On Thursday (2/15) Northern CA surf was head high, sloppy and messy. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist high. Central California surf was shoulder to maybe head high. Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was maybe thigh high at the best breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh high on the sets at the best spots. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were waist to chest high on the sets. The North Shore of Oahu was triple overhead plus with southerly winds. The South Shore was near flat. The East Shore was chest high.
North California was getting northwest windswell. Southern California was mostly shadowed from windswell coming from further up north. Hawaii was seeing the leading edge of Swell #17 with solid long period size impacting northern shores. This is the best swell expected for quite some time. Storm #17 pushed towards the dateline early this week with 50-55 kt winds generating 37-42 ft seas pushing well down the great circle paths to Hawaii and California, but the mainland was a long ways from the center of this storm, meaning much opportunity for swell decay on the long journey east. Still this to be the best thing going for quite a while, with an unfavorable jetstream pattern forecast over the long term suggesting a shutdown of the Aleutians Storm Corridor (as if it had ever really been open this season) and the potential for storm generation limited to the peripheral edges of the Pacific. Following that thought, some activity is schedule off Japan and in the northeastern Gulf of Alaska, but in all it to be short lived and close to land, limiting any potential for long period groomed and well defined swell. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (2/15) depicted a change in the making. The jet was flowing off Japan at 140 kts, but quickly split with the northern branch ridging north before even reaching the dateline while the southern branch continued east. The northern branch recurved south and the two streams joined together just east of the dateline, then split strongly northeast of Hawaii with the northern branch pushing into British Columbia and the southern branch tracking Baja. The only area of interest was a little trough in the northern branch nestled in between the two splits, providing very limited support for surface level gale development with winds 130 kts there. It is assumed under the split points high pressure will develop at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (2/18) the two splits area to drift east and eventually combine into one large dual flow extending from west of the dateline east into North America. The northern branch to steadily ridge northward into the Gulf of Alaska with winds 130 kts only diving south right as it moves over the US coast while the southern branch flows flat east with winds at 90 kts or less. This is not favorable for any surface level gale development. Beyond 72 hours much the same is forecast with the ridge in the northern branch becoming even more pronounced, pushing north over the eastern Aleutians then eventually dipping some in the far eastern Gulf of Alaska, suggesting a trough there and some support for local gale development at the oceans surface Tues-Thurs off the Pacific Northwest, but very limited in areal coverage at the surface and likely more of a rain and snow producer than quality fetch. A bit of a trough is to develop off the Kamchatka Peninsula (Siberia) too, but making zero headway into the greater Pacific.
At the surface today weak generic low pressure was in the northern Gulf of Alaska, the fading remnants of Storm #17, but no swell producing fetch was associated with it while strong high pressure at 1036 mbs was positioned 600 nmiles west of Pt Conception, CA ridging west over Hawaii providing storm protection for the area. Another 1020 mbs high as developing over the dateline down around 30N. A gale low was trying to push off of Japan at 984 mbs. In all no swell producing fetch was indicated. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (2/18) the Gulf low to track east some and try to reorganize in the eastern Gulf early Friday possible generating a small fetch of 40-45 kt winds at 45N 150W aimed down the 298 degree path to North CA then swinging a bit more towards the Pacific Northwest in the evening from 45N 148W (299 degrees relative to NCal). By Saturday AM the low to be lifting northeast with 45 kt northwest winds at 47N 142 aimed from NCal northward down the 308 degree path but favoring the Pacific Northwest. This one to be pushing towards the Canadian coast by evening an out of the Ca swell window. Seas to 30-32 ft suggested for 12-18 hours, in the vicinity of 45N 140W-150W possibly generating a small but raw pulse of near significant class swell targeting Northern CA northward. Expect North CA to see swell starting late Sunday afternoon (2/18) with swell 8 ft @ 16 secs (12-13 ft faces) peaking just after sunset with size and period dropping through the night from 298-303 degrees.
Also a broad low to continue tracking off Japan Thursday (2/15) generating a decent sized area of 40-45 kt fetch at 36N 160E aimed a bit south of the 299 degree path to Hawaii late, fading fast Friday AM while the core of the low heads northeast almost to the Bering Sea. Lingering 35 kt west winds forecast at 35N 155E Fri AM and effectively gone by nightfall. A small area of 29 ft seas forecast in the vicinity of 155E-165E 35N through the day Friday (2/16) aimed at Hawaii down the 299 degree great circle path but well off any track to California. Possible utility swell for northwest facing shore of the Islands peaking late Monday (2/19) at 4.6 ft @ 14 secs (6 ft faces) fading through Tuesday.
Residual energy from this low to be circulating in the Bering Sea near the dateline Sunday (2/18) with 35-40 kt winds just barely dangling south of the Aleutians at 50N 180W-->170W possibly generating 27 ft seas there aimed towards North CA down the 308 degree path, but a long ways away.
A new moderate storm developed off Japan on Sunday AM. Pressure was 980 mbs with 45-50 kts winds confirmed in it's southeast sector at 38N 153E aimed a bit south of the 305 degree great circle route to Hawaii and well off any path to the mainland. By evening it was pushing east with a moderate area of 50-55 kt west winds were confirmed in it's south quadrant at 40N 158E aimed right at Hawaii down the 307 degree path and 40 degrees south of the 298 degree path to NCal (303 SCal). Seas modeled to 29 ft at 39N 158E.
