New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead). Summer - Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft) Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft). Summer - Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs. Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
On Thursday (6/11) North and Central California had chest to shoulder high background southwestern southern hemi swell with best break to head high on the sets. Winds was coming on from the northwest in the early afternoon. Southern California had the same southern hemi background swell at exposed breaks with waves waist high or so and textured by early afternoon. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore had no real swell to speak of. The South Shore was still getting solid sets from swell #3S with waves at 3-4 ft overhead and a bit textured from sideshore trades, but not too bad.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for fading background southern hemi on Friday swell from a gale that was under New Zealand, but building Swell #3S to hit on Friday too, originating from a gale that was under Tahiti last week. Surf to be in the chest to shoulder high range late Friday holding through the day Saturday, then settling down. Southern CA is to see that same fading background swell Friday getting overrun later by Swell #3S into the shoulder high plus range and holding into Saturday. Oahu's North Shore is to remain flat for the foreseeable future. The East Shore to see no real easterly tradewind generated windswell for the foreseeable future. The South Shore is to start subsiding with wave in the shoulder to head high range on Friday, and getting reinforced with more energy from under New Zealand through the weekend with waves holding at head high or so.
Longterm another small gale developed almost outside the CA swell window early this week and very far to the north (32S) aimed right at the state. Very southerly angled swell is expected in later Monday (6/15) with sideband energy pushing into Hawaii later Monday into Tuesday 96/16). Also one last gale organized next to New Zealand Fri/Sat (6/6) drifting east offering energy pushing up towards the Islands through Monday (6/8), with swell into Tues (6/16). This one is to be shadowed and not make much of an impact along the US West Coast. After that a total shutdown of the South Pacific remains is forecast. So activate you plans to get some of this surf while you can.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
At the surface weak today high pressure at 1020 mbs was 600 nmiles northeast of Hawaii and still doing absolutely nothing in terms of swell generation. It was barely generating 10-15 kt easterly trades over the Islands. No other swell producing fetch was present over the North Pacific. Over the next 72 hours a neutral pressure pattern is forecast over the Northeast Pacific, No windswell producing fetch is forecast pushing down the US West Coast and no swell producing trades are forecast for the Islands. If anything, weak low pressure is to start building over the dateline.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (6/11) a neutral pressure pattern remained in control of the California coast with light winds in control. High pressure at 1022 mbs was 750 nmiles west of northern Baja but to touching the coast yet. No real change is forecast either through Monday with low pressure moving into the gulf of Alaska holding the high pressure at bay. There's some suggestion that by Tuesday the high will start ridging into the coast generating 15-20 kt north winds over Central CA and building stronger by late Wednesday into Thursday as high pressure dissolves in the immediate area. North winds and chop to become a more prominent feature by later next week. Water temps to likely cool some too.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Thursday (6/11) the South Pacific jetstream was fully split with a big ridge pushing hard to the south in the West over the Ross Ice Shelf then tracking east towards Southern Chile and totally shutting down gale production over the bulk of the South Pacific. Over the next 72 hrs the big ridge in the west is to continue sweeping east reinforcing a high pressure pattern over the South Pacific and suppressing gale development.A weak trough is to try and build under New Zealand on Sun (6/140 but is to have no staying power. Beyond 72 hours the ridging pattern in the West is to weaken as another weak trough pushes under new Zealand by Tues (6/16) and building into Thursday, actually setting up a nice area of northward pushing winds at 120 kts and possibly enabling the development of low pressure at the oceans surface there. this is an improvement from previous forecasts.
At the surface on Thursday (6/11) high pressure at 1036 mbs was in control of the Southwest Pacific reaching almost to the Ross Ice Shelf and suppressing gale development. A decent gale was over the Ross Ice Shelf, but could get no traction on the oceans surface thanks to ice. A cutoff low was south of Tahiti, but weak and ineffective. Swell from Gales #3S was passing Hawaii and on the edge of hitting the US West Coast. Swell from the final New Zealand Gale was pushing up towards Hawaii. Also swell from a spurious gale off Chile was pushing north towards CA from a very southerly angle and towards Hawaii from a southeasterly angle.
