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, September 13, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.4 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 1.1 ft @ 16.2 secs from 212 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.0 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 13.8 secs from 201 degrees. Wind west 8-10 kts. Water temperature 70.2 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.0 ft @ 8.1 secs from 274 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.3 ft @ 13.6 secs from 198 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.6 ft @ 13.5 secs from 198 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.3 ft @ 8.3 secs with local north windswell 5.2 ft @ 9.1 secs from 318 degrees and southern hemi swell 2.1 ft @ 12.6 secs from 189 degrees. Wind southeast 8-10 kts. Water temp 57.7 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Tuesday (9/13) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the waist to chest high at top exposed spots on the sets and clean and sunny and almost fun looking. At Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was still hitting producing set waves in the waist high range and chopped from south winds. In Southern California up north southern hemi swell was producing waves in the knee high range on the sets and clean. Down in North Orange Co south southern hemi swell was still producing waves fading from the waist to maybe chest high range and pretty lumpy from southerly winds. Further down south top spots had set waves in the head high range and weak but reasonably clean despite brisk south winds early. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the first bits of Fall swell from the North Dateline with waves head high and a bit ruffled from northeast trades. The South Shore had tiny residual southern hemi swell with waves thigh to waist high and clean and weak early. The East Shore was getting wrap around northwest swell at waist to maybe chest high and chopped from northeast trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Small swell from the North Dateline region was hitting Hawaii, the first of the Fall 2016-2017 season. This swell was also propagating towards California, but expected to be very small there. Also a stronger gale started developing in the same area on Mon-Tues (9/13) with 26-28 ft seas aimed southeast tracking into the Gulf Wed-Thurs (9/15) with seas fading from 24 ft down to the 20 ft range. Swell is expected for Hawaii and the US West Coast. And yet another one is forecast for the Gulf on Tues (9/20) with seas in the 27 ft range. For the Southern Hemisphere another gale tracked over southern New Zealand on Wed (9/7) then redeveloped just east of there Thurs AM (9/8) producing a small area of 26-28 ft seas pushing north. Another gale developed under New Zealand on Mon-Tues (9/13) with 28-30 ft seas aimed east, fading, then is forecast to redeveloping Wed-Thurs (9/15) with up to 39-40 ft seas aimed east-northeast in the Central South Pacific. A nice mix of south and north swells is possible.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (9/13) small swell is hitting Hawaii originating from a gale previously over the North Dateline region (see North Dateline Gale below) and also pushing weakly towards California. And a second gale is developing a bit stronger over the North Dateline region and pushing further east (see 2nd North Dateline Gale below). And yet a third one is forecast for the Gulf long term.
Over the next 72 hours weak high pressure is to hold 650 nmiles off the North CA coast not generating any winds of interest but mainly serving to deflecting weather systems starting to approach the US from the Gulf of Alaska. Looks like Fall is setting up. No windswell of interest is forecast from the high.
Relative to Hawaii the high is to feed production of trades at 15 kts east of Hawaii starting on Thurs (9/15) getting more entrenched Friday with winds building to 20 kts from the east resulting in easterly windswell for east facing shores.
