On Thursday (8/11) Northern CA surf was flat. South facing breaks were flat. Central California surf was flat. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were flat. The LA area southward into Orange County was near flat with some thigh high sets. Southward to San Diego waves were flat. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was flat.
A small southern hemi swell is traveling towards California but no energy expected pushing towards Hawaii and points west. Another small storm is forecast for the extreme eastern South Pacific but only expected to have maybe 12-18 hours of fetch in the California swell window and that is to be aimed well east of any great circle path to the north. Another small storm is on the charts south of Hawaii long term, weak initially but building mid-next week. A gale is also in the Gulf of Alaska but no winds are aimed at Hawaii or California. So other than a short bit of southern hemi swell for CA, the outlook remains generally poor unless the models turn out to be right long-term, something we have little confidence in right now. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
At the jetstream level on Thursday (8/11) a broad ridge remained over the Gulf of Alaska pushing well up into north Alaska. South of it a cutoff upper low was centered in the middle of the Gulf with winds 80 kts and looking weak. In the West Pacific another trough was present off Kamchatka with winds 120 kts. In all none of these looked interesting (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the Gulf low is to lift slowly north and get a minor boost as energy from the trough off Kamchatka pushes east. But no significant development is suggested, mainly just a continuation of the weak upper low over the Gulf.
At the surface today high pressure was nowhere to be seen. Instead a weak surface low at 1000 mbs was circulating in the Central Gulf, supported aloft by the upper level low directly above it. QuikSCAT imagery confirmed winds at 40 kts in the gales east and north quadrants, but no winds of interest were in the west or south quadrants aimed at Hawaii or California. Another weak 1000 mb surface low was just east of Kamchatka with the core pushing into the Bering Sea. No swell producing fetch was associated with either low. Trade winds remained significantly reduced over Hawaii. North winds off Cape Mendocino CA remained weak too confirmed at 20-25 kts (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the only weather feature of interest is to be the Gulf low. The models suggest that by Thursday night (8/11) pressure is to drop to 996 mbs with winds building briefly to 35 kts in the west quadrant aimed south (just east of Hawaii) and the south quadrant aimed towards California and then fading 20-25 kts by Friday AM (8/12). This is a bit of an eye opener from a weather perspective, but no real swell is expected to result.
More model data here
2 tropical systems were present in the East Pacific:
Hurricane Fernanda with sustained winds 65 kts positioned 900 nmiles due south of Los Angeles tracking generally west. QuikSCAT analysis indicates that most fetch from this system is isolated to it's north quadrant aimed west towards Hawaii. It is tracking over cooler waters and expected to slowly dissipate over the next 48 hours. No swell generation potential for California or Hawaii.
Tropical Storm Greg was positioned 540 due south of Cabo San Lucas tracking west northwest with sustained winds 40 kts, with a slow strengthening forecast over the next 36 hours to minimal hurricane force. QuikSCAT imagery is inconclusive but the limited wind speeds and westerly heading are not conducive to swell development for California.
The GFS models suggest remnants from both these system to track west and, when they reach the near-Hawaiian waters, some intensification is possible, especially as these lows interact with building high pressure scheduled to be in-place north of the Islands mid-next week.
California Offshore Forecast
Thursday mornings local charts (8/11) indicated that high pressure, the normal factor driving north winds off Cape Mendocino and the source of virtually all of the states summer windswell, was being held at bay by low pressure developing in the Gulf of Alaska. But by Friday (8/12) the low is to fade and high pressure is to get a better foothold along the Pacific Northwest coast with the usual Cape Mendocino based north winds building to 25-30 kts over a tiny area, but enough to start producing northwest windswell again. The gradient is to be aided by weak high pressure over interior California too. That fetch to hold through Saturday evening (8/13) with a moderate increase in windswell expected. By Sunday the gradient and windswell is to start fading as the normal summertime East Pacific high builds to 1028 mbs but centered due north of Hawaii. There are suggestions that low pressure in the Gulf is to be tracking down the eastern flank of the high by mid-week, with windswell possibility returning over the longer term.
