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 Sunday (6/14) North and Central California had waist to chest high surf originating from Storm #3S, but it was fading. Calm wind and glassy conditions early. Southern California had the same southern hemi swell at exposed breaks with waves waist high and clean with best breaks to head high or even a little more on the rare sets. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore had some thigh high east windswell. The South Shore was falling off but still solid with swell from off New Zealand producing waves occasionally in the head high range or more, though mostly chest high and clean early.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for Swell #3S to keep fading out on Monday while new swell from off Chile arrives later in the afternoon pushing head high and from a very southerly angle and up to 1 ft overhead early Tuesday. Southern CA is to see Swell #3S fading off Monday while new swell from a very southerly angle arrives mid-Monday at head high, then fading on Tuesday. Oahu's North Shore is to remain flat for the foreseeable future. The East Shore to see knee to thigh high easterly tradewind generated windswell Tuesday and Wednesday. The South Shore is to see falling size originating from off New Zealand with waves still near head high on Monday but dropping to chest high on Tuesday while new southeast swell from off Chile arrives late Monday to head high or better pushing up to 2 ft overhead on Tuesday, then fading into Wednesday and Thursday. Quite nice. This again makes Hawaii the place to be.
Longterm a total shutdown of the South Pacific is in effect with no swell producing weather systems forecast immediately. On Friday (6/19) a little gale is forecast building just east of New Zealand with 30 ft seas pushing north, which should be good for some small swell pushing up into Hawaii and eventually the US West Coast a week to 10 day beyond. But it is a big assumption to believe this one will form. Take what surf you can get now.
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 450 nmiles northeast of Hawaii and doing absolutely nothing in terms of swell generation. It was generating 10-15 kt easterly trades over the Islands and some minimal east windswell there but was having no effect on the US West Coast. Low pressure was trying to organize on the dateline but wasn't quite strong enough yet to have any affect. Over the next 72 hours a very interesting pattern is to emerge if one is to believe the models, with the dateline gale building and producing two fetches of near 40-45 kts winds on Monday (6/15), one on the dateline at 45N 180W and a second well north of Hawaii at 42N 160W all aimed to the east. Two tiny areas of 20-22 ft seas are forecast Monday PM, one at 42N 175W and a second at 45N 153W holding into Tuesday AM. Possible small swell to radiate east. Will monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (6/14) a neutral pressure pattern remained in control of the California coast with light winds occurring. High pressure at 1020 mbs was 600 nmiles northeast of Hawaii but not touching the US West coast yet. No real change is forecast either through Monday with low pressure moving into the Gulf of Alaska and over California holding high pressure at bay. There's some suggestion that by Tuesday the high will start ridging into the coast generating 15 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino building south into Central CA late Wednesday but then retreating back up to Cap Mendo by Thursday (6/18). Still, not real impact is forecast for Central CA. Longerterm the models suggest a broad high pressure at 1030 mbs is to build north of Hawaii by late Thursday but not going anywhere. If anything, low pressure is to build over Central CA for the weekend with north winds off Oregon and Cape Mendo perhaps setting up some windswell. But Central and South CA to remain protected.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Sunday (6/14) the South Pacific jetstream was split as usual with a big ridge pushing hard to the south over the Central Pacific impacting the Ross Ice Shelf then tracking east and out of the US Swell window, but lifting into a trough just off Southern Chile. This was effectively shutting down gale production over the bulk of the South Pacific. A weak steep trough was under New Zealand and was having no effect. Over the next 72 hrs that big ridge is to continue pushing east reinforcing a high pressure pattern over the South Central Pacific and suppressing gale development. But the weak trough under New Zealand is to persist at least into Wednesday (6/17) but is to not have enough winds to help produce much at the surface. Beyond 72 hours the ridging pattern in the Southeast is to hold if not build while the trough under New Zealand hangs on till Thursday (6/18) if not getting a little stronger with 120 kt winds flowing up into it perhaps supporting gale development at the oceans surface. But a new ridge is to be building right behind it pushing hard to the south and cutting the trough off on Friday (6/19). there's some indication that might be short lived with a new trough forming in the same area on Saturday (6/20), but it's really too early to know with any certainty.
At the surface on Sunday (6/14) high pressure at 1028 mbs was in control of the Southwest Pacific off New Zealand and reaching south to almost the Ross Ice Shelf and suppressing gale development. Low pressure was trying to organize under New Zealand, but all fetch was getting aimed southeast towards Antarctica and of no use to US land. Over the next 72 hours the high pressure system east of New Zealand is to hold but track east, opening up a little gap off New Zealand. Low pressure is to try and organize there building to 968 mbs on Monday (6/15) with a small area of 45 kts winds aimed due north for 18 hrs producing a tiny area of 25 ft seas Monday evening at 51S 180W, and of no real use to anyone. No other fetch of interest is forecast.
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 yet another gale is forecast pushing off Japan on Wednesday (6/18) building in the evening with 40-45 kt northwest winds late at 37N 161E, then fading Thursday AM from 35 kts and dissipating. A tiny area of 24 ft seas are forecast in that area, perhaps generating some small swell for Hawaii. yet another gale is forecast off Japan on Saturday/Sunday (6/21) though not as concentrated. Surely the Active Phase of the MJO is having a significant influence here.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (6/14) 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 up some to -11.67. The 30 day average was down to -8.38 and the 90 day average was down to -1.58, where is has been since 5/23 (dead neutral) but dipping a little deeper into negative territory. The SOI indicies remained effectively neutral but a significant change appears to be occurring in the Pacific. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated that a third incarnation of the Active Phase was peaking out, with westerly wind anomalies pushing from India east into the Pacific over the dateline reaching to Central America, filling the PAcific Basin and expected to hold into June 18th. Finally by 6/20 it's to start moderating, withering away into 6/26. A version of the Inactive Phase is trying to develop in the Indian Ocean, expected to reach the dateline on 6/23, then dying a fast death, but not before fragments of it push to almost Central America on 7/3. So a taste of the Inactive Phase is to almost get a foothold. Still 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 gone based on the 6/11 update, with warm anomalous 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 increased 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 now 4 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, larger than previously suspected and 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 looking much better.
Beyond 72 hours a fractured pattern is to persist with not much occurring. Theoretically a new gale is to build next to northern New Zealand on Saturday (6/20) with a small area of 45 kt winds pushing north at 43S 175W for 24 hrs generating 30-32 ft seas at 40S 177W aimed well towards Hawaii and the US West Coast. But that's still quite a whiles away from occurring. In all a pretty quiet pattern is forecast with high pressure in control.
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