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.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.1 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 4.1 ft @ 8.8 secs from 300 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.8 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 13.6 secs from 191 degrees. Wind northwest 6-8 kts. Water temperature 70.2 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.9 ft @ 9.4 secs from 251 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.1 ft @ 17.2 secs from 198 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.6 ft @ 16.9 secs from 183 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.1 ft @ 10.0 secs with windswell 4.9 ft @ 8.8 secs from 321 degrees and southern hemi swell 1.2 ft @ 16.4 secs from 224 degrees. Wind northwest 12-14 kts. Water temp 59.7 degs.
46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Thursday (9/29) in North and Central CA northwest windswell was producing waves in the chest to head high range and lightly warbled from light northwest winds. At Santa Cruz small new southern hemi swell was producing waves in the waist high range and clean. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at thigh to waist high and a little textured early. Down in Northern Orange Co sets waves were waist high or so and clean coming from the south. Further down south top spots had set waves at head high and clean but with a little north lump running through it. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and textured from the northeast. The South Shore had some little southern hemi swell with waves waist high and clean early. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at waist to chest high and chopped from east trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Tiny early arriving energy from a new small swell from the Southeast Pacific was starting to hit California (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). Another small gale followed in the Southeast Pacific on Tues (9/27) with 32 ft seas aimed northeast. Looking at the forecast charts nothing else is forecast from the South Pacific. Looking north a weak gale is projected in the Northeast Gulf on Tues (10/4) producing maybe 24 ft seas and barely in the Central CA swell window. There suggestions of a better pattern emerging a week out. The Inactive Phase of the MJO continues having a negative impact delaying the start of Fall.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday AM (9/29) the jetstream was tracking east at 42N off North Japan with winds 130 kts making it to about the dateline before disintegrating. This appears to be a new push of wind energy tracking into the the Pacific. East of there the jet was ridging hard north into the North Bering Sea then falling hard south off British Columbia forming a backdoor trough before pushing back inland into Vancouver Island but with wind pretty weak (90 kts) not offering much to support anything more than low pressure. Over the next 72 hours the energetic wind push is to continue building east reaching from North Japan to just off the Oregon Coast on Sunday (10/2) with winds 140 kts off Japan falling into a weak trough over the dateline ridging gently into the Gulf then falling south feeding the remnants of the backdoor trough now down just over North California. There's some support for gale development over the dateline and again over the Oregon and North CA coast. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to remain consolidated flowing flat east on the 43N latitude line early Tues (10/4) with winds 140 kts in pockets pushing from North Japan into Washington and Oregon with a weak trough in the Western Gulf and the backdoor trough falling southeast over inland Nevada. Some support for gale development is possible in the Gulf. And by Thurs (10/6) the pattern is to become more entrenched with a new gentle trough developing in the Western Gulf being fed by 150 kts winds and the jet well consolidated over the width of the Pacific. Support for gale development improving.
On Thursday (9/29) no swell of interest was in the water and no fetch of interest was occurring. Weak low pressure was developing in the Northwestern Pacific while high pressure at 1036 mbs was over the Gulf of Alaska. No fetch capable of generating meaningful swell was in.cgiay.
Over the next 72 hours low pressure in the Northwest Pacific is to track east and try to develop Fri AM (9/30) in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska while lifting northeast into the Bering Sea in the evening with 35 kt northwest winds barely getting exposure in the Gulf, then becoming totally lost in the Eastern Bering Sea Sat AM (10/1). No seas of interest to result.
At the same time weak low pressure is to be just off The Pacific Northwest and British Columbia on Fri (9/30) falling southeast into North CA on Sun (10/2). No swell to result but perhaps some rain is possible as far south a San Francisco Sun PM with light snow for Tahoe overnight.
Relative to North CA no windswell of interest is forecast.
