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 (6/27) North and Central California had the usual chest high or warbled north angled short period locally generated windswell with light winds and reasonably clean conditions but with warble underneath. Southern California was getting waist high wrap around weak northwest windswell up north and clean. Down south it was a little bigger with most swell coming out of the south, a combination of 13 sec swell from Hurricane Celia and southern hemi background swell producing sets near head high and clean as can be though still a little crumbled with intermixed windswell. Hawaii's North Shore was flat with clean conditions. The East Shore was getting shoulder high plus east tradewind generated windswell with chop on top. The South Shore was getting minimal southern hemi swell at waist high or so with top spots to shoulder high on the sets and clean with light trades in effect early.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for more moderate sized locally generated north windswell at chest to shoulder high on Monday pushing head high Tuesday and up to 1 ft overhead Wednesday and Thursday. A little southern hemi swell is expected Monday at waist high, then fading out. Southern California is to see northwest windswell at nearly waist high Monday and Tuesday up to solid waist high Wednesday and a little more Thursday. Southern hemi swell and hurricane swell mix is expected at shoulder high Monday fading to waist high Tuesday. Background south angled southern hemi swell is expected at waist high Wed/Thurs. 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 thigh high Monday fading to less than that on Tuesday and then gone trough Thursday. The South Shore to see southern hemi swell maybe in the knee to thigh high range though Wednesday then coming up to thigh to waist high on Thursday.
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 developed well south of Tahiti on Friday (6/18) producing a short duration of 30 ft seas aimed pretty well to the north the US West coast with swell arriving there on Saturday (6/26) (see forecast above). Also a gale developed in the Southeast Pacific on Sat/Sun (6/27) with 40-45 kt southwest winds producing seas in the 38 ft range. Swell possible pushing north towards California for next weekend though focused better on Central America. Well take what we can get at this time of year.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (6/27) the North Pacific jetstream was consolidated but thin and weak snaking east over the 48N latitude line. A weak trough was in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska with another off of the Kamchatka Peninsula (Russia). No support for gale development was indicated. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to ease it's way east into British Columbia having no support for surface level gale wind production while the other trough just hangs in-place. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to continue holding on the 50N latitude flowing almost flat and offering nothing in terms of support for surface level gale development.
At the surface on Sunday (6/27) modest high pressure at 1028 mbs was stationary 1000 nmiles northwest of Hawaii with a finger of it barely ridging to the extreme North California coast generating a weak gradient there (off Cape Mendocino) with winds 25 kts providing a bit of northwest windswell for exposed breaks down into Central CA. This high was having no real effect on trades over the Hawaiian Islands, with light winds in effect there offering no windswell production capacity. Swell from when Hurricane Celia was at it's peak was pushing into Southern CA at about 2 ft @ 13 secs (thigh to waist high). Hurricane Celia is presently down to tropical storm strength (45 kt sustained winds), stationary mid-way between Hawaii and CA and of no real interest. Tropical Storm Darby was just west of Central Mainland Mexico with winds also at 45 kts and fading. Over the next 72 hours the focus is to become the high pressure system north of Hawaii. It is to track slowly east starting to invigorate the pressure gradient over North and Central CA with north winds up over Cape Mendocino expanding coverage at 25 kts Tuesday into Wednesday reaching south to Pt Conception and holding there through Friday (7/2). Short period raw local windswell is the expected result with generally poor conditions locally. As the high tracks east trades to rebuild over the Hawaiian Islands starting late Wednesday and pushing 20 kts by Friday into Saturday (7/3).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (6/27) high pressure was trying to edge into the coast of Cape Mendocino with north winds in control there at 25 kts generating short period north windswell and warble pushing into the North and Central CA coast though nearshore winds were light if not calm. More of the same is forecast for the early week with north winds and a pressure gradient in control and pushing south into the North and Central CA coast, with winds over outer waters in the 25 kt range and the gradient itself sinking south. This suggest a choppy water pattern locally. Southern CA is to be protected though. High pressure is to continue surging east while building, with the gradient actually dropping south some by late Thursday and 25-30 kt north winds down to Pt Conception and chop in control everywhere but protected break in South CA. The gradient is to start lifting north by Saturday and by Sunday (7/4) it's to return to a more normal position off Cape Mendocino. Light local winds likely for Central CA at that time.
On Sunday (6/27) a split and fragmented jetstream remained in control of the South Pacific with the southern branch of the jet tracking east down at 65S and pushing along the northern edge of the Antarctic ice pack, then pushing into a trough in the far Southeast Pacific with winds nearly 140 kts feeding up into that trough offering a decent opportunity for gale development there. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to quickly push east out of the California swell window with a weak and flat flowing southern branch of the jet in control offering no potential to support gale development. Beyond 72 hours we're expected to fall back into the same old pattern with the jet sweeping pretty far to the south running flat along the northern edge of the Antarctic Ice Pack and energized in that rut minimizing odds for gale development down at the oceans surface.
At the oceans surface a good sized area of fast moving 40-45 kts winds developed in the deep South-Central Pacific with some energy aimed north starting Friday evening (6/25) at 59S 152W (confirmed). It lifted northeast Sat AM (6/26) with a moderate sized area of 40-45 kt southwest winds at 53S 143W pushing better almost due north in the evening to 50S 140W at 35-40 kts (confirmed), then reaching north to 43S 125 Sunday AM (6/27) with winds speed down to 35 kts (modeled). The models suggested 32 ft seas at 60S 152W Friday PM building to 36 ft Sat AM (6/26) at 54S 140W and near 38 ft Sat PM at 50S 140W on the eastern edge of the CA swell window, then lifting north at 38 ft at 48S 138 late Saturday night. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass over the back end of this fetch at 11 PM Saturday night at 33.6 ft with one peak reading to 36.4 ft where the model suggested 30 ft seas. So this was right on track if not better than expected. At this time there are reasonable odds that a swell has developed and is pushing up toward California with more size for Central America. Swell expected into Southern CA late and Saturday (7/3) and into North CA on Sunday with size expected to be decent and continuing into Monday. Over the next 72 hours the weather pattern that has dominated the Southeast PAcific lately is to track east and out of even the Southern CA swell window. No other 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 high pressure is to hold off Central and North California with localized north winds at 25 kts into Sun (7/4) continuing the run of short period north windswell. East trades at 20 kts are forecast over Hawaii too generating short period east windswell there too But not large scale weather systems of interest are forecast.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (6/27) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) wa starting to lift into positive territory as expected. The daily SOI was at 7.52 ending a slightly negative run that lasted 21 days. The 30 day average was down to 1.26 with the 90 day at 7.63.
Wind anomalies as of Sunday (6/27) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models suggested moderate east anomalies holding over a broad area in the West Pacific indicative of a moderate pulse of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. They extend from India to the dateline (down from previous estimates). A small and fading area of westerly anomalies indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO were dissipating over Central America and were exiting east into the Atlantic. It appears the Inactive Phase is taking over the Pacific. Easterly anomalies are forecast to hold on the dateline through 7/6. Finally on 7/16 a neutral wind pattern is to take over as the Active Phase of the MJO fades out.
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 (6/24) 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 plumes 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 high pressure is to again take control of the entire South Pacific pushing the storm track flat west to east if not to the south some and minimizing the odds for swell producing fetch to develop.
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