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, August 2, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.3 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 13.5 secs from 192 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 13.8 secs from 203 degrees. Wind northwest 4-8 kts. Water temperature 73.2 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.3 ft @ 6.6 secs from 262 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.6 ft @ 15.5 secs from 199 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.5 ft @ 14.8 secs from 190 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.6 ft @ 8.3 secs with windswell 3.3 ft @ 8.1 secs and southern hemi swell 2.0 ft @ 15.3 secs from 184 degrees. Wind west 4-8 kts. Water temp 56.3 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Tuesday (8/2) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell was producing waves at waist high and relatively clean but with some southerly wind bump on it at exposed breaks. At Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was small producing sets waves in the waist to almost chest high range and clean. In Southern California up north surf was near flat and clean with occassional thigh high sets. Down south southern hemi swell was producing waves in the chest high range and clean. Further down south top spots had set waves head high to 1 ft overhead and clean with just a littel texture intermixed. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting small southern hemi swell at waist to maybe chest high on the sets and clean. The East Shore was getting easterly windswell at thigh to maybe waist high.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
A weak gale developed in the Southeast Pacific on Sun-Mon (7/25) with 28 ft seas aimed north over a modest sized area. Small south angled swell is hitting California. An even smaller cut off gale is developed in the upper reaches of the Central Pacific on Wed-Fri (7/29) with seas peaking at 38 ft over a tiny area. Small swell possible for CA down into Peru. Tropical Storm Howard was 1,500 nmiles east of the Big Island of Hawaii with winds 50 kts. Slow weakening is forecast as this system tracks west. A small gale is forecast in the Central South Pacific on Fri-Sat with seas 28-30 ft over a tiny area Fri-Sat (8/6). Maybe some tiny swell to result for CA southward.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday AM (8/2) no swell producing fetch is occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.
The California coastal pressure gradient remained in effect on Tuesday (8/2) with high pressure at 1034 mbs positoned in the Gulf of Alaska ridging east into Oregon generating north winds at 25 kts along the North CA coast with 20 kt north winds down to a point well off Pt Conception offering windswell production potential. An eddy flow was in.cgiay from Pt Arena southward. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast but with the gradient building some in areal coverage with north winds holding at 25 kts but the eddy flow for Central CA collapsing on Wed (8/3) with no return forecast. Good odds for continued small windswell to result for North and Central CA but with conditions deteriorating.
For Hawaii on Tues (8/2) trades were steady at 15 kts driven by the saem high pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska making for bare minimal easterly windswell. More of the same is forecast on Wed (8/3) with 15 kt east-northeast winds stretching from tropical storm Howard over the Hawaiian Islands pushing to 20 kts on Thurs (8/4) generating some easterly windswell, then fading back to 15 kts on Fri (8/5).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Tropical Storm Howard was 1500 nmiles west of the Big Island of Hawaii with winds 50 kts tracking west-northwest at 13 kts. This heading to continue into Thurs (8/4) with winds fading slowly to 30-35 kts falling below Tropical Storm status and the heading turning more westerly. The remnants of this system at barely Tropical Depression status are to be located 170 nmiles north of the Big Island Sun AM (8/7) with winds 25 kts then starting to turn northwest and north on Mon (8/8) moving away from the Islands. Swell from Howard to reach the east shore of the Big Island on Sat AM (8/6) pushing 5 ft @ 11 secs (5.5 ft faces) from 60 degrees and the East Shore of Oahu Saturday afternoon at the same size. Something to monitor.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (8/2) high pressure was ridging into the extreme North CA coast from the Gulf of Alaska producing the usual pressure gradient over North CA with north winds there 25 kts but with an eddy flow and south winds from Pt Arena southard. The gradient is to hold over North CA on Wed (8/3) but with north winds at 15 kts forecast over the entire Central CA coast building to 20 kts in pockets on Fri (8/5). More of the same is forecast on Sat (8/6) but with the core of the gradient fading in coverage and falling south to Pt Arena at 25 kts holding Sunday. On Monday (8/8) high pressure is to move to within 600 nmiles west of North CA with north winds building late 30+ kts off North CA and holding Tues (8/9) but with an eddy flow starting to develop for all of Central CA reaching north up to Pt Arena.
