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 (12/8) Northern CA surf was 2-4 ft overhead and ripped to pieces by howling cold north wind. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were in the chest high range and a bit warbled but not too bad. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was 1-3 ft overhead and chopped out. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist to near chest high at the better spots and blown out early. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high and almost not junky. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were up to chest to maybe head high and windblown. The North Shore of Oahu was head high or so and still windblown. The South Shore had locally generated windswell in the waist high range and ugly. The East Shore was chest high with windswell coming from the northeast.
North/Central California was on the backside of a bit of locally generated and highly junky windswell. Southern California was getting locally generated and junky windswell too. Hawaii's North Shore was starting to see the first long period forerunners of the next modest swell from the off Kamchatka. Local windswell was hitting the East Shore and brisk south winds were still generating small local windswell along the South Shore. The outlook is far more modest than all the activity as of late. First up is small swell originating from off Kamchatka, pushing into Hawaii best with maybe some secondary energy expected in California. This is confirmed. Next up is a very modest gale forecast for the dateline Sunday offering marginal hope for both Hawaii and California. The best system of interest is to follow, a gale starting on the dateline on Monday (12/10) pushing into the Northern Gulf late Thursday generating 29-32 ft seas through it's life and offering some intermediate to advanced class hope for both Hawaii and California. But that's still a ways off with no guarantees. So in all it's to be rather quiet, but not flat. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Saturdays jetstream charts (12/8) for the North Pacific indicated a decent flow ridging slightly off Japan making it to the dateline with 160 kt winds, then splitting heavily with the northern branch pushing northeast into the Gulf of Alaska then diving down the US West Coast pushing inland over Southern CA while the southern branch meandered south of Hawaii and then east over the equator. Best odds for low pressure development was near the dateline. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast other than the flow off Japan dipping south a little with a weak trough setting up there pushing better to the east with the split point moving north of Hawaii. Improved odds for gale development over the dateline. Beyond 72 hours the split flow pattern is to push east with an almost consolidated flow trying to push across the North Pacific into Wednesday (12/12) with some support for surface level gael development along that area. But by Thursday (12/13) the jet is to begin ridging heavily north just off Japan, arching over the Aleutians just east of the dateline by the weekend totally shutting any surface level gale development potential down.
At the surface today strong high pressure at 1036 mbs was centered 600 nmiles off Cape Mendocino CA pushing up in to the Gulf of Alaska and forming a complete blockade of the storm track over the far Eastern Pacific. Weak low pressure that has been locked just north of Kauai was on the move to the north, getting sucked up the west flank of the high off California and rapidly moving out of the picture. Of most interest was weak low pressure at 988 mbs trying to set up over the dateline generating an infinitesimal fetch of 45-50 kt west winds at 44N 171E winds aimed reasonably well at both Hawaii and California. This offers the best hope of any swell development. Over the next 72 hours this low is to try and wrap up, with winds holding into Saturday night near 45N 180W with 27 ft seas at 42N 180W, then getting rapidly shuttled off to the northeast, sheared and effectively gone by Sunday morning (12/09). Residual 25 ft seas are forecast at 43N 172W pushing east towards the US west coast with sideband energy likely for HAwaii. But by Sunday AM it is to be gone.
Also on Tuesday (12/4) a gale was off the Kuril's tracking east-northeast and pushed north of the Aleutians Wednesday near the dateline and generating 24 hours of 50-55 kts winds over a small area near 170E-180W on the 50N latitude generating a tiny area of 39 ft seas aimed best at NCal down the 207-308 degree path. Small longer period swell for Hawaii on Sunday (12/9) and California on Sunday and Monday (12/10) possible (see QuikCAST's for details)
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Saturday (12/8) the northerly windfest cause by strong high pressure off the coast was still in effect, expected to hold into the evening. But by Sunday AM a light offshore flow is forecast for the entire California coast starting to clean up the rapidly fading remains of windswell still in the water. A bit of a pressure gradient is to hang off Cape Mendocino through Monday generating 25 kt winds a minor short period windswell, but is to have no direct effect on coastal winds south of there with a light flow forecast. Pretty much the same pattern is to hold through the week on into the following weekend with light winds in effect.
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
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 hrs a decent tropically fueled small low pressure system is to start developing off Northern Japan Sunday evening with pressure 988 mbs and 45-50 kts winds building in it's southwestern quadrant at 38N 170E aimed a bit towards Hawaii.
It is to be approaching the dateline Monday AM (12/10) with 50 kt winds in it's south quadrant at 40N 170E aimed at Hawaii up the 312 degree great circle path and at California up the 295 degree path. 25 ft seas building at 39N 168E. In the evening a decent fetch of 45-50 kt west winds are to continue in it's south quadrant as it approaches the dateline at 41N 178E aimed a bit east of the 319 degree path to Hawaii and almost right up the 293 degree path to California. Seas forecast near 30 ft over a tiny area at 40N 175E.
On Tuesday AM (12/11) this system is to be moving in to the Western Gulf of Alaska with 45 kt west winds at 45N 173W aimed right at California up the 295 degree path 45 degrees east of the 336 degree path to Hawaii. 30 ft seas continuing at 43N 177W. In the evening this system to be fading with 40 kts winds at 47N 165W aimed right up the 297 degree path to NCal (303 SCal). 30 ft seas are to be holding at 47N 168W.
Believe it or not some form of fetch is to hold into Wednesday AM (12/12) with winds still near 45 kts at 50N 165W aimed right up the 305 degree path to NCal. Seas building to 32 ft at 50N 162W. This system to be gone by nightfall. 30 ft seas are to be fading at 50N 155W.
There's some reasonable hope for small to moderate swell for Hawaii starting late Thursday (12/13) and exposed breaks in California for the weekend.
The GFS model is also suggesting some form of local low to rapidly build 800 nmiles off Oregon early Friday (12/14) generating a 12-18 hr fetch of 45 kt north winds starting near 45N 140W and reaching up to 50 kts off British Columbia at 48N 135W in the evening. This to be aimed reasonably well down the 310-3178 degree paths towards North CA, but way too far north of any path to South CA. 25 ft seas forecast at 47N 134W late Friday in the 319 degree swell window for NCal and 700 nmiles out. Maybe some form of raw very north angled swell for Sunday (12/12) but highly unlikely at this early date.
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