New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
Significant: Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead)
Advanced: Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Intermediate: Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft)
Impulse/Windswell: Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
Forecast will not be updated from Friday-Wednesday (8/13) - We're taking a short summer vacation.
On Thursday (8/7) Northern CA surf was flat with up to thigh high sets and a light texture on it. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were knee high or so and textured. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was knee high and chopped mid-day. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was knee high and chopped. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh to waist high and chopped. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were thigh high and heavily textured. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was maybe thigh high or so and clean. The East Shore was waist to almost chest high.
North/Central California was essentially flat with only the faintest windswell in the water. Southern California was flat. Hawaii's North Shore was getting no swell for the summer. The South Shore was getting no surf to speak of other than wrap around east windswell. Trades were picking up producing limited but rideable east windswell on the East Shore.
For Central California more of the same is forecast for another day, then limited northwest windswell is to start building through the weekend making for something rideable Sunday and small southern hemi swell to be hiding under it. But the windswell to be dominant and building to almost the head high range by next Wednesday. Southern CA is to see that tiny pulse of southern hemi swell Fri/Sat too then fading out Sunday with windswell replacing it early next week. The South Shore of Hawaii is flat from a southern hemi perspective and expected to stay that way until late Wednesday, then only have something barely rideable for 12 hours before dropping out again. Tradewind generated east windswell on the East Shore to be the best thing though, small but building to a peak on Saturday before settling down by Monday and gone mid-week. Long term the models are offering virtually nothing of interest in the Southern Hemi, though a gale is hinted at long term in the Gulf of Alaska, though odds are very slim on that occurring. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
The North Pacific jetstream is still pretty muddled and unorganized, typical of late summer. No features of interest were indicated with the bulk of it's energy wandering through the desert of the North Bering Sea with only cutoff upper level lows pressure south of the Aleutians. But by Friday some stronger energy is to start tracking south of the Aleutians in the 90-100 kt range with a trough trying to form in the Gulf of Alaska over the weekend. By Tuesday (8/12) 110-1120 kt winds to be flowing fully connected just barely south of the Aleutians across the width of the North Pacific feeding into a almost decent trough mid-to-late next week. This continues to suggest that Fall is trying to get a foothold.
At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs was 900 nmiles north-northeast of Hawaii ridging over the Islands and generating 15-20 kt easterly trades and generating small short period windswell. The high was not significantly ridging into the US west coast, with only a 10-15 kt northerly flow pushing down the coast and offering no windswell generation potential. Weak low pressure was trying to make headway over the top of the high, without much success. Over the next 72 hours the high pressure system is to pushing east continuing trades over the Islands up to 20 kt on Friday into early Saturday with easterly windswell on the upswing. But by Sunday the high to get trimmed by approaching low pressure pushing over top of it in the Gulf. Also this high is to ridge weakly in the the US West Coast Saturday into Sunday generating modest 15-20 kt north winds and limited northerly short period windswell for exposed north facing breaks. A series of westbound tropical lows are to start building between Mexico and Hawaii, but that is only a guess by the models.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (8/7) high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered 900 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii and was not ridging into the US West coast and serving only to generate a modest 10-15 kt northerly wind flow down the coast. This same pattern to hold through Friday and then the high is to edge east but be held well to the south while low pressure moves into and through the Gulf of Alaska and coastal waters of British Columbia. The high to move close enough to Central CA on late Saturday to generate a weak gradient over nearshore waters continuing into Sunday (8/10) with up to 25 kt winds building over Cape Mendocino and 15-20 kt north winds mostly over outer waters south into the Channel Islands mostly away from nearshore locations. Limited windswell to result but chop to remain well offshore for the weekend into Monday. The gradient to consolidate over Cape Mendocino on Monday and hold there into Thursday (8/14) generating more moderate northerly windswell for exposed breaks in Central CA with local winds only in the 10 kts range or less, with decent conditions.
