New Swell Classification Guidelines
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 Sunday (11/18) Northern CA surf was 1-3 ft overhead and a bit wind textured. San Francisco area beaches are all open post oil spill, though conditions are still marginal at Ocean Beach. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were head high, maybe a foot more. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was 1-3 ft overhead. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was chest high with sets to near head high at better exposed north facing breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was chest high with occasional head high sets. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist to chest high. The North Shore of Oahu was waist to nearly chest high. The South Shore was waist high and fading. The East Shore waist high.
North/Central California was in the middle of advanced class swell coming from the Gulf of Alaska. Southern California was getting a respectable dose of wrap-around swell from the Gulf of Alaska best at exposed north facing breaks. Hawaii's North Shore was small with fading energy coming from the dateline. The last little pulse of southern hemi energy was fading on the South Shore. A little south swell that is fading in Hawaii is expected to hit Southern California late Sunday. But for the US West Coast swell from the Gulf of Alaska is to continue for 2 more days, with a little shot of reinforcements arrive Tuesday in the north. After that the pattern to start shifting more to the west which favors Hawaii in terms of bulk size, but should help in increase the period and organization of energy pushing to the US mainland. Details are unsure but first up is a small storm forming north of Hawaii Sun-Tues (11/20) and a second right behind falling southeast over the dateline Tues-Wed (11/21). Yet another is forecast forming off Japan and pushing clear across the dateline Fri-Sun (11/25) with another right behind that. Looks like winter might be getting started in earnest if the models are right. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Sundays jetstream charts (11/18) for the North Pacific indicated a slightly confused
flow pushing off Japan with some energy, with winds to 140 kts, then dissolving
quickly as it approached the dateline pushing into a weak ridge. It took
a steep but weak dive north of Hawaii then ridged into the US West Coast.
No obvious support for low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours a
weak trough is to develop in the Western Gulf Monday (11/19) pushing east
for 24 hours before dissolving. Limited support for gale development there.
But in the West things to really start firming up with a solid flow of 160
kt winds pushing off Japan reaching the dateline with a trough trying to
organize there while a very weak flow is forecast in the East ridging into
Canada. Beyond 72 hours a new trough is to form in the Western Gulf on Wednesday
(11/21) on the leading edge of all that energy pouring off Japan likely supporting
gale development there while off Japan winds build to 180 kts pushing firmly
over the dateline. Good support for storm development in the dateline region
Saturday (11/24) and beyond.
the surface today weak high pressure at 1020 mbs was just off
Southern CA having essentially no impact with a second stronger
high at 1032 mbs north of Hawaii generating up to 30 kt northeast
winds and 16 ft seas targeting Hawaii's northeast Shore's with
what will likely be windswell. Of more interest was a little
996 mb low pressure system developing over the dateline with
maybe 35 kt winds aimed south, and a bit west of the Islands.
This is to be the system to watch for the near-term. See details
below (Storm #5)
starting late Monday (11/20) a 986 mb gale is forecast winding
up over the far western Aleutians with 40 kt northwest winds
forecast near 50N 165E. This fetch to be much larger than the
previous system and growing into Tuesday AM with winds 40 kts
extending from Kamchatka all the way to and over the dateline.
26 ft seas forecast at 50N 165E. 40 kt northwest winds to continue
in the evening at 48N 180W aimed 25 degrees south of the 306
degree path to North CA and 25 degrees east of the 331 degree
path to Hawaii. Seas building to 30 ft at 48N 178E. Wednesday
AM 35-40 kt winds to sink southeast reaching 44N 170W generating
30 ft seas at 45N 175W aimed towards 30 degrees south of the
295 degree path east to California and 20 degrees east of the
336 degree path to Hawaii. This system to be gone by the evening
If all this comes to pass (a bit of a reach) some form of significant
class swell is expected for Hawaii Friday (11/23)
with advanced class swell for exposed breaks in North
California on Sunday (11/25) and near intermediate class
surf in Southern CA.
#5 Updated Mon PM
On Saturday evening (11/17) the QuikSCAT satellite confirmed a tiny area of
60 kt northwest winds associated with a developing storm near the dateline.
Winds in the storms southwest quadrant were at 42N 180W targeting Hawaii down
the 319 degree path. Seas were building.
