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 (5/22) Northern CA surf was double overhead and blown to bits. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist to chest high and reasonably clean, considering what was going on just up the coast. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was 2-3 ft overhead and blown out. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was chest to head high and hard onshore early. The LA Area southward to Orange County was chest to head high and pretty hacked even early. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were head high and blown out. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was waist to chest high and a little ragged. The East Shore was knee high.
North/Central California was seeing alot of raw locally generated northwest windswell. Southern California was seeing a portion of that same windswell, biggest down south. Hawaii's North Shore was flat. The East Shore was effectively flat. The South Shore was getting a little swell from the gale that was off Chile last week.
For Friday on through the weekend North and Central California to continue seeing raw locally generated windswell biggest Friday then slowly fading into Saturday and Sunday before fading out entirely early Tuesday. It might be only windswell, but it is huge compared to what is coming over the long term, so make the most of it. Southern CA to see a percentage of this same windswell through early Saturday at exposed north facing breaks. The North Shore of Oahu to be flat for the foreseeable future.The South Shore to see a little more of that southeast swell through Saturday with luck. No windswell expected on the East Shore. The southern hemi to remain quiet for the next 7 days. A gale is forecast northwest of Hawaii early next week, offering just a hint of fetch aimed towards the Islands on east to California with luck. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (5/22) for the North Pacific had a good flow pushing off Japan flowing under a weak trough just east of the dateline at 110 kts, then riding hard north into a strong ridge over the Gulf of Alaska with winds to 120 kts there, then sweeping down the US West Coast and pushing inland over Northern Baja. No support for low pressure development indicated, and only high pressure support was being provided (in the Gulf). Over the next 72 hours the big ridge in the Gulf is to pinch off and leaving a seasonal west to east flow over the width of the North Pacific on the 38N latitude, strongest in the west, but not strong enough. Beyond 72 hours this same flow is to persist with bit's of energy getting blown off to the north, keeping energy levels generally low. No support for gale or low pressure development indicated, but not horribly bad features either.
At the surface today high pressure at 1032 mbs was dug in deep just 600 nmiles off the Oregon Coast with low pressure inland over Nevada, forming a tight pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino generating 35-40 kt north winds whistling down the coast to Monterey Bay, with lesser winds pushing well down to Central Baja. Large raw local short period windswell was in the water tracking southward and impacting the Central CA coast with lesser energy wrapping into South CA. Over the next 72 hours this gradient is to peak out Thursday evening (5/22) with winds to near 45 kts forecast off Cape Mendocino, then slowly setting down through the day Friday and effectively gone by Saturday AM. Windswell size to follow the trend in the wind, hanging at 11 ft @ 10 secs Friday (9 ft faces) fading early Saturday from 7 ft @ 10 secs (6-7 ft faces) at exposed break north of Pt Conception.
A quick developing gale was winding up in the Northwestern Gulf late Thursday expected to move inland over Alaska Friday AM (5/23) with 40-45 kts winds, but all aimed northeast towards Alaska offering no swell generation potential.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (5/22) high pressure at 1032 mbs was still building off the North CA coast with a tight gradient courtesy of lower pressure inland. By Thursday PM the gradient is to max out with 40-45 kt north winds over nearshore waters from Cape Mendocino to off Monterey Bay, then slowly fading through the day Friday and effectively gone by Saturday AM. Large windchop to continue over outer waters Friday, but a bit calmer nearshore in the 15-20 kts range early from San Francisco southward, but still wrapping into Southern CA in the 15 kts range too from the west. The gradient to be fading by Saturday with light southwest winds pushing into Central CA at 5 kts then calm to light southwest for the entire state by Sunday. A calm pattern to persist through Wednesday of next week with wins below 10 kts everywhere except the Channel Islands (though SCal beaches to be fine in the early mornings).
No tropical systems of interest were occurring.
On Thursday (5/22) the jetstream over the South Pacific remained heavily split with energy equally shared between the north and south branches. The southern branch remained displaced well to the south flowing flat west to east over the 65-70S latitude, offering no support for low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours the southern branch is to develop a bit of a troughing pattern (pushing north) by Sunday (5/25) but still displaced well to the south and over Antarctic Ice. Beyond 72 hrs the trough to fade while pushing east with a new ridge building south of New Zealand mid-next week continuing the storm barricade in the upper levels of the atmosphere.
At the oceans surface no swell producing weather systems were indicated, and none forecast for the next 3 days.
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 on Mon/Tues (5/27) a pair of weak low pressure systems are to try and form, one off Japan and the second northwest of Hawaii over the dateline with 35-40 kt winds aimed somewhat down the great circle paths to Hawaii and the US West Coast for 24 hours. 23-25 ft seas forecast at 38N 170W pushing east to southeast. Will believe it when it happens.
Madden-Julian Oscillation Note: The MJO remains in the active phase, and strongly so with daily SOI values still negative as of 5/22, rebounding from -48 to -11 today , making it 7 days in a row in the negative range, with the larger 30 day trend now at -1. The 90 day trend is dropping quickly too, down from +20 in April to +6 as of today. This is interesting in that it is the first time the 30 day average has been at 0 or less since July of 2007, when it was coming out of the weak 2006 El Nino. Anomalous 850 mb westerly winds remained entrenched over the entire equatorial Pacific with the core stretched from the Philippines to mainland Mexico, and expected to hold till about 5/26 , then start dissipating as the inactive phase of the MJO builds into the Pacific from the Indian Ocean near June 1. No significant support for low pressure development likely from this pulse of the active phase of the MJO, except in the West Pacific tropics if at all. But of more interest is to see if this pulse of the MJO helps to start wiping cool waters associated with La Nina out of the central equatorial Pacific, possibly opening the door just a nudge towards El Nino, or at least towards a neutral pattern.
Something that almost resembles a gale is forecast to build in an upper trough scheduled southeast of New Zealand late Tuesday (5/27), but all it's fetch is to be landlocked over the building ice sheet of the Ross Ice Shelf (seasons switching from fall to winter in the Southern Hemisphere). No swell producing fetch 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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Sharkwater: There's a new feature film called Sharkwater that is hitting theaters November 2nd. Sharkwater is an award winning documentary (22 international film awards including the UN and Cannes) that broke box office records in Canada, opening to bigger numbers than any documentary in history save Fahrenheit 911 and Supersize Me. It is a conservation film that demonstrates that the biggest influence on the air we breathe, and global warming is life in the oceans – except life in the oceans is being wiped out. Shark populations have dropped 90% in the last 30 years alone, and the oceans continue to be destroyed because nobody knows that it's happening Learn more here: http://www.sharkwater.com
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table