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.
Next Forecast Update: Thurs PM (6/2)
Thursday, June 2, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.4 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 1.8 ft @ 12.6 secs from 184 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.4 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 3.0 ft @ 15.2 secs from 197 degrees. Wind northwest 2-4 kts. Water temperature 63.5. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.9 ft @ 15.5 secs from 188 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 3.0 ft @ 15.0 secs from 198 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 4.1 ft @ 15.1 secs from 190 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.9 ft @ 16.7 secs with southern hemi swell 4.0 ft @ 15.9 secs from 183 degs. Wind southwest 2-4 kts. Water temp 54.3 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Thursday (6/2) in North and Central CA surf was head high with 1 ft overhead sets coming from the south but pretty lumpy due to southerly wind. At Santa Cruz surf was head high to 2 ft overhead and lined up and fairly solid with clean conditions. In Southern California up north waves were chest high and clean and reasonably lined up but a bit soft. Down south southern hemi swell was pulsing making for long lines and waves 1 ft overhead with a solid south to north current. Winds were light with some texture early. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was small with sets waist high and clean. The East Shore was thigh high and lightly chopped with light northeast trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
A little pulse of swell was in the water in the North Pacific originating from a gale that was over the North Dateline region on Mon (5/30) generating 22 ft seas aimed east. Otherwise a summer time pattern is in control. For the southern hemi solid swell is hitting California from a gale that started building in the far Southeast Pacific Mon (5/23) with 34 ft seas then pulsed again on Tuesday to 32 ft and again on Wednesday to 31 ft, but all over just tiny areas. Beyond the models are hinting at a gale developing under under New Zealand on Fri (6/3) with 34 ft seas aimed northeast and a second one developing right behind on Sat-Sun (6/5) with seas 37 ft seas aimed northeast and yet a third one a bit further east on Tues (6/7) with 35 ft seas aimed north. A possible long run of swell to result. Something to monitor.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday AM (6/2) weak but broad low pressure was over the Northern Gulf of Alaska but not generating any fetch of interest. Another low was over the Kuril Islands offering no swell producing fetch either. But a gale previously was over the North Dateline Region on Mon (5/30) offering a hint of swell pushing east (see North Dateline Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
The local California coastal pressure gradient is to have no effect either.
North Dateline Gale
On Sun PM (5/29) a small gael started to develop on the North Dateline region generating 35 kt northwest winds aimed somewhat at Hawaii but more so for the US West Coast but a long ways away from both. By Mon AM (5/30) a decent sized fetch of 35 kt west winds were still in.cgiay generating 23 ft seas at 47N 175W targeting mainly the US West Coast. By evening the fetch was fading fast while moving east with winds barely 30 kt and seas fading from 19 ft at 49N 170W. No swell is expected for Hawaii with all energy pushing east of the Islands and only minimal background energy expected for the US West Coast.
NCal: Tiny background swell is to arrive after sunset on Fri (6/3) with period 14 secs peaking Sat AM (6/4) at 2.2 ft @ 12-13 secs (2.5 ft). Residuals fading on Sun (6/5) from 2.5 ft @ 10 secs (2.5 ft) with local windswell intermixed. Swell Direction: 300 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 (6/2) a generally weak pressure pattern was over the CA coast with a light winds flow in effect. Low pressure was filling the Northern Gulf of Alaska holding high pressure at bay. But the low is to fade on Friday with weak high pressure starting to build over the Pacific Northwest with north winds 15-20 kts developing over North and Central CA. Saturday a more normal gradient is to appear isolated to North CA with north winds 15-20 kts and holding into Sunday. Winds light northwest from Pt Arena southward. More of the same on Monday but with north winds to almost 30 kts on the Oregon-CA border, then fading to 25 kts Tuesday (6/7). Wednesday New high pressure is to start ridging into the coast from the a point north of Hawaii with north winds building to near 30 kts centered over Pt Reyes and reaching south at 20 kts to Pt Conception and building more on Thursday (6/9).
