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 (2/19) Northern CA surf was chest to head high and not too miserable despite the rainy weather. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist high and junked out. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was chest to head high and clean. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was thigh to waist high. The LA Area southward to Orange County was maybe thigh high. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were up to waist high. The North Shore of Oahu was 2 ft overhead and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was chest high at select breaks.
North/Central California was not getting any real swell of interest yet. Southern California was essentially flat with now swell in the water. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the next round of swell from a series of fast moving but poorly organized gales tracking from the dateline east towards the Gulf of Alaska. The East Shore was getting some wrap around energy coming from the northwest, leftovers from the North Shore. The South Shore was seasonally flat.
The storm machine has backed down, but is not out. A series of weak gales started organizing over the dateline last Friday (2/15) moving towards the Gulf of Alaska and setting up fun sized swell that is starting to arrive along Hawaii's Northern Shore. That gale pattern is to continue seeping east through Thursday (2/21) then fading relative to Hawaii but not before putting more fun sized.cgius swell in the water aimed the them. A gale is forecast winding up in the Gulf Wednesday offering some hope for California for the early weekend, with a much stronger storm expected just off the coast Saturday and Sunday likely slamming huge raw wind whipped surf into Central CA for late in the weekend, but wrapping into Southern CA with marginally better, or at least more manageable conditions. So there's hope, with best bets on Hawaii for now. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Tuesdays jetstream charts (2/19) for the North Pacific depicted a solid consolidated flow pushing almost dead flat off Japan to a point 800 nmiles west of San Francisco with winds 170-190 kts over it's width offering good fuel for storm development. The only issue was the lack of any trough, dips or undulations present in the jet, which typically help to form a cyclonic circulation in the lower levels of the atmosphere (i.e. a storm). Over the next 72 hours no real change is forecast other than a faint trough setting up on the dateline, but not really of any affectivity. Beyond 72 hours things to start changing with a slight ridge building on the dateline on Friday (2/22) with a trough on either side of it and 170-190 kt kt winds in each, offering better odds for surface level gale development both east and west. The undulating pattern to build through the weekend into early next week, with the ridge on the dateline almost forcing the jet to .cgiit on the dateline and shedding some energy, but settling back down by mid-next week. Better odds for surface level gale/storm development well into next week.
At the surface today a broad but unorganized area of low pressure filled the Gulf of Alaska and was generating pockets of fetch from the dateline pushing up into British Columbia. The core of the low was at 972 mbs located 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii with winds at 45-50 kts confirmed at 43N 159W aimed generally east, or up the 287 degree path to NCal (292 SCal). Seas were building. Other fetch from this systems was fading on the dateline at 30 kts with seas to 25 ft at 35N 178E. This was actually the remnants of fetch that has persisted west of the dateline an migrating east since Friday (2/15), with winds in the 30-35 kt range and seas in the 23-25 ft range. Swell from this fetch has already hit Oahu's Northern Shores and is expected to continue fading some Wednesday then rebuilding late Thursday (2/21) to 8 ft @ 13 secs (9-10 ft faces) and slowly fading from there.
Over the next 72 hours the low moving towards the Gulf is expected to consolidate more Tuesday evening (2/19) while traveling northeast with 50 kt winds forecast at 44N 153W aimed right down the 295 degree path to North CA (300 SCal). Seas to 28 ft at 43N 155W. By Wednesday AM (2/20) 45 kt winds forecast fading at 48N 148W aimed down the 308 degree path to NCal with seas to 35 ft at 45N 148W (301 deg NCal), then dissipating and effectively gone by evening. Seas fading from 30 ft at 49N 141W on the 318 degree path to NCal. Some form of solid advanced class swell with period to 17 secs possible for North and Central CA by Friday (2/22) with swell 8 ft @ 15-16 secs (11-12 ft faces) from 295 degrees and lesser energy wrapping into exposed breaks in Southern CA for the weekend. Weather a likely issue though.
