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 Sunday (9/7) Northern CA surf was chest high and a little textured, but still reasonably clean. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest high, lined up and clean early, though inconsistent. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was waist high and clean but foggy. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was near flat and textured with fog. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high with some bigger sets and clean. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist to chest high, inconsistent and clean. The North Shore of Oahu was flat and clean. The South Shore was chest to head high and pumping early morning and clean. The East Shore was thigh high.
North/Central California continued getting local northerly windswell, though smaller than days past and with a little more wind and fog in the picture conditions. A little bit of southern hemi swell was in the mix too. Southern California was getting primarily inconsistent southern hemi swell originating off New Zealand. This to be the center of attention for the next few days. Hawaii's North Shore had no swell. The South Shore was getting solid swell from the same New Zealand system that was pushing energy into CA. Swell in HI has peaked out and is to slowly fade over the next few days. Minimal easterly windswell was hitting the East Shore.
For Central California locally generated northerly windswell to come up just a hair for the next 3 days, in the head high range, while southern hemi swell from 215 degrees originating under New Zealand provides good late summer opportunity for the usual southern hemi swell breaks. Southern CA to be focused on that southern hemi swell too,. with top spots seeing some fun shoulder high surf out of this one for the early to middle part of the week. The North Shore to possibly get a little pulse of northwest windswell Monday. Tradewind generated east windswell to rebuild for Tuesday Wednesday on the East Shore. The South Shore of Hawaii is expected to see some more smaller southern hemi swell Monday with southeast swell moving in for Tues and Wed. Over the long term no clear signs of swell production is forecast for the southern hemi other than 2 gales forecast building on the very eastern edge of the CA swell window, with the first on Monday and the second Tues-Thurs offering better odds. But Chile and South AMerica to be their main focus. Up north a gale is forecast pushing off Kamchatka on Wed/Thurs but is to fade before reaching the dateline. There's some hints it might try and regenerate next weekend in the Gulf of Alaska, but odds are low. So for now we're still caught at the tail end of summer just waiting for Fall to start. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (9/7) the North Pacific jetstream had a decent flow tracking west to east under the Aleutians with winds in the 90-100 kt range. A weak trough was rough centered on the dateline with a ridge in the east pushing the flow up into Alaska proper. Only the trough held any promise, and that was minimal given the light wind speeds. Over the next 72 hours the dateline trough is to hold on while tracking east, looking best on Tuesday in the far Western Gulf of Alaska with maybe 140 kt winds flowing into it, but getting pinched off and fading fast on Wednesday, limiting odds of development at the oceans surface. Beyond 72 hours the flow to become a bit muddled, though still tracking generally just south of the Aleutians. Another trough is to build off Kamchatka Wednesday with 120 kt winds flowing under it offering some surface level potential, then moving to the dateline Thursday (9/11) and east into the Western Gulf next weekend while broadening out. Winds to be light flowing through it next weekend though, so odds of surface level development are not good. At least it's to be cohesive (not .cgiit).
At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs remain locked down tight 900 nmiles west of Oregon generating a modest pressure gradient just off Cape Mendocino and producing more 25 kt north winds and moderate windswell pushing south. Winds off the south side of this system continued taking aim on Hawaii with 15 kt fetch pushing towards Oahu, with modest northeasterly windswell there too. Weak low pressure was in the Northern Gulf but getting shunted northeast into Oregon by the ever-present high off the US Coast. Over the next 72 hours no real change is forecast with high pressure holding off Oregon and California ridging up into Canada and pretty much shutting down the Gulf of Alaska from gale formation. 25 kt north winds and windswell the expected results for California through as the high continued fueling the pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino through Wednesday (9/10). Fetch from it pushing towards Hawaii to fade on on Monday though, with the windswell along East Shores fading too. But way back to the west a low pressure system is to start pushing off the Kamchatka Peninsula (Siberia) on Tuesday and becoming fully exposed on Wednesday with pressure dropping to 984 mbs and 35 kt west winds getting traction on the oceans surface just barely south of the Aleutians generating seas to 21 ft late at 51N 169E. The low to track southeast into Thursday (9/11) with 30 kt winds still getting a grip on the oceans surface generating up to 20 ft seas moving to the dateline late (19 ft at 45N 178E - 1800 nmiles from HI). Possible small 12 sec period swell pushing towards Hawaii with luck starting late Sunday (9/14).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (9/7) high pressure at 1030 mbs remained was 900 nmiles west of Oregon ridging into British Columbia much as it has for weeks now generating a slightly enhanced pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino CA resulting in 25 kt north winds there and northerly windswell for breaks south of there. Winds from that fetch were pushing to the southwest just barely outside Central CA nearshore waters making for reasonably clean surface conditions near the coast. The gradient is to continue Mon-Wed with 25 kt north winds forecast over Cape Mendocino, but with the fetch moving much closer to the coast than the past week, increasing the likelihood for some surface texture and bump. But no winds over 12 kts are forecast south of Bodega Bay. By Thursday (9/11) the gradient is to be withering away with windswell fading with it, only to make a quick comeback . . Saturday before fading out totally on Sunday while low pressure tries to get a better foothold in the Gulf of Alaska. Either way winds to remain generally light nearshore.
