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 9, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 12.9 secs from 195 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.2 ft @ 7.7 secs with swell 0.9 ft @ 13.7 secs from 221 degrees. Wind south 4-6 kts. Water temperature 72.5 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.8 ft @ 8.0 secs from 262 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 0.9 ft @ 13.8 secs from 216 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 0.8 ft @ 15.1 secs from 205 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 10.0 ft @ 9.1 secs with windswell 8.7 ft @ 8.8 secs and no southern hemi swell in.cgiay. Wind northwest 18-21 kts. Water temp 56.3 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Tuesday (8/9) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell was producing waves at chest high or so and lightly chopped from southerly wind but cleaner at sheltered breaks. At Santa Cruz minimal background southern hemi swell was producing rare sets waves at knee to thigh high and clean but weak. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at maybe knee to thigh high and clean. Down south residual southern hemi swell was producing waves in the thigh to waist high range and textured from southerly wind. Further down south top spots had set waves in the waist to chest high range and clean but soft. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was tiny with waves knee to thigh high and ruffled by easterly wind. The East Shore was getting easterly windswell at thigh high and chopped.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
The remnants of what was Tropical Storm Ivette was 600 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii with winds 20 kts tracking west. Slow weakening is forecast. The models continue to suggest some sort of gale development in the South Central Pacific Wed (8/10) with seas to 29 ft aimed northeast with a second pulse Thurs (8/11) to 38 ft but aimed very much to the east. In the North Pacific tropical storm Omais produced seas to 36 ft Fri-Sat (8/6) aimed north and almost up the great circle paths to California and points north of there. Maybe some swell to result. It's remnants tracked north and are forecast turning northeast on Tues-Wed (8/10) off the Kurils with seas 26 ft possibly sending more more minimal sideband swell towards the US mainland.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Tropical System Omais
On Tuesday (8/9) tiny swell from what was Tropical Storm Omais was in the water tracking east. Previously on Thurs PM (8/4) it had 45 kt southwest winds with seas building. By Fri AM (8/5) winds were 40-45 kts aimed north with 27 ft seas at 22N 151E. Winds built in the evening to 45 kts with seas 33 ft at 24N 150E tracking north (288 degs NCal, bypassing HI). On Sat AM (8/6) fetch built to 60 kts from the south with seas 36 ft at 26N 150E. Fetch turned more southeast after that targeting only Japan.
North CA: Swell arrival forecast for Fri (8/12) at 1.2 ft @ 17-18 secs (2 ft). Swell continues Sat (8/13) at 1.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) fading some Sun (8/14) from 1.5 ft @ 14 secs (2 ft) fading Mon (8/15) 1.5 ft @ 12-13 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Extremely inconsistent. Swell Direction: 288 degrees
Over the next 72 hours Omais turned north to northeast again on Tues AM (8/9) with winds barely 40 kts on the east side of the core with seas to 28 ft over a tiny area at 41N 151E (303 degs NCal). Fetch is to turn more northeast in the evening but fading at 35 kts with seas barely 26 ft at 45N 155E (306 degs NCal). More of the same is forecast on Wed AM (8/10) with winds 35 kts and seas 26 ft at 47N 160E (306 degs NCal). Fetch is to be fading from 35-40 kts in the evening off Kamchatka but aimed east with seas fading from 27 ft at 50N 167E (308+ degs NCal) and starting to become shadowed by the Aleutians. Something to monitor. Omais to move into the Bering Sea after that.
North CA: Possible swell arrival on Mon (8/15) with pure swell 1.3 ft @ 16-17 secs late (2 ft). Swell to build only slightly thereafter. Swell Direction: 300-305 degs
The California coastal pressure gradient was still holding together fairly well on Tues AM (8/9) driven by high pressure at 1030 mbs in the Gulf of Alaska producing 25 kts north winds over North California waters with 20 kts winds reaching south to Morro Bay a bit off the coast. Over the next 72 hours the gradient is to be loosing coverage and weakening as high pressure weakens in the Gulf on Wed AM (8/10) with winds fading from barely 25 kts over Pt Arena and then 20-25 kts lifting north to Cape Mendocino in the evening with windswell from it fading relative to Central CA. On Thurs (8/11) the gradient is to dissipate with north winds fading from 20 kts early off Cape Mendocino and gone by evening with windswell all but gone. A light 15 kt northwest flow is forecast on Fri (8/12) with no windswell production forecast.
