New Swell Classification Guidelines
Significant: Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead)
Advanced: Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Intermediate: Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft)
Impulse/Windswell: Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
On Saturday (1/5) Northern CA surf was 40 ft with a nice long period, but trashed by south wind. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were up to double overhead and hacked by south wind. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was pushing 4 times overhead and climbing up steeply. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was head high and on the increase, though southwest wind was taking it's toll. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high and junky early, but that is sure to change. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist to chest high and raw. The North Shore of Oahu was head high and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore had windswell pushing waist to chest high.
North/Central California was getting slammed by giant raw stormsurf from Storm #11 putting on an impressive display of nature at it's best. Southern California was in the calm before the storm, with large swell pushing down the coast poised to impact the region later today. Hawaii's North Shore was getting a little pulse of dateline energy generating something to ride, but not much more. Wrap-around swell was pushing into the East Shore. The South Shore was flat. The big story today is Swell #11 slamming California. Seas heights were up to 30 ft at near 20 secs in North CA with pure swell 25 ft @ 19 secs or greater. Unfortunately southerly winds and a horrible local seas state were rendering it unrideable. A nice 3 ft dump of snow has hit the Sierra's helping to dampen any drought worries, with much more forecast in the days ahead - with Tuesday possibly being another dumper. The Madden Julian Oscillation is now in the active state and expected to help fuel a series of storms forming near the dateline and pushing into the Gulf of Alaska over the next 7 days. If this occurs, solid surf is expected for both the Islands and the US West Coast, though any outcome at this early date is premature. Still, looks like a good start to the new year. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Saturdays jetstream charts (1/5) for the North Pacific indicated a solid jetstream flow was pushing off Japan ridging only slightly over the dateline and splitting there, with the northern branch forming a solid trough as it pushed inland over Oregon and Northern CA. Wind speed averaged about 160 kts over the jets length, which is pretty solid. The trough in the east was the source of stormy weather there the past 48 hours. The southern branch of the jet which had split off from the main flow on the dateline was tracking southeast towards the equator, but finally steering clear of Hawaii. Over the next 72 hours the trough is to hold over the US West Coast through Sunday (1/6) while new energy starts building over Japan pushing east over the dateline. The split jet pattern is to heal itself with a near flat flow reaching cohesively across the NOrth PAcific by Tuesday. A bit of a trough is to set up over the dateline at that time offering hope for gale development there, a first for the season. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to loose a bit of it's definition and strength, but not horribly so, with a series of trough continuing to develop near the dateline and pushing east. Decent support suggested for gale development in this region.
At the surface today the remnants of Storm #11 were circulating in the Gulf of Alaska with 30 kts winds pushing from western Alaska on into the Pacific Northwest and generating short period swell for the region on top of the already super-sized swell slamming into the California coast from this storms earlier life. Weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was positioned 400 nmiles northeast of Hawaii offering a modicum of protection there, but providing no protection for the US West Coast. Low pressure was trying to organize over the dateline positioned pretty well to the south, but nothing really organized yet. Over the next 72 hours a new storm to form over the dateline and become Storm #12 of the 2007/2008 Winter Season (see details below). Between it and another one behind it (Storm #13 - see Longterm Forecast) they are to dominate the weather pattern for the foreseeable future.
Potential Storm #12 updated
A weak dateline low started to coalesce into a swell producing gale
Sunday AM (1/6) with
50 kt winds confirmed in it's south quadrant at 40N 170W aimed reasonably
well towards Hawaii down the 336 degree path and better at California up
the 292 degree path (297 SCal). Seas were on the increase. By evening pressure
dropped to 968 mbs with 55-60 kt winds confirmed in it's south
quadrant at 42N 165W aimed 50 degrees east of the 346 degree path to Hawaii
but right down the 292 degree path to North California from it's south
quadrant (297 Scal). This was very good. Seas were modeled
at 35 ft over a tiny area at 43N 168W.
