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.
On Thursday (8/28) Northern CA surf was head high and fairly clean. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz has some waist high sets and clean but fogged conditions. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was chest high and socked in. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was thigh high and textured. The LA Area southward to Orange County was up to thigh high and pretty clean. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were thigh to waist high and clean early. The North Shore of Oahu was flat and clean. The South Shore was thigh high and clean. The East Shore was knee high.
North/Central California was getting more moderate sized local north windswell and reasonably clean conditions, at least for now. Southern California was very small with only a percentage of the northerly windswell wrapping into exposed breaks. Hawaii's North Shore was flat. The South Shore was effectively flat. And almost no east windswell was occurring on the East Shore.
For Central California locally generated northerly windswell remains the best swell source for the upcoming long end-of-summer Labor Day weekend. Size is actually to push up well into Sunday, but local northerly wind to likely be an issue. Southern CA to see fractional bits of this same windswell, with a little pulse of southern hemi background swell on Saturday (8/30). But otherwise small surf to continue. The South Shore of Hawaii is not expected to see any southern hemi swell of interest for the week on through the weekend. No tradewind generated east windswell expected on the East Shore until Labor Day, but once it arrives it's to hang around for a while. The North Shore to remain unrideable for the next week. Long term the models continue to look somewhat better over the southern hemisphere, with a gale having occurred well south-southeast of S. California Mon/Tues (8/25) possibly pushing some fetch our way with 28-32 ft seas modeled. And a better system is pushing under New Zealand starting Thursday (8/28) with 35 ft seas indicated and expected to continue through Sunday with seas in the 30 ft range offering good swell potential for both Hawaii and California. Nothing forecast in the North Pacific though. So it's more like summer than Fall for a while now. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (8/28) the North Pacific jetstream was fragmented and disorganized, with a ridge running over the Gulf of Alaska supporting only high pressure down at the surface. Over the next 72 hours a bit more energy is to start building over the width of the North Pacific jet, most of it just barely south of the Aleutian Islands, but nothing of any real interest. Beyond 72 hours starting Tuesday (9/2) the .cgiit pattern than has been an issue of late is to be gone with a consolidated flow tracking generally flat west to east just under the Aleutians with a small trough forecast building over the Western Gulf of Alaska a week out. Maybe some hope there.
At the surface today high pressure at 1024 mbs was located 900 nmiles west of Pt Reyes CA generating a pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino producing up to 30 kt north winds and moderate windswell pushing south. Otherwise no fetch of interest was in.cgiay. On Tuesday (8/26) a small weak low pressure system pushed east through the Gulf of Alaska generating 30-35 kt west winds and 20 ft seas targeting primarily the Pacific Northwest down into maybe Central CA with background windswell expected to arrive late Thursday (8/28) into early Friday. No trades of interest were pushing over the Hawaiian Islands and no real windswell potential indicated. Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to build to 1032 mbs in the Gulf of Alaska fueling the pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino Sat/Sun resulting in 35-40 kt north winds and windswell pushing down the coast, but also with likely raw north winds conditions nearshore. No other swell source indicated.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (8/28) high pressure at 1024 mbs was 900 nmiles west of Monterey Bay ridging into Oregon and Washington generating the standard pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino CA resulting in 30 kt north winds there and northerly windswell for breaks south of there. But the fetch was positioned mostly off the coast, resulting in reasonably calm winds nearshore from Pt Arena southward. This same setup is scheduled for Friday. Eddy winds possible (southwest 5 kts). But Saturday (8/30) more high pressure is to move in behind something that almost looks like front late Friday reinforcing the pressure gradient and pushing winds over Cape Mendocino down to Pt Arena to the 35-40 kt range and bumping up the size of the windswell, but with the fetch area starting to move almost over the coast making for poor conditions and brisk north winds holding through at least Sunday, then maybe relenting just a touch for Monday. It's not till Tuesday that the gradient pulls away from the coast and cleaner conditions prevail, while the gradient holds over Cape Mendocino with windswell still in the forecast through Thursday (9/4).
On Thursday (8/28) no tropical storms of interest were being monitored.
On Thursday (8/28) a .cgiit jetstream pattern remained in control of the entire South Pacific with a solid ridge pushing south over the Ross Ice Shelf in the Southeast Pacific. But under New Zealand a trough was developing pushing north to 50S with 120 kt winds feeding into it. Some support for surface level low pressure development indicated. Over the next 72 hours some semblance of that trough to continue pushing northward up to 40S into early Sunday but getting pretty well pinched off while the ridge continues in the east. Still some support for low pressure development likely east of New Zealand. Beyond 72 hrs a strong ridge to build in behind the trough shutting things down for a while and pushing south over the Ross Ice Shelf, then relenting mid-next week with a flat flow taking over and not offering any odds for surface low pressure development, but not totally shutting it down either.
