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 Thursday (9/2) North and Central California was getting locally generated short period north windswell at waist to maybe chest high and reasonably clean though still a bit warbled. Southern California was effectively flat up north and fogged in and maybe pushing thigh high down south from background southern hemi swell and clean but heavily fogged. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean with summer sand clogging the reefs. The East Shore was getting knee high tradewind generated east windswell with lightly chopped conditions. The South Shore had some knee high southern hemi sets coming through with clean conditions and light trades in effect.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for more local northwest local windswell on Friday at 3.5 ft building Saturday to 4 ft and Sunday to 5.5 ft. Southern hemi swell to be 3 ft on Friday fading to 2.5 ft on Saturday again from near 170 degrees, then gone. More local north windswell is expected Monday at near 5.5 ft down to 5 ft on Tuesday and 4.5 ft on Wednesday. Southern California is to see small southern hemi swell rebuilding to waist high or a little more Friday before fading from thigh high Saturday and coming from a very southerly angle (175 degrees). Also maybe some thigh high north windswell for exposed breaks on Sunday pushing waist high Monday and then dropping from thigh high on Tuesday and knee high Wednesday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see no rideable surf for the next 7 days. The East Shore to see short period east windswell at knee to thigh high Friday dropping Saturday to knee high or less and then sitting there through Wednesday (9/8). The South Shore is to see nothing rideable through at least the middle of next week.
Up north no swell producing fetch is forecast over the next 7 days through there has been a little more motion than weeks past. Otherwise only locally generated short period north windswell is expected for North and Central CA through the middle of next week. A typhoon that was supposed to track northeast off Japan and reorganize will now just disintegrate. Down south the models continue suggesting that a small gale might form southeast of New Zealand on Saturday (9/4) with seas to 35 ft but quickly degenerating. Little energy is to push northeast. But a stronger system is forecast for the Southeast Pacific late in the workweek, but that is hardly believable at this early date.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (9/2) the North Pacific jetstream was ri.cgiing along the 45N latitude with a little pocket of energy pushing off the Kurils at 130 kts but dying as it reached the dateline while pushing a bit north into the Bering Sea, then dropping south again into a small weak steep trough in the Gulf of Alaska before ridging north into mainland Canada. There was no clear support for gale development at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours an almost respectable trough is to build from the energy currently pushing off the Kurils with winds holding at 110 kts offering decent support for low pressure development between there and the dateline into Sat (9/4). But that trough is to moderate and it's energy flow up into a building ridge over the Gulf of Alaska on Sunday. Beyond 72 hours a weaker version of the trough in the west is to hold between Kamchatka and the dateline supporting weak low pressure at lower levels of the atmosphere while a modest ridge persists over the Gulf of Alaska likely supporting high pressure down at the surface. In all no real support for gale development is suggested.
At the surface on Thursday (9/2) high pressure at 1028 mbs continued over the Eastern Pacific centered 1200 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii and gently ridging east but not reaching Northern California nor having much impact over Hawaii either. Light winds at 15 kts were pushing down the outer CA coast and in the form of trades over Hawaii, all circulating clockwise around the high. Of some interest was a 992 mb low developing off Kamchatka producing 20-25 kt northwest winds streaming into the Northwest Pacific. But they were too weak and too far away from even Hawaii to have any impact from a swell production standpoint. Over the next 72 hours that low pressure system is to ease east a bit more, reaching the dateline, but winds holding only in the 25 kt range into Saturday and not imparting enough energy to the oceans surface to create swell of interest. High pressure is to push a bit to the east setting up a weak pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino by Saturday at 20 kts pushing 25 kts late and 30 kts by Sunday (9/5) generating larger north windswell into Central CA and holding into Monday. but that gradient is to also be generating pretty solid winds nearshore as well making chop a very likely option there. The high is to be too far north to have much effect on trades over Hawaii, maybe holding them in the 15 kts range through the weekend.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Thursday (9/2) the remnants of Typhoon Kompasu were tracking east in the China Sea approaching northern Japan. This system is to migrate over Japan and into the North Pacific late Friday (9/3) while fading and racing off to the northeast. No swell generation potential is forecast.
No other tropical systems of interest were occurring or forecast.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (9/2) high pressure at 1024 mbs was located well northwest of the state with a generally light nearshore windflow in control. That situation is to hold into early Saturday AM (9/4) while high pressure starts ridging hard into North CA, setting up a reasonably strong iteration of the usual pressure gradient over North CA with 15 kt north fetch from it pushing into all nearshore locations north of Pt Conception. Nearshore winds to get even strong on Sunday (25 kts) then backing off to 15 kts on Monday and holding there possibly into Wednesday (9/8). The short of it is to be brisk north winds and chop everywhere north of Pt Conception. Southern CA is to remain protected and might even get a taste of the windswell generated by the gradient too. Regardless, weak 10-15 kt north winds to persist over Central and North CA though the end of the week with poor conditions expected.
