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 (11/13) North/Central California was getting a 1-3 ft overhead raw mix of local windswell and background swells coming from the Gulf of Alaska. Southern California continued getting a minimal mix of northwest swell in the waist high range and southern hemi background swell about the same size with great conditions. Hawaii's North Shore was solid swell from a storm that passed over the dateline earlier in the week with waves 10+ ft on the face. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore report was not available.
For Central California more northwest mid-period swell from the Gulf of Alaska is expected through Friday with size in the 2-3 ft overhead range. Southern CA to see a fraction of that same Gulf swell into early Saturday. The North Shore of Hawaii is getting real swell originating from a gale that passed over the dateline Sunday/Monday with 40 kt winds and 32 ft seas. Size to slowly trickle off through the weekend. The South Shore of Hawaii is flat with no change forecast. The East Shore to continue seeing easterly windswell in the 4.0-4.5 ft on the face for Thursday through Saturday then dropping off. Longterm no clear indications of a significant swell event is in sight. There's hints of a gale building in the Gulf of Alaska (east of the Hawaiian swell window) mid next week, but that's purely a guess by the models. Looking kinda slow after swell already in the water fades out. Make the most of what you can get now.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (11/13) the North Pacific jetstream continued to have a fair amount of energy dropping southeast from the dateline forming a trough that was bottoming out 900 nmiles northwest of Hawaii, then lifting sharply northeast forming a ridge off the US West Coast supporting high pressure there and pushing over Central Canada. 160 kts winds were on either flank of the trough offering some support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to quickly loose energy (by Friday afternoon) loosing all it;s potential and only 90 kt winds to be left by Saturday flowing into the trough, and even it is to be loosing it's definition. By Sunday this week flow is to be starting to pull apart off the Kuril Islands, likely splitting. Beyond 72 hrs a big ridge is forecast developing over the West Pacific, with the north part of the split flow quickly blasting north of even the Bering Sea and the southern branch getting all the energy and ridging hard north with 190 kts winds projected pushing up to the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians. But interestingly, it's to be falling hard south into a very steep trough just west of Hawaii by Thursday (11/20), rising some then forming another modest trough in the eastern Gulf with 150 kt winds pushing into and over Cape Mendocino CA. Maybe all hope is not lost, at least for the Eastern Pacific. Limited support for gale development near the Hawaiian trough and more-so for the trough off the Pacific Northwest.
At the surface today a high pressure regime was getting control of the entire North Pacific. One high was centered 600 nmiles west of Pt Conception at 1028 mbs ridging northeast into the Pacific Northwest setting up a building pressure gradient along the entire Central Ca coast generating north winds at 20 kts there. Weak low pressure was west of it and a bit north of Hawaii, generating no real fetch of interest. Another high was building just west of the dateline at 1028 mbs pushing a modest fetch of 20 kt north winds 900 nmiles northwest of Hawaiian Islands towards them, likely generating some 9 sec period windswell. These two high were effectively filling the North Pacific and locking down any chance for gale development. Over the next 72 hours a small short-lived gale is to wrap up off the northern Canadian coast Friday (11/14) generating 45 kt west winds targeting the Central Canadian coast, but totally outside the US swell window and moving inland within 12 hours of forming, offering no potential. A weak gale is try and build at the intersection of the Aleutians and the dateline Sunday (11/16) tracking east, but half of it is to be over the Aleutians and obscuring any fetch. A second 12-18 hr gale is forecast building off Vancouver Island on Monday (11/17) pushing 40 kt winds and 23 ft seas towards Oregon and Washington, but nothing further south. It is to inland late Monday. In all a quiet pattern is forecast.
Another Weak Gulf Gale
Secondary fetch off the leading edge of the Dateline Gale (below) was pushing into the CA swell window Monday PM (11/10) at near 40 kts racing east and nearly gone by Tuesday evening but not before generating 21 ft seas at 40N 160W (Tues AM) and near 21 ft seas in the evening at 43N 143W 1000 nmiles from North CA. Possible swell for NCal starting Thursday 5 PM at 6.1 ft @ 13 secs (8.5 ft faces) holding into Friday AM.
