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 Sunday AM (10/12) North/Central California was getting small leftover north locally generated windswell and barely clean. Southern California was getting a tiny portion of this windswell but most energy was coming from Hurricane Norbert from a very southerly angle. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and glassy with no swell. The South Shore had a little dribble of south swell at thigh high. Chest high east windswell was pushing into the East Shore.
For Central California local northwest windswell to continue fading through Monday before the next pulse of moderate northwest swell from the Gulf arrives on Tuesday pushing near double overhead. Southern CA to see a bit of this Gulf swell on Tuesday too fading into Wednesday with background southern hemi swell arriving for Wednesday and Thursday. The North Shore of Hawaii started to receive swell from the Western Gulf on Sunday and that to continue into Monday fading some on Tuesday into Wednesday. Nothing else to follow though. The South Shore of Hawaii is effectively flat for now though a little pulse of southern hemi swell is expected starting Friday and continuing into Saturday (10/18). The East Shore to have some form of moderate east windswell continuing for the entire week. Swell wise long term the first in a series of gales are forecast to start building in the far northeasterly Gulf of Alaska Thursday (10/16) with 20 ft seas, and two more behind it on Saturday and Sunday with 25 ft or better seas. Swell energy from these to pushing into the Pacific Northwest southward into Central CA, assuming the models are correct. If you want to know what the projection is for the winter, take a look at the El Nino forecast. More details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (10/12) the North Pacific jetstream had a energetic ridge building over the dateline with winds to 160 kts pushing up into the Bering Sea then diving south into a trough in the Western Gulf with 140 kt winds, then heading back north with a ridge pushing into Northern Canada. Only the trough in the Gulf held any hope of supporting surface level low pressure development, and even that was weak.Over the next 72 hours that Gulf trough is to quickly pinch off Monday with it's remnants getting cutoff just north of Hawaii and tracking west while fading through Tuesday while up north the jet reconfigures itself, flowing flat west to east on the 45N latitude offering no troughs to support gale development at the oceans surface. Beyond 72 hrs a bit of a trough is forecast developing in the Gulf of Alaska Thursday (10/16) providing some support for surface level low pressure development there with yet another right behind it on Sunday (10/19) looking more energetic with 160 kt winds flowing into it and offering better potential for surface level gale development, and pretty far south.
At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs was still centered off Oregon draping down the California coast forming a pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino and generating barely 25 kt north winds there and producing limited short period local windswell. Fetch off the south side of this high was generating 15-20 kt east winds reaching almost to the Hawaiian Islands and offering limited windswell for exposed East Shores there. Another high at 1036 mbs was over the eastern dateline region ridging up into the Bering Sea and blocking the usual storm corridor that runs south of the Aleutians. A broad gale was stationary inland of the Kamchatka Peninsula (Siberia) trying to push east but making no headway, blocked by the high pressure system over the dateline. Swell from a gale that was over the Dateline late last week was pushing south and east towards Hawaii and California (see Dateline Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours the dateline high pressure system is to push east and merge with the high already off the US West Coast, continuing some form of modest high pressure along the coast and generating north winds at 20-25 kts over Cape Mendocino through Thursday (10/16) and making for limited short period north windswell along the North and Central CA coasts. A cutoff low is to form 600 nmiles north of Hawaii and just south of these high pressure systems generating 30 kt northeast winds Monday (10/13) offering a smidgeon of hope for north windswell pushing into Oahu and Kauai on Wednesday (but likely bypassing the Islands to the west).
