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 (2/28) Northern CA surf was 1.5 times overhead and a bit lumpy. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were head high to 2 ft overhead and clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was 1-3 ft overhead and onshore mid-day. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist to chest high and reasonably clean early. The LA Area southward to Orange County was chest high and textured. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were chest high and warbled. The North Shore of Oahu was double overhead and clean. The South Shore was up to waist high and clean. The East Shore was thigh high at top spots.
North/Central California was getting new swell from a gale that was north of Hawaii earlier in the week and coming from a very westerly direction. Southern California was getting a mix of swell building from the west (same Hawaiian swell) with longer period southern hemi swell originating under New Zealand. Hawaii's North Shore was getting solid swell originating from a gale that was east of Japan last weekend, the best in the Pacific. The East Shore was essentially flat. The South Shore was getting the last dibbles of southern hemi swell originating under New Zealand Sun-Mon (2/19).
Hawaii to continue getting swell from the gale that was off Japan, but it's to be steadily fading over the next several days. Another pulse of weak dateline swell is forecast early next week, with more scheduled behind that and possibly with more size a week out. Swell hitting California originating north of Hawaii is to fade pretty quick, but another pulse is expected from the weekend from a gale that developed over the dateline Tuesday pushing to the Gulf through Friday with seas up to 28 ft, though most less than that by a good margin. Off-season southern hemi swell is already hitting California too, with a larger pulse forecast for the weekend. Much more modest size and period is expected to follow, providing something rideable, but definitely down from previous weeks. It actually looks like a Springtime pattern is setting up, so get what you can now. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (2/28) for the North Pacific depicted a solid flow of up to 190 kts winds pushing to the dateline then totally falling apart east of there with a three way split in control driving energy north to the Bering Sea, east ridging into Canada and south to the equator. A weak trough was trying to push into the Gulf of Alaska offering a smidgeon of support for surface level low pressure development there, but not much. Over the next 72 hours a significant improvement is forecast with the energy emanating of Japan pushing well over the dateline to a point north of Hawaii with winds to 180 kts and then connecting up with the remnants of the old jet, fueling 150 kts winds from there ridging up into British Columbia. No defined troughs are forecast, but at least it's all to be consolidated and with decent energy levels. Beyond 72 hours the same consolidated flow is to hold control over the Western Pacific pushing over the dateline to a point north of Hawaii, then gently riding northeast from there into the Gulf and Canada with a broad trough setting up on the dateline pushing into the Gulf. Decent support for surface level low pressure development suggested there.
At the surface today a weak gale was in the Western Gulf of Alaska offering bare minimal potential to the US West Coast (see Japan/Dateline/Gulf Gale below). Another broad gale was over the Kuril Islands, but was getting sheared apart by the strong jet in the area offering only 30-35 kt west winds streaming off Northern Japan and no real hope. High pressure at 1024 mbs was set up just north of Hawaii joining another high just off Central CA and forming some modicum of storm protection, and northerly winds along the California coast. No other weather features of interest were occurring. Over the next 72 hours swell from the Japan/Dateline/Gulf Gale is to reach California. Otherwise the gale off the Kuril's is to push east and not really get much traction on the oceans surface, generating period bits of 30-35 kts west winds and up to 26 ft seas pushing towards the dateline then fading late Saturday (3/1), perhaps generating some swell pushing towards Hawaii for next week. A calm pattern to hold in over the East Pacific.
A system off Japan mid-day Saturday (2/23) generated 45-50 kts west winds for 18 hours near 35N 150-160E targeting Hawaii well down the 302 degree great circle path, then headed quickly north by late Sunday afternoon bound for the Bering Sea with residual 40 kt westerly fetch fading just off Kamchatka on Monday (2/25). Seas peaked at 36 ft over a small area at 35N 160-162E aimed right at Hawaii mid-Sunday then rapidly faded off Kamchatka on Tuesday (2/26). Some form of 18 sec period swell possible for Hawaii early Thursday (2/28) with swell near 6.8 ft @ 16 secs (10-11 ft faces) from 302 degrees. Swell fading from 6 ft @ 13-14 secs Friday (8 ft faces).
The remnants of this gale reorganized somewhat well to the north and east on the dateline Tuesday evening into Wednesday AM (2/27) with pressure 984 mbs generating a small fetch of 40 kts northwest winds near 46-44N and 177-173W generating 12 hours of 27-28 ft seas at 44N 171W Wednesday AM fading to 25 ft in the evening at 43N 165W. Fetch was aimed mid-way between Hawaii (335 degs) and California (296 NCal, 301 SCal) 30 degree of of the paths to each.
Thursday (2/28) 30-35 kt remnant winds to persist moving east from 45N 165W in the morning and 44N 158 in the evening generating a moderate area of 23 ft seas at 42N 160W and 43N 158W respectively. This energy to all be aimed at North California up the 290 degree path (295 SCal).
30 kt remnant winds to be fading Friday (2/29) well off the Cape Mendocino coast with 20 ft seas at 43N 151W in the morning and 19 ft seas at 43N 145W in the evening before dissipating. .
Decent odds for some form of advanced class swell for the weekend with luck for breaks North of Pt Conception, with lesser energy filtering into Southern CA late in the weekend. The forecast for Hawaii is uncertain, though some energy could be expected Saturday (3/1).
North CA to see swell of 5.4-5.7 ft @ 14-15 secs (8 ft faces) Sunday from 291-296 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast