New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
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 (1/29) North and Central California had surf in the waist to maybe chest high range on the biggest sets and pretty weak and shifty, mostly just local windswell. Local conditions were good though with offshore winds. Southern California was getting thigh high wrap around northerly windswell at select breaks and mostly unrideable. At least the wind was offshore. Hawaii's North Shore had some chest high windswell pushing into select breaks with almost trades trying to keep thing clean though a defined lumps was still present. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was getting head high plus northeast windswell.
For Central California more of the same is forecast for the next 3 days, basically just windswell but with a little more size by Sunday but also more local north winds too. Certainly nothing to get excited about. Southern California is to fair even worse with basically no rideable swell forecast through the weekend other than some small north windswell pushing into Santa Barbara County on Sunday, but with cleaner conditions. The North Shore of Hawaii to be effectively flat by Friday and holding there through the weekend into early Monday with no swell expected. The South Shore of Hawaii is not expecting any surf. The East Shore remains forecast to see some small to moderate northeasterly windswell slowly fading Friday through Monday and the only real hope for surf in the Islands for the time being.
Longer term the models continue to dish out images of hope, though none of that is even close to being realized just yet. They're just images dreamed up by the one-bit mind of a super computer. First up is a small gale forecast forming in the northeastern Gulf of Alaska late Friday (1/30) with the core nearly inland over Alaska generating 35 kt west winds and up to 25 ft seas targeting Central Canada, with sideband energy pushing south down the 319 degree path to exposed breaks in Central CA with luck. Another better positioned gale is forecast forming over the northern dateline region on Sat (1/31) generating up to 40 kt winds and 28 ft seas tracking southeast and decaying to the 25 ft range late Monday as it falls south of any great circle paths to the South and Central CA coasts, likely providing hope for sizable utility class raw swell for the state if this comes to pass. A glancing blow of sideband northerly swell also seems likely for the Islands starting late Monday. And finally a broad gale remains forecast building off Northern Japan Saturday (1/31) pushing northeast and peaking quickly with up to 50-55 kt winds and 45 ft seas pushing east towards Hawaii and the US West Coast, but breaking up as it hit's the dateline by Wednesday. In all 2 good possibilities for swell are indicated for the Islands and California, with the Pacific Northwest benefiting best from the first of the series.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (1/29) the North Pacific jetstream had a weak and fragmented (but not split) flow easing off Japan pushing east over the dateline to a point north of Hawaii, then split with the northern branch ridging hard north into Alaska the southern branch headed southeast over Hawaii then turning east on into Baja. The weakest imaginable trough was trying to organize over the northwestern Gulf of Alaska bound for Canada. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (2/1) the Gulf trough is to push east and dissipate before moving into Canada early Saturday offering minimal support for gale development there. Meanwhile a new broad trough is to form on the dateline Saturday following the same route through the Gulf on Monday (2/2) but with up to 160 kt winds feeding into it from the west affording a better chance for surface level gale development. This trough is to get too steep and pinched of by late Monday, ending it's productivity. Beyond 72 hrs yet another trough is forecast forming off Kamchatka Sunday (2/1) pushing east and expanding it's area of influence early next week but with only 130 kt winds flowing through it. Some support for gale development possible. The split flow is to continue in the east supporting high pressure down at the surface, but the split point is to steadily push east moving to within 600 nmiles of Central/South CA then onshore by Thursday (2/5) as a big trough sets up over the Pacific Northwest coast, possibly offering up a wetter pattern for a while down into California.