Relative to Hawaii high pressure is to set up control of the Southern Gulf at 1032 mbs on Sat (10/1) generating a broad fetch of east trades at 15 kts from half way between California and the Islands with a core to 20 kts (the remnants of Ulika) 600 nmiles east of Hawaii resulting in increased easterly windswell. The high is to fall south some and the easterly fetch holding for the foreseeable future. East windswell expected.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Tropical Storm Ulika was 900 nmiles east-southeast of Hawaii with winds 40 kts tracking northwest slowly. Winds to be fading from here forward and the storm making a more westerly track, fading below depression status Sat AM (10/1) with winds dropping from 25 kts. No swell expected to result.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (9/29) high pressure at 1038 mbs was in the Gulf weakly ridging into Central CA but being held at bay by low pressure at 1020 mbs just off Vancouver Island. Northwest winds were 15 kts along the North CA coast and less elsewhere. More of the same is expected on Friday but with the focus of the high being Central CA, with northwest winds 15 kts falling from the region between Pt Arena and Pt Conception building to 20 kts late. On Saturday the gradient is to fall south focused on Point Conception with north winds there to 25 kts but less than 15 kts up into Monterey Bay an lighter north of there. Low pressure is to move inland on Sun (10/2) over North CA with high pressure still ridging into Pt Conception and Southern CA generating up to 25 kt north winds for Pt Conception but light elsewhere. The low is to move onshore over North CA on Mon (10/3) with light winds holding over North CA but north winds building from Monterey Bay to Pt Conception at up to 25 kts. Tues (10/4) the low is to move well inland and the high is to weaken with 15-20 kts north winds over Central CA waters and starting to lift north. Wednesday the gradient is to set up over North CA with north winds 20 kts there and 15 kts down to Pismo Beach, weakening more on Thurs (10/6) with 15-20 kts north winds limited to North CA and a light northwest flow over Central CA.
On Tuesday (9/27) two pulses of swell from a co.cgiex gale that developed in the Southeast Pacific are pushing north (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). A far small swell was in the water behind that one (see Small Central South Pacific Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
Southeast Pacific Gale
A gale developed in the Central Pacific on Wed AM (9/21) with 35-40 kt southwest winds tracking east and mainly over Antarctic Ice. In the evening the gail lifted northeast some with winds to 40 kts and starting to get exposure on ice free waters with seas to 20 ft at 60S 153W. The gale moved to the Southeast Pacific on Thurs AM (9/22) over ice free waters with 40-45 kt southwest winds and seas building to 28 ft over a moderate area at 54S 140W aimed north-northeast. In the evening fetch was lifting northeast with south winds down to 30-35 kts over a broad area with seas 30 ft at 51S 125W. This system dissipated after that. Modest swell is expected for California but mainly focused on Mexico down into Peru.
Southern CA: Expect teaser swell to arrive from a gale just prior on Thurs (9/29) building to 2.6 ft @ 15-16 secs later (4.0 ft). That swell to continue on Fri (9/30) at 2.6 ft @ 14 secs (3.5 ft) with the core swell building to 2.1 ft @ 17 (3.5 ft) late. Swell peaking on Sat (10/1) at 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) with the first swell fading from 2.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading on Sun (10/2) from 2.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 189 degrees
North CA: Expect teaser swell to arrive from a gale just prior on Thurs (9/29) building to 2.2 ft @ 16 secs later (3.5 ft). That swell to continue on Fri (9/30) at 2.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5 ft) with the core swell building to 2 ft @ 17-18 (3.5 ft) later. Swell peaking on Sat (10/1) at 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) with the primer swell fading from 2.1 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell fading on Sun (10/2) from 2.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 189 degrees
Small Central South Pacific Gale
Another small gale developed starting Mon AM (9/26) well southeast of New Zealand with winds from the south at near 45 kts over a small area. In the evening the gale was lifting northeast with winds from the south at 45-50 kts over a broader area with seas to 31 ft at 54S 143W. On Tues AM (9/27) fetch was fading from 40 kts turning more northeast with seas 32 ft at 50S 135W. This system dissipated by evening. This system was very small in coverage, but winds were straight from the south and the gale itself tracked well northeast. Perhaps a little more swell than would normally be expected could result targeting California down into Central America and Peru.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (10/5) with swell building to 1.4 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell holding on Thurs (10/6) at 1.5 ft @ 15 secs early (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 194 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (10/5) with swell 1.0 ft @ 18 secs later (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell peaking on Thurs (10/6) at 1.4 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 191 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 a gale is forecast developing in the Eastern Gulf on Mon AM (10/3) with pressure 988 mbs generating 30-35 kts northwest building in the evening to 40 kts with sea building from 22 ft at 52N 144W just barely in the Central Ca swell window at 319 degree. The gale is to fall southeast on Tues AM (10/4) with winds still 40 kts and seas building to 27 ft at 51N 138W moving out of the CA swell window but targeting the Pacific Northwest well. The gale is to fade and move inland over Northern British Columbia in the evening into Wed AM (10/5). Low odds for some small very north angled swell to result for North CA.
