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 Thursday (1/24) Northern CA surf was up to head high but weak and falling apart fast. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist high and windblown. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was up to chest high and almost clean. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was thigh high at the best breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh high and chopped. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist high and windy. The North Shore of Oahu was chest high and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was waist to chest high - tradewind generated windswell.
North/Central California was getting some sporadic swell from the dateline mixed with alot of locally generated chop associated with an approaching front. Southern California was near-flat. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the last little dribbles of dateline swell. The East Shore was getting minimal tradewind generated windswell. The South Shore was getting no swell at all. More of the same is forecast with a split jetstream flow in control of the entire Eastern Pacific. A series of poorly organized lows are dropping south from Alaska south to a point off the California coast, expected to generated some moderate wind and seas, but mostly aimed due south bypassing California. Oddly Hawaii's eastern shores might stand a better chance of swell over the weekend than the mainland. Long term some activity is modeled in Gulf of Alaska, but that seems more like a fantasy at this point. So the bird in the hand for the next few days revolves around precipitation in the Sierra's, a good drive away from the beach. Make the most of what you've got while you've got it. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (1/24) for the North Pacific continued imaging a fully split jetstream with the split point on the dateline. Winds were moderate at 160 kts pushing over Japan, with the northern branch tracking due north at the split point over the Aleutians then well up into Alaska then dropping south just off the Canadian coast then veering inland over northern Baja. The southern branch passed just south of Hawaii then northeast into Baja, joining the northern flow there. Only the area just off Kamchatka held any potential for serious gale development, with less potential over the Pacific Northwest coast. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold though the jet is to pushing inland some over Canada then pop back out into the Pacific off California ushering in colder air at the surface, then pushing inland as it joins the southern branch of the jet over Northern Baja. No change in the surface level storm pattern. Beyond 72 hours the situation is to remain more of less the same, other than the split point moving back west of the dateline opening up the Gulf of Alaska a bit more for some surface level storm development, especially mid-next week.
At the surface today high pressure remained in-control of the Pacific with one high centered on the dateline at 1020 mbs and the more dominant one well north of Hawaii at 1040 mbs. Weak low pressure was over British Columbia at 1008 mbs forming a gradient with high pressure to it's west generating 35 kt north winds off the coast there aimed due south, starting to get some traction and generating building seas in the area but targeting only open ocean between Hawaii and California. Another low was winding up just off Northern Japan. Swell from the dateline was hitting Central CA (see Third Dateline Gale below). Over the next 72 hours the low off Japan is to build with a solid fetch of 45-50 kt winds and 30 ft seas developing at 36N 153E late Thursday in it's southwest quadrant aimed a bit south of any great circle path to Hawaii. That fetch to hang on Friday off Japan with winds holding in the 40-45 kt range aimed better at the Islands, but making zero forward progress eastward and instead drifting north. Up to 37 ft seas forecast mid-day at 38N 162E. 35 kts winds to fade on Saturday off the Kuril Islands as the low drifting well north into the Bering Sea and becoming landlocked, with seas in the 32-36 ft range but aimed pretty well north of any route to Hawaii, but decently towards the US West coast, then gone on Sunday. Good potential for long period advanced class swell for Hawaii late Monday (1/28) into Tuesday (1/29). Maybe even some well decayed inconsistent energy to push into the US West Coast late on Wed (1/30) continuing into the next day with luck.
Also on Thursday (1/24) the gradient/gale off Canada was falling south generating 30-35 kt north winds with seas to 20 ft late. That fetch to make it to a point about 600 nmiles off Cape Mendocino CA late Thursday and hold there with winds still 30 kts into Friday and seas to 26 ft late near 35N 138W. Actually fetch is to turn offshore relative to California but take aim directly on Hawaii producing 23 ft seas heading almost in that direction, offering the hope for northeast swell for northeast facing beaches. Some form of raw sideband windswell with period in the 11 sec range likely for much of California late Friday into Saturday (1/26), but any exact estimate is almost worthless. Hawaii to get swell pushing 12 ft @ 12 secs late Sunday (1/27) with 12 ft faces maybe at exposed northeast facing breaks from 40-50 degrees fading fast Monday and buried in local tradewind induced windswell.
Third Dateline Gale
Yet another similar system developed late Saturday (1/19) over the dateline with a tiny fetch of 50 kt winds in it's south quadrant at 33N 175E aimed well at Hawaii up the 300 degree path. It's was lifting fast northeast to north by Sunday AM (1/20) with 55 kt winds holding at 37N 178W aimed 35 degree east of the 330 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 288 degree path to NCal (293 SCal). 26 ft seas were modeled at 38N 179W. A tiny area of 50 kt winds held into the evening at 43N 172W aimed at NCal up the 293 degree path (298 SCal). 32 ft seas were modeled at 41N 172W. By Monday AM 50 kt winds were still present at 47N 165W but the system was lifting fast to the north with little of this energy pushing towards even the Pacific Northwest. 32 ft seas were modeled at 45N 167W. By evening it was gone.
17 sec period swell is expected for Northern California starting Thursday (1/24) reaching 3.4 ft @ 16 secs (5 ft faces) late. Swell fading from 4.7 ft @ 14 secs (6.5 ft faces) early Friday (1/25). Swell Direction: 295 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast