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, July 12, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 13.1 secs from 194 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.9 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 15.3 secs from 195 degrees. Wind south 8-10 kts. Water temperature 70.0 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.9 ft @ 8.1 secs from 255 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.7 ft @ 14.8 secs from 208 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.5 ft @ 15.3 secs from 209 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.7 ft @ 7.1 secs with windswell 4.7 ft @ 6.6 secs and southern hemi swell 2.1 ft @ 15.6 secs. Wind northwest 12-14 kts. Water temp 54.3 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Tuesday (7/12) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell was producing waves at waist high and pretty lumpy from local winds. At Santa Cruz minimal southern hemi swell was producing waves at waist high with some chest high sets and clean but with windswell breaking it up some. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at thigh to waist high and clean early. Down south southern hemi swell was producing set waves at waist high or so and relatively clean but with some south lump running through it. Further south sets were near head high but with the same winds issues. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was still getting minimal southern hemi swell with waves waist high or so and clean. The East Shore was getting hurricane Blas swell at waist high and chopped from easterly trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
A small gale developed just east of New Zealand on Fri (7/1) with seas to 37 ft over a small area aimed northeast with swell in the water still dribbling into Hawaii and a little stronger for California, but nothing great. Another gale formed south of New Zealand on Wed-Thurs (7/7) with 32 ft seas aimed mainly east. Small swell is possible for Hawaii and CA late in the week. A weak and fragmented gale is developing Tues (7/12) in the Central Pacific with 28-30 ft seas for 18 hours. Bare minimal swell is possible for CA. Hurricane Celia was tracking west eventually forecast moving just north of the Islands, but weak then. And another tropical system is trying to develop well south of Cabo, but not much is expected from it. Otherwise the Active Phase of the MJO is supposedly trying to develop which theoretically should help push the jetstream some, but it's not looking promising. And the transition to La Nina continues.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday AM (7/12) no swell producing fetch is occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.
The California coastal pressure gradient was weak on Tuesday (7/12) resulting in northwest winds at 15-20 kts limited to mainly Central CA offering only minimal support for local windswell production. Another weak low pressure system was just off British Columbia impeding high pressure at 1030 mbs centered 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii from ridging into the coast, resulting in the weaker than normal gradient. Over the next 72 hours the low is to evaporate on Wed (7/13) with high pressure building in directly behind allowing the standard coastal pressure gradient to set up generating north winds at 20-25 kts focused Pt Arena and forecast to lift northward Thurs (7/12) while building, with winds pushing 30-35 kts on Fri (7/15) and a healthy eddy flow taking control of Central CA. Windswell expected to build through the period.
For Hawaii on Tues (7/12) east trades were limited to an area just north of the Islands at 15 kts from the east resulting in some limited sideband east windswell on exposed shores. Those trades are forecast to fade significantly on Wed-Thurs (7/14) as Hurricane Celia tracks west towards and a little north of Hawaii (see Tropical Update below). Windswell to fade but hurricane swell is possible for exposed east shores of mainly the Big Island.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Hurricane Celia peaked on Mon PM (7/11) was positioned 1200 nmiles south-southwest of Pt Conception CA and 1631 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii with winds 85 kts tracking west at 8 kts. Assuming swell period of 14 secs, swell arrival on the Big Island is expected on Thurs (7/14) at sunset and size well decayed and small. Celia was trending to the west-northwest on Tues AM (7/12) with winds down to 80 kts and expected to start fading, down to tropical storm status on Wed AM (7/13) wit winds 60 kts and fading steadily from there. The official track has Celia 400 nmiles northeast of the Big Islands on Sun AM (7/17) with winds 25 kts. The GFS model suggests much the same but winds to 35 kts. Regardless, Celia is to continue on an easterly track putting it 200 nmiles north of Oahu on Tues (7/19) with winds 20-25 kts from the east and continuing on that heading. Local windswell generation is possible as Celia approaches the Islands.
