New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead). Summer - Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft) Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft). Summer - Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs. Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
On Sunday (6/7) North and Central California has chest high southern hemi swell still pushing through with decent conditions early. This was the third day of a nice run of southern hemi swell with more expected behind it. Southern California had some waist to chest high southern hemi sets, but it was nearly chopped up north early but clean down into Orange County and San Diego. Top spots had some head high peaks. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore had east short period windswell from trades producing waist high sets. The South Shore still had occasional southern hemi swell pushing chest high at top spots with offshore winds and glassy conditions.
The forecast for North and Central CA is fade before it gets better. Next to no surf is expected Monday and Tuesday, then background southern hemi swell from a gale under New Zealand is expected in for Wed/Thurs (6/11) in the waist high range. Southern CA is to see that same pattern with next to no rideable swell Monday and Tuesday, then small swell from under New Zealand arriving for Wed/Thurs in the waist high range. Oahu's North Shore is to remain flat for the foreseeable future. The East Shore to see minimal easterly tradewind generated windswell at waist high on Monday fading to thigh high Tuesday and then gone. The South Shore is to see swell from a gale that along New Zealand by early Monday fading on Tuesday, but new stronger swell (#3S) is expected in by late Tuesday peaking on Wednesday at 2 ft overhead or better, then settling down through Friday. Very nice.
Longterm that same southern hemi swell that is expected for Hawaii during the week is to hit California by late week and into the weekend. Size to be much smaller, but still fun sized (not reaching significant class levels). But after that a marked slowdown is expected. One last gale organized next to New Zealand Fri/Sat (6/6) offering energy already pushing up towards the Islands with more expected into Monday with a little luck. But most of this is to be shadowed and not make much of an impact along the US West Coast. And then after that a total shutdown of the South Pacific is forecast. So get whatever swell you can now and during the next week before the swell machine turns off.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
At the surface weak today high pressure at 1024 mbs was 750 nmiles northeast of Hawaii serving only to generate modest trades at 15-20 kts over the Islands and producing some minimal easterly short period windswell there. Otherwise things were quiet over the remainder of the North Pacific. Over the next 72 hours the high pressure system northeast of HAwaii is to evaporate leaving a weak weather pattern between there and the US West Coast. No swell producing trades are forecast for the Islands and no north wind or windswell for the US Wet Coast. The North Pacific is asleep.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (6/7) normal high pressure remained suppressed off California, with a weak core northeast of Hawaii and not really effecting the mainland. A light wind regime was in place over California and expected to persist into Wednesday (6/10). A slight increase in pressure along the north coast is forecast by Thursday generating a possible northwest flow over the Cape Mendocino region down to Pt Reyes at 15 kts, but weaker south of there into next weekend.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Sunday (6/7) the South Pacific jetstream remained split in the West, then converged in the Central Pacific only to split again in the East. The thin weak pinched-off remnants of a trough persisted east of New Zealand, but offered little in support of gale development. Over the next 72 hrs a big ridge is to start pushing hard south under Tahiti closing off the remnants of that trough while a another ridge pushes south in the East, eliminating any odds for gale development. Beyond 72 hours a ridging pattern is to persist with the southern branch of the jet pushing hard over the Ross Ice Shelf down into Antarctica and completely eliminating any odds for gale development in the Southern Pacific Storm Corridor.
At the surface on Sunday (6/7) Swell #2S was fading along the US West Coast while swell from the Second New Zealand Gale (see details below) was poised to hit Hawaii, and Swell #3S was right behind it. Nice. Meteorologically a conglomeration of low pressure (technically a complex low with 2 cores) was positioned east of New Zealand and due south of Tahiti trying to organize, but just not doing it (see Final New Zealand Gale below). Otherwise high pressure at 1032 mbs was just east of it looking ominous.
