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.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.9 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 2.8 ft @ 12.9 secs from 319 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.9 ft @ 10.0 secs with swell 3.1 ft @ 10.2 secs from 260 degrees. Wind northwest 6-8 kts. Water temperature 65.7 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 3.7 ft @ 10.0 secs from 264 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.4 ft @ 9.4 secs from 255 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.5 ft @ 10.1 secs from 273 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.4 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 3.1 ft @ 16.7 secs from 301 degrees. Wind southeast 12-14 kts. Water temp 57.9 degs.
46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Thursday (10/27) in North and Central CA residual northwest windswell was producing surf in the head high range and clean but with some local lump intermixed with light offshore winds. At Santa Cruz the same swell was producing waves at shoulder to head high and clean and lined up. In Southern California windswell was producing waves in the waist high range and clean but weak. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were waist high and clean but weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting leftover Kuril Island swell with set waves chest to head high and clean but with some cross lump running through it early. The South Shore was thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting waist to chest high east windswell and chopped from east trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Residual swell from a gale that tracked off the Kuril's on Fri-Sat (10/22) with up to 32 ft seas aimed east was fading out in Hawaii. Residual windswell from the Gulf was hitting Central CA but unimpressive. A gale is developing in the Northern Gulf and forecast to fall southeast Thurs-Sat (10/29) with seas fading from 33 ft (see Gulf Gale below). And of some interest is a small storm forecast for the Western Gulf Sun-Mon (11/1) with up to 45 ft seas aimed east (see Long Term Forecast below). Another gale is forecast behind that for the Central Gulf on Wed-Thurs (11/3) with 36-37 ft seas. So an improving pattern is suggested.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday AM (10/27) the jetstream was consolidated tracking east off Japan with winds 130-140 kts forming a weak trough landlocked over the Northern Kuril's holding velocity then ridging over the dateline. From there the jet weakened considerable with winds down to 90-100 kts and falling southeast forming a weak trough in the Gulf, pushing inland over North CA. There was some support for gale development in the Gulf of Alaska, but only weakly so. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to get steeper and digging south with winds building to 130 kts on Fri (10/28) offering better support for gale development there then starting to move inland over the Pacific Northwest on Sat (10/29) with gale support fading. Back to the west significant new wind energy is to be building in the jet starting Sat (10/29) with winds 170 kts tracking flat east off North Japan reaching to the dateline and building to 180 kts on Sun (10/30) and moving into the Western Gulf but positioned just barely south of the Aleutians. Support for gale development possible, but no clear cut trough is indicated developing. Beyond 72 hours starting Mon (10/31) the jet is to continue to hold well with 160 kts winds continuing off Japan ridging slightly over the dateline then starting to fall into a developing trough in the Western Gulf and tracking east into Wed (11/2) when winds are to be 170 kts feeding a decently developing trough located in the Central Gulf and digging deeper into Thursday. Good support for gale development is expected if all goes as forecast. And 140+ kt winds still to be streaming off Japan too.
On Thursday (10/27) residual swell from a gale that tracked off the Kuril Islands last weekend was fading out in Hawaii. And small swell from a fetch of west winds in the Northwest Pacific was pushing towards Hawaii (See NW Pacific Fetch below).
Over the next 72 hours a new gale was starting to develop in the Northern Gulf targeting the US West Coast (see Gulf Gale below). Also a new gale is to start forming in the Western Gulf (see Possible West Gulf Gale below).
Northwest Pacific Fetch
A fetch of 30-35 kt west winds was in.cgiace off the North Kuril Islands on Tues AM (10/25) generating 20 ft seas at 46N 163E targeting Hawaii somewhat. That fetch lifted northeast in the evening at 30-35 kts generating 20 ft seas over a modest area centered at 50N 170E then fading on Wed AM (10/26). Secondary fetch at 40 kt from the west moved over the same area mid-day Wed (10/26) generating 22 ft seas at 48N 170E. Possible small background swell to result for Hawaii.
Hawaii: Swell arrival expected on Saturday afternoon (10/29) pushing 2.4 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell fading Sun AM (10/30) from 2.4 ft @ 12-13 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 320 degrees
A gale was developing over the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska on Wed PM (10/26) producing 45 kt northwest winds over a small area and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. Seas were building from 26 ft at 50N 154W targeting mainly Canada. That fetch held it's ground and build to nearly 50 kt Thurs AM (10/27) over a small area with seas building to 33 ft at 50N 152W again aimed east at Canada and the Pacific Northwest. In the evening the gale is to start falling southeast with winds 45 kts and seas 33 ft at 49.5N 148W (310 degs NCal). The gale to continue falling southeast on Fri AM (10/28) with winds 35+ kts from the northwest and seas 29 ft at 46N 147W targeting California best (303 degs NCal). The gale to continue southeast in the evening with winds fading from 35 kts and seas 26 ft targeting Central CA well (295 degs NCal). 30 kt northwest winds to continue 700 nmiles off North CA on Sat AM (10/29) with seas fading from 23 ft at 38N 142W targeting Central and South CA (293 degs SCal). Fetch is to be gone in the evening with seas fading from 20 ft at 36N 136W targeting Southern CA and Baja (285 degs SCal). This system to dissipate after that. Assuming all goes as forecast a nice pulse of modest swell could result for the Pacific Northwest down into North and Central CA with lesser size into South CA. Something to monitor.