For Hawaii on Tuesday (8/9) trades were light from the east at 10-15 kts driven by the same high pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska making for some minimal easterly windswell along exposed easterly shores. The remnants of Ivette were 600 nmiles east of the Big Island producing 20 kts east winds, mostly of no interest and fading. Winds to build some locally on Wed (8/10) at 15 kts as high pressure gets a little better footing north of the Islands. Ivette to completely dissipate. Thurs (8/11) high pressure to continue to generate trades at 15 kts from the east-northeast reaching half way to the mainland and holding on Fri (8/12). Minimal easterly windswell to continue.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Remnants of Tropical Storm Omais are discussed above.
Remnants of Tropical Storm Ivette are also discussed above.
Tropical Storm Javier was tracking north-northwest and landlocked over the South Baja peninsula forecast remaining that way and offering no swell production capability.
Tropical Storm Conson was 1500 nmiles southeast of Tokyo Japan on Tues AM (8/9) tracking west-northwest with winds 45 kts and only covering a tiny area. Seas were building. A turn to the northwest and north is forecast through Thurs (8/11) tracking up the 154E longitude line with winds building to 60 kts and seas to 30 ft over a pinpoint sized area near 27N 154E in the evening. This system to turn to the northwest on Sun (8/14) with no additional swell propagation towards out forecast area. Something to monitor.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (8/9) high pressure was ridging into North CA coast from the Gulf of Alaska producing the usual pressure gradient over North CA with north winds there 25 kts and 20 kts pushing south to Morro Bay. On Wed-Thurs (8/11) the gradient is to collapse with 20 kts north winds fading over North CA and 15 kts north winds over Central CA waters. Thursday (8/11) and beyond winds to dissipate with a northwest flow at 10 kts or less holding through Sat (8/13). Sunday the gradient is to return to the North Coast at 25 kts but 15 kts for Central CA holding in the North on Mon and Tues (8/16) but with an eddy flow (south winds) nearshore for Central CA.
On Tuesday AM (8/9) the northern branch of the jet was dominant running west to east on the 39N latitude line peaking at 200 kts near 145W, but otherwise in the 110-120 kt range. The southern branch was weak and only coherent over the far Southwestern Pacific running from Antarctica northeast at 100, stronger than day past, starting to form something that looked like a trough in the Central South Pacific. Limited support for gale development possible. Over the next 72 hours that pattern is to build some with more wind energy pushing up into the developing trough with winds to 120 kts on Wed (8/10) and up to 130 kts on Thurs (8/11) continuing to fuel development of the trough and supporting gale development while the trough eases slowly east. The trough is to start fading on Fri (8/12) while moving out of the California swell window at 120W. Beyond 72 hours the same general pattern is to hold but with winds feeding the trough fading to 60 kts on Sat (8/13) and then holding into Mon (8/15) offering no support for gale development. On Tuesday (8/16) a ridge is to start building under New Zealand likely shutting down gale development potential there but maybe offering some hope for trough development east of it longer term. But nothing clear is on the charts at this time.
On Tuesday (8/9) no swell was in the water. But a broad area of low pressure was in the Central South Pacific generating a broad fetch of 30-35 kt southwest winds with seas starting to build. This system is to continue to develop (see Central Pacific Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast other than the system indicated above.
Possible Central South Pacific Gale
On Tues AM (8/9) a broad fetch associated with an area of low pressure was filling the South Central Pacific producing southwest winds at 30-35 kts with seas on the increase. Winds to build to 35 kts in the evening with seas building from 25 ft at 48S 155W. On Wed AM (8/10) southwest fetch is to be 35-40 kts in pockets with 29-30 ft seas over a broad area at 48S 148W aimed northeast. Fetch is to be fading some in the evening from 35 kts with seas with 27 ft at 43S 137W. On Thurs AM (8/11) a new fetch of 40-45 kts south fetch is to be building in the same area with 29 ft seas building at 47S 139W. 55 kt south fetch to build in the evening over a tiny area with 40 ft seas at 49S 127W tracking east and covering only a tiny area. 50 kts south fetch is to be continuing Fri AM (8/12) but falling southeast with a tiny area with 35 ft seas at 51S 118W and moving out of the California swell window and not pushing any swell to the north. This system is to be gone in terms of swell generation for our forecast area. Something to monitor.