Over the next 72 hours the high pressure system east of New Zealand is to build to 1036 mbs by Friday (6/12) ridging south while drifting east and totally dominating the swell corridor while suppressing gale development. No swell production activity is forecast.
Swell #3S (Hawaii)
On Tuesday (6/2) yet another gale developed southwest of New Zealand with pressure 980 mbs and strong high pressure at 1036 mbs over the Tasman Sea forming a pressure gradient and generating a confirmed area of 40-45 kt west-southwest winds over a small area at 55S 170E. Seas were building at 60S 165E just off the Ross Ice Shelf. By Tuesday evening this fetch built in coverage over a broad elongated area with winds confirmed at 40 kts at 56S 174E aimed right up the 211 degree great circle paths to NCal, 213 SCal (partially shadowed by Tahiti) and 20 degrees east of the 192 degree path to Hawaii. 29 ft seas were modeled at 55S 175E. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the northern quadrant of the out edge of this fetch and confirmed seas at 26.6 ft with a peak reading of 33.5 ft where the modeled suggested 28 ft seas. This was about on track.
Wednesday AM (6/3) the fetch held at 40 kts at 50S 170W aimed right up the 208 degree path to NCal, 210 SCal (shadowed by Tahiti) and 30 degrees east of the 193 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled at 35 ft at 53S 175W which was heading right up the 208 degree path to NCal and 210 degrees for SCal (completely shadowed by Tahiti) and 25 degree east of the 185 degree path to Hawaii. By evening 40-45 kt winds remained at 50S 160W aimed right up the 204 degree path to NCal, 206 SCal and 40 degrees east of the 181 degree path to Hawaii. Seas of 36 ft were modeled at 49S 169W on the 190 degree path to Hawaii and the 204 degree track to NCal/206 SCal (completely shadowed by Tahiti). The Jason-1 satellite passed over the extreme southern periphery of this fetch and reported seas of 29.6 ft with one peak reading to 34.1 ft where the model suggested 30 ft, right on track.
Thursday AM (6/4) residual fetch of 40 kts was indicated at 50S 170W on the models aimed more to the east with seas from previous fetch at 35 ft at 47S 159W and starting to decay (203 degs for NCal and almost partially obstructed/208 SCal and partially obstructed). But QuikSCAT data suggested that was probably overstated. This system faded after that with seas from previous fetch Thursday PM at 31 ft at 45S 150W aimed more to the east.
This system was nothing exceptional from a historic perspective, just your usual run of the mill southern hemi winter gale. This system was 4123-4806 nmiles from Hawaii and 5181-6415 nmiles away from California.The models suggested seas to for 36 hours in the 35-36 ft range, but the Jason-1 satellite made no passes directly over the fetch to confirm that. And the QuikSCAT satellite seemed to suggest winds were a bit less cohesive than the models would have one believe. This is not unusual, since the models typically idealize a fetch, filling in higher winds over areas where the QuikSCAT satellite finds 'holes'. But still, the fetch was nothing extraordinary, and if anything was kinda weak. This gives us a little pause. Regardless the fetch was well positioned in the Hawaiian swell window with a good amount of fetch aimed reasonably well to the north up the 181-190 degree paths, which should results in significant class swell again for the Islands. But California is to suffer with the bulk of the fetch sitting right behind Tahiti and French Polynesia, resulting in a 25% loss in size and fewer waves per set. It would have been a significant class swell otherwise for California. Still, in all this looks like a reasonably good system given the pattern so far this summer, so we'll have to take what we can get.
