On Thursday (3/16) Northern CA surf was 1-3 ft overhead and ugly again. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest high. Central California surf was 1-2 ft overhead. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were waist high and up to chest high at the best breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were chest high with a few bigger sets to the head high to 1 ft overhead range. The North Shore of Oahu was chest high. The South Shore was knee high. The East Shore was waist high.
In California on Thursday leftovers from the previous days larger northwest swell was fading out but new swell was queuing up offshore. Hawaii was inactive with no swell of interest on any shore. So the big story, and that is in relative terms, was the development of yet another gale off the Oregon coast directing winds and windswell energy towards the North and Central coasts. Get what you can from this one because winds along much of the California coast to be a major issue by Saturday and for the next 4 days (assuming the models are accurate). At least 2 more gales are forecast pushing down the California coast starting early next week, so all is not lost. Hawaii to have a little shot of some energy too early next week from a gale that moved towards the dateline Wednesday, with north windswell supposedly right behind. And the models keep hinting at a storm off Japan next week, but that's likely a long shot. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursday jetstream (3/16) remained poorly organized with a split flow in control. The southern branch was weak, flowing generally flat west to east over Hawaii and into North Baja. The northern branch was a bit more active flowing off the Kuril's and feeding into a trough off Kamchatka with maybe 120 kts winds there then tracking over the Aleutians into Alaska then diving into a second trough of Washington with 110 kts winds there, finally pushing inland over north most California. The 2 troughs were the only things of interest supporting minimal gales at the surface. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (3/19) the Kamchatkan trough is to push north in to the Bering Sea and loose any immediate potential to support surface level gale development, only to start regenerating in the Gulf of Alaska by Sunday with 110 kt winds flowing under it off Northern CA. Otherwise a major split flow to be in-place, inhibiting any other surface level development. Beyond 72 hours the remnants of the Kamchatkan trough are to start really opening up in the Gulf of Alaska by Monday providing fertile grounds for something to form, with 130 kt winds in-place by Wednesday sweeping towards North California and continuing in some form through Friday (3/24). A second trough is to try and develop over North Japan on Monday too, but it's looking to remain landlocked pushing up the Kuril Islands and fading there by Friday. The core of the North Pacific to be locked down by high pressure in the upper levels.
At the surface today a gale was circulating off Oregon and another was over the dateline pushing into the Bering Sea (details below). But a strong double-barrelled high pressure system was holding control over the bulk of the North Pacific with one core just west of the dateline at 1024 mbs and the second northeast of Hawaii at the same pressure and both tracking east.
Over the next 72 hours the western most high is to be setting up strong at 1032 mbs just north of Hawaii by Sunday (3/19) starting to drive north winds at 25 kts towards the Islands with 15 ft seas building 450 nmiles to the north. Windswell generation potential on the increase for north facing shores. Otherwise the 2 low pressure systems of interest are documented below:
On Wednesday (3/15) a 994 mb low started to develop just a few hundred nmiles off Oregon. By Thursday (3/16) is had produced 40-45 kt northwest winds aimed down the coast with seas reported at 20 ft @ 13 secs at buoy 46006 with swell 14 ft @ 12-13 secs, right in the path of the fetch. Seas are modeled up to 25 ft in the evening then dissipating Friday morning as the low itself moves inland over south Washington. Most energy to be tracking into North CA down the 300-305 degree paths by Friday AM with swell 9-10 ft @ 13 secs (10-12 ft faces) at exposed breaks and with a steeper angle for breaks into Central CA by afternoon with swell 8.4 ft @ 13 secs (9-10 ft faces). Most of Southern CA to be shadowed from this swell but for exposed breaks in San Diego swell of 3.8 ft @ 12-13 secs possible (4.0-5.0 ft faces) but likely well after sunset.
Also on Wednesday (3/15) a small low developed off Japan dropping to 980 mbs by nightfall while tracking quickly northeast and reaching the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians. A brief burst of 40-45 kt winds were confirmed in lows south quadrant aimed towards Hawaii midday with 20 ft seas modeled and confirmed at 22 ft by the Jason-1 satellite in the evening. The low tracked quickly northeast moving over and north of the Aleutians near the dateline by Thursday midday with 40 kt winds confirmed positioned just south of the Aleutians aimed well to the east and off any track to Hawaii though some sideband fetch is likely to continue. 26 ft seas were modeled but increasing aimed to the north towards the Aleutians by late Thursday. On Friday all fetch is to have migrated north of the Aleutians with no seas left. Rough data suggest small swell pushing into Hawaii Sunday (3/19) with swell reaching 3.7 ft @ 14 secs late (5 ft faces) holding into early Monday then fading out.
No other swell sources forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (3/16) the models suggest a break in the wind Friday, then no let-up with windy conditions indicated from Pt Conception northward. High pressure generated northwest winds expected initially (Sat/Sun) followed by low pressure generated south winds (Mon/Tues) all in excess of 15-20 kts. Maybe a break for a day or two after that as the next broad low sets up in the Gulf. Southern CA to get the north winds over the weekend, but not a strong, and is to be totally protected from the south winds next week.
The detailed 5 Day wind forecast is now included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.
No swell producing fetch forecast over the next 72 hours.
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 a single high pressure center to retain control of the balance of the North Pacific centered generally north of Hawaii, but fading mid-next week.
The models suggest a storm developing off Japan Sunday (3/19) tracking north on Monday up the Kuril Islands with some degree of 40-45 kts fetch and 28 ft seas aimed east-northeast towards Hawaii, but making no eastward progress. Some small longer period swell generation potential for the Islands.
Also 2 more gale lows are forecast for the Gulf of Alaska, one just off Oregon on Monday driving 35-40 kt fetch and 25 ft seas towards California into early Tuesday, and a broader less defines one filling the Gulf by Wednesday producing 30 kts winds aimed at California, possibly strengthening by Friday (3/24). 18-20 ft seas suggested. Both system likely to produce more raw shorter period swell (12-13 sec) for the West Coast.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.
Details to follow...
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table