On Thursday (12/8) Northern CA surf was head high to 1-2 ft overhead on the sets and clean. South facing breaks were waist to chest high. Central California surf was head high to 1 ft overhead. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were waist to chest high at the better breaks. The LA area southward into Orange County was waist to chest high at the better spots. Southward to San Diego waves were waist to chest high. The North Shore of Oahu was waist to chest high with head high sets. The South Shore was waist to chest high. The East Shore was thigh high.
Fun sized surf was hitting exposed breaks in California and a little less for Hawaii, but the Islands to see a favorable change overnight. Solid, though not huge, swell is expected for the Islands by Friday slowly fading with more behind that. The storm pattern has been a bit underwhelming for the US west coast with most energy confined to the dateline region and then fading off as system after system tries to push east, but doesn't make much headway. This puts Hawaii at the closest spot to the core of these storms reducing swell decay and is providing the greatest potential for solid surf, with only well decayed remnants making it to the US west coast. There no compelling evidence to suggest a significant change is in the wings either. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays (12/6) jetstream continued impressive and strong streaming off Japan and pushing east just over the dateline centered on the 35N latitude. Winds were down a little to 170 kts in it's core, pushing flat (zonally) east. The now standard split was occurring just north of Hawaii with the northern branch tracking through the Gulf of Alaska and into the Central Canadian coast while the southern branch pushed over Hawaii and into Southern Baja. This split remains problematic, directing all storm energy well north of any prime track towards California. But Hawaii, by virtue of being right on the cusp of the split, was in better shape to be near the storm track. And the greater issue remains the lack of any trough or undulation in the jet, preventing any good circulation from developing at the surface. Over the next 72 hours the jet is to slowly loose some of it's strength and definition off Japan with winds dropping to 150 kts. Otherwise no significant change forecast. Most energy to remain near or west of the dateline. No defined troughs forecast, making it difficult for surface level storms to form. Beyond 72 hours starting Sunday (12/11) the whole cycle is to start over with more energy returning and winds back up to 190 kts west of the dateline by Tuesday pushing to the dateline and then east, but dead flat west to east. Finally next Thursday a bit of a trough is forecast due north of Hawaii with 180-190 kt winds feeding into it, but it's more of a hint than a full scale trough.
Today at the surface a broad but fading 964 mb low was fading over the eastern most Aleutian Islands with solid high pressure at 1028 mbs anchored 700 nmiles off the North California coast. At the interface between these two opposing systems a tiny 992 mb low was starting to form with a tiny pinch of 40 kts winds aimed east there. By evening it's to be due north of Hawaii with pressure 982 mbs and winds building to 45 kts over a tiny area in it's southeast quadrant all aimed north towards Alaska. On Friday AM it's to be lifting fast to the northeast with a brief fetch of 50-55 kt winds centered in it's south quadrant at 48N 153W aimed reasonably well down the 302 degree path to NCal (306 SCal) but mostly at the Pacific Northwest. Seas to reach 30 ft centered at 50N 150W aimed mostly at targets from Vancouver Island northward with only sideband energy tracking into California, possibly good for some short period utility swell, and even that is optimistic.
On Saturday (12/10) a strong system is modeled developing on the dateline dropping to 980 mbs with 55 kt winds aimed mid-way between Hawaii and California continuing into Sunday AM then fading. Seas to 35 ft aimed mostly due east Sunday AM up to 37 ft in the evening centered at 39N 168W. Storm residuals to push east through Monday AM (12/12) with up to 40 kt winds aimed well at California but well north of any track to Hawaii. Seas 30 ft in the Am and fading fast. this would be good for some decent swell pushing into both North and South California with sideband energy sweeping into Hawaii, but based on past performance of the models, confidence is non-existant in this outcome.
Storm #3 (Hawaii)
A new storm pushed off Japan very early Monday (12/5) with pressure 980 mbs and winds modeled at 40-45 kts over a moderate area aimed east (no QuikSCAT imagery available). By evening pressure was down to 972 mbs with winds confirmed at 50-55 kts over a moderate area centered at 37N 168E. They were aimed well down the 305 degree great circle path to Hawaii and also right up the 294 degree path to North CA (297 SCal). Seas modeled at 30 ft centered at 35N 157E.
On Tuesday AM the low made it to the dateline with winds 40-45 kts over a moderate area aimed due east at 38N 175E aimed 10 degrees east of the 312 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 292 degree path to North CA (295 SCal). Seas were modeled at 32 ft centered at 37N 167E. By evening pressure held at 964 mbs as the low jogged a little east. A fading area of 40-45 kts winds were confirmed at 40N 180W aimed about like before favoring California more this time. 30 ft seas were modeled at 37N 178E.