Hawaii: Swell still to be 3.3-3.5 ft @ 13-14 secs on Friday (6/12) (4.5-5.0 ft faces). Swell Direction: 182-192 degrees
South CA: Expect the first tiny signs of energy with period at 20 secs arriving Thursday (6/11) at 6 AM with period 20 secs and size tiny and not rideable. Size building through the day Friday (6/12) with period 18-19 secs dropping to 17 secs near 4 PM PM with size peaking at 2.5-2.9 ft @ 17 secs (4.3-5.0 ft faces with waves at top spots to 6 ft). Swell to continue solid all day Saturday (6/13) with swell 2.5-2.9 ft @ 16 secs (4.0-4.6 ft faces with top spots to near 6.0 ft). Still decent energy at 2.3-2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) is expected on Sunday (6/14) with period dropping to 14 sec solid by 6 PM. Swell Direction: 206-213 degrees
North CA: Expect the first tiny signs of energy with period at 20 secs arriving Thursday (6/11) at noon with period 20 secs and size tiny and not rideable. Size building through the day Friday (6/12) with period 18-19 secs dropping to 17 secs near 8 PM with size peaking at 2.5-2.9 ft @ 17 secs (4.3-5.0 ft faces with waves at top spots to 6 ft). Swell to continue solid all day Saturday (6/13) with swell 2.5-2.9 ft @ 16 secs (4.0-4.6 ft faces with top spots to near 6.0 ft). Still decent energy at 2.3-2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) is expected on Sunday (6/14) with period dropping to 14 sec solid by 11 PM. Swell Direction: 204-211 degrees
Final New Zealand Gale
One more gale formed next to New Zealand on Friday AM (6/5) with 45 kt southerly winds building at 50S 170E aimed due north towards Hawaii up the 201 degree path. Seas at 29 ft were modeled at 51S 171E. A small area of 30-35 kt southerly fetch persisted into the evening just a little further north with barely 30 ft seas evolving at 47S 176E aimed well towards Hawaii. This system tried to reorganize on Saturday AM further east with a tiny of 40 kt south winds modeled at 50S 171W aimed due north right up the 196 degree path to Hawaii and 20 degrees north of the 209 degree path to CA (and shadowed by Tahiti). 25 ft seas from previous fetch continuing at 45S 178W. These winds built briefly to near 55 kts in the evening at 50S 165W aimed a few degrees east for all locations (and still shadowed for the mainland). 28 ft seas over a small area were indicated at 48S 170W. Sunday AM (6/7) this system evaporated with lingering 26-27 ft seas at 45S 169W. Another pulse of smaller swell is likely for Tahiti and Hawaii a week out.
Expect swell for Hawaii starting Friday (6/12) with swell 2.3 ft @ 15 secs late (3.5 ft faces) building to 2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (4 ft faces) on Saturday (6/13) from 195-200 degrees
New Zealand Gale Follow-on Activity
The complex gale east of New Zealand (see Final new Zealand Gale above) condensed into one core Sunday evening (6/7) with pressure 968 mbs producing a tiny fetch of 50 kt south winds at 48S 152W aimed right up the 200 degree path to California and unshadowed by Tahiti with decent energy pushing up the 178 degree path to Hawaii. Seas building. A tiny area of 50 kts fetch held into Monday AM (6/8) at 50S 150W aimed up the 198 degree path to CA and the 178 degree path to Hawaii. 30 ft seas were modeled at 49S 150W. In the evening fetch was fading from 45 kts at the same location with a infinitesimal area of 30 ft seas at 49S 140W aimed like before. This system was gone within 12 hours with seas fading fast. Some degree of 15-16 sec period swell is expected pushing up primarily into Hawaii and maybe California.
Swell expected to push into Hawaii on Sunday (6/14) at 2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) fading from 3 ft @ 13-14 secs (4 ft faces) on Monday. Swell Direction 175-180 degrees
East Pacific Gale
On late Sunday (6/7) high pressure at 1032 mbs in the upper reaches of the Southeast Pacific started to bump up against a small 1004 mbs low off northern Chile generating 35 kt southeast winds aimed towards the US West Coast. By Monday AM (6/7) that fetch build to 40 kts at 35S 110W aimed directly up the 170 degree path to NCal and the 170 degree path to SCal. In the evening up to 45 kts winds were modeled in the same location with seas to 30 ft indicated at 32S 112W. Wind faded rapidly there after with 29 ft seas Tuesday AM at 30S 112W, then dissipating. A short shot of very southerly angled swell is possible for CA.
