On Thursday (4/27) Northern CA surf was chest to head high and reasonably calm early. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist to near chest high on the sets. Central California surf was waist to chest high in the Morro Bay area. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA up to waist high. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to chest high at the better breaks. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were waist high. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was waist to chest high on the sets and reasonably clean. The East Shore was thigh to waist high - tradewind swell.
Summertime pattern in effect. Over the next week in California locally generated windswell coming from the Cape Mendocino area to remain the best hope, with small bits of southern hemi swell intermixed at times but not really noticeable except at the best south swell spots. Perhaps the very last gale of the season is currently in Gulf of Alaska expected to squeeze out some 20 ft seas aimed towards the US west coast and Hawaii, but swell from this to be well decayed upon arrival and will likely be lost in the local windswell. Hawaii's Northern Shores to see a little bit of swell from this gale too sending the last rideable swell of the season for the weekend. Of most interest is a strong gale in the mid-South Pacific that's pushing energy towards Hawaii and California. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (4/27) indicated a trough in the northern Gulf of Alaska with 110-120 kt winds flowing under it, but otherwise an unfavorable pattern persisted over the rest of the North Pacific. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (4/30) the weak trough in the Gulf is forecast to weaken further and track northeast into into northern Canada. Some continued support for a surface level low already in-place under this trough to continue, but fading through the weekend. Otherwise a broad ridge os forecast building over the dateline with no support for surface level gale development. Beyond 72 hours another even weaker trough is forecast in the western Gulf of Alaska on Tuesday (5/2) tracking northeast and pinching off while another ridge builds west of the dateline tracking east. No support for surface level gale development suggested. Looks very much like a typical late spring pattern.
At the surface on Thursday (4/27) three high pressure systems were strung across the North Pacific: One off Japan at 1020 mbs, another dropping south from the Bering Sea over the dateline at at 1028 mbs and a third off California also at 1028 mbs. One weak gale low was isolated to the northern Gulf of Alaska (more details below).
Over the next 72 hours high pressure off California at 1028 mbs to continue ridging into the Pacific Northwest generating the usual pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino as it interacts with lower pressure inland, generating a consistent but small fetch of north winds over exposed waters at 25-30 kts producing small to moderate north windswell pushing into North and Central CA through the weekend. High pressure to continue holding a lock on the bulk of the North Pacific from the dateline eastward with no swell producing fetch suggested.
Low pressure dropped south from the Bering Sea into the Gulf of Alaska on Wednesday (4/26) with pressure at 996 mbs producing 35-40 kt north to northwest winds targeting Hawaii and to a lesser extent California with 20-22 ft seas. On Thursday (4/27) the low tracked east with winds fading from the 30-35 kt range aimed more to the east generating seas at 20-22 ft. Fading 30 kt fetch targeting California and the Pacific Northwest schedule for Friday with seas holding in the 20 ft range early then dissipating. Expect a small swell to be impacting Hawaii late Saturday (4/29) reaching 3.7 ft @ 13 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces) from 350 degrees building to 5.2 ft @ 12 secs early Sunday (5.5-6.0 ft faces) then fading. This swell to push into North CA on Sunday (4/30) building to 4 ft @ 13 secs late (4.5-5.0 ft faces) from 300 degrees at non-shadowed breaks. On Monday morning (5/1) swell to reach 4 ft @ 12 secs in Central CA late (4.0-4.5 ft faces). Tiny swell of 2 ft @ 12-13 secs expected in exposed north facing breaks of Southern CA on Monday afternoon (2.0-2.5 ft faces).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (4/25) high pressure remained in control of the waters off California at 1030 mbs ridging into the Pacific Northwest. This was produce gradient north winds and windswell as indicated above. The bulk of this fetch is to remain off the coast inducing only moderate northwest winds in the afternoons north of Pt Conception and near calm in the mornings through Sunday. The models suggest no southerly eddy flow these locations, though Southern California is to continue to be plagued by the southerly flow through the duration. A second stronger gradient is forecast starting Monday (5/1) bringing stronger north winds to 40 kts off Cape Mendocino but not impacting Northern coastal locations, but staying just offshore continue conditions next week much like this week. This gradient to start fading Wednesday, and the windswell with it.
The detailed 5 Day wind forecast is included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.
On Thursday (4/27) the jetstream continued ridging strong south of New Zealand and was expected to continue non-stop, if not strengthening through the next 7 days. But to the east the jet was dipping north (it's the southern hemi - so everything is reversed), continuing a small opportunity for surface level gale development there. A patch of 140 kts winds were currently in-place there today, flowing under and invigorating low pressure off Antarctica. This trough, though not as strong, is to continue into next week providing some support for surface level gale development.
