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 25, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 18.2 secs with swell 2.7 ft @ 17.8 secs from 308 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.4 ft @ 11.4 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 10.3 secs from 239 degrees. Wind northwest 4 kts. Water temperature 66.9 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.3 ft @ 9.8 secs from 272 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.5 ft @ 10.3 secs from 249 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.4 ft @ 11.5 secs from 244 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 12.2 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 8.2 ft @ 12.8 secs from 289 degrees. Wind south-southeast 23-29 kts. Water temp 57.6 degs.
46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Tuesday (10/25) in North and Central CA a new local East Gulf swell was hitting producing waves in the 8-10 ft range on the face at exposed breaks and pretty hacked from south winds except at protected breaks. At Santa Cruz the same swell was producing waves at shoulder to head high and heavily warbled by south winds. In Southern California previous days swell was still present producing waves in the thigh to waist high range and clean and lined up. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were waist high and clean but weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting small Kuril Island swell with set waves head high plus and clean and lined up but inconsistent. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting thigh high east windswell and chopped from east trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Swell from a gale that tracked off the Kuril's on Fri-Sat (10/22) with up to 32 ft seas aimed east was hitting Hawaii. Swell from a local gale just off Oregon on Mon-Tues (10/25) with 26 ft seas was hitting Central CA but pretty raw. Another gale is forecast falling southeast from the Northern Gulf on Thurs-Sat (10/29) with seas fading from 35 ft (see Gulf Gale below). And of more interest is a storm forecast for the North Dateline region tracking into the Western Gulf Sun-Tues (11/2) with up to 52 ft seas aimed east (see Long Term Forecast below). Winter is possibly upon us.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday AM (10/25) the jetstream was consolidated tracking east off Japan forming a weak trough off the Northern Kurils then ridging over the Western Gulf of Alaska and falling into a steep trough over the Eastern Gulf of Alaska. Winds were 130 kts feeding the Japan trough but up to 160 kts feeding the Gulf trough offering good support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to get steeper and pinched while falling southeast into late Wed (10/26) slowly loosing it's ability to support gale formation. But back to the west wind energy is to start building pushing 180 kts over Japan on Fri (10/28) and tracking due east before hitting the aforementioned ridge in the Western Gulf. Improved support for gale formation is possible in the West Pacific. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to continue to improve with 180 kt winds pushing off Japan tracking over the dateline on Sun (10/30) building to 190+ kts on Monday and starting to form a gentle trough in the Western Gulf of Alaska. The leading edge of the jet is to reach the Oregon-CA border on Tues AM (11/1). At that time the jet is to be tracking flat from Japan to North CA with winds 150-160 kts over its length. Good support for gale development is possible. It looks like a late Fall pattern is starting early.
On Tuesday (10/26) swell from a gale that tracked off the Kuril Islands was hitting Hawaii (see Kuril Island Gale below). Also a local swell that originated just off Oregon was hitting North and Central CA (see East Gulf Gale below).
Today and over the next 72 hours a fetch of 30-35 kt west winds was in place off the North Kuril Islands on Tues AM (10/25) generating 20 ft seas at 46N 163E targeting Hawaii somewhat. That fetch is to lift northeast in the evening at 30-35 kts generating 20 ft seas over a modest area centered at 50N 170E then fading on Wed AM (10/26). Secondary fetch at 45 kt from the west is to move over the same area mid-day Wed (10/26) perhaps generating 24-26 ft seas at 48-50N 170E. Possible small background swell to result for Hawaii but mostly not of concern given what else is on the charts.
Gulf Gale - Of more interest is a gale forecast developing over the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska on Wed PM (10/26) producing 50 kt northwest winds over a small area and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. Seas are forecast building from 25 ft at 53N 155W targeting mainly Canada. That fetch is to hold it's ground and build to nearly 55 kt Thurs AM (10/27) over a small area with seas building to 36 ft at 52N 153W again aimed east at Canada and the Pacific Northwest. In the evening the gale is to start falling southeast with winds 45 kts and seas 34 ft at 50N 150W. The gale to continue falling southeast on Fri AM (10/28) with winds 40 kt from the northwest and seas 30 ft at 48N 147W targeting California best. The gale to continue southeast in the evening with winds fading from 35-40 kts and seas 28 ft targeting Central CA well. 35 kt northwest winds to continue 700 nmiles off North CA on Sat AM (10/29) with seas fading from 27 ft at 40N 140W targeting Central and South CA. Fetch is to be fading from 30 kts in the evening with seas fading from 23 ft at 37N 134W targeting Southern CA and Baja. This system to dissipate after that. Assuming all goes as forecast a nice pulse of modest swell could result for the Pacific northwest down into North and Central CA with lesser size into South CA. Something to monitor.
