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 AM (10/14) North/Central California was getting a fresh hit of swell swell from the Dateline/Western Gulf producing waves near double overhead at exposed breaks. Southern California was getting tiny southern hemi background swell through the Gulf swell was starting to filter into Santa Barbara late in the day. Hawaii's North Shore was getting a decent bit of the same Gulf swell with waves still in the 2-4 ft overhead range at top spots. The South Shore was really small. Head high plus wraparound north swell was pushing into the East Shore.
For Central California Gulf swell to continue but slowly fading and getting overridden by local windswell through the end of the workweek with conditions become marginal too. Southern CA to see a bit of the Gulf swell early Wednesday and fading with background southern hemi swell becoming more noticeable Wednesday and Thursday. The North Shore of Hawaii to continue receiving swell from the Western Gulf into Wednesday, but much smaller than days past. Nothing else to follow. The South Shore of Hawaii is effectively flat for now though a fairly decent pulse of southern hemi swell is expected starting late Friday and continuing into Saturday and Sunday (10/19). The East Shore to have some form of moderate east windswell continuing into next week. Long term a series of generally weak gales is forecast to start building in the far northeasterly Gulf of Alaska. The first is forecast Friday (10/17) with 17 ft seas, with another behind it on Saturday with 20-23 ft seas and another on Sun/Mon with 20 ft seas and yet one more Tuesday (10/21) with 20 ft seas aimed better to the south. The net result is to be lot's of 12-13 sec period swell for the Pacific Northwest and California from a rather northerly direction. If you want to know what the projection is for the winter, take a look at the El Nino forecast. More details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (10/14) the North Pacific jetstream was flowing steadily west to east along the 45N latitude with winds of up to 140 kts over Japan and fading slowly as it progressed east, with winds only 90 kts pushing into British Columbia. The were no ridges or trough s of interest and nothing obvious to support surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours the energy over Japan is to push east forming a ridge over the dateline Wednesday with 140 kts winds running through it, then dipping into a developing trough in the Western Gulf before ridging again into the Pacific Northwest. That trough to fade into Friday before pushing into British Columbia with the whole flow flattening back out, but energy levels coming up across the width of the North Pacific at 120-140 kts overall. Beyond 72 hrs a much more energetic pattern to set up in the Gulf of Alaska by Sunday (10/19) with 170+ kt winds building from the dateline east and forming into a gently sloping trough pushing towards Central CA. But again that trough to loose its' depth and flatten out by early next week, pushing into Oregon. Still some support for modest strength surface level low pressure development possible.
At the surface today high pressure at 1032 mbs was still centered off Oregon ridging southwest to almost Hawaii starting to regenerate a pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino and producing barely 25 kt north winds there in the afternoon with limited short period local windswell starting to be generated. Fetch off the south side of this high was also generating 15 kt east winds reaching the Hawaiian Islands and offering limited windswell for exposed East Shores there. Another high at 1028 mbs was west of the dateline pushing the storm track a bit to the north there. No clearly defined swell producing low pressure was in-play. Swell from a gale that was over the Dateline late last week was pushing into California (see Dateline Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours a series of weak gales are to build in the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska starting late Wednesday (10/15). Of interest is one expected to form late Thursday near the dateline with 35-40 kt west winds pushing quickly into the Gulf Saturday generating 23 ft seas there. Good odds for some modest 12-13 sec period swell for the US West Coast. But all energy is forecast to bypass the Hawaiian Islands.
