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.
On Sunday (2/3) Northern CA surf was a few feet over head and blown to bits by strong onshore wind. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest high and junky. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was 2-3 ft overhead and blown out. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was up to chest high at the better breaks and pretty textured but rideable. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high and junky. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were maybe chest high and blown to bits early. The North Shore of Oahu was chest high and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was chest to head high and windy.
North/Central California was getting pure windswell generated from west winds behind a strong front that passed through Saturday evening. Southern California was getting locally generated windswell from the same front. Hawaii's North Shore was getting mostly tradewind generated wrap swell coming from the East Side with limited impulse energy coming from the dateline. The East Shore was getting messy tradewind generated windswell. The South Shore was seasonally flat other than wrap around windswell.
All hail the return of the jetstream! If the models are right the horrible split pattern that has dominated the last 3 weeks is to come to an unceremonious close 5 days from now and a consolidated jet and more active storm pattern sets up. First up is a small but potent storm forecast just off Washington Mon-Tues offering large stormy surf in the Pacific Northwest with limited size pushing south into Central CA. But of more interest is a solid storm forecast at the same time developing west of the dateline and pushing into the Western Gulf of Alaska Mon-Wed offering energy for both Hawaii and California. And yet a third system is forecast just west of the dateline for the weekend targeting Hawaii well. So it looks like everyone will be getting something assuming the models are correct and the likelihood of more behind that is improving if the jetstream does what it's supposed to. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Sundays jetstream charts (2/3) for the North Pacific depicting the same old fully split jetstream with the split point just west of the dateline near 170E. Winds were holding at 170 kts over Japan, with the northern branch tracking northeast from the split point remaining just south of the Aleutians and ridging through the Gulf of Alaska, then dropping hard south and pushing inland over Central CA. The southern branch passed south of Hawaii tracking all the way to the equator. The area just off Kamchatka held the best odds for any potential for gale development lifting into the Western Gulf of Alaska. Over the next 72 hours the split point is to start moving rapidly east following on the heels of a quickly developing trough pushing through the Gulf Monday and Tuesday (2/5) with another trough right behind pushing from the dateline into the Gulf and fading by Wednesday. Good odds for surface level gale or storm development from both. By Wednesday a clear path is to be in place from Japan to Canada, allowing the first opening of that route in 3 weeks. The southern branch is to still be siphoning energy off towards the equator, but that flow is to be thinning. Beyond 72 hours a consolidated flow is to be building from the west eastward, reaching a point just north of Hawaii by Sunday (2/10) then fragmenting east of there with a limited split draining some energy off towards the equator but looking more anemic by the day. Perhaps a full repair of the jet will evolve by Monday (2/11).
At the surface today high pressure at 1032 mbs was positioned 900 nmiles northeast of Hawaii and trying to ridge into Southern CA, but not making it. Low pressure was positioned just inland over the Pacific Northwest forming a pressure gradient with the high to the west driving strong northwest winds from the Northern Gulf of Alaska all the way into Southern CA and making for highly chopped surf conditions locally. The high was also continuing to drive tradewinds over the Hawaiian Islands at above seasonal rates making for easterly windswell there. Weak but broad low pressure was starting to organize off Japan, the expected start of Possible Storm #16 (see details below). Also swell from a previous storm over the dateline was starting to impact the Hawaiian Islands (see Small Dateline Storm below). Over the next 72 hours possible Storm #16 is to progress east while building. Also a new gale is to develop in the Central Gulf Monday with pressure down to 988 mbs late with 60-65 kt northwest winds in place at 45N 145W aimed right down the 298 degree path to North CA. Seas building from 26 ft at 45N 148W. It is to be moving rapidly east and by Tuesday AM 55 kt northwest winds are to be at 47N 136W aimed right down the 315 degree path to North CA and much energy aimed right at Washington a mere 350 nmiles offshore. Seas building to 37 ft at 47N 140W. All ships should stay in port in this area. This system to be pushing inland over Washington and the Vancouver Island area by nightfall as 39 ft seas impact the coast there. Possible north angled swell to be pushing south towards North CA arriving Wednesday afternoon with swell about 10 ft @ 17 secs (15-17 ft faces) coming from 303-309+ degrees.
