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 (9/14) Northern CA surf was waist high and lightly textured. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were thigh high on the sets and clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was waist high and clean. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was thigh high and glassy. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to rarely chest high and glassy. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist to chest high and clean. The North Shore of Oahu was flat and clean. The South Shore was maybe thigh high with luck and clean. The East Shore was thigh high.
North/Central California has moved into the near flat zone with only minimal northwest windswell and southern hemi background swell providing something bare minimal to stand up on. Southern California was in the same state but with only the southern hemi background swell component, and meager at that. Hawaii's North Shore had no swell. The South Shore had no real swell either. Small but barely rideable easterly windswell was hitting the East Shore.
For Central California a mix of minimal southern hemi background swell mixed with bare minimal northern background windswell to continue for the balance of the workweek. Surf to remain in the waist high range at best, moistly at south fading breaks. Thursday a pulse of some semi-real south swell is expected, but only at really exposed breaks, The some northwest windswell from the dateline region is expected for the weekend, but don't get your hopes too high. Southern CA to see only minimal background southern hemi swell through the week, then a bit bigger pulse of southerly angled swell is expected in for Thursday and Friday but pretty much gone by the weekend. No northwest swell to make the wrap down there. Actually the first little pulse of northern energy is forecast for the North Shore on Monday through Wednesday. Small is the word, but it should at least be rideable (4-5 ft faces) with yet a similar pulse possible on Thursday and Friday. No tradewind generated east windswell forecast through the week on the East Shore. The South Shore of Hawaii is in the flat zone and expected to stay there with swell for the week. A series of tiny gales is forecast for the North Pacific through the week offering some hope long term, but all are to be very weak. Down south one small gale is forecast pushing under New Zealand Mon/Tues generating maybe 35 ft seas offering some background potential for everyone 8-10 days out. But nothing else is charted beyond that, with the focus turning to the north. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (9/14) the North Pacific jetstream was split over Asia coming together over the Kuril Islands ridging tot he dateline, then dipping into a weak trough in the Western Gulf of Alaska, then riding hard north through the Eastern Gulf on into Canada. Only the weak trough held any hope to support surface level low pressure development, and that was bare minimal. Over the next 72 hours the Western Gulf trough is to move east into the Gulf proper, but still is not expected to get much better organized, offering only slight support for surface level low pressure development, best on Mon/Tues (9/16). At the same time a split and weak flow to be setting up over the West Pacific though most energy is to be flowing flat west to east south of the Aleutians. Beyond 72 hours the flow to become better defines near Friday (9/19) with a new weak trough setting up on the dateline pushing east but unremarkable. Minimal support for surface level low pressure development.
At the surface today weak low pressure at 992 mbs was over the dateline riding over high pressure further south at 1020 mbs, generating a weak pressure gradient between the two and producing 25-30 kt westerly winds and 16 ft seas at 45N 180W and tracking west. Trades were light over Hawaii and no windswell producing fetch was occurring near the US West Coast. Over the next 72 hours the above low pressure system is to hold together pretty much unchanged through Tuesday (9/16) while tracking east generating more 25 kt westerly winds and 14-16 ft seas to 43N 153W, then dissipating. Possible small 10-11 sec period windswell for Hawaii and California to result, but nothing of real interest.
On Tuesday evening (9/9) a low pressure systems was trying to push off Kamchatka, then became fully exposed in the North Pacific on Wednesday AM with pressure dropping to 984 mbs and a small area of 40 kt west winds getting traction on the oceans surface just barely south of the Aleutians generating seas to 23 ft late at 50N 172E. The low tracked southeast Thursday (9/11) with 25-30 kt winds still getting a grip on the oceans surface generating up to 20 ft seas at 46N 173E in the AM then moving to the dateline late and fading from 19 ft at 44N 177E - 1800 nmiles from HI). This fetch to fade out Friday with winds dropping from 25 kts and seas 16 ft. Possible small swell of 4.5 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.5 ft faces) expected pushing into Hawaii Monday AM (9/15) fading from 4.5 ft @ 11 secs (5 ft faces) Tuesday. Swell Direction: 325-330 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (9/14) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs remained 900 nmiles west of Oregon ridging into British Columbia generating a very weak pressure gradient over nearshore waters of the Pacific Northwest with north winds at only 15 kts, not enough to generate windswell. Nearshore winds over California were less than 15 kts. A light pressure and wind pattern to persist through the workweek with no winds in excess of 12 kts forecast. By the weekend there's hints that high pressure might start building again well off the coast pushing into Cape Mendocino and Oregon by late Sunday (9/21) possibly setting up north winds at near 25 kts there, generating windswell, but nearshore waters of California to remain protected.
On Sunday (9/14) minimal Typhoon Sinlaku was just over northern Taiwan with winds 65 kts. A supposed turn to the north then northeast is expected by Monday AM with winds back up to 75 kts. Sinlaku to then start accelerating to the northeast, missing southern Japan and heading for the open waters of the West Pacific on Thurs/Fri (9/19) with winds down to 35 kts. The GFS model suggest this system to turn extratropical and become a weak swell producer out on the dateline days later. Will monitor.