On Thursday AM (6/2) a .cgiit jetstream pattern was in control with the southern branch running west to east down at 63S under New Zealand with one pocket of winds to 140 kts and starting to form a little trough there offering some weak support for gale development. But east of 150W the jet dove south into Antarctica forming a ridge offering no hope. The northern branch was running west to east up at 30S and .cgiitting half way across the South Pacific and offering no troughs to support gale development. Over the next 72 hours additional wind energy is to build under New Zealand with winds to 150 kts on Fri (6/3) offering additional support for gale formation then fading some. Beyond 72 hours starting Mon (6/6) that trough is to rebuild with a broad area of 160 kt winds taking hold and lifting northeast continuing well into Tuesday setting up great support for gale development into Wed (6/8). Things to fade from there but yet another trough is suggested starting to develop on Thurs (6/9) under New Zealand. Something to monitor.
On Thursday AM (6/2) swell from a gale previously in the Southeast Pacific was peaking in California (see Southeast Pacific Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours more swell production seems likely.
On Thurs AM (6/2) a primer gale was pushing under New Zealand generating 35 kt southwest winds and 27 seas at 55S 178E. Fetch is to move east-northeast in the evening with 35 kts winds continuing aimed northeast and 28 ft seas at 53S 173W. This gale to fade rapidly from there. No swell relative to North Hemi locations is expected but it will serve to rough up the ocean surface in preparation for more gale behind.
On Fri AM (6/3) a solid fetch of 40 kt west southwest winds are to be covering a large area under New Zealand with seas building to 33 ft at 60S 170E aimed east-northeast (196 degs HI, 211 degs SCal and shadowed by Tahiti, 210 degs NCal and barely unshadowed by Tahiti). The fetch is to lift northeast in the evening with 40 kt southwest winds holding and seas 34 ft at 58S 180W (192 degs HI, 210 degs SCal and barely shadowed, 207 degs NCal and shadowed). The gale is to track east-northeast on Sat AM (6/4) but be fading with winds barely 40 kts and mostly 35 kts with seas fading from 31 ft at 53S 170W (187 degs HI, 209 degs SCal and barely unshadowed, 207 degs NCal and shadowed). A rapid fade to follow. A decent pulse of swell is expected to result for Tahiti, Hawaii and the US West Coast. Something to monitor.
Yet another gale is to develop under New Zealand on Sat AM (6/4) with 50 kt west winds and seas building. In the evening 50 kt south winds are to moving east under New Zealand with seas building from 36 ft at 56S 172E (197 degs HI, 212 degs NCal and unshadowed, 213 degs SCal and shadowed). The fetch is to fragment Sun AM (6/5) with patches of 45 kt southwest winds and 36 ft seas at 57S 173W (188 degs HI, 206 degs NCal and shadowed, 207 degs SCal and unshadowed) embedded in a broad area of 30+ ft seas aimed northeast. 40+ kt southwest winds to hold in the evening with 37 ft seas at 54S 170W aimed northeast (187 degs HI, 205 degs NCal and shadowed, 208 degs SCal and unshadowed). Fetch is to be fading on Mon AM (6/6) from 35 kts with seas fading from 33 ft over a solid area aimed well northeast at 49S 162W (182 degs HI, 204 degs NCal and shadowed, 207 degs SCal and unshadowed). Solid swell is possible.
