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, November 1, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.5 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 3.0 ft @ 9.3 secs from 33 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.8 ft @ 6.2 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 10.6 secs from 274 degrees. Wind northwest 6-10 kts. Water temperature 64.4 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.8 ft @ 13.2 secs from 261 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.3 ft @ 10.1 secs from 258 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 3.2 ft @ 12.3 secs from 279 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 12.2 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 8.8 ft @ 13.1 secs from 284 degrees. Wind northwest 12-15 kts. Water temp 59.9 degs.
46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Tuesday (11/1) in North and Central CA new East Gulf swell was producing waves at 3 ft overhead at top exposed breaks and pretty lumpy from northwest winds over outer waters. At Santa Cruz the same swell was producing waves at head high to 1 ft overhead and a bit lumpy though winds were calm. In Southern California windswell from previous fetch was still producing waves in the waist to chest high range and clean but weak and warbled. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were waist high and clean but weak and warbled. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northeast windswell at waist high at top breaks and clean but unremarkable. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting waist to chest high northeast windswell and chopped from east trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Swell from a mini gale that developed off North CA on Mon (10/31) with seas to 20 ft over a tiny area was starting to hit the coast in the San Francisco Bay area and expected to be pushing southeast. Small swell from a tiny short-lived storm that as in the Northwestern Gulf on Sun (10/30) with up to 39 ft seas aimed east was tracking east. A small storm is developing forecast moving east into the Central Gulf on Wed (11/2) with 39 ft seas aimed east then veering north pushing into Vancouver Island on Thurs (11/3). More local fetch is forecast just off North CA and the Pacific Northwest on Thurs (11/3) producing 26 ft seas tracking east. And another gale to be directly behind that developing in the Central Gulf on Thurs-Fri (11/4) with 35 ft seas aimed east. And a somewhat broader system is forecast developing over the dateline pushing into the Central Gulf Sat-Tues (11/8) producing a long run of 37-39 ft seas aimed east. Much swell is possible for the US West Coast with some sideband swell for the Islands. Winter is setting up.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday AM (11/1) the jetstream was consolidated ridging gently northeast over the dateline with winds building to 180 kts then falling southeast some into the Central Gulf forming a trough and offering good support for gale development. From there the jet ridged slightly northeast then fell southeast moving onshore over North CA. Overall the jet was well configured. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to build while easing east peaking on Wed PM (11/2) with a broad swath of 120-150 kt winds consolidated tracking off Japan, ridging over the dateline then falling into the aforementioned trough. Winds to build rapidly over the dateline falling southeast into the Gulf on Thurs (11/3) at 170 kts again feeding development of another trough in the Gulf with winds up to 190 kts on Fri (11/4) offering great support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to ease east and start pinching off on Sat (11/5) just off North CA with support for gale development fading out. Then again winds are to start building in a ridge on the dateline Sun-Mon (11/7) to 190 kts falling into a developing trough in the Central Gulf of Alaska forming another trough and support formation of gale development into Tues (11/8). Previous indications that the jet might .cgiit have vanished from the forecast and it appears the Active Phase of the MJO is in.cgiay supporting a stronger jetstream pattern.
On Tuesday (11/1) small swell from a local gale was impacting Northern CA (see Local CA Gale below). Swell from a small storm that developed over the Aleutians just east of the dateline on Sun (10/30) was tracking southeast (see West Gulf Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours a small storm is forecast developing in the Gulf tracking east (see Gulf Storm below). Secondary fetch is to follow right behind on Wed (11/2) (see Secondary Gulf Fetch below). And yet another gale is to form in the Gulf right behind on Thurs (11/3) (see 3rd Gulf Gale below).
Local CA Gale
A tiny gale developed in the Eastern Gulf on Sun PM (10/30) generating a small fetch of 40 kt northwest winds and falling south with seas building to 18 ft at 45N 140W. Fetch faded from 30 kts Mon AM (10/31) 430 nmiles west of San Francisco with seas 20 ft over a tiny area at 41N 135W (293 degs NCal) targeting San Francisco directly.
NCal: Small raw swell arrival on Tues AM (11/1) building to 8.0 ft @ 13-14 secs (10.0 ft) fading late afternoon. Residuals on Wed AM (11/2) fading from 5 ft @ 11 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290-295 degrees
West Gulf Gale
A broad area of low pressure was 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 27 ft at 47N 175E. On Sun AM intensification occurred with west winds building to 50 kts over a small area just a bit south of the Aleutians west of the dateline and seas pushing 39 ft at 50.5N 173W (340 degs HI, 307 degs NCal). The storm tracked east-northeast in the evening moving mostly north of the Eastern Aleutians with residual 40 kt west winds continuing barely in the open Pacific moving into the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska with seas fading fast from 33 ft at 53N 165W (353 degs HI, 312 degs NCal). The storm moved north up into the East Bering Sea on Mon AM (10/31) with winds fading from 30-35 kts over exposed waters south of the Aleutians and seas fading from 26 ft at 50N 165W bypassing Hawaii but sending sideband energy down the 306 degs path to North CA. This system faded from there. Swell was radiating mainly east toward the US West Coast.
