On Thursday (10/18) Northern CA surf was up to triple overhead and glassy. Fall is here! South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were up to double overhead early and clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was up to a few feet overhead early and on the way up. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was flat. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh high with waist high sets. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist high with a few bigger sets. The North Shore of Oahu was head high to 2 ft overhead. The South Shore was near flat. The East Shore was chest high at select spots.
North/Central California got solid swell from Storm #2 with surf into the minimal significant class range but very inconsistent. Southern California was not seeing swell from Storm #2 yet, but it's coming. Hawaii was getting a sideband pulse from the early incarnations of Storm #2 on the North Shore, providing some fun sized surf. Nothing of interest was occurring on the South and East Shores. So we have real swell in the water along the California coast and the next gale is getting organized in the Gulf, and might even push a little bit southward to the Islands, though the focus will again be from Central California northward. Make the most of this cause after that a downward trend is forecast for about 5 days. But if one is to believe the models, the dateline might wake up providing a longer fetch and energy for both California and Hawaii, but that's a long ways off. And there's even a little southern hemi swell pushing north for the weekend, so those breaks in California shadowed from the northwest swell might see some of this. Not too bad in all. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Thursdays jetstream charts (10/18) for the North Pacific indicated a reasonably solid flow pushing off Japan though split there, joining together at the dateline with winds jumping to 150 kts and forming an almost-trough in the Gulf pushing east into Oregon. Good support for low pressure/gale development in the Central Gulf. Over the next 72 hours energy levels to jump up in the Gulf but with a ridge developing off the California coast reaching 190 kts late Saturday (10/20) then diving into a trough over the interior US. A secondary steep trough is to set up over the dateline with 180 kt winds diving into it. Some support for low pressure development there. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to push rather close to Hawaii through Sunday with winds holding then pinch off in the Central Gulf. A split pattern is to develop stronger in the West Pacific suppressing low pressure development there until mid week, when things start coming together and a decent trough sets up just west of the dateline but with most energy lifting north towards Alaska. Some support for low pressure development is possible there.
At the surface today Potential Storm #3 (really a gale) was trying to get it's act together but was not particularly impressive. Otherwise no fetch of interest was occurring. Over the next 72 hours Storm #3 is to push towards and into Washington while another gale tries to organize on the dateline pushing fast into the Gulf by Saturday (10/20) then on into northern Canada 24 hours later. It isn't expected to do much for our forecast area in and of itself, but might help to drive a broad fetch of 25 kts winds from the Aleutians south towards Hawaii Friday-Monday(10/22) in conjunction with building high pressure behind it, setting up 16-18 ft seas and raw 11 sec period windswell for the Islands. Nothing else of interest is on the charts.
Gulf Storm #3 - Updated Fri 4 PM
Low pressure at 990 mbs was developing Wednesday AM (10/17) in the Western Gulf right behind a previous gale. Winds were confirmed by the QuikSCAT satellite at 45-50 kts over a tiny area at 48N 163W aimed just a little south of the 306 degree path to North CA and 35 degrees east of the 355 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were building. In the evening pressure was 982 mbs 1500 nmiles due north of the Big Island with a moderate area of confirmed winds at 50 kts at 46N 157W aimed right up the 300 degree path to North CA with a decent component aimed due south 20 degrees east of the 358 degree path to Hawaii. Seas building from 27 ft at 47N 160W or 1700 nmiles away from NCal. Energy actually looks to be pushing towards Hawaii, but this was it's last shot.
On Thursday AM (10/18) this system was pushing east with winds confirmed at 45 to barely 50 kts at 46N 152W aimed right at North California down the 301 degree path (306 SCal). 30 ft seas were modeled at 47N 153W. In the evening pressure was 980 mbs with 45-50 kt winds confirmed by the QuikSCAT satellite at 45N 147W aimed right at North CA down the 301 degree path (306 degrees SCal). Seas were modeld 35 ft at 45N 146W.
Friday AM (10/19) the storm was pushing east towards the Pacific Northwest with northwest winds still confirmed at 45 to barely 50 kts kts at 45N 138W aimed a bit east of the 303 degree path to North CA. 35 ft seas were modeled at 45N 140W. Swell from this storm hit buoy 46006 at 7 AM with seas 24-27 ft with swell 16.6-20.0 ft @ 16 secs. But this buoy was only about 100 nmiles from the southern edge of the core of the fetch. Still it pretty much confirms what the wave models have been suggesting and serves as a good substitute since the Jason-1 satellite made no passes near this fetch.In the evening this system to hold with 45 kts winds just off Oregon at 47N 135W aimed 30 degrees east of the 315 degree path to North CA. 33 ft seas modeled at 45N 133W pushing a bit east of the 315 degree great circle path to NCal.
On Saturday AM (10/20) this system to be pushing into Oregon with residual 27 ft seas barely in the NCal swell window and fading from 46N 133W pushing down the 315 degree great circle path relative to NCal.
For all practicle purposes some form of moderately solid significant class swell is expected from Pt Conception northward and biggest from North California up into the Pacific Northwest. Utility class energy is to reach Hawaii for what wind was playing on the water on Wednesday relative to California and the Pacific Northwest, this storm is to be between 648-1734 nmiles from NCal with most of it's fetch pushing well into the San Francisco to Southern Oregon area with 36 hours of 50 kt fetch and 48 hours of seas 30 ft or greater. The models are reasonably stable, so the odds of this outcome is respectable. Will monitor.
North CA: Expect significant class swell with period at 17-20 secs to push into NCal starting Saturday about noon with period 20 secs and size reaching 10-11 ft @ 18 secs (17-18 ft faces). Size to hold till sunset, then start fading. Limited odds for significant class swell to possibly continue into early Sunday morning with swell 9 ft @ 14 secs (12 ft faces). Swell Direction: 300-305 degrees
Tropical Storm Kiko was just off Mainland Mexico near Manzanillo on Thursday (10/18) with winds 35 kts and well outside the CA swell window. A turn to the northwest is forecast while slow strengthening occurs putting Kiko just off Cabo San Lucas Tuesday (10/23) with winds at 85 kts (hurricane force). Will believe it when it happens. Still no fetch is to be in the US swell window.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (10/18) a front that was to be sagging close to the San Francisco area faded, providing light winds and calm seas for Thursday. It was a gift given the arrival of Swell #2.The Front from Storm #3 is expected to push into the Cape Mendocino area Friday but fizzle there with high pressure building in behind ridging into San Francisco. This suggests a building northwest wind pattern setting up in Southern CA late Friday over Point Conception and trying to build north reaching into Cape Mendocino by Sunday AM. Chopped conditions expected. No relief forecast until Monday morning (10/22) as the high pushes inland and offshore winds take over though Tuesday. Light winds Wednesday as new high pressure starts building in the eastern Gulf pushing into British Columbia Thursday with a summer like fetch of north winds setting up over CApe Mendocino. Short period windswell possible for North and Central CA then.
Thursdays jetstream charts (10/18) for the South Pacific indicated a very weak flow pushing west to east over the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf offering no support for surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours there's suggestions that a 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. Beyond 72 hours another trough is forecast to try and build under New Zealand next Tuesday (10/23) looking better by Thursday and possibly providing an opportunity for surface level low pressure development, but that is a long ways off.
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 Sunday (10/21) with a brief fetch of 35 kt 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