Expect swell arrival in SCal starting Monday AM (6/15) at the more exposed south facing breaks at pushing 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4 ft faces) then maxing at sunset at 4 ft @ 15 secs (6 ft faces). Swell Direction: 175-179 degrees
Rough data suggest swell arrival in NCal starting late Monday (6/15) only at the most exposed south facing breaks at pushing 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4 ft faces) then maxing Tuesday AM at 4 ft @ 15 secs (6 ft faces). Swell Direction: 172-176 degrees
Sideband energy is expected into Hawaii too starting Monday (6/15) peaking at 3.3 ft @ 15 secs (5 ft faces with top spots to 7 ft) late, then continuing early Tuesday at 3.6 ft @ 14 secs (5 ft faces with top spots to 6 ft) and fading. Swell Direction: 145 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 hours broad weak low pressure at 996 mbs is to build over the dateline and pushing into the Gulf of Alaska by Tuesday (6/16) producing a fragmented fetch of 30 kt west winds on the dateline and another off British Columbia. Possible small 12-13 secs windswell to result, but that's more a leap of faith than a forecast. At the same time on Tuesday (6/16) high pressure at 1024 mbs is to start building 600 nmiles west of Northern Baja setting up building trades for the Hawaiian Islands with north winds starting to build along the Central CA coast at near 20 kts, pushing to 25 kts off Cape Mendocino by Thursday (6/18) and trades at 20 kts over Hawaii. Improving odds for short period windswell in both locations.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (6/11) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) remained in the Active Phase, and was pulsing for the third time since April 20th (centered on the dateline). The ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index remained dead neutral. The Daily SOI index was down to a whopping -49.56. The 30 day average was down to -5.68 and the 90 day average was down to -0.79, where is has been since 5/23 (dead neutral) but again dipping below the negative threshold. The SOI indicies remained effectively neutral but a significant change appears to be occurring in the Pacific meteorology. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated that a third incarnation of the Active Phase was in-play, with westerly wind anomalies pushing from India east into the Pacific over the dateline reaching to Central America and expected to hold into June 15th. very nice. Finally by 6/20 it's to start moderating still affecting the whole of the Pacific Ocean but slowly withering into 6/26. A slightly stronger version of the Inactive Phase is trying to develop in the Indian Ocean, reaching the dateline on 6/25, then dying a fast death. We are becoming more disposed to believe we are entering a phase biased towards the Active Phase and less supportive of the Inactive Phase, which supports a manifestation of El Nino and signals the death of La Nina. The residual effects of 3 years of La Nina are effectively gone in the ocean, and fading fast in the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere (though the Southern Hemi will take another 6 weeks to heal). Slightly warmer than normal waters temps are reported over the entire width of the equatorial Pacific and building off Central America pushing up into Baja Mexico and expected to track north from there. The large cool pool of water off the US West Coast is almost completely gone based up updates as of 6/10, with warm anamolous starting to build along the California coast. Below the surface on the equator a steady flow of slightly warmer than normal subsurface water was tracking from the West Pacific over the dateline and then breaking the surface near Central America with warmer water starting to pool up there. It appears that previous episodes of the Active Phase have primed the warm water pump, and are now pushing warmer than normal subsurface water eastward with more building up behind, and feeding a slightly warm regime in the equatorial Eastern Pacific. This is very good news. In fact increase warming can be seen around and east of the Galapagos Islands to near 2 deg C above normal. A Kelvin Wave produced by a Westerly Wind Burst at 3 deg C above normal is poised to break the surface there. And another Westerly Wind Burst appears to be developing just west of the dateline, possibly setting up another Kelvin wave and more warm water moving east. At this point high pressure and local La Nina conditions off California are a thing of the past. If this pattern persists we expect the tropical season to become more active and surpass the below normal activity levels of the past 3 years. And the North Pacific jetstream is looking better than it has the whole of last winter. But it's not till the later half of July that we might get a real sense of how the Fall might set up. Still, things are look better.
Beyond 72 hours the models a weak gale is to try and organize alongside of new Zealand on Monday (6/15) with 40-45 kt south wind for 18 hrs, but fading before getting any real traction on the oceans surface. But this will server to rough things up a bit so that by Wednesday when the next gale pushes under New Zealand with 45 kts wind, and more efficient transfer of wind energy to the oceans surface can occur. 45 kt southerly winds are forecast with seas building to 36 ft at 46S 175E on Thursday AM resulting in swell pushing well towards Hawaii. This actually looks pretty decent. but it's a long ways off and much can and will change between now and then.
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