Tropical Depression #5 was 650 nmiles south of Cabo San Lucas Baja Mexico tracking west winds winds 30 kts. Steady strengthening is forecast with it peaking just above hurricane force (75 kts) on Fri AM (7/15) 1000 nmiles south of Pt Conception moving on a steady westerly track, then fading fast after that. No fetch is to be aimed well up into California. And this system is to be a long ways from Hawaii. Something to monitor.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (7/12) high pressure was trying to ridge into California but was being held off somewhat by low pressure just off British Columbia, resulting in northwest winds 15-20 kts along the North and Central CA coast. But the low is to dissipate on Wed-Thurs (7/14) with a more normal pressure gradient situation developing with north winds building tom 20 kts to 25-30 kts over North CA and 20 kt north winds reaching south but well west of Pt Conception with an eddy flow (south winds) entrenched nearshore for Central CA. Friday the gradient to bloom with north winds 30-35 kts over North CA then fading from 30 kts Sat (7/16) but the eddy flow well entrenched from Pt Arena southward. By Sunday the eddy flow is to collapse and the gradient is to fall south with north winds 20-25 kts moving into Central CA waters and holding for North CA and unchanged into Tuesday (7/19).
On Tuesday AM (7/12) the jet was .cgiit over the West Pacific with the southern branch dragging over Antarctic Ice under New Zealand then lifting north with the southern and northern branches merging over the Central South Pacific forming a well defined trough with it's apex at 50S 140W being fed by 120 kts winds lifting up into it. This trough was providing good support for gale development. East of there the two branches of the jet .cgiit again and held that configuration almost to the coast of Southern Chile suppressing support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours winds to weaken feeding the trough dropping to 100 kts on Wed (7/13) but then are forecast to regenerate some on Thurs-Fri (7/15) building to 120 kts but moving east and mostly east of the CA swell window targeting Chile and Peru best. West of there the jet is to be .cgiit with a large ridge locking down the entire West and Central South Pacific running down at 68S and over Antarctic Ice offering no support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the ridge is to hold covering the entire South Pacific into Tues (7/19) offering no support for gale development, but weakening steadily.
On Tuesday (7/12) a small swell was in the water hitting California (see New Zealand Gale below). Another gale developed under New Zealand Wed-Thurs (7/7) offering another pulse of small swell (see New Zealand gale below). But after that, the forecast starts taking a down turn.
On Tues AM (7/12) a weak gale was trying to develop while lifting up into the aforementioned trough in the Central South Pacific producing a small area of 40 kt south winds and seas to 28 ft at 59S 160W. In the evening those winds to continue tracking northeast and holding speed while loosing coverage with seas building to barely 30 ft over a pinpoint sized area at 56S 153W. By Wed AM (7/13) this system is to be gone.
Over the next 72 hours no other swell producing fetch is forecast.
New Zealand Gale
A cutoff low developed southeast of New Zealand on Fri AM (7/1) generating 40 kt south-southwest winds at 45S 174W aimed north and seas starting to build. By evening winds build from the south-southwest at 50 kts and seas building to 31 ft over a small area at 45S 172W and up to 37 ft at 42S 169.5W at 06Z (unshadowed in NCal, barely unshadowed in SCal). Fetch was fading from 40 kts Sat AM (7/2) aimed northeast with seas fading from 35 ft at 40.5S 168W. This system was very short lived and small in coverage but was still capable of producing decent swell for Tahiti with small swell for Hawaii.
