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.
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On Saturday (11/24) Northern CA surf was waist to maybe chest high and clean early. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were up to thigh high. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was waist high with a few bigger sets. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was near flat. The LA Area southward to Orange County was up to maybe thigh high. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were thigh high on the sets. The North Shore of Oahu was 3-5 ft overhead. The South Shore was thigh high. The East Shore chest high at exposed breaks.
North/Central California was getting a little bit of energy coming from across the dateline that is expected to build modestly. Southern California was near flat with no swell of interest hitting. Hawaii's North Shore was on the down side from a good solid dose of dateline swell that arrived on Friday, though not quite as big as we had forecast. The South Shore was essentially flat and the East Shore was getting some wrap-around swell from the north. Swell from Storm #6 is expected to continue fading along Oahu's Northern Shore on Saturday but start building along the California coast reaching advanced class levels by Sunday morning in the north and near-intermediate levels in the south. Another broad but not particularly well organized system has already started setting up off Japan on Friday (11/23) and is expected to push over the dateline and quickly whither before coming anywhere near the Gulf of Alaska on Tuesday (11/27) offering another shot of solid size swell for HAwaii and less for California. And yet one more similar system is forecast Wed-Sat (12/1) offering yet more swell for the Islands and less for California. The pattern has changed with most energy isolated to the West Pacific with strong high pressure in control of the Gulf of Alaska region, shutting down rain, snow and swell chances for the US West Coast. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Saturdays jetstream charts (11/24) for the North Pacific indicated a very solid flow of winds pushing flat off Japan at 180 kts and moving across the dateline while lifting gently northeast at 170 kts, then diving south just east of Hawaii and fading into nothingness. There was no discernible organized .flow pushing into the US west coast. This pattern favored the far West Pacific, but with no clear troughs there (a flat zonal flow instead), storm development was difficult. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold with winds over Japan building to 210 kts then fading near the dateline and pushing firmly north crossing over the Eastern Aleutians on Monday (11/26). This again favors the Western PAcific. At least a weak secondary flow is to be limping into British Columbia. Beyond 72 hours a large ridge of 210 kt winds are to hold off Japan almost dipping into a trough near the dateline, but then veering hard north into a giant ridge pushing north of even Alaska and totally shutting down the East Pacific. Gale and even storm development likely in the West Pacific while a calm pattern takes hold of everywhere east of Hawaii.
At the surface today a broad an poorly organize gale was in control of the Northwest Pacific. High pressure at 1024 mbs was lodged off Oregon setting up a calm pattern over the Eastern Gulf of Alaska. No other features of interest were occurring. Over the next 72 hours the gale in the Northwest Pacific is to be the only system of interest (see Possible Swell #7 - Hawaii below). Swell from Storm #6 hit HAwaii on Friday (11/23) at significant class levels though a little less than expected and are pushing east, expected to start building along the California coast late Saturday reaching only to the advanced class level in North CA by Sunday (and with less size down into Southern CA).
Swell #6 (Hawaii)
A storm that formed late Monday (11/20) off Kamchatka with northwest winds confirmed at 50-55 kts at 50N 165E with 40 kts winds reaching out to 46N 177E, almost over the dateline. That's a pretty good sized area.
By Tuesday AM (11/21) confirmed winds of 40-45 kts extended from Kamchatka all the way to and over the dateline. 30 ft seas were modeled at 48N 168E aimed well towards Hawaii down the 322 degree great circle path and 25 degrees south of the 305 degree great circle path to California. In the evening a shrinking area of 40 kt northwest winds continued at 47N 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 built to 35 ft at 48N 173E and were confirmed by the Jason-1 satellite.
Wednesday AM (11/22) 30-35 kt residual winds sank southeast reaching 40N 165W with 30 ft seas pushing over the dateline at 45N 179W aimed towards 30 degrees south of the 298 degree path east to California and 20 degrees east of the 328 degree path to Hawaii. This system was gone by the evening with fading 25 ft seas dissipating at 40N 170W, in reasonable striking distance of Hawaii.
Significant class swell from this system hit Hawaii on Friday (11/23) with swell 8.8-9.6 ft @ 16 secs generating 13-15 ft surf, not quite as high as we had estimated but significant class none-the-less. Most fetch was aimed a bit south of any track into California and the system was a very long way away, resulting in only advanced class swell for exposed breaks in North California on Sunday (11/25) and near intermediate class surf in Southern CA.
North CA: Expect swell arrival starting late Saturday with swell 5 ft @ 17 secs (8 ft faces) peaking Sunday AM at 6 ft @ 16 secs (9 ft faces). Swell fading steadily by 5 PM Swell Direction 285 degrees with long period elements from 300 degrees.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival well after dark on Saturday. Swell peaking mid-day Sunday (11/25) with swell 2.8 ft @ 16 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces) with best exposed breaks down south to 3.5 ft @ 16 secs (5.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 290 with longer period elements from 305 degrees
Possible Swell #7 - Hawaii
On Thursday (11/22) a fragmented by broad 984 mbs gale pushed off Kamchatka generating up to 40 kt northwest winds pushing off Japan and south of even any track to Hawaii. Seas were building to 26 ft at 37N 155E
By Friday (11/23) a more cohesive fetch of 30-35 kts winds was organizing midway between Japan and the dateline at 40N 160E aimed reasonably well towards Hawaii down the 307 degree great circle path and 30 degrees south of the 296 degree path to North CA. Seas continued in the 27 ft range at 37N 158-168E through the evening.