By Monday AM (2/12) pressure was down to 976 mbs with 50-55kt kt west winds confirmed at 38N 165E aimed right at Hawaii down the 306 degree path and 30 degrees south of the the 297 degree path to NCal (302 SCal). Seas were modeled up to 37 ft at 38N 165E. In the evening things started settling down with a broad area of 45 kts winds at 36N 172E aimed again right at Hawaii down the 310 path and 25 degrees south of the 295 degree path to NCal (300 SCal). Seas were peaking out west of the dateline at 42 ft at 38N 170E, a decent distance from Hawaii and a very long ways from the mainland.
By Tuesday AM (2/13) 40 kt winds were trying to hang on at 37N 178E aimed due east or 15 degrees east of the 312 degree path to Hawaii and about right up the 290 degree path to NCal (295 SCal). 42 ft seas were modeled at 37N 178E. By nightfall only a small area of 35-40 kt winds forecast left pushing over the dateline at 38N 175W with pressure 980 mbs and the system nearly gone. 37 ft seas forecast at 38N 173W, mostly from previous days fetch.
Wednesday AM (2/14) a small area of 35 kt west winds to be hanging on at 42N 165W aimed right up the 292 degree path to NCal (297 SCal) with residual seas of 32 ft forecast at 40N 168W. No fetch to be left in the evening with residuals 29 ft seas forecast at 43N 160W and decaying.
In all this was a reasonably potent storm early in it's life with decent duration and solid energy aimed towards Hawaii. Given it's relative close proximity to the Islands (1263-2113 nmiles), significant class swell seems likely. The mainland was very far away through (1717-3372 nmiles) at best, meaning there will be lot's of decay and only large utility class energy, and that assumes this one lives out the remainder of it's life as forecast (a likely outcome).
North CA: Expect swell arrival early Friday (2/16) before sunrise with period 23 secs and size tiny. Size slowly creeping up with inconsistent sets through the day and period dropping to 20 secs at sunset. Swell possibly 2.5-3.0 ft @ 20 secs (5-6 ft faces and inconsistent). Period to continue dropping with size trickling up, peaking Saturday (2/17) from sunrise to noon at 5.8-6.8 ft @ 17-18 secs (10-12 ft faces - this might be a bit optimistic). Swell slowly heading down by late afternoon with 14-15 secs energy left Sunday AM. possible more energy from the Gulf of Alaska building in overtop of this, but it's way to early to presume this is going to be the case. Swell Direction: 288-292 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival late Friday (2/16) just past sunset with period 23 secs and size tiny. Size slowly creeping up overnight with period dropping to 20 secs at sunrise Saturday. Swell possibly 1.5 ft @ 20 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces and inconsistent). Period to continue dropping with size trickling up through the day, peaking just past sunset and into the evening with swell 2.7-3.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (4.5-6.0 ft faces) with exposed best breaks to 3.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (6.0-6.5 ft faces through this might be a bit optimistic). Swell slowly heading down overnight with 15 secs energy left Sunday AM. Possible more energy from the Gulf of Alaska building in overtop of this, but it's way to early to presume this is going to be the case. Swell Direction: 294-297 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (2/15) high pressure at 1036 mbs was 600 nmiles west of Pt Conception tracking northeast generating a moderate northwest flow over exposed waters of Central CA. That to continue Friday but diminishing as the high pressure system off the coast pushes inland over Oregon and fades. A reasonably light wind flow expected Saturday then the wind machine to kick into high gear Sunday as another high at 1034 starts building right behind it, driving 20-25 kt northwest winds into Central CA and Southern CA holding Monday. A bit of a break Tuesday (2/20) then low pressure to take over the eastern Gulf with southwest to west winds following the leading edge of the front associated with this system, pushing into NCal Wednesday and Scal Thursday (2/22). In short, it looks like springtime winds are coming.
At the surface and through the next 72 hours there were no indications of any swell producing fetch in the South Pacific.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours strong high pressure at 1032-1036 mbs to take over the bulk of the North Pacific with one lobe over the dateline and the second off California, both joined at the hip totally locking down the prime California and Hawaiian storm corridors. The only unobstructed areas to be the Northern Gulf of Alaska and the immediate area off the Kamchatka Peninsula. On Monday (2/19) a 972 mb storm to develop just east of Japan lifting fast to the north up the 160E longitude with 45-50 kt winds developing in it's west quadrant aimed almost due south a getting little traction on the oceans surface. This storm to build and push up into the notch between the Aleutians and Kamchatka Tuesday (2/20) with 55 kt northwest winds taking better aim at Hawaii from 49N 162E or well down the 322 degree path and a bit outside the 308 degree path to North CA, then fading out early Wednesday. 37-40 ft seas forecast in the area of 48-50N 170E late Tuesday spraying short lived bits of energy towards both Hawaii and North CA (but not South CA - shadowed by the Aleutians). Maybe some small utility swell but likely well decayed when and if it ever arrives.
Also a bit of wind energy associated with low pressure in the Bering Sea over the weekend to track east Mon-Wed (2/21) into the Northern Gulf of Alaska then diving southeast towards California but fading before getting close. 26-28 ft seas to hold Monday and Tuesday aimed well at California and the Pacific Northwest, but to arrive in-sync with the weather associated with this low. Ragged ugly larger windswell the expected result.
In all, nothing of any real interest forecast.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is indicated.
Details to follow...
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table