A semi-tropical low pressure that was off Japan tracked north and joined 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 AM (10/9) pressure dropped to 976 mbs with the core of the gale in the Bering Sea but with a broad fetch of 30-35 kt west winds with peaks confirmed to 40 kts straddling the dateline at 47N 180W generating 23 ft seas at 47N 175E. The fetch built in the evening at 40 kts over a solid area near 46N 175W aimed a bit more south than before generating seas to 27 ft at 46N 180W aimed down the 300 degree path to NCal and the 331 degree path to HI. Friday AM increased winds of 40-45 kts were blowing from the northwest tracking east at 46N 170W with barely 30 ft seas modeled at 45N 174W aimed 30 degrees east of the 342 degree path to HI and almost right down the 297 degree path to NCal (301 SCal). By evening this system was fading fast with only 30 kt winds remaining and 29 ft seas from previous fetch at 45N 165W aimed exclusively towards NCal down the 297 degree path (301 SCal). The Jason-1 satellite passed over the north edge of this area at 3Z and confirmed seas at 27 ft with a peak reading of 34 ft, exactly in line with the models. This system was gone after that with 25 ft seas from previous fetch at 45N 160W.
Some form of moderate period swell (15-17 secs) in the intermediate class size range is expected to push into Hawaii late Sunday (at 6.6 ft @ 15-16 secs - 10-11 ft faces from 330-340 degrees) and into exposed breaks in Central California starting after sunset Monday (10/13) peaking overnight at 6 ft @ 15-16 secs - 9 ft faces and holding well into Tuesday AM from 297-300 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (10/12) high pressure at 1030 mbs remained centered 600 nmiles off Cape Mendocino CA ridging into the Pacific Northwest generating 20 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino southward, but generally away from nearshore waters from Pt Arena southward. Northeast winds were in play over Southern CA. By Monday an offshore flow to build in to Central CA the turn back northwest Tuesday into Wednesday with up to 20 kt northwest winds pushing close to the Central CA coast late. By Thursday (10/16) the high is to finally start fading with north winds still in effect locally, but not too bad and fading as low pressure starts building in the Gulf of Alaska. Calm winds forecast Friday on through the weekend.
On Sunday (10/12) Tropical Storm Odile was just south of Manzanillo Mexico tracking west at 6 kts with sustained winds 35 kts. This system to turn more westerly if not southwest and fade out totally in the next 72 hrs. No swell generation potential forecast.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was present aimed at US targets. Over the next 72 hours the models are rumoring of a fetch
On Friday (10/9) a diffuse fetch of 40 kt west-southwest winds pushed under New Zealand aiming more to the northeast on Saturday (10/10) and fading from 40 kts early generating 32 ft seas Friday night at 55S 167E and then a more solid area of 32 ft seas Saturday AM at 55S 175E fading from 30 ft at 55S 178W in the evening. These were on the 201-193 degree paths to Hawaii and 215-210 path for California (unshadowed by Tahiti). Small swell is likely for Hawaii starting late Friday (10/17) with swell 2 ft @ 18 secs (3.4 ft faces) building to 2.6+ ft @ 16-17 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces) Saturday the fading from 2.3-2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs on Sunday (3.5 ft faces) coming from 195-200 degrees. Maybe the US West Coast to see some swell starting on 10/20 .
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 a 996 mb low is to develop in the northern Gulf of Alaska Thursday (10/16) generating a fetch of 30 kt northwest winds and 20 ft seas at 50N 150W targeting the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA for 24 hrs. A stronger and larger low is forecast building further south in the Gulf on Saturday (10/18) with 40 kt winds and 26 ft seas for 36 hrs followed by another smaller secondary system on Sunday (10/19) with 40 kt winds and 25 ft seas. Good potential for swell pushing into the Pacific Northwest and California if all goes as modeled.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (10/12) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the core of the Active phase. The Daily SOI index was up at 21.21. The 30 day average was down a little at 10.71 and the 90 day average was up a notch at 9.20. This is symptomatic of a weak La Nina. Winds anomalies at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated no anomalous winds either from the west or east, symptomatic of a neutral phase of the MJO. No change is forecast through the end of the month, offering no support for surface level low pressure development. The Inactive Phase of the MJO was supposed to be trying to build in, but it now looks like a non-event 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