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.
On Saturday (11/15) in North and Central CA surf was head high, lined up and clean but soft at better breaks but with north texture and building at most. Down in Santa Cruz surf was chest high on the sets and clean and lined up but weak. In Southern California up north surf was waist to chest high and lined up and clean, looking quite rideable. Down south waves were also waist to chest high with some bigger sets and lined up when the sets came and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting smaller Gulf swell with waves 2-3 ft overhead and clean at better breaks coming from the northwest. The South Shore was flat with onshore winds and trashed. The East Shore was getting wrap around northerly swell with waves chest to shoulder high and clean.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
A weak fetch produced 20 ft seas just northwest of Hawaii on Wed-Thurs (11/13) and that swell is hitting Hawaii now and bound for the US West Coast on Sunday (11/16). A micro gale to generate 20 ft seas off Oregon Sat PM (11/15) offering small swell for the US West Coast while an equally weak system tracks north of Hawaii Sat-Sun (11/16) with 18-20 ft seas. Small 12 sec period swell possible for Hawaii on Monday (11/17). The Hawaiian gale to redevelop off Central CA on Mon-Tues (11/18) with 18 ft seas pushing targeting mainly South and Central CA wit some precipitation for the same locales. And a broader system is to develop in the Eastern Gulf on Thurs-Fri (11/21) with 26 ft seas. But overall the pattern has turned anemic thanks to what appears to be an unexpected turn towards the Inactive Phase of the MJO and the subsequent demise of the the West Pacific Tropics cutting off the su.cgiy of warm moist air into the mid-North Pacific latitudes.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Saturday (11/15) the jet was ridging northeast off Central Japan with winds building to 180 kts arching over the dateline then falling southeast to a point 450 nmiles north of Hawaii forming a weak trough there but loosing all energy, then redeveloping some with winds rebuilding to 140 kts while arching northeast pushing into Oregon. Limited support for gale development was indicated in the trough north of Hawaii. Over the next 72 hours the trough north of Hawaii is to slowly ease east with winds to 130 kts falling into it but getting progressively pinched all the while before dissolving early Tues (11/18). Back to the west the ridge off Japan is to flatten with winds slowly fading down to 130 kts. Limited support for gale development is possible in the pinched trough north of Hawaii. Beyond 72 hours winds are to start rebuilding on the dateline Tues (11/18) to 180 kts then moderating and pushing east setting up a flat jetstream flow from Japan to a point north of Hawaii on the 38N latitude line with a bit of a .cgiit off the US West Coast at 150W but progressively being driven east, with the flat flow pushing inland over North CA on Sat (11/22) at 130 kts. Limited support for gale development mainly near the dateline with a zonal (flat) flow in effect.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (11/15) swell from a secondary gale that formed in the Western Gulf Wed-Thurs (11/13) was fading in Hawaii and bound for the US West Coast on Sun (11/16) (see Secondary Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours a micro gale is forecast developing off Oregon on Sat AM (11/15) producing 35 kt west winds over a tiny area and lifting northeast. Seas on the increase. Winds to hold in the evening at 30 kts with seas building to 20 ft at 44N 144W (303 degs NCal). Fetch is to move north off Vancouver Island Sun AM (11/12) and fade. Small swell for North CA possible on Mon (11/17) at 4 ft @ 11-12 secs (4.5 ft) late from 303 degrees.
Another somewhat broader gale is to develop in the Western Gulf on Sat AM (11/15) with 35 kt northwest winds and seas building from 17 ft at 43N 174W. In the evening 35 kt northwest winds to be tracking southeast generating 20 ft seas at 39N 164W (344 degs HI). The gale to fade with 30 kt northwest fetch fading with seas from previous fetch 20 ft at 40N 159W (358 degs HI). Possible small swell for Hawaii on Mon (11/17) at 7.2 ft @ 13 secs (9 ft) from 345-350 degrees
Remnants of the Hawaiian gale (directly above) are to push towards the US West Coast forming a local gale off North CA on Mon (11/17) Am generating 30 kt west winds well south at 32N 140W targeting Southern CA. Those winds to hold at 30 kts in the evening generating 18 ft seas at 34N 140W (264 degs NCal, 280 degs SCal). Winds to fade to 25 kts from the northwest Tues AM (11/18) generating more 17 ft seas at 33N 135W (262 degs NCal, 278 degs SCal). Fetch is to lift northeast and fade after that pushing directly into San Francisco Wed (11/19). This to be more a weather event than anything for NCal, but something to monitor for SCal with very west angled windswell possible.