Over the next 72 hours the complex gale east of New Zealand is to condense into one core by Sunday evening (6/7) with pressure 968 mbs producing a tiny fetch of 50 kt south winds at 48S 152W aimed right up the 200 degree path to California and unshadowed by Tahiti with decent energy pushing up the 178 degree path to Hawaii. Seas building. A tiny area of 50 kts fetch is to hold into Monday AM (6/8) at 50S 150W aimed up the 198 degree path to CA and the 178 degree path to Hawaii. 32 ft seas modeled at 47S 162W. In the evening fetch is to be fading from 45 kts at the same location with a infinitesimal area of 35 ft seas forecast at 49S 150W aimed like before. This system is to be gone within 12 hours with seas fading fast. Assuming all this occurs some degree of 17 secs swell is expected pushing up into Hawaii and California.
At the same time high pressure at 1028 mbs is to start building just east of New Zealand reaching 1032 mbs by Wed (6/10) and growing in coverage.
Second New Zealand Gale
Another gale starting forming under New Zealand on Saturday PM (5/30) with 40-45 kt southwest winds at 61S 170W lifting northeast. By Sunday AM (5/31) a decent sized fetch of 45 kt southwest winds were modeled at 58S 173E aimed right up the 210 degree path to California and on the edge of the Tahitian swell shadow and well up the 195 degree path to Hawaii. 30 ft seas building fast at 59S 171E. In the evening fetch faded a little while tracking north with 40 kt winds at 52S 178W aimed just like before. 32 ft seas were modeled over a small area at 54S 180W. This fetch continued pushing almost due north on Monday AM (6/1) generating 35-40 kt south winds at 49S 170W with 30 ft seas modeled at 47S 173W then fading out in the evening. All this to be right on the 210-212 degree path to North California (unshadowed, but shadowed for SCal on the 212-213 degree path) and 189-193 degree path to Hawaii. Another shot of utility class swell is likely for all locations.
Hawaii: Expect swell to arrive on Sunday at 10 PM (6/7) with swell 2 ft @ 18 sec late (3.5 ft faces) peaking Monday AM at 3.3 ft @ 17 secs (5.5 ft faces), then drifting down overnight.Stll swell of 3 ft @ 14 secs (4 ft faces) is expected early Tuesday AM (6/9), then fading. Swell Direction: 189-193 degrees.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Wednesday early morning (6/10) with period 17-18 secs and size tiny but building. Swell to start peaking Thursday AM (6/11) with swell 2.0-2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5 ft faces) and holding through the day. Swell to drift down on Friday with period at 14-15 secs, but still rideable then heading down from there. Swell Direction: 212-213 degrees degrees
Northern CA: Expect swell arrival on Wednesday late morning (6/10) with period 17-18 secs and size tiny but building. Swell to start peaking Thursday AM (6/11) at sunrise with swell 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4 ft faces) and holding through the day. Swell to drift down on Friday with period at 14-15 secs, but still rideable then heading down from there. Swell Direction: 210-211 degrees
Swell #3S (Hawaii)
On Tuesday (6/2) yet another gale developed southwest of New Zealand with pressure 980 mbs and strong high pressure at 1036 mbs over the Tasman Sea forming a pressure gradient and generating a confirmed area of 40-45 kt west-southwest winds over a small area at 55S 170E. Seas were building at 60S 165E just off the Ross Ice Shelf. By Tuesday evening this fetch built in coverage over a broad elongated area with winds confirmed at 40 kts at 56S 174E aimed right up the 211 degree great circle paths to NCal, 213 SCal (partially shadowed by Tahiti) and 20 degrees east of the 192 degree path to Hawaii. 29 ft seas were modeled at 55S 175E. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the northern quadrant of the out edge of this fetch and confirmed seas at 26.6 ft with a peak reading of 33.5 ft where the modeled suggested 28 ft seas. This was about on track.
