On Tuesday (10/16) Northern CA surf was shoulder to head high and a junky mess with south wind and rain. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were up to waist high and junky with south wind building. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was chest high and junky too, but sunny. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was essentially flat. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh high at the better breaks. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were also maybe thigh high and onshore. The North Shore of Oahu was waist to chest high and bumpy. The South Shore was near flat. The East Shore was waist high.
North/Central California was getting some local windswell mixing with Gulf windswell that was starting to show underneath. But a front was putting poor winds on it. Southern California was near flat with no swell of interest occurring. Hawaii was getting a minor pulse of dateline windswell on the North Shore, but not much. Nothing of interest was occurring on the South and East Shores. Things are starting to heat up in the Gulf of Alaska with a legitimate swell source in-play generating 32 ft seas and longer period energy pushing primarily towards the US West coast focusing on breaks north of Pt Conception. Minimal significant class swell is expected to result. Even a little bit of energy from early in this systems life is to push into Hawaii too, so all will share in the rewards. And better yet, a stronger system is on the charts right behind it setting up possibly larger surf for the weekend though focused again primarily on the US West Coast. Now all we need is some cooperative nearshore wind. At least it's looking like Fall, and it's only mid-October. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Tuesdays jetstream charts (10/16) for the North Pacific indicated a cohesive jetstream flow pushing off Japan arching gently over the dateline but still south of the Aleutians, then settling into a gradual southeast track poised to push inland over Central CA. Winds were 150 kts in pockets primarily approaching the dateline then pushing through the Gulf of Alaska providing reasonable support for surface level low pressure development there. Over the next 72 hours that same pattern is to hold but with most of the energy filtering through the Gulf forming a nice little trough there Thursday with winds building to 170 kts and providing good support for surface level gale or storm development. A bit of a split flow is forecast developing over Siberia though (not good longterm). Beyond 72 hours the Gulf trough is to push onshore over Oregon Saturday (10/20) with a weak ridge building behind it, though plenty of energy still present in the jet and the bulk of the jet still running pretty well to the south. Another small trough is forecast developing North of Hawaii on Sunday pushing into Canada late Tuesday (10/23) and offering hope for some form of low pressure development then but likely directed more towards Canada. After that the jet is to loose alot of it's energy with a bit of a split over the dateline developing. The storm cycle is likely to die at that time with things settling down at the oceans surface.
At the surface today a strong gale was pushing through the Gulf of Alaska pushing fetch towards the US West Coast (see Storm #2 below). Otherwise a thin band of weak high pressure was elongated west to east above the Hawaiian Islands ridging into Southern CA. Only the gael in the Gulf was offering any swell generation potential. Over the next 72 hours another gale is to fire up in the Gulf pushing east towards southern British Columbia and offering even better odds for swell generation (see Storm #3 below). High pressure to remain at bay through the period.
Storm #2 - Gulf Gale
A gale was passing east through the Southern Bering Sea Sunday (10/14) with fetch pushing south of the Aleutians at 40 kts at 52N 175E in the morning generating 29 ft seas at 53N 170E, providing a little sideband exposure to Hawaii. By evening the fetch hung at 40 kts covering a broader area at 50N 168W moving into the Western Gulf of Alaska generating seas of 27 ft at 50N 180W, again offering Hawaii a little sideband swell exposure.
By Monday AM (10/15) 40-45 kt west winds were confirmed at 49N 155W as the gale got better organized in the Northern Gulf aimed right down the 307 degree great circle path to North California but mostly east of the Hawaiian swell window. Seas built from 26 ft at 50N 165W. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the periphery of this system and confirmed seas in-line with the projections by the wave model. By evening a larger fetch of 45 kt winds was building in the Gulf aimed more to the southeast at 48N 150W aimed right down the 306 degree path to North CA. 28 ft seas were modeled at 48N 153W. Again the Jason-1 satellite got a pass over the outer edge of this system (where seas were 21 ft) in-line with the models.