NCal: Swell arrival expected during the day Wed (11/2) pushing 3.8 ft @ 17 secs at sunset (6.0-6.5 ft). Thurs AM (11/3) swell is to be fading from 5 ft @ 15 secs (7.5 ft) and likely being overrun by new swell. Swell Direction: 307-310 degrees
Another gale started developing just east of the dateline on Mon PM (10/31) producing a solid area of 35-40 kt northwest winds moving towards the Gulf of Alaska with seas building from 27 ft over a broad area at 43N 172W (335 degs HI, 294 degs NCal). That fetch moved cleanly in to the Central Gulf Tues AM (11/1) with winds to 45 kt over a small area aimed east and mostly bypassing Hawaii, targeting mainly California with seas building to 32 ft at 42N 160W (360 degs HI, 292 degs NCal). In the evening fetch is to move east and consolidate at 55 kts targeting NCal well with seas building to 34 ft at 40N 152W (285 degs NCal, 293 degs SCal). Fetch is to fade some on Wed AM (11/2) at 45-50 kts from the west over a smaller area 850 nmiles west of NCal with seas 37 ft at 41N 144W (289 degs NCal, 297 degs SCal). Fetch is to fade in coverage at 45 kts in the evening just off Central Oregon with seas 33 ft over a moderate area at 41N 137W (295 degs NCal). A short pulse of possible larger but raw swell to result for the US West Coast.
North CA: For Planning Purposes - Rough data suggests swell getting solid a bit after sunset Thurs (11/3) building to 11.3-11.7 ft @ 18 secs (19.2-21.0 ft). Residuals fading Fri AM (11/4) from 8.9 ft @ 14-15 secs (13.0 ft) and fading from there. Swell Direction: 287-295 degrees
Southern CA: For Planning Purposes - Rough data suggests swell starting to peak mid-day Fri (11/4) with pure swell at 5.1 ft @ 17-18 secs (8.5-9.0 ft) and bigger at exposed breaks (10 ft @ 17-18 secs). Residuals fading Fri AM (11/4) from 4.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.5-6.0 ft) and fading from there. Swell Direction: 295-297 degrees
Secondary Gulf Fetch
On Tues PM (11/1) a secondary fetch of 40 kt northwest winds is to be dropping southeast from the Western Gulf generating 29 ft seas at 46N 169W (338 degs HI, 299 degs NCal). Fetch is to continue tracking southeast fast on Wed AM (11/2) fading to 35 kts with seas 29 ft at 45N 160W (357 degs HI, 297 degs NCal). That fetch is to fade in the evening while being over taken by a new fetch moving in from the west with 35 kt west winds and seas 22 ft over a broad area near 40N 150W (285 degs NCal). On Thurs AM (11/3) west winds to build to 40 kt 1200 nmiles west of Pt Arena CA with seas building from 24 ft at 39N 145W (282 degs NCal, 292 degs SCal). Fetch is to be lifting northeast fast in the evening at 35-40 kts with seas 26 ft at 40N 139W (286 degs NCal, 297 degs SCal) and moving out of the swell window beyond. Possible reinforcing westerly swell for Central CA.