North Dateline Gale
A low pressure system developed on Thurs (9/8) positioned half way between the Kuril Islands and the North Dateline region tracking east. It reached the dateline Fri AM (9/9) producing 40 kt north winds and getting good traction late and starting to target Hawaii in the evening with seas 21 ft at 45N 179E. By Sat AM (9/10) north winds are to be holding at 40 kts aimed south with seas 23 ft at 46.5N 180W targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. In the evening 35 kt northwest winds were fading while building southward with seas fading from 24 ft at 44N 176W targeting Hawaii well down the 335 degree track and the US West Coast down the 296 degree track. Fetch and seas were fading out Sun AM (9/11) with seas fading from 19 ft at 43.5N 173W.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tues AM (9/13) with period 14 secs and building through the day peaking at sunset at 4.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (6.0 ft). Swell fading Wed AM (9/14) from 4.0 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.5-5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 328 degrees
North CA: Sideband swell arriving later Wed (9/14) reaching 2.0 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell continues Thurs AM (9/15) at 2.5 ft @ 12 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading on Fri AM (9/16) from 2.3 ft @ 11 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 299 degrees
2nd North Dateline Gale
On Sun PM (9/11) a low pressure system developed while tracking east off Southern Kamchatka generating 30 kts northwest winds with seas building. On Mon AM (9/12) northwest winds built in coverage building to 30-35 kts with seas trying to build just off the Northern Kuril's. In the evening a small patch of 40-45 kt west winds built while tracking east with seas building to 24 ft at 47N 164E targeting the US West Coast and Hawaii. On Tues AM (9/13) 35-40 kt west-northwest winds are to hold while building in coverage and tracking east with seas building to 28 ft at 48N 172E approaching the dateline. In the evening a broad fetch of 35 kt northwest winds to reach the dateline with seas 27 ft seas on the dateline at 47.5N 178E. Fetch to fade to 30-35 kts Wed AM (9/14) on the dateline with 24 ft seas at 45N 178W targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast. Fetch to fade in coverage from 30 kts in the evening with 22 ft seas at 46N 175W in the Western Gulf. This system to fade in coverage Thurs AM (9/15) but winds building to 35 kts in the Western Gulf with seas still 22 ft at 47N 168W. Residual fetch to dissipate in the Western Gulf from 30 kts in the evening with seas fading from barely 22 ft at 47N 165W. This system is to dissipate from there. If the models are right some more substantial early season swell could result for Hawaii and California signaling the start of the Fall season.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Hurricane Orlene on Sun AM (9/11) was 1200 nmiles south of San Diego with winds 40 kts tracking northwest with seas 12 ft. Orlene continued northwest building to hurricane status Sun PM peaking midday Mon (9/12) with winds 95 kts at 17.7N 119.2W with seas to 22 ft and tracking due north. It was 925 nmiles south of Dana Point on the 185 degs track. On Tues AM (9/13) winds were down to 85 kts at 19.6N 118.7W positioned 800 nmiles south of Dana Point on the 185 degree track with seas 24 ft. Orlene is to continue north into Wed AM (9/14) with winds fading to 65 kt winds, then turning hard west and falling to topical storm strength continuing into Sun AM (9/18) with winds fading to 35 kts and 1200 nmiles east of Hawaii. The GFS model suggests an eventual turn back to the northwest on Sun (9/18) racing towards the Gulf of Alaska. Low odds for any swell to result for Hawaii.
Southern CA: Small swell is possible starting Wed (9/14) before sunrise with period 14 secs peaking during the day into the early evening at 4.0 ft @ 13-14 secs (5.0-5.5 ft) from 185 degrees.
Super Typhoon Meranti was positioned between Taiwan and the Northern Philippines tracking west-northwest with winds 160 kts (184 mph) and 48 ft seas and forecast moving into mainland China on Wed PM (9/14). No swell production is forecast relative to our forecast area. No recurvature to the northeast is forecast.
Tropical Storm Malakas was 700 nmiles east of the Northern Philippines with winds 50 kts tracking west-northwest. This system is forecast building in strength while taking a more northwesterly track with winds building to 110 kts on Fri (9/16) positioned 150 nmiles east of Taiwan and turning north. This system is to accelerate it's forward speed while turning northeast and be skirting the Southeast Japan Coast on Sun (9/18) with winds down to 60 kts. The GFS model has remnants of this system tracking to the dateline on Tues (9/20) perhaps eventually feeding a gale forecast in the Gulf. Something to monitor.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (9/13) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was 600 nmiles west of the Pacific Northwest generating no fetch of interest with winds below the 15 kts threshold over California waters. No change is forecast until Fri (9/16) when high pressure is to rebuild off the coast at 1024 mbs generating 20 kt north winds over North CA waters, but fading on Sat to 15 kts (and less over Central CA). 15-20 kt north winds to extend south to Central CA late Sunday. On Monday (9/19) north winds to build to 25 kts over North CA and 20 kts for all of Central CA building to 35 kt near Pt Reyes late. Fetch is to be fading quickly on Tues (9/20) from 30 kts over the North and most of the Central Coast.
On Tuesday AM (9/13) the southern branch of the jetstream was tracking east under New Zealand on the 54S latitude line with a pocket of 140 kt winds there setting up a zonal flow offering some minimal support for gale development. East of that pocket winds were still zonal, but much weaker, down in the 80 kt range and offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the zonal flow (jet running flat west to east) is to continue with the pocket of 140 kt winds moving to the Central Pacific late Wed (9/14) with a new pocket building south of New Zealand pushing east at 140 kts while lifting northeast some forming a gentle trough into Thurs (9/15) over the Southeast Pacific. Some limited support for gale development possible. That trough is to move east and weaken by Fri (9/16). In the west the jet is to fall south some forming a ridge and suppressing odds for gale development under New Zealand. Beyond 72 hours the ridge is to sweep east with the jet down at 65S over Antarctic Ice on Sat (9/17) with that pattern continuing through Tues (9/20).
