On Thursday (10/20) Northern CA surf was shoulder to head high and clean. South facing breaks were waist to chest high and clean. Central California surf was waist to chest high too. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were up to barely waist high with most spots flat. The LA area southward into Orange County was waist high. Southward to San Diego waves were up to waist high. The North Shore of Oahu was waist to shoulder high. The South Shore had a few small waves to waist high. The East Shore was waist high.
Small swell continues at all locations with nowhere being of any real interest. That to change dramatically assuming things progress as expected in the Gulf of Alaska where a wintertime Significant Class Storm is developing, the first of the 2004/2005 season. This to be the prime focus in coming days and is expected to generate large surf for both California and Hawaii. A far more moderate pattern to follow, but not completely out. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (10/20) the jetstream was mildly ridging over the West Pacific then dipping solidly with 150 kt wind feeding into a nice trough centered in the Gulf of Alaska, supporting storm development at the surface. This same general pattern is to hold through Tuesday of next week (10/25) as the trough slowly pushing east into Canada while the ridge in the west slowly erodes. A week out the entire jet is to be positioned much further south than it is today, centered near 42N and flowing steadily flat (zonal) from west to east, but with relatively weak winds at 100-110 kts. When the zonal pattern settles in the storm machine is to falter. But until then things look good.
Today at the surface all eye's are in the Gulf of Alaska with Storm #1 developing there (see details below) backed up by strong high pressure at 1036 mbs over the dateline. No other weather systems of interest were in play or forecast through the period.
On Wednesday (10/19) a low in the Bering Sea started to respond to the dip in the jetstream and sank southeast towards the Gulf of Alaska with another low from Siberia tracking quick east, join it along with a little low pushing north from Hawaii. All converged in the evening sputtering to life as one consolidated large complex storm in the Gulf with pressure 984 mbs. Strong high pressure was building west of it at 1028 mbs setting up a broad and steady fetch of 35-40 kt winds confirmed centered near 47N 167W aimed mid-way between Hawaii and California. Seas were on the increase.
On Thursday (10/20) additional energy dropped southeast from the Bering Sea into the Gulf driving pressure down to 968 mbs while high pressure to the west built to 1032 mbs moving closer to the storm, generating a strong gradient with 55-60 kt winds confirmed in the lows southwest sector centered near 49N 158W and aimed 35 degrees south of the 308 degree path to Northern CA (311 SCal) and 45 degrees east of the 359 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were an inconsequential 23 ft and quickly on the increase. By night fall pressure to be down to 960 mbs with hurricane force winds in-place in the same area centered at 50N 158W aimed just like in the morning. Seas forecast building to 42 ft centered at 49N 157W and on the increase.
By early Friday morning (10/21) the storm is to be fading with pressure up to 960 mbs and winds still solid at 50-55 kts centered at 49N 155W aimed 10 degrees south of the 307 degree path to North CA (310 SCal) and 50 degrees east of the 7 degree path to Hawaii. Seas maxing at 47 ft centered at 47N 153W on the 302 degree track to NCal. A quick decline is expected starting Friday night with pressure up to 972 mbs and winds down to 40-45 kts. High pressure that was off the storms west side to be diving south towards Hawaii while seas from previous days fetch decaying to 39 ft at 46N 148W pushing straight down the channel mid-way between Hawaii and California.
Swell Generation Potential
36 hours of 55+ kt fetch and 40+ ft seas are expected from this one targeted well at California but with directional spreading pushing solid size south towards Hawaii too. Long periods in the 20-25 sec range and large size expected to be pushing southeast focused right down the midline between Hawaii and California with significant class size hitting both locations, though the biggest energy to likely miss both locales. This one is almost too close to all locations at 1236-1633 nmiles from NCal, eliminating any real swell decay but perhaps adding just a bit of mid-period surge, though not much. By Friday morning this will all be confirmed and we'll know for sure how this will play out, though it already looks like solid swell is in the pipe and tracking south-southeast.
These are preliminary estimates only based on Forecast data. Forecasts will be trued up as confirmed sea height data becomes available.