On Sunday (9/14) a fully split and diffused jetstream was wondering all over the South Pacific with no cohesive flow present. The southern branch was generally flowing flat west to east down at 70S, totally over the Ross Ice Shelf offering no support for gale development other than a weak trough in the far Southeast Pacific. Over the next 72 hours that same pattern is to hold with no clear support for surface level low pressure development. Beyond 72 hours no change is forecast until Saturday (9/20) when a weak trough is to build southeast of New Zealand, but never reaching further north than 60S, barely north of the Ross Ice Shelf.
At the oceans surface no fetch of interest was occurring with high pressure in the upper levels of the atmosphere pushing the flow over the Ross Ice Shelf under and east of New Zealand. Over the next 72 hrs a small storm to form under New Zealand Monday AM (9/15) with 50 kts winds over a tiny area at 60S 172E aimed due east and pushing east into Tuesday (9/16) with winds building to 55 kts Monday evening, then fading from 40 kts Tuesday AM, gone by night fall. 36 ft seas are forecast over a small area Monday PM (9/15) at 60S 175W barely off the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf fading from 32 ft Tues Am at 58S 160W, then gone. Limited background swell possible for HAwaii and California, but none of this is really supported by the jetstream forecasts.
Southeast Pacific Gale
A gale developed off the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf in the Southeast Pacific Sunday AM (9/7) with 40-45 kt southwest winds at 58S 136W. That gale pushed 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. 30 ft seas were modeled at 56S 125W. Most fetch was aimed right at Chile. On Monday AM (9/8) winds were up to 55 kts at 60S 110W aimed like before and totally outside the CA swell window. 36 ft seas were modeled at 57S 113W, outside the CA swell window and targeting Southern Chile. The storm continued east in the evening with 50 kt winds at 59S 100W and fading fast, gone within 12 hrs. 35 ft seas were modeled at 55S 105W. This system was 5280 nmiles from SCal and holds only the slightest background swell generation potential for Southern CA.
Expect swell starting Tuesday (9/16) in Southern CA at 2 ft @ 17 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces). Swell to continue Wednesday at 2.0-2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces). Swell Direction 175-185 degrees.
Northern CA to be mostly outside the swell window for this one. Size to be the same for exposed breaks only arriving 9 hrs later.
Second Southeast Pacific Gale
On Tuesday AM 99/9) a gale was building in the mid Pacific at 944 mbs generating a broad fetch of 40-45 kt southwest winds at 55S 142W aimed 25 degrees east of the 192 degree path to California and getting better traction on an already rough sea (from the Southeast Pacific Gale above). By Tuesday evening (9/9) the fetch was broad but fragmented with 40 kt southwest winds generally at 53S 127W aimed 30 degrees east of the 182 degree path to California with more energy building behind and south of it. 30 ft seas were modeled at 53S 133W. On Wednesday AM (9/10) a new fetch of 40 kt west winds winds built at 56S 140W aimed 60 degrees east of the 188 degree path to CA. Seas from the previous fetch were 32 ft at 53S 122W. In the evening the fetch faded with no seas of interest remaining. This system produced some limited seas and winds in the eastern edge of the Ca swell window, offering potential for small to moderate very southerly angled swell for both North and Central CA starting Wednesday PM (9/17) for SCal.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival starting Wednesday PM (9/17) with swell 2 ft @ 18 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell to peak Thursday AM (9/18) with swell 2.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 185-190 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 another weak gale is modeled developing in the Northern Gulf of Alaska Wednesday PM (9/17) pushing northeast briefly generating a small area of 35-40 kt northwest winds near 52N 150W Thursday AM (9/18) producing 23 ft seas at 53N 145W aimed mostly towards Northern Canada. The extratropical remnants of typhoon Sinlaku are to move east of Japan starting to build on the dateline Thursday (9/18) possibly setting up near 40 kt northwest winds late in the day with a 20 ft seas developing. On Friday the system is to continue east but most fetch is to be in it's northern quadrant not aimed at either Hawaii or California, with only 30 kts winds in the south quadrant and fading. 20 ft seas to continue late Friday just over the dateline at 36N 178W then fading Saturday. Limited windswell possible for Hawaii early the week beyond (9/23). Yet another tropical system to follow behind too, but again weakness is to be the key.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Sunday (9/14) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) continued begrudgingly giving way to the Active phase. The Daily SOI index had dropped down to 5.05. The 30 day average was up to 16.61 and the 90 day average was up to 5.54, still neutral, but barely and up compared to weeks previous. Hopefully this active phase of the MJO will push all those readings down. Winds at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up), indicated east winds still pretty active over the Eastern Pacific from south of Hawaii into Central America. The models suggest it's to slowly fade out through 9/20 while the Active Phase builds over the Philippines pushing to the dateline by 9/18 then holding there while slowly fading through 10/3. It is to be stronger than even recent forecasts, though still not anything other than ordinary. It's to offer moderate support for fueling the development of North Pacific storms through the start of October.
Beyond 72 hrs no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
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