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 Friday (7/2) North and Central California had trashed waist high north angled short period locally generated windswell with brisk northwest winds and pretty trashed even early. Southern California was getting thigh high wrap around weak northwest windswell up north and pretty clean early. Down south it was a little bigger at waist high with even a bigger set every now and again but pretty crumbly all locally generated northwest windswell. Hawaii's North Shore was flat with clean conditions. The East Shore was getting waist high trade wind generated windswell and lightly chopped. The South Shore was tiny with waves thigh high at the better spots and plate glass early with trades nearly gone.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for more moderate sized locally generated north windswell at chest high Saturday and Sunday pushing head high Monday and Tuesday. Southern hemi swell is expected in later Saturday a chest high late reaching 2 ft overhead Sunday and a shade less on Monday then 1 ft overhead on Tuesday. Southern California is to see northwest windswell at knee high Saturday pushing thigh high Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. But of more interest is new southern hemi swell expected to arrive late Saturday at chest high pushing 2.0 ft overhead Sunday and Monday, then down to 1 ft overhead Tuesday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see no swell of interest for the foreseeable future. The East Shore to see no real east tradewind generated windswell till later Saturday at waist to chest high holding Sunday then dropping to just below waist high on Monday and gone after that. The South Shore to see a very south angled pulse at thigh to waist high Saturday fading out Sunday.
Up north no swell producing fetch is expected from the North Pacific for the next 7days other than locally generated windswell. Down south 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 the 4th of July weekend though focused better on Central America. Beyond no swell producing weather systems are indicated. A series of fairly strong gales are to push under New Zealandover the weekend into early next week - but all energy is to be aimed due east and little swell migrating north into the Hawaiian and California swell windows.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Friday (7/2) the North Pacific jetstream was just a finger of energy trickling weakly east just south of the Aleutians. A little trough like pulse of energy was over the dateline with winds 120 kts, but not productive offering no support for surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to push east and build a little with up to 140 kts winds pushing trough the Western Gulf on late Sunday (7/4), but offering only the faintest of hope to support low pressure development. Beyond 72 hours that energy is to whither while tracking northeast up into Alaska while a generally anemic pattern sets up over the rest of the North Pacific, with the main energy flow just south of the Aleutians and unremarkable.
At the surface on Friday (7/2) modest high pressure at 1032 mbs was positioned 1200 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino CA ridging into the North and Central California coast generating a weak gradient there from Oregon south to Pt Conception and south of there producing north winds at 20-25 kts providing very short period and raw northwest proto-windswell for exposed breaks. This high was also only having limited effect on trades over the Hawaiian Islands, with light northeast winds there at 15 kts or so offering only minimal windswell production capacity. No tropical systems of interest were occurring. Over the next 72 hours the high pressure system is to track slowly east starting to invigorate the pressure gradient over North and Central CA with north winds building and consolidating over Cape Mendocino 30 kts by Saturday (7/3) and holding if not building in areal coverage pushing near 35 kts on Sunday into Monday before faltering. Increased odds for larger and longer period local windswell for Central CA as a result, with improving conditions since the fetch will be limited to points north of Pt Arena on Sunday onwards. As the high tracks east trades to be fading over the Hawaiian Islands by Sunday (7/4) and remaining below windswell producing levels.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Friday (7/2) high pressure at 1032 mbs was 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii and 1200 nmiles west5 of Cape Mendocino ridging modestly into the coast of Central CA generating the expected pressure gradient and with north winds at 20-25 kts over the North and Central CA coast resulting in short period junky north windswell and warble. More of the same is forecast if not an amplifying wind pattern Saturday with winds to 30+ kts building from San Francisco northwards over outer waters. But the good news is the core of that fetch is to be lifting north into it's more normal place off Cape Mendocino. In short, local conditions to be trashed on Saturday everywhere but Southern CA, but then after that the gradient is to be isolated to the Cape Mendo region, with a light eddy flow (south winds) in control from just south of Pt Arena on into Southern CA Sunday-Tuesday (7/6). Beyond the gradient is to fade some up north winds north winds down to 25 kts, with a light local wind flow for the entire state other than extreme Northern CA for the balance of the workweek. There some suggestion that the gradient will rebuild slightly later in the week (Thurs-Fri 7/9), but all fetch to remain well to the north with light winds down south over Central and South CA.
On Friday (7/2) a split and fragmented jetstream remained in control of the South Pacific. The southern branch of the jet was tracking east down at 65S and even further south in the east over the Antarctic ice pack eliminating odds for development of surface level low pressure over exposed waters of the South Pacific. Of some note, a trough was trying to push under New Zealand and was lifting the jet a little to the north there, but the pocket of opportunity was small. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to push east and quickly get squashed as another ridge builds, driving the jet to the south by Sunday (7/4) with the whole flow back to a very southern track 24 hours beyond. Beyond 72 hours a big ridge is forecast building over the Southeast Pacific eliminating any support for surface level low pressure development.