At the surface today high pressure at 1036 mbs was situated just off Oregon and ridging into the coast there forming the usual summer-like pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino with 25 kt north winds there and generating weak short period windswell pushing south into exposed breaks in Central CA. A second high at 1028 mbs was almost north of Hawaii. And yet a third at 1032 mbs was just east of Japan. in short, the North Pacific was locked down in high pressure. Over the next 72 hours a new weak gale is forecast to build in the Northern Gulf on Friday (1/30) with up to 35 kt west winds pushing seas to 25 ft at 52N 142W (319 degree relative to Central CA) late with limited odds for 13 sec period sideband swell pushing towards the US West Coast. This gale to continue east into early Saturday with westerly winds holding at 35 kts and seas building to 26 ft at 55N 135W, increasing odds for 13-14 sec period swell for the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. The gale is to push on into North Canada by mid-Saturday (1/31). Limited odds for small north angled swell pushing south to breaks north of Pt Conception early Monday (2/2) assuming this system forms, but most focus is to be on the Pacific Northwest up into British Columbia.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (1/29) high pressure at 1038 mbs was just off the Oregon coast easing into the Great Basin and forming a short lived pressure gradient off Cape Mendocino with north winds there to 25+ kts, though offshore winds were evidenced south of there. By Friday that high is to be inland with a new weaker high starting to build off San Francisco at 1030 mbs, perhaps turning local winds a little more to the north, but still light (10 kts at worst) while low pressure pushes into Canada. Reinforcing high pressure to join the existing high off Central CA on Saturday with pressure up to 1034 mbs and north winds building to 15 kts a bit off the coast and moving east while pushing south to Pt Conception by sunset. This high is to be ridging into Oregon on Sunday with 15 kt north winds forecast over all of North and Central CA nearshore waters. Fortunately that even t to be short lived with the high moving inland on Monday (2/2) and offshore east winds in control then over the entire state. But all the while low pressure is to be moving into the area, with south winds in control by Tuesday everywhere but Southern CA, and even moving there by Wednesday, Thursday into Friday as the low nudges up to the coast. Rain possible starting Thursday for the entire state, though snow levels likely to be high as this is to be a warm core system.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was occurring aimed at US targets. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours a new gale is modeled developing on the dateline late Friday (1/30) with winds at 40-45 kts over a tiny area at 46N 180W and seas to 26 ft late at 46N 175W, dropping southeast. Additional energy is to become assimilated into this system from the west Saturday with 40-45 kt northwest winds and seas building to 26 ft at 43N 175W late. The low to continue dropping southeast with 35-40 kt northwest winds Sunday AM (2/1) and seas 28 ft then starting to decay in the evening with with 25 ft seas at 35N 163W. Monday AM 35-40 kt northwest winds are forecast at 40N 155W with 26-27 ft seas at the same place, all aimed southeast towards Mexico. Fetch is to continue pushing to the southeast near 30 kts but aimed even more to the south on Tuesday with seas to 23 ft. Possible moderate 14-15 sec period swell pushing towards the US West Coast with some sideband energy dropping into Hawaii by as early as late Monday (2/2) but most size on Tuesday.
Yet anther system, this time a storm, is forecast building off Japan Saturday (1/31) though no fetch is to be aimed at either Hawaii or the US West Coast, instead all to the south. But by Sunday AM (2/1) 40 kt west wind are to be getting hold of the oceans surface targeting Hawaii and building up to 55 kts by the evening at 45N 158E taking aim well to the west at Hawaii though a long ways away. On Monday 50 kt west winds to persist through the day with the fetch starting to track to the east and seas building from 39 ft in the AM at 44N 162E, tracking east and building to 45 ft in the evening at 45N 169E, traveling right up the 300 degree path to Central CA and 20 degrees east of the 319 degree path to Hawaii. Tuesday AM 40-45 kt west winds are to be steadily decaying with seas fading from 43 ft in the AM at 45N 175E (same heading as before) decaying to 39 ft in the evening straddling the dateline. This system to dissipate after that. Perhaps some decent hope for both Hawaii and California from this one with inconsistent energy pushing into the mainland and better size for the Islands due to their proximity but coming from a less direct path. And again, this is just a projection from the models.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (1/29) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was fully in the a neutral state. The Daily SOI index was up to 15.69 having hovered near 0 for 21 days. The 30 day average was down to 7.42 and the 90 day average was up a tick to 11.98. La Nina was still well dug-in, with the MJO trying to make headway against it. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a completely normal wind pattern over the equatorial Pacific, suggestive that the MJO was in a neutral state. That is not unexpected. But what is more interesting is that the Inactive Phase, which was to be be building, remains non-existent on forecast projections. The Inactive Phase was to be reaching the dateline on 2/1 pushing east from there, but is nowhere to be seen. this is good news. We had expected most of February to be a write-off due to the impending Inactive Phase taking control of the North Pacific, but perhaps something else is at hand. Will continue monitoring.
No swell producing fetch forecast for the next 7 days.
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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Swell #2 Mavericks Videos from Powerlines Productions: Check out the action on both Saturday and Sunday (11/30) from that massive swell of 12-13 ft @ 25 secs. Filmed by Curt Myers and Eric Nelson. Really thick! See this and more plus the movie Ride-On 12/11 at the Old Princeton Landing or the Red Vic Moviehouse in San Francisco 12/19-23. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA57cIBkA0o & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37SCR9kDm60
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table