The 5 Day wind forecast is now included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.
On Thursday (8/11) the jetstream charts indicating a fully split jet tracking across the Pacific, with both the north and southern branches well separated and tracking due east parallel with each other. Most energy was in the northern branch with winds there up to 140 kts. The was no suggestion of any troughs capable of supporting surface level storm development (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the southern branch is to show signs of weakness, which is good. A trough is to open up in the far Eastern Pacific on the edge of the California swell window on Sunday (8/14) while a second trough develops under new Zealand. Both these provide a glimmer of hope for some storm development at the surface, but nothing too strong is suggested.
At the surface high high pressure remained east of New Zealand at 1028 mbs, flattened and ridging both east and west. A tiny 948 mb low was south of it in the Southeast Pacific tracking east, getting fully shoved south over Antarctic Ice. Only some limited 40 kt west winds were protruding north of the ice, all aimed to the east at Southern Chile. No swell production capacity suggested (animation here). Over the next 72 hours a minor dent in the jet stream aloft is to allow some activity at the surface. The low currently in the deep Southwest Pacific is to track a little more east and be joined by more low pressure approaching from the west. A broad 40-45 kts fetch is to develop early Saturday (8/13) tracking fast to the east aimed 70+ degree east of any great circle path to Southern CA, then out of the picture to the east and dissipated 24 hours later. These winds are to get a little traction though on oceans surface, resulting in seas to 35 ft on the very edge of the Southern CA swell window late Saturday night. Maybe some hope for small utility swell if this system forms as forecast focused on Southern CA. no hope for Hawaii.
More model data here
Southeast Pacific Low
A 956 mb low developed in the far Southeastern Pacific well southwest of Chile on Sunday (7/31) and eventually strengthened with 40 kt winds blowing on Monday (8/1) centered near 58S 117-125W. 29 ft seas were modeled at 58S 120-115W for 12 hours starting late that night, providing some potential for small utility class swell mainly for Southern CA from 180 degrees or less. But by Tuesday AM (8/2) that fetch was fading fast as were it's associated seas.
Expect swell from this low in Southern CA to be heading down on Friday and likely to be unrideable. Swell Direction: 180-185 degrees
Limited energy of similar size pushing into select exposed south facing breaks in Northern CA 12 hours later.
2nd SE Pacific Storm
On Monday (8/8) a 960 mb low develop off Southern Chile with a gradient in-place between it and much higher pressure back towards New Zealand. A broad fetch of 40-45 kt south to southwest winds was confirmed in the morning along the border of these two systems near 55S 129W aimed well at California into Central America. Seas were modeled at 27 ft centered at 52S 129W (pretty weak). Winds built to 40-50 kts in the evening centered at 50S 129W, essentially over the same area as in the morning. Seas held but were covering a larger area.
On Tuesday AM (8/9) the low held but winds were on the wane and slowly migrating east, confirmed at 40 kts near 48S 126W and fading fast. Seas built (mostly from previous days fetch) to 30 ft near 47S 126W. Residual 29 ft seas forecast at 44S 123W Tuesday evening (8/9) and fading out.
In all this was a very weak system with only 36 hours of functional winds and seas reaching barely 30 ft for 12 hours. At least it was in the California swell window with winds aimed generally right up the 180-190 degree great circle paths towards the state and locations east of there (Central America). The fetch was positioned fairly well to the north too, helping to reduce swell decay as it migrated away from the swell source.
A short bit of utility class swell with period in the 14-17 secs range is expected for North and South California, arriving first in the south on Tuesday AM (8/16) with period at 17 secs and size peaking on Wednesday (8/17) near 3.2 ft @ 16 secs (5 ft faces with set at best breaks to 6 ft). Swell to reach the north Tuesday evening peaking 24 hours later with similar size, but only at the most exposed south facing breaks.
