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 Saturday (4/26) Northern CA surf was waist high and reasonably clean very early. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were flat and clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was thigh high and almost clean early. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was flat and textured. The LA Area southward to Orange County was up to thigh high on the sets and clean. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were maybe thigh high and clean early. The North Shore of Oahu was 1-2 ft overhead and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was chest high and almost clean.
North/Central California was seeing bare minimal swell pushing in from the Gulf of Alaska mixed with less locally generated windswell. Southern California was effectively flat. Hawaii's North Shore was getting a nice bit of swell from low pressure that was over the dateline days earlier, not repositioned in the Gulf. The East Shore had a little wraparound energy from that same swell pushing in. The South Shore was flat.
For the future the North and Central California coast to see an incremental increase in swell coming from the Gulf of Alaska Sunday into Monday, mainly confined north of Pt Conception with some minimal locally generated windswell in the mix into SLO County. This is to come from low pressure that has been moving from the dateline towards the Gulf earlier this week. This low is moving into the northern Gulf and if the models are right (and this is becoming a more likely possibility) it's to bloom Sunday generating 23 ft seas and swell pushing southeast towards the California coast for later Tuesday into Wednesday. Southern CA is flat now and expected to stay that way until that Gulf swell arrives, and even then it's to bypass most breaks (coming from too steep and angle). Never fear, fun sized southern hemi swell is on the way for late in the week. Until then, it will be a good time to go to work or school. The North Shore of Oahu is getting a nice serving of that dateline swell, but it's peaked out today and going to be heading down. A possible small resurgence is suggested Thursday, but don;t expect much. Of most interest to everyone is Southern Hemi swell in the water and pushing north. It is forecast for the South Shore starting late Monday and getting pretty good mid-week holding through the end of the workweek. This is definitely the place to be. This same swell is to reach California by Thursday (5/1) possibly providing something semi-real to ride by the weekend. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Saturdays jetstream charts (4/26) for the North Pacific were on track with previous expectations, indicated a mild trough pushing through the Gulf of Alaska with 90 kt winds in it. This was the only system offering any support for surface level low pressure development. All other energy was being pushing north of even the Bering Sea by a massive ridge over the West Pacific. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to hold through Tuesday with winds to 130 kts pushing under it, offering a good shot for surface level low pressure development before it pushes into Canada late. Beyond 72 hours an interesting thing is to occur - the jet is to settle further south on the 45N latitude, with little pockets of 110 kt winds setting up by early next weekend, offering a smidgeon of hope for surface level low pressure development. This almost looks normal for the time of year.
At the surface today weak high pressure was sandwiched over the Pacific Northwest and California coast with low pressure in-control of the Gulf of Alaska at 988 mbs. 25 kt winds were starting to blow equally around all quadrants of this system with seas on the increase. Otherwise no weather systems of interest were occurring. This system has actually been exerting influence over the North Pacific since Sunday (4/20) when it was moving southeast from the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians with pressure at 996 mbs generating 30-35 kt north winds targeting initially Hawaii with 18-20 ft seas at 47N 180W (Sunday). 11 sec swell is already hitting Hawaii from early in the lows life. By Thursday (4/24) this system was stationary 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii generating a limited fetch of 25-30 kt north to northwest winds and 18 ft seas aimed at Hawaii and California from 38N 160W. Over the next 72 hours this is to be the only system of interest. Saturday afternoon (4/26) it's to starts building in intensity producing a decent fetch of 35-40 kt northwest winds targeting the Pacific Northwest down into California at 50N 150W (310 degree great circle track to NCal) and seas to 21 ft at the same locale. Sunday 30-35 kt winds to persist over the exact same area with seas to 23 ft again at 50N 150W (1300 nmiles from NCal) then fading out Monday (4/28) with seas dropping to 18 ft late. Even a tiny slice of this energy is to radiate some swell energy south towards Hawaii (1800 nmiles away). Rough data suggests some form of 13-14 sec period swell is possible pushing into North and Central CA late Tuesday (4/29) with swell 5-6 ft @ 13-14 secs (7 ft faces) from 310 degrees and much less size for Hawaii late Wednesday into Thursday (5/1) at 3.4 ft @ 13 secs (4 ft faces) from 5-10 degrees. Will monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (4/26) high pressure at 1024 mbs remained nestled up to the coast, centered just 400 nmiles off Pt Conception and sandwiched between land and low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska, generating moderate northerly winds over outer waters at 15 kts, but not hitting the coast early. Southern Ca was protected. That pattern to hold into Sunday but with the winds pushing nearer the coast and likely blowing things out from Pt Reyes southward to Pt Conception. Southern CA is still to remain protected. Monday (4/28) the high to start building-in more late with winds on the increase to near 25 kts near Pt Conception and 15-20 kts from San Francisco south over the Channel Islands holding into Tuesday. By Wednesday (4/30) low pressure that was in the Gulf is to be inland and the high is to surge east generating brisk northerly winds at 15-20 kts from Pt Arena southward into Baja with even Southern CA seeing some of the wind action. Thing to be backing off incrementally Thursday but still an onshore mess from Pt Conception northward until Friday (5/2), when calmer winds settle in.
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
No swell producing weather systems are forecast other that what is indicated below.