On Tuesday AM (8/2) the jet was consolidated from over the Tasman Sea out to the Central Pacific running east on the 31S latitude line, then .cgiitting near 130W (Southeast Pacific) forming a ridge east of there with the southern branch falling over Antarctic Ice. There was no real troughs indicated over the area of the consolidated jet offering no real support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours weak winds are to start pushing northeast from Antarctica and south of the Tasman Sea on Wed (8/3) building Fri (8/5) to only 80 kts but still forming a weak ridge over the Southwest Pacific and a weaker trouhg ahead of it near 150W in the Central South Pacific. No real support for gale development is forecast. Beyond 72 hours the pattern is to hold with a pocket of 120 kts winds pushing northeast late on Sun (8/7) suggesting something that almost looks like a trough developing near 150W, and holding through Tues (8/9). Some support for gale development is possible.
On Tuesday (8/26) swell from a very weak gale that developed in the Southeast Pacific was still hitting Calfiornia, but is to be dissipating later today. Swell from a tiny gale that developed in the Central Pacific is pushing northeast (see Central Pacific Gale below) offering more swell for this week.
Over the next 72 hours no other swell producing weather systems are forecast.
Central Pacific Gale
A cutoff gale developed in the Southeast Pacific on Wed PM (7/27) producing a small area of 50 kt south winds. Seas built to 30 ft over a tiny area at 38S 147W. 50 kt south winds held Thurs AM (7/28) with seas to 37 ft over a tiny area at 38S 144W. In the evening fetch was fading from 45 kts over a broader area aimed north with seas 35 ft at 36S 140W. Fetch is to be fading and falling southeast Fri AM (7/29) with 29 ft seas at 38S 136W. This system faded out after that. A small to modest pulse of south angled swell is expected to result for California. The very northward position of this system somewhat makes up for it's lack of areal coverage.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival On Wed (8/3) building to 1.8 ft @ 19 secs late (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell continues on Thurs (8/4) building to 2.1 ft @ 17 secs (3.5 ft) mid-day and holding. Swell continue on Fri (8/5) at 2.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5 ft). Residuals fading early Sat (8/6) from 2.0 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 202 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (8/4) building to 2 ft @ 17-18 secs (3.0-3.5 ft) mid-day and holding. Swell continue on Fri (8/5) fading from 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft). Residuals fading early Sat (8/6) from 1.6 ft @ 14 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 200 degrees
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours high pressure is to hold in the Gulf of Alaska and the pressure gradient is to be stable but not overtly broad over North CA on Sat-Sun (8/7) generating north winds at 20-25 kts producing small and weak windswell relative to North and Central CA. By Monday (8/8) the high is to move east just 600 nmiles west of North CA with the gradient building late and north winds to 30 kts over a solid sized area on Tues (8/9) offering good support for windswell development with and eddy flow building from Pt Arena southward.
For Hawaii trades to turn northeast on Sat (8/6) and fade below 15 kts as the remants of Tropical Storm Howard theoretically start affecting the local weather pattern while moving to the west 100-200 nmiles north of the Islands, then trakcing north on Mon (8/8). Windswell to be fading from trades but perhaps some windswell for Howard to result at exposed northeast facing shores. It's too early to know with any confidence.
Beyond 72 hours a tiny gale is forecast developing in the Central Pacific on Fri AM (8/5) producing a tiny area of 45 kt southwest winds and seas to 28 ft at 52S 152W. Winds to hold while lifting northeast into the evening with near 30 ft seas forecast at 49S 143W. On Sat AM (8/6) 40 kt westerly winds to continue traking northeast with seas 28 ft at 50S 138W. Fetch is to start falling southeast from there with no additional swell production forecast. Something to monitor.
More details to follow...