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Thursdays upper level models (8/11) indicate that beyond 72 hours the upper low in the Gulf is to moderate and lift north while flattening out. A new stronger trough is to start building off kamchatka and pushing east towards the dateline late next workweek. For the time of year it's not to be too shabby, suggesting that maybe something is to build at the surface. But it's way too far into the future to place any bets on this yet.
Beyond 72 hours at the surface another weak low is to push into the western Gulf of Alaska by Sunday (8/14) with pressure 988 mbs, then lifting north of the Aleutians by Monday 8/15). there suggestions of a brief 12 hours fetch of 30 kt winds aimed towards the Pacific Northwest, but no swell of interest is to result. By mid-next week high pressure is to start rebounding north of Hawaii at 1028 mbs driving windswell along east fading shores there. An yet a third low is forecast to develop over the dateline at 988 mbs covering a decent area with 30 kt winds, but it's way to early to tell if any swell will result. Of interest though is that the North Pacific has become more productive. It will be interesting to see if this activity dies with the fading active phase of the MJO in the far West Pacific.
On Tuesday (7/27) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) dropped to -14 and has held in that range steadily through Thursday 8/4 with a -16 value posted. Then it started giving up a ground through Monday (8/8) with average values at -5 posted holding there through today (Thursday 8/11). A negative SOI is conducive to the development of El Nino and is evidence that the active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was occurring. A reversal of tradewinds over the Pacific equator typically accompanies such events. The first signs of such a breakdown developed west of the dateline starting Thursday (8/4). By Saturday (8/6) west wind were clearly evidenced to 160E and building eastward reaching 170E by Tuesday (8/9) then holding. Forecast models suggest this about as much as we can expect from this MJO pulse, but that the westerly winds should continue perhaps till the 18th. Though it is too late in the year for a full blown El Nino to start forming, a series of active MJO's can help to improve the chances for winter season storms and are a catalyst for development of strong tropical systems in the West Pacific (look for them to turn extratropical and curve northeast in the fall). There's also indirect evidence they enhance the North Pacific jetstream and improve the potential for winter storm development in the Gulf of Alaska, which currently appears to be happening. This active phase of the MJO is also responsible for the heavy rains and flooding in India a few week back.
Thursdays upper level models (8/11) indicated that beyond 72 hours both of the troughs in the South PAcific are to close off by Tuesday (8/16) ending any hope for surface storm development except for the short 48 hour winds they are to be open. The southern branch of the jet is to become re-energized driving solidly across the Ross Ice Shelf into southern Chile. The upper outlook remains grim after that with no change forecast.
At the surface beyond 72 hours out the next system of interest is scheduled for Tuesday (8/16) as a small 980 mb low develops east of New Zealand tracking east with winds forecast to 40 kts aimed due north towards Hawaii. 25 ft seas developing. It is to fade some then rebuild strongly by Wednesday (8/17) with 55 kts winds developing aimed well at Hawaii and California and seas building. It's really way to early to know what's going to happen, if anything, but it provides some hope.
Details to follow...
Proposed Senate Bill To Restrict Free Weather Data Giving it only to Private Companies for re-sell to the Public. If you view the free info from buoys, wind, and weather currently provided on this and other sites, prepare to see it end if this bill gets passed. Read more here.
Tutorial on the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) Presented by Dr. Roland Madden: If you're interested in El Nino and the MJO, have a basic understanding of El Nino, and you have broadband connection, audio and Macromedia Flash installed, then the following presentation is a must see. Dr Madden present a great overview of how the MJO works. And there's nothing like hearing it straight from the founders mouth. Link here: http://meted.ucar.edu/climate/mjo/mjonav0.htm
Stormsurf Weather Models Updated Again: Yes, we've been at it again this weekend getting another batch of weather models running. Global coverage is now provided for jetstream forecasts and surface pressure and winds. Zoomed in data is also available for such locations as the Mentawai Islands to Western Australia corridor, Tahiti, South America, Europe and Norwegian Sea. So now you can get local wind forecasts for these and more locations with one click. Take a look here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu.html
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table