On Tuesday (9/13) tiny swell from a small gale that was east of New Zealand was hitting Hawaii (see Small NZ Gale below). A new gale was developing under New Zealand tracking east (see South Pacific Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours the focus is to be the South Pacific Gale below.
South Pacific Gale
A fetch of 35-40 kt west winds were developing south of New Zealand on Mon PM (9/12) with seas 26 ft at 56S 170E. 35-40 kt west fetch continued southeast of New Zealand Tues AM (9/13) with 29-30 ft seas at 58S 176E. Fetch is to try and consolidate more in the evening at 40 kts with 28-30 ft seas rebuilding at 55S 170E. A new small fetch of 40-45 kt southwest winds to develop in this area southeast of New Zealand Wed AM (9/14) generating 30 ft seas at 56S 173W. In the evening 45 kt southwest winds to continue building while tracking east well southeast of New Zealand with 36 ft seas at 59S 165W. On Thurs AM (9/15) the 45 kt southwest fetch to build in coverage in the Central Pacific with seas building to 39 ft at 54S 147W. In the evening fetch is to be fading from 40-45 kts from the west-southwest with 36 ft seas fading at 52W 134W. 45 kt southwest fetch is to hold Fri AM (9/16) with seas 39 ft at 53S 128W. The gale is to fade and move east out of the California swell window in the evening. If all develops as forecast some southern hemi swell could result for Hawaii and more so for California but really targeting Central America down into Chile.
Small NZ Gale
On Tues AM (9/6) a gale was tracking east through the South Tasman Sea with southwest winds 45 kts generating 33 ft seas at 48S 155E targeting mainly New Zealand. It tracked east into the evening impacting southern New Zealand with 40 kt south winds and seas fading from 32 ft at 45S 165E impacting southern New Zealand directly. On Wed AM (9/7) 40 kt south winds were starting to become exposed just east of Southern NZ with seas 27 ft at 49S 171E aimed well to the north over a tiny area. In the evening that fetch continued lifting north at 40-45 kts over a small area generating 28 ft seas at 47S 178E aimed well to the northeast. That fetch continued north Thurs AM (9/8) at 40 kts with 28 ft seas at 42S 179W. This system is to fade in the evening. Small swell to result for Tahiti and Hawaii. The fetch is to be too small and seas not high enough to have much impact relative to California.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival via the Tasman Sea on on Mon (9/12) at 1.1 ft @ 17 secs late (2 ft) building Tues (9/13) to 1.3 ft @ 16 secs early (2 ft) from 215 degrees. Swell redeveloping on Wed (9/14) from the east side of New Zealand to 1.0 ft @ 16 secs late (1.5-2.0 ft) building Thurs (1.8 ft @ 15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) from 198 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 another gale is forecast starting to develop in the Western Gulf on Mon AM (9/19) generating a fetch of 30 kt northwest winds and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By the evening the low is to deepen to 980 mbs with a small area of 40 kt northwest winds taking root generating 19 ft seas at 47N 166W. The gale is to move east on Tues AM (9/20) with winds 45 kts in two pockets aimed southeast with seas building to 27 ft at 47N 158W. This is still a long ways from forming so odds are low of any particular outcome. The good news is this system is to be much closer to the US West Coast resulting in less swell decay (assuming it forms as forecast).
A week out high pressure is to be getting squeezed between the forecast gale in the Gulf and the California coast setting up the local pressure gradient on Mon-Tues (9/20) generating a small fetch of 35 kt north winds resulting in local north windswell.
Relative to Hawaii the same high pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska is to continue to produce easterly trades on Fri-Sun (9/18) at 15-20 kts resulting in easterly windswell then fading as the high gets pushed in the the Eastern Gulf on Mon (9/19).
