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 (7/29) Northern CA surf was waist to chest high and pretty warbled. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were near flat. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was thigh high and heavily textured. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was thigh high and heavily textured. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh to waist high and quite textured midday. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist high and messy. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was waist to chest high and clean. The East Shore was chest high.
North/Central California was getting minimal locally generated northwest windswell. Southern California was getting limited weak wrap-around northwest windswell. Hawaii's North Shore was getting no swell for the summer. The South Shore was doing surprisingly well with swell energy coming from the Tasman Sea hitting better than expected. Trades were up providing decent windswell on the East Shore.
For Central California a small pulse of windswell is expected from the Gulf of Alaska mid-Wednesday into Thursday making for something to ride mixed with very southern angled southern hemi swell over the same timespan. Limited short period locally generated north windswell to provide something bare minimal for the weekend. Southern CA to see mostly the same southern hemi swell with only minimal indications of the Gulf windswell. The South Shore of Hawaii to see Tasman Sea swell on into Wednesday, then going really flat with no swell expected for the week beyond. Tradewind generated east windswell to provide some distraction through Wednesday too, then fading out. Beyond the models are offering nothing of interest for either Hawaii or California over the next week, so make the most of what you can get. Believe it or not, it's all down hill from here. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
The North Pacific jetstream is in hibernation for the summer. No features of interest were indicated with the bulk of the limited energy tracking just barely south of the Aleutians and into the Northern Gulf of Alaska. If anything it's to move further north, tracking through the mid-Bering Sea by Sunday (8/3) and holding there.
At the surface today a broad moderate high pressure system at 1032 mbs remained parked 900 nmiles north of Hawaii trying to ridge into Oregon but not making it and also ridging west to the dateline. In all it was only generating some enhanced trades pushing over the Hawaiian Islands. Over the next 72 hours even the high is to disintegrate and by Friday (8/1) trades are to be dead over Hawaii and north winds suppressed down the US West Coast. A very feeble pattern indeed. No swell producing fetch is forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (7/29) northerly winds at 15 kts were pushing down Central CA coast hacking thing up, but not generating any windswell. High pressure was north of Hawaii trying to ridge into the coast, but not making it, limiting the strength of the north wind. The high is to make only minimal eastward progress Wednesday and Thursday driving winds to the 15-20 kts range and making more local chop southward over the Channel Islands, but still no windswell. Southern CA to remain protected. A new high to build over local waters over the weekend with north winds pushing 20 kts Saturday and up to 25 kts Sunday, but centered off Monterey Bay, limiting fetch length and only generating short period windswell at best. The high is to retreat on Monday with north winds fading and no swell producing fetch in-play through Wednesday (8/6).
On Tuesday AM (7/29) no tropical systems of interest were occurring.
On Sunday (7/27) a perfectly split jetstream pattern remained in-control of the entire South Pacific with the southern branch running basically flat from west to east just over the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf on the 62S latitude offering no real support for surface level gale development. Over the next 72 hours no real change forecast other than a modest trough scheduled for the Central Pacific starting Wednesday (7/30) and seeping east from there but never offering any winds of interest. Beyond 72 hrs a ridge is to build under New Zealand pushing east late Friday sweeping east over the entire South Pacific and putting a lick on things. There's hints of a trough behind it building under New Zealand Tuesday (8/5), but that's far from certain. If it did develop it might offer a hint of potential to support gale development there.
At the oceans surface a 960 mb gale was positioned in the far southern Central Pacific generating a fetch of 45 kt west winds. These to hold into the evening then fade producing 12 hrs of 32 ft seas at 60S 155W. Doubtful any swell of interest to result. No swell producing systems were in play. Over the next 72 hrs high pressure at 1024 mbs is to build east of New Zealand pushing south to almost 60S by Wednesday (7/30) and tracking east minimizing odds for surface level low pressure development.
