New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
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.
Next Forecast Update Thursday (4/16) - Taking Spring Break
On Saturday (4/11) North and Central California had shoulder high chopped north windswell with remnants swell buried underneath. Not very inspirational. Southern California was getting mostly northwest windswell with faint hints of southern hemi swell and pretty jumbled up north. In all the surf was waist high with some chest high sets down south and pretty well blown even early. Hawaii's North Shore was effectively flat with no rideable surf occurring. The East Shore had thigh high east tradewind generated windswell. The South Shore had thigh high background southern hemi swell, but was pretty weak.
The forecast for North and Central CA expects one more pulse of northwest swell moving in on Monday (4/13) from a gale that was in the Western Gulf on Wed-Thurs (4/9) but likely buried in local chop and wind. That to fade out on Tuesday with nothing immediately behind it. Southern hemi swell is expected Mon-Wed too making for fun surf at south facing breaks out of the wind. Southern CA to have some small windswell through the weekend but thing are to be heating up a litter later Sunday as southern hemi swell from a south direction starts showing later in the day. This one to peak out on Monday providing the biggest shot of southern hemi swell so far this season (hard to believe we're moving into summer already) and from a more southerly direction Some size expected through Wednesday (4/15). Some swell from the Gulf is to be mixed in there too. Oahu's North Shore is to not see anything till Sunday when a little sideband energy from a gale over the northern dateline starts sneaking in for a day or so, but by Tuesday it will be gone. The East Shore is expected to continue with some form of mostly very small easterly trade wind generated windswell for the next 7 days, perhaps a little bigger mid-next week pushing to chest high then. The South Shore is to have no rideable southern hemi swell for the next 7 days.
Longterm yet another gale is forecast tracking from Kamchatka east to the Gulf Sun-Thurs (4/16) generating up to 26 ft seas, maybe good for another pulse of northwest swell for Hawaii by Thurs and the West Coast by next weekend. after that things to really quiet down up north. But down south a decent system is on the charts starting Tues (4/14) and winding up pretty nice by Wed-Thurs (4/16) with up to near 40 ft seas aimed pretty well to the northeast in the CA swell window but east of the Hawaiian swell window. Will believe it when it happens.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday (4/11) the North Pacific jetstream was fragmented and weak flowing generally from Japan towards British Columbia and not as split as it's been most of the winter. Still energy levels were very weak and there was no real support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours through Tuesday (4/14) the jet is to split again from JApan to the US West Coast, two discrete streams over the whole North Pacific (not good). A weak trough is forecast forming in the northern branch on Sunday (4/12) off Kamchatka pushing east and deepening some in the Gulf by Tuesday with winds building to 130 kts for 18 hrs, then fading. Reasonable support for gale development if this occurs. Beyond 72 hours the northern branch of the jet is to start ridging hard to the north off Kamchatka, pushing up well north of the Bering Sea then dropping into a weak semi-persistent trough in the Gulf. Maybe some support for gale development there through next weekend but not much since wind speeds are to be generally light.
At the surface weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was centered 800 nmiles west of San Diego CA ridging into the coast and generating northwest winds at 25 kts centered over Pt Conception but affecting the entire CA coast. Weak low pressure was in the Northern Gulf of Alaska generating 20 kt northwest winds. And a new gale was trying to organize just off the Kamchatka Peninsula. Over the next 72 hours the only thing of interest is to be from the gale off Kamchatka. Saturday PM (4/11) 40 kt west wins are to be centered just off Kamchatka at 48N 162E and cut off from any track to the US West Coast, but maybe sending some energy down towards HAwaii down the 318 degree path. Sunday winds are to fade to 35 kts with seas to 28 ft early at 47N 167E as the gale limps east and almost gone on Monday with only 30 kts winds and 25 ft seas crossing the dateline at 46N 178W pushing down the 302 degree path to North CA. . Limited regeneration is forecast on Tuesday (4/14) in the Gulf with near 40 kts winds over a small area and nearly stalled with seas to 25 ft at 46N 160W, pushing 26 ft Wed AM at 45N 153W, then fading from 35 kts on Thursday with seas down to 20 ft. Possible modest swell for next weekend for the US West Coast if this occurs as modeled.
Western Gulf Gale
On Thursday (4/9) a gale low had organized on the dateline just south of the Aleutians with 45 kt west winds and 32 ft seas at 49N 176W aimed at the Pacific Northwest south towards North CA down the 306 degree great circle path. By Thursday evening it's continued east with winds down to 40 kts and seas peaking at 36 ft at 48N 169W, then east into the Gulf on Friday while fading with seas 29 ft first light at 48N 162W and dropping fast from there. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the core of the fetch Thursday Pm and reported seas of 36.2 ft with a peak reading to 39.4 ft at 48N 169W, so the wave model was right on. This was all on the 306-308 degree paths relative to Central CA with very limited energy heading south towards Hawaii. Maybe some decent longer period swell for Oregon/Washington Sunday and North California by Sunday (4/12) a few hours past sunset at 5.5-6.0 ft @ 17 secs (9-10 ft faces) fading on Monday.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (4/11) moderate high pressure at 1026 mbs was 700 nmiles west of San Diego CA riding into the coat there. Weak low pressure at 990 mbs was in the Northern Gulf of Alaska trying to push into the Pacific Northwest coast, with the dividing line roughly on Cape Mendocino. North winds at 15-20 kts covered the entire California coast courtesy of high pressure to the west. Light northerly winds to continue Sunday (4/12) before strong high pressure at 1034 mbs builds off the coast hitting on Monday with up to 30 kt north winds nearshore San Francisco building to 35 kts Tuesday. SCal to be protected but everywhere north of Pt Conception to be in tatters. The high is to rapidly dissipate on Wednesday with north winds fading fast as low pressure builds in the Gulf. A light 10-15 kt north flow is forecast for Central and North CA on Thursday and Friday before the low retreats, with high pressure forecast building back for the weekend (4/18).
