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.
Saturday, August 13, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.3 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 13.9 secs from 190 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.2 ft @ 5.3 secs with swell 0.8 ft @ 13.2 secs from 205 degrees. Wind southwest 4-6 kts. Water temperature 72.0 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.2 ft @ 5.9 secs from 265 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 0.7 ft @ 13.4 secs from 210 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.0 ft @ 12.8 secs from 193 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 9.1 secs with Typhoon Omais swell 1.5 ft @ 15.4 secs and windswell 2.8 ft @ 8.5 ft. Wind northwest 12-14 kts. Water temp 59.9 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Saturday (8/13) in North and Central CA Typhoon Omais swell was producing surf in the knee to thigh range with clean conditions and some fog early. At Santa Cruz minimal background southern hemi swell was producing rare sets waves at thigh high on the peak and clean but weak. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at maybe knee high and clean. Down south background southern hemi swell was producing waves in the knee high range and clean with maybe a few stray thigh high sets. Further down south top spots had rare set waves in the near chest high range on the peak and clean but soft. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. Maybe a few thigh high sets. The East Shore was getting easterly windswell at waist high and chopped.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
A gale developed in the South Central Pacific Wed (8/10) with seas to 28 ft aimed northeast with a second pulse forecast developing Thurs (8/11) to 37 ft but aimed very much to the east. Yet a third pulse was developing on Sat (8/13) with 29 ft seas pushing due north. But all three were tiny in coverage. In the North Pacific Tropical Storm Omais produced 32-38 ft seas Fri-Sat (8/6) aimed north and almost up the great circle paths to California and points north of there. Swell from that is hitting now. It's remnants tracked north and redeveloped on Tues-Wed (8/10) off the Kurils with seas 27 ft sending more more minimal sideband swell towards the US mainland. It moved through the Bering Sea and is falling into the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Sat (8/13) with seas barely at 20 ft, but is to fade quickly offering low odds of swell generation potential. More tropical development is occurring and forecast in the West Pacific, but nothing recurving northeast is expected.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday (8/11) tiny swell from what was Tropical Storm Omais was in the water hitting exposed breaks in California (see below). No other swell of interest other than windswell was present.
Tropical System Omais
On Thurs PM (8/4) TS Omais 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 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
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 turned more northeast in the evening but faded at 35 kts with seas 26 ft at 45N 155E (306 degs NCal). More of the same occurred on Wed AM (8/10) with winds 35 kts and seas 25 ft at 47N 159E (306 degs NCal). Fetch held at 35-40 kts in the evening off Kamchatka but aimed east with seas up to 27 ft at 49N 167E (308+ degs NCal) and starting to become shadowed by the Aleutians. Omais then moved into the Bering Sea.
North CA: Possible swell arrival on Mon (8/15) with pure swell 1.3 ft @ 16-17 secs late (2 ft). Swell to build slightly on Tues (8/16) to 2.0 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell peaking on Wed (8/17) to 3.6 ft @ 11 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) then fading thereafter. Swell Direction: 300-305 degs
Omais tracked through the Bering Sea and then into the northwestern Gulf of Alaska on Sat AM (8/13) producing a tiny fetch of 30 kt west winds and seas to barely 20 ft at 51N 163W holding in tot he evening at 50N 159W. Small 12 sec period swell is possible for the Pacific Northwest down into North CA.
North CA: Swell arrival expected on Wed (8/17) at 10 AM at 4 ft @ 12 secs (4.5 ft) from 307 degrees but being overcome by local north windswell.
The California coastal pressure gradient was not in.cgiay on Sat AM (8/13) with high pressure fading from 1026 mbs centered north of Hawaii with low pressure in the Northern Gulf of Alaska. Winds were less than 15 kts along the CA coast. The gradient and north winds are to rebuild Sun AM with north winds 20-25 kts over North CA waters with 20 kt north winds reaching south to Pt Reyes but a bit off the coast offering some weak potential to generate local north windswell. The gradient is to build in coverage Monday and Tuesday with north winds reaching 25+ kts over North CA waters but an eddy flow holding along the Central CA coast and up into NCal to Pt Arena. More strengthening is forecast Wed (8/17) with north winds over Cape Mendocino waters to 35 kts but with the eddy flow building north of Pt Arena. Increasing period on local north windswell expected for Central CA.