Swell 1S (Hawaii, Tahiti, Mexico) Recomputed
A gale pushed under New Zealand on Monday (4/21) generating a diffuse area of 40 kt winds aimed north east towards Hawaii with seas to 31 ft modeled at 50S 170E. Some form of limited swell was in the Hawaiian swell window pushing north. That low re-organized just off the southeastern New Zealand coast Tuesday (4/22). 45 kt winds were confirmed over a decent sized fetch area at 48S 178E aimed 25 degrees east of the 193-200 degree great circle paths to Hawaii and right up the 216-218 degree path to California (and unshadowed by Tahiti) continuing at 40-45 kt through the day Wednesday at 46S 174W and traveling north into Thursday near 44S 174W all aimed the same headings relative to Hawaii and California. Seas were modeled to 32 ft late Tuesday at 44S 180W then to 38 ft through the day Wednesday at 48S 175W in the AM and 46S 170W in the evening, then fading from 37 ft at 42N 160W Thursday AM then slowly fading into Friday morning (to 30 ft at 41S 160W). Seas on Friday to be somewhat shadowed by Tahiti for California. The Jason-1 satellite made one pass near this fetch, on Wednesday morning and confirmed sea at 33 ft where the model suggested it should have been 35-36 ft. Other partial passes suggested a similar trend, namely that the Wavewatch III wavemodel was over-estimating sea sizes (really the GDAS model was probably overestimating winds, which in turn affected the calculated sea size. Regardless the result is the same - an overestimate).
In all this was not even a storm, but a gale. Still it held together for at least 72 hours with seas in excess of 30 ft pushing the 38 ft mark (if one is to believe the models), and aimed right at California (but shadowed down south) and decently at Hawaii and moreso at Tahiti. Given Tahiti and Hawaii's closer proximities (1551-2133 nmiles and 3816-4269 nmiles), more size is expected there. Southern Mainland Mexico was 4973-5748 nmiles away, and California further still at 5229-5792 nmiles (within 100 nmiles north or south). The big issue in California was that the southern end of the state was shadowed by Tahiti, while the northern end (Monterey Bay northward) was just barely in unobscured waters.
Tahiti: There are actually two swell occurring her, one generated when the gale was under the Tasman Sea, with a second generated after this gael regenerated east of New Zealand. It is this one that is of most interest. Expect the first swell arrival Friday (4/25) building to 8.5 ft @ 16 secs late (11-12 ft Hawaiian). The main swell to build in overtop of the first swell overnight, reaching near 8 ft @ 19 secs early Saturday (15 ft Hawaiian). Solid size from the main swell to continue into Sunday AM (4/27) with swell 9 ft @ 15-16 secs (14-15 ft Hawaiian). Swell settling down from there at 8.5 ft @ 14-15 secs Monday (12-13 ft Hawaiian). Decent size continuing through Wednesday, with period and size fading as period drops to 13 secs. Swell Direction 209 degrees initially moving to 196 later.
Hawaii: Energy from the first system to arrive late Monday reaching 2 ft @ 20 secs (4 ft faces) , but do not be confused, this is not the main swell. Expect the main swell to arrive in Hawaii early Tuesday AM (4/29) with swell to 2.5 ft @ 19 secs mid-day (5 ft faces). The peak of the swell to hit Wednesday morning at 4.0 ft @ 17 secs (7 ft faces with some 8.5 ft sets). Swell continues Thursday (5/1) at 3.9 ft @ 15-16 secs (6 ft faces with a few bigger sets). Swell fading Friday (5/2) at 3.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.5-5.0 ft faces).Swell Direction: 190-195 degrees
Mainland Mexico: Expect the leading edge of the main thrust of the swell to hit Wednesday (4/30) near sunset with period 20 secs and size pulsing up. Solid swell expected Thursday (5/1) with swell building to 2.9 ft @ 18 secs late (5 ft faces - best breaks 7 ft on the face). The bulk of the swell to hit Friday (5/2) with swell 4.0 ft @ 17 secs (6-7 ft with sets to 8 ft). Swell to continue Saturday at 4 ft @ 15 secs (5 ft faces), fading from 3.8 ft @ 14 secs Sunday (5 ft faces). Beware of possible light onshores though during the swell window. Swell Direction: 221-223 degrees
California (swell arrival times essentially the same for both NCal and SCal): This swell to start arriving on Thursday (5/1) near 2 AM with period 20 secs and swell building to 2 ft @ 19 secs late (4 ft faces - best breaks). Swell to continue up through the day Friday (5/2) with swell to 3 ft @ 17 secs late (5 ft faces with top spots to 6 ft). Swell to peak out early Saturday morning with swell 3.5 ft @ 16 secs (5.5 ft faces with top spots to 6.5 ft) and holding reasonably through the day. Decent energy to continue Sunday (4/27) with swell 3 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces) and settling down into Monday. Swell Direction: 208-212+ degrees NCal and 210-214 degrees SCal. Shadowing by Tahiti to have an effect in Southern CA though, reducing stated sizes about by up to 25%.
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 the only potential swell source of interest is a new low forecast building in the Western Gulf of Alaska Friday (5/2) with 30-35 kt winds aimed well at Hawaii and California. Will believe it when it occurs. Otherwise high pressure is to be surging into California interacting with the last vestiges of low pressure in the Gulf Tuesday (4/29) and making a rather windy mess of things into Thursday. Trades to stay light over the Hawaiian Islands with no high pressure of interest there (and no windswell on the East Shore either).
No swell producing winds 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