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 (6/20) North and Central California had chest high locally generated short period north windswell with warbled conditions and a little fog. Southern California was getting knee to thigh high wrap around weak northwest windswell up north and warbled and crumbled. Down south minimal background southern hemi swell was combining with the northwest windswell making for rare waist high peaks with slightly warbled conditions and no wind early. Hawaii's North Shore was dead flat with clean conditions. The East Shore was getting thigh high tradewind generated east windswell with a moderate chop on it. The South Shore was maybe thigh high with a rare stray waist to chest high wave intermixed at top spots and glassy with light to no trades in effect early.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for more modest sized locally generated north windswell pushing shoulder high Monday, dropping to chest high Tuesday and pretty warbled, then cleaning up some Wednesday at waist high.cgius dropping to waist high on Thursday. Southern California is to see northwest local windswell at knee high or so Monday dropping to knee high Tuesday then dropping out entirely after that. Maybe some background southern hemi swell Wed/Thurs at thigh high with luck if you are patient. The North Shore of Oahu is to see no swell of interest for the foreseeable future. The East Shore to see east tradewind generated windswell at waist high Monday and Tuesday pushing chest high Wednesday and nearly head high Thursday. The South Shore to see southern hemi swell coming from the Tasman Sea at waist high on Monday and a little more Tuesday. More southern hemi swell from just east of New Zealand is to arrive on Wednesday at waist high late pushing shoulder high Thursday back to chest high Friday and fading.
Up north no swell producing fetch is expected from the North Pacific for the next 7days other than locally generated windswell. Down south a cutoff low kinda developed well south of Tahiti on Friday (6/18) producing a short duration of 30 ft seas aimed pretty well to the north towards Hawaii and the US West coast with swell arriving in the Islands on Wed (6/23) and California on Saturday (6/26). But otherwise no swell producing weather systems are forecast out of the South Pacific.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (6/20) the North Pacific jetstream was weak with winds mostly below 100 kts and flowing flat east on the 42N latitude then dissipating before reaching the US West Coast. A weak trough as trying to organize just west of the dateline to no avail and offering no support for gale formation at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours an upper level low is to organize more on the dateline pushing winds to 120 kts Monday while easing east into the Western Gulf into Wednesday offering some energy to help fuel low pressure development in the area. Nothing much is expected in terms of low pressure development at the surface, but it bears watching. Beyond 72 hours that energy is to migrate to the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Thurs (6/24) and dissipate. Beyond a weak flow is forecast repositioned north to about 48N and hovering minimally over the Eastern Pacific offering no real support for low pressure development at the oceans surface.
At the surface on Sunday (6/20) weak high pressure at 1028 mbs was stationary 800 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino California generating the standard pressure gradient over Central California waters producing north winds there at 20-25 kts resulting in the usual short period north windswell tracking down the Central CA coast with just a little wrapping into exposed breaks in Southern CA. The high was only having limited effects on trades over Hawaiian waters being positioned a little too far to the east, with winds there 15 kts. This high was continued ridging west affecting waters out to the dateline and almost Southern Japan shunting any east-bound low pressure to the north taking it towards the Bering Sea and limiting it's assistance in producing swell in the North Pacific. Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to hold off Central CA through mid-Tuesday (6/22) but dropping to 1024 mbs with winds along Cape Mendocino holding at 20-25 kts range into early Tuesday (6/22) then the high is to retrograde to the west with trades rebuilding over the Hawaiian Islands at 20 kts offering increased support for easterly windswell production there while north winds and windswell fade along the CA coast. At the same time weak low pressure is forecast building over the northern dateline region on Mon (6/21) and circulating in.cgiace there with perhaps a small fetch of 30 kt northwest winds being generated Mon at 48N 180W holding into Tuesday AM at 47N 175W then dissipating. Seas to reach 20 ft Tues AM at 47.5N 178W then fading. No swell of interest to result because it will decay away before reaching any populated landmass.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (6/20) high pressure at 1030 mbs was ridging weakly into the coast producing the usual pressure gradient centered over Cape Mendocino with 25 kt northwest winds just off the coast up there and 20 kt north winds reaching down just south of Pt Conception. This was producing local windswell but also making for warbled/chopped conditions from the Channel Islands northward. A pretty standard pattern as of late. On Monday (6/21) the gradient is to start fading some and pushing north, with winds still 25 kts but covering less area. Still thing to be pretty messy nearshore north of Pt Conception then dissolving more on Tuesday. By Wednesday the gradient is to be effectively gone, though a persistent patch of 20 kt north winds is to linger just off the Central CA coast still producing warble, but no windswell and holding into Thursday. Local models suggest a better nearshore wind flow. Regardless by Friday into early Saturday (6/26) high pressure is to be on the return with north winds again on the increases and windswell and chop building back into the North and Central CA coast pushing 30 kts up by Cape Mendo on Sunday (6/27). Southern CA to remain protected through the period.
