On Thursday (2/22) Northern CA surf was 2 times overhead and blown to bits. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were had high or so and a mess early. Central California surf was 1-2 ft overhead and blown out. Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was up to thigh high at the best breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was basically flat even at the best spots. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were thigh high. The North Shore of Oahu was effectively flat. The South Shore was pushing chest high on the sets. The East Shore had head high windswell.
North/Central California was getting some sizeable windswell pushing into the near real-swell category, but incessant wind was adding piles of chop rendering it unrideable. Southern California was mostly shadowed from any windswell occurring in the north with near flat conditions in control. Hawaii was in the dead zone with no surf on the north side, but rideable early season southern hemi swell providing something rideable there. Depending on where you are, there's hope for surf, or none at all. The greater North Pacific to remain locked down by a poor jetstream flow aloft and high pressure at the surface rendering Hawaii's northern shores waveless for a while. The Northeastern Gulf of Alaska to have a bit of an opening with a series of strong gales forecast to drop south towards the Pacific Northwest and North/Central California, providing the opportunity for raw proto-swell there. Southern CA to be mostly shadowed from this energy except at exposed breaks. Some more early season gale activity occurred under New Zealand which might push a little more energy into Hawaii's South Shore, but small is the operative word. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (2/22) depicted a withering and somewhat consolidated flow pushing east over southern Japan at 130-140 kts, but quickly splitting well west of the dateline and continuing that was the rest of the way across the North Pacific. No real support for gale development suggested anywhere. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (2/25) the same if not worse pattern to hold with the split now starting over Siberia and the northern branch of the jet pushing through the Bering Sea, only dipping south in the far Northeastern Gulf of Alaska late Friday into the weekend and forming a reasonable trough there likely supporting gale development at the surface focused on the Pacific Northwest. Beyond 72 hours things to get even less encouraging as the northern branch pushes past the Gulf entirely overland. Fortunately it to make a little journey back over the Northeastern Gulf mid-to-late next week, possibly providing a glimmer of hope at the surface then. But in all, then trend is not encouraging.
At the surface today a broad and reasonably strong high pressure system at 1028 mbs was positioned just northeast of Hawaii on the 35N latitude ridging east into Southern California and Baja Mexico, south into Hawaii and northwest over the dateline. A series of weak low pressure systems (2) had pushed off Japan with one approaching the dateline and a second riding over the high moving towards the northern Gulf of Alaska. Neither had any swell producing fetch aimed at our forecast area. A generic fetch of 20-25 kt northwest winds was falling from the Gulf towards Central CA. This was remnants from a previous gale there that has generated swell currently hitting North and Central CA. The residuals of this system are likely generating additional short period windswell, and 20 kts trades off the south side of the dominant high was generating windswell for Hawaii's eastern shores, but that was it. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (2/25) low pressure approaching the Gulf is to spring to life forming Storm #17 (see details below). Also the low approaching the dateline is to grow some along with another new low pushing off Japan, but all fetch to be positioned in these systems northern quadrant aimed west towards Japan, which is fairly unusual. This fetch is to be enhanced by high pressure pushing off Kamchatka and setting up north of the lows near the dateline, likely ensuring more blocking high pressure in the days ahead and a profound lack of swell generation.
Storm #17 (Friday PM)
On Thursday PM (2/22) a new low pressure system started to form in the northern Gulf of Alaska with pressure 986 mbs just south of the juncture of the Aleutians and Alaska. Winds were verified via the QuikSCAT satellite at 40 kts, higher than expected, at 47N 162W aimed right down the 300 degree great circle path to North CA.
On Friday AM (2/23) this system had pressure down to 982 mbs with winds confirmed at 50-55 kts at 46N 153 aimed right down the 300 degree great circle path into North CA. Seas modeled up to 27 ft. In the evening pressure to hold while 45-50 kt winds continue in the storms southwest sector at 45N 147W aimed right down the 300 degree path to North CA. Seas up to 35 ft at 45N 150W.
By Saturday AM (2/24) winds to be fading from 40 kts at 43N 137W aimed almost right down the 302 degree great circle path to North CA. Seas forecast at 35 ft at 43N 142W. By evening 35 kts fetch to continue off Oregon at 43N 137W, though smaller than before. Seas from previous fetch at 30 ft to be positioned at 42N 136W.
This system is just getting started, but has been on the charts for the past 48 hours and remains reasonably stable. If anything it's shifted a bit further south from initial projections, putting it more in the North California swell window and improving the odds for sizeable swell pushing well into North and Central CA, but also increasing the likelihood of poor weather during the swells arrival. Southern California to be shadowed from much of the energy, though small utility class well could be expected at exposed breaks (see QuikCAST's for details). But the real issue here is it's close proximity to the coast, from 670-1531 nmiles from San Francisco not allowing the swell ample distance to groom itself clean. This ensures whatever swell results with have a raw warbled and possibly stormy quality.
North CA: Rough data suggest large raw swell to arrive Sunday (2/25) near noon with period 16-17 secs and size ramping up fast. Swell to peak near sunset with pure swell 11 ft @ 17 secs and seas pushing the 13 ft mark (17-19 ft faces at exposed breaks). Swell to fade overnight with swell 10 ft @ 13 secs Monday early (11-13 ft faces) and fading. Swell Direction: 299-303 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (2/22) high pressure at 1028 mbs remained well off the California coast while low pressure was moving onshore driving a steady northwest early flow over nearshore waters. 15-20 kt northwest winds to continue Friday (even stronger in Southern CA) finally starting to let loose with calmer wind Saturday expected all locations. High pressure to try and hold a semblance of control Sunday (2/25) while a new front associated with Potential Storm #17 tries to make a play for areas south of Pt Reyes, but is currently not forecast to make it. But luck to run out by Monday with south winds and potentially a new low forming along the stalled front to push into North and Central CA late. That system to push on into Southern CA Tues/Wed with more brisk north winds and rain in the mix behind it. Take whatever wind free break you can get.
At the surface and through the next 72 hours there were no indications of any swell producing fetch in the South Pacific.
Of minor interest, a small gael developed south of New Zealand late Tues/Wed (2/21) generating 27-30 ft seas near 58S 170E pushing east-northeast for 24 hours, maybe good for a small pulse of 15-17 sec period southern hemi background swell for Hawaii a week out.
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 high pressure that has remained stationary off California is to finally make a move, pushing inland over California Thursday (3/1) but not before another quick little gale drops from the Gulf over the Golden State bringing more wind and rain. At the same time the dateline low is to track northeast to the northern Gulf and is to theoretically start wrapping up there, with 50 kt winds aimed towards California and the Pacific Northwest late next week, possibly generating some form of north angled swell. It's a bit of a reach, but a glimmer of hope just the same. Virtually no fetch to be aimed at Hawaii during this time period.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is indicated.
Details to follow...
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table