Hawaii: Residuals on Sun (7/10) at 2.0 ft @ 12-13 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 193 degrees
South CA: Swell fading Tues (7/12) from 1.9 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 216 degrees
A secondary pulse to arrive late on Thurs (7/14) building from 1.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.5 ft with sets to 3.0 ft). On Fri (7/15) swell building to 2.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft) in the afternoon. Swell to fade on Sat (7/16) from 1.8 ft @ 14 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 202 degrees
North CA: On Tues (7/12) swell fading from 1.7 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 213-214 degrees
A secondary pulse to arrive on Fri (7/15) building to 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft) in the afternoon. Swell to fade on Sat (7/16) from 1.5 ft @ 14 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 200 degrees
New Zealand Gale
A gale started tracking under New Zealand on Wed AM (7/6) producing an elongated fetch of 40-45 kts winds aimed east starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By evening 40 kts west winds were pushing east getting traction on the oceans surface with seas building to 32 ft at 57.5S 165E (199 degs HI, 214 degs NCal and unshadowed, 214 degs SCal and shadowed). 40 kt southwest winds continued moving east on Thurs AM (7/7) with 32 ft seas at 58S 174E (210 degs NCal and almost shadowed, 211 degs SCal and shadowed, 193 degs HI). Fetch faded from 35+ kts in the evening while tracking east from there with seas fading from 29 ft at 58S 177W (207 degs NCal and shadowed, 208 degs SCal and just becoming unshadowed, 190 degs HI). The gale dissipated thereafter.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (7/14) building to 1.3 ft @ 18 secs late (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell continuing up slightly on Fri AM (7/15) pushing 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft with sets to 3.0 ft). Swell fading some on Sat (7/16) from 1.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell holding Sun (7/17) from 1.6 ft @ 15 secs (2.5 ft). Swell holding Mon (7/18) at 2 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) then fading Tues (7/19) from 1.8 ft @ 13 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (7/16) at sunset with period 18 secs and size near 1.3 ft @ 18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell building on Sun (7/17) to 2 ft @ 16-17 secs late (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell holds on Mon (7/18) at 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.7 ft with sets to 4.6 ft). Swell continues on Tues (7/19) at 2.2 ft @ 15-16 sec early (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 211 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (7/16) at sunset with period 18 secs and size near 1.3 ft @ 18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell building on Sun (7/17) to 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.7 ft with sets to 3.5 ft). Swell holds on Mon (7/18) at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft with sets to 3.0 ft). Swell fades Tues (7/19) at 1.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 210 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 standard East Pacific high pressure system is to be located in the Gulf of Alaska on Sat (7/16) ridging hard into North CA generating a solid version of the CA pressure gradient generating north winds at 30 kts over North CA coastal waters with the eddy flow hold over Central CA. The gradient is to be fading later Saturday into Sunday (7/17) with winds down to 25 kts and falling south with those winds moving to almost San Francisco and the eddy flow collapsing late. By Monday (7/18) 20-25 kt north winds to be moving into all of North and Central CA waters producing local raw windswell and poor conditions at exposed breaks holding through Tues (7/19). Windswell to be bigger and better Fri-Sat (7/16) then fading and becoming less refined later in the period.
For Hawaii trades are to build to barely 15 kts on Sat (7/16) holding into Mon (7/18). But the bigger swell source is to be the remnants of Celia forecast tracking 200 nmiles northeast of the Islands producing northeast winds at 25-30 kts offering better odds for local windswell production. Celia to pass north of the Islands on Tues (7/19) with east fetch taking aim on targets well west of Hawaii and windswell fading. Otherwise trades to be from the east-southeast 10 kts.
Beyond 72 hours no swell production is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Building
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 Tues (7/12) east winds were over the equatorial Pacific east of 160W but near clan west of there through the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA). Anomalies were neutral over the most of the equatorial Pacific but light westerly in the KWGA reaching east to 155W.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Neutral to very light east anomalies were over the KWGA on 7/12. A weak easterly anomaly pattern is to hold over the KWGA through 7/19 with west anomalies east of the dateline to 120W suggestive of a fading weak Active MJO pattern tracking east.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 7/11 a modest Inactive MJO signal was over the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects it fading over the next week with neutral anomalies in.cgiay 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts a stronger Inactive Phase developing a week out, then fading some but still in.cgiay 2 weeks out. Neither of these outcomes is encouraging from a swell production viewpoint.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (7/12) The ECMF model indicates a dead MJO signal. The forecast projects no change for the coming 2 week window. The GEFS model depicts a variation on the same theme.
