Swell Classification Guidelines
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/Utility Class: 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 (6/24) North and Central CA had southern hemi swell still holding on but down from Friday night and Saturday AM. Waves were chest high and clean at south facing breaks and knee high at north facing breaks. Down south in Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was producing surf at chest high with maybe a few head high peaks and clean on the sets. Southern California up north was maybe thigh high on the biggest sets and clean but with some intermixed warble. Down south waves were waist to chest high on the sets and clean.Top spots were up to head high on the sets and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting limited southern hemi swell with waves waist to maybe chest high on the biggest sets and clean with trades in effect. The East Shore had windswell waves at waist high from easterly trades and chopped.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view
Up north high pressure had retrograded away from the California Coast relocated north of Hawaii with only light northerly winds at 15 kts isolated near Pt Conception. No windswell was being generated. Low pressure off Oregon was generating 20-25 kt northerly winds well off the US coast possibly setting up small windswell in a day or so. But that fetch is to be gone by Monday. East trades had returned to Hawaii driven by the flow around the south side of the high north of the Islands at 15-20 kts producing small easterly windswell. These trades to hold into Tuesday (6/26) the the core of the fetch is to move east and become centered west of Hawaii offering steadily declining odds for windswell production. Another patch of low pressure is to be tracking over the top of the high on Tuesday (6/26) generating 20-25 kt westerly winds aimed at the US West Coast, maybe good for another tiny pulse of westerly windswell late week, then fading out. Tropical swell from Guchol (off Japan last week - see details below) is hitting Hawaii (1.0-1.3 ft @ 20 secs) and expected into the US West Coast mid-week. After that a very quiet pattern indeed is forecast. Not even windswell along the CA coast is forecast.
Down south a small semi-tropical system developed just north of New Zealand on Friday (6/15) falling southeast across the width of the South Pacific with seas in the 36 ft range. Swell has already hit and passed Hawaii and is starting to hit California on Sunday (6/24). After that only the bare smallest fragments of swell are expected out of the southern hemi from sources of no real interest. A gale is developing in the Tasman Sea Sun-Mon (6/25) with seas forecast to 32 ft favoring Fiji with maybe some residual energy easing up into Hawaii. And residual gale energy is forecast to try and organize east of New Zealand Tues-Fri (6/29) with seas in the 30-32 ft range consistently, but only over a tiny area. Small swell possible for Tahiti, Hawaii and the US West coast, but tiny is the operative word. Nothing else of interest is projected. We're into the summer doldrums now.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Surface - On Sunday (6/24) high pressure at 1032 mbs had retrograded west positioned 900 nmiles north of Hawaii generating trades over Hawaii at 15-20 kts and starting to produce easterly windswell along east facing shores. But the high was nowhere near California with virtually no windswell producing fetch anywhere near the coast. In fact weak low pressure was just a few hundred miles off Oregon generating a weak gradient with the high north of Hawaii producing a patch of north winds at 20-25 kts and seas to 10 ft out at buoy 46006, maybe good for some north windswell on Tuesday along the Central CA coast with luck (3 ft @ 9 secs) with locally generated windswell on top.
Over the next 72 hours the low off the California coast is to dissipate and the high is to ridge back into Central CA on Tues (6/26) producing northerly winds at 15 kts starting at San Francisco and peaking at 20 kts near Pt Conception holding into Wednesday, good for bare minimal windswell at exposed breaks. High pressure is to hold north of Hawaii but continuing to retrograde west with the core of the trade wind generated fetch for Hawaii starting to move west of Hawaii by Thursday (6/28) with east windswell fading then.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Tuesday (6/12) Tropical Storm Guchol developed 250 nmiles southwest of Guam tracking west-northwest with sustained winds 35 kts. Guchol continued on a westward track reaching typhoon status late Wednesday evening with sustained winds 65 kts and then to 70 kts Thursday AM. A slow turn to the northwest occurred in the evening with Guchol then turning more to the north and strengthening, reaching 130 kts on Sunday AM (6/17) positioned 350 nmiles southeast of Taiwan at 20N 127E (5594 nmiles from NCal on the 298 degree path and 4173 nmiles from Hawaii on the 284 degree path). Guchol turned slightly more north-northeast on Monday then moved onshore over South Japan early Tuesday AM (6/19) with winds down to 35 kts. Guchol is expected to emerge into the far West Pacific late Tuesday much weaker with winds down to 25 kts, accelerating and turning more easterly and not organizing much off the Northern Japan coast. The models have Guchol racing east and hitting high pressure on the dateline (the high centered north of Hawaii) Sat (6/23) and being deflected north with no swell producing expected.
Maybe some small long period energy to reach Hawaii 6.5 days past it's peak with period 18 secs on Sun AM (6/24) at 1.4 ft @ 18 secs (2.5 ft) fading Mon (6/25) from 1.4 ft @ 15 secs (2 ft). This swell to arrive in NCal 8.3 days later or Mon noon (6/25) at 1.4 ft @ 18 secs (2.5 ft) pushing to 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft) on Tues (6/26) down to 14 secs on Wed (6/27).