On Sunday (6/20) a .cgiit jetstream flow remained in control of the South Pacific with the southern branch of the jet mostly tracking east down at 65S and pushing over the northern edge of the Antarctic ice pack, with winds below 120 kts and offering no support for gale formation. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast other than more winds energy building into the southern branch of the jet. Beyond 72 hrs something that almost resembles a trough is to push under New Zealand on Thursday with winds 140+ kts, but still di.cgiaced well to the south and almost over the ice pack. It is to effectively track due east, lifting just a little to the northeast all the while but is to be out of the even the Central America swell window before lifting far enough north to make a difference. No support for gale development at the oceans surface indicated.
At the oceans surface real no fetch of interest was occurring in the Hawaiian or California swell windows (or anywhere else for that matter). Over the next 72 hours a gale is forecast developing late Monday (6/21) in the deep southeast Pacific with winds up to 45+ kts early Tuesday at 60S 120W all aimed due east and effectively east of even the California swell window tracking into Patagonia on Wednesday (6/23). No swell to result for our forecast area.
On Thursday (6/17) low pressure was circulating well east of New Zealand and starting to organize after stalling in the Central Pacific setting up a large area of 35 kt south winds Thursday evening. It got marginally a.cgiified on Friday (6/18) as it tapped the jetstream with south winds building to 45 kts at 55S 135W holding for 12 hours resulting in 28 ft seas Friday AM at 41S 157W (from the original fetch) and then another spot of 30 ft seas at 50S 133W from the stronger fetch in the evening. But it was gone by Saturday. Some limited 16-17 sec period swell to result focused best on Hawaii arriving later on Wed (6/23) and in California on Sat (6/26). Swell only 2 ft @ 16-17 secs in both locations.
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 high pressure is to hold 700 nmiles north of Hawaii Thursday with trades steady at 20 kts, offering another day of easterly windswell along east facing shores. Conversely winds and windswell is to drop off along the CA coast. The low that was over the dateline is to
dissipate too. By Friday the high is to start pushing east again setting up the usual pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino late on Friday and building into the weekend with north winds up there at near 30 kts over a small area, increasing the odds for building north windswell along the Central CA coast. Trades to be fading over Hawaii by Friday too, through still in the 15 kts range through Sat (6/26) affording some limited easterly windswell. There's suggestions of a tropical systems developing well off mainland Mexico on Wed (6/23) pushing west-northwest into Sun (6/27) but still a long ways from Hawaii at that time. Nothing expected to come from this one, if it even forms.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (6/20) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued backing off from positive territory. The daily SOI was hovering at -1.69 and has been in slightly negative territory for 17 days. The 30 day average was holding at 4.50 with the 90 day up to 7.70. This continued looking like a weak Active Phase dip embedded in a broader La Nina pattern.
Wind anomalies as of Sunday (6/20) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models suggested stronger east anomalies building over a broad area over the West Pacific indicative of a building instance of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. They extend from Eastern Africa to the dateline. A small a fading area of westerly anomalies indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO were fading over a n area from south of Hawaii to Central America and were exiting east into the Atlantic. Looks like the INactive Phase is getting ready to take over the Pacific (not good).
We believe the remnants of El Nino will linger in the upper atmosphere for a while. Regardless, we'll fall back into some form of a light La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) for later 2010 into 2011. Of other interest will be whether the Iceland Volcano will spew enough high level fine particle dust and aerosols into the atmosphere to produce a reflective effect, dropping surface temperature and pushing us into a multi-year La Nina. This is a very real concern.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (6/17) indicates that cooler than normal waters have developed over a thin strip on the equator from South America drifting west to the dateline now and covering the important equatorial area of the better than half the Pacific Ocean. And feeder.cgiumes of colder than normal water have developed pushing off the US West Coast and South America reaching to the dateline, suggesting stronger than normal high pressure has built in both hemispheres. Looks like a classic La Nina setup. This is a turn for the worse and only seems to be getting stronger. At the same time a massive buildup of warmer than normal waters continues in the Atlantic almost bleeding into the far Eastern Pacific, of concern to hurricane forecasters there. We'll see if upper level winds support development of hurricane activity or whether residual upper level shear from El Nino will chop the tops of developing systems. Suspect shear will be gone by the heart of hurricane season in the Atlantic.
Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present and if anything colder than normal water was building strong over the dateline and pushing east (sort of like a cold Kelvin Wave). This pocket was -4 degs below normal. Not good.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond, but only in the normal range. This still looks like the normal early Summertime transition typical for this time of the year but is likely to change towards an increased easterly flow as Fall approaches symptomatic of La Nina.
El Nino is effectively gone and slowly losing it's grip on the global upper atmospheric weather pattern. Still some lingering impact is to continue into the Summer of 2010 enhancing the storm track in the South Pacific some. A slow transition to a normal if not slight cooler than normal state (La Nina) is expected through Nov 2010, and the signs continue to point to a La Nina pattern for the long term future.
See more details in the new El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours the models indicate a good sized area of fast moving 40+ kts winds are forecast in the deep Southeast Pacific, but all aimed due east and offering nothing in terms of swell production potential for our area.
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