For Hawaii on Saturday (8/13) trades were from the east at 15 kts in patches east of the Islands driven by high pressure centered near the dateline and trying to ridge east making for some minimal easterly windswell along exposed easterly shores. By Sunday (8/14) the coverage of those winds is to be less contiguous and fetch area fading with winds only 15 kts in patches. Windswell fading. More of the same is forecast Monday and Tuesday (8/16) with windswell gone. But on Wed (8/17) new high pressure is to be building in the Eastern Gulf with 15 kt east winds building a bit east of the Islands starting to generated fresh small east windswell at exposed breaks.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Tropical Storm Conson was 1,000 nmiles southeast of Tokyo Japan on Thurs AM (8/11) tracking north with winds 35 kts and only covering a tiny area. Seas were 14 ft. Conson tracked fast north up the 155E longitude line with winds building to only 45 kts and then trending to the northwest by Fri (8/12). On Sat AM (8/13) winds were 40 kts with the system positioned 600 nmiles east of Tokyo Japan tracking north-northwest. This systems fetch was too weak to generate swell of interest regardless of its track. No swell is forecast for our forecast area.
Tropical Depression 9W was 900 nmiles south of Tokyo Japan on Sat AM (8/13) with winds 30 kts tracking north-northeast. Slow strengthening is forecast with winds to 60 kts on Tues (8/16) 300 nmiles south of Tokyo tracking north-northwest. Given the weak wind speeds and small fetch area no swell is expected for the CA and HI regions.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday AM (8/13) high pressure was weakly ridging into North CA coast from the dateline at 1026 mbs and too far away to producing the usual pressure gradient over North CA. Winds were light northwest at 10 kts over open waters. Sunday the gradient redevelops with north winds 20+ kts over North CA and building to 15 kts for all of Central CA. Monday the gradient is to be in effect with 25 kt northwest winds over North CA and an eddy flow (south winds) developing from Pt Arena southward and holding through Thurs (8/18) but with north winds to 30 kts over Cape Mendocino late Tuesday and up to 35 kts on Wed (8/17). The eddy flow to hold for Central CA reaching north to near Pt Arena. Thursday the north wind flow is to start moving off the North CA coast just barely holding at 25 kts near the Oregon border late. On Fri-Sat (8/20) winds even over North CA to be below 15 kts from the north with a clam winds pattern from Pt Arena southward.
On Saturday AM (8/13) the northern branch of the jet was dominant running west to east on the 28S latitude line steady at 130-140 kts over it's length. The southern branch was very weak and .cgiit from the northern branch running south of New Zealand at 70 kts down to 60S then rejoining the main flow in the Southeast Pacific near 135W and offering no fuel to support gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere. Over the next 72 hours that same general pattern is to continue but with a ridge building under New Zealand on Tues (8/16) with winds pushing southeast at near 100 kts pushing into Antarctica near the dateline. No support for gale development forecast. Beyond 72 hours the southern branch of the jet is to redevelop stronger on Thurs (8/18) pushing northeast from Antarctica at 150 kts and holding into Fri AM (8/19) trying to form a trough reaching up to 50S near 160W and offering some support for gale development then dissipating quickly on Sat (8/20). After that the southern branch appears to be building down at 60S and pushing east across the width of the South Pacific likely shutting down support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere.
On Saturday (8/13) small swell was pushing north from a gale that developed in the Central South Pacific (see Central South Pacific Gale below).
A small storm was just off the South Chile coast on Sat (8/13) with seas to 39 ft aimed east and completely east of the CA swell window targeting only Southern Chile.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast.
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 built to 35 kts in the evening with seas building from 25 ft at 48S 155W. On Wed AM (8/10) southwest fetch was 35-40 kts in pockets with 27 ft seas over a broad area at 48S 148W aimed northeast. Fetch was fading some in the evening from 35 kts with seas with 26 ft at 43S 138W. Given the sub 30 ft sea height, small swell with period in the 15-16 secs range to result for CA and points south of there.
SCal: Expect swell arrival on Wed (8/17) building to 2.5 ft @ 17 secs (4.0-4.5 ft) in the afternoon. Swell peaks Thurs AM (8/18) at 3.3 ft @ 16 secs (5.0-5.5 ft). Swell fading Sat AM (8/19) from 3 ft @ 14 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees
NCal: Expect swell arrival on Wed (8/17) at 10 PM with period 17 secs peaking on Thurs 10 AM (8/18) with swell 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading Fri AM (8/19) from 2.5 ft @ 15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 194 degrees
On Thurs AM (8/11) a new fetch tiny fetch of 55 kt south winds was building in the same area with 32 ft seas building at 50S 139W. 55 kt south fetch held in the evening over a tiny area with 37 ft seas at 49S 130W tracking east and covering only a tiny area. 40-45 kts south fetch continued Fri AM (8/12) but falling southeast with a tiny area with 31 ft seas at 50S 125W and aimed mostly east and out of the California swell window. A second pulse of swell to result from CA southward.