NCal: For.cgianning purposes expect swell arrival on Sat (10/29) afternoon building to 5 ft @ 15-16 secs (7.5 ft). Swell peaking overnight and fading Sun AM (10/30) from 6.0 ft @ 14 secs (8.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 303-309 degrees
SCal: Rough data for.cgianning purposes suggests swell arrival on Sun (10/30) peaking mid-day at 3.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.5 ft). Swell fading some overnight then dropping on Mon AM (10/31) from 3.0 ft @ 14 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 293-290-295 degrees
Possible West Gulf Gale
A broad area of low pressure is forecast developing just west of the dateline on Sat PM (10/29) aided by a strong jetstream flow aloft generating 45 kt west winds down at the surface and starting to get traction on the ocean with seas building from 24 ft at 43N 179E. On Sun AM rapid intensification is forecast with west winds building to hurricane status at 65 kts just a bit south of the Aleutians near the dateline and seas pushing 41 ft at 51N 173W (340 degs HI, 307 degs NCal). The storm is to track east in the evening half over the Eastern Aleutians with 55 kt west winds continuing barely in the open Pacific moving into the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska with seas building to 45 ft at 52N 166W (350 degs HI, 308 degs NCal). The storm is to move north up into the East Bering Sea on Mon AM (10/31) with winds fading from 35-40 kts in exposed waters south of the Aleutians and seas fading from 31 ft at 54N 161W bypassing Hawaii but sending sideband energy down the 311 degs path to North CA.This system is to fade from there. Something to monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Hurricane Seymour was positioned 700 nmiles southwest of Cabo San Lucas Mexico tracking west at 11 kts with winds 105 kts and seas 38 ft. The rather solid westward heading was preventing any real swell from radiating north towards our forecast area. Seymour is to peak this evening with winds 120 kts (138 mph) starting to make a slight drift to the north-northwest. On Wed AM (10/26) Seymour turned west-northwest and positioned 1,000 nmiles south of Dana Point CA (183 degs) with winds 110 kts. Still the storms travel path was not good for pushing swell towards CA. In the evening a turn to the northwest occurred with winds dropping from 100 kts positioned 950 nmiles from Data Point on the 190 degree path. Improving odds for swell generation relative to Southern CA is possible. On Thurs AM (10/27) Seymour was tracking north-northwest with winds fading fast from 75 kts 900 nmiles from Pt Dume on the 190 deg heading offering limited odds for swell generation potential there. A quick fade is forecast thereafter with Seymour down to tropical storm status (55 kt) in the evening and barely a depression on Fri AM (10/28) heading north.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri AM (10/28) with swell 2.4 ft @ 12 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell building some overnight and then fading Sat AM (10/29) from 2.5 ft @ 10-11 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) gone near sunset. Swell Direction: 185-200 degrees.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (10/27) weak low pressure was off South and Central CA lifting north generating a weak southerly flow at 5-10 kts over all of Central and North CA. Light rain to be developing from Pt Conception northward and building south into all of Southern CA early Fri AM. Rain to the top of Tahoe and the Yosemite high country. Friday a neutral pressure pattern is forecast with light northwest winds 10 kts mainly for North CA and calm south of there. Rain early fading out mid-afternoon. The next low is to be 600 nmiles off North CA Sat AM (10/29) with a front just off the coast and south winds 10 kts early from Morro Bay northward building to 15+ kts from Big Sur northward early evening and light rain building south from Pt Arena early to Monterey Bay late. The core of the low is to move onshore Sunday AM (10/30) over the Oregon-Ca border with south winds 15+ kts early AM from Morro Bay northward turning west-southwesterly late afternoon at 20 kts. Rain for Pt Conception northward heaviest early and fading through the day. Finally real snow for Tahoe and the Southern Sierra starting before sunrise and peaking late AM then fading slowly into the evening with 9 inches of accumulation for Squaw Valley and up to 17 inches for Kirkwood. 2 inches for Mammoth and 6 inches for the top of Tioga Pass. Yet another weak local low is forecast on Monday just off North CA with south winds building through the day to 15+ kts at sunset for Monterey bay northward pushing south to Pt Conception late. Rain developing at sunset from Pt Arena to Morro Bay. On Tuesday (11/1) the low is to track southeast over Central CA with light south winds focused on Central CA and light rain falling south from San Francisco early to Pt Conception later in the day. Wednesday another front is to be queuing up with south winds impacting mainly North CA at 25+ kts reaching south to Monterey Bay late with light rain only for North CA. Thursday (11/3) another front is to stall off the North CA coast with south winds there 15 kts but light winds south of Bodega Bay.
