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.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.3 ft @ 11.8 secs with North Dateline swell 3.5 ft @ 9.6 secs from 310 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.1 ft @ 17.2 secs with swell 0.9 ft @ 16.5 secs from 195 degrees. Wind southeast 2-4 kts. Water temperature 68.0 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.2 ft @ 10.2 secs from 270 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.0 ft @ 16.4 secs from 218 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.2 ft @ 16.9 secs from 219 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.7 ft @ 8.3 secs with swell 3.1 ft @ 8.4 secs from 307 degrees. Wind northwest 10-12 kts. Water temp 57.9 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Saturday (9/17) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the waist to chest high range at top exposed spots on the sets and clean and weak. At Santa Cruz surf was small with sets in the thigh high range and clean and weak and fogged in early. In Southern California up north surf was flat to knee high and clean. Down in North Orange Co background Tasman Sea swell was maybe waist high and clean and weak. Further down south top spots had set waves in the chest to head high range on the bigger sets and clean with no wind. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the second North Dateline swell with waves in the 3-4 ft overhead range and clean. The South Shore had some background southern hemi swell with set waves up to chest high and clean early at top spots. The East Shore was getting wrap around northwest swell at chest high and chopped from east trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Small swell from the second North Dateline gale of the NPac season was hitting Hawaii and pushing towards the US West Coast. This system developed Mon-Tues (9/13) with 26-28 ft seas aimed southeast then tracked into the Western Gulf Wed-Thurs (9/15) with seas fading from 24 ft down to 22 ft. Nothing else is on the charts. For the Southern Hemisphere broad gale developed under New Zealand on Mon-Tues (9/13) with 28 ft seas aimed east, fading, then redeveloped Wed-Thurs (9/15) with up to 39 ft seas aimed east-northeast in the Central South Pacific. A modest pulse of swell is possible. And another small gale to follow in the Southeast Pacific on Thurs (9/22) producing 32 ft seas aimed northeast.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday AM (9/17) the jetstream was running in zonal pattern flat across the North Pacific on the 45N latitude line with winds 130 kts but .cgiit some over the dateline and with no imbedded troughs, offering only weak support for low pressure development in lower levels of the atmosphere. Over the next 72 hours the .cgiit is to track east into the Gulf on Tues (9/20) offering no support for gale development. But back in the west the jet is to strengthen building to 180 kts running from the Kuril's to the Western Gulf and starting to form a weak trough there. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to push east into the Gulf proper on Thurs-Fri (9/23) with winds holding in the 130 kt range still offering some support for gale development. And the consolidated jet is to hold in the west too. By Sat (9/24) as the jet weakens it is still to be consolidated with a bit of a trough forming over the dateline, but likely too weak to support anything more than low pressure development.
On Saturday (9/17) new swell was hitting Hawaii from the second gale of the season over the North Dateline region and is pushing east towards the US West Coast (see 2nd North Dateline Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours a broad low pressure system is to develop off the Kuril Islands in the Bering Sea tracking east to the dateline, but offering no winds south of the Aleutians to produce seas of interest.
Relative to North CA on Sat (9/17) high pressure at 1026 mbs is to be 1000 nmiles northeast of Hawaii ridging towards California generating a small pressure gradient and north winds at 20 kts over North CA and holding into Mon (9/19) building to 25 kt on Tuesday. Small north windswell is possible for Central CA.
Relative to Hawaii on Sat (9/17) the same high (above) is to feed production of east trades at 15-20 kts east of and over Hawaii continuing into Sun (9/18) offering some windswell production. But those winds to fade on Mon (9/19) with windswell potential dissipating.
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 held 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 with one pocket to 40 kts reached the dateline with seas 26 ft seas on the dateline and up to 28 ft back at 48N 174E. Fetch faded to 30-35 kts Wed AM (9/14) on the dateline with 24 ft seas at 46N 176W targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast. Fetch faded in coverage from 30 kts in the evening with 23 ft seas at 46N 170W in the Western Gulf. This system faded in coverage Thurs AM (9/15) but winds building to 35 kts in one pocket over the Western Gulf with seas still 23 ft at 48N 167W. Residual fetch to dissipate in the Western Gulf from 30 kts in the evening with seas fading from 21 ft at 48N 162W. This system is to dissipate from there. A more substantial early season swell could result for Hawaii and California signaling the start of the Fall season.
