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 Tuesday (9/16) 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 crumbly mid-day. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist to chest high and heavily textured. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to chest high and textured. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist high and crossed up. The North Shore of Oahu was chest high and clean. The South Shore was thigh to waist high and clean. The East Shore was knee high.
North/Central California continue very small with only minimal northwest windswell and southern hemi background swell providing something to ride. Southern California was getting a little better dose of southern hemi background swell, but not much. Hawaii's North Shore actually had something to stand up on, coming from a weak fetch that was on the dateline. The South Shore had no real swell. Barely rideable easterly windswell was hitting the East Shore, if even that.
For Central California a mix of bare minimal southern hemi background swell and even weaker northern background windswell to continue for the balance of the workweek. Surf to remain in the waist high range at best. Thursday a pulse of some semi-real south swell is expected pushing chest high, but only at really exposed breaks. Then some northwest windswell from the dateline region is expected in for late Friday peaking Saturday. Southern CA to see only minimal background southern hemi swell through the middle of 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 wrap-in down there. A new case of minimal northern energy is forecast for the North Shore on Thurs/Fri (9/19) pushing head high. 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 low pressure systems, barely even gales, are forecast for the North Pacific through the week into next week offering some hope long term, but all are to be very weak. Down south one small gale is pushing east off the Northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf generating up to 35 ft seas today, offering some background potential for everyone 8-10 days out. But nothing else believable charted beyond that. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (9/16) the North Pacific jetstream was split pushing off the Kamchatka Peninsula, joining into a single flow for a second over the Western Gulf of Alaska then splitting again east of there. The southern branch, the one we're most interested in had most of the energy and was flowing generally flat along the 40n latitude, much further south than anything so far this year, a good sign. But there were no toughs of interest occurring and energy levels were weak, offering no real support for surface level gale development. Over the next 72 hours no real change is forecast other than the core of the split flow in the west moving over the dateline. Beyond 72 hours the split flow is to briefly repair itself by next Tuesday (9/23), but back west another split flow is to be getting set up with energy tracking north over Kamchatka, peeling off the main flow headed east.No real support for surface level low pressure development. This is looking a bit like the Fall season of the year before last (2006/2007).
At the surface today weak low pressure at 1004 mbs was in the Gulf of Alaska not really generating any fetch of interest, with a second low over the dateline at 1000 mbs and also not productive. No high pressure of interest was present and no local gradient winds were in-effect for either Hawaii or California. Over the next 72 hours the above dateline low pressure system is try and organize while tracking northeast into the Northern Gulf of Alaska. 35 kt west winds are forecast building in it's southern quadrant Thursday (9/18) while the core of the low almost moves into Alaska barely generating 20 ft seas for 12 hours, all aimed at Northern Canada. No swell generation potential forecast for the United States. High pressure to be building under it.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (9/16) only the faintest high pressure at 1020 mbs remained 800 nmiles west of Pt Conception ridging into land there, generating weak pressure gradient over nearshore waters off Pt Conception and 15-20 kt north winds there. And even that is to dissolve over the coming days as Fall low pressure moves into the region bring south winds very close to the Central CA coast late Thursday but not making it. A neutral pressure pattern to follow with no winds of interest forecast nearshore through Saturday, then weak high pressure to start building setting up a new gradient and north winds building over nearshore waters Monday (20-25 kts early) up to 30-35 kts Tuesday and Wednesday initially off Pt Reyes moving up towards Cape Mendocino. But winds to remain close to the coast through Tuesday and wrapping into Santa Barbara but not greater Southern CA.
On Tuesday (9/16) Tropical Storm Sinlaku was located almost midway between northern Taiwan and Southern Japan with winds 40 kts tracking slowly northeast. This track is to continue with gradual acceleration brushing the southern coast of Japan Thurs/Fri (9/19) before moving into open waters of the North Pacific with winds 35 kts. Limited odds of it developing into anything that might produce swell for US waters.
On Tuesday (9/16) a fully split jetstream was tracking west to east over the South Pacific with no clear cohesive flow present. The southern branch was generally flowing flat west to east down at 65S, mostly over the Ross Ice Shelf offering no good 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 but with the flow lifting lightly to the north with a trough starting to set up southeast of New Zealand Friday (9/17) though only 100 kts winds to be flowing into it limiting support for surface level gale development. Beyond 72 hours that trough to build in depth while moving east, but no change in the wind velocity is forecast, limiting it's ability to support surface level low pressure development through Sunday (9/21). The trough to then pinch off with a diffuse but southerly pushing flow forecast over the Southwest Pacific again shutting down development potential.
At the oceans surface the remains of a Small New Zealand Storm (see below) were fading well south of tahiti just off the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. Another weak low pressure system was racing east under New Zealand, but had no fetch of interest just yet. Over the next 72 hrs that low is to rapidly build generating a short-lived and small fetch of 50 kt west winds at 64S 168W early Wednesday (9/17) over the Ross Ice Shelf then fading to 40-45 kts in the evening (still encased in ice) but aimed a little more northerly at 62S 150W. Thursday AM it's to track more to the northeast free and clear of ice with 45 kts winds at 54S 130W generating 32 ft seas at 56S 132W, then dissipate in the evening. 32 ft seas fading from 52S 125W. Limited sideband swell possibly pushing up into California.
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 (9/9) 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
Northern CA: Expect swell arrival starting Thursday AM (9/18) with swell 2 ft @ 18 secs (3.5 ft). Swell to peak late Thursday/early Friday (9/19) with swell 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4.0 ft faces). Swell Direction: 187 degrees
Small New Zealand Storm
A small storm formed 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 confirmed at 55 kts Monday evening at 58S 165W, then fading from 40-45 kts Tuesday AM at 57S 150W and aimed more to the north, expected to be gone by night fall. 36 ft seas were modeled over a small area Monday PM (9/15) at 60S 175W barely off the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf fading from 34 ft Tues AM at 58S 160W, then gone (29 ft at 56S 150W in the evening). Limited background swell possible for Hawaii starting Wed (9/24) and California Fri (9/26).
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 on the dateline Friday (9/19) pushing to a point north of Hawaii Saturday then building some and drifting northeast through Tuesday (9/23) with 35 kt north winds getting some traction on the oceans surface aimed reasonably well towards Hawaii generating 17-19 ft seas near 42N 167W. More background northerly swell possible for the Islands if this materializes. The extratropical remnants of Typhoon Sinlaku to migrate northeast off Japan building Sunday (9/21) well east of the Kuril Islands with a small area of 45+ kt westerly fetch forecast moving to the dateline while fading through Monday, generating 18 ft seas per the wave models, but that seems a bit low. After that the pattern is to shift towards the Bering Sea as the split jetstream flow becomes more entrenched.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Tuesday (9/16) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) continued begrudgingly giving way to the Active phase. The Daily SOI index had dropped down to 2.62. The 30 day average was dow a bit to 15.68 and the 90 day average was flat at 5.56, still neutral, but barely and way up compared to weeks previous. This active phase of the MJO is expected to push all those indices 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. Today the Active Phase was building over the Philippines expected 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 a weak but broad gale is forecast over the Southeastern Pacific on Sunday (9/21) generating 40 kt winds and 30-32 ft seas barely in the California swell window but most fetch aimed due east. Limited background swell generation potential for Ca and points south of there. A second storm is forecast early next week under New Zealand, but is to rapidly fade before making much headway in the greater Southwestern Pacific.
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