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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We hope you've had a great year and wish to extend our many thanks for your support over the past 12 months. Viewership continues to rise enabling us to work on new products. We wish you and your family the best and safest Holiday Season and hope you get some good surf (or snow) whereever your travels may take you. Forecast's will be provided on an as-available basis over the holidays as we try to take some time off as well. Have a great holiday!
On Thursday (12/20) Northern CA surf was up to double overhead but sloppy and nearly white capped. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist to maybe chest high and lumpy. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was up to 2 ft overhead and junky. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist to near chest high and windblown. The LA Area southward to Orange County was chest high with some bigger sets and blown out. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were chest high with still decent wind. The North Shore of Oahu was waist to chest high and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore had waist to chest high windswell.
North/Central California continued receiving locally generated swell originating from the Eastern Gulf of Alaska. Conditions generally sloppy due to the mixture of much short period energy mixed with the better moderate period swell. Southern California was getting some wrap-around energy from this same swell, filtering in through the Channel Islands. Hawaii's North Shore remained unseasonably small, though up just a tick from previous days, Local windswell continued pushing into the East Shore. The South Shore was flat. The last in the initial series of moderate period swells generated in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska is in the water and pushing southeast, hitting the Pacific Northwest and expected to pushing into North and Central California on Friday. But that is far from the end of it. If anything, the models are suggesting this pattern to become much more well entrenched by later this week with a series of strong systems pushing over this now well-worn path into the middle of next week. A series of 4 stronger storm are to be the hallmark of this next series of storm, all stronger than what we've already seen and tracking a little more to the north, and starting to form a little further to the west, offering Hawaii a better shot at something too. Still location from Central California northward up into the Pacific Northwest are to be the primary recipients of swell. but that all assumes the models are right, which remains a big assumption. So for now it safe to say there's one more swell for the West Coast guaranteed, but everything after that is pure speculation. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (12/20) for the North Pacific indicated a cohesive flow pushing off Japan with winds to 170 kts arching over the dateline then fading with the jet .cgiitting north of Hawaii. Most energy was retained in the northern branch which continued tracking northeast into Central Canada but only at 110 kts while the southern branch continued dipping over Hawaii and then tracking east into Baja at 50 kts. The best odds for surface level gael development was setting up well north of Hawaii with a trough starting to build in the jet there. Over the next 72 hours that first little trough is to continue tracking east into Canada on Saturday (12/22) while a broader trough develops behind it north of Hawaii. That on e to push into Canada on Monday (12/24) while a stronger one sets up behind that (again north of Hawaii). Beyond 72 hours this next trough to push strongly through the Gulf of Alaska Tuesday while the strongest trough of all builds over the dateline pushing into the Gulf on Thursday (12/27). Decent support for surface level gale development from all of these troughs.
At the surface today solid high pressure at 1028 mbs was 700 nmiles west of San Francisco generating a fair amount of northwesterly winds down the California coast and ridging a bit southwest helping to generate trades at 20 kts over the Hawaiian Islands and generating small easterly windswell there. A broad area of generic low pressure was pushing from the Bering Sea into the Gulf of Alaska, producing 25 kt winds over a broad area south of the Aleutians from the dateline into the Gulf and setting the stage for more storm energy in the future, though it in-and-of -itself was not generating any swell. Over the next 72 hours the first of many storms is to start developing Friday AM (12/21) off the southern reaches of this broad low pressure pattern, with a closed isobar 988 mb low forming and generating a small fetch of 45-50 kts west winds at 42N 152W aimed right up the 292 degree path to NCal (297 SCal) but already past Hawaii. Seas building. In the evening it's to be lifting northeast with pressure 980 mbs and winds building to 55 kts at 46N 142W aimed due east or 15 degrees east of the 303 degree path to North CA. 29-30 ft seas forecast at 44N 145W and building. By Saturday AM (12/22) 45-50 kts winds to be just off Vancouver Island at 49N 136W aimed 20 degree east of the 320 degree route to NCal and effectively out of the swell window, though pushing well towards Cape Mendocino. 32 ft seas forecast at 47N 135W (310 degrees relative to NCal). The fetch is to be inland over British Columbia by nightfall with all seas pushing into Vancouver Islands from the southwest. This is to be similar to previous gales, only now at storm strength and likely resulting in some form of large raw swell pushing into the Pacific Northwest with some longer period large advanced class swell pushing southeast into the San Francisco area Sunday (12/23) with period a little longer at 15-16 secs from 295-303 degrees. Lesser energy reaching Central CA later in the day but most of SCal to be shadowed.
Possible Storm #10
If one is to believe the models on Friday AM (12/21) a 996 mb low is to form on the dateline with a small fetch of 45 kts winds at 36n 175E aimed well at Hawaii down the 306 degree great circle path. Seas building. In the evening pressure to drop to 976 mbs with 55 kts winds forecast at 37N 175W aimed right at Hawaii down the 319 degree path and 30 degree south of the 287 degree path at North CA (292 SCal). Seas building fast from 26 ft at 36N 178W.
