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 Tuesday (2/5) Northern CA surf was 3-4 feet overhead and almost clean early, though still a bit jumbled. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest to head high and rideable. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was 2-3 ft overhead and reasonably clean. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was chest to head high at the better breaks and almost clean. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to chest high and junky. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were chest high and textured. The North Shore of Oahu was chest high and still kinda sideshore. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was head high and windy.
North/Central California was getting small and fading swell generated by a storm over the dateline late last week mixed with local windswell. Southern California was getting wrap around energy from the local windswell mixed with the same dateline energy. Hawaii's North Shore was effectively flat other than wrap around east windswell making into select spots. The East Shore was getting messy tradewind generated windswell. The South Shore was seasonally flat other than minimal wrap-around windswell.
Things continue shaping up with the jetstream expected to go into full non-split more by Monday (2/11) and is already making major strides in that direction. As such, the storm pattern at the oceans surface is responding with one storm already in-play (Storm #16) and 2 more on the charts for the not too distant future, one on the dateline and another off the Pacific Northwest. The good news here is that Hawaii is supposed to finally come on-line, receiving energy from two of these systems and ending a long wave drought there. And with the coming of the jet, this is likely just the beginning. So get what you can, but save a little energy from what might become an extended run of surf. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Tuesdays jetstream charts (2/5) for the North Pacific depicting the same fully split jetstream but with the split point starting to move east, reaching the dateline near 170E. Winds were holding solid at 170 kts over Japan reaching the whole way to the dateline in one consolidated flow (the first in a long time), then splitting with the northern branch ridging northeast but still remaining just south of the Aleutians, then dropping south into the Pacific Northwest. The southern branch tracked hard south to the equator then flowed flat east from there. The area from Japan to the dateline held the best odds for supporting storm development with limited potential on into the Gulf of Alaska. Over the next 72 hours a solid trough is to develop on the dateline pushing northeast into the Gulf of Alaska through the weekend with 140 kt winds feeding into that trough, offering good potential for surface level storm development while 170+ kt winds continue pushing off Japan back to the west. This looks promising. Beyond 72 hours a consolidated flow is to build eastward, reaching a point just north of Hawaii by late Sunday (2/10) then lifting northeast from there, but maintaining energy levels while pushing into the Central Gulf. The southern branch is to wither away by Tuesday (2/12), a very good sign. If this happens basically the entire North Pacific will be open for business, assuming some form of trough starts to build along the newly consolidated jet.
At the surface today high pressure at 1032 mbs was positioned 1200 nmiles west of Pt Conception CA ridging into the coast from Cape Mendocino southward and generating a modest northerly flow there. It also continue to effect the Hawaiian Islands by supporting the tradewind flow there, though not quite as strong as in weeks previous. Storm-wise Storm #16 was tracking east over the dateline bound for the Gulf of Alaska (see details below). Otherwise a new gale developed in the Central Gulf Monday with pressure down to 1000 mbs late (non-closed isobar low) with an infintesimal area of 50-55 kt northwest winds confirmed at 45N 144W aimed right down the 298 degree path to North CA. Seas were building. It was moving rapidly east Tuesday AM with a tiny area of 50-55 kt northwest winds confirmed at 47N 133W aimed right down the 315 degree path to North CA with much energy also aimed right at Washington a mere 350 nmiles offshore. Seas built to 26 ft at 47N 138W targeting the Pacific Northwest. This system to be pushing inland over Vancouver Island area by nightfall as 27 ft seas impact the coast there. Possible north angled swell to be pushing south towards North CA arriving Wednesday early (2/6) evening peaking with swell about 9 ft @ 13 secs (10 ft faces) coming from 310-315 degrees and fading by daylight Thursday.
Over the next 72 hours two systems of interest are charted. The first is to be Possible Storm #17 in the Gulf of Alaska Thurs-Sat (2/9) with 40-45 kt winds and 29-35 ft seas targeting North CA up into the Pacific Northwest (see Possible Storm #17 below). At the same time another storm is to be forming west of the dateline Thurs-Sun (2/10) targeting Hawaii initially with 55 kts winds and 40-44 ft seas, then turning towards the US West Coast (see Possible Storm #18 below).
On Sunday evening (2/3) a 966 mb storm was organizing just off Central Japan with winds confirmed at 60 kts over a small area in it's south quadrant at 36N 162E aimed east and northeast towards Hawaii up the 299 degree great circle path and towards North Ca up the 292 degree path (297 SCal). Seas building.
On Monday AM (2/4) pressure was 960 mbs with a solid fetch of 55-60 kt winds confirmed at 38N 170E 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 modeled to 39 ft over a small area at 37N 163E. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the back half of the fetch area and confirmed seas at 39.6 ft, right on track if not beating the model. In the evening 55 kt winds were confirmed storms south quadrant aimed a bit to the northeast from 41N 175E or 30 degree east of the 315 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 294 degree path to NCal (300 SCal). 40 ft seas modeled at 37N 171E.
