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 Thursday (6/22) North and Central California had what is now the usual waist high or so junky north short period locally generated windswell with onshore winds and warbled/chopped conditions. Southern California was getting knee high wrap around weak northwest windswell up north and clean. Down it was a little bigger with sets waist high and sunnier, but also a bit more warbled. Hawaii's North Shore was dead flat with clean conditions. The East Shore was getting shoulder high plus east tradewind generated windswell with chop on top. The South Shore was getting southern hemi swell at chest high with maybe a few bigger sets with light trades and clean conditions.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for more of the same with modest sized locally generated north windswell at waist high plus Friday on through the weekend holding into Tuesday of next week with southern hemi swell in the mix starting Saturday at about waist high holding into Monday. Southern California is to see no northwest windswell of real interest through Tuesday other than maybe some knee high dribblers at top spots. Background southern hemi swell is expected arriving Saturday at waist high and maybe chest high Sunday fading on Monday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see no swell of interest for the foreseeable future. The East Shore to see east tradewind generated windswell at chest high Friday. Waist to chest high windswell for the weekend into Monday then fading to . waist high Tuesday. The South Shore to see southern hemi swell fading from chest high Friday and dropping from waist high on Saturday. Nothing by Sunday and holding there into next week.
Up north no swell producing fetch is expected from the North Pacific for the next 7days other than locally generated windswell. Down south a cutoff low developed well south of Tahiti on Friday (6/18) producing a short duration of 30 ft seas aimed pretty well to the north the US West coast with swell arriving there on Saturday (6/26) (see forecast above). Otherwise a gale is forecast for the far Southeast Pacific on Sat/Sun (6/27) but most energy is to be pushing east out of even the CA swell window.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursday (6/24) the North Pacific jetstream was fragmented in the west, but a small trough was tracking through the Gulf of Alaska with 120 kt winds pushing into Central Canada. No clear support for gale development indicated. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to hang just off the Central Canadian coast pushing the jet over Oregon and Washington with winds in the 110 kt range, maybe supporting low pressure at the oceans surface, but not much more. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to pinch off and slid into the Pacific Northwest Tues-Thurs (7/1) and not doing anything of interest other than making for cloudy conditions. To the west no troughs of interest are forecast.
At the surface on Thursday (6/24) modest high pressure at 1028 mbs was stationary 900 nmiles north of Hawaii barely reaching to the California coast and generating a weak insipid 15-20 kt northwest windflow having minimal support for windswell development. This high was also generating trades a t 20 kts pushing over the Hawaiian Islands. Hurricane Celia was tracking west midway between Mexico and Hawaii with winds 115 kts with hurricane Darby right behind with winds 70 kts. The generally westward track was offering no swell potential for US Mainland interests but maybe the Big Islands of Hawaii will see some swell long term. Weak low pressure was over the Aleutians just west of Alaska and of no interest. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold with high pressure lifting a bit further north from Hawaii with trades fading some there by later Friday while trying to ridge into North CA at the same time, setting up a pressure gradient and north winds at 25 kts Sun/Mon (6/28) offering a modest increase in windswell down into Central CA then. The low in the Gulf is to ease east producing maybe 25 kt west winds aimed at the Pacific Northwest on Sun/Mon (6/28) offering improved odds for 10-11 sec period windswell there. Hurricane Celia is to stall just northwest of its current location on Sunday (6/27) and dissipate there. Maybe some swell could start radiating north into Southern CA with luck.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (6/24) high pressure had retrograded west away from the CA coast leaving only lingering northwest winds at 15-20 kts pushing down the North and Central CA coast with light winds into Southern CA. By Friday into early Saturday (6/26) high pressure is to try and make a slight return with north winds again on the increase to the 25 kts range and windswell and chop building back into the North and Central CA coast and holding at 25 kts up by Cape Mendocino on Sunday (6/27) though nearshore waters of Central Ca might get a break on Sunday. Southern CA to remain protected throughout. More low pressure is to make a push through the Gulf on Mon/Tues (6/29) preventing high pressure and the usual pressure gradient from getting even moderately strong along the central and north CA coast, with winds over outer waters in the 15-20 kts range. Limited warbled windswell the best outcome. Then high pressure is to start surging east while building, with the gradient full bloom by late Thursday and 25 kt north winds covering nearshore waters of the entire state, with chop in control.
Thursday (6/24) a very split jetstream flow remained in control
of the South
Pacific with the southern branch of the jet tracking east down at 65S and pushing along the northern edge of the Antarctic ice pack, sort of arching a bit northeast in the far Southeast Pacific offering a tiny windswell for gale development south of there. Over the next 72 hours the southern branch of the jet is to lift far better to the north with 130 kt southwest winds there on Sat (6/26) improving odds for surface level gale development, then quickly loosing energy and collapsing on Sunday. Beyond 72 hours we're to fall back into the same old pattern with the jet sweeping pretty far to the south running flat along the northern edge of the Antarctic Ice Pack and minimizing odds for gale development down at the surface.
