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 Thursdays (2/21) Northern CA surf was 1-3 ft overhead and clean but jumbled early. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest high and hacked by southerly wind. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was 1-2 ft overhead and clean mid-day. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was chest high with wind driven bump mid-day. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high and blown with south wind. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were chest high or slightly more with southerly winds adding a bump to it. The North Shore of Oahu was 2 ft overhead and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was thigh to near waist high at top spots.
North/Central California was getting westerly swell from a local gale that was off Cape Mendocino on Tuesday (2/19) mixed with generic swell that originated from the dateline. Another similar swell was right behind it too. Southern California was getting the same swell from off Cape Mendocino pushing into exposed breaks. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more energy from another fast moving but poorly organized gale that tracked from the dateline east towards the Gulf of Alaska, with another right on it's heels. The East Shore was getting some wrap around energy coming from the northwest. The South Shore was seasonally flat.
One more pulse for Hawaii and California on Friday, then we enter a new regime. Swell to fade in the Islands while a new storm builds directly off the California coast Saturday, likely setting up extra-sized but exceedingly raw local swell for the coast on Sunday, fading through early week. And while that one is forming another storm is to set up on the dateline targeting Hawaii initially with a short burst of 30 ft seas. The remnants of that one to start dropping south directly towards the Islands Monday generating more 28 ft seas and almost impacting them directly before veering east at the last minute. While that is occurring another storm to set up off the Kuril's Sun-Mon (2/25) offering the hope of more 35 ft seas targeting Hawaii, but fading before reaching the dateline. More spurious activity is scheduled a bit north of Hawaii Wednesday and also off the Kuril's at the same time. So.cgienty of potential is charted, with short bursts of moderate class swell likely, but quality is to be something less than optimum in all cases. Still, it ain't too bad. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (2/21) for the North Pacific depicted a solid consolidated flow pushing almost dead flat off Japan over the dateline and right into Central CA with winds 160-180 kts, most concentrated from Japan to the dateline. The issue remains the lack of any trough, or dips in the jet, which typically help to support development of cyclonic circulation in the lower levels of the atmosphere (i.e. a storm). Over the next 72 hours that problem is to resolve itself somewhat, with a ridge developing on the dateline Saturday (2/23) resulting in a trough in front and behind it, helping to generate surface level gale/storm development off California and near the dateline then and tracking east. Beyond 72 hours the ridge on the dateline is to actually build enough to eject some energy north into the Bering Sea, almost looking like a .cgiit jetstream flow, while another ridge builds temporarily over the far Eastern Pacific Tuesday (2/26). This to sap some energy from the jet and settle thing at the surface down a bit. But at the same time a new batch of 200 kt winds are to be building over Japan and pushing east, lopping off the developing .cgiit flow on the dateline and starting to pull the jet back into a favorable configuration by Thursday, with 190 kt winds flowing almost flat on out to the dateline bound for the East Pacific. So more support for storm development looks likely moving into next weekend (2/29).
At the surface today a mixed bag of generally weak and fading low pressure was scattered just off the Central CA coast on up into the Northern Gulf of Alaska, none of it with any real swell generation potential. Swell from previous fetch on Tuesday was impacting the CA coast with another swell right behind (see Gulf Gale below), generated late Tues into Wednesday (2/20). Also swell from previous unremarkable fetch at 30-35 kts generating 23-25 ft seas passed north of Hawaii bound for the Gulf, and was impacting the Islands, with one more pulse on the inbound track behind for very early Friday (2/22) (swell 7 ft @ 13 secs - 8-9 ft faces from 305 degrees). A broad but still developing area of low pressure was building west of the dateline targeting Hawaii.
Over the next 72 hours the new broad gale west of the dateline is to start building Thursday AM (2/21) targeting Hawaii (see Dateline Gale below). Also a strong local storm is forecast building off Central California Friday and Saturday (2/23) (see Storm #20 below).