At the oceans surface swell from a previous gale was pushing north (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). Otherwise a patch of west winds at 35 kts was pushing under New Zealand, but of no use at meaningful production of swell. Otherwise high pressure at 1036 mbs was in control of the Southeast Pacific. Over the next 72 hours a big gael is forecast just off the coast of Southern Chile, with a huge fetch of 45-50 kt south winds forecast on Sun-Mon (7/5) peaking at 55S 100W, but way east of the US mainland swell window. No swell is expected for US interests though Chile and Peru might do well. Also a gale is to be tracking under New Zealand Sun-Mon (7/5) pushing due east, with all fetch on the same track if not aimed a bit southeast. Little to no energy is forecast pushing up the great circle tracks to Hawaii or California, though Tahiti might see some sideband energy.
Southeast Pacific Gale (Swell #5S)
On Friday evening (6/25) a good sized area of fast moving 40-45 kts winds developed in the deep South-Central Pacific at 59S 152W (confirmed) with some energy aimed north at 59S 152W. 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 wind 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.
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. But, the estimates below are likely on the high side. The issue is no really solid winds were recorded by the ASCAT satellite to justify either the sea height sizes indicated by the models or the period forecast. But, the Jason-1 satellite made several good passes over the periphery of the fetch and indicated seas were right on track with the models, but not passes occurred over the core of the storm. So we're in essence flying blind here. Assume size will be something less than forecast.
South California: Expect swell arrival on Sat (7/3) late afternoon reaching 2 ft @ 20 secs (4 ft faces) and continuing up overnight. Swell to be peaking Sunday AM with pure swell 4.0 ft @ 18 secs (7.5 ft faces with top spots to 4 ft overhead) holding through the day. Swell to still be solid on Monday with pure swell 4.5 ft @ 16 secs (7.0-7.5 ft faces with top spots to 9 ft). Swell to be on the decline on Tuesday (7/6) from 4.2 ft @ 14-15 secs (6 ft faces) lingering into Wed (7/7). Swell Direction: 193 degrees
North California: Expect swell arrival on Sat (7/3) late afternoon reaching 2 ft @ 21 secs (4 ft faces) at sunset and continuing up overnight. Swell to be peaking Sunday afternoon with pure swell 3.9 ft @ 18 secs (7.0 ft faces with top spots to 3 ft overhead) holding through sunset. Swell to still be solid on Monday with pure swell 4.0 ft @ 17 secs (7.0 ft faces with top spots to 8 ft). Swell to be on the decline on Tuesday (7/6) from 4.0 ft @ 15 secs (6 ft faces) lingering into Wed (7/7). Swell Direction: 190 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 hrs high pressure is to try and hold on at 1028 mbs located off extreme Northern California ridging into Canada, producing 25 kt northwest winds Wednesday (7/7), then possibly regenerating some with winds to 30 kts over a tiny area off Cape Mendocino Thurs/Fri (7/9) providing a little nudge to the local windswell size for Central CA then. Also at that time trades to pick up some targeting the Hawaiian Islands too with improved odds for a little northeast windswell with trades at near 20 kts. There some suggestion on the models of a gale forming out on the dateline on Wed (7/7) with 30 kts west winds for 12 hours, but that seems more like wishful thinking. It is July.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Friday (7/2) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was moving into positive territory as expected. The daily SOI was at 11.39 and has been positive for 8 days running. The 30 day average was down at 1.27 with the 90 day at 7.68. This is looking like the start of the Inactive Phase of the MJO.
Wind anomalies as of Thursday (7/1) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models suggested moderate to moderate plus 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 just west of India to the dateline. A small and fading area of westerly anomalies indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO were trying to hold on over Central America but expected to exit fast to the east into the Atlantic. It appears the Inactive Phase has taken over the Pacific. Easterly anomalies are forecast to hold on the dateline through 7/11 while easing east over the majority of the greater Pacific, then slowly loosing coverage. Finally on 7/21 a neutral wind pattern is to take over as the Active Phase of the MJO fades out. If anything, with each new run of the models the strength and duration of this Inactive Phase increases (not good). This is likely a harbinger of what is to come this Fall and Winter.
We believe the remnants of El Nino will try to linger in the upper atmosphere for a while longer. But in reality, they are almost gone. The expectation is that we'll fall back into some form of a light to moderate La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) for later 2010 into 2011.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (7/1) indicates that cooler than normal waters have developed over a moderate strip on the equator from South America drifting west to the dateline and are in fact getting cooler and covering a larger area over time, extending the whole way to almost New Guinea now. And feeder bands of colder than normal water have developed pushing off the US West Coast and South America reaching to the dateline, only serving to reinforce the existing pattern, 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. But there has begun to be some signs of slight easterly anomalies developing, which is to be expected given all the other data. This is 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 through the Summer of 2010, but likely not enhancing the storm track in the South Pacific any longer. A slow transition to a normal if not cooler than normal conditions (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 set up under Tahiti at 1040 mbs by Wed (7/7) and sinking southeast pretty much pushing the storm track flat west to east if not to the south some and minimizing the odds for swell producing fetch to develop. There is suggestions of a big gale/storm building under New Zealand on Fri (7/9) with 50 kt southwest winds, but that is pure fantasy at this early date.
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