At the surface on Thursday (4/27) strong high pressure at 1028 mbs was locked in-place south of New Zealand ridging east. A storm was in-place in the Central South Pacific (details below).
Over the next 72 hours the storm mentioned above to be the only swell producing system of interest forecast, with high pressure continuing it's lockdown of the Southwest Pacific.
On Monday (4/24) a small low developed in the Southeast Pacific producing 40-45 kt west winds lifting northeast Tuesday. Seas built to 30 ft over a small area early Tuesday at 60S 132W for 6 hours (well east of the Hawaiian swell window) and we then on the decline expected to fade away by Wednesday before reaching the eastern edge of the California swell window. These seas were targeting California and locations south of there with perhaps some swell hitting South CA late Monday (5/1) peaking Tuesday with swell 2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces) from 190 degrees. Swell pushing into North CA and peaking late Tuesday at 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (3 ft faces) from 187 degrees. Nothing from this system for Hawaii through.
Possible Storm 1S
On Tuesday AM (4/25) a 972 mb gale was developing well south just above the Ross Ice Shelf producing 45 kt south winds at 60S 180W aimed towards Hawaii and California while the low itself tracked east. By nightfall the fetch had increased size with 45-50 kts winds confirmed at 57S 167W aimed right up the 186 degree path to Hawaii and the 202 degree path to California (clear of the Tahitian swell shadow).
By Wednesday AM pressure was down to 964 with a broad fetch of 40-45 kt winds inplace at 54S 159W pushing north towards Hawaii up the 181 degree path and towards California up the 200 degree path. Seas modeled at 30 ft at 54S 165W. In the evening pressure dropped to 948 mbs with a decentralized fetch of 45-50 kt winds building at 50S 144W aimed more to the east, or northeast at California up the 195 degree path and with sideband energy still pushing 40 degree east of the 180 degree great circle path to Hawaii. Seas building to 35 ft at 53S 155W. Seas modeled at 30 ft at 53S 155W, and the Jason-1 satellite passed over the outer fringes of the fetch near 06Z Thursday reporting seas 30 ft, consistent with the wave models expectations.
On Thursday AM pressure dropped to 932 mbs with fetch confirmed ramping up to 50-55 kts over a small area at 54S 132W aimed over a arch from California (188 degree) east to South America and moving to the eastern edge of the California swell window by nightfall. Seas 32 ft at 51S 152W in the AM. But winds are to still be holding in the 50-55 kt range at 55S 127W aimed up the 183 degree path to California by nightfall with seas to 40 ft at 54S 125W..
Contrary to previous model runs, the low to go stationary there and spin out through Saturday (4/29) with winds fading to the 30-35 kts range and 37 ft seas at 54S 121W on the edge of the swell window Friday AM fading fast afterward (below the 30 ft threshold by nightfall).
Swell Generation Potential
This has not been a great storm by any summertime standard, mainly because it's tracking fast to the east not allowing it's fetch to get good purchase/traction on the oceans surface, limiting swell production capacity. Still it so far has generated a broad area of decent sized seas pushing towards Hawaii, but not enough to reach the significant class threshold. More energy is expected to push north towards California though as the storm gets better organized in the far East Pacific. Will monitor.
Hawaii: Given the data thus far it seems likely a large summer-time utility class swell will push into Hawaii starting before sunrise Wednesday (5/3) with period at 18 secs, building to 2.6 ft @ 17 secs by sunset (4.0-4.5 ft faces - best breaks to 5.5 ft). Swell to peak Thursday at 3 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.5-5.0 ft faces - best breaks to 6 ft). Swell Direction: 180-186 degrees
No other swell producing fetch was present or forecast to occur.
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 weak low pressure is forecast to set up in the Northern Gulf of Alaska Mon/Tues (5/2) producing some weak 25-30 kt northwest winds aimed best at Hawaii, but only intermittently, resulting in seas in the 15-17 ft range. Little hope for rideable swell to result for Hawaii. And after that calmness to settle in.
Also another patch of 1032 mb high pressure is to set up off North California on Monday (5/1) ridging into the Pacific Northwest through Wednesday producing 30-35 kt north winds off Cape Mendocino and re-invigorating the persistent northwest windswell.
Otherwise no swell producing fetch suggested for the North Pacific.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast through Tuesday (5/2) with high pressure retaining control of the Southwest Pacific. But on Wednesday (5/3) a small low is forecast to develop and gain momentum in the deep South-Central Pacific, down to 960 mbs generating a broad fetch of 35-40 kts winds late Thursday with 30 ft seas developing pushing northeast towards California and Central/South America, but too far to the east to have any impact on Hawaii. It's still way to early to suggest that this one will even really form though.
Details to follow...
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table