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 AM (10/7) North/Central California was getting leftover Gulf windswell combining with building local northern windswell and pretty junky but in the chest high range. Southern California was getting a portion of that windswell with better longer period small energy coming out of the southern hemisphere with best spots to shoulder high. Hawaii's North Shore was getting no swell. The South Shore was flat. Knee high east windswell was sliding into the East Shore.
For Central California the best swell source is to be local windswell for the next few days thanks to a summer like pressure gradient off Cape Mendocino generating 30-35 kt north winds and well overhead windswell by Thursday. Southern CA to see a bit of this windswell too, with the southern hemi background swell that has been a staple on the menu for a week or more fading out for good after Wednesday. The North Shore of Hawaii to stay quiet through the workweek, but is to possibly start stirring late weekend if activity on the dateline goes as planned. The South Shore of Hawaii is effectively over for the season. The East Shore to be near calm for the workweek, though possibly seeing a bit more east windswell by the weekend. The best shot at swell is expected from a gale forecast to build over the dateline Fri/Sat generating 40 kts winds and 28 ft seas aimed towards both Hawaii and California from a bit more northerly of a direction for both. But this is a ways off and the models are already starting to back down on the strength of this one, so no definitive outcome is certain yet. And nothing else of interest is on the charts. So Fall has started, and is trying to ramp up, but really isn't there yet. As time permits we're working to get the El Nino forecast updated too. This will give everyone a solid longterm look at what's ahead for the winter. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (10/7) the North Pacific jetstream was flowing flat over Northern Japan at 150 kts to the dateline, nearly dying there, then continuing flat on into Washington boosted up to 150+ kts there. No troughs or ridges of interest were present, offering no real support for surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours things to get a little more interesting with a ridge building over the eastern Gulf of Alaska Thursday supporting high pressure development just off the US West Coast, while a trough builds over the dateline with 150 kt winds flowing under it and offering good odds for gale development there. Beyond 72 hours the trough is to push east and slowly weaken reaching the Gulf while the ridge tries to hold on in the east, but gets displaced well to the north (up into Northern Canada) then it all comes looping back over California Saturday in the form of a backdoor trough theoretically reaching almost down into Southern CA. The dateline trough is to make it to the Gulf and hold there into Sunday (10/12) before dissipating. Next week a broad but diffuse weak flow is to continue flowing across the 45 degree north latitude still consolidated, with a weak ridge in the west and a weak trough in the east, but not offering any real potential for surface level low pressure development.
At the surface today a double lobed high pressure system was building off the US West coat at 1032 mbs generating 15-20 kt north winds sweeping down the Central CA coast, but not offering any real windswell potential yet. Weak low pressure was in the northern Gulf of Alaska generating 20 kt west winds pushing into Vancouver Islands and offering windswell for there down into Washington. Trades were light over the Hawaiian Islands offering no windswell potential Eastern Shores. A weak semi-tropical low pressure system that originated under Japan was halfway between Japan and the dateline tracking northeast, offering some hope longer term. Over the next 72 hours, that semi-tropical low is to push north enough to join forces with a cold core low pushing through the Bering Sea on Wednesday (10/8) generating a small fetch of 30-35 northwest winds over the dateline and barely south of the Aleutians generating 20 ft seas late at 49N 172E. On Thursday (10/9) pressure to drop to 972 mbs with the core of the gale in the Bering Sea but with a broad fetch of 35-40 kt west winds straddling the dateline at 49N 180W generating 25 ft seas there in the morning. The fetch to build some in the evening with 40 kt winds at 47B 175W aimed a bit more south than before generating seas to 28 ft at 47N 177W aimed down the 302 degree path to NCal and the 331 degree path to HI. Friday AM 40-45 kt northwest fetch to continue tracking east at 48N 168W with barely 30 ft seas forecast at 46N 170W aimed 30 degrees east of the 342 degree path to HI and almost right down the 300 degree path to NCal. By evening this system to be fading fast with only 30-35 kt winds remaining and 28 ft seas from previous fetch at 47N 162W. This system to dissipate thereafter. If all goes as planned some form of moderate period swell (15-17 secs) in the intermediate class size range could push into Hawaii late in the weekend and into exposed breaks in California early the following week. Still, it's way too early to know anything for sure.