Hawaii: Swell fading on Sat (9/18) from 3.5 ft @ 13 secs (4.5 ft). Swell dissipating on Sun (9/19) from 2.7 ft @ 11.5 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 325 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (9/18) building to 4.0 ft @ 14-15 secs later (5.5 ft). Swell continues on Mon (9/19) at 4.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (6.0 ft) then fades on Tues (9/20) from 3.8 ft @ 11-12 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 302 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Tropical Depression Orlene was fading Fri PM (9/16) with winds barely 30 kts positioned 1600 nmiles east of the Big Island tracking west. This system is to be dissipated Sunday evening with winds below 20 kts and 1000 nmiles east of Hawaii. no swell is to result.
Typhoon Malakas on Sat AM (9/17) was 200 nmiles northeast of Taiwan with winds 100 kts tracking northeast. This system is forecast to continue on a northeast track while slowly weakening moving over the interior of Southeast Japan on Mon (9/19) getting sheared by the mountains there and falling to depression status on Wed (9/21) over North Japan and eventually loosing identity. No energy is to be left when this system eventually moves over open waters of the Northwest Pacific.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday AM (9/17) weak high pressure at 1026 mbs was 1000 nmiles west of the Central CA generating a weak fetch of 15-12 kt north winds over North CA but light winds from Pt Reyes southward. This same pattern to hold on Sunday and Monday but creeping south to maybe San Francisco. On Tuesday (9/20) north winds to build to barely 25 kts over North CA with winds below 15 kts for Central CA. But on Wed (9/21) the gradient is to fall south with 20 kt north winds over both North and Central CA building to 25 kts on Thursday then fading to 20 kts on Fri (9/23). The gradient is to fade to 15 kts on Sat (9/24) still holding over North and Central CA.
On Saturday (9/17) swell from a gale that previously traversed the South Pacific is pushing north (see South Pacific Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
South Pacific Gale
A fetch of 35-40 kt west winds developed 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 28 ft seas at 59S 178E. Fetch tried to build and consolidate in the evening from the west at 40 kts with 28 ft seas rebuilding up at 54S 173E. A new fetch of 40 kt southwest winds developed in this area southeast of New Zealand Wed AM (9/14) generating 29-30 ft seas at 56S 175W. In the evening things finally got organized with 45-50 kt southwest winds building while tracking east well southeast of New Zealand with 37 ft seas at 59S 160W. On Thurs AM (9/15) 45 kt southwest fetch tracked east over the Southeast Pacific with seas still 37 ft at 56S 145W. In the evening fetch was fading from 40-45 kts from the west-southwest with 38 ft seas fading at 55W 128W. A new small fetch of 45 kt southwest fetch is develop Fri AM (9/16) with seas 33 ft at 54S 126W. The gale is to fade and move east out of the California swell window in the evening. Some southern hemi swell could result for Hawaii and more so for California but really targeting Central America down into Chile.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tues AM (9/20) building to 1.4 ft @ 17 secs late (2.5 ft). Swell building Wed (9/21) to 1.8 ft @ 16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading Thurs (9/22) from 1.6 ft @ 15 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). residuals on Fri AM (9/23) fading from 1.3 ft @ 14 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction 195-200 degrees
South CA: Swell arrival on Thurs (9/22) building to 2.6 ft @ 20 secs late (5.0 ft). On Fri (9/23) swell building to 3.3 ft @ 18 secs (6.0 ft). Sat AM (9/24) swell continues at 3.2 ft @ 16 secs (5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 185-202 degrees
North CA: Swell arrival on Thurs (9/22) building to 1.6 ft @ 20 secs late (3.0 ft). On Fri (9/23) swell building to 2.5 ft @ 18 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Sat AM (9/24) swell continues at 2.5 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 185-202 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 Eastern Gulf on Wed PM (9/21) generating a small fetch of 30-35 kt west winds near 46N 150W (1600 nmiles north of Hawaii) and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By Thurs AM (9/22) the gale is to rapidly build with 45 kt west winds but rapidly lifting northeast positioned just off the North Canadian coast with seas to 26 ft aimed east and building into the evening to 34 ft but mostly moving inland over Alaska. There's some potential for swell to result for the Pacific Northwest up into British Columbia, but very limited relative to California.