Kuril Island Gale
A gale developed off the South Kuril Islands on Fri AM (10/21) producing 45 kt west winds just free and clear of the South Kuril's with seas building from 29 ft at 43N 152E. On Fri PM (10/21) the fetch continued producing 40-45 kt west winds with seas building to 30 ft at 44N 159E targeting Hawaii (315 degrees). On Sat AM (10/22) this system moved northeast and was fading with 35 kt west winds and seas fading from 30 ft at 45N 166E (315 degs HI). This system is to fade in the evening with winds dropping from 35 kts and seas 26 ft up at 48N 172E. Small swell is possible for Hawaii.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival late Tues (10/25) with swell building to 3.9 ft @ 15-16 secs (6.0 ft). Swell fading Wed AM (10/26) from 3.9 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.5 ft) and dissipating over night. Swell Direction: 312-315 degrees
East Gulf Gale
A gale developed just west of Oregon on Mon AM (10/24) producing 40-45 kt west winds with seas building from 20 ft at 42N 133W (302 degs NCal). In the evening fetch faded from 40 kts just off the coast with 35 kt northwest winds continuing further out to sea targeting CA well. Seas were 28 ft just off Oregon pushing north with 24 ft seas at 42N 130W (307 degs NCal). This system wa moving onshore on Tues AM (10/25) no longer producing seas of interest.
North CA: Raw swell is possible reaching south to San Francisco Tues AM (10/25) at 8.4 ft @ 14 secs (11.5 ft) from 304 degrees. Swell fading Wed AM (10/26) from 4 ft @ 12 secs (4.5 ft).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Hurricane Seymour was positioned 700 nmiles southwest of Cabo San Lucas Mexico tracking west at 11 kts with winds 105 kts and seas 38 ft. The rather solid westward heading was preventing any real swell from radiating north towards our forecast area. Seymour is to peak this evening with winds 120 kts (138 mph) starting to make a slight drift to the north-northwest. On Wed AM (10/26) Seymour is to start turning west-northwest and positioned 1,000 nmiles south of Dana Point CA (183 degs) with winds 115 kts. Still the storms travel path was not good for pushing swell towards CA. In the evening a turn to the northwest is forecast with winds dropping from 100 kts positioned 950 nmiles from Data Point on the 190 degree path. Improving odds for swell generation relative to Southern CA is possible. On Thurs AM (10/27) Seymour is to be tracking north-northwest with winds fading fast from 85 kts 900 nmiles from Pt Dume on the 190 deg heading offering decent odds for swell generation potential there. A quick fade is forecast thereafter with Seymour down to weak tropical storm status 24 hr later (45 kt winds) heading north.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (10/25) two low pressure systems were in play locally, one just off Vancouver Island and the second 600 nmiles west of Pt Conception and interacting with each other resulting in a steady south wind flow from Morro Bay northward but mostly not exceeding 15 kts. Patchy light rain was from Pigeon point northward focused mainly from coastal San Francisco northward. Wednesday the south most low is to be racing north and poised to impact the Pacific Northwest with a front and south winds at 15-20 kts over North CA and south winds at 10 kts from Morro Bay northward. Rain confined to North CA. Thursday (10/27) another little local low winds up off Pt Conception with south winds developing for the entire Central CA coast midday with rain for all of Central CA to Cape Mendocino and pushing into Southern CA overnight. The low is to impact the Central Coast Fri AM (10/28) at sunrise with south winds and rain, then fading through the day Friday and gone by sunset, but more low pressure is to be developing offshore. Snow for the highest peak from Tahoe southward into the Yosemite and the High Sierra. The next low is to be 450 nmiles off North CA Sat AM (10/29) with a front just off the coast and south winds 10 kts early from Pt Conception northward building to 20+ kts from Big Sur northward and light rain from Big Sur northward. The core of the low is to move onshore Sunday AM (10/30) with south winds 15+ kts early AM from Pt Conception to Pt Reyes turning northwest late afternoon. Rain for Pt Conception northward heaviest early and fading through the day. Finally real snow for Tahoe and the Southern Sierra starting before sunrise and peaking late AM then fading slowly into the evening. Yet another weak local low is forecast on Monday impacting North CA with south winds 15-20 kts there but north at 20 kts for Pt Conception with high pressure trying to nose in. Rain building south down to Monterey Bay at sunset and light snow for Tahoe northward. yet another front is to be impacting North CA on Tues (11/1) with south winds and light rain down to Pt Reyes early. Certainly a prolific early season rain pattern.