Wednesday AM (6/3) the fetch held at 40 kts at 50S 170W aimed right up the 208 degree path to NCal, 210 SCal (shadowed by Tahiti) and 30 degrees east of the 193 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled at 35 ft at 53S 175W which was heading right up the 208 degree path to NCal and 210 degrees for SCal (completely shadowed by Tahiti) and 25 degree east of the 185 degree path to Hawaii. By evening 40-45 kt winds remained at 50S 160W aimed right up the 204 degree path to NCal, 206 Scal and 40 degrees east of the 181 degree path to Hawaii. Seas of 36 ft were modeled at 49S 169W on the 190 degree path to Hawaii and the 204 degree track to NCal/206 SCal (completely shadowed by Tahiti). The Jason-1 satellite passe dover the extreme southern periphery of this fetch and reported seas of 29.6 ft with one peak reading to 34.1 ft where the model suggested 30 ft, right on track.
Thursday AM (6/4) residual fetch of 40 kts was indicated at 50S 170W on the models aimed more to the east with seas from previous fetch at 35 ft at 47S 159W and starting to decay (203 degs for NCal and almost partially obstructed/208 SCal and partially obstructed). But QuikSCAT data suggested that was probably overstated. This system faded after that with seas from previous fetch Thursday PM at 31 ft at 45S 150W aimed more to the east.
This system was nothing exceptional from a historic perspective, just your usual run of the mill southern hemi winter gale. This system was 4123-4806 nmiles from Hawaii and 5181-6415 nmiles away from California.The models suggested seas to for 36 hours in the 35-36 ft range, but the Jason-1 satellite made no passes directly over the fetch to confirm that. And the QuikSCAT satellite seemed to suggest winds were a bit less cohesive than the models would have one believe. This is not unusual, since the models typically idealize a fetch, filling in higher winds over areas where the QuikSCAT satellite finds 'holes'. But still, the fetch was nothing extraordinary, and if anything was kinda weak. This gives us a little pause. Regardless the fetch was well positioned in the Hawaiian swell window with a good amount of fetch aimed reasonably well to the north up the 181-190 degree paths, which should results in significant class swell again for the Islands. But California is to suffer with the bulk of the fetch sitting right behind Tahiti and French Polynesia, resulting in a 25% loss in size and fewer waves per set. It would have been a significant class swell otherwise for California. Still, in all this looks like a reasonably good system given the pattern so far this summer, so we'll have to take what we can get.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival early Tues (6/9) at 8 AM HDT with period 20 secs and size tiny but coming up steadily, pushing 3 ft @ 18 secs by dark (5.5 ft faces with top spots to 7 ft). Swell to peak out near 10 AM Wednesday (6/10) as period drop to 17 secs and swell 4.0 ft @ 16-17 secs (6.5 ft faces with sets to 8 ft) holding decently through the day. Still solid swell expected on Thursday (6/11) with swell 4.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.8 ft faces with sets to 7.5 ft early) and slowly settling down through the day with period dropping to 14 secs at 11 PM. Swell still to be 3.3-3.5 ft @ 13-14 secs on Friday (6/12) (4.5-5.0 ft faces). Swell Direction: 182-192 degrees
South CA: Expect the first tiny signs of energy with period at 20 secs arriving Thursday (6/11) at 6 AM with period 20 secs and size tiny and not rideable. Size building through the day Friday (6/12) with period 18-19 secs dropping to 17 secs near 4 PM PM with size peaking at 2.5-2.9 ft @ 17 secs (4.3-5.0 ft faces with waves at top spots to 6 ft). Swell to continue solid all day Saturday (6/13) with swell 2.5-2.9 ft @ 16 secs (4.0-4.6 ft faces with top spots to near 6.0 ft). Still decent energy at 2.3-2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) is expected on Sunday (6/14) with period dropping to 14 sec solid by 6 PM. Swell Direction: 206-213 degrees
North CA: Expect the first tiny signs of energy with period at 20 secs arriving Thursday (6/11) at noon with period 20 secs and size tiny and not rideable. Size building through the day Friday (6/12) with period 18-19 secs dropping to 17 secs near 8 PM with size peaking at 2.5-2.9 ft @ 17 secs (4.3-5.0 ft faces with waves at top spots to 6 ft). Swell to continue solid all day Saturday (6/13) with swell 2.5-2.9 ft @ 16 secs (4.0-4.6 ft faces with top spots to near 6.0 ft). Still decent energy at 2.3-2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) is expected on Sunday (6/14) with period dropping to 14 sec solid by 11 PM. Swell Direction: 204-211 degrees
Final New Zealand Gale