Gulf Gale (California)
Low pressure was moving towards the Gulf and consolidating Tuesday AM (2/19) while traveling northeast with 45-50 kt winds confirmed at 42N 169W aimed right down the 295 degree path to North CA (300 SCal). In the evening those winds were up to 5055 kts at 46N 150W aimed well down the 302 degree path to NCal with 27 ft seas modeled at 44N 155W. By Wednesday AM (2/20) 45 kt winds forecast fading at 48N 148W aimed down the 308 degree path to NCal with seas modeled at 32 ft at 45N 147W (301 deg NCal), then dissipating and effectively gone by evening. Seas fading from 30 ft at 49N 141W on the 318 degree path to NCal. Some form of solid advanced class swell with period to 17 secs possible for North and Central CA by Friday (2/22) sunrise with swell 8 ft @ 15-16 secs (11-12 ft faces) from 295 degrees and lesser energy wrapping into exposed breaks in Southern CA for late afternoon Friday.
Dateline Gale (Hawaii)
On Thursday AM (2/21) a gale was building west of the dateline with pressure 992 mbs and winds coming up from 35 kts near 35N 155E aimed even south of Hawaii. By evening pressure to be dropping with near 40 kt winds over a respectable area at 35N 165E aimed well at Hawaii up the 304 degree great circle path. 23 ft seas forecast at 35N 160E. This one to build more on Friday AM (2/22) with 40-45 kts winds forecast at 38N 168E aimed well toward Hawaii down the 310 degree path with 27 ft seas forecast at 38N 165E, building to 45 kt solid in the evening just a few degrees north at 40N 170E, continuing into Saturday AM (2/23). 29 ft seas forecast Friday evening at 37N 170E targeting Hawaii well peaking near 30 ft over a small area Saturday AM (2/23) at 40N 173E while the gale itself fades fast. Nothing left by evening. If this comes to pass some form of solid advanced class swell could push into the Hawaiian Islands at sunset Monday (2/25) with swell 5 ft @ 17 secs (8 ft faces) from 305-312 degrees then fading Tuesday AM while being overrun by new more local swell.
Storm #20 - California
A small but strong local storm is forecast wrapping up off Central CA Saturday AM (2/23) with pressure down to 972 mbs and winds 55 kts at 35N 135W aimed right at Pt Conception from just 700 nmiles out and towards San Francisco from a very westerly 262 degree direction and Dana Point up the 280 degree path. Seas building fast from 26 ft at 32-35N 135W. Winds to drop to 45 kts by evening at 35N 130W just 400 nmiles off the Central CA coast aimed right up the 260 degree path to SF and the 280 degree path to South CA. 36 ft seas forecast at 35N 131W a mere 500 nmiles off/west of Pt Conception. This system to be pushing onshore at first light Sunday (2/24) over San Francisco into Pt Reyes area. 30-35 ft raw seas modeled pushing directly into San Francisco with 35-40 kt southwest winds impacting the coast from there up to Cape Mendocino. Small to moderate sized craft should stay in port. Likely it would be smart to stay home and not even try to venture out on the roads. Lot's of rain forecast Saturday night into early Sunday. A real mess.
North CA: Expect swell arrival starting at 4 AM Sunday (2/24) ramping up fast, with swell /seas peaking near 8 AM at 23 ft @ 14-16 secs (maybe longer periods intermixed) resulting in 30-35 ft faces from 250-260 degrees. Gale force south to southwesterly winds and pure stormsurf expected. Do not venture out into the ocean. Residuals fading overnight with period down the 12 secs Monday AM and dropping fast.