Monday AM (1/7) the fetch continued in the storms south quadrant
with winds confirmed at 50 kts at 42N 156W bypassing Hawaii but
aimed right up the 292 degree path to NCal and 297 SCal. Seas
were modeled at 40 ft at 42N 160W targeting the US West Coast
well. The storm to start fizzling out in the evening with residual
40 kt winds located at 42N 149W still aimed due east up the 292
degree path to NCal (297 SCal). Seas forecast at 35 ft at 42N
on Tuesday AM (1/8) the last 35 kt fetch is to push onshore over
Cape Mendocino with effects down into Central CA (SLO). Residual
27 ft seas forecast at 40N 145W, about 1000 nmiles west of Cape
all this looks to be a decent swell producer, though not over
the top by any means. It's to offer only a glancing blow to Hawaii
with swell expected near Tues (1/8) with most energy directed
due to the east towards Central and North CA for mid-week, with
decent potential for Southern CA too given it's rather southerly
track. There has been no significant change in the models either
as of the 12Z run Mon so all is proceeding as planned. This is
starting to look like a normal winter now.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Saturday (1/5) low pressure and near gale force northwest winds were pushing over outer waters in association with Storm #11 still lingering in the Gulf of Alaska pushing a jumbled sea state and west atmospheric flow towards the coast. Not much change is forecast for Sunday either with a westerly flow expected down into even Southern CA. A short break in the pattern is forecast for Monday with clearing skies and a light northwesterly wind flow forecast, maybe providing a chance for things to clean up a bit. But then on Tuesday (1/8) the remnants of Potential Storm #12 are to push onshore reaching to Pt Conception by sunset and bringing brisk onshore winds and another dousing of rain to the coast. Southern Ca looks to be immune from the wind though. That to clean up Wednesday (1/9) with a light wind pattern in play but another front to impact the coast early Thursday confined mainly to points north of Monterey Bay. After that high pressure and light winds to grace the coast on into the weekend while stormy pattern continue well out at sea.
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
No swell producing fetch is occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hrs the models suggest a stronger storm forming from semi-tropical energy forecast to push east off Japan Sunday (1/6) and organizing late with 45 kt winds taking aim on Hawaii from across the dateline and well south at 33N 168E. This to possible become Storm #13.
Storm #13 (updated
On Sunday AM (1/6) a stronger storm started forming from semi-tropical energy
pushing east off Japan aided by the active phase of the MJO with 45
kt winds confirmed taking aim on Hawaii from across the dateline and well
south at 33N 163E. By evening winds were on the increase confirmed at 50
to perhaps near 60 kts at 34N 171E aimed directly down the 299 degree path
to Hawaii, and 35 degrees south of the 286 degree path to North California.
Monday AM (1/7) winds were confirmed at 55-60 kts in it's south
and west quadrants targeting Hawaii from 36N 175E aimed down
the 306 degree path and directly at North CA up the 286 degree
path from 35N 175E. 32 ft seas forecast building at 34N 174E.
In the evening the system to jog northeast some with a small
area of 50-55 kt winds set up on the dateline at 35N 178W in
the storms south and southwest quadrants aimed at Hawaii down
the 310 degree path and at California up the 285 degree path.
38 ft seas projected at 35N 180W aimed right at Hawaii.
storm to loose energy but gain in size Tuesday AM (1/8) with
45-50 kts winds over a broader area at 38N 170W aimed east-southeast
or 25 degrees east of the 328 degree path to Hawaii and 30 degrees
south of the 285 degree path to NCal (290 SCal). 38 ft seas forecast
at 35N 172W. A broad fetch of 45-50 kt winds to continue in the
evening aimed due east from 39N 165W or right up the 287 degree
path to NCal (293 SCal) but bypassing any route to Hawaii. 40
ft seas forecast at 37N 167W aimed due east.
Wednesday AM (1/9) a fading fetch of 40-45 kt west winds are
forecast at 40N 155W aimed at NCal up the 285 degree path. 44
ft seas suggested at 40N 160W. A secondary low to fire up offering
the potential for more fetch and seas generation. In the evening
35-40 kt fetch to be fading from 41N 150W aimed at NCal up the
288 degree path. Seas forecast at 40 ft at 41N 153W aimed at
NCal up the 287 degree path.
quick fade is forecast Thursday AM (1/10) with residual seas
from previous days fetch 35 ft at 43N 147W aimed down the 295
degree path to NCal (300 SCal). Seas fading in the evening from
29 ft at 42N 141W.
remains a reach for the models but offers a tantalizing tease
for the future. 96 hours of solid fetch and seas are projected
aimed well east providing the possibility of long period significant
class swell for the US West Coast. And given it's close proximity
to the Hawaiian Islands, a nice but short lived pulse of significant
class swell could result there as well. Will monitor.
Julian Oscillation (MJO) Update: Starting about 1/1/2008
the MJO started moving into the active phase with a strong
area of reversed winds at the 850 mb level starting to encroach
into the far Western Tropical Pacific and east-bound. As of
Sat (1/5) the SOI remained very positive reading at 40 with
no signs of dipping into negative territory just yet. But that
changed by Sunday dipping to 6 with further drops expected.
The model are clearly depicted these anomalous winds tracking
east through the end of the month. We suspect this may be starting
to fuel the enhanced storm pattern for for the next week, and
additional activity could be expected through the end of the
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast. The season is over.
Details to follow...
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