AM (11/18) winds were confirmed at 55 kts at 43N 176W in the
storms northwest quadrant aimed right down the 336 degree great
circle path to Hawaii with seas to 22 ft and 30 degrees south
of the 295 degree path to North California. In the evening 50-60
kt winds were again confirmed at 42N 166W aimed a bit east of
the Hawaiian Islands down the 342 degree path generating 26 ft
seas at 40N 175W. Also a tiny fetch of 40 kt west winds were
near 40N 165W aimed towards California with a tiny area of 29
ft seas modeled at 40N 170W up the 290 degree path. The Jason-1
satellite passed right over the fetch in the south quadrant and
confirmed seas at 29 ft, where the model suggested seas should
have been 25-26 ft. So the storm was doing better than the model
(no surprise given the QuikSCAT data). Suspect seas aimed at
Hawaii are probably 32+ ft.
to northwest winds continued strong in the area into Monday at
50-60 kts near 43N 160W aimed 35 degree east of the 355 degree
path to Hawaii and generating 26 ft seas at 43N 168W. Also 40-45
kts northwest winds continued aimed 35 degrees south of the 292
degree path to North California generating seas to 29 ft at 40N
162W. These winds to continue late Monday aimed more to the east
at 50-55 kts at 48N 160W aimed 40 degrees east of Hawaii down
the 357 degree path but more at California generating up to 35
ft seas at 45N 160W aimed towards North CA down the 296 degree
path about 1800 nmiles out.
Tuesday AM (11/18) the last real push of this swell is forecast
as the storm pushes east of the Hawaii and focuses on California
with 45-50 kt winds at 47N 152W generating a tiny area of 42
ft seas at 47N 154W aimed well at North CA down the 298 degree
path (304 SCal). By evening this system to be fading out with
all energy aimed at Canada and points north.
system was moving through the northern portion of the Hawaiian
swell window with most fetch not sitting on any one portion of
the oceans surface for long limiting it's ability to get traction
and generate seas relative to Hawaii. Still 60 kt winds have
been confirmed and the Jason1 satellite is reporting higher seas
than projected by the models. We're going out on a limb and suggesting
near significant class swell for Hawaii just due to their close
proximity. But there is much uncertainty there.
possible north angled significant class swell for Hawaii very
early Wednesday morning with period at 18 secs, building in size
by sunlight with period at 17 secs. Swell expected to peak near
7.5-8.5 ft @ 16 secs mid-day (12-13 ft faces). Swell Direction:
decent dose of advanced class+ swell is also expected for North
California late on Thanksgiving Day (11/22) reaching 8.0 ft @
16 secs (10-11 ft+ faces) pushing south for the day after. Certainly
something to watch.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Sunday (11/18) a near neutral pressure pattern was in control with generally light winds occurring (other than 10-15 kt north winds over Pt Conception). High pressure at 1028 mbs to move in from the west off Cape Mendocino by Monday though (11/19) forming brisk north winds over nearshore waters from Pt Conception northward, then fading late Tuesday. The high to push inland by Wednesday (11/21) with a light offshore flow taking over through Friday. Neutral pressure to return Saturday (11/24) with light to no winds over coastal waters through next weekend.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch is occurring and non forecast for the next 72 hours.
New Zealand Low
On Thursday (11/8) a non-closed isobar low was sitting just southeast of New Zealand forming a pressure gradient with higher pressure at 1032 mbs centered southwest of Tasmania. The result was and has been a steady patch of 35-40 kt southwest winds near 50S 175E since early Wednesday (11/7) aimed well towards Hawaii up the 200 degree great circle path pushing to near 45 kt Wednesday evening, generating 29 ft seas Wed PM at 53S 165E peaking at 30 ft at 51S 175E Thursday AM. Another little pulse of 40 kts winds occurred Thursday PM with seas holding in the 29-31 ft range at 46S 170W, then fading. Minimal swell from this system to push into Southern CA late Sunday (11/18) peaking Monday at 2 ft @ 15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces) from 215 degrees. This is the last one for the season.
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 fundamental shift in the North Pacific weather pattern is to start taking shape. Since early October low pressure has remain set in the Gulf of Alaska sending a series of small to moderate swell into the US West Coast but primarily bypassing Hawaii. Starting Thursday (11/22) high pressure to to take over the East Pacific while a broad low pressure pattern sets up off the Kuril's Islands and Japan supported by a strong upper level flow off Japan in the jetstream. A small fetch is to start building off Japan aimed east towards Hawaii with winds up to 40 kts late pushing over the dateline Saturday and North of Hawaii Sunday on the 40N line with winds still in the 40 kt range. Seas forecast to 30 ft late Friday holding through the period aimed best at HAwaii and decently at California. Significant class swell for Hawaii possible. Yet another strong one to follow right behind on the same route with seas to 32 ft.
MJO Note: Odds for larger surf are expected to increase with the Madden Julian Oscillation moving into the Active phase as of right now. Anomalous west winds at the 850 mb level are starting to set up over the South China Sea and are expected to push east in the Pacific by 11/20, continuing east and slowly loosing strength through early December. This sort of pattern typically results in improved odds for storm development, improving odds for swell development. The Southern Oscillation Index is still quite positive (+22), but we're expected to see it falling into the negative range in the next week if the models projection on the MJO are accurate.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast. The season is over.
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