On Tuesday AM (10/16) pressure bottomed out at 974 mbs with the fetch was getting better organized with a larger area of 45 kt northwest winds at 50N 144W aimed right down the 312 degree path to North CA (well outside the South CA swell window) with 32 ft seas at 48N 147W (308 degrees). This system to peak out seas wise attributable mainly to the mornings fetch. Winds down to 40 kts at 50N 145W still aimed down the 319 degree path to North CA but better at the Pacific Northwest. 32 ft seas building at 49N 140W. The leading edge of swell from this system hit buoy 46006 at 6 PM Tuesday with pure swell 10 ft @ 14 secs and heading up.
By Wednesday AM (10/17) this one to be gone with winds dropping to 30 kts and outside the California swell window. 27 ft seas are forecast just off Vancouver Island pushing onshore there late in the evening.
This system has been on the charts for nearly a week and has gone though many incarnations, but has stabilized and looking like it will be reasonably productive, especially considering the summer we've just been through. In the end this is nothing out of the ordinary from a historical perspective. But given that it's mid-October, it puts it right on-track with a standard winter gale. In the end some form of 17 sec minimal significant class swell is likely to result, but from a rather northerly angle relative to Central and North CA, limiting the potential for some breaks. A little bit of energy is to seep into Hawaii to from early in this systems life out by the dateline.
Northern CA: (centered on San Francisco): Based on a mix of confirmed and forecast data expect swell arrival starting before sunrise Thursday peaking just after sunrise with swell period 17 secs. Pure swell reaching 8.8-9.6 ft @ 17 secs over exposed waters possibly resulting in 15-16 ft faces. Size holding through the middle of the day, then starting to fade a little late as period drops to 14 secs by 8 PM. 12-13 sec residuals left on Friday AM and fading fast. Swell Direction: 306-312 degrees
Possible Gulf Storm #3
Low pressure is forecast developing Wednesday AM (10/17) in the Western Gulf right behind a previous gale. Pressure is to be 982 mbs in the evening 1800 nmiles due north of the Big Island with a small area of 45 kts winds at 47N 160W aimed southeast just a shade south of the 310 degree great circle path to North CA and 40+ degrees east of any path to Hawaii. Seas building from 25 ft at 47N 160W or 1700 nmiles away from NCal.
Thursday AM (10/18) this system to be at storm status with winds pushing east at 45-50 kt winds at 47N 152W aimed right at North California up the 302 degree path (306 SCal). 30 ft seas forecast at 47N 154W. In the evening pressure to be 980 mbs with 45-50 kt winds continuing at 45N 150W aimed right at North CA down the 301 degree path (305 degrees SCal). Seas forecast up to 35 ft at 46N 150W.
Friday AM (10/19) the storm to be pushing east towards southern British Columbia with northwest winds at 45-50 kts at 46N 142W aimed a bit east of the 297 degree path to North CA. 36 ft seas forecast at 45N 143W. In the evening this system to be fading with 40 kts winds just off Vancouver Island with 36 ft seas at 46N 135W pushing down the 298 degree great circle path to NCal.
On Saturday AM (10/20) this system to be pushing into Washington with residual 30 ft seas fading from 41N 130W pushing down the 308 degree great circle path relative to NCal.
Assuming all this occurs as forecast some form of solid significant class swell is expected from Pt Conception northward and biggest from North California up into the Pacific Northwest. Next to no energy to reach Hawaii.It's to be between 700-1700 nmiles from NCal with most of it's fetch pushing into the San Francisco to Southern Oregon area with 36 hours of 50 kt fetch and 60 hours of seas 30 ft or greater. The models are still a bit unstable, but they appear to be settling down. Will monitor.
Tropical Depression Kiko was off Mainland Mexico and 480 nmiles south of Cabo San Lucas with 30 kt sustained winds and meandering there. A slow fade is expected over the next few days with no swell generation potential forecast.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Tuesday (10/16) the front from Storm #2 was pushing through Central California expected to dissipate over Pt Conception late. It was producing southerly winds at 20 kts and light rain there. But by Wednesday high pressure is to be right behind briefly bringing light north winds to the Central Coast while the next storm system sets up right behind. Southern CA to end up with the bulk of the northerly winds on Wednesday. Thursday another front is to set up off San Francisco while gale force south winds and rain pummel the Cape Mendocino coast. And yet one more front (associated with Storm #3) is to push down the Central Coast on Friday then high pressure is to finally get a foothold by Saturday. North winds to be in-control by Saturday afternoon focused on Pt Conception on down into Southern CA continuing Sunday then dissipating Monday. Things calming down after that.
