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, October 6, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 3.5 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 2.4 ft @ 9.3 secs from 33 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.4 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 1.3 ft @ 14.4 secs from 221 degrees. Wind northeast 2-4 kts. Water temperature 67.8 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.7 ft @ 8.1 secs from 264 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.3 ft @ 15.5 secs from 210 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 4.5 ft @ 8.4 secs from 287 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 8.6 ft @ 12.0 secs with north windswell 5.7 ft @ 11.4 secs from 312 degrees. Wind northwest 16-18 kts. Water temp 57.4 degs.
46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Thursday (10/6) in North and Central CA north windswell was producing waves in the 1 ft overhead range and reasonably clean early but with some warbled running through it. At Santa Cruz north swell was wrapping in producing waves in the waist to almost chest high range and weak but clean. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at waist high on the sets. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were waist high coming from the north and clean but weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting wrap around northeast windswell with rare waves to waist high with texture on it coming from the north. The South Shore had some little waves in the thigh to waist high range and clean early. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at waist high 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 was hitting CA on Thurs (10/6) but buried in north windswell from a gale that developed in the Northeast Gulf on Tues (10/4) producing 21 ft seas and barely in the Central CA swell window. No further swell production is forecast for the South Pacific. In the North Pacific a better pattern is developing with a gale that produced 32 ft seas in the far Northwest Pacific Wed-Thurs (10/6). Tropical energy is to follow producing a tiny short lived fetch and 32 ft seas on the North Dateline region Fri (10/7). A broader area of 26 ft seas is forecast for the Northwest Pacific Sat (10/8) with a stronger gale forecast behind migrating from the dateline to the Western Gulf on Mon-Tues (10/11) with seas 31 ft then holding there producing steady 20-24 ft seas through Thurs (10/13). Odds for semi-real swell are improving if one is to believe the models.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday AM (10/6) the jetstream was consolidated over the Northwest Pacific tracking east generally over the 45N latitude line at 160 kts extending from the Southern Kuril Islands to the dateline forming a trough near the North Dateline region then .cgiitting with the southern branch falling south to Hawaii and then tracking east into Baja with the northern branch pushing hard north up to the Arctic Circle then falling southeast down along the Canadian and US west Coast moving inland over Oregon. The trough over the dateline was exhibiting the the best support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the trough in the Northwest Pacific is to build eastward and strengthen with 180 kts winds feeding it and offering good support for gale development on the dateline by Sat (10/8) and starting to move into the Western Gulf. That trough is to steepen and move fully into the Gulf on Sun (10/9) offering great support for gale development with more 170 kts winds stream off Japan and to the dateline. Beyond 72 hours the Gulf trough is to nearly pinch off with the apex of it moving to a point just 600 nmiles west of North CA with 130-150 kt winds consolidated running over the entirety of the North Pacific on the 43N latitude line. A zonal pattern is to set up with the jet holding strength and position into Thurs (10/13) with a bit of a trough holding in the Eastern Gulf. Continued modest support for gale development expected in the upper atmosphere.
On Thursday (10/6) swell from a gale that was over the far Northwest Pacific was pushing southeast (see Northwest Pacific Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours the remnants of Typhoon Chaba were organizing just east of North Japan and the Kuril's on Thurs AM (10/6) with winds building from 35 kts with seas starting to develop. By evening the system is to start turning extratropical with 40 kt west winds developing over a tiny area while tracking east-northeast and seas building from 19 ft at 42N 170E. A tiny fetch of 55 kt west winds is to be tracking over the North Dateline region on Fri AM (10/7) with 30 ft seas at 48N 180W. The fetch is to fade in the evening while tracking northeast over the Aleutians and into the East Bering Sea with 30 ft seas at 51N 175W. No additional fetch is forecast. If all goes as forecast a tiny pulse of small swell could result mainly for the US West Coast. This is a significant downgrade from previous projections.
Also another gale is to start developing in the far Northwestern Pacific on Fri AM (10/7) just off the North Kuril Islands with northwest winds 40 kts and seas building from 23 ft. In the evening 40 kt northwest winds to be pushing east with seas 26 ft at 47N 165E targeting Hawaii well. On Sat AM (10/8) fetch is to continue tracking east-southeast with peak winds 35 kts approaching the dateline with seas still 26 ft at 44N 172E. Fetch is to be fading from 30 kts in the evening with 25 ft seas on the dateline at 45N 180W. Sun AM (10/9) this system is to dissipate with residual 30 kt west winds in the Western Gulf and seas fading from 21 ft at 44N 172W. Secondary fetch possibly to redevelop in the Gulf on Mon AM (10/10) at 35 kts with seas building to 23 ft at 46N 158W targeting only the US West Coast. If all goes as forecast a decent pulse of swell to result for Hawaii and the US West Coast.
Northwest Pacific Gale
A gale developed 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 faded in coverage from 45 kts from the northwest with 40 kt winds building in coverage with seas up to 33 ft over a modest area at 43N 162E tracking east (313 degs HI, 301 degs NCal). A fetch of 40 kt northwest winds continued tracking east Wed AM (10/5) with seas holding at 33 ft at 42N 170E (315 degs HI, 300 degs NCal). In the evening fetch lifted northeast some fading to 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 faded Thurs AM (10/6) with seas dropping from 27 ft at 45N 177W. Swell possible for Hawaii and the US West Coast.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on the North Shore of Oahu on Sat (10/8) building to 6 ft @ 15-16 secs later (9.0 ft). Swell fading on Sun (10/9) from 6 ft @ 14 secs early (8.5 ft) but pretty steady through the day. Residuals dropping out on Mon AM (10/10) from 4.2 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.0 ft). Swell DIrection: 315-320 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival Mon AM (10/10) at 3.6 ft @ 16 secs (5.5-6.0 ft) and holding with period dropping to 15 sec later. Swell fading Tues AM (1011) from 4.2 ft @ 13-14 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 300 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
The remnants of Typhoon Chaba were just east of North Japan and were redeveloping (see Short Term forecast).