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Building Slightly Despite Being Downgraded to ENSO Neutral
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 all but gone except for remnants in the upper atmosphere. La Nina is developing but weaker than expected.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Monday (9/12) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weaker over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south). Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific and the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): East anomalies were strong over the equatorial East Pacific and the KWGA. The forecast suggests strong east anomalies continuing over the whole area through 9/18 , the starting to collapse on the dateline on 9/20 indicative that the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in control.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 9/11 a neutral MJO signal was over the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern to continue for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts much the same but with a weak Active Phase trying to develop a week out, but fading 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (9/12) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak and not discernible. The forecast projects it barely becoming visible over the Maritime Continent 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. No real affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is forecast.
40 day Upper Level Model: (9/13) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO pattern was over the Dateline and East Pacific and a weak version of the Active Phase over the West Pacific. The Inactive Phase is to track east and fade out over Central America by 10/8 while the Active Phase tracks east behind it and weakens, reaching Central America on 10/18. A weak Inactive Phase to follow. in the West through 10/23.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a very weak Inactive MJO pattern developing over the KWGA with a small pocket of east anomalies in.cgiay there. No coherent MJO signal or at worst a weak Inactive Phase is forecast continuing into 9/23 with east anomalies gone by 9/21. After that a completely neutral MJO signal is forecast 9/24-11/22 with a somewhat more defined west anomaly wind pattern setting up in the KWGA starting 11/16 holding through 12/10 associated with the Active Phase of the MJO. Overall the MJO signal is very weak now and is to hold as we move into Fall. La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, but not biasing it towards the Inactive Phase. There's no suggestion of a major pulse of east anomalies developing in the KWGA. This is good news and very unexpected.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (9/13) Actual temperatures continue to stratify with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 164E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 173W but getting steeper, suggesting a hard break between warm water in the west and cool water in the east at depth. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 170W with weak negative anomalies east of there from 173W towards Ecuador (-1 degs or less). The cool subsurface flow looks less defined at depth to -2 degs in the far West Pacific and -1.0 degs near 140W, but neutral in between. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is a mixed bag of slightly cooler and neutral water. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 9/5 depicts a pocket of +1-2 deg anomalies building in the West Pacific to 170W. Cool water -3 degs below normal was under the the equator forming a bubble in a broad pocket at 150W and upwelling there, with a second pocket at 100W but not upwelling. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so.
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: (9/12) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a weak cool pocket developing along the coast of North Peru tracking continuously towards the Galapagos. Those cooler waters flow west from the Galapagos out to 105W, then widen (8 deg N and 5 degs S) near 110W tracking solidly out to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. La Nina is in control of surface waters, but weak, with remnant El Nino warm water holding in pockets mainly east of 110W. Almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino 3.4 region, but warm water still is having an influence in the Nino 1.2 region.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (9/12): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru extending west to the Galapagos. Mostly cool pockets are not in control from the Galapagos westward out to 160W through a few warming pockets still exist. A light cooling trend is setting up off Africa.
Hi-res Overview: (9/12) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 180W. But a thin cool stream is redeveloping tracking west from the Galapagos feeding into that cool pool. No cool waters exist along Ecuador and Peru suggestive of westward dis
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (9/13) Today's temps were falling some at +0.132 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (9/13) temps have bottomed out at -0.951 degs. Temp are oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.3 to -1.0 degs. Temps bottomed out at -1.0 degs near 7/21-7/26.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (9/13) This model suggests La Nina has peaked in Aug at -0.65 degs. Temps are to rise to -0.4 degs in Oct, dipping back to -0.55 degs in early Dec before starting to rise to neutral in Feb 2017 and up to +0.4 by April and +0.55 by June. This is very interesting with the model holding the strength of La Nina at not even real La Nina territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Aug Plume depicts temps have nearly reached their peak minimum, down at -0.5 to -0.6 by Nov and holding there to Feb, then rising. This is up again from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs and barely in La Nina territory. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (9/13): The daily index was up to +30.78. The 30 day average was up slightly at +9.51. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was up some at +5.74, transitioning from negative to positive the first time in years on 7/20. El Nino is gone in all dimensions of the SOI Index now.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (9/13) Today's value was down slightly at -0.79. During El Nino this year 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 after that La Nina took over with it falling steadily dropping as low as -1.50 in early Aug. It has been retreating from the peak recently.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker in July than June (as expected with La NIna setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Aug) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.41, +0.76, +0.18 and now -0.66 in Aug.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-July) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03 and +1.25.
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