on it's way.
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 : (4/22) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates temps in total collapse. Negative anomalies are on the equator extending west from Ecuador over the Galapagos to 120W peaking at -2.25 degs. Negative anomalies are also building along the immediate coast of Peru and Chile streaming northwest feeding the Galapagos cool pool. La Nina is developing. The only remaining warm waters is from 125W west on the equator and that is fading fast.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (4/21): Massive cooling continues from Columbia and Ecuador over the Galapagos out to 140W. It looks like strong east trades are in effect in this area or cool subsurface water is upwelling to the surface.
Hi-res Overview: (4/21) The El Nino signal is quickly collapsing. A generalized pattern of +1-2 deg above normal temps remain from 130W out to the dateline. But a thin stream of cooler than normal waters are from Ecuador west over the Galapagos out to 125W and growing. Warmer water present south and north of the equator, but quickly becoming less relevant with negative temps building in the Nino1.2 region.
TAO Data: (4/20) +1.0-1.5 anomalies were over the equatorial Pacific advecting west from 130W to the dateline. Negative anomalies up to -1.0 were from Ecuador to 120W. The warm water signature was in steep decline.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (4/23) Today temps were falling negative more down to -0.817 degs
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (4/23) temps were inching down today at +1.0690, continuing a steady decline that set in starting early February.
Centered Nino3.4 Monthly Temps The centered Nino3.4 temps for the month of March were +1.63 degs (beating '98 at +1.32 degs and '83 at +1.44 degs). For more history see updated graphs below. This make this year El Nino the strongest ever. That is not reasonable looking at other evidence.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
Pacific Counter Current: As of 4/16 the current was strong from the east on the equator from 90W to 140E. Anomaly wise - they were strong from the east over the same area. There were no pockets of west anomalies indicated. La Nina is getting firmly entrenched based on this data, which is normal for this point in the El Nino lifecycle.
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data depicts peak temps reached +2.95 degs on Nov 5, then faded slightly in early December to +2.8 holding to Feb 1. Then a sharp decline started with temps down to +2.5 degs mid-Feb and falling from +2.0 degs in early March and +1.5 degs April 1. The forecast indicates temps fading from here forward reaching normal (0.0) late May falling into Oct at -1.3 degs and down to -1.5 degs Dec. This is up a little from a few days ago but still puts us in strong La Nina territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-March Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.5 by December. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Co.cgiing Index's (lagging indicators rather than driving oceanic change):
Southern Oscillation Index (4/21): The daily index was down solidly at -45.30 on 4/20 rivaling peak depths from Feb. Today's value rose slightly at -36.20 today. The 30 day average was falling from -17.26. The 90 day average was falling from -13.57. El Nino was still quite evident in this index and the daily and 30 day averages suggested some form of Active MJO was in.cgiay and building.
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): On 4/23 weak low pressure was over Tahiti with Cyclone Amos west of there tracking east. this same pattern to hold into Tues (4/26) then slowly fading into Thurs (4/28) while the low pressure falls southeast. High pressure to start building in behind on Fri (4/29). The SOI is expected to hold if not fade some more based on the Tahiti contribution perhaps providing some support to enhance El Nino and fuel the jetstream.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (4/23) Today's value was building some +1.12. It peaked recently on 3/12 at +1.57 but has generally fallen ever since until 4/14, when it started rising again.
Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (March) These numbers were released April 6th and indicate the index decreased slightly to +1.96. The Feb reading was +2.12. In Jan the reading increased slightly by 0.08 to +2.20, holding it in the third highest since 1950 behind the '82/83 and '97/98 El Ninos. Since it has not reached the +3.0 standard deviation level, it is NOT considered a Super El Nino, nor is it expected to reach that status. The Dec reading was +2.12. The Nov ranking was +2.31, up barely from +2.23 (Oct), down from it's peak of +2.53 in Sept, and from +2.37 in Aug. The top 6 events since 1950 in order are: '97, '82, '15, '91, '86, and '72 with '97 and '82 classified as 'Super El Nino's' because they reached 3 standard deviations (SD) above normal. '91 and '86 were at about 2.2 and 2.1 respectively with '72 peaking at 1.8 SD's above the norm. This years El Nino was the third strongest since 1950 per this index.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been mostly above +1.5 all of 2015. In Jan 2016 it was +1.53 and up to +1.75 in Feb. Then in March it spiked to +2.40. Impressive. Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data suggests that could be a real possibility. We've been in the negative phase since 1998 through at least 2013 (15 years). By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.
Conclusion: This El Nino is the 3rd strongest El Nino since 1950 based primarily on the MEI. Centered Monthly Nino3.4 data suggests it is the strongest. Based on California precipitation, this one does not compared to any major El Nino in recent memory. Based on surf, El Nino has had the expected effect producing 13 significant class swells in the North Pacific (16 expected). From a pure El Nino perspective, this event is over and transitioning towards La Nina. But from a teleconnection standpoint, the warm pool in Nino3.4 is still imparting solid energy to the atmosphere and momentum will affect the upper atmosphere into the late Fall of 2016.
The MJO appears to be trying to be constructively interacting with the jet stream and therefore helping to enhance storm production. With the season moving towards Spring, and SST anomalies fading in the Ninos zones, the MJOs influence will only do a little to enhance storm production.
The focus now turns to how quick and how much will the jet be affected for the Fall and Winter of 2016-2017. It's too early to know anything definitive yet, but with the PDO still positive, it is possible the transition to La Nina may not be a strong as in past events.
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool
External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table