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 Tuesday (3/4) Northern CA surf was chest to head high and reasonably clean. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist high and weak. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was chest to maybe head high and windy by mid-day. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist high and clean. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to chest high and glassy. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist to chest high and clean. The North Shore of Oahu was 1-3 ft overhead and glassy. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was thigh high at top spots.
North/Central California was the smallest it's been in a while, with no real swell of interest occurring other than some background dateline energy mixed up with an occasional southern hemi pulse. Southern California was getting a mix of better southern hemi swell originating from the Southeast Pacific mixed with tiny northwest dateline swell. Hawaii's North Shore was the standout again, with a new batch of moderate dateline swell pushing in and making for some fun surf at select breaks. The East Shore was essentially flat. The South Shore was flat.
Hawaii to continue in the spotlight getting a steady diet of swell from the dateline making for solid fun sized plus surf into the early weekend, then fading. California to muddle along with something that almost resembles surf trying to push into the north end of the state later Wednesday and holding into the weekend. The real issue is what will come after that. The models have been inconsistent, depicting a series of gales in the Gulf of Alaska late week into the weekend offering good energy for California on run, then al but gone the next, only to reappear two runs later. Best guess at this time is maybe a gale aimed at California on Thursday with a a second right behind on the dateline aimed at Hawaii, but both fading a day or tow later, and nothing else to follow. Looks like Spring has sprung. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Tuesdays jetstream charts (3/4) for the North Pacific were starting to look decent with a consolidated flow of up to 180 kts winds pushing off Japan arching over the dateline then falling into a weak trough north of Hawaii nd offering some support for gale development there. To the east the jet split with the northern branch ridging northeast through the Gulf of Alaska and on into Canada while the southern branch tracked meandered over Hawaii then east over Southern Baja. Over the next 72 hours a solid flow to continue off Japan reaching over the dateline and falling into a faint trough pushing from north of Hawaii into Canada in sync with the building flow pushing into Northern CA late Friday (4/7). Winds 150 kts over the bulk of it's width with more energy building over Japan late. Beyond 72 hours the consolidated flow is to continue flow west to east with a few small undulations rippling from the dateline towards the mainland offering a smidgeon of support for surface level development through the weekend, though nothing outstanding. After that wind energy to drop off and a more fragmented flow is suggested, though not split, at least by Tuesday (3/11). But all the signs of a possible split pattern are to start materializing.
At the surface today a broad but weak and diffuse low pressure system was on the dateline trying to reach in to the Gulf of Alaska with pressure down to 980 mbs and generating some 30 kt fetch and 20 ft seas at 37N 175W well south of the dateline aimed towards Hawaii. This was actually the tail end of a pulse of fetch that has produced up to 29-30 ft seas at 40N 178W on Sunday (3/2) decaying into Monday. Swell from this system started hitting Hawaii Monday and is already on the way down with small energy forecast pushing into North CA on Wednesday (3/5) (see QuikCASTs for details). Otherwise high pressure at 1032 mbs was just off the Pacific Northwest offering some minimal storm protection there ridging southwest over Hawaii, but not strong enough to even kick up the trades. No other systems of interest indicated.
Over the next 72 hours the remnants of the above system to try and reorganize again, being fed by light moisture streaming over the dateline from Japan and coalescing into something by late Wednesday (3/5). Pressure to be 984 mbs with 35 kt southwest winds building on the leading edge of the low 900 nmiles north of Hawaii and targeting the Pacific Northwest. By Thursday AM (3/6) pressure to be down to 976 mbs with 45 kt northwest winds building at 42N 152W aimed towards NCal down the 292 degree path and 1500 nmiles out. 23 ft seas building at 42N 157W. No fetch to be aimed at Hawaii. In the evening the low to be lifting north with 45 kts winds at 45N 152W still aimed well towards Ncal up the 297 degree path (302 Scal). 30 ft seas forecast at 43N 151W. By Friday AM (3/7) the gale to still be holding together with pressure to 968 mbs positioned well up in the Gulf with 45 kt winds at 49N 152W aimed due east or 20 degrees east of the 308 degree path to NCal and essentially out of the Scal swell window. 30 ft seas forecast at 48M 152W pushing a bit north of the NCal swell window. The gale is to be disintegrated by nightfall with residual seas pushing well north of any path toward or forecast area, focused on British Columbia and point north.
If all this occurs as forecast some form of swell could possibly be pushing towards California for later in the weekend. Will believe it when it happens.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
As of Tuesday (3/4) another bit of weak high pressure at 1032 mbs was ridging into the Pacific Northwest setting up a light northerly flow Tuesday from Cape Mendocino down into Pt Conception, but mostly over outer waters. This fetch to continue an perhaps even build a bit Wednesday with 20-25 kts north winds over outer waters, though again not pushing too close to shore. That to be gone by Thursday (3/6) as the high moves inland leaving a light pressure pattern and wind flow in-place. New high pressure at 1024 mbs is to set up off Southern CA Friday (2/7) offering some protection from a building gale pattern in the Gulf and holding into Saturday, when the bulk of the gale activity is to try to make a move on the Monterey Bay area, but be fended regarding strong winds. But rain is definitely forecast starting Saturday night into Sunday and Monday. Light south winds forecast Sunday turning northwest and light Monday while more low pressure builds in the Gulf and new high pressure tries to offer some protection, possibly providing a short 12 hour blast of north wind on Tuesday, but then quickly backing off.
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
An interesting storm built in the mid-South Pacific Monday AM (3/3) with pressure 952 mbs generating a decent fetch of 50-55 kt south to southwest winds confirmed by the QuikSCAT satellite near 55S 155W aimed 20 degrees east of the 198 degree path to CA and tracking northeast through late Tuesday with winds slowly fading to 35 kts at 50S 135W. This fetch generated 37 ft seas Mon PM at 51S 145W holding at 37 ft Tuesday AM at 49S 140W then fading from 32 ft at 45N 136W in the evening. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass directly over the fetch Tuesday AM and confirmed seas at 37 ft, exactly on-track with the wave models projections. This is good. Some form a decent southern hemi swell is in the water pushing towards California and Central America.
Expect swell arrival in California starting Tuesday (3/11) with period 20 secs and size probably not even noticeable building into Wednesday and peaking Thursday AM (2/13) as period drops to 17 secs. Swell Direction: 191-198 degrees
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 another weak gale is to form well off the North CA coast Saturday (3/8) dissolving 24 hours later while pushing into British Columbia possibly generating a limited fetch of 25 ft seas 1000 nmiles off Cape Mendocino late, offering swell potential into Monday (3/10).
Also another gale is to be pushing off Japan tracking steadily east Saturday (3/8) generating a tiny area of 45 kt winds aimed a bit south of Hawaii. It's to get much better organized on Sunday (3/9) generating 45-50 kts winds near 35N 175E-175W aimed at Hawaii down the 305-310 degree great circle tracks with seas pushing near 32 ft. The gale to slowly fade while tracking north of Hawaii Monday (3/10) with seas fading from 30 ft at 33N 170W to 26 ft at 34N 164W and then moving northeast out of the Hawaiian swell window and focusing more towards California as winds rebuild towards the 40-45 kt range in the late evening. Possible larger swell for Hawaii late Tuesday (3/11) with lot's of luck. Maybe some potential for CA later in the week with even more luck.
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