Also high pressure off the California coast to start pushing into the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday (10/8) forming a solid pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino and generating 30 kt winds there, pushing 30-35 kts Thursday and early Friday but sinking south some, positioned off San Francisco and generating up to 20 ft seas. Large raw local windswell possible. This gradient to slowly fade Saturday through Sunday with windswell fading with it.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (10/7) high pressure at 1032 mbs was off the coast riding into Washington and generating 15 kt north winds over outer waters off Central CA. This is the start of a north wind event. This fetch to build in size Wednesday with 20 kt north winds pushing hard south just off the Central CA coast coalescing late over Cape Mendocino at 35 kts and then reaching 35-40 kts Thursday into Friday centered just off San Francisco. Up to 20 ft seas are to result there too. There's some indication theses winds will not reach the coast, providing a thin margin for nearshore conditions to be acceptable, though raw windswell from the fetch just 20-30 nmiles out will be raking the coast. 30 kt north winds are forecast into the early hours of Saturday AM and finally starting to penetrate Southern CA waters, then dying late afternoon with an offshore (Santa Ana) flow possible by Sunday and continuing into early next week.
On Tuesday (10/7) Hurricane Norbert was located 500 nmiles south-southeast of Cabo san Lucas with with sustained winds of 70 kts tracking northwest at 7 kts. Seas were to 21 ft. Norbert was barely in the 152 degree swell window for Pt Dume northward to Pt Conception and 1200 nmiles out. Norbert is scheduled to continue on a northwesterly track through early Thursday (10/9) with winds building to 80 kts, then turn north and northwest tracking over southern Baja Saturday with winds still 70 kts. Some degree pf southerly swell up to 3 ft @ 11-13 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) is likely to be generated pushing into exposed breaks in Southern CA starting late Thursday (10/9) and continuing into early Saturday.
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.
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 strong 1032 mbs high pressure system is to form over the dateline Saturday (10/11) generating 25 kt north winds off it's southeastern quadrant aimed at the Hawaiian Islands Sunday and Monday likely generating short period north windswell for exposed north facing beaches. This high to push the normal North Pacific storm track up through the Bering Sea, shadowing any swell generating fetch behind the Aleutians Islands. A calmer swell pattern is to result.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (10/7) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the core of the Active phase. The Daily SOI index was static, toggling between 1.0-12.0 over the past week. The 30 day average was down a little at 10.29 and the 90 day average was even at 8.41. This is symptomatic of a weak La Nina. Winds anomalies at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a fading area of weak westerlies over the equatorial North Pacific from just east of the dateline to Central America. And even this modest support for surface level low pressure development is to be gone by 10/13. The Inactive Phase of the MJO was trying to organize in the Indian Ocean tracking east, but is expected to be all but gone when it arrives in the West Pacific by 10/21 and offering no enhancement or detriment to North Pacific storm development.
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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Big Surf Up North - the First swell of the Fall 2008/2009 season brought a few large raw waves to the North CA Coast. Check out the details here: http://www.towsurfer.com/default.asp
The Kelly Slater Project - A group of dedicated surfers from Cocoa Beach are working to construct a statue of the the home town legend and set it up for all to enjoy near the break where Kelly grew up surfing. Take a look at the statue and read all about it here: http://www.thekellyslaterproject.com/
STORMSURF Local Wave Models Upgraded - We significantly upgraded the local waves models on Sunday (6/8). All now utilize our newly developed high-resolution 3D shaded relief topography for mapping landmasses. Coastlines are now accurate down to the individual pixel providing near photographic realism. Mountains and hills are all shaded and accurate to within the same single pixel specification. Cities are overlaid as before, but now we've added major highways and rivers too (for many locations). Some good examples of this new technology can be viewed here:
- View the reefs north of Tahiti and notice their contribution to the 'Swell Shadow' relative to California - Tahiti
- Notice the detail of the coast in and around Vancouver Islands and Washington State - Pacific Northwest
- See the details of inland waterways of the US Northeast Coast - Virginia
- Details of the Mentawai Island and Nias
And all the local models can be found either on our homepage or from the wavemodel page (bottom half of the page).
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table