The low faded on Wednesday AM with residual 35-40 kts fetch centered at 38N 170W with 31 ft seas forecast at 38N 177W. Residual 30 ft seas held through the evening at 38N 170W, then gone.
This system was unimpressive by any standards, but especially considering the hype the models brought to it a few days earlier. It's one redeeming factor was it produced 30 ft seas that lasted 60 hours, a near milestone this year. This swell is now hitting the outer Hawaii buoy (51001) on Thursday (12/8) at 3 PM with seas 11.5 ft @ 19 secs and pure swell 9.2 ft @ 17.2 secs.
Hawaii, by virtue of it's relative proximity to the storm center (1152-2481 nmiles) will be better positioned to get some size, minimal certified significant class energy. Expect swell arrival Friday (12/9) in the early morning hours with period 18 secs and swell quickly pushing up to 7.5-7.8 ft @ 16-17 secs at sunrise (11-13 ft faces with top spots 1.5 times that) holding through the day then fading. Decent 13-14 second residuals expected by Saturday morning. Swell Direction: 300-315 degrees
Still it was a very long ways from North California (2220-3763 nmiles) and will result in only utility class energy, much decayed over the long journey east with the most size fading towards the back end of the period spectrum. Swell expected to hit North CA Sunday 4 AM (12/11) with period 17 secs peaking mid-afternoon with swell 5.5-6.0 ft @ 16 secs (8.5-9.5 ft faces) dropping to 14 secs near midnight. Swell Direction: 286-292 degrees
Southern California: Swell expected at 4.0-4.4 ft @ 16-17 secs late Sunday afternoon (12/11) (6.5-7.0 ft faces at better breaks) and up to 5 ft @ 16-17 secs in San Diego (8 ft faces). Swell to peak overnight with energy fading to 14 secs by sunrise Monday and heading down from there. Swell Direction: 292-297 degrees
See QuikCAST for details.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (12/8) high pressure was firmly in control of the outer waters at 1024 mbs filling the space between Hawaii and the US mainland. All eastward bound storm activity was being shunted north into Alaska with generally calm waters off the California coast. No real change forecast through the weekend and most of next week. Calm local waters, light offshore winds and no windswell is the expectation.
The 5 Day wind forecast is now included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.
A small low producing 21 ft seas aimed northeast occurred Saturday (12/3) due south of Hawaii providing the potential for faint background swell for Hawaii a week out. Otherwise no swell producing fetch forecast over 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 2 more short lived lows are forecast: one just south of the Aleutians on Tuesday (12/13) producing a 24 hour burst of 50-55 kt wind aimed well at the US west coast with 35 ft seas expected on Wednesday, and another on late Wednesday on the dateline pushing 12 hours of 50 kts fetch towards Hawaii resulting in 38 ft seas pushing midway between Hawaii and California. It's a real crap shoot whether either of these systems will materialize.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.
Details to follow...
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Sharks, Sharks and more Sharks: Want to know all the details of every shark encounter over the past few months in California? You can read all about it in the fascinating chronology produced be the Shark Research Committee. There's alot more going on in our waters than you could ever have imagined (or ever wanted to know). http://www.sharkresearchcommittee.com/pacific_coast_shark_news.htm
Stormsurf Weather Model Update: Over the weekend (10/30) we moved new new code into production that should dramatically improve the efficiency and reliability of our weather models. We've had problems with them not keeping in-sync with the wave models. Hopefully that problem is now resolved though we're still dependent on NOAA data servers just like everyone else. What this fix does do is provide the infrastructure now to rapidly expand our offering of weather models, enabling more detailed global coverage. We will be working on that as time permits.
Rob Gilley Photgraphy: Please take amoment to check out the selection of limited print images availabe at Rob Gilleys webite. All images in the 2005 line were taken by Rob Gilley, an 19 year Surfer Magazine staff photographer, and are personally signed and numbered by him: http://www.pacificsurfgallery.com
Tutorial on the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) Presented by Dr. Roland Madden: If you're interested in El Nino and the MJO, have a basic understanding of El Nino, and you have broadband connection, audio and Macromedia Flash installed, then the following presentation is a must see. Dr Madden present a great overview of how the MJO works. And there's nothing like hearing it straight from the founders mouth. Link here: http://meted.ucar.edu/climate/mjo/mjonav0.htm
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table