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 Thursday (9/11) Northern CA surf was chest high and textured. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist to chest high and a bit textured mid-day. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was chest high and nearly chopped mid-day. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist to chest high and pretty clean. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to chest high with some bigger sets and lightly textured. 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 high or so.
North/Central California continued getting a smaller mix of local northerly windswell and southern hemi swell. Southern California continued getting southern hemi swell originating off New Zealand producing small but decent surf for the finals of the contest at Trestles. Hawaii's North Shore had no swell. The South Shore was getting southeast shorter period swell. Small but rideable easterly windswell was hitting the East Shore.
For Central California locally generated northerly windswell to continue in some form but smaller Friday and Saturday, fading on Sunday, while weak bits of southern hemi background swell dribble in Friday, then again Sunday/Monday and Wednesday. Southern CA to not see any of the windswell but the southern hemi swell should continue smaller Friday, then out on Saturday with a new pulse Sun/Mon with more on through the week. No surf expected for the North Shore in the immediate future. Tradewind generated east windswell to expected to hold Wednesday on the East Shore, then getting smaller on Thursday before fading out. The South Shore of Hawaii is moving to the flat zone with no clear long term signs of hope. Down south 2 gales have formed, one that pushed through the very eastern edge of the SCal swell window Sun/Mon (9/8) generating up to 36 ft seas, with the second late Tues-Thurs (9/11) offering better odds up into NCal but with only 30-32 ft seas. Swell expected for exposed breaks in SCal starting Tuesday and then more energy on to start Thursday, including NCal this time. Up north a gale pushed off Kamchatka on Wed/Thurs (9/11) tracking to the dateline with 20-22 ft seas offering decent odds for small swell for Hawaii starting late Sunday on through Tues (9/16). But no further development is suggested beyond that. One tiny gale is forecast for the Western Gulf of Alaska Tues/Wed (9/17) with an extratropical system off Kamchatka possibly behind that, but odds low on both at this early date. In short, things are slow and expected to remain that way for a bit longer. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (9/11) the North Pacific jetstream looked decent with a trough in place over the dateline with 120 kt winds flowing into it supporting low pressure development at the oceans surface. A weak ridge was over the gulf of Alaska and back west towards Kamchatka, likely supporting high pressure down below. Over the next 72 hours the dateline trough is to actually build some Friday and Saturday with up to 140 kt winds rebuilding and flowing into the trough before pinching off late Saturday in the Western Gulf of Alaska. This trough holds the best hope for surface level development, maybe more than what the surface charts are currently showing. Beyond 72 hours the flow to become less defined, with a weak trough trying to organize over the dateline late Sunday pushing east to the Western Gulf of Alaska Tuesday (9/16) but with no real depth of wind velocity behind it. Yet another steep and energetic trough is forecast for the dateline Wed/Thurs (9/18) offering perhaps another shot at surface level development with yet more behind that. It looks like the return of the active phase of the MJO might be having an impact aloft.
At the surface today high pressure at 1020 mbs was barely hanging on 900 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino CA generating a very modest pressure gradient just off the California coast pushing south and producing more 20 kt north winds and mild windswell pushing into Central CA. No fetch was aimed towards Hawaii. Weak low pressure was fading over the dateline in association with the Kamchatka Gale (see below). No other fetch of interest was in-play. Over the next 72 hours another gale is forecast to try and set up on the dateline Sunday (9/14) with 25-30 kts winds early building to 35 kts at 49N 175W aimed south then fading rapidly Monday AM with 30 kts winds at 45N 170W in the Western Gulf of Alaska. 22 ft seas forecast over a tiny area Tuesday AM (9/16) at 49N 165W and fading fast. Low odds for small 13 secs swell for the Pacific Northwest into Central CA 3 days later. Otherwise the high off Oregon to surge a little Fri/Sat (9/13) generating limited weak north windswell for Central CA for the weekend.
On Tuesday evening (9/9) a low pressure systems was trying to push off Kamchatka, then became fully exposed in the North Pacific on Wednesday AM with pressure dropping to 984 mbs and a small area of 40 kt west winds getting traction on the oceans surface just barely south of the Aleutians generating seas to 23 ft late at 50N 172E. The low tracked southeast Thursday (9/11) with 25-30 kt winds still getting a grip on the oceans surface generating up to 20 ft seas at 46N 173E in the AM then moving to the dateline late and fading from 19 ft at 44N 177E - 1800 nmiles from HI). This fetch to fade out Friday with winds dropping from 25 kts and seas 16 ft. Possible small swell of 4.5 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.5 ft faces) expected pushing into Hawaii Monday AM (9/15) fading from 4.5 ft @ 11 secs (5 ft faces) Tuesday. Swell Direction: 325-330 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (9/11) high pressure at 1022 mbs remained 900 nmiles west of Oregon ridging into British Columbia generating a very weak pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino CA resulting in 20-25 kt north winds there and northerly windswell for breaks south of there. The gradient is to rebuild slightly Friday and Saturday with winds back up to 25-30 kts over a tiny area, offering some slight increase in windswell size, then start fading Sunday. In all cases winds to remain away from the California coast south of Pt Arena with a generally light wind flow forecast and no chop expected through Wednesday (9/17).
On Thursday (9/11) Typhoon Sinlaku was 180 nmiles east of Taiwan with sustained winds 105 kts drifting north to northwest with a turn to the north-northeast expected on Saturday. Winds to build to 115 kts at that time, the start accelerating off to the northeast pushing up just off the southern tip of Japan on Tuesday (9/16) with winds fading fast over cooler waters, at 65 kts. This system is of most interest if it misses Japan while recurving northeast, hopefully interacting with a building jetstream pattern over the North Pacific to produce winds and seas as it moves towards the dateline. But it's still too early to know the outcome with certainty. Will monitor.