At the oceans surface an elongated fetch of 30-35 kt west winds covered a good portion of the South Pacific but all aligned flat west to east affording little chance for swell energy to radiate north. This was being generated by two high pressure systems in the Northern South Pacific interacting with weak low pressure over Antarctica. Over the next 72 hours the models indicate a good sized area of fast moving 45+ kts winds are forecast developing in the deep South-Central Pacific with some energy aimed north starting Friday evening at 59S 152W. It is to lift northeast Sat AM with a moderate area of 45 kt winds at 53S 133W racing northeast in the evening to 48S 130W at 40 kts, then fading. There some suggestion of 32 ft seas at 60S 152W Friday PM building to 38 ft Sat AM (6/26) at 54S 140W and near 40 ft Sat PM at 50S 130W on the eastern edge of the CA swell window, then fading. Reasonable odds for swell development pushing up toward California and more so for Central America if all comes to pass as modeled.
Previously, On Thursday (6/17) low pressure was circulating well east of New Zealand and starting to organize after stalling in the Central Pacific setting up a large area of 35 kt south winds Thursday evening. It got marginally amplified on Friday (6/18) as it tapped the jetstream with south winds building to 45 kts at 55S 135W holding for 12 hours resulting in 28 ft seas Friday AM at 41S 157W (from the original fetch) and then another spot of 30 ft seas at 50S 133W from the stronger fetch in the evening. But it was gone by Saturday. Some limited 16-17 sec period swell to result arriving in California on Sat (6/26). Swell only 2 ft @ 16-17 secs in both locations.
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 high pressure is to start moving east again on Monday
(6/28) but far enough north to not have much of an impact on trades
over the Hawaiian Islands (15 kts or so). the leading edge of the high
is to reach Central CA in earnest late Wednesday with north winds
building from 20 kts nearshore pushing 25-30 kt late Thursday (7/1) with windswell on the way up, but conditions pretty poor at exposed breaks. The high is to be building to to 1036 mbs, with trades pushing back to near 20 kts over the Hawaiian Islands on Thurs (7/1) and improved odds for east short period windswell.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (6/24) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued backing off from positive territory. The daily SOI was at -0.07 and has been in slightly negative territory for 21 days. The 30 day average was down to 3.24 with the 90 day down to 7.38. This continued looking like a weak Active Phase dip embedded in a broader La Nina pattern.
Wind anomalies as of Thursday (6/24) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models suggested strong east anomalies holding over a broad area in the West Pacific indicative of a building instance of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. They extend from Eastern Africa to the dateline on east almost to South America. A small and fading area of westerly anomalies indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO were dissipating over Central America and were exiting east into the Atlantic. It appears the Inactive Phase is getting ready to take over the Pacific. Easterly anomalies are forecast to hold solid on the dateline almost filling the entire equatorial Pacific by 6/286 then slowly fade into 7/8. Finally on 7/13 a weak pulse of the Active Phase is to start building in the Indian Ocean easing east into the far West Pacific.
We believe the remnants of El Nino will linger in the upper atmosphere for a while. Regardless, we'll fall back into some form of a light La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) for later 2010 into 2011. Of other interest will be whether the Iceland Volcano will spew enough high level fine particle dust and aerosols into the atmosphere to produce a reflective effect, dropping surface temperature and pushing us into a multi-year La Nina. This is a very real concern.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (6/17) indicates that cooler than normal waters have developed over a thin strip on the equator from South America drifting west to the dateline now and covering the important equatorial area of the better than half the Pacific Ocean. And feeder plumes of colder than normal water have developed pushing off the US West Coast and South America reaching to the dateline, suggesting stronger than normal high pressure has built in both hemispheres. Looks like a classic La Nina setup. This is a turn for the worse and only seems to be getting stronger. At the same time a massive buildup of warmer than normal waters continues in the Atlantic almost bleeding into the far Eastern Pacific, of concern to hurricane forecasters there. We'll see if upper level winds support development of hurricane activity or whether residual upper level shear from El Nino will chop the tops of developing systems. Suspect shear will be gone by the heart of hurricane season in the Atlantic.
Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present and if anything colder than normal water was building strong over the dateline and pushing east (sort of like a cold Kelvin Wave). This pocket was -4 degs below normal. Not good.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond, but only in the normal range. This still looks like the normal early Summertime transition typical for this time of the year but is likely to change towards an increased easterly flow as Fall approaches symptomatic of La Nina.
El Nino is effectively gone and slowly losing it's grip on the global upper atmospheric weather pattern. Still some lingering impact is to continue into the Summer of 2010 enhancing the storm track in the South Pacific some. A slow transition to a normal if not slight cooler than normal state (La Nina) is expected through Nov 2010, and the signs continue to point to a La Nina pattern for the long term future.
See more details in the new El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours the models indicate high pressure is to again take control of the entire South Pacific pushing the storm track flat west to east and minimizing the odds for swell producing fetch to develop.
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