La Nina Starting to Pulse Again - Forecast Holds Weaker
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.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Mon (8/1) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific and solid over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south of there). Anomalies were neutral over the KWGA and points east of there to Ecuador.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderate easterly anomalies were over the KWGA on 8/2 and are to hold unchanged through 8/7 suggestive of a moderate Inactive Phase of the MJO. But then they are to start fading by 8/9.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 8/1 a near neutral MJO signal was over the West Pacific, with weak inidcations of the Active Phase trying to set up. The Statistic model projects a weak Active Phase of the MJO continuing to try and build into the West Pacific over the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with a stronger version of the Active Phase building in the West Pacific 2 weeks out. This pattern, if it materializes would help to support storm development.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (8/2) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak and positioned over the Maritime Continent. The forecast projects it moving east and building, getting solid over the dateline 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (8/2) A weak Inactive Phase was over the East Pacific and all but gone. An even weaker Active Phase to follow in the west starting on 8/12 easing slowly east and into Central America on 9/1 with a weak Inactive Phase building in the West Pacific 9/11.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO pattern over the KWGA with weak east anomalies in.cgiay and forecast holding to 8/5. The Inactive Phase is to pause with west anomalies redeveloping in the KWGA a few days either side of 8/12. Then the Inactive Phase returns with east anomalies 8/16-9/4. A broad but weak Active MJO signal to follow 9/5 to 10/14 with weak west anomalies over the far West Pacific to 170E and stationary with east anomalies from 175W and points east to Central America. The low pass filter suggests the remnants of El Nino are shifting east and are now south of Hawaii (rather than in the KWGA) and offering nothing to enhance the jetstream and are to dissipate (gone) south of California by 9/2. At the same time low pass anomalies are over the Indian Ocean and forecast to build into Oct, typical of La Nina.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (8/2) Actual temperatures are building in the West Pacific on the surface at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 172E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 170W. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 170W with weak negative anomalies east of there towards Ecuador. Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting between 145W-155W but building to the east now. At depth -3 degs anomalies reaching east down 100 meters at 140W (building east). The Kelvin Wave pipeline is chocked with cold water rushing east through it. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 7/27 depicts a pocket of +1.0 deg anomalies is building in the West Pacific to 170W. Cool water 2-3 degs below normal was under the entire width of the equator, undercutting any residual warm water above it and forming a bubble near 150W and upwelling from 120-150W but also reaching east to Ecuador. La Nina is in control of the ocean.
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: (8/1) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates warmer than normal water is building along the coast of Peru and Ecuador, at least for the moment. Cool water extends west from the Galapagos tracking solidly out to at least 160W with with peak temps down to -1.5 degs (mostly south of Hawaii). This cool pattern is weakening in the east but solid in the west, strongerst at 140W. La Nina is firmly in control of surface waters, with remnant El Nino warm water quickly dissipating 3 degs north and south of the equator. Almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino regions on the equator.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (7/31): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru. But cooling is building from Ecuador over the Galapagos out to 145W. A modest cooling trend is off Africa.
Hi-res Overview: (7/31) A clear La Nina cool water pool is tracking from Ecuador and building south of Hawaii. A generalized pattern of +1-2 deg above normal temps remains 3 degs north and south of the equator and west of 180W. Cooler water is over the north dateline region in the North Pacific with warm water off the Pacific Northwest streaming over Hawaii looking very much like the classic Active PDO pattern.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (8/2) Today's temps were steady at +0.203 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/2) temps had rebounded to today up to -0.346 after bottoming out at -1.000 degs on 7/22.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (8/2) indicates temps are to be steady from here forward at -0.5 degs maybe dipping to -0.6 degs in Dec, then slowly rising in Jan 2017 and neutral by March. This is a major upgrade from previous projections. This is barely in La Nina territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-July Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.6 by Nov and holding there to Feb, then rising. This is up from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (8/2): The daily index was rdown some at +3.16. The 30 day average was rising at +4.64. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was rising in the positive range at +3.84, 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.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (8/2) Today's value was down to -1.19. 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 it has been falling steadily ever since.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though a little weaker in June (as expected with La NIna setting in). Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-June) have been +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.60, +1.45 and +0.78. The Washington EDU index for the Jan-May period indicates +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35 and +2.03 . The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive since then. 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