Another gale is forecast building west of the dateline Sun PM (11/16) with 35-40 kt west winds but moving fast east with seas 22 ft approaching the dateline, then the core of the low is to lifting northeast with 30-35 kt west winds over a fragmented area on the dateline Mon AM (11/17) generating 20-22 ft seas near 43N 178E (325 degs HI). The gale, though large in total coverage, is to lift into the East Bering Sea and fade in the evening with no fetch greater than 30 kts forecast and seas fading from 20 ft at 46N 180W (329 degs HI). No additional fetch of interest is forecast. Limited short period swell is possible for Hawaii if all goes as forecast.
A small secondary gale developed in the Western Gulf on Wed AM (11/12) generating 35 kt northwest winds 1200 nmiles northwest of Hawaii and producing 20 ft seas at 38N 164W targeting primarily Hawaii (HI 340 degs, 285 degs NCal). More of the same occurred in the evening with a tiny area of 35 kt northwest winds and seas 20 ft at 38N 158W (359 degs HI, 285 degs NCal). Fetch faded from 30 kts over a tiny area Thurs AM (11/13) generating 20 ft seas at 38N 152W (283 degs NCal). This system to fade after that. Possible small sideband swell for Hawaii and even less size for California.
NCal: Expect swell arrival on Sat PM (11/15) with period 14 secs and size peaking near 2 AM Sun (11/16) at 4.5 ft @ 13 secs. Swell fading at sunrise from 4.4 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 283-285 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical storms of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday AM (11/15) a weak pressure pattern was in.cgiay with generally light winds over the California coast other than 15-20 kt north winds near Pt Conception. Those winds to fade Sunday if not turning light easterly as a new low pressure system starts building well off the coast. Light rain for Cape Mendocino Sun PM. The low is to build more Monday, with south winds in control of Cape Mendocino late and building and pushing south Tuesday but still only 10 kts from Monterey Bay southward but 20 kts up into Cape Mendocino. Rain starting over Central CA early Wednesday pushing over North and Central CA down to Pt Conception through the day. South winds 20+ kts early fading while pushing south to Point Conception later in the day. Snow for Tahoe Wed PM. A light wind pattern is forecast Thursday turning northerly later for North and Central AC at 10-15 kts while another low builds in the Gulf. Light precip Thursday clearing for North and Central CA, Light snow Thursday for Tahoe. High pressure to build some on Friday with Northwest winds 15+ kts for the entire CA coast including Southern CA early fading for North AC late as a new front approaches. Light winds Saturday with rain for North CA pushing south.
Surface Analysis - 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
Beyond 72 hours remnants of a previous Bering Sea gale are to become infused with limited tropical air generating a supposed new gale with winds to 45 kts over a tiny area in the Gulf on Thurs PM (11/20) with seas building to 24 ft at 43N 151W (294 degs NCal). That fetch is to lift northeast on Fri Am (11/21) with winds still 45 kts and growing some in coverage with 28 ft seas at 46N 143W (303 degs NCal). Wins to fade from 35-40 kts and lift northeast fast in the evening with 26 ft seas off Vancouver Island at 48N 138W (319 degs NCal). swell possible for mainly the Pacific Northwest.
Note: 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. 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. 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).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) On Saturday (11/15) the daily SOI was down to -10.69. The 30 day average was rising at -11.04 and the 90 day average was holding at -8.33. The near term trend based on the 30 day average was indicative of a weakening Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a steady-state Active Phase of the MJO with the 90 day average near -8 for a month now. A weak trough was trying to form over Tahiti and is forecast holding into Tuesday (11/18) then giving way to higher pressure. A bit of a rise in the 30 and 90 day averages expected starting Tues (11/18).
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated light to modest east anomalies were over the Eastern Maritime Continent turning neutral near the dateline. West anomalies were east of there extending south of Hawaii then returning to neutral and holding the rest of the way to the Galapagos. A week from now (11/23) modest east anomalies are forecast fading over the Maritime Continent turning neutral on the dateline, and continuing neutral south of Hawaii before turning weak westerly while approaching the Galapagos. Down at the surface the TOA array indicated a mix of light east and west anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area.
Looking at the trend over the past few months there has not been a extended period of enhanced trades so far this year, and we're over 304 days into the year. The trend is clearly towards westerly anomalies (suppressed trades) which suggests a bias towards El Nino. Big westerly wind bursts occurred Jan-April, followed by a neutral period May into early June. The TOA array surface sensors (the ground truth) indicated moderate westerly anomalies re-developed west of the dateline 6/25-7/6, then again 7/11-7/20, building into a WWB and holding through 8/10. Light westerly anomalies developed again 8/20-8/22, 8/29-9/2, 9/10-9/17, and stronger 9/20-10/8 (a WWB) west of the dateline with another 10/12-10/31 (WWB) on the dateline. More weak west anomalies occurred 11/11-14. Neutral anomalies filled the gaps. A modest Kelvin Wave is impacting the Galapagos (11/3-11/15) associated with westerly anomalies during June, July into mid-August. And another Kelvin Wave is developing under the 160W region being fed by westerly anomalies in late October there. That's two WWBs over a 30 day window. We're in great shape with no easterly anomalies of interest have occurred all year.
