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 Sunday (5/11) Northern CA surf was chest high and windy with heavy fog in control early. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were flat. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was thigh high and almost clean with fog.Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was up to thigh high on the biggest sets and textured early. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high with rare chest high sets coming from a very southerly angle and clean. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist high pushing chest high on the rare set and clean early. The North Shore of Oahu was flat and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was thigh high.
North/Central California was seeing locally generated short period sloppy windswell and poor conditions. Southern California was getting a tiny bit of very southerly angled southern emi swell occasionally lapping through . Hawaii's North Shore was flat. The East Shore had some minimal tradewind generated windswell. The South Shore was flat.
For the immediate future the North and Central California coast to see an increase in locally generated windswell due to north winds building off Cape Mendocino and that is expected to build into Monday, then drop a little but remain rideable through the end of the workweek with improving local wind conditions by Wednesday. Nothing huge, but something to ride none-the-less. Southern CA to continue seeing bare minimal very southern angled background swell into Tuesday, then fading out with limited amounts of the northerly windswell at exposed breaks through the end of the week. The North Shore of Oahu to not see any surf for the next few days The South Shore to remain quiet too. Bare minimal windswell expected on the East Shore early Monday and fading with nothing behind it. The southern hemi to remain quiet for the next 7 days. The only thing of interest is a gale forecast for the Gulf of Alaska north of Hawaii early Tuesday (5/13) holding into early Wednesday assuming the models are right. Seas forecast to 35 ft per the models all aimed due east to almost northeast, but that seems laughable at this time of the year. Will watch it, but don't hold your breath. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Sundays jetstream charts (5/11) for the North Pacific were surprisingly decent for the time of the year. A nice little consolidated flow of 150 kt winds was pushing off Japan to the dateline over the 40N latitude, then riding some in the Gulf of Alaska and losing energy before drifting into the Pacific Northwest at 90 kts. A bit of a trough was trying to organize over the dateline with more energy forecast flowing into it by late Sunday evening. Over the next 72 hours up to near 200 kt winds are forecast pushing into this mild trough over the dateline by late Monday with a decent trough in play by early Tuesday near 40N 170W, bout 1500 nmiles north-northwest of Oahu. Decent support for surface level low pressure development possible. The trough to get steeper but less energetic into Wednesday while a large ridge builds over the US West Coast. Beyond 72 hours both the trough and the ridge are to fade away with a moderate strength near-flat flow returning by Saturday offering no hope for surface level development.
At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered 800 nmiles off Central CA creating a pressure gradient along the coast from Cape Mendocino southward to Monterey Bay producing 25 kt north winds and local windswell along the coast from Pt Conception northward. Low pressure was in the northwestern Gulf of Alaska generating 30 kt west winds aimed at the Pacific Northwest. Typhoon Rammasun was south of Japan pushing due north. Over the next 72 hours the gale in the northern Gulf is to push east through Monday with a decent fetch of 35 kt west winds generating 23 ft seas into Monday offering hope for some limited 13 sec period swell for North CA on Thursday (5/15) from 305 degrees, but not much. High pressure to remain lodged off the California coast generating 25-30 kt north winds over the Cape Mendocino to San Francisco Bay area through Wednesday (5/14) producing a steady northwest windswell in the 6.6 ft @ 9 secs range through the workweek and more Monday (5/12) to 9 ft @ 9 secs (7 ft faces) but likely a windy mess then, but local winds to be settling down by mid-week.
But of far more interest is a gale forecast to bloom 1200 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii on Tuesday AM (5/13) thanks to a favorable upper level trough generating 45 kt west-northwest winds and 20 ft seas at 38N 170W aimed marginally at the Islands and better at the US west coast. Winds to be pushing near 50 kts in the evening with seas to 20 ft at 40N 162W aimed right up the 287 degree great circle path to North CA and bypassing the Islands. By Wednesday AM only 40 kts winds to be left aimed northeast towards Northern Canada though a tiny area of 35 ft seas are forecast at 43N 155W. Assuming this occurs (a leap of faith) some form of 17 sec period swell could develop pushing east towards the mainland with limited sideband energy pushing towards Hawaii. Will monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (5/11) high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered 800 nmiles west of Pt Conception ridging northeast into Oregon and generating 25 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino south to Monterey Bay and making a bumpy mess of things down into Pt Conception. The high is to move a bit east on Monday increasing northerly winds to 30 kts and increasing the size of local windswell, but also increasing local windspeeds along the coast with chop in effect. A slight break in local winds is forecast Tuesday (5/13) nearshore though 25 kt northerly winds to hold off Cape Mendocino with windswell still impacting the coast, though down from the previous day. The fetch is to become more isolated over Cape Mendocino by Wednesday and rebuilding to near 30 kts with fetch pulling away from the coast, making for calmer conditions nearshore. Fetch to hold into Thursday but with the wind vector turning more offshore. Windswell continuing in the 6.6 ft @ 9 secs range, then fading out on Friday (5/16).
On Sunday (5/11) Typhoon Rammasun was located 550 nmiles due south of southern Japan with sustained winds 105 kts while traveling just east of due north this is down from it's peak on Saturday AM of 135 kt winds (which held for 6 hours). Theoretically some form of tiny swell from this system could reach the US West coast up the 292 degree path 8-9 days out (Sun PM 5/18) with a period of 17 secs, but it will be so small and inconsistent as to not be noticeable. .
On Sunday (5/11) at the jetstream level a split jetstream flow was in effect with almost no energy in the southern branch, and what there was was blowing over Antarctic Ice. A marginally stronger flow is forecast through the week, but again it is to be displaced well to the south offering no support for gale development.
At the surface no swell producing fetch was indicated. A weak cutoff low is forecast in the far southeast Pacific late Sunday through Tuesday (5/13) near 32S 120W (well north of usual) generating a tiny fetch of 40 kts winds holding while drifting to 32S 110W generating up to 32 ft seas near 30S 115W on Tuesday. Possible small very southerly angled swell to start pushing north towards Southern CA if this occurs. Otherwise no swell producing fetch is forecast.
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 no swell producing fetch is forecast. The remnants of Typhoon Rammasun are to track east off Japan pushing over the dateline Friday (5/16), but there is to be no significant upper level support to really get anything going down at the oceans surface. A weak pressure pattern is to be in control of the rest of the North Pacific.
No swell producing winds 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