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, October 4, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.7 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 3.4 ft @ 8.3 secs from 43 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 5.9 ft @ 7.1 secs with swell 5.3 ft @ 6.5 secs from 272 degrees. Wind northwest 8-12 kts. Water temperature 67.1 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.3 ft @ 5.9 secs from 267 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 4.2 ft @ 6.4 secs from 268 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 4.2 ft @ 7.8 secs from 281 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 7.7 secs with local windswell 3.4 ft @ 7.8 secs from 284 degrees. Wind north 12-14 kts. Water temp 59.7 degs.
46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Tuesday (10/4) in North and Central CA northwest windswell was producing waves in the waist to chest high range and clean and rideable but nothing more. At Santa Cruz surf was near flat with maybe 1 ft sets and and clean. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at knee high and clean and not really rideable. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were thigh high and pretty torn up by south bump even though winds were calm nearshore. Further down south top spots had set waves at maybe waist high and weak and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting wrap around northeast windswell with rare waves to thigh high and clean early. The South Shore had some little weak waves up to thigh high and clean early. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at head high to 1 ft overhead and chopped from east trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
A small gale developed in the Southeast Pacific on Tues (9/27) with 32 ft seas aimed northeast. Tiny swell is supposedly tracking north expected to arrive in CA on Wed (10/4). 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 21 ft seas and barely in the Central CA swell window. A better pattern is to emerge starting this evening with a gale producing 34 ft seas in the far Northwest Pacific tracking to the Northern Dateline region early Thurs (10/6) with seas fading from 30 ft. Tropical energy is to follow directly recurving northeast from Japan and tapping the residuals of the dateline gale over the North Dateline region on Fri (10/7) with seas building to 45 ft over a tiny area with 25 ft seas lingering into Sat (10/8). And yet another system is forecast for the Gulf of Alaska on Mon-Tues (10/11) with seas to 40 ft. Something to monitor through probably over hyped by the models.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday AM (10/4) the jetstream was consolidated tracking east generally over the 43N latitude line extending from the Southern Kuril Islands into North CA with winds to 150 kts over North China falling southeast and forming a trough over the Kuril Islands and into the Northwest Pacific supportive of gale development. A bit of a ridge was over the dateline falling into a steep pinched trough in the Western Gulf then rebounding north only to fall into another trough that was pushing into the Pacific Northwest (Oregon-Washington) being fed by 140 kts winds and supportive of gale development. Over the next 72 hours the trough in the Northwest Pacific is to build being fed by 180 kts winds and moving to the dateline on Wed (10/5) offering good support for gale development then pinching off in the Western Gulf 24 hours later. But another pocket of winds is to develop over the Kurils on Thurs (10/6) with winds to 170 kts pushing well to the east into Sat (10/8) offering good support for gale development over the dateline. Beyond 72 hours winds to hold solid streaming off the Kurils at 140+ kts with the trough moving into the Gulf of Alaska on Sun (10/9) building to 160 kts on Mon (10/10) in the center of the Gulf providing great support for gale development and pushing east from there 24 hours later. By Tues (10/11) 140 kt winds are to be flowing consolidated from North Japan to a point 500 nmiles off Central CA in the 130-140 kt range still providing good support for gale development. It looks like leftover energy from El Nino is still present in the upper atmosphere.
On Tuesday (10/4) no swell of interest was in the water but a small gale developing off Northern British Columbia (See East Gulf Gale below). Also fetch associated with a developing gale was starting to take shape in the far Northwest Pacific (see Northwest Pacific Gale below). Otherwise high pressure at 1024 mbs was 800 nmiles west of South California.
Over the next 72 hours no fetch is forecast other than is what is documented below.
Relative to California, High pressure at 1024 mbs was off Southern and Central CA on Tues (10/4) and is to be ridging into the coast on Wed-Thurs (10/6) generating north winds locally at 20+ kts offering odds for raw northerly windswell.
Relative to Hawaii the same high pressure system was in control of the Southern Gulf at 1024 mbs on Tues (10/4) generating a fetch of east trades off it's southern flank at 15 kts from a bit off Baja reaching to the Islands resulting in increased easterly windswell. The high is to hold and continue producing enhanced trades into Wed (10/5), then dissipating on Thurs (10/6). East windswell is expected for the Islands during that window.
