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 Thursday (10/30) North/Central California was getting tiny weak background swell with waves waist high or so and clean with the threat of rain above. Southern California was essentially flat. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more north windswell with waves in the chest to head high range on occasion, but not very clean. The South Shore was near flat. The East Shore had head high or better north windswell, same one as the North Shore.
For Central California background impulse energy originating from the Gulf of Alaska was providing some barely rideable waves at select spots. This to continue until swell energy from a gale forecast off the coast starts arriving later in the weekend. Southern CA to remain flat with not even the small Gulf background energy hitting. But the gale forecast off the coast to provide good options later in the weekend. The North Shore of Hawaii is to continue having some limited north windswell through Saturday, then really fading out. The South Shore of Hawaii is to remain essentially flat for the foreseeable future. The East Shore to see more northerly windswell through Saturday, then fading out on Sunday. Long term the only weather system of interest is a gale trying to organize off the Central CA coast, but the real energy isn't forecast to start circulating till Friday into Saturday. 40 kt west winds and 21-23 ft seas are forecast targeting Central CA on down into Southern CA well with swell expected on Sunday. South winds are also forecast pushing up into the Pacific Northwest making for swell potential there too. But in all cases it's to be very close to the coast making for raw and jumbled conditions, with Southern CA having the best odds of something that resembles a clean swell. Long term the models suggest a series of two very weak gales forming in the West Pacific moving to and just over the dateline early next week, then fading out. Maybe best odds for swell in Hawaii from these, but that is far from certain at this early date. If you want to know the long term projection 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 Thursday (10/30) the North Pacific jetstream was tracking northeast off Japan at 130-140 kts into a modest ridge over the dateline, then sinking southeast into a broad but weak trough off Central California, with 90 kt winds there. Finally the jet headed due north up over Vancouver Island. Only the weak trough off California had any support for surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to continue with the ridge over the dateline weakening and drifting east with the trough off California strengthening some Friday into early Saturday with winds to 140 kts, then pushing onshore over Central Ca on Sunday. Limited support for gale development in the trough on Fri/Sat. Beyond 72 hrs a semi split flow is forecast forming over Japan late Saturday building while pushing over the dateline on next Tuesday (11/4) then fading while pushing over the Gulf of Alaska and into Canada by Thursday. No support for low pressure development during this window, but a more cohesive flow looks to be trying to organize over the West Pacific a week out.
At the surface today modest high pressure at 1028 mbs remained locked just northwest of Hawaii continuing trades at 15-20 kts over the Islands pushing in limited northeasterly windswell at exposed breaks and wrapping into the North Shore. Otherwise generic weak low pressure was off the US West Coast, with one small imbedded defined gale just off the Washington Coast tracking north with near 30 kts winds offering windswell for the Pacific Northwest coast. Additional low pressure energy was feeding into the generic low pressure trough off the US West Coast, offering hope for the next 48 hours (see California Gale below). Otherwise a gale was barely off the Kamchatka Peninsula tracking north, with no winds aimed down the great circle paths towards either Hawaii or the US West Coast.
Late on Thursday (10/30) low pressure off California is to start building, with a closed isobar low of 996 mbs developing and 30 kt northwest winds forecast in it's southwest sector and 17 ft seas aimed at Southern and Central CA forecast at 37N 152W. By Friday AM (10/31) pressure is to drop to 988 mbs with 40 kt west winds moving into it's south quadrant at 36N 142W, or due west of Monterey Bay, aimed at Central CA (282 degree path) generating 21 ft seas at 36N 145W. By evening 40-45 kt winds are to be wrapping under it's south quadrant just off the CA coast at 36N 135W 600 nmiles out) generating 23 ft seas at 36N 137W pushing east and southeast (270 NCal - 280 SCal). By Saturday AM (11/1) the gale to be lifting northeast with 35 kts northwest winds aimed right at Central CA at 42N 135W with 20 ft seas from previous fetch at 36N 132W, lifting further north in the evening with 20 ft seas at 41N 132W pushing down the 292 degree path to NCal. This low to continue lifting north and slowly shrinking while pushing inland over British Columbia Sunday producing less swell potential if anything at all.
Possible larger raw proto-swell expected to push into Central and South CA Sunday (11/2) with a more southerly windswell pushing up into the Pacific Northwest.
Rough data suggest swell of 8 ft @ 13-14 secs on Sunday in NCal/CCal (10-11 ft faces) from 270-280 degrees and Southern CA to see swell of 4.4 ft @ 13-14 secs (6 ft faces) with best breaks near 5 ft @ 14 secs (7 ft faces) from 285-290 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (10/30) low pressure was amassing offshore, a sign of things to come. Light winds were over nearshore coastal waters, but that's to be short lived. By evening south winds up to 20 kts and rain to be pushing in down as far as Pt Conception as the first coldfront of the season pushes in. This same standard winter pattern to hold through Saturday night (with the bulk of the rain occurring then), reinforced by a second front. Finally Sunday the worst is to be over, with a calm to light southerly flow forecast from Monterey Bay northward, but turning more northerly south of there as high pressure tries to nose-in behind the front. Another short lived and weak front is forecast on mid-day Monday with rain down to near Pt Conception in the early evening, then a drying and calmer pattern forecast. Southern California to possibly northwest winds at 15-20 kts mainly over the Channel Islands Mon-wed (11/50 attributable to the higher pressure building in there.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was occurring aimed at US targets. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast.
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 a new gale is supposed to try building just east of the dateline Monday pushing over it Tuesday (11/4) generating 35 kts winds and 20-23 ft seas targeting mainly Hawaii, and offering a glimmer of hope for some almost semi-real swell later next week. That system to fade and continue east pushing into the Pacific Northwest by Thursday (11/6) with 25-30 kt wind and 17 ft seas. A second more broad gale is forecast developing off the Kuril Islands Wed/Thurs (11/6) offering more 30-35 kts west winds and generally 20 ft seas, but nothing more.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (10/30) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the Inactive phase. The Daily SOI index was down to 5.22. The 30 day average was steady at 14.49 and the 90 day average was inching up at 12.12. This is symptomatic of a weak La Nina. Winds anomalies at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a broad area of abnormal west winds extending from the dateline east into Central America, appearing to be starting to exit to the east. This was symptomatic of the inactive phase of the MJO. This to slowly fade out through Nov 8th, offering no enhancement for surface level low pressure development. All the while the Active Phase of the MJO is to be building in the Indian Ocean (as of now), then starting to seep east into the equatorial North Pacific the first week in November, then pushing over the dateline mid-month but weak. For now the Inactive Phase to slightly suppress storm development in the Northern Pacific, then providing minimal enhancement for mid-November.
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