See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here .
The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 11/14 are in sync. They both suggest a moderate Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the far West Pacific with a Active Path dissipating south of Hawaii. The Statistic model depicts the Inactive Phase fading over the next 15 days while pushing over the dateline. The Dynamic model has nearly the same thing, but not pushing east. Both depict an Active Phase developing over the next 15 days in the Indian Ocean. The ultra long range upper level model run on 11/15 depicts a weak and diffuse Inactive pulse over the dateline region pushing east and exiting over the East Pacific on 11/28. A weak Active Phase is to follow tracking west to east 11/28 through 12/15. The somewhat troubling development is that 1) both models are in sync and 2) the atmosphere seems to be responding somewhat like an Inactive Phase is building in the West Pacific. This means the MJO is returning, which in turns suggests El Nino might be giving up some ground. normally El Nino fades away during El Nino events. Something to monitor. Recent experience this year suggests this model overhypes any projected Inactive Phases. The models are calibrated assuming a neutral global weather pattern, and typically either overcall weather events during La Nina and undercall then during El Nino in the Pacific Basin. This suggests that warming water in the equatorial East Pacific is starting to have some gentle guiding impact on the atmosphere above. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.
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. As of the most recent low res imagery (11/13) a moderately warm water regime remains in control of the equatorial East Pacific, up some since early Sept and still building slowly. Warm pockets are getting better traction while tracking east between 90W to 160W, likely the result of the first of a pair of Kelvin Waves impacting the Galapagos region (as expected). A weak El Nino signature is becoming more defined per data since 11/10. TAO data suggests 0.5-2.0 deg C anomalies present from the Galapagos to 135W, then temps fade to no less than 0.5 degs west of there. +1.0-2.0 deg C anomalies are present west of the dateline. Hi res data suggests a string of pockets of +1.0-2.0 deg anomalies from the Galapagos to the dateline (the new Kelvin Wave erupting there). It appears warm water is building on the surface in the NINO 3.4 region based on TAO and hi res imagery.
Elsewhere, the entire North Pacific Ocean is full of warmer than normal water. There are virtually no signs of high pressure induced upwelling streaming southwest off California. Warm water remains entrenched along the California coast suggesting the Gulf of Alaska High pressure system is much weaker relative to normal years, with north winds and upwelling much suppressed. The South Pacific is also starting to build in warmth with only on small cool pocket well off Chile, not reaching even north to 10S and in decline. A warm regime has the upper hand over the entire Pacific Basin.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator continue solidly warm. As of 11/15 a +1.0 C anomaly flow was filling the equatorial Pacific from 150 meters up and east of 150E with a broad embedded pocket of +4 deg anomalies between 130-165W pushing east embedded in with a steady stream of +2.0 deg anomalies pushing east from there into the Galapagos. This is good news in that it indicates the pipe is wide open and a Kelvin Wave is in flight. Satellite data from 11/9 depicts a broad area of 0-5 cm anomalies are covering the entire equatorial Pacific from New Guinea to the Galapagos, with +5 cm anomalies south of Hawaii to 2/3rds of the way to the Galapagos indicative of a Kelvin Wave in flight pushing east. Other models collaborate the presumption of Kelvin Wave genesis. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (11/9) indicates the second of a pair of recent modest Kelvin Waves started building back at 145E-160W in Sept and is now pushing east reaching to 115W. When this second Kelvin Wave arrives in the east (about Jan 20) then we are set for the winter. Of course what is good enough to feed storm develop and what constitutes an official El Nino are two different things. We are focused on the former. The quandary now is whether this will be a one year event, or something longer.
Pacific Counter Current data as of 11/6 is vastly improved. The current is pushing west to east over the entire Pacific north of the equator focused on the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) reaching into Central America. If anything it's moving into the moderate to strong category over the entire area from the West Pacific to a point southeast of Hawaii. On and just south of the equator the current was generally pushing west to east except east to west east of Hawaii. Anomaly wise - west anomalies were just north of the equator over the width of the equatorial Pacific strongest near 170W.This data suggests a improved picture is developing with light westerly anomalies over the bulk of the equatorial Pacific to about 120W, very similar to the subsurface flow and supportive of warm water transport to the east.
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 11/15 for the Nino 3.4 region have upgraded significantly. It suggests water temps are up to +0.9 deg C and are to fade some to between +0.6-0.9 through April 2015. But the real interesting part is that water temps are to start building from +1.0 degs in May 2015, pushing +2.0 degs C by early August 2015. This suggests that perhaps we are moving towards a multi-year warm event, and not a weak one either. See the chart based version here - link. A consensus of other models are not as optimistic.