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
Another gale is to start developing in the Northwest Pacific on Mon PM (10/31) producing a solid area of 45 kt west winds moving towards the dateline with seas building from 28 ft over a small area at 47N 165E. That fetch is to pass over the dateline Tues AM (11/1) with winds still 40-45 kts and starting to fall southeast into the Western Gulf with seas 30 ft at 48N 179W targeting mainly the US West Coast. In the evening winds are to move into the Central Gulf at 45+ kts with seas 33 ft at 47N 163W. Fetch is to fade some on Wed AM (11/2) to 40-45 kts from the west with seas 34 ft at 48N 154N. Fetch is to fade in coverage at 45 kts in the evening with seas 36 ft over a small area up at 49N 152W but 24+ ft seas are to be over a huge area filling the Gulf and tracking southeast. This gale is to dissipate Thurs AM (11/3). Possible solid swell to result for the US West Coast.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
SOI Neutral - La Nina Overriding the MJO
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 Wednesday (10/26) 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 weak easterly over the KWGA. The Inactive Phase of the MJO appears to still be in.cgiay but very weak.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Weak east anomalies were over the eastern KWGA on 10/27 and are to hold, then start building on 11/1 and continuing into 11/3. Another pulse of the Inactive Phase of the MJO or more likely La Nina is forecast. The first real east wind burst from this La Nina started on 9/23 and continued through 10/27. We are now thinking it will not end anytime soon but rather will just pulse, stronger at times, then weaker.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 10/26 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 with perhaps a weak Active MJO signal appearing over the far West Pacific. The dynamic model depicts the same thing. This is no change from what both models have been indicating for weeks. Effectively they are saying the MJO is dead neutral and forecast to stay that way.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (10/27) 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. We suspect no sign of the Active Phase of the MJO is to emerge anytime soon.
40 day Upper Level Model: (10/27) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO pattern over the Indian Ocean with a neutral pattern over the Pacific. The Inactive Phase is to ease east into West Pacific 11/11 moving to Central America through 12/1. A weak Active Phase is to follow in the West Pacific 11/26 tracking east. This is not believable.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (10/27) This model depicts no MJO signal present with weak east anomalies in.cgiay and holding in the KWGA into 11/10. The Inactive Phase is to develop in the West Pacific starting 11/28 holding through 12/16 supporting weak east anomalies but mainly east of the KWGA. A weak Active Phase is forecast to follow 12/20-1/18 with weak west anomalies for the KWGA. Overall the MJO signal is very weak and is to hold as we move deeper into Fall. We suspect La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, and producing weak east anomalies in the KWGA but not producing an outright Inactive Phase of the MJO.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (10/27) 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 175W 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 175W with neutral to weak negative anomalies east of there to Ecuador. The cool subsurface flow is weakly negative with one pocket of -4 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 10/20 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: (10/26) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a small cool pocket of water along the immediate coast of North Peru. Warmer water is building along the coast of Ecuador. Warm water is just west of that cool pool. Pockets of cooler water continue along the equator from the Galapagos west to 120W a little stronger than weeks past. Cool water is more established west of there to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. La Nina is in control of surface waters of the Central Pacific.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/26): A warming trend is developing from Ecuador west over the Galapagos out to 120W in pockets. Pockets of warming and cooling waters are west of there as they have been for months but balanced in favor of warming. A weak warming trend is fading off Africa to Brazil.
Hi-res Overview: (10/26) 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: (10/27) Today's temps were steady at -0.308 degs down from temps a week ago.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (10/27) temps were falling after rising for the past 2 weeks down to -0.841 degs. We're in a cool pulse now. Temps 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 (10/27) This model suggests La Nina held from July thru Oct 1 in the -0.55 deg range. The forecast indicates temps are to hold at -0.5 degs through the end of Oct, then start start falling reaching -0.95 degs in late Dec, then rising steadily from Jan reaching neutral in mid-March 2017 and up to +0.4 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 (10/27): The daily index was down hard -21.02. The 30 day average was down at neutral at +0.21, falling from a high of +14.03 on 10/7. This suggests the MJO or some other mode of variability was having the same effect as the Active Phase of the MJO. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average is down some at +6.05. 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 evolving, but not strongly (so far).
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (10/27) Today's value was falling solidly at -1.81 beating the most recent peak of -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