On Saturday AM (12/22) 60-65 kt winds (hurricane force) to be holding solid pushing straight east at 38N 165W aimed 20 degrees east of the 340 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 285 degree path to NCal (290 SCal). Seas forecast at 35 ft at 39N 167W. In the evening pressure to be 964 mbs with 55 kts winds holding at 42N 153W as the storm lifts gently northeast aimed right at NCal up the 292 degree path (297 SCal). Seas up to 36 ft at 40N 158W.
On Sunday AM (12/23) pressure to be 962 mbs 55 kt winds to hold at 48N 145W aimed due east or right up the 308 degree path to Ncal and mostly out of the SCal swell window. 37 ft seas modeled at 43N 148W (296 degrees relative to NCal). By evening the storm is to the up in the Northern Gulf with 55 kts winds over a broad area at 52N 142W aimed well down the 319 degree path to NCal. 39 ft seas forecast at 47N 140W (310 degrees NCal).
This system to be moving inland over Alaska Monday AM (12/24).
If all this comes to pass the first real significant class swell in a while could result for the Pacific Northwest on down into North and Central CA. The track of this storm is to not be too bad and fetch is to be most solid, resulting in 20 sec period energy and solid reasonably groomed swell pushing towards the coast. Hawaii to possibly receive near significant class surf as well near Christmas Eve, but it's way to early to make any sort of a projection since this one has not even started forming yet. Still, it's nice to see the models active again.
Another Pacific Northwest Gale
On Tuesday (12/18) a gale, the third in a series was setting up in the Western Gulf with pressure at 992 mbs and winds confirmed at 45-50 kts over a small area in it's south quadrant at 46N 157W aimed at North CA right down the 297 degree path (302 SCal) but bypassing Hawaii to the east. In the evening a small area of 40 kts winds continued at 45N 147W generating 23 ft seas at 46N 152W. On Wednesday AM (12/19) a disorganized fetch of 30-35 kts west winds continued at 44N 147W (off Oregon) generating 24 ft seas at 44N 140W. In the evening 30-35 kts winds persisted at 42N 135W while the core of the low pushed into British Columbia. 23 ft seas continued at 43N 136W. On Thursday AM (12/20) this system was dead with fading 21 ft seas modeled at 40N 133W about 500 nmiles west-northwest of San Francisco. This all adds up to one more pulse of raw swell expected to push into Northern CA late Thursday evening with period 15 secs, with remnant energy at 8-9 ft @ 14 secs (11-13 ft faces) expected at sunrise Friday (12/21) coming from 298-303 degrees and slowly fading. Lesser energy pushing into Central and South CA (see QuikCAST's).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (12/20) high pressure off the coast was generating a moderate northwesterly flow at 15-20 kts over all of Central CA pushing down into Southern CA, strongest near pt Conception But by Friday things to be settling down some, especially later in the day with offshore's in.cgiace for Saturday. High pressure is to try and get a nose in late on Sunday especially near Pt Conception with north winds on the increase again continuing firmly everywhere north of Pt Conception Monday. Things to settle down again Tuesday into early Wednesday, then high pressure and north winds return into Thursday.
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
A short-lived storm developed in the Southeastern Pacific Wed (12/12) generating a decent fetch of 50 kt west winds near 60S 128W fading to 45-50 kts in the evening and 40 kts by Thursday AM. Seas were modeled to 36 ft Wed PM at 59S 125W all heading almost due east. Maybe limited hope for small swell pushing into Southern CA starting Fri (12/21) with swell 2 ft @ 18 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces) period 17-18 secs fading from 2 ft @ 15 secs on Saturday (12/22) with 2.5 ft faces. Swell Direction 190 degrees.
Otherwise 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 the models suggest yet another storm forming in the Gulf of Alaska on Monday (12/24) quickly lifting northeast and spinning out in the Northern Gulf on Tuesday. Up to 60 kts winds and 40 ft seas area modeled Tuesday near 50N 140-150W aimed well towards Ncal down the 310-315 degree paths and even better at the Pacific Northwest. Another shot of possible long period significant class swell to result.
Any yet the biggest of all of them has been on the models for a few days now, though that is hardly believable. This one to form on Monday (12/24) west of the dateline taking the coveted westerly route over the dateline with 55-60 kts winds building in it's southwest quadrant initially aimed well at Hawaii with seas to 38 ft, then shifting towards the US West coast on Tuesday (12/25) with winds holding and seas to 45 ft lifting into the Gulf on Wednesday (12/26) with winds still in the 55 kt range and seas to a whopping 50 ft. 50 kt winds still projected on Thursday (12/27) near 48N 155W aimed due east with seas building to 52 ft. This would be most impressive if it were to occur, but it's purely a fairy tale at this early date. Will have a much better handle on this come later in the weekend. Still, it's a nice fantasy.
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