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Saturday (4/11) no swell producing fetch was occurring and none was forecast for the next 72 hrs.
Second New Zealand Gale
Southeast Pacific Gale
Another gale tried to get going under New Zealand Wednesday (4/1) producing a modest area of 40 kt wind at 60S 180W Wed PM aimed somewhat to the northeast, but dissipating into Thursday AM. 28 ft seas were modeled Wed afternoon (3/31) at 60S 170W pushing to 29 ft Thursday AM (4/2) at 58S 177W then down to 26 ft in the evening at 55S 165W. This swell was barely unshadowed (Tahiti swell shadow) for California.with smaller energy limping in Sun (4/12) with swell 1.6 ft @ 19 secs (3 ft faces) from 195 degrees.
Remnants of the Second New Zealand Gale (see details below) congealed in the Southeastern Pacific on Sunday AM (4/5) producing a small fetch of confirmed 50 kt almost south winds at 48S 138W aimed 15 degrees east of the 194-197 degree path to CA and east of the Tahiti swell shadow, expected to hold into the evening at 46N 128W aimed up the 184 degree path to CA. 35 ft seas were modeled Sunday evening at 45S 132W with the momentum pushing them more east than north. 30 ft seas were modeled Monday AM at 43S 125W. Beyond the fetch quickly turned east to southeast on Monday AM (4/6) and fading. 26 ft seas were pretty well east bound for Peru from 42S 115W in the evening. This system was gone after that. Possible very southerly angled swell pushing up into South California starting Sunday afternoon (4/12) at 1.6 ft @ 18 secs (3.0 ft faces) building to 2.6 ft @ 17 secs (4.5 ft faces - 6.5 ft top spots) Mon (4/13). Swell still decent but fading on Tues at 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs. Swell Direction: 188-190 degrees
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 virtually no swell producing fetch is forecast in the North Pacific. Looks like summer is settling in (but it's barely spring). So in all reality the Inactive Phase of the MJO is likely taking it's toll (details below).
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Saturday (4/11) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was moving solidly into the Inactive Phase with the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index moving positive. The Daily SOI index was up to 17.38. The 30 day average was up to 3.7 and the 90 day average was up to 7.1. The SOI indicies remained barely symptomatic of La Nina mainly attributable to the 90 day average. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a strong pulse of the Inactive Phase pushing from Northern Australia east to the international dateline and over it some suppressing storm development in the West Pacific. The Inactive Phase is to push hard east of the dateline by 4/15, then racing into the Eastern Pacific by 4/20 and over Central America into the Atlantic by 4/25. A new Active Phase is forecast to build behind it in the Indian Ocean by 4/15 and looking stronger than previous estimates, but not reaching the Pacific until 4/25, but only weakly pushing into it. The residual effects of 3 years of La Nina remain in-control in the atmosphere, but cooler than normal water off of Central America is all but gone. And below the surface the equatorial subsurface warm pool of water that has been repressed back west of the dateline is making eastward progress flowing the whole way to Central America unabated now. Still a patch of cool water -0.5 degree C is present down 125 meters at 130W, but looks pretty uninteresting as compared to even 3 day earlier. The big question is how much effect will this next Inactive Phase of the MJO have on surface and subsurface waters of the East Pacific through the next 3 weeks, and whether the Active Phase behind it comes-on strong. Suspect we will loose some ground by the middle to end of the month. Regardless, it will still take months before the atmosphere begins to respond to any warming of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, so expect a continuation of cool and foggy Spring weather in California into early summer. But come summer, if warming develops in the Tropical Eastern Pacific, this could set up up for a decent Fall, and maybe an enhanced late summer southern hemi season.
Beyond 72 hours the models place low odds of a gale developing under New Zealand pushing east Monday (4/13). By Tuesday pressure is to drop to 960 mbs with a decent sized fetch of 40-45 kt southwest winds building at 63S 162W starting to get traction on the oceans surface and building in size. Pressure to drop to 952 mbs with a large area of 40-45 kt southwest winds building at 60S 158W pushing northeast on the 197 degree path to California and unshadowed by Tahiti. Seas building from 35 ft at 56S 160W. By Wednesday AM (4/15) a large fetch of 40-45 kt southwest winds are forecast at 53S 152W pushing right up the 197-199 degree paths to California and unshadowed with seas forecast to 36 ft at 51S 150W. Yet more 45 kt southwest winds are forecast in the evening consolidating at 57S 148W with 38 ft seas projected at 53S 149W (196 degrees CA). Thursday AM (4/16) yet more 35-40 kt almost south winds are forecast at 54S 144W aimed right up the 193 degree path to California pushing seas to 40 ft at 53S 142W. 40 kts winds are to be fading in the evening at 50S 139W with seas at 36 ft at 49N 140W. 35 kt winds to continue into Friday with seas still 35 ft late at 43S 125W. If all this occurs possible solid longer period southern hemi swell would be pushing towards the US West Coast, the first significant class swell of the 2009 summer season.
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