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.
Sunday, September 11, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.3 ft @ 10.5 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 112.1 secs from 190 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.8 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 15.4 secs from 193 degrees. Wind northwest 4-8 kts. Water temperature 69.8 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.8 ft @ 15.6 secs from 249 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.3 ft @ 15.4 secs from 205 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.3 ft @ 15.6 secs from 204 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.5 ft @ 15.9 secs with southern hemi swell 2.5 ft @ 15.7 secs from 191 degrees and local north windswell 3.1 ft @ 9 secs from 312 degrees. Wind southwest 4-6 kts. Water temp 59.2 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Sunday (9/11) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the chest high range at top spots and nearly chopped from south winds at exposed breaks. At Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was still hitting producing set waves in the head high range at top spots and clean and lined up. In Southern California up north southern hemi swell was producing waves in the head high to 1 ft overhead range on the sets and clean and lined up and mostly closed out. Down in North Orange Co south southern hemi swell was producing waves in the shoulder to head high range and clean. Further down south top spots had set waves in the 1 ft overhead range and clean and lined up early. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting the last dribbles of southern hemi swell with waves thigh to maybe waist high and clean and weak early. The East Shore was getting east windswell at waist to maybe chest high and chopped from east trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
No swell was hitting our forecast area originating from the Northern Hemisphere. Southern hemi swell was gone in Hawaii and starting to fade in California but still decent produced from a gale that developed under New Zealand on Sun-Mon (8/29) with seas to 36 ft, then faded only to redevelop while tracking east on Tues-Wed (8/31) producing 30-32 ft seas aimed east-northeast. Another gale tracked over southern New Zealand on Wed (9/7) then redeveloped just east of there Thurs AM (9/8) producing a small area of 26-28 ft seas pushing north. Another gale is forecast under New Zealand on Mon-Tues (9/13) with 28-30 ft seas aimed east, fading, then redeveloping Wed-Thurs (9/15) with up to 40 ft seas aimed east-northeast. In the northern hemisphere the first gale of the Fall season developed over the North Dateline region on Fri-Sat (9/10) producing 23 ft seas aimed southeast towards Hawaii. And a stronger one is forecast originating in the same area on Mon-Tues (9/13) with 26 ft seas aimed southeast tracking into the Gulf Wed-Thurs (9/15) with seas still 20-22 ft. Some small early Fall swell is possible.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (9/11) small swell is tracking southeast from a gale previously over the North Dateline region (see North Dateline Gale below). And a second gale is forecast to follow a bit stronger and pushing further east (see 2nd North Dateline Gale below). Otherwise weak high pressure at 1028 mbs was 800 nmiles west of the Pacific Northwest doing nothing of interest in terms of windswell generation potential.
Over the next 72 hours the high is to build to 1032 mbs ridging east more setting up the usual pressure gradient over North CA late Sunday (9/11) generating 20-25 kt north winds and starting to generate north windswell. By Mon AM (9/12) the gradient is to build with 25 kt north winds over North CA reaching south to Bodega Bay producing more north windswell with a weak eddy flow from Pt Reyes southward. But by Tues (9/13) the gradient is to fade out with north winds fading to 15 kts late and not redeveloping beyond.
No windswell of interest is forecast for Hawaii.
North Dateline Gale
A low pressure system developed on Thurs (9/8) positioned half way between the Kuril Islands and the North Dateline region tracking east. It reached the dateline Fri AM (9/9) producing 40 kt north winds and getting good traction late and starting to target Hawaii in the evening with seas 21 ft at 45N 179E. By Sat AM (9/10) north winds are to be holding at 40 kts aimed south with seas 23 ft at 46.5N 180W targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. In the evening 35 kt northwest winds were fading while building southward with seas fading from 24 ft at 44N 176W targeting Hawaii well down the 335 degree track and the US West Coast down the 296 degree track. Fetch and seas were fading out Sun AM (9/11) with seas fading from 19 ft at 43.5N 173W.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tues AM (9/13) with period 14 secs and building through the day peaking at sunset at 4.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (6.0 ft). Swell fading Wed AM (9/14) from 4.0 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.5-5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 328 degrees