On Saturday (11/24) more of the same was occurring with 30-35 kts west winds blowing over a good portion of the West Pacific though positioned a little more to the north. 23-25 ft seas were modeled near 45N 170E expected to continue through the evening aimed decently towards Hawaii down the 319 degree path and towards North CA up the 302 degree path.
On Sunday (11/25) a renewed burst of winds energy is to develop in the southern quadrant of this gale with a fleeting fetch of 40-45 kt northwest winds forecast at 40N 175E generating more 27 ft seas at 40N 175E aimed best at Hawaii down the 317 degree path and 35 degrees south of the 295 degree path to California.
On Monday (11/26) the last push of this system is expected with the low finally organizing on the dateline and wrapping up generating a short lived fetch of 45 kts winds near 47N 180W and producing up to 29 ft seas at 44N 175E-175W aimed well at Hawaii down the 330 degree path and 25 degrees south of the 298 degree path to North CA.
This system is to be gone by Tuesday AM (11/27) being shunted into the Bering Sea by the jetstream with lingering but fading 25 ft seas forecast at 42N 175W aimed best at California up the 293 degree great circle path.
This is not a well organized system and is not expected to become one. Still, it is to hold on for almost 6 days in the dateline region generating some form of 30-40 kts fetch over the entire period producing 25 ft or so seas the whole tine. Not too bad. Solid energy seems likely for Hawaii given their close proximity to the fetch. California is to be pretty far away and not really in the main energy track, meaning less and well decayed swell upon it's arrival.
Rough data suggests the first signs of this swell is to be pushing into the Hawaiian Islands late Monday (11/26) then getting decent on Tuesday (11/27) with swell possibly 7.8 ft @ 14 secs (10-11 ft faces) with the main pulse of swell arriving late Wednesday (11/28) at 9.8 ft @ 14 secs(12-13 ft faces). Solid size to hang on through Thursday (11/29) before fading out. Swell Direction: 310-320 degrees
Swell to start pushing into North California Wednesday (11/28) continuing on into Friday and beyond. Swell maybe 6 ft @ 15 secs at best (8-9 ft faces) in the later half of the swell.
Swell to arrive in Southern CA late Wednesday (11/28) continuing on into Friday and beyond. Swell maybe 2.5-3.0 ft @ 15 secs at best (3.0-3.5 ft faces. in the later half of the swell.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Saturday (11/24) high pressure at 1024 mbs remained the name of the game, hanging off Oregon and not encroaching into California waters just yet. A light wind pattern was in-play. Sunday it's to start ridging into British Columbia with a light gradient forming off Cape Mendocino with 15 kt north winds forecast there, but a light flow forecast south of there while low pressure tried to take a stand in the northern Gulf, but doesn't succeed. High pressure to continue off the coast none-the-less with reinforcement pushing in from the west likely setting up brisk north winds late Tuesday (11/27) slowly turning more to the north and northeast into Thursday (11/29) only to be reinforced by more high pressure on Friday with north winds back in control over outer waters and fading 24 hours later. But in all there is an impenetrable wall of high pressure in control of the Gulf with no end in sight.
Typhoon Mitag was 100 nmiles east of the Philippines pushing north west, with winds 85 kts expected to pass over the northern tip of the island nation late Sunday (11/25) with winds in the 70-75 kt range. It is then to stall and hold a position while slowly fading between there and Taiwan into mid-next week.
Tropical Storm Hagibis was in the South China Sea west of the Philippines with winds 50 kts and essentially stalled. A slow fade is forecast over the next 72 hours.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch is occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.
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 fetch is to start building off Japan late Tuesday (11/27) anchored in low pressure over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians with pressure 972 mbs. An area of 40 kt northwest winds are forecast at 45N 165E generating seas to 27 ft. The fetch is to push east on Wednesday (11/24) near 40N 170E generating 32 ft seas at 44N 175E targeting Hawaii up the 320 degree great circle path and California better up the 298 degree path. The fetch to falter on Thursday (11/29) generating only 30-35 kts winds on the dateline and 25-27 ft seas near 43N 180W aimed midway between Hawaii and California. The fetch is to actually make some headway on Friday (11/30) into the Western Gulf of Alaska with only 35 kts winds pushing to 40N 160W with 23 ft seas in the same area and possibly holding into Saturday (12/1) before dying.
If all this comes to pass some form of small to moderate significant class swell seems likely for Hawaii on Saturday and beyond, but that's a reach at this early date.
MJO Note: Odds for larger surf continue on the upswing with the Madden Julian Oscillation moving into the Active phase. Anomalous west winds at the 850 mb level have set up over the South China Sea and are now pushing out over the exposed Pacific moving towards the dateline, expected to continue east and slowly loosing strength through mid-December. This sort of pattern typically results in improved odds for storm development, improving odds for swell development. The Southern Oscillation Index remains positive (+6) but is slowly fading, and 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