Analysis: A downwelling Kelvin Wave was generated and pushed east starting in Aug 2013, followed by a stronger one in Oct-Nov, and a massive one in Jan-April 2014. A weaker one followed in July with yet a modestly stronger one building under the dateline in October. The only interruptions have been attributable to the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle. Water temps in the Galapagos-Ecuador-Peru triangle have held remarkably consistent from May 2014 onward, even during upwelling phases. Continued suppressed trades with embedded weak westerly anomalies have held in the West Pacific all year so far producing the aforementioned Kelvin Wave with +3 degs C in flight now. There has been no signs of easterly anomalies or a shut down of the Kelvin Wave pipe for better than a year now. This is a huge step forward. See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here.
At this point a teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere is in.cgiay. Evidence includes a total breakdown of the Gulf of Alaska high pressure system this summer, resulting in very high water temps off California. Also the early season recurving of mult.cgie tropical low pressure systems tracking northeast off Japan bound for the dateline. And the pulse of tropical activity near Hawaii on the week of 8/4 and those systems continued evolution in the West Pacific is most telling. And then the near record pulse of tropical activity off Mexico (8/18-9/20) resulting in Lowell, Super Hurricane Marie, followed by Odile and Polo (though these last 2 produced no swell) and finally Rachel. And then even a few inches of snow in the Sierra on Sept 27 and again on Oct 15 and 6 inches on Oct 31. The last time any of this happened was during the '97 and '83 El Ninos. And mult.cgie recurving tropical systems pushed off Japan reaching the Gulf of Alaska in October (Fengshen and Vongfong). And then one more recurving tropical system in November (Super Typhoon Nuri). And even the Pacific Counter Current is now falling in line.
About 3 months of undisturbed heating is required for the atmosphere to start responding on a global level where the point of 'no return' could be achieved from our perspective. The warm pool starting forming in earnest on 5/1, and so the atmosphere would not trip over the 'no-return' point till 8/1. We have passed that threshold. As of 9/2, all the arguments against a feedback loop being in.cgiace were gone.
Note that what we consider 'teleconnected' and what NOAA considers threshold El Nino conditions are two different things and serve different purposes. We are focused on monitoring weather events that contribute to the production of open ocean storms 9and therefore swells) mainly in the Pacific Basin that may or may not have the same impacts as a full blown El Nino. So our criteria is certainly less than the threshold of NOAAs. That said, considering the size and duration of the westerly wind bursts in Jan-April, and the Kelvin Wave that preceded it, it seem hard to believe that at least some Pacific Basin wide 'change' was not already well entrenched even early this year, and had been developing since perhaps as early and Aug of 2013 (when the first Kelvin Wave of the series started taking shape). We will continue monitoring westerly wind anomalies and warm subsurface water buildup in and under the Kelvin Wave Generation area. Also monitoring of the NPac jetstream (which has already been productive) and Atlantic hurricane activity (which was nonexistent) are key. But at this time odds continue stacking up in favor that a global teleconnection is now established. If that's true, the focus then becomes estimating how deep the ENSO cycle will become, or whether it will stay shallow but transition into a multi-year event. At this time we're predisposed to the multiyear, Midoki scenario. And that is actually the better of all options.
Officially we are still in a neutral ENSO atmospheric pattern, with no El Nino in.cgiay. But given all current signs, from a winter storm and swell production perspective, atmospheric transition is well underway and we are in a far better.cgiace than previous years (2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013) under the direct influence of La Nina.
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
Details to follow...
External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
Updated - Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (11/16) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0EaO050tgE&feature=youtu.be&hd=1
For automatic notification of forecast updates, subscribe to the Stormsurf001 YouTube channel - just click the 'Subscribe' button below the video.
- - -
Greg Long - To the Edge and Back, a Big Wave Journey: An edge-of-your-seat lecture tour of the world of gigantic waves, predator encounters, remote e.cgioration, high seas adventure and more, woven into a true-life saga celebrating a remarkable journey through life. Historic Cottage, San Clemente State Beach Campground, 225 Avenida Calafia, San Clemente, CA 92672. September 16, 2014 Lecture at 7:00 p.m., reception 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m and September 17, 2014 Lecture at 7:00 p.m., reception 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $10 in advance, $15 at the door. LIMITED SEATING Purchase Online: Tuesday, Sept. 16 th : www.greglong2.eventbrite.com Wednesday, Sept. 17th: www.greglong.eventbrite.com Seating on the Historic Cottage patio, under the stars. Parking included with lecture ticket price.
||Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here: http://www.casanoble.com/
Mavericks Invitational Pieces Featuring Stormsurf:
Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.
Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's si.cgie and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet E.cgiorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way!
Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here
Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here
Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table