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 the remnants of Omais are forecast falling out of the Bering Sea and into the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Sat AM (8/13) with winds 30 kts fading in the evening to 25 kts and fading more from there. Low odds of any windswell resulting.
For California high pressure is to start nosing back into the Northern Coast on Sun (8/14) generating north winds over Cape Mendocino waters with windswell again starting to be generated. The gradient to hold over North CA waters on Mon (8/15) at 25+ kts and continuing on Tues (8/16) with a local eddy flow (south winds) for Central CA. Windswell generation expected with decent local conditions.
For Hawaii trades continue on Sat (8/13) at 15 kts reaching east 1/2 way to the mainland driven by high pressure north of the Islands. But then the fetch is to start breaking up on Sun (8/15) with only patchy pockets of 15 kts east winds. Windswell fading. No change is forecast through Tues (8/16).
Beyond 72 hours the models suggest a gale is to be pushing under New Zealand on Sun PM (8/14) with 45 kts southwest winds and seas 39 ft at 52S 160E and barely in the CA swell window. Winds to be fading from 40 kts Mon AM (8/15) with seas fading from 37 ft at 53S 169E. The gale to fade from there. Low odds of small southwest swell to result.
More details to follow...
La Nina Steady
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 (8/8) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but fading some over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south of there). Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific except moderately easterly from 160W-180W and neutral again over the core of the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderate easterly anomalies were over the eastern KWGA on 8/9 and reaching to a point south of California. But they are fading and forecast to continue dissipating through 8/13, returning to neutral after that and holding through at least 8/16 with hints of weak west anomalies building in the KWGA.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 8/8 a moderate Active Phase of the MJO was trying to set up in the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects it holding in the West Pacific, then dissipating in week #2. 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): (8/6) 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 if not strong over the dateline 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing but then weakening 2 weeks out.
40 day Upper Level Model: (8/9) The Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the far East Pacific and tracking east, inland by 8/15. A weak Active Phase was also building in the west and is to slowly track east eventually moving into Central America on 9/2. A weak Inactive Phase is to be building in the West Pacific starting 8/26 and tracking east through 9/18.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern starting to build over the KWGA with weak west anomalies in.cgiay and forecast holding while tracking east thru 9/3. An Inactive Phase is to follow 9/6-9/26 weakly but west anomalies are to hold reaching east to the dateline (in the KWGA). Then the Active MJO signal is to follow 9/26 -10/28 with moderate west anomalies still over the far West Pacific. East anomalies are forecast holding in the East Pacific from 170W eastward through early Oct, then dissipating once the Active Phase of October takes root. 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 8/28. 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: (8/9) Actual temperatures are building in the West Pacific on the surface at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 170E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 170W. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 165W with weak negative anomalies east of there towards Ecuador. Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting between 135W-145W. At depth -3 degs anomalies reach east down 100 meters at 150W (building east). The Kelvin Wave pipeline is chocked with cold water rushing east through it. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/1 depicts a pocket of +1.0 deg anomalies 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: (8/8) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates cooler water is starting to develop along the coast of Peru and Ecuador. Those cooler waters extend west from the Galapagos tracking solidly out to at least 160W with with peak temps down to -1.5 degs (mostly south of Hawaii) and building north and south to 8 deg (N/S). La Nina is firmly in control of surface waters, with remnant El Nino warm water quickly dissipating in a few small pockets 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 (8/8): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru. A cooler trend is again developing from the Galapagos out to 145W. A weak warming trend is off Africa.
Hi-res Overview: (8/8) A clear La Nina cool pool is tracking from west of the Galapagos 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 also 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: (8/9) Today's temps were fading at +0.208 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/9) temps were again falling at -0.760 degs. Temps bottomed out recently at -1.0 degs near 7/21-7/26.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (8/9) indicates temps are to be steady from here forward at -0.5 degs maybe dipping to -0.6 degs in Nov/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 (8/8): The daily index was up some at 0.55. The 30 day average was steady at +4.15. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was backtracking at +2.54, 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): (8/9) Today's value was down to -1.66, continuing it's downward trend. 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 much weaker in July than June (as expected with La NIna setting in). Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-July) have been +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.60, +1.43, +0.75 and +0.18. The Washington EDU index for the Jan-June 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