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 (3/6) Northern CA surf was head high and a little more later in the day and pretty clean. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist to chest high and glassy. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was chest and clean. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist high and textured. The LA Area southward to Orange County was chest to head high and glassy. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were head high to 1 ft overhead and clean at the best spots. The North Shore of Oahu was 1-2 ft overhead and glassy. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was thigh high at top spots.
North/Central California was getting a little combo swell with energy coming from a very southerly direction intermixing with a more dominant swell from the west. Southern California was getting a solid pulse of swell from the southern hemi from a very southerly direction with background energy coming from the west. Hawaii's North Shore was getting declining swell from west-northwest and on the way down. The East Shore was essentially flat. The South Shore was flat.
Hawaii to have slowly fading surf through the weekend, with only a marginal increase into early next week while the storm track tries and rebuilds from the dateline towards the Gulf, with swell possibly arriving for the later part of the week. North and Central California to continue with some rideable surf into Saturday but not much more, then possibly ticking up just a notch for Sunday while a new gale supposedly starts forming just off the coast increasing odds for semi-real swell early week. Southern California to se a percentage of that same pattern, but generally in the small to very small size range. Southern hemi swell is in the forecast to the Golden state mid-next week in the 3-4 ft range, but not anything more. So for now things to be pretty slacking for all, and then we're at the mercy of the models as to whether that improves, or just keep lazily plodding along. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (3/6) for the North Pacific indicated a consolidated flow of up to 160 kt winds pushing off Japan flowing flat over the dateline to a point northeast of Hawaii, then disintegrated while pushing into Canada and south over Hawaii and all points in-between. Energy we there to support gale development, but not troughs to help give it any form. Over the next 72 hours the jet is to make it's big push east, reaching into North California late Saturday but quickly build a ridging in the immediate area there while loosing energy back over the bulk of the Pacific with winds down to 150 kts and confined to the dateline. The Gulf of Alaska to almost have a trough forming in to, offering a little hope. Beyond 72 hours the consolidated flow is to continue flowing west to east with a decent trough forecast for the Western Gulf mid-next week pushing east, then the whole thing looks to be falling apart by next Friday (3/14). The short story is there's no clearly defined troughs setting up, so that will likely hinder surface level gale development.
At the surface today weak and generally diffuse low pressure was in the Gulf of Alaska trying to push very limited fetch towards the California and Pacific Northwest coasts (see Gulf Gale below), offering limited swell potential for the same targets for the weekend. Weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was just off California offering minimal storm protection there ridging southwest over Hawaii, but not strong enough to even kick up the trades. No other systems of interest indicated. Another weak low was off Japan tracking east.
Over the next 72 hours another gale is to try and build in the Eastern Gulf, tracking north of Hawaii Friday (3/7) with only 30 kt winds and 16 ft seas aimed somewhat in their direction heading and heading northeast. It's to finally wind up in the northern Gulf on Saturday with 40-45 kts winds aimed southeast towards California, but moving pretty fast. 20 ft seas modeled but then mostly pushing towards Central Canada. No real hope here.
On Sunday (3/9) another low to pop up 1000 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino generating up to 50 kts winds late, and lifting northeast again. Monday AM (3/10) 55 kt northwest winds and 29-30 ft seas are forecast aimed right at Northern CA sweeping through the 298 to 315 degree swell windows before impacting the Washington and British Columbia coasts late. Maybe some hope for swell if this actually occurs, but odds are very low given the models performance as of late.
On Wednesday (3/5) light moisture streaming over the dateline from Japan was coalescing into something north of Hawaii. Pressure to 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 was down to 980 mbs with 40 kt southwest winds building at 42N 150W aimed towards the Pacific northwest and Canada with sideband energy aimed at NCal down the 292 degree path and 1500 nmiles out. 20 ft seas building at 40N 150W. No fetch to be aimed at Hawaii. In the evening the low to be lifting north with 45 kts winds aimed at Alaska but nothing to the east. 18-20 ft seas forecast at 42N 143W. By Friday AM (3/7) the gale is to be gone with 16 ft seas pushing east towards the US West Coast. If all this occurs as forecast some form of rather mild 12-13 sec period swell could be pushing towards California for late in the weekend. See QuikCAST's for details.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
As of Thursday (3/6) weak high pressure at 1026 mbs was ridging into the southern Pacific Northwest setting up a light northerly flow along the coast, but mostly less than 15 kts. This same pattern to hold into Friday held mostly at bay while a front pushes over outer waters associated with a low pushing into Canada, but no rain is forecast locally. More of the same is forecast Saturday into Sunday with another front passing even further out to sea on Sunday. Monday (3/10) a local storm is to be pushing into the Pacific Northwest having no impact to California from Pt Reyes southward other than a dribble of rain down into the Bay Area, with stronger high pressure right behind setting up brisk north winds Tuesday through Thursday (3/13) from Cape Mendocino down to Pt Conception, though Southern CA to remain protected.
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 gale is to be pushing off Japan tracking steadily east Saturday (3/8) generating a tiny area of 40 kt winds aimed a bit south of Hawaii. It's to get much better organized on Sunday (3/9) generating 45 kts winds and 23 ft seas near 40N 180W aimed at Hawaii down the 312 degree great circle tracks. The gale to hold Monday (3/10) with 45 kts winds and barely 32 ft seas over a tiny area near 42N 170W aimed towards Hawaii down the 331 degree path then moving northeast out of the swell window and focusing more towards California. Winds to continue at 40-45 kt range with seas building to 32 ft Tuesday (3/11) near 43N 163W aimed towards North CA up the 292 degree path (297 SCal). The low to slowly fade a bit east of there on Wednesday (3/12) with seas fading from 32 ft.
Possible a bit larger swell for Hawaii late Wednesday into Thursday (3/13) with lot's of luck. Maybe some potential for CA over the weekend.
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