40 day Upper Level Model: (7/12) A weak Inactive Phase was over the far West Pacific and expected to move east from there through 8/3. A weak Active Phase to follow in the west on 7/27 easing east through 8/21.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Active MJO signal was midway over the KWGA moving east with weak west anomalies in.cgiay and offering minimal support for enhancing the jetstream. It projects this Active Phase moving east and fading through 7/20. An Inactive MJO pattern to follow with weak east anomalies taking root 7/28-8/21. An Active MJO signal to follow 8/22 to 10/9 with west anomalies over the far West Pacific (barely in the KWGA) to 165E and stationary with east anomalies from 170W and point east to Central America. The low pass filter suggests 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 and are to dissipate (gone) south of California by 9/4. At the same time low pass anomalies are over the Indian Ocean and forecast to build into Oct, typical of La Nina.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (7/12) Actual temperature are building in the West Pacific near the surface to 30 degs C and the 28 deg isotherm line stable reaching east to only 166W. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 165W with weak negative anomalies between there and 130W. Neutral anomalies are east of there over a shallow pool near the surface and are fading. Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting between 130W-160W with -3 degs anomalies reaching east down 100 meters to 130W (building east). The Kelvin Wave pipeline has been r.cgiaced with a cold river rushing east. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 7/7 a pocket of +1.0 deg anomalies is building from 130E to 170E. Cool waters 3-4 degs below normal was under the entire width of the equator, undercutting any residual warm water above it and forming a bubble near 150W and upwelling from 120-150W but also reaching east to Ecuador. La Nina is in control of the ocean.
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: (7/11) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates cooler than normal water continues over the entire equatorial Pacific with negative anomalies along the coast of Peru pushing north building while extending west from Ecuador over the Galapagos, tracking solidly west out to at least 160W with with peak temps down to -1.75 degs (near the Galapagos and south of Hawaii). This cool pattern is building over all regions. La Nina is firmly in control of surface waters, with remnant El Nino warm water 3 degs north and south of the equator but cool water now reaching up to 10N in pockets quickly edging out the warmer water. No warm water remains anywhere in the Nino regions on the equator.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (7/11): A neutral trend controls waters of Chile and Peru. But a strong cooling trend is in control from the Galapagos out to 140W suggesting La Nina is pulsing. A mirror image cooler trend that had developed in the Atlantic along Africa is fading. The PDO warm pool is trending solidly if not building from Oregon out to a point north of Hawaii and west from there to Japan.
Hi-res Overview: (7/7) The El Nino signal is dissipating. A clear La Nina cool water pool is tracking from Ecuador and building south of Hawaii. A generalized pattern of +1-2 deg above normal temps remains 3 degs north and south of the equator and west of 180W. Cooler water is over the north dateline region 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: (7/12) Today's temps were falling slightly at -0.087 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (7/12) temps were steady at -0.022 degs.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (7/12) indicates temps on a steady downward trajectory falling to -0.7 degs in mid-Sept and holding through Dec, then slowly rising in Jan 2017 and neutral by March. This is moderate 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-June Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.7 by Sept then holding there to March. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (7/12): The daily index was strongly positive at 15.80. The 30 day average was rising at +4.07. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was rising from -2.24. El Nino was evident only in the 90 day average, and even that will soon be a distant memory.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (7/12) Today's value was building negative at -1.04. 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 positive, though a little weaker in June (as expected with La NIna setting in). Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-June) have been +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.60, +1.45 and +0.78. The Washington EDU index for the Jan-May period indicates +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62 and +2.35. The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive since then. Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data suggests that could be a real possibility. We've been in the negative phase since 1998 through at least 2013 (15 years). By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool
External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table