East Gulf Gale
Low pressure was developing just off the coast of Western Canada and British Columbia on Mon AM (10/3) while falling south with winds to 30 kts from the northwest. In the evening winds built to 35 kts over a small area aimed southeast with seas to 18 ft at 52N 140W and mostly outside the NCal swell window. This system was falling southeast Tues AM (10/4) with winds down to 30 kts and seas 20 ft at 48N 138W and a in the 317 degree track to San Francisco. Fetch is to be fading in coverage from 30-35 kts in the evening over a tiny area off Washington with seas fading from barely 20 ft at 47N 132W and outside the swell window from Pt Reyes southward. This system is to dissipate just off the Oregon Coast Wed AM (10/5). Swell is possible for the Pacific Northwest down to Pt Arena or so.
North CA: For.cgianning purposes windswell is to arrive Wed afternoon (10/5) building to 6 ft @ 12 secs (7 ft) and peaking overnight, fading on Thurs AM (10/6) from 6.0 ft @ 11-12 secs (6.5 ft). Swell Direction 315 degrees
Northwest Pacific Gale
A gale was developing off the Kuril Islands on Tues AM (10/4) generating a fetch of 45 kt west winds and tracking east with seas on the increase. In the evening winds to fade in coverage from 45 kts from the northwest with 40 kt winds building in coverage with seas up to 34 ft over a modest area at 43N 162E tracking east (313 degs HI, 301 degs NCal). A fetch of 40 kt northwest winds is to continue east Wed AM (10/5) with seas holding at 33 ft at 43N 170E (315 degs HI, 300 degs NCal). In the evening fetch is to lift northeast some still at 40+ kts turning more westerly with seas 31 ft at 46N 175E (323 degs HI, 303 degs NCal) embedded in a larger area of 28+ ft seas. Fetch and seas to fade Thurs AM (10/6) with seas fading from 27 ft at 45N 177W. And a new system is to be building off Japan. Swell is possible if all goes as forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Typhoon Chaba was 250 nmiles west of the southwestern most tip of Japan with winds 110 kts tracking north-northeast and expected to turn more to the northeast in the evening with winds dropping to 85 kts south of South Korea and moving into the Sea of Japan. From there Chaba is to track east-northeast while accelerating tracking parallel to Japan forward pushing over North Japan Wednesday PM and from there into the Northwest Pacific with winds 50 kts and starting to redevelop (see the Long Term North Pacific Forecast below).
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (10/4) high pressure at 1024 mbs was over the Southern Gulf weakly ridging into Central CA but being held at bay by low pressure off the Pacific Northeast. Northwest winds were 15-20 kts isolated mainly to the Pt Conception area. The core of the low is to move inland over the Pacific Northwest Wed AM with north winds 25 kts over Pt Conception but the gradient lifting north with north winds building to up to Pt Arena at 20-25 kts. The gradient is to weaken on Thurs (10/6) with 15-20 kts north winds over Central and North CA. Friday northwest winds to be 15 kts for Central and North CA fading later nearshore. Light winds (10 kts or less) are expected beyond with a front pushing into North CA and south winds from Pt Arena Mon PM (10/10) and south winds building southward on Tues (10/11) with a stronger front just off the coast.
On Sunday (10/2) a tiny swell was in the water tracking towards California and points south of there (see Small Central South Pacific Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
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 1.6 ft @ 15 secs early (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fading out on Fri (10/7) from 1.2 ft @ 13-14 secs early (1.5 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 fading on Fri (10/7) from 1.1 ft @ 14 secs early 91.5-2.0 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 the pattern is to become much more active.
A small gale is forecast developing Thurs AM (10/6) off Vancouver Island generating a decent sized fetch of 35 kt northwest winds moving east and starting to pushing into British Columbia in the evening with northwest wind fading from 30 kts in the evening and seas building to 18 ft at 47N 135W. Windswell possible relative to NCal possibly to result.
