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 Saturday (11/22) North/Central California had surf in the 2 ft overhead range, fading from Fridays bigger size with northerly winds off the coast making for alot of lump nearshore. Southern California was getting nice clean chest to head high sets coming from the gale that was in the Gulf days before. Hawaii's North Shore was getting a new pulse of northwest swell in the head high plus range. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore report was not available.
For Central California another pulse of backup swell from the Gulf of Alaska is expected to arrive for Sunday AM with waves 1-2 ft overhead and clean with offshore winds expected. Things to be settling down Monday and then maybe up just a notch Tuesday before moving into a far more active pattern Wednesday and beyond. Southern CA to see a continuation of the swell on Sunday too at the exposed breaks with waves in the waist to chest high range, then heading down for Monday and Tuesday before heading up later in the week. The North Shore of Hawaii is to see fading northerly swell Sunday and Monday then coming up a little on Tuesday . The South Shore of Hawaii is flat with no change forecast. The East Shore to see a little east windswell on Sunday to maybe chest high then coming up more on Monday to head high or more. Longterm the models suggest that things are supposed to be picking up, possibly very strongly mid-next week. But even until then a decent pattern is forecast with a building area of 20 ft seas forecast for the dateline later Sunday pushing into the Gulf on Monday reaching 26+ feet targeting the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA. A little gale is also forecast off Southern CA on Mon/Tues generating up to 23 ft seas, but most if not all of that is to be pushing due south and not reaching the coast. Then the much heralded monster storm is forecast building on the dateline Wed/Thurs (11/27) with up to 47 ft seas targeting the US West Coast best but with sideband energy at up to 35 ft targeting Hawaii decently. Possible large swell to result in both locations if the models are right, but that's pure fantasy at this early date. Watch the models.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday (11/22) the North Pacific jetstream was flowing decently from Japan flat to the dateline then dropping into a bit of a trough in the Gulf with a pocket of 150 kt winds feeding into it offering some potential for low pressure development, then languidly pushing into the Oregon coast. Over the next 72 hours that Gulf trough is to push east and get steeper into Sunday and Monday moving to just off the California coast and digging deep almost as far south as Northern Baja. Weak winds at 90 kts though, so only limited support for gale development at the bottom of the trough. But it's to hold off the coast in some form before pushing onshore over Central CA Wednesday, so there are some possibilities. All the while the bulk of the jet behind it is to be steadily building with a pocket of 160 kt winds setting up over Japan on Monday and streaming east to the dateline, then carving out an impressive trough on Wednesday there on the dateline with almost 190 kts winds feeding into it. Excellent potential for surface level storm development. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to get supercharged Thursday with 200 kt winds feeding into it moving slowly east from the dateline while a ridge builds east and west of the trough. This is the best upper level configuration we've seen forecast in a long time. Wind are to top out at 220 kts feeding into the troughs western flank late Thursday. The trough to start getting steeper and pinching off late Friday north of Hawaii and moving dangerously close, almost impacting the Islands while a huge ridge sets up off California pushing the jet into Northern Canada, then jutting back off the Central California coast Friday into next weekend forming a backdoor trough off the coast. Very interesting.
At the surface today high pressure at 1024 mbs was still centered 600 nmiles west of Pt Conception fueling a ridge pushing into the Oregon coast and generating northerly winds at 20 kts from San Francisco south to Pt Conception then tracking southwest all the way to nearly Hawaii making for small easterly windswell there. Remnants of a gale that tracked through the Gulf of Alaska during the past week moved up to the Pacific Northwest Friday (11/21) generated 40 kt southwest winds pushing into Vancouver Island and produced 20 ft seas there, good for more limited 12 sec period sideband energy expected to push into the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA late Saturday into Sunday (11/23). A second high pressure system was over the dateline at 1024 mbs driving Siberia energy up into the Bering Sea, but that tendency was fading.
Over the next 72 hours a gale of sorts is to try and wrap up in the Eastern Gulf on Sunday (11/23) generating 30-35 kt northwest winds dropping south into an almost cutoff trough 600 nmiles west of Pt Conception Monday generating more 35 kt north winds there are producing 20-23 ft seas tracking south between Hawaii and California affecting neither.