On Sunday (9/7) Tropical Storm Lowell was 480 nmiles south-southeast of Cabo San Lucas (off Manzanillo Mexico) tracking west-northwest with sustained winds near 40 kts. Lowell to continue on that track into Tuesday with winds reaching 60 kts positioned 250 nmiles southwest of Cabo, then fading while turning north and then northeast heading back towards Baja. No swell producing capacity of interest forecast from this system for California or Hawaii.
On Thursday (9/7) a .cgiit jetstream flow was in control of the South Pacific with the north and south branches generally flowing flat west to east. A weak trough was trying to get hold in the southern branch over the Southeast Pacific with 130 kt winds pushing slightly northeast there, but not enough to support surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours another trough is to push east with 120 kts winds and make better progress into northern waters but again limited to areas east of 140W. Beyond 72 hours distinct ridging south is to build in the Southwest Pacific shutting down surface level low pressure development potential there, but more generalized troughing is to continue in the far Southeast Pacific offering some odds for development. But winds are to remain pretty light (100 kts or so) in the southern branch, so there's not to be alot of fuel for development.
At the oceans surface strong high pressure at 1036 mbs was well east of New Zealand ridging southwest to 57S suppressing gale development in the Southwest Pacific. A gale was developing off the northern edge of the Ross ice Shelf in the Southeast Pacific with 40-45 kt southwest winds at 58S 136W. Over the next 72 hrs that same gale is to push east with pressure dropping to 948 mbs Sunday evening and winds up to near 50 kts at 58S 120W aimed 45 degrees east of the 180-182 degree great circle paths to California. 32 ft seas forecast at 57S 122W. Most fetch to be aimed right at Chile. By Monday AM (9/8) winds to be up to 55 kts at 60S 110W aimed like before and totally outside the CA swell window. 37 ft seas forecast at 56S 116W, outside the CA swell window and targeting Southern Chile. The storm to continue east in the evening with 55 kts winds at 59S 100W and fading fast, gone within 12 hrs. 40 ft seas forecast at 58S 102W. This system holds only the slightest background swell generation potential for Southern CA and mostly to be a swell producer for Chile and South America.
New Zealand Gale
A gale low began to sneak under New Zealand late Wednesday (8/27) at 976 mbs generating 40 kt westerly winds at 58S 160E.
It tracked northeast with 40-45 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). The Jason-1 satellite confirmed seas at 30-32 ft with a peak reading to 41 ft. Hmmm. It's continued Thursday PM with 45-50 kt winds at 53S 179W aimed northeast targeting Hawaii and California. 32 ft seas were modeled 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) 40 kts winds continued aimed even further to the north (aimed almost due north) at 44S 168W with 32 ft seas modeled at 46S 174W. In the evening a new fetch of 45-50 kts winds built at 47S 163W aimed north-northeast with 30 ft seas modeled at 44S 169W. All of CA was in the Tahitian swell shadow.
The fetch started fading Saturday AM (8/30) with 40-45 kt south winds at 47S 160W and 29 ft seas modeled at 43S 160W pushing north. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the northern reaches of the fetch early Am and reported seas 26.7 ft with a peak reading of 35 ft. So the Wavewatch model likely is presenting a good idealized view of what is going on. In the evening the fetch tried to hang on but was loosing areal coverage with a small patch of winds confirmed at 40-45 kts at 42S 155W and barely 28 ft seas modeled at 42S 158W and shadowed from CA. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the fetch and did one better though, reporting 33.2 ft seas at 45S 157W with a peak reading to 36 ft.
