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.
On Tuesday (5/19) North and Central California had waist high weak sectiony and windblown northwest local short period windswell at exposed breaks. Southern California was effectively flat with knee high sets at standout breaks and northwest winds blowing. Hawaii's North Shore had north windswell producing shoulder high sets and a bit warbled. The East Shore was small with thigh high east windswell at best. The South Shore had some small southwest swell at waist to maybe chest high on the sets coming from the Tasman Sea. Pretty textured conditions by late morning.
The forecast for North and Central CA indicates more and larger northwest local windswell is expected to start building in By Wednesday and slowly inch its way up through the weekend. Nothing great but sure better than flat. Get on it cause next week it's to all fade out. Southern CA is to see a tiny fraction of this same northwest windswell starting Thursday (5/21), but until then nothing of interest is forecast.Maybe even a weak hint of southern hemi swell too in by the weekend. Oahu's North Shore to continue seeing some north windswell through Wednesday with faces to maybe head high and period at only 9 secs, then dropping out. The East Shore is not expected to have any trade induced easterly windswell for the foreseeable future. The South Shore is to see another tiny pulse of background southwest swell originating from the Tasman Sea starting Sunday holding into Monday evening (5/25), then dissipating.
Longterm virtually no swell producing weather system are forecast in the North Pacific. In the South Pacific not much is expected either, with high pressure remaining the dominant weather feature for a while longer.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
At the surface strong high pressure at 1036 mbs was centered over the
dateline ridging both east and west and effectively filling the
North Pacific from just off Japan the whole way to Cape Mendocino California. Only a small and weak cutoff low 300 nmiles north of Hawaii was protecting the Islands from what otherwise would be a solid dose of trades driven by the high. North winds were light along the California coast with the leading edge of the the high just a few hundred nmiles out. Over the next 72 hours this high pressure system is to seep east generating the usual pressure gradient off Cape Mendocino CA by late Tuesday (5/19) setting up north winds to 25 kts building to 30 kts late week and generating local short period windswell. Some flavor of the cut off low is to hold 300-600 nmiles north of Hawaii not doing anything swell wise, but serving only to mute trades reducing odds for local easterly windswell. No other swell producing systems are forecast with summer like conditions continuing.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (5/19) high pressure was starting to build off coastal California, with northwest winds to 20 kts off Pt Arena and starting to build. By Wednesday (5/20) a solid gradient is to start forming over Cape Mendocino with 25-30 kt north winds starting to build there and windswell on the upswing, building to 30 kts late Wednesday, fading some Thursday (5/21) then returning on Friday and holding through the weekend. Windswell the expected result. Local north winds to be an issue for Central CA on Wednesday at 15 kts, but then pulling away from the coast from Pt Arena southward and remaining that way into the weekend. Perhaps an eddy flow (southwest) to build nearshore. Beyond the gradient is to start fading on Monday and windswell dying, with a fully calm pattern in.cgiace by Tues (5/26).
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Tuesday (5/19) the South Pacific jetstream remained completely .cgiit from the west to the east with a solid ridge pushing the southern branch down over the Ross Ice Shelf from under New Zealand to the Southeast Pacific totally shutting off any chance for surface level low pressure development. A bit of a trough remained in the far Southeastern Pacific but outside the US swell window and of interest only to Southern Chile. A semi persistent steep trough was pushing north into New Zealand, but was so steep to be of no use for surface low pressure development of consequence. Over the next 72 hrs the same basic .cgiit pattern is to continue reinforced by more southward moving energy in the southern branch of the jetstream. This is to continue suppressing storm development over the entire South Pacific. Beyond 72 hrs no change is forecast with a .cgiit pattern in firm control and the southern branch ridging south over or near the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. No support for gale development is suggested. A week out there's a hint of perhaps the start of a weak and broad trough forming under New Zealand. But that is likely just a fantasy of the model.
At the surface on Tuesday strong high pressure at 1036 mbs remains locked down well south of Tahiti and east of New Zealand, sitting between the two branches of the .cgiit jetstream and totally blocking the normal summer time storm corridor and eliminating any swell production in the South Pacific. Over the next 72 hours no significant change is forecast with high pressure holding at 1032 mbs while inching north but still dominating the South Pacific. As series of gale are forecast to start pushing east over the Ross Ice Shelf but all are to be over ice with no fetch in contact with ice free waters.
