On Sunday (8/21) Northern CA surf was thigh high or less. South facing breaks were maybe up to thigh high as well. Central California surf was knee high. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were flat with knee high sets. The LA area southward into Orange County was maybe waist high at the best breaks. Southward to San Diego waves were flat. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was 1-2 ft.
Back to flat, at least for the time being. A little bit of north windswell is on the way this week for Hawaii and a tiny bit of southern hemi background swell too. North California looks to see some solid northwest windswell intermixed with some southern hemi background swell. The same southern hemi background swell is expected for Southern CA too. And the models continue to indicate a strong storm developing under New Zealand mid-week, with the wild promise of swell for all locations from it assuming it develops as forecast. And another is suggested behind that. Bit's of energy continue to be projected for the Northern Gulf of Alaska, but confidence remains low that anything rideable will result. In all there's a lot more hope than we've seen lately. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (8/21) at the jetstream level two pinched troughs were present, one off the Pacific northwest and another over the dateline with a solid ridge in between pushing up to the Aleutians, but not north of them. There was no indication of surface level support for storms development (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the troughs are to dissipate with a zonal (flat) flow developing from the Kurils Islands tracking straight tot he Northern Gulf of Alaska. Though no support for surface level storm development is suggested, wind speeds on average are to increase to the 120 kt range across the entire North Pacific, suggesting Fall is building in aloft. A weak cutoff low is forecast north of Hawaii too suggesting maybe some surface level manifestation, but likely not much.
At the surface today (Sunday) a near neutral pressure pattern blanketed the North Pacific. A weak high at 1024 mbs was northwest of Hawaii and a weak low at 1012 mbs was northeast of the Islands. The difference in pressure between the two systems was generating 25 kt northeast winds positioned 900 nmiles northeast of Hawaii aimed back at then Islands with seas on the increase somewhat. No other swell producing fetch was indicated (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the pattern north of Hawaii is to hold through early Monday with 25-30 kts winds and some 11 ft seas pushing south. Small north windwell is expected for the Islands with swell 3 ft @ 9 secs possible by Wednesday AM (8/24) producing some 2.5 ft faces. Lesser energy to hold into Thursday then fade. Also high pressure is to start building off California in the 1024 mb range Monday (8/22) while low pressure builds inland, setting up the usual north wind coastal gradient off Cape Mendocino. North winds at 30-35 kts forecast starting late Monday holding into early Wednesday with 15 ft seas expected, then fading. Sizeable local north windswell to develop Tuesday into Wednesday (see QuikCAST for details). And finally the Eastern Pacific tropics are starting to stir with Hurricane Hillary developing well southeast of Southern Baja (see details below). Also a little fetch is expected in the Northern Gulf of Alaska by Wednesday (8/24) but aimed well north of our forecast area, providing some potential maybe for Vancouver Island and points north.
More model data here
Hurricane Hilary: On Sunday AM (8/21) Hurricane Hilary was positioned 420 nmiles southeast of Cabo San Lucas Mexico tracking west-northwest at 10 kts with sustained winds 70 kts.She is to move into the Southern California swell window late Monday with sustained winds 90 kts and on the same heading. Early Wednesday and more northwards turn is expected but the storm is to be weakening, dropping to 75 kts and then below hurricane force on Thursday AM at 55 kts positioned 720 nmiles due south of Los Angeles and fading fast. If all this plays out some decent swell should result for Southern California, but that is purely guesswork at this time. There is only the remotest possibility some of this swell might work it's way up to the most exposed south facing breaks in North CA.
California Offshore Forecast
Sundays mornings local charts (8/21) indicate that by early Monday north winds are to be on the increase just offshore covering the entire state. The combination of building high pressure off the coast and deepening lower pressure inland and up to San Francisco southward to LA is to generate a tight local pressure gradient. North winds at 30-35 kts are to result centered initially off Cape Mendocino early Tuesday but reaching south to just off Monterey Bay in the afternoon and then retreating north by early Wednesday and fading thereafter. Swell 7 ft @ 9 secs expected late Tuesday with 5-6 ft faces possible fading to 5.5 ft faces early Wednesday and heading down from there.