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (10/6) high pressure at 1024 mbs was 600 nmiles off Central CA ridging into the coast generating northwest winds at 15-20 kts mainly off the North and Central CA coast. 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 low pressure system developing late Sat (10/8) in the Central Gulf and easing slowly east. By Tues (10/11) a teaser front and south winds 10-15 kts are to be approaching and impacting North CA (Pt Reyes northward). A stronger front is to be behind it pushing into North CA on Wed PM (10/12) with south winds and light rain from Monterey Bay northward. And yet a stronger system is forecast behind on Thurs (10/13) with 30-35 kt south winds for North CA and south winds down to Monterey Bay and rain to Big Sur. This seems hard to believe.
On Thursday (10/6) a tiny swell was impacting California (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: Swell fading out on Fri (10/7) from 1.2 ft @ 13-14 secs early (1.5 ft). Swell Direction: 194 degrees
North CA: 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
On Sun AM (10/9) a new tropically infused low is to start building over the Southern Kuril Islands producing 45 kts west winds and seas on the increase. Fetch is to build in the evening to 50 kts from the west while tracking east with seas building to 29 ft at 46N 162E targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast well. On Mon AM (10/10) a solid fetch of 45 kt west winds to race almost to the dateline having a hard time getting traction generating only 30 ft seas at 48N 175E. Fetch is to fade from 30-35 kts in the evening over a broad elongated area over the dateline and Western Gulf with 27 ft seas over a solid area at 49N 178W (305 degs NCal). On Tues AM (10/11) 30-35 kt westerly fetch is to push into the Western Gulf generating more 26 ft seas at 50N 172W with 20 ft seas well east of there to near 160W. Fetch is to be fading from 30 kts in the evening on the dateline with seas fading from 22 ft over a broad area at 50N 167W. Something to monitor.
On Tues PM (10/12) a new gale is to develop in the Eastern Gulf fueled by a trough in the jet above it generating a broad fetch of 30 kt northwest winds and seas building from 19 ft at 42N 143W. On Wed AM (10/12) 30-35 kt northwest winds to move east with seas building to 22 ft at 42N 140W aimed east. Fetch fading thereafter.
A broader gale is to develop in the Gulf on Wed PM (10/12) with a broad area of 30 kt northwest winds taking shape and seas building from 20 ft at 45N 159W. Fetch building rapidly to 40-45 kts in the Northern Gulf and 30 kt down to a point off Central CA with seas building to 25 ft at 45N 153W. Theoretically fetch is to build to 50 kts in the evening tracking east off Oregon with seas to 36 ft at 46N 146W. This is not believable but it's a nice tease.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Pulsing - Water Temps Continue Down 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 Wednesday (10/5) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weaker 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 light east over KWGA. This might be the end of the first easterly wind burst of this La Nina cycle (9/12-10/5).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderately strong east anomalies continue over the KWGA focused mainly on the dateline and are to hold to 10/9. 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 10/5 a modest 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 active Phase fading in 5 days with a weak Inactive Phase moving into the West Pacific 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (10/6) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak over New Guinea. 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: (10/6) 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 and incoherent. A stronger and moderate Inactive Phase to follow in the West starting 10/26 moving to Central America 11/15. A stronger Active Phase is to follow in the West 11/8.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (10/6) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern developing over the Dateline tracking east dissipating in the East Pacific 10/22. Weak east anomalies are to fade by 10/12 with a neutral winds pattern suggested thereafter. A weak Inactive Phase if not neutral phase is forecast following in the West Pacific 10/20 tracking east into 11/15 supporting a neutral wind anomaly pattern. Overall the MJO signal is very weak and is to hold as we move into Fall. The model does show a weak Active Phase of the MJO and weak west anomalies starting 11/23 and holding to Dec 9. A neutral pattern to follow into early Jan 2017. 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: (10/6) Actual temperatures are stratifying with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to only 156E) and the 28 deg isotherm line retracting west to 180W 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 neutral to weak negative anomalies east of there to Ecuador. The cool subsurface flow looks a bit more defined over the past 10 days at depth peaking at -3 degs at 145W and continuous 0.0 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. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 9/30 depicts the same thing. 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: (10/5) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a slight rebuilding of cool water along the immediate coast of Peru building in coverage towards the Galapagos but with warmer than normal water further off the coast. Cooler waters have dug out a path flowing continuously west from the Galapagos on the equator out to 120W, then becoming more established out to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. Coverage of the cooler waters west of 120W is a bit less than weeks previous. 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 (10/5): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru extending west to the Galapagos. But a strong cooler trend is in.cgiace from the Galapagos westward out to 135W, weakening west of there. A modest warming trend continues off Africa to Brazil.
Hi-res Overview: (10/5) 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: (10/6) Today's temps were falling at -0.325 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (10/6) temps were steady but well negative at -0.954 degs, falling from a recent peak on 9/25 at +0.45 degs (9/25). 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 (10/6) This model suggests La Nina was steady from July to Oct 1 at -0.5 degs. The forecast indicates temps are to start falling reaching -1.05 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 (10/6): The daily index was up some at +12.25 and has been hovering in the +15-20 range since 9/10. The 30 day average was up some at +13.66. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average continued up some at +8.31, 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): (10/6) Today's value was steady at -1.60 (the lowest it has been so far in this event was -1.65 on 10/4) 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