North CA: Sideband swell arriving later Wed (9/14) reaching 2.0 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell continues Thurs AM (9/15) at 2.5 ft @ 12 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading on Fri AM (9/16) from 2.3 ft @ 11 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 299 degrees
2nd North Dateline Gale
On Sun PM (9/11) another low pressure system is to develop while tracking east off Southern Kamchatka generating 30 kts northwest winds with seas building. On Mon AM (9/12) northwest winds to build in coverage still at 30 kts with seas trying to build just off the Northern Kurils. In the evening 40 kt west northwest winds are to build while tracking east with seas building to 24 ft at 47N 164E targeting the US West Coast and Hawaii. On Tues AM (9/13) 35-40 kt west-northwest winds are to hold while tracking east with seas building to 27 ft at 47N 172E approaching the dateline. In the evening a broad fetch of 35 kt northwest winds to continue in the evening with 26 ft seas on the dateline at 47N 179E. Fetch to fade to 30-35 kts Wed AM (9/14) on the dateline with 25 ft seas at 45.5N 179W targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast. Fetch to fade in coverage from 30-35 kts in the evening with 23 ft seas at 46N 175W in the Western Gulf. This system to fade in coverage Thurs AM (9/15) from 30-35 kts in the Western Gulf with seas 22 ft at 46N 170W. Residual fetch to dissipate in the Western Gulf from 30-35 kts in the evening with seas fading from barely 22 ft at 46N 170W. If the models are right some more substantial early season swell could result for Hawaii and California signaling the start of the Fall season.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Tropical Storm Orlene was 1200 nmiles south of San Diego with winds 40 kts tracking northwest with seas 12 ft. Orlene is to continue northwest building to hurricane status Mon AM (9/12) peaking Tues AM (9/13) at 18N 120W with winds 80 kts positioned 950 nmiles south of Dana Point on the 187 degree track. Small swell is possible Thurs (9/15) peaking before sunrise with period 14 secs. Orlene is to continue northwest into Wed AM (9/14) with winds fading from 75 kt winds, then turning hard west continuing into Fri AM (9/16) with winds fading from 65 kts. The GFS model suggests an eventual turn back to the northwest on Sat (9/16). Possible swell targeting Hawaii longer term.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday AM (9/11) high pressure at 1032 mbs was 800 nmiles west of the Pacific Northwest generating 15-20 kt north winds down into North CA forecast to build into the evening to 20-25 kts with a light wind flow from Pt Reyes southward. The gradient and north winds to continue over North CA on Mon (9/12) at 25 kts with light winds from Pt Reyes southward. By Tues (9/13) the gradient and north winds are to be gone over North CA with light winds over the entire state and holding for the rest of the week.
On Sunday AM (9/11) the southern branch of the jetstream was tracking east under New Zealand on the 54S latitude line with winds 110 kts setting up a zonal flow offering little support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the zonal flow (jet running flat west to east) is to continue with a pocket of 140 kt winds building south of New Zealand pushing east with another pocket of wind energy following a similar track on Wed (9/14) pushing east and lifting northeast some late. Very limited support for gale development possible. Beyond 72 hours the pocket of 140 kt winds is to start lifting northeast on Thurs (9/15) forming a weak trough over the Central Pacific moving east and weakening into Fri (9/16). Beyond the zonal flow is to continue, but weaker offering very limited support for any gale development.
On Sunday (9/11) swell from a pair of gales that tracked under New Zealand 10 days earlier was still hitting California but on the way down. Also tiny swell from a small gale that was east of New Zealand was tracking towards Hawaii (see Small NZ Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours a fetch of 40 kt west winds are to set up south of New Zealand on Mon PM (9/12) with seas 29 ft at 56S 170E. 35 kt west fetch is to continue east Tues AM (9/13) with 29 ft seas holding at 59S 180W. Fetch is to try and reorganize in the evening at 35 kts with 28 ft seas barely holding at 57S 180W. A new small fetch of 45 kt southwest winds to develop in this area Wed AM (9/14) generating 29 ft seas at 60S 179E. In the evening 45 kt southwest winds to continue tracking east well southeast of New Zealand with 33 ft seas at 58S 165W. 45 kt southwest fetch to build in coverage in the Central Pacific with seas building to 35 ft at 54S 148W. More of the same expected in the evening with 40 ft seas at 53W 135W. Fetch is to be fading Fri AM (9/16) from 45 kts with seas 40 ft at 51S 128W. If all develops as forecast some southern hemi swell could result for Hawaii and more so for California but really targeting Central America down into Chile.