But of more interest is to be a gale developing off the Kuril Islands on Tues AM (10/4) generating a fetch of 40 kt northwest winds and tracking east. in the evening winds to build to 45 kt from the northwest with seas up to 32 ft over a small area at 45N 163E tracking east. A broader fetch of 40 kt northwest winds is to continue east Wed AM (10/5) with seas holding at 32-33 ft at 45N 170E. In the evening fetch is to lift northeast some still at 40 kts turning more westerly with seas 32 ft at 48N 173E. Fetch and seas to fade Thurs AM 910/6) but a new system is to be building off Japan. Swell is possible if all goes as forecast.
Beyond the remnants of Typhoon Chaba are to be organizing North Japan and the Kuril's on Thurs AM (10/6) with winds building from 40 kts from the northwest. By evening the system is to turn extratropical with 55 kt northwest winds developing while tracking east-northeast and seas building from 26 ft at 46N 171E. A small fetch of 50 kt west winds is to be tracking over the North Dateline region on Fri AM (10/7) with 37 ft seas at 48N 180W. The fetch is to hold while tracking east in the evening with 40 ft seas at 50N 171W moving into the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska. The fetch is to fade Sat AM (10/8) from 45 kts with seas 37 ft at 52N 165W. This system to fade out after that. If all goes as forecast some north angled swell could result for all our forecast locations.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Pulsing - Water Temps Dropping on Equatorial East Pacific
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 (10/3) 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 (starting 9/12).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderately strong east anomalies continued over the KWGA focused mainly on the dateline and are to hold to 10/8. 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. But on 10/9 the east anomalies are to suddenly dissipate with weak west anomalies moving in. That is a good sign.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 10/3 a moderate Active MJO signal was indicated over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern holding stationary and fading and gone 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with a weak Inactive Phase moving into the West Pacific 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (10/4) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak over the Dateline. The forecast projects it collapsing while racing east and all but gone somewhere near Africa 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing but with the Active Phase becoming more pronounced over Africa 2 weeks out. No positive affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is forecast.
40 day Upper Level Model: (10/4) This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern over the West Pacific. 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 10/19 moving to Central America 11/8. A stronger Active Phase is to follow in the West 11/8.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (10/4) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern developing over the Dateline tracking east dissipating in the East Pacific 10/20. Weak east anomalies are to hold over the dateline and hold through 10/11 then fading and turning neutral. A weak Inactive Phase if not neutral phase is forecast following in the West Pacific 10/20 tracking east into 11/20 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 11/27 and holding to the end of Dec associated with a building Active Phase of the MJO, 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: (10/4) Actual temperatures are stratifying with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to only 155E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 179W 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 from there eastward to 120W with neutral 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 145W and continuous 0 to -1 degs from the far West Pacific reaching east in to Ecuador. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is r.cgiaced with cooler than normal water. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 9/30 a steady flow of +1-2 deg anomalies are traversing the Pacific equator down at 100-150 meters with a core to -3 degs between 140W-160W. 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: (10/3) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a steady rebuilding of cool water along the immediate coast of Peru tracking towards the Galapagos but with warmer than normal water further off the coast. Cooler waters are now digging out a path and are starting to flow continuously west from the Galapagos along the equator out to 120W, then 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, and is rebuilding in the equatorial East Pacific now (Nino1.2 region between 80W-120W). Almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino 3.4 region.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/3): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru extending west to the Galapagos. But a strong cooler trend is building from the Galapagos westward out to 140W. A broad warming trend continues off Africa 1/2 way to the Caribbean.
Hi-res Overview: (10/3) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. Slightly warmer temps that were from Ecuador to 120W on the equator are now fading, being r.cgiaced by cooler waters. An upwelling event is setting up.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (10/4) Today's temps were steady at +0.008 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (10/4) temps were steady but well negative at -0.955 degs, falling from a recent 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 (10/4) This model suggests La Nina was steady at -0.5 degs from July to present. Temps are to start falling reaching -1.0 degs in early Dec, then rising steadily from Jan reaching neutral in April 2017 and up to +0.2 degs 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 (10/4): The daily index was down some at +4.51 but had been hovering in the +15-20 range since 9/13. The 30 day average was down slightly at +12.92. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was up some at +7.99, 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 and La Nina is becoming pronounced
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (10/4) Today's value was down more at -1.65 (the lowest it has been so far in this event) suggesting La Nina is getting a little better established. 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.
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