Southeast Pacific Gale
A gale developed in the far Eastern South Pacific on Sun AM (5/22) starting to produce a small area of 30 kt south winds and seas building. In the evening a small fetch of 35-40 kt south winds was in.cgiay generating a tiny area of 22 ft seas aimed north. By Mon AM (5/23) a decent sized area of 40 kt south winds were blowing with an embedded area to 45 kts with seas building to 26-28 ft over a decent sized area at 42S 136W. This was pretty far north of normal. Fetch was fading from 40 kts from the south in the evening and tracking northeast with seas associated with it fading from 35 ft at 42S 128W while a new broader fetch of 35 kt south winds was building below it with seas on the increase from 24 ft and pushing north. On Tues AM (5/24) 40+ kt south winds held with with 29 ft seas building at 50S 134W aimed north. 35-40 kt south winds were pushing north in the evening with seas 32 ft at 48S 130W. On Wed AM (5/25) a new tiny fetch of 45 kt south winds were developing on the eastern edge of the CA swell window with seas barely 30 ft over a tiny area at 49S 122W. South fetch increased in coverage but fading from 40 kts in the evening aimed due north with seas fading from 30 ft at 44S 119W. Beyond that this fetch is to rapidly fade with no additional seas of interest forecast.
There is decent potential for swell resulting for Mexico up into California.
Southern CA: Swell holding on Thurs (6/2) at 3.6 ft @ 15-16 sec early (5.5 ft with sets to 7 ft). Swell fading on Fri (6/3) from 3.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.5 ft). Residuals dissipating on Sat (6/4) from 3 ft @ 13 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees moving towards 185 degrees
North CA: Swell holding on Thurs (6/2) at 3.6 ft @ 15-16 sec early (5.5 ft with sets to 7 ft). Swell fading on Fri (6/3) from 3.8 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.5 ft with sets to 6.5 ft). Residuals dissipating on Sat (6/4) from 3 ft @ 13-14 secs (4 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees moving towards 185 degrees
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours the models suggest no swell producing fetch is to be in.cgiay other than local windswell.
The local California pressure gradient is to start producing north winds over Cape Mendocino on Tues (6/7) over a small area at 25 kts resulting in increasing local north windswell for North and Central CA with the gradient then building in coverage later Wednesday (6/8) to 25+ kts reaching south to Pt Conception and continuing into Thurs (6/9). Windswell expected.
Beyond 72 hours yet another gale is to develop southeast of New Zealand on Mon PM (6/6) with 45-50 kt southeast winds starting to get traction generating 31 ft seas at 58S 167W. A small area of 45 kt south winds are to hold into Tues AM (6/7) with seas building to 35 ft at 49S 156W aimed north. In the evening a tiny area of 40-45 kt south fetch is to hold embedded in a broad area of 35 kts south winds generating 32 ft seas at 50S 151W aimed north. On Wed AM more of the same is forecast with 32 ft seas at 49S 149W. Fetch is to be fading from there.
More details to follow...
Cool Water Continues Building Coverage over EPac Equator
ESPI and SOI Continue Retreating
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 Wed (6/1) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) except south of the equator where winds were calm. Anomalies were neutral over the entire region except weak from the west south of the equator from the dateline to 160W. A very weak manifestation of El Nino was trying to hold on.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Neutral anomalies were over the KWGA and are forecast slowly build to weak west status through 6/9 though most westerly anomalies are to be east of the KWGA. La Nina is in control.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 6/1 a dead neutral MJO signal was in.cgiay. The Statistic model projects a continuation for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts an Inactive pattern developing 1 week out and building in moderately in week 2. In all no enhancement of the jetstream is expected from the MJO.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (6/2) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO is over the West Pacific and is to hold there for a few days, then collapse eventually redeveloping in the Indian Ocean. The GEFS model depicts the same thing, only weaker in the West Pacific initially and then getting stronger in the Indian Ocean 2 weeks out.