By Thursday (8/25) high pressure is to retreat from the coast moving north of Hawaii and the associated north winds off Cape Mendocino are to fade out. But a possible return of high pressure is suggested for the weekend with the requisite increase in north winds off the Cape possible and and upsurge in windswell in the cards.
The 5 Day wind forecast is now included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.
Sundays (8/21) jetstream charts indicated no significant change from days and weeks previous, namely two prominent ridges in the southern branch of the jet pushing south, the first south east of New Zealand and a stronger one southeast of Chile. A bit of a trough was developing in the northern branch of the jet southeast of Tahiti with winds there at 140 kts, but if anything was developing at the surface it was well cutoff from the main flow. In general no support for surface level storm development was suggested aloft (animation here). Over the next 72 hours a major increase in energy in the southern branch is forecast to develop under and southwest of New Zealand with winds 160 kts streaming due east there and a bit north of the Ross Ice Shelf. A big ridge is to maintain control of the greater South Pacific with no hope there. Still, the models suggest that something might result at the surface from the influx of energy under Australia.
At the surface today strong high pressure at 1028 mbs was just east of New Zealand ridging southeast to almost the Ross Ice Shelf and keeping a lock on the storm corridor there. A 984 mb low had developed southeast of Tahiti with 40-45 kts winds suggested mostly in it's northwest to north quadrants aimed towards South America. Seas forecast building to 29 ft by Sunday evening (8/21) over a tiny area, but likely having no or little impact on North America. (animation here). Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to continue having control over the greater South Pacific until Wednesday (8/24) when low pressure is forecast to start building under New Zealand (see Long Term forecast).
More model data here
Southeast Pacific Storm
On Friday (8/12) a minor dent in the southern branch of the jet stream aloft allowed some activity at the surface. A 948 mb storm developed well east of the Southern CA swell window over Antarctic Ice with some fragmented areas of 40-45 kts west winds north of the iceshelf near 58S. They blew from Friday AM through Sunday morning (8/14) with seas modeled at 32 ft late Friday and again late Saturday on the very edge of the Southern CA swell window and 5280 nmiles away. But the winds and seas were tracking fast to the east aimed 70+ degree east of any great circle path to Southern CA. Maybe some hope for small utility swell focused on Southern CA starting mid-day Sunday (8/21) maxing Monday with swell 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) then fading slowly through Wednesday (8/24), but sizes that large are probably wishful thinking. More likely 2.0-2.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces) only at the most exposed south facing Southern CA breaks. Swell Direction 185 degrees.
Limited swell of 2 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces) expected in North CA starting late Monday (8/22) through Tuesday with lesser size and period on Wednesday. Swell Direction 180 degrees
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Sundays (8/21) upper level models indicate that beyond 72 hours a broad ridge is to develop in the Gulf of Alaska while a broad but gentle trough is to form in the West Pacific possibly supporting something at the surface, but not much. Still a fairly quiet pattern overall.
Beyond 72 hours at the surface weak high pressure is to generally take over the North Pacific centered just east of the dateline ridging well east and west. The biggest feature is to be a large developing hurricane tracking northwest off Baja early next week well into the California swell window. The GFS model is notoriously bad a predicting tropical systems, but it makes for nice eye candy. A bit of north winds at 20-25 kts if forecast of Cape Mendocino CA too providing some minor windswell generation potential for North CA. Less than usual trades to continue over the Hawaiian Islands.
