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 Tuesday (6/16) North and Central California had chest to head high very south angled swell pushing in from a gale that was off Chile last week, with larger sets at the best exposed south facing breaks. north winds were starting to have an effect though. Southern California had the same very southerly angled south swell hitting at at exposed breaks with waves chest to head high with top spots 1-2 ft overhead. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore had some thigh high east windswell. The South Shore still had solid southeast swell coming from that same gale that was off Chile, though down from the larger waves of Monday with waves now in the head high range on the sets and clean.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for the swell from Chile to be fading steadily on Wednesday with northwest windswell building in from waist high by Thursday and pushing the overhead range by Friday and possibly even more on Sunday. Southern CA is to see the Chilean swell fading on Wednesday while another little pulse from off New Zealand peaks out at thigh to waist high, then dissipating on Thursday. After that only northerly small windswell is forecast for late week into the weekend. Oahu's North Shore is to remain flat for the foreseeable future. The East Shore to see slow but steadily building easterly tradewind generated windswell by Wednesday pushing up to head high or more by Friday, then drifting down through the weekend. The South Shore is to see more of that southeast swell from off Chile, slowly fading into Wednesday and Thursday and very quite by the weekend.
Longterm a near total shutdown of the South Pacific is in effect with no swell producing weather systems occurring. A decent storm is sitting just off Chile, but is effectively east of even the Southern CA swell window. Maybe some small swell to pushing up that way a week out. Some persistent small fetch is forecast building just east of New Zealand by Wednesday on through the weekend with maybe a small area of 28 ft seas pushing well to the north, which should be good for some small swell pushing up into mainly Hawaii a week beyond. But no solid longer period swell is forecast.
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 1022 mbs was 600 nmiles northeast of Hawaii perhaps helping to fuel modest trades at 15 kts over the Islands and bare minimal easterly windswell there. But it was having no effect on the US West Coast. Low pressure remained trying to organize on the dateline and had produced a small area of 30-35 kt west winds near 45N 180W since Monday AM (6/15) with 20 ft seas at 42N 175W, maybe good for some background barely rideable swell pushing into Hawaii by Friday (6/19) at 3 ft @ 12 secs, but that's it. Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to slowly coagulate between Hawaii and the Us West Coast with pressure reaching 1028 mbs by Thursday (6/18) and trades pushing 20 ks over Hawaii and north winds building to 25 kts over Cape Mendocino with short period windswell building in both locales and holding into Friday.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (6/16) weak high pressure was starting to build off the Central California coast associated with a high pressure system at 1024 mbs sitting 600 nmiles northeast of Hawaii. But it was still not touching the US West coast (yet). No real change is forecast either through Monday with low pressure moving into the Gulf of Alaska and over California holding high pressure at bay. There's indications by Wednesday PM the high will start ridging into the coast generating 15-20 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino building south into Central CA and up to 25 kts off Cape Mendo by Thursday and up to 30 kts late Friday. Windswell on the way up. This fetch is to come close to impacting the coast from Pt Reyes southward to Pt Conception (15 kts) through the period, then lifting away from the coast on Saturday. Then the fetch is to fade but 15-20 kt north winds are to sink south again building nearshore on Sunday/Monday then lifting north again on Tues (6/23).
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Tuesday (6/16) the South Pacific jetstream was split as it has been all season with a decent sized ridge pushing hard to the south over the Southeast Pacific impacting the Ross Ice Shelf. But weakness abounded under New Zealand and though we wouldn't call it a trough, there certainly was no sign of a ridge there. Maybe there was some weak support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hrs that ridge is to continue in the East reinforcing a high pressure pattern there while a weak cutoff trough tries to hold next to New Zealand, possibly supporting weak gale development there at best. Beyond 72 hours the ridging pattern in the Southeast is to hold if not build by early next week while weakness in the jet under New Zealand slowly erodes, and a flat flow of energy over the entire Ross Ice Shelf takes root suppressing gale development over the width of the South Pacific.
At the surface on Tuesday (6/16) high pressure at 1028 mbs was in control of the Southeast Pacific pushing south to almost the Ross Ice Shelf and pushing any winds in the area southeast over ice. No swell producing fetch was in-play. Over the next 72 hours a semi-persistent cut-off low is to form just east of New Zealand starting Wednesday (6/17) producing varying degrees of 35-40 kt south winds over a small area generating 26-28 ft seas near 40S 165-170W and continuing into Friday. Small 15 sec swell possibly to start pushing north towards the Hawaiian Islands.
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 hold at 1024 mbs, retreating a bit from the US West Coast but focused more on Hawaii with 20 kt trades continuous there and winds to 25 kts holding over Cape Mendocino through Saturday (6/20), then faltering. More windswell for both locations.
Also a gale remains forecast pushing off Japan on Friday (6/19) building in the evening with 40-45 kt northwest winds late at 37N 155E, then fading Saturday from 35 kts with seas up to 26 ft, and almost dissipating. But it is to resurge on the dateline Monday (6/22) with near 40 kts winds over a decent sized fetch and 26 ft seas returning pushing well to the east. If one were to believe the models we would say swell would be pushing towards both Hawaii and the US mainland. But we know the models are just making stuff up. It is not believable given the time of year and regardless of the state of the Active Phase of the MJO.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (6/16) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) remained in the Active Phase, and was wrapping up it's third consecutive pulse since April 20th (centered on the dateline). The ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index remained dead neutral. The Daily SOI index was up some to 5.97. The 30 day average was steady at -8.01 and the 90 day average was steady at -1.44, near where is has been since 5/23 (dead neutral) but dipping a little deeper into negative territory. The SOI indicies remained effectively neutral but a significant change appears to be occurring in the Pacific. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated that a third incarnation of the Active Phase was peaking out, with weaker westerly wind anomalies pushing from India east into the Pacific over the dateline reaching to Central America, filling the Pacific Basin and expected to hold into June 18th. Finally by 6/20 it's to start moderating, withering away into 6/26. A version of the Inactive Phase is trying to develop in the Indian Ocean, expected to reach the dateline on 6/25, then slowly fading there through 7/5. No energy is forecast reaching even under Hawaii much less Central America. So a weak version of the Inactive Phase is to make an appearance. We remain 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. Latest data as of 6/15 indicates 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 is gone with warm anomalous starting to build along the California coast. This looks very much like El Nino. 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 increased warming can be seen around and east of the Galapagos Islands to near 2 deg C above normal. A Kelvin Wave produced by a Westerly Wind Burst at now 4 deg C above normal is poised to break the surface there. And another Westerly Wind Burst appears to be developing just west of the dateline, larger than previously suspected and possibly setting up another Kelvin wave and more warm water moving east. At this point high pressure and local La Nina conditions off California are a thing of the past. If this pattern persists we expect the tropical season to become more active and surpass the below normal activity levels of the past 3 years. And the North Pacific jetstream is looking better than it has the whole of last winter. But it's not till the later half of July that we might get a real sense of how the Fall might set up. Still, things are looking much better.
Beyond 72 hours the cut-off low east of New Zealand is to persist on Saturday (6/20) with a broader yet fractured area of 35 kt south winds holding pushing north towards Hawaii. 26-28 ft seas to continue at 40S 175W holding into Sunday then dissipating. There some hint of a weak gale developing under New Zealand Tues (6/23) with up to 30 ft seas, but that is more of a guess by the model that anything.
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