Previously a gale had formed in the far Southeast Pacific off Chile generating 30 kt south winds on and off since late Tues (5/12) with seas to 26 ft by Thurs AM at 56S 122W. It lifted northeast to 52S 120W by Thurs evening with seas still 26 ft at 53S 120W then faded some before regenerating off Chile Sat/Sun with seas to 36 ft. The best this could do for the US is to produce background 14-15 secs very south angled swell for Southern CA 9 days later, or Sat (5/23). Swell size to be 2.6 ft @ 14 secs (3.5 ft faces) but limited to Southern CA. swell to hold at 2.6 ft @ 13 secs (3 ft faces) on Sunday, then fading out.
Previously on Saturday (5/16) some more wind energy seeped into the Tasman Sea at 35 kts from the southwest winds expected to push to New Zealand on Sunday. 30 ft seas from previous fetch rounded under Tasmania Sat AM (5/16) at 43S 154E dropping to 26 ft in the evening at 41S 161E. 26 ft seas held to Sunday AM at 40S 155E and then faded out. More swell likely for Fiji with perhaps some very limited swell southwest for Hawaii starting Sunday (5/24) at 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (3 ft faces) from 215-220 degrees. Period dropping to 14 secs on Mon (5/25) and dissipating that evening.
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 high pressure is to continue pushing into California generating north windswell through weekend, then withering early next week with winds off Cape Mendocino falling below 25 kts by Tuesday AM (5/26) and windswell dropping out. But another strong high is forecast to start building over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians at 1032 mbs on Tues (5/26) while the cutoff low north of Hawaii evaporates. As this high tracks southeast odds are expected to increase for east winds and windswell to be pushing into the Islands, perhaps starting late next week.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (5/19) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was well past the peak of the Active Phase, but the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index remained heading down. The Daily SOI index dropped to -23.96 with only 3 days last week in the positive range of an otherwise unbroken string of 24 consequetive negative readings. The 30 day average was down to -5.98 (the lowest since July of 2007) and the 90 day average was down to 1.67 (the lowest since Mar 2007, but still not negative). The SOI indicies remained completely neutral at the moment. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated that the Active Phase has re-energized with weak westerly wind anomalies over the entire equatorial Western Pacific reaching to the dateline and expected to hold till 5/23. It's to push east reaching central America by 5/28 and holding till 6/2 there. There is no sign of a Inactive Phase forecast behind it either. A neutral if not slightly Active Pattern ENSO pattern appears to be in.cgiay. The residual effects of 3 years of La Nina are effectively gone over the ocean, and fading fast in the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere (though the Southern Hemi will take 2 months longer to heal). Cooler than normal surface waters off of Central America are gone with slightly warmer than normal waters temps reported over the entire width of the equatorial Pacific. Below the surface on the equator a steady flow of slightly warmer than normal subsurface water was tracking from the West Pacific over the dateline and then breaking the surface near Central America with warmer water starting to pool up there.It appears that the last episode of the Active Phase has primed the warm water pump, pushing them eastward with more behind, and feeding a slightly warm regime in the equatorial Eastern Pacific. Months of high pressure off California and stiff north winds there turning trades over Hawaii had resulted in a huge cool tongue of water extending from Central CA the whole way over Hawaii to the dateline which generated massive upwelling. That continues to moderate, through a large pocket of cooler than normal waters remains off California extending to almost Hawaii. We expect 1-2 more months of high pressure before a fully neutral pattern takes hold (warmer waters off California).
Beyond 72 hours the models suggest that high pressure might start giving up some ground with a tiny spurious gale forecast developing off the northeastern tip of New Zealand on Fri/Sat (5/23) with 35-40 kt south winds and up to 30 ft seas over a tiny area, but that seems real optimistic. A second pulse is forecast under New Zealand early next week with a broader area of 30 ft seas projected, but the weather models don't really support that optimistic output. In either case, Hawaii and Tahiti would probably benefit most if these systems were to form.
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