Tasman Sea Storm
A a 980 mb storm formed in the Tasman Sea on Monday (7/22) generating a short lived fetch of 55 kt winds aimed north targeting Fiji well with 37 ft seas from 40S 158E Mon PM pushing to 38S 165E Tues AM (1400 nmiles from Fiji), then crashed into New Zealand late in the evening. Large swell for Fiji possible with weak filtered remnants eventually pushing into Hawaii. Swell has already hit and expect it to be dropping to 1.6 ft @ 14-15 secs on Wednesday (2.0-2.5 ft faces), then gone. Swell Direction: 215 degrees
Southeast Pacific Gale
On Monday PM (7/21) a 972 mb gale was in the far Southeastern Pacific generating a small area of 35-40 kt south winds at 48S 120W and supposedly producing 30 ft seas at 51S 123W by Tuesday AM (7/22). The Jason-1 satellite passed over the northwestern edge of this area reporting seas at 26 ft, in line with the WW3 WAM, so it is not completely unreasonably to suspect up to 30 ft seas might exist. On Tuesday evening those winds pushed northeast holding at 35 kts at 42S 113W still generating 30 ft seas at 44S 118W. Even Wednesday AM these winds persisted at 35 kts at 41S 105W, well outside the California swell window and targeting South America better. Seas to 30 ft were still at 40S 110W. This system faded after that. Most of this energy was aimed at Chile and Peru, though it is not unlikely that some form of swell could push up into Southern California from 5100 nmiles away starting Wednesday (7/30) from 180 degrees.
Possible swell starting in Southern CA on Wed (7/30) with swell 3 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.5 ft faces - maybe 5 ft at top SCal spots). Swell down to 3 ft @ 14-15 secs (4 ft faces) on Thurs (7/31) and fading. Swell Direction : 180 degrees
A odd-ball low developed on the northern tip of New Zealand Friday evening (7/25) pushing a tiny area of 50 kt winds north for 12 hrs possibly targeting Hawaii. But the whole thing started moving to the southeast towards Antarctica over the next 36 hrs with 35 ft seas in play early Sunday AM at 36S 177W, but all aimed southeast towards southern Chile at best. It held together and tracked east with 35 kt winds eventually wrapping into it's west quadrant aimed somewhat northeast by Monday AM (7/28) generating 29 ft seas near 38S 163W and still tracking east, setting up more 29 ft seas at 36S 159W in the evening and again 29 ft seas Tuesday AM at 33S 154W before dying in the evening with 29 ft seas at 30S 148W. Possible solid sideband swell for Tahiti on Wednesday (7/30) and some of that radiating north towards Central America in the days beyond, but doubtful anything to reach the US mainland (period would be 14-15 secs if it did) because when the fetch was aimed north it was totally shadowed by Tahiti. Even less odds for Hawaii since the fetch was barely aimed in their direction.
Southeast Pacific Gale
A gale was developing on the eastern edge of the California swell window Saturday AM (7/26) with pressure 948 mbs but over Antarctic Ice generating winds of near 40 kts at 60S 130W aimed more east than north, mostly out of even the Southern CA swell window and more at Peru. This system built up to 45 kts winds at the same location Saturday evening with a broad area of 29 ft seas at 58S 128W. On Sunday AM (7/27) this system produced 45-50 kts winds at 60S 122W aimed 45 degrees east of the 180 degree great circle path up to California generating 32 ft seas at 56S 123W pushing mostly towards Peru. In the evening all fetch was east of the Southern CA swell window and fading. 37 ft seas were modeled at 57S 115W, essentially out of the California swell window. Limited odds of some form of background very southerly angled swell pushing up in to California, best in Southern CA, with luck a week later (starting Sun 8/10).
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 a new high pressure at 1024 mbs is to start building off Central CA late Saturday (8/2) generating 20 kt north winds pushing down the Central CA coast, and growing to 1032 mbs by Tuesday (8/5) but repositioned in the northern Gulf of Alaska, and producing no gradient along the US West Coast but setting up 20 kt trades again over the Hawaiian Islands, offering the hint of windswell along Eastern Shores.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Tuesday (7/29) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the inactive phase but moving towards the active phase. The SOI index which has been positive since 7/16 started moving negative on 7/23 and is still there, currently at -5.48. The 30 day average was 2.69 and the 90 day average was 0.47 essentially neutral. A weak area of easterly trades were moving east into Central America both at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up), but this pattern was slowly decaying. Westerly winds were building over the eastern Indian Ocean and were starting to push into the equatorial Pacific signaling the start of the Active Phase of the MJO. But this episode is forecast to be weak and fading by even mid-August.
Beyond 72 hrs virtually no swell producing low pressure systems of interest are forecast with a decidedly southward drift to any weather systems moving through the area. Flatness expected. Finally on Monday (8/4) a small storm is forecast trying to get a toehold under New Zealand producing 50 kts winds aimed northeast and tracking northeast, with more low pressure behind it. Maybe, just maybe this is the start of a pattern with the jetstream forming a trough there, offering an environment more hospitable to surface level gale development.
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