One more gale formed next to New Zealand on Friday AM (6/5) with 45 kt southerly winds building at 50S 170E aimed due north towards Hawaii up the 201 degree path. Seas at 29 ft were modeled at 51S 171E. A small area of 30-35 kt southerly fetch persisted into the evening just a little further north with barely 30 ft seas evolving at 47S 176E aimed well towards Hawaii. This system tried to reorganize on Saturday AM further east with a tiny of 40 kt south winds modeled at 50S 171W aimed due north right up the 196 degree path to Hawaii and 20 degrees north of the 209 degree path to CA (and shadowed by Tahiti). 25 ft seas from previous fetch continuing at 45S 178W. These winds built briefly to near 55 kts in the evening at 50S 165W aimed a few degrees east for all locations (and still shadowed for the mainland). 28 ft seas over a small area were indicated at 48S 170W. Sunday AM (6/7) this system evaporated with lingering 26 ft seas at 45S 169W. Another pulse of smaller swell is likely for Tahiti and Hawaii a week out.
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 weak high pressure at 1020 mbs is to hold northeast of Hawaii and basically do nothing other than push light northerly windswell down the California coast in the afternoons and light trades over the Hawaiian Islands. But no windswell production of any kind is forecast.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (6/7) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) remained in the Active Phase, and was pulsing for the third time since April 20th (centered on the dateline). The ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index remained dead neutral. The Daily SOI index was down to -9.00. The 30 day average was up barely to -4.40 and the 90 day average was down a hair to 0.56, where is has been since 5/23 (dead neutral). The SOI indicies remained effectively neutral but something still appears to be happening on a grand scale. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated that a third incarnation of the Active Phase was in-play, with another pulse of westerly wind anomalies pushing from Indian east into the far Western Pacific over the dateline and beyond Hawaii. Impressive. It is forecast to hit Central America on 6/11 while still pumping energy all the way from India. Finally by 6/16 it's to start moderating still affecting the whole of the Pacific Ocean but slowly withering into 6/26. A weak version of the Inactive Phase is forecast to try and develop in the Indian Ocean on 6/11, but is to die before reaching the Pacific on 6/26. We are becoming more disposed to believe we are entering a phase biased towards the Active Phase and less supportive of the Inactive Phase, which supports a manifestation of El Nino and signals the death of La Nina. The residual effects of 3 years of La Nina are effectively gone in the ocean, and fading fast in the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere (though the Southern Hemi will take another 6 weeks to heal). Slightly warmer than normal waters temps are reported over the entire width of the equatorial Pacific and building off Central America pushing up into Baja Mexico and expected to track north from there. The large cool pool of water off the US West Coast remains, but does not reach to Hawaii any longer and appears to be moderating. 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 previous episodes of the Active Phase have primed the warm water pump, and are now pushing warmer than normal subsurface water eastward with more building up behind, and feeding a slightly warm regime in the equatorial Eastern Pacific. This is very good news. In fact increase warming can be seen around and east of the Galapagos Islands to near 2 deg C above normal. And a Kelvin Wave produced by a Westerly Wind Burst at 3 deg C above normal is poised to break the surface there. We expect 1 more month of high pressure and local La Nina conditions before a fully neutral pattern takes hold and warmer waters start building off California. But even that might be already eroding. We also expect the tropical season to become more active and surpass the below normal activity levels of the past 3 years. 6 weeks from now (mid-July) we might begin to see the first inkling of this warming trend in the North Pacific jetstream, which would start to give us a sense of how the Fall might set up.
Beyond 72 hours the models suggest a total shutdown of the South Pacific storm pattern with high pressure at 1032 mbs taking over the West and Central Pacific driving the storm track well to the south over Antarctic Ice, allowing no traction on ice free waters. No swell generation potential 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