Of more interest is a fragmented but large gale that is to be filling the Bering Sea with western fetch dropping south over the dateline and generating a broad area of 19-21 ft seas Sunday into Monday (11/24) extending almost from the Kuril Islands to east of the dateline (160W) centered near 43N 175E on Sunday. Background swell possible for Hawaii starting Tues (11/25) at 3.7 ft @ 14-15 sec (6.7 ft faces) dropping to 3.4 ft @ 13 secs (5.5 ft faces) Wed (11/26) and 3.9 ft @ 12-13 secs (6 ft faces) Thurs (11/27) from 320 degrees.
But what this is to do more is rough up the oceans surface, allowing any other system that follow to get good traction and better swell generating grip. On Monday (11/24) secondary low pressure is to form from the Bering Sea low pushing east generating a fetch of 35-40 kt westerly winds and 26 ft seas 1800 nmiles from North CA Mon AM at 49N 160W pushing down the 306 degree path continuing at 25 ft Mon PM 1400 nmiles from NCal aimed somewhat down the 308 degree path. Possible 15 sec period swell to reach exposed breaks in North CA Thursday (11/27) at 9 AM with swell 5.8-6.3 ft @ 15 secs (8-9 ft faces) from 306-310 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (11/22) high pressure at 1026 mbs remained 650 nmiles west of Pt Conception almost ridging into the Cape Mendo/S. Oregon area with the usual pressure gradient of 20 kt north winds from San Francisco south to near Pt Conception. The gradient is to continue through the evening then finally dying on Sunday with perhaps a light offshore flow in place by Sunday AM. SCal to remain unaffected by any of this. Building low pressure is to be setting up off the Central coast Monday and sinking south setting up southerly winds for Monday and Tuesday even into Southern Ca (though southeast to east from Monterey Bay northward) extending into Wednesday of next week (11/26) in Southern CA. High pressure and north winds to be building into Central CA later Wednesday with the commensurate north wind at 15 kts forecast on into Thursday AM (11/27) dying late. More high pressure to continue Friday ridging into British Columbia setting up northerly winds early for Central CA down into SCal with low pressure building directly over Monterey Bay and sinking south through the day. Offshore's north of it late on into Saturday with south winds pushing into Southern CA. The good news from a fire prevention perspective is that rain is in the forecast mainly for bone dry South CA Tues/Wed then again all next weekend (11/30).
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 models suggest a small gale forming Tuesday AM (11/25) with seas to 26 ft in the evening at 45N 165W. By Wed AM (11/25) it's to be in the north central Gulf generating 50 kt northwest winds at 48N 152W with a small area of 30 ft seas at 46N 158W pushing east, then to 32 ft in the evening at 45N 148W 1000-14000 nmiles from NCal aimed down the 296 degree path. Possible 17 sec period swell arriving overnight Friday (11/28) for Central CA if this comes to pass.
And of most interest remains the monster storm forecast for the dateline Wed/Thurs (11/27) generating 60-65 kt west and northwest winds and up to 48 ft seas aimed well at both Hawaii and California. It's to fade in the Gulf on Thursday while you eat your turkey. A nice tease if this all happens, but again, it's way way too early to have any confidence in the models. By Tuesday we'll start taking notice if it's still on the charts (low odds).
A big cutoff low is to set up directly north of Hawaii Fri/Sat (11/29) impacting the Islands and likely setting up a north wind event there for the weekend.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Saturday (11/22) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was trying to move into the Active Phase. The Daily SOI index was down to 10.75. The 30 day average was down slightly to 13.18 and the 90 day average was up a notch to 14.68, just past the peak a few days before and 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 hanging on over the Eastern equatorial Pacific (from the dateline into Central America) and not giving up any strength just yet. The leading edge of the Active Phase of the MJO was still trying to push east over the Philippines making just a little headway. This active phase is expected to continue into the fourth week in November (11/29) seeping east over the dateline then, then continuing east and weakening with minimal energy moving to Central America by 12/11. This is slightly stronger than previous model runs. The Active Phase is to slightly enhance storm development in the Northern Pacific through the second week in December. Latest data suggests no indication of the Inactive Phase building behind it for later December.
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