Also a new broad gale is forecast starting to build off Japan Thursday AM (2/21) with pressure 992 mbs and winds coming up from 35 kts near 35N 155E aimed even south of Hawaii. By evening pressure to be dropping with 40 kts winds over a respectable area at 35N 170E aimed well at Hawaii up the 304 degree great circle path. 23 ft seas forecast at 35N 160E. This one to build more on Friday AM (2/22) with 40-45 kts winds forecast at 40N 168E aimed well toward Hawaii down the 312 degree path, building to near 50 kt in the evening just a few degrees north. 25 ft seas building to 30 ft at 39N 170E targeting Hawaii well in the evening peaking near 35 ft over a tiny area Saturday AM (2/23) at 43N 173E while the gale itself fades fast. Nothing left by evening. If this comes to pass some form of solid advanced class swell could push into the Hawaiian Islands at sunset Monday (2/25) with swell 7.8 ft @ 16 secs (11-12 ft faces) then fading Tuesday AM from 9 ft @ 14 secs 11-12 ft faces from 305-312 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
As of Tuesday (2/19) the leading edge of eastward traveling low pressure reached the coast resulting in south winds and light rain in North and Central CA, but not expected to have much impact in Southern CA. Maybe a few showers there into Wednesday. High pressure is expected to get a bit of a foothold in the north Wednesday but is to be too weak to have any real impact on local winds while the next low/front tries to build offshore. It's to push into North and Central CA Thursday with south winds and rain forecast in Central CA pushing into Southern CA Friday, followed by another tiny low building just off the coast Friday (2/22) but falling apart before having any impact. But a really strong storm is forecast building just off Central Friday evening pushing onshore Saturday into Sunday with more south wind and rain for all regions. Looks like a warm core system though, so don't expect snow at low elevations. High pressure to take hold Monday into Tuesday (2/26) deflecting yet another gale and making for lighter winds and drier conditions.
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
An unusual mid-winter southern hemi gale at 960 mbs is passing under New Zealand on Sunday (2/17) generating 45 kt southwest winds at 55S 170E aimed well up the 210 degree path to Hawaii with seas to 36-38 ft there. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass directly over the core of the fetch Sunday evening and confirmed seas at 34.5 ft at 53S 176E with a peak reading to 37 ft, within 1 ft of what the wave model expected. Very nice. It seeped slowly east into Monday (2/18) with winds slowly fading and 36 ft seas fading from 50S 175W but aimed almost right up the 190 degree path to the Islands through the period. Actually 30 ft seas held on till early Tuesday morning (2/19) before heading on a downward trend. Some form of off season southern hemi swell for the Hawaiian Islands looks likely starting Sunday (2/24) reaching near 3 ft @ 16-17 secs (5 ft faces) Monday (2/25) from 190-195 degrees. Swell fading from 3 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft faces) Tuesday morning (2/26).
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 a small but strong local storm is forecast wrapping up off Central CA Saturday (2/23) with pressure down to 968 mbs and winds 60-65 kts at 37N 137W aimed right at Central CA from San Francisco down to Pt Conception from a very westerly direction. Seas building fast. Winds to drop to 50 kts by evening at 37N 130W just 400 nmiles off the Central CA coast pushing onshore overnight. Seas to 42 ft at 36N 132W in the evening dropping to 36 ft Sunday AM (2/24) and pushing onshore from Bodega Bay into Pt Conception through the day. A real mess. Better odds of rideable swell in protected areas of Southern CA late Sunday.
Yet two more broad gales are forecast by Sunday (2/24), one off Japan and the second just north of Hawaii. Both to produce 30 ft seas and likely generating swell, but the more local one relative to Hawaii to make for messy conditions there. At least it's something to monitor.
MJO Note: The active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation was pushing fully over the dateline Sunday (2/17) and expected to seep east over the equatorial Pacific through the end of the month on into the first week of March, likely helping to fuel some degree of limited storm development through the period. SOI values remain positive in the 10 range, though down from the 25 range last week (2/10). These are still expected to drop into the negative range a week out. Will see if this one has some impact on the North Pacific storm track, though one could already i.cgiicate it in Storms #16-19. But with the jetstream expected to .cgiit heavily, it has likely done all it can.
No swell producing systems of interst are forecast.
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