At the oceans surface a gale was southeast of New Zealand getting some traction on the oceans surface (See New Zealand Gale below). No other swell producing winds of interest were occurring with high pressure at 1028 mbs well east of New Zealand ridging south to near 62S and basically blocking the storm corridor there. Over the next 72 hrs the New Zealand Gale is to lift northeast while high pressure holds east of it and new strong high pressure at 1036 mbs builds over New Zealand proper likely shutting things down behind the gale.
Cutoff Chilean Low
A cutoff low coalesced just off Chile on Sunday (8/24) generating 45 kt southerly winds at 53S 93W generating up to 32 ft seas at 50S 95W in the evening pushing north. Some degree of 35 kt fetch held Monday AM (8/25) generating 30 ft seas at 49S 98W ten fading to 29 ft in the evening at 45S 101W. All fetch was gone Tuesday AM (8/26) with residual 27 ft seas fading at 40S 98W. Possible small swell for CA 8 days beyond with period in the 15 secs range, with larger swell for Central America.
South CA: Expect swell arrival starting Tuesday (9/2) mid-day with period near 17 sec and size tiny, but building. Size to build late Wednesday with period 15 secs on into early Thursday (9/4) with swell reaching 3 ft @ 14 secs (4.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 164-168 degrees
New Zealand Gale
A gale low began to sneak under New Zealand late Wednesday at 976 mbs generating 40 kt westerly winds at 58S 160E.
It tracked northeast with 40 kts winds over an expanding area Thursday AM (8/28) at 55S 172E generating 30 ft seas at 55S 172E aimed well towards both Hawaii and CA but moving into the Tahitian swell shadow for CA (212 degrees). It's to continue Thursday PM with 40 kt winds at 53S 179W aimed northeast targeting Hawaii and California. 35 ft seas forecast at 52S 178E hanging right on the western edge of the Tahitian swell shadowed for NCal (212 degrees) and in it from SCal (216 degrees).
By Friday AM (8/29) 35-40 kts winds to continue aimed even further to the north with 33 ft seas forecast at 46S 172W. In the evening 35 kt winds to hand on at 47S 165W aimed almost due north with 30 ft seas forecast at 44S 167W. All of Ca to be shadowed.
The fetch to continue unabated Saturday AM (8/30) with 35 kt south winds at 43S 160W with 30 ft seas forecast at 42S 163W pushing north. In the evening a little strengthening is force with winds to near 40 kts and 31 ft seas forecast at 40S 160W and shadowed from CA.
On Sunday (8/31) residual 35 kts winds to be hanging on with 30 ft seas forecast at 35S 155W aimed dead for Tahiti. This system to die in the evening with seas falling below 27 ft.
This is not to be a particularly intense system, really just utility class by usual summertime standards, but holding on for a long time and following a directed path giving it's limited winds to every ounce of traction they can on the oceans surface. Given the limited amount of activity of late, this might actually be something to get a bit excited over, especially in Hawaii and Tahiti but California to be basically shadowed by Tahiti for the whole thing. Will monitor over the weekend.
Tahiti: Be on the alert for possible swell arrival starting Monday (9/1) with swell building fast through the day peaking at sunset with pure swell 13-15 ft @ 16 secs (20-24 ft faces Hawaiian) from 205 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 hours high pressure off California is to slowly fade, but not completely through early next week with 25-30 kt north winds continuing over Cape Mendocino and some form of windswell expected for Central CA through Thurs (9/4).
The tail of this high pressure system is to ridge out towards Hawaii possibly sending 15-20 kt northeast fetch towards the Islands and generating small easterly windswell for exposed East Shores.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Thursday (8/28) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was fully in the Inactive phase and not supportive of North Pacific storm formation. The Daily SOI index was at 19.00. The 30 day average was up to 6.25 and the 90 day average was up to 3.57, still neutral, but up compared to weeks and days previous. Winds at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up), indicated east winds over the entire Western Pacific reaching over the dateline almost to South America west of Peru. This appears to be the peak of the Inactive Phase. It's to slowly fade through the first week in September and be gone by 9/10. Unfortunately no signs of a building Active Phase are forecast suggesting no support for fueling the development of North Pacific storms into September. Of note - the weak MJO pattern of late has caused what was a promising flow of warmer than normal subsurface waters from the West to east Pacific to break down, with a slightly cooler pool now positioned 150 deep on the equator south of Hawaii. This is not indicative of an El Nino like circulation, thereby suggesting no enhancement to the winter North Pacific storm pattern.
Beyond 72 hrs the models suggest spurious bit's of fetch possible mid-next week, with the most prominent area developing under New Zealand Wednesday (9/3) producing 35 ft seas right in the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. But at this early date nothing is believable. Will monitor.
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