On Thursday (9/2) the jetstream remained heavily .cgiit with the core of the .cgiit positioned over the mid-South Pacific. This continued di.cgiacing the southern branch of the jet to the south over the Ross Ice Shelf which had grown to it's winter maximum (up to 60S). But, a bit of a trough was developing directly south of New Zealand offering up a little gap that was almost extending north of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and providing slim potential for surface level low pressure development over ice free waters there. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to build some more east of New Zealand with up to 160 kt west-southwest winds pushing some up into the trough offering improved odds to support gale development at the oceans surface Sat (9/5) before pinching off on Sunday. Possible gale development expected in this trough down at the oceans surface. Beyond 72 hours a new ridge is to be building in behind the trough pushing the jet again well to the south for the days beyond and shutting off any hope to support gale development then. And an even stronger ridge is forecast over the southeast Pacific too, pushing down into Antarctica.
At the oceans surface high pressure at 1032 mbs was positioned well east of New Zealand tracking east pushing to storm track well to the south. No swell producing fetch was indicated. Over the next 72 hrs as high pressure eases to the east, a window is to open up directly south of New Zealand area Friday (9/3) with low pressure developing in the area by the evening. A small area of 45 kt west-southwest winds are to develop at 57S 163E fading to 40 kts Saturday AM at 52S 180W moving to 52S 165W in the evening. The models suggest seas building to 34 ft Saturday morning at 54S 175E as the fetch itself dies. If all this happens some degree of small swell could result, best for Tahiti with limited energy tracking up into Hawaii and amazingly not too badly shadowed by Tahiti for California either (211 degrees and still west of the core of the shadow). Something worth monitoring.
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 the remnants of Typhoon Kompasu are to push off Japan over the weekend (9/4) racing northeast maybe generating some southwest fetch at near 30 kts later Monday pushing into the Eastern Aleutians but of no use to Hawaii or even Canada or the US West Coast. Otherwise high pressure off the US West Coast is to slowly moderate into Thurs (9/9) with the gradient and north winds off Northern CA slowly fading to 15 kts at that time. Weak ill-defined low pressure is to persist in the Northwest Pacific offering no fetch even in the 25 kt range and no swell generation capacity. Still, it's a step closer to Fall than we were even a week before.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (9/2) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued rock solid in the positive range. The daily SOI was up to 32.80 and has been that way in excess of 45 days. The 30 day average was up to 18.29 with the 90 day average up to 12.82. The Inactive Phase of the MJO appears to still be in control.
Wind anomalies as of Monday (8/30) (latest data from BOM) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated a completely neutral wind pattern in control of the equatorial Pacific. Interesting, but just 2 days earlier the Active Phase with fully westerly anomalies (good thing) was peaking out over the Philippines, with it's flow starting in the Indian Ocean (westerly anomalies) extending half way to the dateline. This pattern was to continue with westerly anomalies building into the West Pacific reaching almost to the dateline then fading slowly into 9/12. But the latest data indicates a neutral pattern holding through 9/19. we were hoping a building Active Phase would jump start the Fall season, but that looks to not be the case now.
We believe the remnants of El Nino are just about gone from the upper atmosphere. The expectation is that we'll see a building moderate to moderate.cgius strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) for the remained of 2010 extending well into 2011 and likely to early 2012. In short, the next year and half is going to be tough for surfers on west facing shores in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, though west facing shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (8/26) indicates that cooler than normal waters continue to expanded their grip on the equator covering solidly from South America west to the dateline and beyond are in fact getting cooler and covering a larger area over time, extending the whole way to almost New Guinea. the coldest waters extended from a point south of Hawaii to just west of the dateline, a clear signal of strong easterly winds there and solid upwelling. Feeder bands of cooler than normal water continued building 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 and upwelling is in full effect. Good for sea life and the food chain, bad for storm production. 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 -5 degs below normal (getting colder). Not good.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond, with easterly anomalies now in control of the entire Western Pacific, though normal conditions in the East. But the Pacific current that runs along the equator turned abruptly from flowing to towards South America to flowing towards the west in mid-March (2010), right as the SOI started it's impressive drive into positive territory and the storm machine abruptly shut down. And it has not wavered since. This suggests trade wind anomalies might be a byproduct of the Pacific equatorial current change and not the other way around. And if anything, the change in the current might actually foretell a coming change in the trades, and then with the advent of the trade wind change, it only serves to reinforce the current in a self a.cgiifying loop, until such time as the cycle runs it's course and the self feeding system collapses over a multiyear period. At that time the current then switches direction, and a whole new self-enforcing cycle stars anew. Something to consider (regarding the formation and El Nino/La Nina).
El Nino is effectively gone and slowly losing it's grip on the global upper atmospheric weather pattern. Still some lingering impact might 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 El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours a larger storm is forecast developing in the Central South Pacific mid-Wednesday (9/8) with up to 55 kt southwest wind at 54S 150W tracking steadily east with 50+ kt south winds holding through Thursday evening at 52S 130W. 40+ ft seas are forecast at 48S 137W late Thursday assuming all develops as forecast. At this early date that is pure fantasy. At least it's something to watch.
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