40day Upper Level Model: (6/2) A weak Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the West Pacific and is expected to slowly track east into Central America into 6/27. On 7/2 a new Active Phase of the MJO is to start pushing into the West Pacific.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): This model suggests the Active Phase of the MJO was developing over the dateline with weak west anomalies in.cgiay offering minimal to not support for enhancing the jetstream. The model depicts a weak Active Phase continuing to produce weak west anomalies through 6/12. After that the MJO is to be weak with no real anomalies or at best weak west anomalies into 7/12. After that neutral anomalies if not weak east anomalies are to hold through 8/31. The remnants of El Nino are shifting east and are now south of Hawaii (rather than in the KWGA) and offering nothing to enhance the jetstream.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (6/2) Actual temperatures are retreating daily. A pocket of 29-30 deg temps were building in the far West Pacific with the 28 deg isotherm line retreating west to 158W (loosing 1 deg per day). No El Nino subsurface anomalies remain. Neutral anomalies rule from the West Pacific to the east to 150W with weak negative anomalies east of there. Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting east of 150W with -3 degs anomalies reaching east at depth to 120W. The Kelvin Wave pipeline has been r.cgiaced with a cold river rushing east. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 5/28 one last weak pocket of +0.5 deg anomalies is confined to a shrinking area 175E to 170W. Cool waters at 3-4 degs below normal were in.cgiay in the under the entire width of the equator, undercutting and residual warm water above it and upwelling over a broad area of the East equatorial Pacific. La Nina has begun.
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: (6/1) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates cooler than normal water continues over the equator region with negative anomalies along the coast of Peru (building some compared to days previous) pushing north and then extending west from Ecuador over the Galapagos building west to 157W peaking at -1.5 degs over a good portion of that area now. La Nina is firmly in control of surface waters, though remnant El Nino warm water is 3 degs north and south of the equator. No warm water remains anywhere in the Nino regions on the equator.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (6/1): A neutral trend is along Chile and Peru with cooler than normal waters from the Galapagos west out to 160W. A previous mirror image (though weaker) of that trend has faded in the Atlantic tracking west from Africa. Temps are holding along the California coast due to slackening of high pressure driven northwest winds. The PDO warm pool is building solidly from Oregon out to Hawaii and west from there to the Philippines.
Hi-res Overview: (6/1) The El Nino signal is dissipating. A clear La Nina cool water pool is tracking firmly from Ecuador and building in width on the equator from west of the Galapagos out to near 165W. A generalized pattern of +1-2 deg above normal temps remains 3 degs north and south of the equator and west of 160W. Cooler water is over the dateline in the North Pacific with warm water off the Pacific Northwest streaming over Hawaii looking very much like the classic Active PDO pattern.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (6/2) Today's temps were steady after falling a week ago, now at +0.016.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (6/2) temps continue falling and are now in negative territory at -0.117 degs attributable to a developing La Nina cool pool.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
Pacific Counter Current: As of 5/22 the current was strong continuously from the east on the equator from 90W to 150E. Anomalies were strong from the east over the same area. There were no pockets of west anomalies indicated. La Nina is firmly entrenched based on this data, which is normal for this point in the El Nino lifecycle.
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (6/2) indicates temps on a steady downward trajectory falling to -0.7 degs early July then holding there into Nov, easing down to -1.0 degs in early Dec then slowly rising in Jan 2017. This is solid La Nina territory but it's up from the -1.5 and -1.25 degs indicated even a few weeks ago.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-May Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.7 by Sept then starting to drift higher to -0.6 in February, See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Co.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (6/31): The daily index was steady at 4.60. The 30 day average was rising from 3.22, transitioning from negative to positive for the first time in 2 years on 5/27. The 90 day average was rising from -6.63. El Nino was still evident in the 90 day average, but even that will soon be a distant memory.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (6/2) Today's value was falling rapidly at -0.40. It peaked on 3/12 at +1.57 then fell until 4/14, when it started rising again peaking 4/23 at +1.12. But it has been falling steadily ever since.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues to rise. April's value was +2.62, the highest it's been since 1941. 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 up to +1.75 in Feb, then spiking to +2.40 in March and +2.62 in April. 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 was the 3rd strongest El Nino since 1950 based 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 due to it's westward di.cgiacement. 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 question now turns to how much the jet will be enhanced by remnants of El Nino 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