No other tropical storm formation is forecast.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (6/24) high pressure was di.cgiaced well to the west and weak low pressure was off Oregon and North CA setting up a weak local wind pattern. Only Pt Conception had any wind worth mentioning, north at 15 kts. More of the same is forecast Monday as low pressure moves into and over Cape Mendocino with the area of north winds building into Southern CA in the afternoon at 15 kts continuing Tuesday but then expanding up to Cape Mendocino in the late afternoon. By Wednesday north winds at 15 kts to be over all of North and Central CA with Southern CA falling back into a more normal wind pattern (weak eddy flow). Thursday low pressure is to again be moving towards the Oregon coast with north winds isolated to Pt Conception and holding Friday as the low moving into Oregon. Saturday weak northerly winds at 15 kts are forecast for all of Central CA with high pressure starting to return to the coast on Sunday and north winds up to near 20 kts.
Jet stream - On Sunday (6/24) a .cgiit jetstream pattern continued over the Central South Pacific with the southern branch ridging south traversing the Ross Ice Shelf. The two streams merged and lifted north some just off the tip of Southern Chile with something that looked like a trough there, but well east of the our forecast area. Also a bit of a cut off trough was trying to form south of Tasmania providing limited support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hours the ridge in the Central Pacific is to continue sweeping east eliminating any odds for gale development over the Central and East Pacific. But the trough under Tasmania is to build some with 100 kts winds feeding into it and easing east offering minimal support for gale development up into the Tasman Sea then moving under New Zealand and into the extreme Southwestern Pacific by Wednesday (6/27) with reinforcing upper winds to 140 kts starting to feed into the trough. Odds for gale development improving there. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to hold into Thursday (6/28) with 110 kt winds feeding into it just east of New Zealand offering a little more support for gale development, but it is to start being undercut by a new ridge building behind it with the southern branch of the jet starting to dive south into Antarctica by Friday (6/29) and holding through the weekend (7/1) eliminating odds for gale development.
Surface - At the surface in the South Pacific on Sunday (6/24) high pressure was well east of New Zealand at 1036 mbs ridging south to (60S) nearly reaching the Ross Ice Shelf and effectively locking down the Central South Pacific from gale formation. Small swell from a low pressure system that started well east of New Zealand then fell southeast (see North New Zealand Gale below) was in the water starting to impact California. But overall the pattern remained very much like that of one dominated by high pressure in the upper atmosphere. A new gale was starting to form under Tasmania (see Tasman Sea Gale below). Over the next 72 hours no real change is forecast with the high well east of New Zealand holding and basically stationary at 1032 mbs driving all fetch southeast towards Antarctica. But the Tasman Sea gale is to start making some eastward progress into the extreme Western Pacific by Wed (6/27) offering a glimmer of hope long term.
North New Zealand Gale
A gale developed north of New Zealand and rapidly intensified Thursday evening producing 55 kt south winds but with the core of the system tracking steadily southeast. Southwesterly winds built to 55-60 kt on Friday AM (6/15) with seas to 34 ft at 29S 178W then fading to 50 kts in the evening with seas to 38 ft over an infinitesimal area at 30S 169W (3200 nmiles from HI on the 193 degree track), but again the core of the system is to be falling quickly to the southeast with all fetch moving steadily into the systems north quadrant aimed at South America (but a long ways away and tiny in areal coverage). Winds still 45-50 kts on Saturday AM (6/16) aimed due east with seas 33 ft at 33S 164W and also aimed due east. On Sunday winds were holding at 45 kts over a tiny area but all aimed southeast as the system tracked on a collision course with Antarctica. Seas 22 ft at 39S 150W Sun AM then quickly fading.
Maybe limited energy for California starting Sunday (6/24) at 1.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) fading Monday from 1.5 ft @ 14 secs (2 ft) coming from about 220 degrees.
Tasman Sea Gale
A gale was starting to build over Tasmania on Sun AM (6/24) with a small area of 45 kt southwest winds then building to 50 kts in the evening positioned mid-way between Tasmania and New Zealand aimed well up into the Tasman Sea resulting in a tiny area of 30 ft seas at 44S 153E aimed reasonably well to the north towards Fiji but with New Zealand being the prime target. A follow-on fetch of 45 kt southwest winds to build in the Tasman Sea on Mon AM (6/26) resulting in 32 ft seas at 49S 150E again targeting Fiji and holding into the evening with seas pushing northeast and holding at 32 ft at 43S 161E. Decent swell possibly pushing towards Fiji. Fetch fading from 35 kts Tuesday AM (6/26) just west of New Zealand sill aimed north towards Fiji with seas fading from 30 ft at 43S 165E and becoming shadowed relative to Fiji by New Zealand. Swell possibly pushing towards Fiji with maybe much smaller energy extending beyond Fiji towards Hawaii if all goes as forecast. Will monitor.
