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 (9/2) Northern CA surf was chest to head high and reasonably clean, though still warbled with winds just off the coast. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were knee to thigh high on the sets and clean early. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was waist to chest high and clean. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was thigh high and lightly textured. The LA Area southward to Orange County was chest to head high from the south. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were chest to head high and clean. The North Shore of Oahu was flat and clean. The South Shore was waist to chest high and clean. The East Shore was waist to chest high.
North/Central California was getting more local northerly windswell with local winds doing better than the past few days, though with less size too. Southern California was getting a fraction of that windswell with a better pulse of southern hemi swell showing, the first of two scheduled in tandem over the next few days. This one is off Chile with a very steep southerly angle. Hawaii's North Shore had no swell. The South Shore was getting some background southern hemi swell. And a decent bit of easterly windswell was hitting the East Shore thanks to high pressure off the California coast.
For Central California locally generated northerly windswell remains the best swell source for the week, holding in the chest to shoulder high range and maybe a little more by Friday, then fading some over the weekend only to rebound next week. Southern CA to see a small percentage of that windswell at best. But of more interest is the start of the arrival of very southerly angled southern hemi swell from a gale that was off Chile Monday (8/25) expected to peak Wed (9/3) with size into Thursday. The extreme south angle will limit it's exposure to only the best south facing breaks. Also a second southern hemi swell of equal size to start showing on Wed too, this one from due south of the state. The North Shore to remain unrideable for the next week, Tradewind generated east windswell has arrived on the East Shore and is expected to continue into Friday, then setting down after that. The South Shore of Hawaii is not expected to see any of the Chilean southern hemi swell. But another gale developed under New Zealand starting Thursday (8/28) with 32 ft seas indicated then faded to the 29 ft range into early Sunday offering reasonable potential for Hawaii for Thurs-Sat (9/6) and California beyond that. Nothing forecast in the North Pacific though. So we continue in summer-time mode for now. Long term nothing of real interest forecast from the southern hemi, so make the most of what swell is currently pushing north. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (9/2) the North Pacific jetstream was flowing mostly south of the Aleutians, but just barely so, with winds at 120 kts in the west feeding into a weak trough on the dateline then riding at 90 kts into a weak ridge in the Gulf of Alaska. No clear signs of support for surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours the dateline trough is to get somewhat better organized while drifting east with up to 140 winds pushing south on it's west side on Thursday increasing the odds somewhat for surface level development. But by Friday it's to become pinched off and be fading in the Western Gulf of Alaska, reducing those odds. Beyond 72 hours a return to a weaker flow is forecast with winds only in the 90 kt range south of the Aleutians and limited energy also flowing north over the Bering Sea offering no real support for surface level low pressure development.
At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs remain located 900 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino CA generating a modest pressure gradient over land there and producing 25-30 kt north winds and moderate windswell pushing south. Winds off the south side of this system were also taking aim on Hawaii with 15 kt fetch pushing over Oahu, resulting in modest northeasterly windswell there as well. Otherwise no fetch of interest was occurring. Over the next 72 hours high pressure off California is to hold with winds continuing in the 25-30 kt range over Cape Mendocino perhaps building to near 35 kts Thursday and Friday (9/5) with windswell continuing in the head high range at exposed NCal breaks, maybe up a foot late in the workweek. Also on Wednesday a weak gale is to build over the dateline sinking south pushing a small area of 25-30 kt north winds towards Hawaii for 24 hrs generating 15 ft seas. Low odds of limited windswell to result from this system pushing towards Hawaii. No other swell source indicated.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (9/2) high pressure at 1028 mbs was 900 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino CA ridging into Oregon generating an enhanced pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino CA resulting in 25-30 kt north winds there and northerly windswell for breaks south of there. Winds from that fetch were now pushing south to southwest outside Central CA nearshore waters making for cleaner surface conditions near the coast. Calmer local winds and decent conditions expected Wednesday -Tuesday (9/11) as the gradient holding to the north but nowhere near the Central CA coast with an light eddy flow expected (southwest 5 kts). Reasonably clean conditions.
On Tuesday (9/2) tropical storm Karina formed 240 nmiles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas (Baja) with sustained winds 35 kts. Katrina is expected to hold at this bare minimal tropical storm force while tracking west-northwest at 8 kts, then starting to fade late Wednesday 99/4). No swell producing fetch suggested to result.
On Tuesday (9/2) a .cgiit and muddled jetstream pattern remained in control of the entire South Pacific with a solid ridge pushing south over the Ross Ice Shelf in the far Southeast Pacific while something that almost resembled a trough was over the south Central Pacific but only extending to 60S, barely free of the Ross Ice Shelf. There was no clear indications of good support for surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours the .cgiit jetstream flow to continue with the southern branch coalescing some but basically just flowing flat west to east along the 60S latitude offering no clear support for surface level low pressure development. Beyond 72 hours that same pattern to hold with maybe just the faintest hint of a trough trying to organize in the south Central Pacific just above the Ross ice Shelf on Monday (9/8) offering only a minimal amount of support for surface level low pressure development.
At the oceans surface strong high pressure at 1044 mbs was east of New Zealand riding south to 60S suppressing gale development in the Southwest Pacific. Over the next 72 hrs that same high pressure system off New Zealand is to continue it's grip on the South Pacific storm corridor, minimizing the odds for storm development.
Cutoff Chilean Low
A cutoff low coalesced just off Chile on Sunday (8/24) generating 45 kt southerly winds at 53S 93W generating up to 32 ft seas at 50S 95W in the evening pushing north. Some degree of 35 kt fetch held Monday AM (8/25) generating 30 ft seas at 49S 98W ten fading to 29 ft in the evening at 45S 101W. All fetch was gone Tuesday AM (8/26) with residual 27 ft seas fading at 40S 98W. Possible small swell for CA 8 days beyond with period in the 15 secs range, with larger swell for Central America.