On Tuesday AM (2/5) pressure was up barely to 964 mbs with 55 kt winds continuing at the dateline or 43N 180W 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 modeled holding near 40 ft at 42N 180W. Amazingly the Jason-1 satellite made a pass directly over the fetch at 15Z and confirmed seas at 40.4 ft, exactly on-track with modeled projections and actually suggesting such seas covered a broader area than suggested by the models. This is the second day of consecutive confirmations and is all good news. In the evening pressure to be rising to 968 mbs with a broad area of 45-50 kts winds at 45N 175W aimed due east or not on any route to Hawaii but aimed right up the 297 degree path to North CA (302 SCal). Seas rebuilding to 43 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 48N 172W aimed right down the 304 degree path to NCal. 43 ft seas forecast at 47N 168W (aimed up the 302 degree route to NCal). In the evening pressure to be up to 992 mbs with 35 kt winds at 49N 165W aimed due east or up the 305 degree path to NCal but focusing more on the Pacific Northwest. 39 ft seas forecast at 50N 162W heading towards Canada.
By Thursday AM (2/7) this system to be gone. 31 ft seas from previous fetch to be at 50N 154W aimed 20 degrees east of the 309 degree path to NCal and focusing on Canada.
In all the models and actual readings are on good track with this system continuing 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 huge, but it is reasonably 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 when it depicted up the 48 ft seas. So far the models are doing quite well. Assuming all plays out as forecast it 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.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival starting near 1 AM Thursday (2/7) with period 20 secs and size tiny but building. Swell to start peaking from noon to 5 PM with swell 8-9 ft @ 17-18 secs (14-16 ft faces) and solid. Swell fading overnight with 14-15 secs energy left at sunrise Friday (2/8) and swell 7-8 ft @ 14-15 secs (10-12 ft faces). Swell Direction: 303-310 degrees with energy out to 320 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival starting mid-day Friday (2/8) with period 22 secs and size small. Size to be coming up steadily through the late afternoon with period dropping to 20 secs after sunset and starting to get solid. Swell to peak from late evening into mid-day Saturday (2/9) with swell 8.5-9.0 ft @ 17-19 secs (14-16 ft faces). Size fading thereafter though still solid through the day. 15 secs residuals expected Sunday AM. Swell Direction: 295-300 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival starting Friday (2/8) at 7 PM with period 22 secs and size tiny if even noticeable. Swell building solidly by sunrise Saturday (2/9) as period drops to 20 secs with size coming up. Swell to peak starting near 2 PM and holding through 11 PM with swell 3.8-4.4 ft @ 17-20 secs (6.5-8.5 ft faces with best breaks 8-10 ft). Solid size to continue Sunday morning with swell 3.5-4.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (5-6 ft faces - best breaks to 8 ft) and fading. Swell Direction: 298-305 degrees with energy up to 310 degrees
Possible Storm #17
A new gale is to be forming in the southwestern Gulf of Alaska on Thursday AM (2/7) with pressure 992 mbs producing a small area of 40-45 kt northwest winds at 40N 165W aimed 30 degrees south of the 287 degree path into North CA, (293 SCal). Seas building. In the evening it's to lift northeast with 40-45 kts winds at 45N 155W aimed right down the 297 degree path to NCal (302 SCal). 28 ft seas forecast at 47N 170W sinking southeast and mostly associated with leftover fetch from Storm #16.
On Friday AM (2/8) 40 kts winds to persist in the area (48N 155W) aimed right down the 302 degree path to NCal and getting good traction on the oceans surface with the low at 968 mbs hanging in the Northern Gulf. Seas building to 29 ft at 46N 165W. More of the same is forecast in the evening with the fetch actually building in areal coverage some. A broad area of 29-30 ft seas forecast at 45N 155W.
On Saturday AM (2/9) a solid fetch of 40 kt winds to persist but moving east from 47N 148W aimed right down the 303 degree path to NCal and having good exposure to the Pacific Northwest too. 35 ft seas forecast at 46N 148W (302 deg relative to NCal). This system to rapidly fast in the evening while tracking east. 37 ft seas forecast at 47N 142W (308 deg NCal).
If all this plays out as forecast possible significant class swell could push into North CA and the Pacific Northwest late Sunday into Monday (2/11).
Possible Storm #18
And yet one more system has been on the charts for 4 or more days and is still there, if not stronger than projected earlier.
It to form off Japan Thursday AM (2/7) building into something of interest by the evening with pressure 968 mbs and winds building to 55-60 kts at 40N 163E aimed right down the 307 degree path to Hawaii but too far off any route to the West Coast.
On Friday AM (2/8) pressure to be 960 mbs with the storm tracking east producing 55-60 kts winds in it's south quadrant aimed due east from 42N 168E or aimed 20 degrees east of the 313 degree path to Hawaii and aimed 20 degrees south of the 296 degree path to North CA (301 SCal). 36 ft seas forecast at 42N 168E. In the evening 50-55 kt winds to persist at 44N 174E aimed due east or 40 degrees east of the 320 degree path to Hawaii and almost right up the 298 degree path to North CA (303 SCal). Up to 44 ft seas forecast at 44N 175E.
On Saturday AM (2/9) pressure to hold at 960 mbs with 45 kt winds holding at 45N 175E aimed 40 degrees east of the 323 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 300 degree path to NCal (305 SCal). 43 ft seas forecast (attributable mostly to previous fetch) at 45N 179E. 35-40 kts fetch to hold in the evening with specs unchanged. 37 ft seas fading at 45N 177W.
On Sunday AM (2/10) this system to slow fade as a new gale builds well to it's southwest off Japan, preparing to steals it's energy. 30 ft seas forecast in the morning at 44N 177W, dropping to 29 ft in the evening at the same place.
Assuming all this comes to pass some form of smaller but longer period significant class swell should push into both Hawaii early next week and California a few days later.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast