On Tuesday (8/23) Northern CA surf was waist high and socked in early. South facing breaks were waist high. Central California surf was up to waist. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were thigh high. The LA area southward into Orange County was waist to maybe a bit higher at the best breaks. Southward to San Diego waves were maybe thigh high. The North Shore of Oahu was thigh high. The South Shore was waist to chest high. The East Shore was waist high.
A little bit more north windswell expected for Hawaii on Wednesday and more small southern hemi background swell expected too. North California to get another day of northwest windswell intermixed with some southern hemi background swell with the same southern hemi background swell is expected for Southern CA too. Hurricane Hilary moved into the Southern CA swell window on Monday, but tracked more to the west than was hoped for. Still some swell possible there. And the models continue to indicate a moderate storm developing under New Zealand on Wednesday, nowhere near as strong as was suggested earlier though. Still some small swell for all locations is possible a week out. Bit's of energy continue to be projected for the Northern Gulf of Alaska, but confidence remains low that anything rideable will result. In all there's a lot more hope for small swell, but nothing really standing out. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (8/23) at the jetstream level a zonal flow was in effect with the bulk of the jet positioned directly over the Aleutians from flowing generally west to east with no pronounced troughs or ridges present. No support for surface level storm development (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the a trough is to develop in the Northern Gulf of Alaska with winds there to 110 kts. Not much ocean surface is to be influenced by this trough though. A broader trough is forecast in the west off the Kuril's, but no solid winds are to be present there. A solid ridge is forecast just east of the dateline pushing the jet up to the Aleutians and just a little more into the Bering Sea. In all a pretty benign pattern aloft.
At the surface today (Tuesday) a weak but broad high pressure pool was centered over the dateline at 1020 mbs. 2 tropical storms (Guchol and Mawar) and a tropical low were tracking up it's western flank bound for the Kuril's and eventually the Bering Sea before fading. North winds were present off Cape Mendocino California at 30 kts generating local windswell there. Otherwise no large scale fetch of interest was indicated (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the pattern is to hold with high pressure at 1024 mbs holding just east of the dateline. Tropical lows to continue tracking up it's western flank as indicated above. The first one of the three tropical low is to start building in the Bering Sea pushing over the Aleutians and into the Gulf of Alaska by Friday (8/26) with 25 kt west winds aimed at Vancouver Island. Otherwise nothing of interest forecast.
More model data here
Hurricane Hilary: On Monday AM (8/22) Hurricane Hilary started to move into the Southern California swell window positioned 950 nmiles south-southeast of Huntington Beach. Winds were estimated at 85 kts with seas 28 ft. The strongest winds were imaged to be in the east quadrant aimed well at South California up the 163 degree great circle route. This is best suited for the more northern breaks in the region. Estimated swell period 13 secs, putting swell arrival in Southern CA on Wednesday morning. Swell size about 2 ft (2.5 ft faces). Hilary was beginning to loose strength though.
On Tuesday AM (8/23) Hilary continued on a west-northwest track with winds down to 70 kts positioned 780 nmiles south of San Diego. Winds continued strongest in her east quadrant aimed reasonably well to the north. Seas continued estimated at 28 ft. Swell from this portion of the storm expected to arrive on Thursday morning (8/25) from 176 degrees with period at 12-13 secs. Swell 2.0-2.5 ft (2.5-3.0 ft).
By Wednesday AM (8/24) Hilary is to be fading with winds down to 50 kts positioned 625 nmiles south of LA. Maybe some residual 10-11 sec energy to result, but definitely on the downswing. Swell coming from 180 degrees arriving in the very early morning hours of Friday (8/26). Swell 1.5-2.0 ft (1.5-2.0 ft faces).
So some decent swell is expected to result for Southern California starting early Wednesday (8/24), but from a very southerly angle, building to max size by late afternoon. Reasonable swell to continue into Thursday AM (8/25) and from a less southeasterly angle but size fading slowly through the day. Last little bits of energy to be arriving Friday AM (8/26) with period down to 10 secs and fading through the day. No energy expected to reach Central or North CA.
California Offshore Forecast
Tuesday mornings local charts (8/23) indicate that high pressure just off the coast at 1024 mbs was interacting with lower pressure inland generating brisk north winds off Cape Mendocino confirmed at 30 kts and producing seas to 14 ft there with local windswell near the coast into Central CA. This gradient is to fade out through the day Wednesday (8/24) with windswell quickly on the decline as the day progresses. A rather calm pattern to persist Thursday through Saturday (8/27) and then high pressure is to start making a comeback. By Sunday (8/28) north winds are to again develop in the same area shifting south, with 25 kts winds forecast extending from Cape Mendocino to Pt Conception by the afternoon. Messy local short period windswell to result. This to be joined in the next 24 hours by windswell from a low off the Pacific Northwest, but the local northwesterly fetch to persist making a choppy mess into Wednesday (8/31).
The 5 Day wind forecast is now included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.
Tuesdays (8/23) jetstream charts indicated no significant change from days and weeks previous. Of most interest was a big ridge pushing southeast of New Zealand into Antarctica proper, totally shutting off the storm corridor there. The northern branch of the jet was flowing zonally (flat) west to east and was not of interest. A trough was southwest of New Zealand (under Tasmania) with 150 kts winds indicated at it's apex, but rather close to Antarctic Ice. this was the most interesting feature in the South Pacific and the only hope for surface level storm support (animation here). Over the next 72 hours this trough is to push east just barely making headway into the open waters of the South Pacific with winds continuing at 150 kts through early Thursday (8/25) then rapidly fading. but another strong trough is forecast in the same area by Friday (8/26) with winds to 160 kts, but positioned even further south than the trough before it. Some support for surface level storm development possible.
At the surface today strong high pressure at 1028 mbs was just east of New Zealand ridging southeast to almost the Ross Ice Shelf and keeping a lock on the storm corridor there. No swell producing fetch indicated anywhere in the South Pacific (animation here). Over the next 72 hours a small area under New Zealand is to be of most concern, but nowhere near as interesting as was initially suggested by the models. There a 952 mb storm is to develop south of New Zealand on Wednesday (8/24) with winds initially 45-55 kts over a tiny area aimed northeast towards both Hawaii and the US West Coast. Seas building to 30 ft centered at 54S 165E. But by the evening that fetch is to fade some and turn it's force more to the east with pressure dropping to a deep 944 mbs. Seas building to 37 ft southeast of New Zealand at 55S 177E. On Thursday (8/25) the storm is to fade fast and sink southeast moving well over the Ross Ice Shelf. All fetch fading. Residual seas in the morning 30 ft forecast at 54S 175W then gone by nightfall. Limited utility class swell possible for Hawaii and California, but certainly nothing much.
More model data here
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Tuesday (8/23) upper level models indicate that beyond 72 hours the dateline ridge is to build well into the Eastern Bering Sea with a trough developing just east of it along the Canadian coast through Saturday (8/27). Winds there at 110 kts aloft carving out a bit of an area that could support surface low pressure support. But the big ridge over the dateline to effectively keep the Gulf storm corridor locked down. Eventually a weak trough is to develop off the Kuril's, but weak is the operative word.
Beyond 72 hours at the surface low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska is to get some support from the jetstream aloft dropping to 1008 mbs on Sunday (8/28) with a decent area of 25-30 kts northwest winds blowing along the Pacific Northwest coast aimed at North Ca and Southern Oregon, then fading on Monday (8/29). Windswell generation potential possible. Then high pressure is to really surge in the NOrtheast Pacific to 1032 mbs locking the entire eastern part of the Pacific down. Nothing forecast in the West Pacific either with the tropical lows there dissipating.
Tuesdays upper level models (8/23) indicate that beyond 72 hours the southern branch of the jet is to be flowing east rather quickly under new Zealand but generally centered near 60S, just too far down there to eke out any distance between the jet and Antarctic Ice to it's south. Generally an unfavorable pattern to persist with no help anywhere else in the Pacific suggested.
A series of 2 more storms are forecast to track under New Zealand on Friday (8/26) and Sunday (8/28) but both are to be moving east very fast and to be mostly over ice through their life (with the ice pack pushing up to 62S, now just past the peak of winter there). No other swell producing systems forecast.
Details to follow...
Rob Gilley Photgraphy: Please take amoment to check out the selection of limited print images availabe at Rob Gilleys webite. All images in the 2005 line were taken by Rob Gilley, an 19 year Surfer Magazine staff photographer, and are personally signed and numbered by him: http://www.pacificsurfgallery.com
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table