A gale pushed off Japan moving just west of the dateline by Monday AM (11/10) generating 35-40 kts fetch all the while. By Monday AM (11/10) a broad area of 35 kt northwest winds were in-place at 39N 170E generating 32 ft seas at 39N 172E aimed right at Hawaii down the 310 degree great circle path. This fetch held at 35-40 kts in the evening at 39N 178E with 29 ft seas modeled at 38N 178E, 1700 nmiles from HI and 2800 from NCal (292 degrees). Fetch was fading Tuesday AM (11/11) from 30-35 kts with 25 ft seas at 37N 175W aimed at Hawaii down the 315 degree path. Fetch was gone after that with 20 ft seas Tues PM at 39N 165W targeting the US west coast better. Swell hit Hawaii as forecast first light Thursday AM (11/13) at 7.9 ft @ 15 secs (14 ft faces). Energy to be seeping into NCal by Saturday AM (11/15) at 5.2 ft @ 15 secs (7-8 ft faces) from 292 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (11/13) high pressure at 1028 mbs remained centered 60 nmiles west of Pt Conception o ridging northeast into the Pacific northwest generating a pressure gradient and north winds from San Francisco south into Pt Conception. Chop was building. This gradient to lift north with the vector turning more towards and northeasterly flow at the surface by mid-Friday offering the possibly of a glass off from Bodega bay southward. And by Saturday the gradient to be gone with light offshores expected through the weekend, over the entire state and slowly moderating through Tuesday of next week (11/18). A weak secondary high is to try and set up later Tuesday bringing north winds to Cape Mendo, but it's to be gone by Wednesday AM while low pressure sets up off the Pacific Northwest and strong high pressure builds north of Hawaii pushing hard into Southern CA, likely setting up a northwest winds event later in the week. Enjoy the calm wind while you can.
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 the gale at the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians to track east and then drop south into the Gulf of Alaska on late Monday (11/17) into Tuesday with 35-40 kts northwest winds and seas at 23-24 ft aimed at the Pacific northwest down into Central CA. This low to fade Wednesday with winds 30 kts moving towards Oregon and impacting the coast there on Thursday (11/20) with 20 ft seas forecast pushing towards Cape Mendocino. Will believe it when it happens.
Also some form of cutoff low is forecast forming just northwest of the Hawaiian Islands on Wednesday lifting northeast with up to 35 kt winds aimed south. Possible larger windswell moving towards Hawaii if this occurs, a pure leap of faith at this early date.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (11/13) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was moving into the Active Phase. The Daily SOI index was way up to 27.55, erasing any previous gains into negative territory. The 30 day average was holding at 13.98 and the 90 day average was up a tick to 14.05, the highest in the past 30 days. This remains symptomatic of a weak La Nina. Winds anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated east winds over the Eastern equatorial Pacific looking more like the Inactive Phase. The leading edge of the Active Phase of the MJO was trying to push east over the Philippines but making zero headway. This active phase is expected to continue into the third week in November (11/20), but dissipating all the while and completely gone by December 1. The Active Phase is to slightly enhance storm development in the Northern Pacific over the coming week or so, but not much of that is expected given this weak strength projection for the Active Phase (above).
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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Friday Night - Surfing on TV: Rumor has it that some semi-serious surfing will be the subject of the long running network drama 'Numbers' this Friday night (11/14). Several of the Mav's crew including videographers, writers, forecasters contributed to this episode. Runs at 10 PM. See local listing for details.
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Pictures from Swell #1 - The first real significant class swell of the season produced a bit of action at Mavericks. See pictures here http://www.mavsurfer.com
Big Surf Up North - the First swell of the Fall 2008/2009 season brought a few large raw waves to the North CA Coast. Check out the details here: http://www.towsurfer.com/default.asp
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table