On Sunday (8/31) residual 35 kts winds were hanging on with 28 ft seas modeled at 38S 155W aimed dead for Tahiti. This system to die in the evening with seas falling below 27 ft.
This is not 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 every ounce of traction they can get 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. Still some degree of rideable southern hemi swell is expected to result. Fun but nothing more and likely a bit inconsistent with few number of waves per set for the mainland, though better for the Hawaiian Islands. Tahiti to get a good last shot at a modest tow swell (or large paddle swell) for select breaks.
California: Expect swell arrival Sunday (9/7) with swell pushing 2 ft @ 17 secs late (3.0-3.5 ft faces) from 210 degrees. Swell to build to 2.3 ft @ 15-16 secs late Monday (3.5 ft faces) fading from 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs on Tuesday (3.0-3.5 ft faces).Secondary swell from the same fetch to arrive later Tuesday (9/9) peaking at 2.5 ft @ 15 secs on Wednesday (3.5 ft faces) fading from 2.5 ft @ 14-15 secs on Thursday (3.5 ft faces) fading out from 2.3 ft @ 14 secs Friday (3 ft faces). Swell Direction 210 initially moving to 195+ 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 the low over the dateline is to push east but be very weak with no swell producing fetch indicated initially. High pressure is to remain lodged in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska at 1024 mbs shutting down the storm corridor there. But the low pressure systems it o get some reinforcements on Saturday (9/13) with winds rebuilding to 30-35 kts briefly, but not long enough to generate any seas of interest. And the high pressure system is to hold in over the Canadian coast. At least the good news is it looks to be slowly working it's way onshore, possibly opening up the Gulf next week, but that's more of a guess than a fact. Suspect much of this high pressure is tied to the Inactive Phase of the MJO, which has been in control for several weeks now but is fading. The surge in US East Coast hurricanes the past few weeks is also likely tied to the Inactive Phase too. Moving towards the Active Phase should help to open the door for limited but better gale development potential in the North Pacific in the weeks ahead.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Sunday (9/7) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was starting to give way to the Active phase, just barely, but not t supportive of North Pacific storm formation by any stretch of the imagination. The Daily SOI index was barely down, to 21.51. The 30 day average was up to 13.1 and the 90 day average was holding at 4.36, still neutral, but definitely up compared to weeks previous. Winds at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up), indicated east winds firmly in control over the entire Pacific reaching over the dateline and well into Central America. This was the most vigorous Inactive phase we've seen in a while. The peak of the Inactive Phase has passed but it's remnants are not giving up easily. The models suggest t's to slowly fade through the second week in September and be nearly gone by 9/15 while the Active Phase starts to build over Indonesia to New Guinea. Still it's to be combatively weak offering only minimal support for fueling the development of North Pacific storms. By 9/26 the Inactive phase is to be totally gone and the Active Phase is to be at it's peak, but that really doesn't mean much given it's forecast extreme weakness. 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 marked cool pocket now positioned 150 deep on the equator south of Hawaii, smack in the middle of the channel that normally enable warm water to flow to the east. This is not indicative of an El Nino like circulation, and if anything looks still like La Nina, thereby suggesting no enhancement to the winter North Pacific storm pattern. The relatively active tropics in the East Pacific also support the thesis that a La Nina-like global circulation pattern is in.cgiay.
Beyond 72 hrs the models suggest high pressure east of New Zealand to drift east and slowly fade, only to r.cgiaced by another one next weekend. The far Southeast PAcific remains the best hope. Another gale is forecast forming on Tuesday AM (9/9) at 948 mbs producing a fetch of 45 kts southwest winds at 50S 139W aimed 30 degrees east of the 190 degree path to California and getting better traction on an already prepared/roughed-up surface. By evening the fetch to be broad but fragmented with 40-45 kt southwest winds generally at 49S 125W aimed 30 degrees east of the 182 degree path to California with more energy building behind and south of it. 32 ft seas forecast at 48S 130W. On Wednesday AM (9/10) a new fetch of 40-45 kt west winds winds to build at 56S 136W aimed 60 degrees east of the 188 degree path to CA. Seas from the previous fetch to be 32 ft at 48S 123W. In the evening the new fetch to push to east to 50S 120W aimed well east of any path to CA. Barely 36 ft seas forecast at 52S 123W, then moving out of the CA swell window. If all this occurs as forecast there some decent potential for moderate very southerly angled swell for both North and Central CA.
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