Small NZ Gale
On Tues AM (9/6) a gale was tracking east through the South Tasman Sea with southwest winds 45 kts generating 33 ft seas at 48S 155E targeting mainly New Zealand. It tracked east into the evening impacting southern New Zealand with 40 kt south winds and seas fading from 32 ft at 45S 165E impacting southern New Zealand directly. On Wed AM (9/7) 40 kt south winds were starting to become exposed just east of Southern NZ with seas 27 ft at 49S 171E aimed well to the north over a tiny area. In the evening that fetch continued lifting north at 40-45 kts over a small area generating 28 ft seas at 47S 178E aimed well to the northeast. That fetch continued north Thurs AM (9/8) at 40 kts with 28 ft seas at 42S 179W. This system is to fade in the evening. Small swell to result for Tahiti and Hawaii. The fetch is to be too small and seas not high enough to have much impact relative to California.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival via the Tasman Sea on on Mon (9/12) at 1.1 ft @ 17 secs late (2 ft) building Tues (9/13) to 1.3 ft @ 16 secs early (2 ft) from 215 degrees. Swell redeveloping on Wed (9/14) from the east side of New Zealand to 1.0 ft @ 16 secs late (1.5-2.0 ft) building Thurs (1.8 ft @ 15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) from 198 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 no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
No windswell is expected for California or Hawaii.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Continues Weakly Despite Being Downgraded to ENSO 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.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 but weaker than expected.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Saturday (9/10) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific and over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south). Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific and the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): East anomalies were over the equatorial East Pacific and neutral over the KWGA. But the forecast suggests strong east anomalies developing on 9/12 and holding through the end of the forecast period on 9/17 suggestive of the Inactive Phase of the MJO.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 9/10 a neutral MJO signal was over the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern to continue for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts much the same but with a weak Active Phase trying to develop a week out, but fading 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (9/11) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak and not discernible. The forecast projects no change for the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. No affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is forecast.
40 day Upper Level Model: (9/11) This model depicts a solid Inactive MJO pattern was over the East Pacific and a weak version over the West Pacific. But it is to fade by 9/28 with a neutral MJO signal taking root and holding through 10/21.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a neutral MJO pattern over the KWGA with no real anomalies in.cgiay. No coherent MJO signal or at worst a weak Inactive Phase is forecast starting 9/14 continuing into 9/27. After that a completely neutral MJO signal is forecast 10/1-11/14 with a somewhat more defined west anomaly wind pattern setting up in the KWGA starting 11/14 holding through 12/10. Overall the MJO signal is very weak now and is to hold as we move into Fall. La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, but not biasing it towards the Inactive Phase. There's no suggestion of a major pulse of east anomalies developing in the KWGA. This is good news and very unexpected.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (9/11) Actual temperatures continue to stratify with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 164E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 173W but getting steeper, suggesting a hard break between warm water in the west and cool water in the east at depth. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 175W with weak negative anomalies east of there towards Ecuador (-1 degs or less). The cool subsurface flow looks less defined at depth to -2 degs in the far West Pacific and -1.0 degs near 140W, but neutral in between. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is a mixed bag of slightly cooler and neutral water. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 9/5 depicts a pocket of +1-2 deg anomalies building in the West Pacific to 170W. Cool water -3 degs below normal was under the the equator forming a bubble in a broad pocket at 150W and upwelling there, with a second pocket at 100W but not upwelling. 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: (9/10) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a weak cool pocket developing along the coast of North Peru tracking towards the Galapagos. Those cooler waters flow west from the Galapagos out to 100W, then widen (8 deg N and 5 degs S) near 110W tracking solidly out to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. La Nina is in control of surface waters, but weak, with remnant El Nino warm water holding in pockets north of the equator from 105W and points east of there. Almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino 3.4 region, but warm water still is having an influence in the Nino 1.2 region.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (9/10): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru extending west to the Galapagos. Intermixed pockets of warming and cooling water continue west from 95W to 160W but more so for the cooler pockets. A slightly cooler trend is setting up off Africa.
Hi-res Overview: (9/10) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central equatorial Pacific from 120W to 180W. A thin cool stream is starting to redevelop tracking west from the Galapagos feeding that cool pool. No cool waters exist along Ecuador and Peru suggestive of westward dis
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (9/11) Today's temps were steady at +0.280 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (9/11) temps were trending downwards at -0.916 degs. Temp are oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles with a range of 0.5 degs. Temps bottomed out 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 (9/11) This model suggests La Nina has peaked in Aug at -0.5 degs. Temps are to rise to -0.35 degs in Oct, dipping back to -0.5 degs in early Dec before starting to rise to neutral in Feb 2017 and up to +0.4 by April and +0.5 by May. This is very interesting with the model holding the strength of La Nina at not even real La Nina territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Aug Plume depicts temps have nearly reached their peak minimum, down at -0.5 to -0.6 by Nov and holding there to Feb, then rising. This is up again from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs and barely in La Nina territory. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (9/11): The daily index was up to +12.36. The 30 day average was up slightly at +7.55. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was up some at +5.20, 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. Positive is good, negative bad): (9/11) Today's value was down slightly at -0.64. 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. It has been retreating from the peak recently.
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-Aug) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.41, +0.76, +0.18 and now -0.66 in Aug.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-July) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03 and +1.25.
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