A semi-tropical low pressure that was off Japan tracked north and joined forces with a cold core low pushing through the Bering Sea on Wednesday (10/8), generating a small fetch of 30-35 northwest winds over the dateline and barely south of the Aleutians generating 20 ft seas late at 49N 172E. On Thursday AM (10/9) pressure dropped to 976 mbs with the core of the gale in the Bering Sea but with a broad fetch of 30-35 kt west winds with peaks confirmed to 40 kts straddling the dateline at 47N 180W generating 23 ft seas at 47N 175E. The fetch built in the evening at 40 kts over a solid area near 46N 175W aimed a bit more south than before generating seas to 27 ft at 46N 180W aimed down the 300 degree path to NCal and the 331 degree path to HI. Friday AM increased winds of 40-45 kts were blowing from the northwest tracking east at 46N 170W with barely 30 ft seas modeled at 45N 174W aimed 30 degrees east of the 342 degree path to HI and almost right down the 297 degree path to NCal (301 SCal). By evening this system was fading fast with only 30 kt winds remaining and 29 ft seas from previous fetch at 45N 165W aimed exclusively towards NCal down the 297 degree path (301 SCal). The Jason-1 satellite passed over the north edge of this area at 3Z and confirmed seas at 27 ft with a peak reading of 34 ft, exactly in line with the models. This system was gone after that with 25 ft seas from previous fetch at 45N 160W.
Moderate period swell (15-17 secs) in the intermediate class size range has arrived at exposed breaks in Central California as of sunset Monday (10/13), then peaked early Tuesday (10/14) at 6 ft @ 15-16 secs - 9 ft faces from 297-300 degrees. This swell to be fading over the next 48 hours (see QuikCASTs for details).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (10/14) high pressure at 1030 mbs remained centered 600 nmiles off Pt Arena CA ridging into the Pacific Northwest generating 25 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino late and building south, starting to push into the coast. A santa Ana flow was in-play over Southern CA. By Wednesday northwest winds are to build back into Central CA mainly in the afternoon, then starting to decay on Thursday. The net effect is the fetch is to generate local lump overlaying swell from the dateline already in the water, kinda hacking things up. Southern Ca to remain in a light Santa Ana flow. By Friday a generally light winds flow is forecast holding through Saturday, then a bit of northwest winds at 10-15 kts forecast for Sunday over Central CA. But by Monday (10/20) low pressure is to be taking over the Gulf shunting high pressure out of the picture with calm winds and typical Indian Summer conditions for Central CA forecast.
On Tuesday (10/14) no tropical activity of interest was occurring.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was present aimed at US targets. Over the next 72 hours the models are rumoring of a fetch
On Friday (10/9) a diffuse fetch of 40 kt west-southwest winds pushed under New Zealand aiming more to the northeast on Saturday (10/10) and fading from 40 kts early generating 32 ft seas Friday night at 55S 167E and then a more solid area of 32 ft seas Saturday AM at 55S 175E fading from 30 ft at 55S 178W in the evening. These were on the 201-193 degree paths to Hawaii and 215-210 path for California (unshadowed by Tahiti). Small swell is likely for Hawaii starting late Friday (10/17) with swell 2 ft @ 18 secs (3.4 ft faces) building to 2.6+ ft @ 16-17 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces) Saturday the fading from 2.3-2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs on Sunday (3.5 ft faces) coming from 195-200 degrees. Maybe the US West Coast to see some swell starting Sunday PM (10/19) at 1.6 ft @ 18 secs (2.5 ft faces) building to 2 ft @ 16 secs on Monday (3 ft faces) with reinforcing energy Tuesday (10/21) at 2 ft @ 16 secs (3 ft faces). All from 210-215 degrees.
We have started focusing on the North Pacific exclusively and will update South Pacific activities on an exception basis.
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 at least 2 more modest gales are to form in the Gulf of Alaska tracking fast to the east and not getting much traction on the oceans surface, producing 30-35 kts winds and 20 ft seas, good for more 12-13 sec period swell through next week.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (10/14) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was moving into the Inactive phase. The Daily SOI index was up at 24.43. The 30 day average was up to 11.56 and the 90 day average was up a notch again at 9.95. This is symptomatic of a weak La Nina. Winds anomalies at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated only one small patch of above normal west winds over the Philippines pushing to Java, but nothing else. This was symptomatic of a neutral phase of the MJO, or at best weakly inactive. No change is forecast through the first week in November, offering no support for surface level low pressure development. This incarnation of the Inactive Phase of the MJO is basically a non-event offering no enhancement or detriment to North Pacific storm development.
No swell producing fetch forecast for the next 7 days.
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