3rd Gulf Gale
On Thurs AM (11/3) a new fetch of 45 kt northwest winds is to build in the Central Gulf right where mult.cgie other system have tracked getting good traction on an already roughed up sea state. Sea building from 27 ft at 43N 161W. Fetch in the evening is to ease east and building to 45-50 kts with seas building from 31 ft at 42.45N 153W (291 degs NCal). On Fri AM (11/4) fetch is to be fading from 40-45 kts from the west aimed well at Oregon and California with seas 34 ft at 44N 148W (297 degrees NCal). A brief secondary fetch of 40 kt west winds is to develop south of the above area in the evening with seas rebuilding to 30 ft at 40.5N 148.5W (287 degrees NCal). A quick fade to follow. Another solid pulse of west swell is possible for Central CA.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (11/1) weak high pressure was just off the coast ridging into mainly Southern CA generating a steady northwesterly flow at 10 kts over all of Central and North CA but 15 kts for Pt Conception and down the Channel Islands. Wednesday another front is to be queuing up with south winds impacting mainly North CA at 25+ kts reaching south to Bodega Bay late with light rain only for Pt Arena northward after sunset. Thursday (11/3) another front is to stall well off the North CA coast with light northwest winds for all of CA less than 10 kts and no rain forecast. Friday more of the same. Saturday a weak front is to stall and dissipate over Pt Reyes with rain moving over North CA after sunset and falling south. Sunday AM the front is to move through Central CA with rain reaching south to Pt Conception then high pressure and northwest winds at 20 kts taking over North and Central CA. Monday another front is to be approaching with the high getting suppressed and light northwest winds 10 kts or less expected for the entire coast late afternoon. On Tuesday (11/8) the front is to weaken and just reach Cape Mendocino late afternoon with south winds 15-20 kts but rain still off the coast. Light winds from San Francisco southward
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 storm is forecast developing on the dateline Sat AM (11/5) with 50 kt west winds over a solid area and seas building from 41 ft at 45N 173E. In the evening 45 kt west winds to be tracking east-southeast with seas building to 43 ft at 43N 177W. The original fetch is to fade but new 45 kt northwest fetch is to build in the Western Gulf on Sun AM (11/6) with seas 38 ft over a broad area at 42N 169W targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast. 45 kt northwest winds to track east in the evening with 41 ft seas regenerating in the Western Gulf at 43N 163W. Fetch fading from 40 kts on Mon AM (11/7) with seas fading from 38 ft at 39N 156W. Fetch fading from 30-35 kts in the evening well off the CA coast with seas fading from 30-31 ft over a large area at 35-40N 150W. possible solid swell for Hawaii and the US West Coast.
And another small gale is to be behind that.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
Active MJO In Control For Now
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 (11/1) 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 still be in.cgiay but other indicators suggest the Active Phase is.cgiaying a role.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Strong east anomalies were modeled over the eastern KWGA starting today 11/1 and are to continue but slowly fade to moderate strength into11/8. So it looks like another pulse of the Inactive Phase of the MJO or more likely La Nina is forecast. This is a continuation of the first real easterly wind burst from this La Nina which started on 9/23 and is continuing through today. We are now thinking it will not end anytime soon but rather will just pulse, stronger at times, then weaker, in true La Nina fashion.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 10/31 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 Active Phase of the MJO developing in the West Pacific 5 days out and holding till about day 12, then fading.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (11/1) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was indiscernible inside the cone of weakness. But finally the ECMF model suggests the Active Phase is to emerge in the West Pacific 3 days out holding at moderate status while tracking east through the 14 day mark. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. We suspect that the Active Phase of the MJO is actually already in.cgiay by virtue of the SOI (see below) and is to track east for the next 2 weeks.
40 day Upper Level Model: (10/29) This model depicts a neutral pattern over the Pacific. No change is forecast for the next 40 days.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (11/1) This model depicts no MJO signal present with moderate east anomalies in the KWGA through 11/7. A neutral wind pattern to follow until the Inactive Phase develops in the West Pacific starting 11/20 holding through 12/16 but with neutral anomalies remaining in KWGA. A weak Active Phase is forecast to follow 12/20-1/12 with weak west anomalies for the KWGA. Overall the MJO signal is projected to be 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: (11/1) No Change - Actual temperatures are stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 160E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 178W 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 tight 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: (10/31) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a small cool pocket of water along the immediate coast of Peru building some off North Peru reaching almost to the Galapagos. Warmer water is in control along the coast of Ecuador. Cool water is just west of the Galapagos and continues along the equator continuously out 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, and is now starting to take control of the East Pacific too, but with less energy.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/31): A modest cooling trend is developing from Ecuador west over the Galapagos out to 120W almost in one continuous stream. 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: (10/31) A La Nina cool pool is most present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. But a thin continuous cool stream is now present from Ecuador to 120W on the equator. La Nina is building.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (11/1) Today's temps were warming to +0.300 degs up from a week ago.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (11/1) temps were falling and have been for a week now down to -1.136 degs. We're in a cool pulse now, but it looks like it's nearly peaked out. 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 (11/1) 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 gently reaching -0.9 degs in late Dec, then rising steadily from Jan 1 reaching neutral in April 2017 and up to +0.2 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 (11/1): This is where the interesting data is. The daily index was finally stating to rebound up to +9.22 after falling to -35.46 on 10/28, part of a 13 day falling trend. The 30 day average was down more pushing negative at -5.03, but up some from -5.10 on 10/31 and falling from a high of +14.03 on 10/7. This strongly suggests the Active Phase of the MJO or some other mode of variability was having the same effect as the Active Phase of the MJO. The 90 day average is down some at +4.64. 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): (11/1) Today's value was falling at -1.89. This was a new peak low, the deepest it has been so far in this event suggesting La Nina is getting better established.
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