Central/Southern CA: Expect swell arrival starting at 7 AM Sunday (2/24) ramping up fast, with swell /seas peaking near noon at Pt Conception at 19 ft @ 14-16 secs (maybe longer periods intermixed) resulting in 26-30 ft faces from 270 degrees. Swell to pushing into exposed breaks near Dana Point about 4 hours later at 9 ft @ 15 secs (13-14 ft faces) from 275-280 degrees. South to southwesterly winds early giving way to northwest winds 15 kts in the afternoon depending on timing of frontal passage. Raw and mostly classified as stormsurf. Residuals fading overnight with period down the 12-13 secs Monday AM and dropping fast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
As of Thursday (2/21) another weak low just off the coast pushed a front shoreward bringing light rain and southerly winds to the regions north of Pt Conception and expected to push into Southern CA by the evening continuing into early Friday. A brief break is forecast Friday night while a really strong system starts building offshore. It's to start hitting North CA first light Saturday with gale force south winds and rain building then working into Pt Conception late and into Southern CA early Sunday (2/24). A real soaker expected late saturday night into early Sunday. Things to be clearing up on Monday as weak high pressure takes control perhaps setting up a weak northerly flow along the Central Coast Tuesday into Wednesday and possibly getting strong with a summer-like north wind gradient in.cgiace by Thursday making a mess of things from Pt Conception northward, though Southern CA to be spared. No rain expected next week.
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
An unusual mid-winter southern hemi gale at 960 mbs is passing under New Zealand on Sunday (2/17) generating 45 kt southwest winds at 55S 170E aimed well up the 210 degree path to Hawaii with seas to 36-38 ft there. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass directly over the core of the fetch Sunday evening and confirmed seas at 34.5 ft at 53S 176E with a peak reading to 37 ft, within 1 ft of what the wave model expected. Very nice. It seeped slowly east into Monday (2/18) with winds slowly fading and 36 ft seas fading from 50S 175W but aimed almost right up the 190 degree path to the Islands through the period. Actually 30 ft seas held on till early Tuesday morning (2/19) before heading on a downward trend. Some form of off season southern hemi swell for the Hawaiian Islands looks likely starting Sunday (2/24) reaching near 3 ft @ 16-17 secs (5 ft faces) Monday (2/25) from 190-195 degrees. Swell fading from 3 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft faces) Tuesday morning (2/26).
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 yet two more broad gales are forecast by Sunday (2/24), one off Japan and the second just north of Hawaii. The Japan system to generate 45 kts winds for 18 hours near 37N 150-160E targeting Hawaii well down the 302 degree great circle path, then head quickly north by late afternoon bound for the Bering Sea with residual 35-40 kt westerly fetch fading just off Kamchatka on Monday (2/25). Seas to peak at 36 ft over a small area at 38N 162E aimed right at Hawaii mid-Sunday then rapidly fading. Some form of 18 sec period swell possible for Hawaii the middle of the workweek.
And yet another system, actually the remnants of the Dateline Gale for Hawaii to try and reorganize Sunday (2/24) at 988 mbs generating 40-45 kt winds at 40N 171W aimed well at Hawaii down the 331 degree path. These winds to only be over a small area but get traction on swell already in the water heading towards the Islands. Fetch to continue in the evening at near 40 kts at 35N 168W sinking south towards Hawaii and aimed like before. Seas building to 29 ft over a tiny area at 37N 168W. Residual 30-35 kts northwest fetch to pass just 450 nmiles north of Oahu Monday morning and fading with 26 ft seas at 32N 162W, about 700 niles from Oahu. Assuming all this occurs as forecast some form of large but raw swell is expected to impact the Islands Tuesday (2/26).
And yet more is forecast behind that, with a nice solid one expected north of Hawaii Wednesday (2/27) aimed well to the east with a short burst of 45 kts winds and 30 ft seas offering potential for both Hawaii and California. And a quick one is to fire up just off Japan at the same time moving north, offering 60 kts winds aimed towards Hawaii.
Quite an active pattern, though each individual event is to be relatively short lived and not particularly strong.
MJO Note: The active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation appears to be over. The last bit of 850 mb westerly winds anomalies were pushing well south of California and into Central America with weak easterly winds anomalies modeled over the Indonesia bound for the Western Pacific. SOI values were back up to 30, up from a low of 8-10 on 2/16. This event shut off about 2 weeks earlier than previously forecast, which is not favorable to storm development. Still this event could be i.cgiicated in the development of Storms #16-19, so it was productive.
No swell producing systems of interst are forecast.
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