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 Thursday (2/7) Northern CA surf was 3 feet overhead and mixed up. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest high and clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was head high to 2 ft overhead with winds coming up. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was thigh to waist high and textured mid-day. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh to waist high and junky. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist high and pretty clean. The North Shore of Oahu was double overhead, building and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was waist to chest high and not so windy.
North/Central California was getting moderate north angled swell from off Washington mixed with local windswell. Southern California was getting wrap around energy from the Washington swell, but not much. Hawaii's North Shore was finally starting to get real surf with swell from Storm #16 building in and providing some juice. The East Shore was getting fading messy tradewind generated windswell. The South Shore was seasonally flat.
The jetstream flow continues to improve in the upper levels of the atmosphere with a consolidated just pushing over the dateline bound for the Eastern Pacific. At the surface this has manifest in the development of Storm #16, with swell from that system hitting Hawaii and bound for California and the Us West Coast. Another smaller storm is starting to develop north of Hawaii today too, bound for the Eastern Gulf into Saturday while yet another larger system forms on the dateline directing yet more energy towards both Hawaii and California. In all a pretty active week is shaping up surf wise, with potential for yet more behind that. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (2/7) for the North Pacific depict a steadily improving flow, with a consolidated jet no pushing over the dateline though a bit wobbly on it's new legs, then splitting just east of there near 170W. Winds were up to almost 190 kts off Japan, then dropping to the 120 kt range flowing through a building trough in the northern branch pushing into British Columbia, and 60-70 kts in the southern branch tracking towards the equator. Over the next 72 hours the trough in the northern branch is to push through the Gulf Alaska over the weekend with 120 kt winds feeding into it, offering some potential for surface level storm development while 170+ kt winds continue pushing off Japan back to the west. This looks good. Beyond 72 hours a consolidated flow is to build eastward, pushing the whole way into Canada save a little stream of weak energy still trying to peel off the main flow near Hawaii but not a factor until Friday of next week (2/15), and then still very weak and not perturbing the main flow much. Will see if it builds into something worse. The main core of the jet from Japan to the dateline to continue with 190 kt winds, offering much potential if a solid trough builds there.
At the surface today high pressure at 1032 mbs was positioned 600 nmiles west of Pt Conception CA ridging into the coast from Monterey Bay southward and generating a modest northerly flow most condensed near Pt Conception. It also continues to effect produce modest trades over the Hawaiian Islands, but much less than what we've seen in recent weeks. Swell from Storm #16 was pushing into Hawaii and expected to continue east into the US Mainland (see Storm #16 below). Also two new storms were brewing to the west, one north of Hawaii (see Storm #17 below) and a broader one west of the dateline (see Storm #18 below).
Over the next 72 hours these two systems are to be of prime interest, with energy radiating towards California from the first and Hawaii and California from the second. And yet more is hinted at behind that.
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 was rising to 968 mbs with a broad area of 45-50 kts winds at 45N 175W aimed a bit north of due east or not on any route to Hawaii but aimed right up the 297 degree path to North CA (302 SCal). Seas were modeled at 42 ft at 45N 174W. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass over the eastern edge of the core of the fetch at 05Z and confirmed seas at 38.4 ft, within 6 inches of what the model suggested. More good news.
On Wednesday AM (2/6) the last little residual winds of this fading system were confirmed at 40 kts at 47N 168W aimed right down the 304 degree path to NCal. 42 ft seas were modeled at 47N 168W (aimed up the 302 degree route to NCal). In the evening pressure was up to 992 mbs with 30 kt winds at 49N 165W aimed due east or up the 305 degree path to NCal but focusing more on the Pacific Northwest. 37 ft seas were modeled at 49N 162W heading towards Canada.
By Thursday AM (2/7) this system was gone. 29 ft seas from previous fetch were at 50N 154W aimed 20 degrees east of the 309 degree path to NCal and focusing on Canada.