On Thursday (9/11) a split jetstream flow remained in control of the Southwestern Pacific with the north and south branches generally flowing flat west to east. they actually almost joined together in the east with a slight trough pushing the southern branch to the north, but winds were light at 90 kts. No real support for surface level development. Over the next 72 hours that same pattern is to hold with 100 kt winds trying to make progress into northern waters but again limited to areas east of 140W. An almost decent looking trough to result, but without enough winds energy to have an impact at the lower levels of the atmosphere. Beyond 72 hours distinct ridging south of New Zealand to continue, but the trough in the east is to persist into Wednesday (9/17) until the ridge behind it pushes east and shuts down surface level low pressure development potential. But while that is occurring, a possible new trough is to be setting up under New Zealand with 120 kt winds pushing northeast on Thursday (9/18).
At the oceans surface remnants of the second Gulf Gale (see below ) were fading in the Southeast Pacific. Otherwise no fetch of interest was occurring with high pressure in the upper levels of the atmosphere pushing the flow over the Ross Ice Shelf under and east of New Zealand. Over the next 72 hrs no substantial change is forecast.
Southeast Pacific Gale
A gale developed off the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf in the Southeast Pacific Sunday AM (9/7) with 40-45 kt southwest winds at 58S 136W. That gale pushed east with pressure dropping to 948 mbs Sunday evening and winds up to near 50 kts at 58S 120W aimed 45 degrees east of the 180-182 degree great circle paths to California. 30 ft seas were modeled at 56S 125W. Most fetch was aimed right at Chile. On Monday AM (9/8) winds were up to 55 kts at 60S 110W aimed like before and totally outside the CA swell window. 36 ft seas were modeled at 57S 113W, outside the CA swell window and targeting Southern Chile. The storm continued east in the evening with 50 kt winds at 59S 100W and fading fast, gone within 12 hrs. 35 ft seas were modeled at 55S 105W. This system was 5280 nmiles from SCal and holds only the slightest background swell generation potential for Southern CA.
Expect swell starting Tuesday (9/16) in Southern CA at 2 ft @ 17 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces). Swell to continue Wednesday at 2.0-2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces). Swell Direction 175-185 degrees.
Northern CA to be mostly outside the swell window for this one. Size to be the same for exposed breaks only arriving 9 hrs later.
Second Southeast Pacific Gale
On Tuesday AM 99/9) a gale was building in the mid Pacific at 944 mbs generating a broad fetch of 40-45 kt southwest winds at 55S 142W aimed 25 degrees east of the 192 degree path to California and getting better traction on an already rough sea (from the Southeast Pacific Gale above). By Tuesday evening (9/9) the fetch was broad but fragmented with 40 kt southwest winds generally at 53S 127W aimed 30 degrees east of the 182 degree path to California with more energy building behind and south of it. 30 ft seas were modeled at 53S 133W. On Wednesday AM (9/10) a new fetch of 40 kt west winds winds built at 56S 140W aimed 60 degrees east of the 188 degree path to CA. Seas from the previous fetch were 32 ft at 53S 122W. In the evening the fetch faded with no seas of interest remaining. This system produced some limited seas and winds in the eastern edge of the Ca swell window, offering potential for small to moderate very southerly angled swell for both North and Central CA starting Wednesday PM (9/17) for SCal.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival starting Wednesday PM (9/17) with swell 2 ft @ 18 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell to peak Thursday AM (9/18) with swell 2.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 185-190 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 another low pressure system is to be tracking east off the Kuril Islands, much further south than any so far this season generating a small area of 30 kt west winds at 40N 180W late Wednesday (9/17) pushing towards the Gulf of Alaska on Thursday with winds to 35 kts aimed at the Pacific Northwest. It's way to early to know with any certainty, but this looks like another system of interest. Also the subtropical remnants of Typhoon Sinlaku to be somewhere in the vicinity of the Northern Kuril Islands late in the workweek, possibly offering anther swell source.
MJO/ENSO Update: As of Thursday (9/11) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was starting to give way to the Active phase. The Daily SOI index had finally dropped down to 6.36. The 30 day average was up to 15.97 spiking heavily in the past few weeks and the 90 day average was up to 4.91, still neutral, but barely and up compared to weeks previous. Hopefully this active phase of the MJO will push all those readings down. Winds at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up), indicated east winds still very active over the entire Eastern Pacific reaching from the dateline east well into Central America. This was the most vigorous Inactive phase we've seen in a while. The peak of the Inactive Phase has passed but it's remnants are not giving up easily. The models suggest it's to slowly fade through 9/20 and completely gone by 9/23 while the Active Phase is building over Indonesia to New Guinea. Latest estimates suggest it's to be stronger than originally forecast, though still not on par with it's polar opposite, the Inactive Phase currently in progress. It is already building nicely over the Indian Ocean and is expected to start seeping into the West Pacific on 9/15, pushing east to the dateline on 9/30 and starting to whither. It's to offer minimal to moderate support for fueling the development of North Pacific storms.
Beyond 72 hrs the models suggest a small storm to form under New Zealand Sunday evening (9/14) with 55 kts winds over a tiny area aimed due east and pushing east into Tuesday (9/16) with winds slowly fading from 45 kts to the 40 kts range. 30-35 kts seas forecast over a small area, barely off the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. A weaker gale is forecast under New Zealand Thursday (9/18) with 40-45 kts winds aimed almost north towards Hawaii. Limited potential on both systems if they form.
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