Tuesdays jetstream charts (10/16) for the South Pacific indicated a weak flow pushing west to east over the Ross Ice Shelf offering no support for surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast. Beyond 72 hours there's suggestions that another trough might set up Sunday (10/21) in the far Southeast Pacific offering some support for surface gale development, but quickly passing east out of even the Southern CA swell window by Monday. Another trough is forecast trying to build under New Zealand next Tuesday (10/23) possibly providing another opportunity for surface level low pressure development, but that is very preliminary.
At the oceans surface today no winds of interest or significant weather systems capable of generating swell were in-play. Over the next 72 hours no winds of interest are forecast other than a transitory low on Friday (10/19) with a brief fetch of 40 kts winds on the edge of the Southern CA swell window. Nothing expected from it.
South Pacific Storm
A 960 mb gale developing over the Eastern Ross Ice Shelf Thursday (10/11) tracking northeast.
It finally got some exposure over open ice free waters on Friday morning (10/12) with confirmed winds of 40-45 kts at 55S 140W aimed almost due north aimed towards California up the 190 degree path. Those winds expanded rapidly in the evening with 45-50 kts winds confirmed streaming northeast to 50S 132W aimed towards Southern CA up the 188 degree great circle path. 30 ft seas were modeled at 54S 134W. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the core of the fetch an confirmed seas at 28.4 ft with individual readings to 35 ft, which is pretty good and about in line with the model.
Saturday AM (1013) a solid fetch of 35-40 kts winds was confirmed at 50S 126W with a new core to 50 kts at 54S 123W aimed right towards Southern CA up the 184 degree path. 35 ft seas were modeled at 51S 129W. In the evening 40-45 kt winds were aimed northeast at 50S 123W aimed 25 degrees east of the 183 degree path to South CA. 36 ft seas were modeled at 50S 122W. The Jason-1 satellite passed south of the core of the fetch but confirmed seas at 31 ft, better than what the models indicated. This is a good sign.
Sunday AM (10/14) this system moved out of the Southern CA swell window winds winds 35 kts or less. 32 ft seas were modeled at 48S 118W and fading.
In all this was a pretty good late season storm for the southeast Pacific. All fetch was aimed well to the north, 5100 nmiles away, and should push a decent amount of utility class swell into Southern CA starting late Saturday (10/20) with swell 2 ft @ 19 secs (3.5 ft faces) peaking Sunday (10/21) with swell 3 ft @ 17 secs (5 ft faces) holding well into Monday as period drops to 16 secs. Swell Direction: 182-188 degrees Swell to also push into exposed breaks in North CA arriving 12 hours later.
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 yet a third storm is forecast to wind up in the just east of the dateline Friday (10/19) while high pressure builds in front of it, forcing the bulk of it's winds to be deflected northeast towards Canada. This system is to be driving fast into Central Canada by late Saturday. Only 30 ft seas are to be generated all aimed north right off the Canadian coast right before landfall. No swell hope from this one currently. Northwest winds at 30-35 kts are to persist in the Gulf pushing in spurts Sunday and Tuesday with seas briefly to 20 ft. Maybe some minimal 12 sec period windswell to result targeting primarily California and maybe Oregon. A much quieter pattern to follow.
The active phase of Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), which we wrote off about 10 days ago, has decided it's not ready to die yet. Earlier model projections suggested it as to be dead by 10/4 or so. But latest data suggests that the SOI index has fallen into the negative range (most recent reading -24), and a large swath of anomalous 850 mb winds are blowing west to east over the equator from the dateline into Central America, expected to continue but slowly fading through the end of the month. This suggests increased support for gale/storm development in the Gulf of Alaska through the period. And that appears to be what's might happen. Will monitor.
Beyond 72 hours new low pressure is forecast under New Zealand Tuesday (10/23) generating a broad fetch of 45 kts winds and seas building. Odds very low of this occurring. Nothing else forecast.
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