North CA (San Francisco): Expect the swell arrival window opening late Saturday (10/22) afternoon with period at 25 secs and size tiny but building steadily. Swell peaking 2 hours before sunrise Sunday (10/23) with swell 10.7-12.5 ft @ 20 secs (21-25 ft faces) with solid 17-20 sec energy at 10.5-12.3 ft following through the day til 4 PM (18-23 ft faces). Solid but diminishing 9.5 ft @ 14-15 sec energy expected by sunrise Monday (13-15 ft faces) and fading through the day. Swell Direction: 301-308 degrees
South CA (Dana Point): Expect the swell arrival window opening late Saturday (10/22) evening with period at 25 secs and size tiny but building steadily. Swell peaking near noon Sunday (10/23) at 3.3-4.0 ft @ 20-22 secs (7.0-8.5 ft faces at north facing breaks) with solid and equal energy following through the afternoon into the late night at 20 secs. Larger size at best breaks in San Diego. Solid but diminishing swell at 3.3-4.0 ft @ 15-16 sec energy expected by sunrise Monday (5-6 ft faces - bigger south) and fading through the day as period drops to 14 secs. Swell Direction: 305-312 degrees
Hawaii (North Shore of Oahu): Expect the swell arrival window opening at Saturday (10/22) at sunset with period at 23 secs and size tiny but building steadily. Swell peaking near 5 AM Sunday (10/23) with swell 7.7-9.2 ft @ 20 secs (15-18 ft faces) with solid 17-20 sec energy following through the day til sunset (14-17 ft). Solid but diminishing 6.5-7.6 ft @ 14 sec energy expected by sunrise Monday (9.0-10.5 ft faces) and fading through the day to the 13 sec range by sunset. Swell Direction: 357-007 degrees Note: Given that most swell energy is tracking east of the Islands, confidence is a little less certain, and these estimates might be a bit on the high side. Strong high pressure generating brisk northeast winds expected as the swell arrives.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (10/20) high pressure at 1022 mbs was positioned just southeast of San Francisco providing a bit of protection from the storm developing in the Gulf of Alaska. A strong front from this storm was already bring strong south winds over buoy 46006 700 nmiles off the coast. The high is to just barely hold centered just off San Francisco through the weekend providing a light to moderate 10 kt northwest flow over the outer water into next week. Stronger high pressure to dominate further to the west but remain well west of the California forecast area. No windswell generation potential to result other than what might push south from the low above.
The 5 Day wind forecast is now included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.
A series of weak lows are passing from west to east through the far Southern Pacific generating 22 ft seas with the potential to push some limited background swell north towards Hawaii. Otherwise no swell of interest indicated.
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 low pressure is to hold it's ground in the Northern Gulf of Alaska through Monday (10/24) though northwest winds there are forecast only in the 30-35 kts range aimed towards California, likely only providing some smaller short period energy through next week. A new weak low is forecast to push east off Kamchatka mid-next week but fading as it track east over the Aleutians with limited 35 kt west winds forecast. Some small hope for Hawaii at best.
At the surface beyond 72 hours the models continue to suggest a series of weak lows to push east under New Zealand and perhaps gathering some momentum over time. But the projections continue to erode with each run of the models. Maybe more background swell to result for Hawaii with a little luck, but that's it.
Details to follow...
'Down the Line' @ The Rio: Powerlines Productions/Towsurfer.com presents 'Down the Line' playing at the Rio in Santa Cruz Friday Oct. 21st. Showtimes 7:pm & 9:pm Local cameramen Eric W. Nelson and Curt Myers have reached a new level of surf-stoke with their latest movie, Down the Line, an inside look at the epic surf that rocked Hawaii, Mavericks and Ghost Tree and other locations last winter. Also included is the most recent footage of the 9/11 Teahupoo session. More details here: http://www.powerlinesproductions.com
New Stormsurf Wave & Weather Models have been Released: After a year of development we're released our newest installment of Regional and Local wave models. Read more here.
Rob Gilley Photgraphy: Please take amoment to check out the selection of limited print images availabe at Rob Gilleys webite. All images in the 2005 line were taken by Rob Gilley, an 19 year Surfer Magazine staff photographer, and are personally signed and numbered by him: http://www.pacificsurfgallery.com
Tutorial on the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) Presented by Dr. Roland Madden: If you're interested in El Nino and the MJO, have a basic understanding of El Nino, and you have broadband connection, audio and Macromedia Flash installed, then the following presentation is a must see. Dr Madden present a great overview of how the MJO works. And there's nothing like hearing it straight from the founders mouth. Link here: http://meted.ucar.edu/climate/mjo/mjonav0.htm
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table