On Tuesday (7/27) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) dropped to -14 and has held in that range steadily through Thursday 8/4 with a -16 value posted. Then it gave up ground with values bouncing from near 0 to -16 with the 30 day average hovering near -7 through Friday (8/19). Beyond that a neutral pattern settled in with daily SOI values near 0. A negative SOI is conducive to the development of El Nino and prolonged negative readings (2 weeks plus) is evidence that the active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was occurring. A reversal of tradewinds over the Pacific equator typically accompanies such events. The first signs of such a breakdown developed west of the dateline starting Thursday (8/4). By Saturday (8/6) west wind were clearly evidenced to 160E and building eastward reaching 170E by Tuesday (8/9) then holding. But on Sunday (8/14) the trades dropped to near neutral and were returning to normal (blowing from east to west). Subsurface waters temperatures were 1 degree above normal in the West Pacific pushing towards the dateline, suggesting a minor Kelvin wave was trying to organize. But it was impacting a pool of -3 degree cooler than normal water southeast of Hawaii. That pool moderated to -1 degree while the mini-Kelvin wave continue east at 1 degree above normal. Forecast models suggest this Active Phase of the MJO is over, with the inactive (cool phase) of the MJO weakly in control. But that is to fade quickly by 8/23. Though it is too late in the year for a full blown El Nino to start forming, a series of active MJO's can help to improve the chances for winter season storms and are a catalyst for development of strong tropical systems in the West Pacific (look for them to turn extratropical and curve northeast in the fall). This minor bout of the MJO appears to have influenced the North Pacific jetstream and improved the potential for early season low pressure development in the Gulf of Alaska. Unfortunately that has come to an end.
Sundays upper level models (8/21) indicate that beyond 72 hours a bit of a trough is to open up under New Zealand just barely north of the Ross Ice Shelf. This is not to be a trough in the classic sense tough in that it is not to push well to the north. Rather it is to just track east with winds gradually fading to 130 kts into Friday AM (8/26) while pushing out a little open space aloft into the Central Pacific. By Saturday (7/27) another similar trough is to push under New Zealand, but not as far to the north.
At the surface beyond 72 hours out the models suggest a 952 mb storm is to develop south of New Zealand on Wednesday (8/24) with winds initially 60-65 kts over a tiny area aimed north towards both Hawaii and the US West Coast. By the evening that fetch is to hold but turn it's force more to the east with pressure dropping to a deep 944 mbs. Seas building to 39 ft in the evening southeast of New Zealand. On Thursday (8/25) the storm is to hold while moving to the Central Pacific with 55-60 kts winds continuing in the storms north quadrant aimed due east. Seas forecast to 40 ft through the day eventually impacting the Ross Ice Shelf late in the day and getting clipped off. This system to fade on out Friday (8/26).
Yet another broader storm is forecast under New Zealand by the Sunday (8/28) with pressure forecast down to a deep 936 mbs with a large fetch of 45-50 kts winds aimed northeast right towards Tahiti and the US West Coast with good sideband support for Hawaii. Seas 37 ft and on the increase. This is all highly speculative but at least there is something on the charts for the first time in months.
Details to follow...
Rob Gilley Photgraphy: Please take amoment to check out the selection of limited print images availabe at Rob Gilleys webite. All images in the 2005 line were taken by Rob Gilley, an 19 year Surfer Magazine staff photographer, and are personally signed and numbered by him: http://www.pacificsurfgallery.com
Proposed Senate Bill To Restrict Free Weather Data Giving it only to Private Companies for re-sell to the Public. If you view the free info from buoys, wind, and weather currently provided on this and other sites, prepare to see it end if this bill gets passed. Read more here.
Tutorial on the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) Presented by Dr. Roland Madden: If you're interested in El Nino and the MJO, have a basic understanding of El Nino, and you have broadband connection, audio and Macromedia Flash installed, then the following presentation is a must see. Dr Madden present a great overview of how the MJO works. And there's nothing like hearing it straight from the founders mouth. Link here: http://meted.ucar.edu/climate/mjo/mjonav0.htm
Stormsurf Weather Models Updated Again: Yes, we've been at it again this weekend getting another batch of weather models running. Global coverage is now provided for jetstream forecasts and surface pressure and winds. Zoomed in data is also available for such locations as the Mentawai Islands to Western Australia corridor, Tahiti, South America, Europe and Norwegian Sea. So now you can get local wind forecasts for these and more locations with one click. Take a look here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu.html
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table