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.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.3 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 14.9 secs from 321 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.2 ft @ 12.0 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 11.5 secs from 288 degrees. Wind northwest 4 kts. Water temperature 64.4 degs. At Santa Barbara no data was available. At Santa Monica swell was 1.7 ft @ 11.1 secs from 265 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.2 ft @ 11.9 secs from 277 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.3 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 3.8 ft @ 19.6 secs from 306 degrees. Wind northeast 6-8 kts. Water temp 58.3 degs.
46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Wednesday (11/2) in North and Central CA small swell from the Northwestern Gulf was starting to hit hitting producing waves at 1-2 ft overhead at top exposed breaks and clean. At Santa Cruz the same swell was producing waves at head high and clean but pretty soft looking. In Southern California residuals of the previous swell were producing waves in the waist to chest high range and clean and lined up early and fun looking. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were chest high or so and clean and lined up and rideable. Hawaii's North Shore was getting sideband Gulf swell with waves 2 ft overhead at top spots and clean and lined up. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell at waist high and chopped from east trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Swell from a small and short-lived storm in the Northwestern Gulf on Sun (10/30) with up to 39 ft seas aimed east was hitting California. A gale was tracking east through the Central Gulf Tues-Wed (11/2) producing 30-33 ft seas aimed east. much smaller than originally forecast. Swell to target California well. Secondary fetch developed over the same area Wed-Thurs (11/3) producing 25-30 ft seas tracking east. And another fetch is to be directly behind that developing in the Central Gulf on Thurs-Fri (11/4) with 24-26 ft seas aimed east. And a more defined system is forecast developing in the exact same area on Fri (11/4) with 35 ft seas aimed east. Much swell is possible for the US West Coast with some sideband swell for the Islands. And a larger system is to follow on Sat-Tues (11/8) tracking over the dateline and into the Gulf with up to 42 ft seas aimed southeast with yet another system behind that. Winter is setting up.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Wednesday AM (11/2) the jetstream was consolidated ridging gently northeast over the dateline with winds building to 170 kts then falling southeast into the Central Gulf forming a well defined trough and offering good support for gale development. From there the jet ridged slightly northeast and pushed into coastal British Columbia. Overall the jet was well configured. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to hold while easing east peaking Wed PM (11/2) with a broad swath of 120-160 kt winds consolidated ridging off Japan tracking over the dateline then falling into the aforementioned trough offering great support for gale development. Winds to build over the dateline Thurs (11/3) falling southeast into the Gulf at nearly 190 kts feeding development of another trough in the Gulf on Fri (11/4) offering great support for gale development into early Sat (11/5), with the trough then starting to get pinched off the PAcific northwest with support for gale development fading. Beyond 72 hours winds are to again pulse on the dateline building in a ridge there Sun-Mon (11/7) reaching 190 kts falling into a developing trough in the Central Gulf of Alaska forming another well defined trough and offering great support for gale development into Tues (11/8). That trough to pinch off just off North California Tuesday evening, but another pulse of wind energy to build in the ridge over the dateline on Wed (11/9) forming another trough over the Central Gulf being fed by 160 kt winds and again offering good support for gale development there. and the pattern is to still be solid tracking off Japan. It appears the Active Phase of the MJO is in.cgiay supporting a stronger jetstream pattern.
On Wednesday (11/2) swell from a small storm that developed over the Aleutians just east of the dateline on Sun (10/30) was hitting California (see West Gulf Gale below). Of more interest is swell that is radiating east originating from a broader gale that is currently tracking through the Gulf today (see Gulf Storm below). Secondary fetch is following right behind on Wed (11/2) (see Secondary Gulf Fetch below). And yet another gale is to form in the Gulf right behind on Fri (11/4) (see 3rd Gulf Gale below). A very active pattern is occurring.
