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 Saturday AM (10/4) North/Central California was getting small junky west windswell with small but building southern hemi swell underneath. Larger west swell was pushing into outer waters. Southern California was getting the bulk of the above southern hemi swell with no real windswell present. Hawaii's North Shore was getting no swell to speak of. The South Shore was getting a small pulse of southern hemi swell. Thigh high east windswell was lapping into the East Shore.
For Central California the big story for the next few days is to be the arrival of westerly locally generated swell, the first semi-real swell of the Fall season. This was generated by a gale that is fading off the Oregon coast today. Swell to peak out late evening in the SF Bay area then be on the downswing into early Sunday but still have decent size, then fading out totally on Monday. Southern CA to see a little of this swell, especially into Sunday, though southern hemi swell is arriving and likely will be the dominant swell source. The North Shore of Hawaii to stay quiet through the early part of the week, with maybe some low odds of north windswell later in the week. The South Shore of Hawaii is forecast to receive no swell and is moving into hibernation mode. The East Shore to see some weak and small short period easterly windswell over the weekend into the early part of the week. An obscured gale is forecast forming directly over the Aleutians the middle of the coming week offering some odds for swell potential mainly for California and spots north of there next weekend. And local north windswell is possible for CA the middle of the week. But overall things to remain pretty quiet meteorologically speaking. No activity of interest is forecast down south. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday (10/4) the North Pacific jetstream was flowing mostly flat from Japan over the dateline then ridging gently to the northeast through the Gulf of Alaska before dipping southeast and pushing into Central CA. Winds were generally 100 kts but up to 170 kts in the ridge running through the Gulf of Alaska. What was a small trough was pushing into the Pacific Northwest and no longer was offering any support for surface level low pressure development. No other troughs were present either. Over the next 72 hours the ridge in the Gulf is to push into the US West Coast while a flat and somewhat muddled flow continues over the greater North Pacific offering no assistance to surface level low pressure development. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to lift a bit north moving over the 47N latitude with a trough starting to set up on the dateline by Thursday (10/9). This trough to push into the Gulf of Alaska into the weekend with up to 140 kt winds running through it offering some support for surface level development. But off to the west a big ridge is to be building, likely shutting things down for a while into the longterm.
At the surface today a gale that tracked from north of Hawaii into the Pacific Northwest this morning was all but gone, with the last bits of fetch moving inland as well. High pressure at 1020 mbs was sitting just 450 nmiles north of Hawaii building modest trades over the Islands and making for weak east windswell there. A weak low pressure system for north of that, doing nothing really. Over the next 72 hours, another tiny little low is forecast building well off the PAcific Northwest on Monday pushing into British Columbia by nightfall but not before generating a small area of 30-35 kt northwest winds and maybe 15 ft seas (with luck). Nothing interesting. A broad area of 20-25 kt west winds is forecast covering the Gulf of Alaska late Monday into Tuesday too, possibly setting up some weak short period windswell for the Pacific Northwest. In all-pretty quiet.
East Gulf Gale
A new gale formed 1500 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino Thursday AM (10/2) with pressure 992 mbs and starting to generate 30-35 kts winds with a small area confirmed to 40 kts at 42N 155W. This was the start of what previously was modeled to turn into a strong storm, but is now forecast to be only a standard early season gale. Thursday PM the gale pushed east generating a tiny fetch of 40-45 kt northwest winds at 42N 147W though most was in the 30-35 kts range as the low tracked east pushing swell down the 292 degree great circle path. Seas were modeled at 20 ft at 41N 149W and on the increase.
This low tried to hold into Friday AM (10/3) with 35 kt northwest winds confirmed at 42N 140W aimed down the 290 degree path. Seas were modeled at 21 ft at 40N 140W. In the evening the gale to continued on an easterly heading with 40 kt northwest winds repositioned at 43N 134W aimed down the 312 degree path to North CA with seas to 22 ft off North CA at 39N 134W pushing over buoy 46006. In fact seas were confirmed at buoy 46006 start at 8 AM near 22 ft peaking at near noon at 25 ft (one reading) and still holding at 6 PM at 22 ft with swell 14-16 ft at 13-13.7 secs through the timeframe.
Saturday AM (10/4) the gale to be pushing inland over Vancouver Island with fading 30 kt northwest winds aimed at Oregon northward and 23 ft seas at 43N 131W, on the northern edge of the NCal swell window. This system to be gone by nightfall.
This systems is evolving pretty close to what the models suggested 18 hrs before it formed, which really isn't much. In all this is a weak and gutless gale barely making the grade of gale status. And it being so close to the coast will only make the swell it produces raw and lumpy. Some form of large utility class raw protoswell with period in the 13-14 sec range is likely for exposed breaks in Central CA on Sunday with lesser energy tracking down into SCal.