SCal: Expect swell peaking on Fri AM pushing 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell continues Sat AM (8/20) at 3.6 ft @ 15 secs early (5.0-5.5 ft), then fading. Swell Direction: 195 degrees
NCal: Expect swell arrival on Fri AM (8/19) pushing 2.0 ft @ 17-18 secs early (3.5 ft) Swell continuing on Sat AM (8/20) at 3 ft @ 15 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 190 degrees
On Friday evening (8/12) a new fetch of 45-50 kt south wind developed from the remnants of the previous fetch with seas again on the increase from 26 ft at 52S 130W. On Sat AM (8/13) 40 kt south winds were pushing north while fading with seas 29 ft over a tiny area tracking north at 49S 132W. In the evening 40 kt south winds to be tracking north-northeast with seas fading from 29 ft at 47S 129W. This system to fade there after. A possible 3rd pulse of swell to result.
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 there some suggestion of a trough developing in the jet in the Western Gulf on Tues (8/16) with winds 120 kts falling into it supporting formation of low pressure at the surface with northwest winds to 30 kts but fading fast not getting enough traction to generate seas of interest. The trough is to be gone by Thurs (8/18) with the surface fetch gone later Wed (8/17). No swell to result.
Also a cluster of tropical systems are forecast in the far West Tropical Pacific Sun-Wed (8/17). But none are to recurve northeast.
For California high pressure is to hold in the Eastern Gulf on Thurs (8/18) at 1034 mbs 800 nmiles off the North CA coast generating north winds over Cape Mendocino waters at 30 kts with a local eddy flow in control for Central CA. The gradient to start a rapid fade over North CA waters on Fri (8/19) with north winds still 25 kts well off the coast but near calm nearshore and continuing fading on Sat (8/20) in coverage and strength from 20 kts. A calm local flow is forecast for all of CA. Windswell slowly fading.
For Hawaii trades to move closer to the Islands impacting then later Thurs (8/18) at 15 kts offering some more windswell generation potential, then fading with 15 kt east winds limited to patches on Fri (8/19) and gone by Sat (8/13) with windswell from it gone too.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Continues to Build Some
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 Saturday (8/13) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weaker over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south of there) fading to calm in the west Pacific. Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific, weak easterly near 180W and then weak westerly west of 160E over the core of the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Weak easterly anomalies were all but gone near 170E on 8/13 and are forecast to be completed dissipated by 8/15 while tracking east, limited to the far East Pacific on 8/18. Modest west anomalies are to be building in the KWGA starting 8/15 suggestive of the Active Phase of the MJO.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 8/12 a moderate Active Phase of the MJO was over the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects it fading in the West Pacific and dissipated by week #2. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with the Active Phase building in the West Pacific 2 weeks out to nearly strong status. This pattern, if it materializes would help to support storm development.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (8/13) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak and positioned over the dateline. The forecast projects it holding position and building, getting moderate 2 weeks out on the dateline. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (8/13) This model depicts a weak Active Phase over the dateline tracking east through 9/2. At the same time a weak Inactive Phase is to be building in the far West Pacific on 8/25 tracking east into the East Pacific through 9/22. A Neutral pattern to follow at that time in the West.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern building over the KWGA with weak west anomalies in.cgiay from the dateline westward and forecast holding while tracking east thru 9/6. An very weak Inactive Phase is to follow 9/13-9/26 weakly but west anomalies holding still reaching east to the dateline (in the KWGA). Then another Active MJO signal is to follow 9/28 -10/18 with moderate west anomalies still to the dateline but not moving east any. East anomalies are forecast holding in the East Pacific from 170W eastward through mid 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 weakly into Nov, typical of La Nina.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (8/10) Actual temperatures are building in the West Pacific on the surface at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 163E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 170W. Cooling continues in the east. 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 155W (building east). The Kelvin Wave pipeline is chocked with cold water rushing east through it. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/6 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: (8/13) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a very weak cool flow is present along the coast of Peru but building some off Ecuador. Those cooler waters are flowing west from the Galapagos tracking solidly out to at least 160W with with peak temps down to -1.5 degs with what appears to be a resurgence of of cool water developing off Ecuador over the Galapagos out to 100W. There waters extend north and south from the equator about 8 degrees. La Nina is in control of surface waters, with remnant El Nino warm water dissipating in a few small pockets still lingering in 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 (8/12): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru. But a strongly cooler trend are again in control from Ecuador over the Galapagos out to 145W. A building warming trend is off Africa.
Hi-res Overview: (8/10) 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 4-8 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: (8/13) Today's temps were trending negative at -0.209 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/13) temps were steady at -0.635 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 (8/13) indicates temps are to be steady from here forward at about -0.5 degs, then starting to rise in Jan 2017 and neutral by April. 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 (8/12): The daily index was up some at 1.70. The 30 day average was down slightly at +3.82. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was rising to +3.02, 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): (8/13) Today's value was steady at -1.58, 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