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 the high is to start pushing east again possibly ridging into California on Sunday (7/1) with north fetch over the entire coast at 15-20 kts maybe good for bare minimal windswell. But the high is to have moved north relative to Hawaii, with no trades of interest forecast there. In all, very quiet.
Note: The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather event that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized by either enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is in control of, or slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 day, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the.cgianet. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity.
As of Sunday (6/24) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI).cgiunged to -41.19. The 30 day average was down to -9.59 (El Nino territory) with the 90 day average down to -5.34 (neutral).
Current wind analysis indicated a pocket of moderate west anomalies over the far West Pacific (Maritime Continent) fading then redeveloping at a more moderate speed south to southeast of Hawaii. It appears the core of the Active Phase of the MJO was in the Central and East Pacific. A week from now (7/2) weak east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent then turning dead neutral east of there extending the whole way into Central America. This suggests a slow but steady degradation of the Active Phase of the MJO as it pushes east towards the Caribbean and Central America, normal for this point in it's lifecycle. But it also suggest no easterly anomalies of any interest in the immediate future. The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 6/23 are in agreement indicating the Active Phase of the MJO was fading over the West Pacific (Outgoing Long Wave radiation suppressed) and strongest in Central America extending into Africa. In fact the Inactive Phase of the MJO is supposedly already strong over the New Guinea marching to the dateline and expected to take control there a week out (6/30) while the shorter range models do not support that. 2 weeks from now the Inactive Phase is supposed to start fading over the dateline while a new Active Phase starts building in the Indian Ocean. The statistical model has the Inactive Phase positioned directly over the equatorial dateline region while the dynamic model has it a little north of there. Not sure what effect this will have on wind anomalies there at this time, assuming it.cgiays out as modeled. Regardless, we should assume some flavor of the Inactive Phase is going to migrate into the West if not Central Pacific peaking near 7/4. This date remains our stake in the ground in assessing what the trend will be over this coming Fall and Winter (more below). The preferred option is no Inactive Phase build-up and a return to a neutral pattern, which would suggest that as we move more into Summer that a weak El Nino or at least a pattern that supports warm water buildup in the East Pacific continues. The critical juncture in that determination is the end of June into the first week in July. It's still to early to know what the outcome will be.
In monitoring the migration of warm water into the equatorial East Pacific, which the existing weak MJO pattern is supporting, this becomes important because it possibly sets up a configuration in the ocean that is more conducive to storm development for the coming Fall of 2012. In fact warmer than normal water is already accumulating off Ecuador and that pool of warm water is growing in intensity and coverage on 6/21. A pocket of blocking cold water that had been under the equator south of California the bulk of the past Winter (2011-2012) evaporated in April allowing warmer water to slowly but steadily pushing east into the vacuum (Kelvin Wave). This activity was the result of the Active Phase of the MJO (early April) and a continued weak MJO signal, and it appears to be reinforcing itself. It will be interesting to see if the weak MJO pattern continues (a early sign of some flavor of El Nino) in late June or whether the Inactive Phase comes back to life and reestablishes some sort of blockade. We are effectively out of the Spring unpredictability barrier relative to ENSO, and all is proceeding nicely towards a favorable pattern developing for the Fall (i.e. warmer than normal water on the equator in the East Pacific) providing this developing Inactive Phase doesn't shut things down. Regardless, the warm water pool off Central America has benefited greatly from the lack of strong trades over the equator, with warm water migrating solidly east and building up along the coast, a precursor to El Nino.
A weaker MJO signal is typical for this time of year, but does not normally appear as strong and as long-lasting as what is occurring now, suggesting that La Nina is gone. And the horseshoe cool water pattern that has dominated the entire Pacific for the past 2 years (typical of La Nina) appears to be in steep decline (a good thing). So the next question is: Will the Active-like Phase pattern that is currently occurring continue, ultimately ushering in some flavor of El Nino, or will it stall in the next 2 weeks late-June and leave us in limbo with just a neutral pattern in.cgiay (normal)? Either option is better than where we've been for the past 2 years (under the influence of La Nina). Regardless - we'll know the answers by July 4th.
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours residual wind energy from the Tasman Sea Gale is to try and redevelop southeast of New Zealand on Tuesday AM (6/26) with winds 45 kts over a tiny area and seas building to 32 ft at 50S 172E (215 degs CA and unshadowed by Tahiti, 200 degs Hawaii), continuing in the evening at the same location. Additional wind energy is to move into the area Wednesday AM (6/27) with a larger fetch of 40-45 kt southwest winds taking control and holding into the evening with a respectable area of seas building to 32 ft at 47S 174E (216-217 CA and unshadowed, 200 degs HI). This fetch is to lift northeast on Thurs AM (6/28) with 40 kt southwest winds continuing and seas at 32 ft near 44S 173E holding into the evening at the same location. Residual energy fading Friday AM (6/29) with winds dropping from 35 kts and seas fading from 28-30 ft at 40S 165W.
A small but long duration of swell could result for Hawaii and California if and when this happens.
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