Also a secondary gale developed due south of California generating 12 hrs of 29 ft seas at 40S 125W on Wed PM (8/27).
South CA: Expect swell arrival starting Tuesday (9/2) mid-day with period near 17 sec and size tiny, but building. Size to build late Wednesday, a combination of swell from off Chile and the secondary gale south of CA producing 2 swell s with period 15 secs (3 ft @ 15 secs - 4.5 ft faces) continuing on into early Thursday (9/4) with swell 3 ft @ 14 secs (4.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 164-168 and 183 degrees
New Zealand Gale
A gale low began to sneak under New Zealand late Wednesday at 976 mbs generating 40 kt westerly winds at 58S 160E.
It tracked northeast with 40-45 kts winds over an expanding area Thursday AM (8/28) at 55S 172E generating 30 ft seas at 55S 172E aimed well towards both Hawaii and CA but moving into the Tahitian swell shadow for CA (212 degrees). The Jason-1 satellite confirmed seas at 30-32 ft with a peak reading to 41 ft. Hmmm. It's continued Thursday PM with 45-50 kt winds at 53S 179W aimed northeast targeting Hawaii and California. 32 ft seas were modeled at 52S 178E hanging right on the western edge of the Tahitian swell shadowed for NCal (212 degrees) and in it from SCal (216 degrees).
By Friday AM (8/29) 40 kts winds continued aimed even further to the north (aimed almost due north) at 44S 168W with 32 ft seas modeled at 46S 174W. In the evening a new fetch of 45-50 kts winds built at 47S 163W aimed north-northeast with 30 ft seas modeled at 44S 169W. All of CA was in the Tahitian swell shadow.
The fetch started fading Saturday AM (8/30) with 40-45 kt south winds at 47S 160W and 29 ft seas modeled at 43S 160W pushing north. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the northern reaches of the fetch early Am and reported seas 26.7 ft with a peak reading of 35 ft. So the Wavewatch model likely is presenting a good idealized view of what is going on. In the evening the fetch tried to hang on but was loosing areal coverage with a small patch of winds confirmed at 40-45 kts at 42S 155W and barely 28 ft seas modeled at 42S 158W and shadowed from CA. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the fetch and did one better though, reporting 33.2 ft seas at 45S 157W with a peak reading to 36 ft.
On Sunday (8/31) residual 35 kts winds were hanging on with 28 ft seas modeled at 38S 155W aimed dead for Tahiti. This system to die in the evening with seas falling below 27 ft.
This is not a particularly intense system, really just utility class by usual summertime standards, but holding on for a long time and following a directed path giving it's limited winds every ounce of traction they can get on the oceans surface. Given the limited amount of activity of late, this might actually be something to get a bit excited over, especially in Hawaii and Tahiti, but California to be basically shadowed by Tahiti for the whole thing. Still some degree of rideable southern hemi swell is expected to result. Fun but nothing more and likely a bit inconsistent with few number of waves per set for the mainland, though better for the Hawaiian Islands. Tahiti to get a good last shot at a modest tow swell (or large paddle swell) for select breaks.
Tahiti: Expect swell arrival starting Monday (9/1) with swell building fast through the day peaking at sunset with pure swell 10.5 ft @ 15 secs (15 ft faces Hawaiian) from 205-210 degrees
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival Thursday (8/4) building to 2.6 ft @ 17 secs late (4.5 ft faces) continuing upward Friday (9/5) with swell 3 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft faces) fading Saturday with swell 3.2 ft @ 14 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces). Swell Direction 190 degrees
California: Expect swell arrival Sunday (9/7) with swell pushing 2 ft @ 17 secs late (3.0-3.5 ft faces) from 210 degrees.
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 high pressure off California is to hold it's ground generating 30 kt northerly winds into early Sunday (9/7) and modest windswell, then fading into early next week but not out altogether with 25 kt north winds still forecast through Tuesday (9/11). Windswell to continue for Central CA.
After that new high pressure at 1028 mbs to be building over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians, totally blocking the usual winter-time storm corridor.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Tuesday (9/2) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was fully in the Inactive phase and not supportive of North Pacific storm formation. The Daily SOI index was at 18.9. The 30 day average was up to 8.66 and the 90 day average was holding at 4.35, still neutral, but up compared to weeks and days previous. Winds at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up), indicated east winds over the entire Western Pacific reaching over the dateline but not as much in day previous. The peak of the Inactive Phase has passed and we are now in the downward side of it, just barely. It's to slowly fade through the first week in September and be nearly gone by 9/11. Unfortunately no signs whatsoever of the Active Phase are forecast suggesting no support for fueling the development of North Pacific storms in September. Of note - the weak MJO pattern of late has caused what was a promising flow of warmer than normal subsurface waters from the West to east Pacific to break down, with a marked cool pocket now positioned 150 deep on the equator south of Hawaii, smack in the middle of the channel that normally enable warm water to flow to the east. This is not indicative of an El Nino like circulation, and if anything looks still like La Nina, thereby suggesting no enhancement to the winter North Pacific storm pattern. The relatively active tropics in the East Pacific also support the thesis that a La Nina-like global circulation pattern is in.cgiay.
Beyond 72 hrs the models suggest the oppressive New Zealand high pressure system is to drift east and slowly lift north while loosing some of it's strength, possibly opening the door a crack to the development of low pressure just north of the Ross Ice Shelf. There is remote possibilities of 2 gales forming on Tuesday (9/9), one under New Zealand and a second in the Southeast Pacific. But it's way to early to know this with any certainty, and odds remain low.
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