Beyond a small gale is forecast developing while approaching the dateline Wed (10/5) producing 40 kt west winds and seas 23 ft at 45N 172W in the evening, tracking east Thurs AM (10/6) with seas fading from 21 ft at 44N 169W. Small swell possible.
More low pressure is forecast behind off the Kuril's on Thurs (10/6) with winds building from 40 kts from the northwest.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Easterly Wind Burst Continues - But Westward Di.cgiaced
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 Wednesday (9/28) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south. Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific and moderately east over KWGA. This is the first easterly wind burst of this La Nina cycle.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderately strong east anomalies are over the KWGA as they have been since this Easterly Wind Burst occurred starting 9/12 and are to hold while easing slowly east to the dateline on 10/6. This indicates the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in control resulting in a suppressed swell production pattern both north and south. This is in contrast to what the models below suggest. It is actual wind direction/speed in the KWGA that matters more than anything else, so we're attributing more weight to these models.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 9/28 a modest Active MJO signal was indicated over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern to continue for the next 2 weeks, fading some late while holding stationary. The dynamic model depicts a weaker version of the same and gone 2 weeks out with a weak Inactive Phase moving into the West Pacific.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (9/29) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak near the Dateline. The forecast projects it fading and racing east and all but gone somewhere near Africa 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. No positive affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is forecast.
40 day Upper Level Model: (9/29) This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern over the far West Pacific with the Inactive Phase exiting over the East. The Active Phase is to track east while slowly fading moving over Central America by 10/19. A stronger and moderate Inactive Phase to follow in the West starting 10/17 moving to Central America 11/8.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (9/29) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern moving over the Dateline tracking east dissipating in the East Pacific 10/20. East anomalies are to move east from the dateline and fade out by 10/10. A weak Inactive Phase if not neutral phase is forecast following in the West Pacific 11/23 tracking east into 11/16 supporting a dead neutral wind anomaly pattern. Overall the MJO signal is very weak and is to hold as we move into Fall. The model does show west anomalies building to modest status starting 11/20 and holding to the end of Dec, but that seems optimistic and has been on the charts for months yet never materializes. La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, but not biasing it towards the Inactive Phase.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (9/29) Actual temperatures are stratifying with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to only 157E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 176W and 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 developing. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 175W with weak negative anomalies east of 155W then weak warm anomalies from there to Ecuador. The cool subsurface flow looks a bit more defined over the past week at depth peaking at -3 degs at 140W and continuous 0 to -1 degs from the far West Pacific reaching east to 120W then weaker into Ecuador. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is r.cgiaced with cooler than normal water. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 9/25 a steady flow of +1-2 deg anomalies are traversing the Pacific equator down at 100-150 meters. 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: (9/28) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a collapse of cool water along the immediate coast of Peru with warmer than normal water now in control there tracking towards the Galapagos. Strong warmer pockets exist further off the Peruvian coast to almost Ecuador. Cooler waters no longer flow continuously west from the Galapagos along the equator and have been r.cgiaced with warmer than normal water, with cooler waters only re-emerging at 120W, becoming more established out to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. La Nina is in control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, but weak, with remnant El Nino warm water holding well in the East (Nino1.2 region) mainly between 80W-120W. Almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino 3.4 region, but warm water still is having a significant influence in the Nino 1.2 region.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (9/28): 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, about evenly balanced. A broad warming trend continues off Africa to the Caribbean and Brazil.
Hi-res Overview: (9/28) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. But neutral to slightly warmer temps are from Peru to 120W. No cool waters exist along Ecuador and Peru suggestive of westward dis
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (9/29) Today's temps were rising again at +0.269 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (9/29) temps were falling at -0.274 degs from a peak on 9/25 at +0.45 degs. Temp are oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.3 to -1.0 degs until the warming spike in late Sept. 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 (9/29) This model suggests La Nina was steady at -0.5 degs from July to present. Temps are to start falling to -0.85 degs in early Dec before starting to rise steadily reaching neutral in March 2017 and up to +0.4 by June. This is very interesting with the model holding the strength of La Nina at minimal ' 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 (9/28): The daily index was down some at +10.94 but had been hovering in the +15-20 range since 9/13. The 30 day average was steady at +13.35. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was up some at +7.03, 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): (9/29) Today's value was down some at -1.47 suggesting La Nina is getting a little better toe hold. 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-Aug) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03, +1.25 and now +0.52 in Aug.
The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive until Aug 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina. 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