In all the actual readings tracked well with what the models had projected, even days before. The system was fairly strong though not large in areal coverage and held 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 was not huge, but it is reasonably strong and cohesive adding much momentum to the swell. This one had been on the charts since last Wednesday and it did not waiver much other than loosing a little strength from earlier projections when it depicted up the 48 ft seas. So the models did quite well. Expect some form of solid long period swell impacting the Hawaiian Islands on Thursday AM (2/7) and push into the California coast for the weekend.
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 started forming Wednesday PM (2/6) on the dateline producing 45-50 kt winds confirmed at 37N 178W aimed due south, missing evening Hawaii.
The gale was moving east towards the southwestern Gulf of Alaska on Thursday AM (2/7) with pressure 990 mbs continuing to produce a small area of 40-45 kt northwest winds at 37N 170W aimed almost due south or right down the 331 degree path to Hawaii though nothing at CA. 23 ft seas were building at 36N 173W. In the evening it's was to be lifting northeast with 40-45 kts winds at 39N 163W aimed 25 degrees east of the 345 degree path to Hawaii but not really at CA yet. 26 ft seas forecast at 37N 165W.
On Friday AM (2/8) winds to turn more to the east at 40-45 kts centered near 43N 155W aimed 10 degrees south of the 294 degree path to NCal and getting good traction on the oceans surface with the low at 980 mbs hanging in the Northern Gulf. Nothing aimed at Hawaii. Seas building to 27 ft at 41N 160W. More of the same is forecast in the evening with the fetch at 45 kts located at 46N 152W aimed right down the 298 degree path to NCal (303 SCal). A 29-30 ft seas forecast at 44-45N 155W.
On Saturday AM (2/9) a solid fetch of 40 kt winds to persist but moving east from 47N 149W aimed right down the 302 degree path to NCal (307 SCal) and having good exposure to the Pacific Northwest too. 33 ft seas forecast at 46N 149W (299 deg relative to NCal). This system to rapidly fast in the evening while tracking east through 45 kt winds to still persist. 30 ft seas forecast at 48N 142W (308 deg NCal) moving out of the NCal swell window.
If all this plays out as forecast possible tiny significant class swell could push into North CA and the Pacific Northwest Sunday Monday (2/10).
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival starting Saturday (2/9) at 3 PM with period 15 secs building into the evening, peaking near 11 PM with pure swell 5.5-6.5 ft @ 14 secs (7.5-8.5 ft faces). 13 sec residuals left by sunrise Sunday (2/10). Swell Direction: 325-335 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival Monday at 1 AM (2/11) with period 18 secs and size building quickly. Swell to peak near sunrise at 7.5-8.5 ft @ 17 secs (12-14 ft faces) settling down to 7-8 ft @ 14-15 secs mid-afternoon (11-12 ft faces). Swell Direction:293-300 degrees
Possible Storm #18
A new gale was forming 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 41N 163E aimed right down the 309 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 northeast still producing 60 kts winds in it's south quadrant aimed due east from 43N 168E or aimed 20 degrees east of the 315 degree path to Hawaii and aimed 20 degrees south of the 296 degree path to North CA (301 SCal). 39 ft seas forecast at 42N 168E. In the evening 50-55 kt winds to persist at 45N 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 45 ft seas forecast at 45N 175E (299 deg NCal).
On Saturday AM (2/9) pressure to hold at 960 mbs with 40 kt winds holding at 45N 173E 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 178E. 35-40 kts fetch to hold in the evening with specs unchanged. Seas fading to 30 ft at 46N 176W.
On Sunday AM (2/10) additional low pressure to move in from the west helping to generate a small secondary fetch of near 50 kt west winds at 45N 169W aimed due east or right up the 296 degree path to NCal (301 SCal). 32 ft seas forecast at 44N 169W. In the afternoon pressure to rise to 968 mbs with 45 kt winds holding at 45N 165W, and seas building to 38 ft in the the same place.
Yet on more 12 hours blip of 45 kt fetch forecast Monday AM (2/11) at 48N 160W aimed well down the 302 degree path to NCal (308 Scal), then fading. 36 ft seas forecast at 47N 160W.
Assuming all this comes to pass some form of moderate sized long 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