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
A broad area of low pressure is forecast developing just west of the dateline on Sat PM (10/29) aided by a strong jetstream flow aloft generating 40-45 kt west winds down at the surface and starting to get traction on the ocean with seas building from 20 ft at 43N 175E. On Sun AM Rapid intensification is forecast with west winds building to storm status at 60-65 kts just a bit south of the Aleutians near the dateline and seas pushing 47 ft at 49N 178W (331 degs HI, 305 degs NCal). The storm is to track east in the evening with a solid area of 55 kt west winds continuing moving into the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska with seas building to 52 ft at 48N 170W (342 degs HI, 302 degs NCal). The storm is to ease east on Mon AM (10/31) with winds still 50 kts from the west and seas fading from 48 ft at 50N 163W bypassing Hawaii but sending good energy down the 307 degs path to North CA. the gale is to start there in the evening with winds 45 kts from the west and seas fading from 39 ft at 51N 160W (308 degs NCal). Fetch is to east east some Tues AM (11/1) with winds fading from 40+ kts and sea fading from 35 ft over a broad area at 50N 160W (307 degs NCal). This system is to fade from there. Certainly something to monitor.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
SOI Falling to Near Neutral
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 planet, 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 split 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 (10/24) 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 weak easterly over the KWGA. The Inactive Phase of the MJO appears to still be in play.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Weak east anomalies were over the KWGA on 10/25 and are to be fading, loosing coverage and easing east but still embedded over the dateline at the end of the model run on 11/1. This indicates the Inactive Phase of the MJO is loosing control, a good thing, but is to still not fade completely. The first real east wind burst from this La Nina started on 9/23 and continued through 10/25, then is to dissipate.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 10/24 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 with perhaps a weak Active MJO signal appearing over the far West Pacific. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Inactive Phase starting to move into the West Pacific 2 weeks out. This is no change from what both models have been indicating for weeks. So these models are not particularly believable.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (10/25) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was indiscernible and is forecast holding inside the cone of weakness for the next 10 days, possibly emerging in the West Pacific 12-14 days out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing initially, but with stronger indications of the Active Phase appearing in the East Pacific a week out and moving east. We suspect no positive affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is to result assuming it does emerge.
40 day Upper Level Model: (10/25) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO pattern over the West Pacific. It is to ease east into Central America through 11/12 with another pulse developing in the West Pacific at the same time tracking east into Central America through 12/4.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (10/25) This model depicts no MJO signal present. A neutral MJO pattern is to hold through 11/9 then turning weakly turning towards the Inactive Phase in the West Pacific starting holding through 12/11 supporting neutral wind anomalies. A weak Active Phase is forecast to follow 12/20-1/18 with weak west anomalies for the KWGA. Overall the MJO signal is very weak and is to hold as we move deeper into Fall. 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: (10/25) No Change - Actual temperatures are stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 158E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 175W 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 178W with neutral to weak negative anomalies east of there to Ecuador. The cool subsurface flow is weakly negative with one 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: (10/24) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a small cool pocket of water along the immediate coast of North Peru extending up in to Ecuador at -1.5 degs but loosing coverage compared to weeks past. Warm water is just west of that cool pool. Pockets of cooler water continue along the equator from the Galapagos west to 120W, then becoming more established west of there to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. The coverage of the cooler waters from Ecuador westward is a bit smaller than in the past week or so. La Nina is in control of surface waters of the Central Pacific.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/24): A warming trend is developing from Ecuador west over the Galapagos out to 120W. 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 continues off Africa to Brazil.
Hi-res Overview: (10/21) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. A thin but continuous cool stream is rebuilding from Ecuador to 120W on the equator.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (10/25) Today's temps were steady at -0.394 degs down from temps a week ago.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (10/25) temps were leveling off after rising for the past 2 weeks but still negative at -0.372 degs, and still well below a peak on 9/25 at +0.45 degs (9/25). 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 (10/25) 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 reaching -0.95 degs in late Dec, then rising steadily from Jan reaching neutral in mid-March 2017 and up to +0.5 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 Decoupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (10/25): The daily index was up some at 4.12. The 30 day average was down solidly at +2.33, falling from a high of +14.03 on 10/7. This suggests the MJO or some other mode of variability was having the same effect as the Active Phase of the MJO. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average is down some at +6.17. It transitioned 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): (10/22) Today's value was rising slightly at -1.66 (it peaked at -1.77 on 10/12, the deepest it has been so far in this event) suggesting La Nina is getting 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 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