West Gulf Gale
A broad area of low pressure was developing just west of the dateline on Sat PM (10/29) aided by a strong jetstream flow aloft generating 45 kt west winds down at the surface and starting to get traction on the ocean with seas building from 27 ft at 47N 175E. On Sun AM intensification occurred with west winds building to 50 kts over a small area just a bit south of the Aleutians west of the dateline and seas pushing 39 ft at 50.5N 173W (340 degs HI, 307 degs NCal). The storm tracked east-northeast in the evening moving mostly north of the Eastern Aleutians with residual 40 kt west winds continuing barely in the open Pacific moving into the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska with seas fading fast from 33 ft at 53N 165W (353 degs HI, 312 degs NCal). The storm moved north up into the East Bering Sea on Mon AM (10/31) with winds fading from 30-35 kts over exposed waters south of the Aleutians and seas fading from 26 ft at 50N 165W bypassing Hawaii but sending sideband energy down the 306 degs path to North CA. This system faded from there. Swell was radiating mainly east toward the US West Coast.
NCal: Swell arrival expected during the day Wed (11/2) pushing 3.8 ft @ 17 secs at sunset (6.0-6.5 ft). Thurs AM (11/3) swell is to be fading from 5 ft @ 15 secs (7.5 ft) and likely being overrun by new swell late. Swell Direction: 307-310 degrees
Another gale started developing just east of the dateline on Mon PM (10/31) producing a solid area of 35-40 kt northwest winds moving towards the Gulf of Alaska with seas building from 27 ft over a broad area at 43N 172W (335 degs HI, 294 degs NCal). That fetch moved cleanly in to the Central Gulf Tues AM (11/1) with winds to 45 kt over a small area aimed east and mostly bypassing Hawaii, targeting mainly California with seas building to 33 ft at 42N 160W (360 degs HI, 292 degs NCal). In the evening fetch moved east and consolidated still at 45 kts targeting NCal well with seas holding at 32 ft at 40N 151W (285 degs NCal, 293 degs SCal). The Jason-2 satellite passed right over the fetch confirming seas at 32.2 ft with one reading to 34.9 ft. The model was right on track. Fetch is to build some Wed AM (11/2) to 45 kts from the west over a smaller area 850 nmiles west of NCal with seas 31 ft at 41N 144W (289 degs NCal, 297 degs SCal). Fetch is to fade from 40 kts while lifting northeast in the evening just off North Oregon with seas 31 ft over a modest area at 43N 137W (301 degs NCal). A short pulse of somewhat larger but raw swell to result for the US West Coast.
North CA: Rough data suggests swell getting solid 2 hours after sunset Thurs (11/3) building to 8.5 ft @ 17-18 secs (14.5-16.5 ft). Residuals fading Fri AM (11/4) from 8.2 ft @ 14-15 secs (11.9 ft) and fading from there. Swell Direction: 285-295 degrees
Southern CA: Rough data suggests swell starting to peak mid-day Fri (11/4) with pure swell at 4.8 ft @ 17-18 secs (8.5 ft) and bigger at exposed breaks (8.5 ft @ 17-18 secs). Residuals fading Fri AM (11/4) from 4.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.5-6.0 ft) and fading from there. Swell Direction: 295-297 degrees
Secondary Gulf Fetch
On Tues PM (11/1) a secondary fetch of 40 kt northwest winds was dropping southeast from the Western Gulf generating 29 ft seas at 46N 169W (338 degs HI, 299 degs NCal). Fetch continued tracking southeast fast on Wed AM (11/2) fading to 35-40 kts with seas 30 ft at 44N 158W (357 degs HI, 295 degs NCal). That fetch is to fade in the evening from 35 kt west winds and seas 26 ft over a broad area near 40N 144W (285 degs NCal). On Thurs AM (11/3) additional energy is to build in from the west producing west winds at 40 kt 1200 nmiles west of Pt Arena CA with seas building from 23 ft at 39N 145W (282 degs NCal, 292 degs SCal). Fetch is to be lifting northeast fast in the evening at 35-40 kts with seas 24 ft at 42N 137W (296 degs NCal) and moving out of the swell window beyond. Possible reinforcing westerly swell for Central CA.