Small Dateline Storm
Another storm developed just west of the dateline Wednesday AM (1/30) with 45 kt winds at 40N 165E aimed right at Hawaii up the 310 degree path. Seas were 23 ft at 39N 166W. In the evening winds built to 50 kts at 43N 173E aimed 20 degree east of the 319 degree path to Hawaii and almost right up the 297 degree path to North CA (302 SCal). A small area of 30 ft seas were modeled at 42N 170E. This system held if not bloomed a little while tracking north just west of the dateline Thursday AM (1/31) with 45-50 kts winds at 46N 175E aimed due east or 40 degrees east of the 322 degree path to Hawaii but right up the 302 degree path to North CA (307 SCal). Seas built to 35 ft at 45N 176E. This one to be essentially gone by evening. 36 ft seas to be fading from 49N 180W and moving into the Aleutians.
Expect some form of small longer period swell arriving along north facing shores of the Hawaiian Islands early Sunday with swell 3.5 ft @ 15 secs (5 ft faces) from 315 degrees or so. Maybe a little bit of swell for North California late Monday (2/4) at 3.7 ft @ 17 secs (6 ft faces) from 302-307 degrees maybe pushing 4 ft @ 15 secs (6 ft faces) Tuesday AM (2/5). Nothing expected for SCal given the northerly angle.
Possible Storm #16
On Sunday evening (2/3) a 966 mb storm is to be organizing just off Central Japan with winds building to 60 kts over a small area in it's west quadrant aimed south and 50-55 kt winds building in it's south quadrant at 35N157E aimed east towards Hawaii up the 299 degree great circle path. Seas building.
On Monday AM (2/4) pressure to be 960 mbs with a solid fetch of 65 kt winds (hurricane force) at forecast at 38N 165E aimed due east or 10 degrees east of the 306 degree path to Hawaii and 20 degrees south of the 294 degree path to North CA (300 SCal). Seas forecast building to 38 ft over a small area at 37N 163E. In the evening 60 kts winds to continue in the storms south quadrant aimed a little bit to the northeast from 40N 175E or 30 degree east of the 315 degree path to HAWaii and right up the 294 degree path to NCal (300 SCal). 43 ft seas forecast at 39N 172E.
On Tuesday AM (2/5) pressure to be up barely to 962 mbs with 55 kt winds continuing at the dateline or 45N 177W aimed due east or 30 degree east of the 323 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 297 degree path to North CA (302 SCal). Seas forecast dropping to 41 ft at 41N 180W. In the evening pressure to be rising to 970 mbs with a broad area of 45 kts winds at 45N 170W aimed due east or not on any route to Hawaii but aimed right up the 296-298 degree path to North CA (303 SCal). Seas rebuilding to 42 ft at 45N 173W.
On Wednesday AM (2/6) the last little residual winds of this fading system are to be at 45 kts at 47N 168W aimed right down the 299 degree path to NCal. 43 ft seas forecast at 48N 165W (aimed up the 302 degree route to NCal). In the evening pressure to be up to 986 mbs with 40 kts winds at 49N 160W aimed due east or u the 305 degree path to NCal but focusing more on the Pacific Northwest. 40 ft seas forecast at 50N 160W heading towards Canada.
By Thursday AM (2/7) this system to be gone. 32 ft seas from previous fetch to be at 50N 152W aimed 20 degrees east of the 309 degree path to NCal and focusing on Canada.
In all the models project this system to be fairly strong and holding together well for almost 96 hours, making the full trek from Japan to the Gulf of Alaska, the first such system in a very long while. Wind area is not to be huge, but is to strong and cohesive adding much momentum to the swell. This one has been on the charts since last Wednesday and it has not waivered much other than loosing a little strength from earlier projections depicting up the 48 ft seas. Will be interesting to see if this one comes together as forecast. If it does, it's seems entirely possible that some form of solid long period swell could impact the Hawaiian Islands by Thursday AM (2/7) and push into the California coast for the weekend. Still, we need till Wednesday before anything is known for sure.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast