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 (5/13) Northern CA surf was head high to 1 ft overhead and bumpy with fog obscuring the view. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were thigh high and clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was chest high with head high sets and reasonably clean mid-day. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist high with brisk northwest winds on it by mid-day. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high with maybe a few chest high sets and windblown. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist high and clean early, though most blown out. The North Shore of Oahu was flat and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was thigh high.
North/Central California continued seeing locally generated short period sloppy windswell and mostly poor conditions. Southern California was getting wrap-around energy from this same windswell but with only a fraction of the size. Hawaii's North Shore was getting now swell. The East Shore had some bare minimum tradewind generated windswell. The South Shore had no swell.
For the next few days the North and Central California coasts to continue seeing locally generated windswell due to north winds locked over Cape Mendocino. Fortunately local winds to be gone by Thursday with light offshore's in control. Southern CA to continue seeing next to no surf other than minimal north windswell making it into exposed breaks. The North Shore of Oahu to not see any surf until Thursday when swell from a gale north of the ISlands is supposed to arrive. The South Shore to remain quiet. No windswell expected on the East Shore either. The southern hemi to remain quiet for the next 7 days. All eyes are on a gale that's starting to circulate north of Hawaii on Tuesday, expected to peak out early Wednesday morning. Seas to 30 ft are forecast aimed east towards California with lesser energy towards Hawaii. Either way, if this occurs some decent swell is expected to push into the Islands Thursday and into exposed break in California by Friday. A taste of winter in the early-summer. Make the most of it. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Tuesdays jetstream charts (5/13) for the North Pacific remained surprisingly positive for the time of the year. Most energy was flowing west to east on the 45N latitude with winds 120 kts or greater over it's width. A nice trough was set up just west of the dateline with 170-180 kts winds flowing under it and very supportive of surface level gale development. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to hold and slide a little east, then stall north of Hawaii while a big ridge builds builds over the Us West Coast. Winds to persist in the 170 kt range over the dateline feeding into the trough too. Good support for surface level low pressure development. Beyond 72 hours the trough is unbelievably to hold if not get deeper early next week, though most energy is to be on it's east side flowing up into a growing ridge re-building over the US West Coast. Maybe some more hope for low pressure development here, but not as favorable as right now.
At the surface today high pressure at 1024 mbs was centered 600 nmiles west of Pt Conception forming a pressure gradient from Cape Mendocino southward and generating 25 kt north winds and local short period windswell along exposed breaks of Central CA. Of far more interest was a gale in the Western Gulf of Alaska or 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii (see details below). The remnants of Typhoon Rammasun were tracking east off Japan and poorly organized and no longer tropical in nature, offering no potential. A gale that was in the northern Gulf on Sunday (5/11) pushed east through Monday with a decent fetch of 35 kt west winds and generated 21 ft seas pushing limited 12-13 sec period swell towards North CA for Thursday (5/15) from 305 degrees, but it's to be buried in the more dominant locally generated windswell.
Over the next 72 hours the only system of interest is to be the gale in the Western Gulf. After that virtually no swell producing fetch of any kind is forecast over the North Pacific.
A gale formed 1200 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii Monday evening (5/12) thanks to a favorable upper level trough above it with winds confirmed at 40-45 kts over a fragmented area near 38N 171W. On Tuesday AM (5/13) pressure was 972 mbs with confirmed 40-45 kt west winds at 40N 162w and a secondary fetch of near 50 kt winds at 43N 160W aimed to the northeast. 19 ft seas were building at 38N 168W aimed marginally at the Islands and better at the US west coast. Winds to be pushing near 50 kts in the evening with seas to 28 ft at 42N 155W aimed right up the 294 degree great circle path to North CA and bypassing the Islands. By Wednesday AM only 40-45 kts winds and 32 ft seas to be left aimed northeast towards Northern Canada though a tiny area of 25 ft seas are forecast at 44N 152W pushing east down the 296 degree path.
Assuming this occurs some form of 15-16 sec period swell should be pushing east towards the mainland with limited sideband energy pushing towards Hawaii. Possible swell of 6.3 ft @ 13 secs (8-9 ft faces) could impact Oahu Thursday afternoon (5/15) from 220 degrees. Swell of 6.0-6.5 ft @ 15 secs (9-10 ft faces) could be impacting North CA by Friday AM (5/16) from 290-295 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (5/13) high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered 600 nmiles west of Pt Conception ridging northeast into Oregon and generating 20-25 kt north winds from Cape Mendocino south to Pt Conception and making a bumpy mess of waters just off the coast, though a slight break in the wind was indicated nearshore. The fetch is to track north over Cape Mendocino Wednesday and rebuild to near 30 kts, generating more windswell, but also more chop locally. Fetch to hold into early Thursday but with the wind vector is to turn more offshore, with windswell starting to fade and local winds from Pt Conception northward dying or turning light offshore. Windswell continuing in the 7 ft @ 9 secs range (5-6 ft faces at exposed breaks), then starting to fading out on by Friday afternoon (5/16).
On Sunday (5/11) Typhoon Rammasun was located 550 nmiles due south of southern Japan with sustained winds 105 kts while traveling just east of due north this is down from it's peak on Saturday AM of 135 kt winds (which held for 6 hours). Theoretically some form of tiny swell from this system could reach the US West coast up the 292 degree path 8-9 days out (Sun PM 5/18) with a period of 17 secs, but it will be so small and inconsistent as to not be noticeable.
No tropical systems of interest were occurring on Tuesday (5/13).
On Tuesday (5/13) the jetstream over the South Pacific remained .cgiit with almost no energy in the southern branch, and what there was was blowing over Antarctic Ice. A marginally stronger flow is forecast through the week in the southern brach, but again it is to be di.cgiaced well to the south offering no support for gale development.
At the surface no swell producing fetch was indicated. A weak cutoff low developed in the far southeast Pacific late Sunday and has held through Tuesday (5/13) near 32S 117W (well north of usual) generating a tiny fetch of 40-45 kts southerly winds holding while drifting to 32S 110W then up to 50 kts at 34S 106W Tuesday AM. Decent seas did not start being until generated until Tuesday AM. At that time they were 30 ft over a tiny area at 30S 108W on Tuesday and are expected to hold for 36 hrs positioned 3840 nmiles south of Southern CA. Assuming this occurs possible tiny very southerly angled swell to start pushing north towards Southern CA arriving 6 days later with period at 17 secs (late Mon 5/19).
Otherwise no swell producing fetch is forecast.
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 weak pressure pattern is forecast until Monday (5/19) when a new low is forecast to start building over the dateline nestled in the trough forecast above it. Theoretically it's to bloom while tracking east-northeast with winds to 45 kts and seas 21 ft all aimed well to the east at California (bypassing Hawaii) and then to near 50 kts with seas to 35 kts but aimed towards Northern Canada while pushing into the Gulf of Alaska late Tuesday. Will believe it when it happens.
Madden-Julian Oscillation Note: The MJO has moved into the active phase with SOI values dropping into the negative range since early this month and anomalous 850 mb westerly winds moving over exposed waters of the Philippines to nearly the dateline (as of this week). This appears to have fueled a spat of tropical activity in the Far Western Pacific (Typhoon Rammasun) and is helping to push surface level moisture northward so it can be swept east by the jetstream in the upper latitudes, providing fuel for gale development over the dateline an into the Gulf of Alaska. That pattern is expected to peak out by late this week, then slowly dissipate through the week beyond.
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