North CA: Rough data suggests swell arrival 1 AM Sat (11/5) with period 17 secs and size building some peaking around 3 AM at 7.6-8.5 ft @ 15 secs (11.4-12.8 ft). Swell Direction: 282-296 degrees
3rd Gulf Gale
On Thurs AM (11/3) a new fetch of 45 kt northwest winds is to build in the Central Gulf right where mult.cgie other system have tracked getting good traction on an already roughed up sea state. Sea building from 26 ft at 42.5N 160W. Fetch in the evening is to ease east and building to 45-50 kts with seas building from 32 ft at 42N 152W (291 degs NCal). On Fri AM (11/4) fetch is to be fading from 45 kts from the west aimed well at California with seas 36 ft at 43N 149W (292 degrees NCal). Fetch is to fall southeast in the evening at 40 kts from the west with seas fading from 34 ft at 41N 141W (290 degrees NCal). A quick fade to follow. A solid pulse of west swell is possible for Central CA late in the weekend.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Wednesday AM (11/2) weak high pressure was just off the coast ridging into mainly Southern CA generating a weak wind pattern with a front impacting Cape Mendocino generating south winds there at 25 kts. Maybe some light rain to develop after sunset for Cape Mendo and points northward. Thursday (11/3) another front is to stall well off the North CA coast with light northwest winds for all of CA less than 10 kts and no rain forecast. Friday more of the same but maybe light south winds for Cape Mendocino in the afternoon. Saturday a weak front from the previous day is to push south tall and dissipate over Pt Reyes with rain moving south to Monterey Bay after sunset and dissipating there overnight. Sunday AM a weak pressure and wind pattern is expected with another large low queuing up in the Gulf. South winds 15 kts developing for Cape Mendocino. Monday the front from that gale is to be moving into North CA with south winds 20 kts and south winds reaching south to Pt Reyes 5 kts at sunset approaching with the high getting suppressed and light northwest winds 10 kts or less expected for the entire coast late afternoon. On Tuesday (11/8) the front is to weaken and dissipate near San Francisco with south winds 10 kts and stronger up into North CA to 25 kts over Cape Mendocino with rain pushing south to the Golden Gate overnight. On Wednesday high pressure is to start building in with northwest winds 15 kts for all of Central CA by afternoon.
No swell of interest was in the water and no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Another storm is forecast developing on the dateline Sat AM (11/5) with 50 kt west winds over a solid area and seas building from 39 ft at 45.5N 176E. In the evening 45-50 kt west winds to be tracking east-southeast with seas building to 41 ft at 43N 176W. The original fetch is to fade but new 45-50 kt northwest fetch is to build in the Western Gulf on Sun AM (11/6) with seas 36 ft over a broad area at 42N 168W targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast. 45-50 kt northwest winds to track east in the evening with 40 ft seas regenerating in the Western Gulf at 40N 161W. Fetch fading from 40-45 kts on Mon AM (11/7) with seas fading from 39 ft at 40N 154W. Fetch fading from 35 kts in the evening well off the CA coast with seas fading from 37 ft over a large area at 41N 150W. Possible solid swell for Hawaii and the US West Coast.
And another small gale is to be behind that forming over the northern dateline on Mon AM (11/7) with west winds 45 kts and seas 33 ft at 50N 173E. In the evening 45 kt northwest winds to continue southeast moving over the dateline with seas 34 ft over a modest area at 47.5N 178E. On Tues AM (11/8) fetch is to build to 50 kts from the northwest with seas 35 ft at 46N 174W. Fetch to fade some in the evening from 45 kts with 36 ft seas at 46N 168W. On Wed AM (11/9) a new fetch of 45-50 kt northwest winds are to develop in the Western Gulf with seas building from 39 ft at 44.5N 169W.And more is expected from this system.
What a great pattern setting up!