NCal: Expect swell arrival near 7 PM Saturday and quickly ramping up with pure swell 8.5-9.0 ft @ 13 secs (11 ft faces) peaking near midnight at 10 ft @ barely 14 secs (13-14 ft faces). Swell to be on the way down by sunrise though still solid at 8-9 ft @ 12 secs 9-11 ft faces). Swell Direction: 286-292 degrees
SCal: Expect swell arrival at near 2 AM Sunday (10/5) and building fast, peaking at 8 AM with swell 4.2 ft @ 13 secs (5.5 ft faces) and bigger at best exposed breaks. Swell Direction 292-298 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (10/2) low pressure in the Gulf was moving into the Pacific northwest and fetch from the associated fetch was fading over the upper California coast. 10-15 kt westerlies are forecast into Sunday while high pressure tries to get a nose into the Pt Conception area generating some 15-20 kt north winds there later Sunday into Monday. But in general, no strong winds (15 kts or greater) are forecast. But by Tuesday (10/7) the high is to start getting some legs and building into the coast in earnest with 15-20 kt north winds forecast building by late morning and on the increase, but mostly hanging about 20 nmiles off the coast from Pt Reyes southward. This fetch to build in size late Wednesday then coalesce over Cape Mendocino Thursday providing relief nearshore from Pt Arena southward through Friday, then fading out with light winds again in control of the area.
On Saturday (10/4) Hurricane Marie was located 900 nmiles south-southwest of San Diego and near stationary with sustained winds of 65 kts. Marie is scheduled to restart a westerly track later today while steadily loosing strength. But Marie's was at hurricane strength for the past 24 hours and stationary. Weak small 11-13 sec period swell could possibly radiate into southern CA Sunday, but will likely be obscured by larger northwest swell coming from the Gulf and longer period southern hemi swell, both hitting at the same time.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was present aimed at US targets. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast. We have started focusing on the North Pacific exclusively and will update South Pacific activities on an exception basis.
On Thursday (9/25) a weak gale was centered east of new Zealand generating 45 kts winds and 32 ft seas at 49N 162W tracking due east. It held but over an even smaller area in the evening with 45 kts winds left and 32 ft seas at 48S 152W aimed a little more to the north. Some degree of 45 kts winds continued Friday aimed almost due north with 30 ft seas at 46S 140W in the AM and then 33 ft at 45S 130W in the evening, gone by Saturday. Some degree of decent utility class swell could push into California (unshadowed too) starting early Sat (10/4) with swell 2 ft @ 16 secs (3 ft faces) late in the day dropping to 15 secs on Sunday.
A strong storm started building under New Zealand starting Thursday evening (9/25) with pressure 936 mbs and winds to 55 kts at 58S 158E aimed due east or 30 degrees east of the 215 degree path to CA and 45 degrees east of the 201 degree path to Hawaii. Seas from previous fetch to be 32 ft at 55S 165E.
Friday AM (9/26) winds held in the 55-60 kt range at 57S 172E generating seas to 46 ft at 57S 172E moving into the Tahitian swell shadow for CA (213 degrees). In the evening barely 50 kts winds were modeled at 59S 173W aimed due east with 44 ft seas at 59S 175W, still shadowed by Tahiti to CA, but just barely and aimed due east, or 40+ degrees the 206 degree great circle track to CA. Seas pushing almost perpendicular to the great circle paths to Hawaii (90 degrees).
Saturday AM (9/27) 35 kt winds forecast fading fast aimed east with 39 ft seas at 59S 165W with only minor obstruction from outlying Tahitian Islands suggested relative to CA (204 degrees). Winds fading out totally in the evening with 32 ft seas from previous fetch modeled at 58S 154W and unshadowed aimed 45 degrees east of the 202 degree great circle path to CA. The Jason-1 satellite confirmed seas at 31.9 ft at 4 PM Saturday at 58.5S 150.7W, on track with the models.
Hawaii to get some longer period sideband energy but most energy to be aimed well east of this target. California to have a lesser version of Hawaii's problem coupled with the usual Tahitian swell shadow during the peak of the storm.
Long period early arrivers to start hitting California on Sunday (10/5) with swell 1.6 ft @ 20 secs (3.5 ft faces) and inconsistent, then 2 ft @ 17-18 secs on Monday (3.5 ft faces), and then 2.0-2.3 ft @ 16 secs Tuesday (3.0-3.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 204 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 a broad gale is forecast developing over the dateline Wednesday (10/8) and quickly tracking north over the Aleutians and almost into the Bering Sea Thursday with only 30-35 kt west winds remaining south of the Aleutians aimed at the US West Coast. Seas to maybe 27 ft with luck. This system to sink southeast into the Gulf of Alaska Friday (10/10) with 30-35 kt winds and 28 ft seas, then fading fast and be gone by Saturday. Maybe some swell if all this comes to pass. Also high pressure is to be building off Oregon on Wednesday -Friday (10/10) setting up the usual summer like pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino with winds up to 35 kts Thurs/Fri offering local windswell for Central CA. Beyond no swell producing fetch is forecast with strong high pressure at 1032 mbs building off Kamchatka next weekend.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Saturday (10/4) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) continued moving into the core of the Active phase. But the Daily SOI index was static , nearly unchanged at 7.0. The 30 day average was down a little at 11.8 and the 90 day average was even at 8.14. This is symptomatic of a weak La Nina. This active phase of the MJO is trying to push these indices down, but without much luck. Winds anomalies at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a broad but weak area of westerlies over the equatorial North Pacific from the dateline to Central America. And even this modest support for surface level low pressure development is to be gone by 10/13. Fortunately no real sign of the Inactive phase is scheduled behind it.
No swell producing fetch forecast for the next 7 days.
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