On Thursday AM (8/7) tropical storm Hernan was 1080 nmiles south of San Diego CA with sustained winds 50 kt and heading west-northwest at 10 kts. Seas 14 ft. No swell potential forecast for CA. This system to continue generally on a westerly heading building to minimal hurricane strength Friday evening, then slowly fading, expected to be a tropical depression by Tuesday (8/12) and still a long ways from Hawaii.
Also tropical Storm Kika was 750 nmiles south-southwest of the Big Islands of Hawaii with 35 kt winds heading due west at 7 kts. Seas were 12 ft. This system to build with winds peaking near 50 kts 700 nmiles south of Oahu Saturday AM and then fading while continuing west. Perhaps limited odds for small windswell for exposed southeast facing shores of the Big Island 2 days out, or Saturday AM with period at 11 secs.
On Thursday (8/7) a severely split jetstream pattern was in control of the entire South Pacific, actually split three ways in many areas. Regardless the southern branch was flowing entirely over either the Ross Ice Shelf or over land in Antarctica. No support for low pressure, gale or storm development. Over the next 72 hours no real change forecast with the ridge remaining in control though losing a little of it's intensity with the main flow now solely over the Ross Ice Shelf and icelocked, pushing from west to east. Beyond 72 hrs a new strong ridge is forecast to build under New Zealand pushing hard into Antarctica on Monday (8/11) and beyond while building to the east. No support for surface level low pressure development indicated.
At the oceans surface virtually no swell producing winds of interest were occurring. Strong high pressure at 1032 mbs was right in the middle of the storm corridor in the Southeast Pacific pushing south to nearly 65S (over Antarctic Ice) and shutting things down there with no activity occurring in regions further west. Over the next 72 no swell producing fetch is forecast over the South Pacific relative to either Hawaii or California.High pressure to hold in the Southeast, locked in place.
Short Central Pacific Gale
On Tuesday AM (7/29) a 960 mb gale was positioned in the far southern Central Pacific generating a fetch of 45 kt west winds. These winds held into the evening then faded producing 12 hrs of 32 ft seas at 60S 155W. Maybe a small pulse of swell to push into California up the 196 degree path at 17 secs 10 days later or Fri PM (8/8) since the Tahitian swell shadow was not a factor. Swell to peak Saturday at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft faces).
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 high pressure is to hold in the area midway between Hawaii and California generating 15-20 kt easterly trades of the Islands and 20+ kt north winds over Cape Mendocino possibly setting up modest plus sized northerly windswell for Central CA. through mid-week. Of more interest is a gale low forecast to build near the dateline Monday pushing into the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska Tuesday (8/9) generating 35 kt west winds and 21-22 ft seas targeting the Pacific Northwest down to Central CA. Perhaps some limited northwest swell to result with lot's of luck. More Gulf energy possibly behind that too. Tropical energy remains forecast pushing west towards Hawaii along the south quadrant of high pressure north of the Islands too. The Fall season appears to be trying, at least according to the models. Nothing is real till it happens though.
Madden-Julian Oscillation/ENSO Update: As of Thursday (8/7) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) remained muddled. The SOI index which has been positive since 7/16 started moving negative on 7/23, but bottomed out bumped positive and is now back negative at -7.65. The 30 day average was down to 1.93 and the 90 day average was essentially unchanged at -0.01, neutral. Completely normal winds are occurring at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up), indicating neither the Inactive or the Active phase of the MJO. We are in dead-neutral territory. This is not conducive to fueling an El Nino like winter pattern.
Beyond 72 hrs mostly no swell producing fetch is forecast other than a cutoff low forecast east of New Zealand Sat-Mon (8/11) possibly producing a tiny fetch of 40 kts winds aimed towards Hawaii. But odds remain low of that occurring. At the same time high pressure at 1020 mbs is forecast building south of New Zealand pushing east building to 1028 mbs by Wednesday (8/13) continuing the lock-down of the storm corridor for the foreseeable future.
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