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
Active MJO In Control For Now - But SOI Starting to Rise
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 Tuesday (11/1) 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 but very weak easterly over the KWGA. The Inactive Phase of the MJO appears to still be in.cgiay but other indicators suggest the Active Phase is.cgiaying a role.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Strong east anomalies were modeled over the eastern KWGA starting 11/1 and are to continue but slowly fade to moderate strength into 11/8 and weaker after that. So it looks like another pulse of the Inactive Phase of the MJO or more likely La Nina is occurring. This is a continuation of the first real easterly wind burst from this La Nina which started on 9/23 and is continuing through today. We are now thinking it will not end anytime soon but rather will just pulse, stronger at times, then weaker, in true La Nina fashion.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 11/1 a neutral MJO signal was indicated over the KWGA in the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern holding for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Active Phase of the MJO developing in the West Pacific 5 days out and holding while easing east to the dateline 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (11/2) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was indiscernible inside the cone of weakness. But it suggests the Active Phase is to emerge in the West Pacific 3 days out holding at moderate status while tracking east through the 14 day mark. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. We suspect that the Active Phase of the MJO is actually already in.cgiay by virtue of the SOI (see below) and is to track east for the next 2 weeks. This is good news.
40 day Upper Level Model: (10/29) This model depicts a neutral pattern over the Pacific. No change is forecast for the next 40 days.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (11/2) This model depicts no MJO signal present with moderate east anomalies in the KWGA through 11/7. A neutral wind pattern to follow until the Inactive Phase develops in the West Pacific starting 11/16 holding through 12/4 but with neutral anomalies remaining in KWGA. A weak Active Phase is forecast to follow 12/12-1/1 with weak west anomalies for the KWGA. Overall the MJO signal is projected to be very weak and this pattern is to hold as we move deeper into Fall. We suspect La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, and producing weak east anomalies in the KWGA but not producing an outright Inactive Phase of the MJO.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (11/2) No Change - Actual temperatures are stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 160E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 178W and steep, 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 is weakly negative with one tight pocket of -4 degs anomalies at 140W down 125 meters but otherwise no cooler than -1 degs below normal at 150m. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is full of neutral to slightly cooler than normal water. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 10/20 depicts the same thing but a bit cooler. 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: (11/1) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a small cool pocket of water along the immediate coast of Peru building some off North Peru reaching almost to the Galapagos. Warmer water is in control along the coast of Ecuador reaching almost to the Galapagos too. Cool water becomes more defined just west of the Galapagos and continues along the equator continuously out to 120W a little stronger than weeks past. Cool water has a larger footprint west of there 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 now starting to take control of the East Pacific too, but with less energy.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (11/1): A modest cooling trend is developing from Ecuador west over the Galapagos out to 130W almost in one continuous but thin stream. Pockets of warming and cooling waters are west of there as they have been for months but balanced in favor of warming. A weak warming trend is fading off Africa to Brazil.
Hi-res Overview: (11/1) A La Nina cool pool is most present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. But a thin continuous cool stream is present extending from Ecuador to 120W on the equator. La Nina is building slightly.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (11/2) Today's temps were warming to +0.421 degs up from a week ago.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (11/2) temps were leveling out after falling and are down to -1.146 degs. We're in a cool pulse now, but it looks like it's nearly peaked out. Temps 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.
CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (11/2) This model suggests La Nina held from July thru Oct 1 in the -0.55 deg range. The forecast indicates temps are to start falling gently reaching -0.9 degs in late Dec, then rising steadily from Jan 1 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-Oct Plume depicts temps have reached their peak minimum at -0.6. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to -0.2 in Jan 2017 and neutral in April, starting to turn weakly positive after that to +0.6 in June. This is up slightly 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 (11/2): This is where the interesting data is. The daily index has rebounded up to +18.32 but was previously down to -35.46 on 10/28, part of a 13 day falling trend. The 30 day average was rising some at -4.41, up from -5.10 on 10/31 and falling from a high of +14.03 on 10/7. This strongly suggests the Active Phase of the MJO or some other mode of variability was having the same effect as the Active Phase of the MJO. The 90 day average is down some at +4.64. La Nina is evolving, but not strongly (so far).
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (11/2) Today's value was falling at -1.92. This was a new peak low, the deepest it has been so far in this event suggesting La Nina is getting better established.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker lately (as expected with La Nina setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Sept) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.42, +0.76, +0.12 then falling to -0.87 and -1.06 in Sept.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Sept) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03, +1.25 +0.52 and +0.45 in Sept.
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