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, October 22, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 6.8 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 4.8 ft @ 8.5 secs from 61 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.7 ft @ 12.0 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 13.5 secs from 217 degrees. Wind southwest 6-8 kts. Water temperature 68.0 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 3.1 ft @ 10.9 secs from 269 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.6 ft @ 12.5 secs from 235 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.4 ft @ 12.0 secs from 244 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 10.5 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 9.5 ft @ 14.9 secs from 296 degrees. Wind northwest 12-15 kts. Water temp 57.9 degs.
46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Saturday (10/22) in North and Central CA new Gulf swell was hitting producing waves in the 8-10 ft range on the face at exposed breaks and a bit warbled from northwest wind. At Santa Cruz the same swell was producing waves at 1-2 ft overhead on the sets and clean and lined up. In Southern California swell had not hit yet with leftover energy producing waves in the knee to thigh high range and clean but swamped by tide later in the day. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were waist to maybe chest high and heavily textured from southwest winds. Hawaii's North Shore was getting windswell with waves to head high and fairly clean but with some sideshore warble at top breaks. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting head high.cgius 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 through the Northern Gulf Wed-Fri (10/21) with up to 27 ft seas aimed southeast was hitting North and Central CA bound for Southern CA but with much less size. Also a stronger gale tracked off the Kuril's on Fri-Sat (10/22) with up to 32 ft seas aimed east at Hawaii. Small swell is in the water pushing towards the Islands. A local gale remains forecast just off Oregon on Mon-Tues (10/25) with 26 ft seas aimed down into Central CA. Another gale is forecast off the Northern Kuril's on Wed (10/26) producing 33 ft seas aimed east for a short window. And more potential lurks beyond over the entire North Pacific. Bring it on!
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday AM (10/22) the jetstream was consolidated tracking east off Japan forming a weak trough then riding over the dateline and falling into another weak trough over the Eastern Gulf of Alaska. Winds were 120 kts feeding the Japan trough and 140 kts feeding the Gulf trough offering some support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast but with 180 kt winds building briefly feeding the Gulf trough on Sunday (10/23) offering yet more support for gale development there while the same upper level pattern holds through Tues (10/25). If anything the trough off Japan is to build in coverage some reaching almost to the dateline on Tuesday while the Gulf trough again pulses being fed by 150 kts winds. Good support for gale development possible. Beyond 72 hours the ridge over the dateline is to weaken with a solid flow of 130-140 kt winds pushing east off North Japan ridging slightly over the dateline the falling into the Gulf trough into Thurs (10/27). after that things are to wake up with the jet starting to flow solidly flat east at 180-190 kts on Fri-Sat (10/29) from Japan over the dateline and into the Western Gulf and starting to fall into what could become a trough there beyond. This could unleash a flurry of gales.
On Saturday (10/22) swell from a gale that tracked through the Gulf of Alaska targeting the US West Coast was hitting California (see Gulf Gale below). Another swell was in the water tracking towards Hawaii originating over the Kuril Islands (see Kuril Island Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours a gale is forecast developing just west of Oregon on Mon AM (10/24) producing 45 kt west winds with seas building from 22 ft at 43N 135W (303 degs NCal). In the evening fetch is to fade from 40 kts just off the coast with 30+ kt northwest winds continuing further out to sea targeting CA well. Seas to be 26 ft just off Oregon pushing north with 24 ft seas at 41N 130W (304 degs NCal). Raw swell is possible reaching south to San Francisco if all goes as forecast starting Tues AM (10/25) to 8.4 ft @ 14 secs (11.5 ft) from 304 degrees.
A fetch of 35-40 kt west winds is to set up off the North Kuril Islands on Tues AM (10/25) generating 24 ft seas at 48N 166E targeting Hawaii somewhat. That fetch is to build in coverage in the evening at 30-35 kts reaching from Kamchatka to the dateline generating 22 ft seas over a broad area centered at 48N 173E then fading in the evening with seas fading from 23 ft at 50N 175E. Possible background swell for Hawaii and the US West Coast.
A gale developed in the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Wed AM (10/19) generating a tiny fetch of 35-40 kt north winds extending south from the eastern most Aleutians. Seas building. By Wed PM (10/19) 40 kt northwest winds were over a small area falling southeast. Seas built to 24 ft over a tiny area at 48N 156W. On Thurs AM (10/20) winds were fading from 35 kts over a small area aimed more east and tracking east positioned 1,200 nmiles northwest of California with seas building to 27 ft at 48N 149W (308 degs NCal). In the evening fetch is to fade from barely 30-35 kts while tracking east off of Vancouver Island with seas fading from 25 ft at 48N 141W (314 degs NCal). The low is to move into Central Canada on Fri AM (10/21) with winds 25 kts and seas fading from 20 ft at 50N 134W (outside the CA swell window). Another pulse of swell is possible for the US West Coast north of Pt Conception.