Beyond 72 hours a small gale is forecast developing in the Southeast Pacific on Thurs AM (9/22) with 40-45 kt southwest winds and seas building from 32 ft at 55S 128W. In the evening fetch is to be lifting northeast with southwest winds still 40-045 kts with seas 32 ft at 53S 128W. On Friday AM (9/23) southwest winds to fade from 35 kts with seas fading from 27 ft at 50S 120W. Something to monitor.
More details to follow...
First La Nina Easterly Wind Burst Occurring - Model Suggest Continued Weakening
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 Friday (9/16) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific and building in velocity 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 strong from the east over KWGA. This is the first easterly wind burst of this La Nina cycle.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): East anomalies were strong over the equatorial East Pacific and the KWGA. But fortunately the forecast suggests those strong easterly anomalies are to fade considerably by Sun (9/18) and then starting to collapse thereafter, but still present at the end of the forecast cycle on 9/24 limited to a small area and weak near 150E. This indicates 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 9/16 a modest Active MJO signal was over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern to continue for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts much the same but with this Active Phase fading 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (9/17) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak near Papua New Guinea. The forecast projects it becoming weaker while moving to the dateline 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing initially but with the signal collapsing 5 days out. No real affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is forecast.
40 day Upper Level Model: (9/17) This model depicts a moderate Active MJO pattern over the West Pacific. The Active Phase is to track east while slowly fading moving over Central America by 10/15. A modest Inactive Phase to follow in the West starting 10/12 moving to Central America 10/27.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (9/17) This model depicts a very weak Inactive MJO pattern over the KWGA with a small pocket of east anomalies all but gone today. No coherent MJO signal or at worst a weak Inactive Phase is forecast continuing into 9/23 with no anomalies expected. After that a neutral MJO signal is forecast through 12/14. Neutral anomalies or weak westerly are possible, but none strong enough to have any impact on the storm track. 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: (9/17) Actual temperatures are stratifying with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 166E) 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. This is expected with La Nina. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 170W with weak negative anomalies east of there towards Ecuador (-1 degs or warmer). 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 9/10 depicts a pocket of +1-2 deg anomalies building in the West Pacific to 170W. Cool water -2-3 degs below normal was under the the equator forming a bubble in a broad pocket from 170W upwelling at 160W extending to 90W. 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: (9/16) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a weak cool flow developing along the coast of North Peru tracking continuously towards the Galapagos. Those cooler waters flow west from the Galapagos out to 110W but not continuously, then become more established from 110W 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 between 95W-115W. 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 (9/16): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru extending west to the Galapagos. A mix of warmer and cooler pockets are in control from the Galapagos westward out to 160W. A warming trend is developing off Africa.
Hi-res Overview: (9/16) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 115W to 180W. But neutral to slightly warmer temps are from Peru to 115W. No cool waters exist along Ecuador and Peru suggestive of westward dis
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (9/17) Today's temps were rising from +1.141 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (9/17) temps are steady at -0.695 degs, possibly the peak of the current warm cycle. 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 (9/17) This model suggests La Nina has peaked in Aug at -0.65 degs. Temps are to rise to -0.5 degs in Oct, dipping back to -0.6 degs in early Dec before starting to rise steadily reaching neutral in Feb 2017 and up to +0.5 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-Sept Plume depicts temps have reached their peak minimum and are to hold there at -0.5 to -0.6 through Nov. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to -0.3 in Feb 2017 and to -0.2 in March holding into May. 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 (9/16): The daily index was up some at +15.51. The 30 day average was up slightly at +11.77. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was down some at +6.06, 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): (9/15) Today's value was down slightly at -0.90. 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