NCal: Residuals on Sunday (10/23) fading from 5.5 ft @ 12-13 secs early (6-7 ft). Swell Direction:308-310 degrees
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
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday AM (10/22) high pressure was weakly ridging into North California generating north winds at 15 kts from Pt Conception up to Pt Arena but fading. Low pressure was building off Oregon cutting into the high and causing it to loose it's footing over California waters. By Sunday winds are to be calm along the CA coast with a weak front building off North CA early and well formed by sunset with south winds 25 kts over waters of North CA and 20 kts 150 nmiles off Monterey Bay. South winds likely starting to show down to Monterey Bay late. South winds are to start building on Mon AM (10/24) from Monterey Bay northward at 20 kts and rain impacting North CA. The low generating the front is to push up into Oregon late afternoon with the front tracking south. Rain reaching Monterey Bay late and stalling there. Rain expected in Tahoe. On Tues (10/25) the front to dissipate and south winds weakening over San Francisco only to regenerate later in the day as a new low winds up off the Central CA coast. Wednesday south winds to continue at 10 kts from Big Sur northward and 20+ kts over North CA with 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 by sunset with rain for Southern CA to Cape Mendocino too. South winds and rain fading through the morning Friday and gone mid-afternoon, but more low pressure is to be developing offshore. South winds are forecast from Pt Conception northward Sat AM (10/29) 10 kts holding through the day with the low lifting hard north and rain only for Cape mendocino after sunset.
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 semi real gale is to finally form in the far Northwest Pacific on Wed PM (10/26) with 45 kt west winds and seas building from 27 ft at 49N 162E. By Thurs AM (10/27) 45 kt west fetch is to be impacting the Aleutians west of the dateline with 34 ft seas at 51N 172E targeting Hawaii some but mainly aimed east of there towards the US West coast, but a long ways away and almost shadowed by the Central Aleutians. Something to monitor.
By Sat PM (10/29) 3 gales are to be starting to take shape, with one just off the Oregon-CA border with 35 kt west winds and seas building from 19 ft, another in the Western Gulf with 30-35 kt northwest winds and seas trying to get traction, and a broader on on the dateline with 40-45 kt west winds and seas building from 20 ft. This is very far off but good upper level support is indicated, suggesting something of real interest could develop.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
La Nina Continues to Pulse
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 Friday (10/21) 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 very weak easterly over the KWGA. The Inactive Phase of the MJO appears to be fading.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Modest east anomalies were over the KWGA on 10/22 and are to be fading and loosing coverage steadily through 10/27, then turning completely neutral and holding into 10/29. This indicates the Inactive Phase of the MJO is loosing control, a good thing. The first real east wind burst from this La Nina started on 9/23 and is to continue through 10/25, then dissipate.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 10/21 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. 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): (10/22) 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: (10/22) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO pattern over the West Pacific. It is to hold for the foreseeable future through 11/29.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (10/22) This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern was all but dissipated over the Dateline. A neutral MJO pattern is to follow perhaps weakly turning towards a Inactive Phase in the West Pacific starting 11/3 holding through 1/2/17 supporting neutral wind anomalies. A weak Active Phase is forecast to follow 1/3-1/18 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: (10/22) 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 180W 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 -3 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 10/15 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: (10/22) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a small markedly cool pocket of water developing along the immediate coast of North Peru extending up in to Ecuador at -1.5 degs. 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 larger than weeks previous. La Nina is in control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, and is starting to build in the equatorial East Pacific (Nino1.2 region between 80W-120W).
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/21): The area of marked stronger cooling from Ecuador west over the Galapagos out to 120W is retreating as of today and covering less area. Pockets of warming and cooling waters are west of there as they have been for months. 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: (10/22) Today's temps were falling some to -0.144 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (10/22) temps continued on a rising trend but were still negative at -0.236 degs, falling from a recent peak on 9/25 at +0.45 degs (9/25). Temp 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 (10/22) 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 -1.0 degs in late Dec, then rising steadily from Jan reaching neutral in April 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 Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (10/22): The daily index was down some at -1.61. The 30 day average was down some at +3.87. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average is down some at +6.68. 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