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 (10/19) North/Central California was getting no real swell of interest, other than some minimal background energy dribbling out of the Gulf of Alaska. Southern California was basically flat. Hawaii's North Shore was near flat with only some windswell trying to wrap in from around the East Shore. The South Shore was the standout spot with southern hemi swell producing waves in the chest high range. Waist high plus east windswell was pushing into the East Shore.
For Central California no real activity is forecast until later in the week, with small southern hemi background swell in the waist high range starting Monday the only thing happening. Southern CA to see southern hemi swell starting Monday making for some small but fun surf in the waist high range running through the early part of the week. The North Shore of Hawaii to be basically flat until later in the week. The South Shore of Hawaii is getting the last of it's southern hemi swell, with things going flat after Monday and pretty much staying there through the week. The East Shore to have some form of modest east windswell continuing through the week into next weekend. Long term a progressive series of gales is forecast to push through the Gulf with the first developed Sat PM (10/18) generating a tiny area of 20 ft seas but totally outside the NCal/Scal and HI swell windows. The second is scheduled for Sun PM (10/19) generating 20 ft seas a little further south and aimed better at North and Central CA, then fading Mon AM with seas down to 19 ft and almost outside the NCal swell window. Nothing much to result from this one. A stronger system is on the charts starting Mon PM (10/20) with 22 ft seas 1500 nmiles west of Cape Mendo aimed down the 292-300 degree path tracking northeast. Up to 27 ft seas are forecast by mid-Tuesday 1100 nmiles out, then it's all to be inland over Canada by Wed AM. Something decently rideable is schedule from this on for both HAwaii and CA. And yet another with a tiny area of 32-35 ft seas is scheduled in central Gulf of Alaska Thursday (10/24) pushing more energy from a northern direction into California. So there's some hope, but the models keep downgrading all these with each new run, so it's anyone guess what will really happen. If you want to know the long term projection 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 (10/19) the North Pacific jetstream continued flowing steadily west to east along the 45N latitude with a small trough over the dateline with no wind really associated with it, and a second trying to organize in the Gulf of Alaska winds of up to 150 kts feeding into it, then ridging north into Canada. Very limited support for low pressure development associated with both troughs. Over the next 72 hours things to get more interesting with the Gulf trough holding and pushing east into Canada on Monday. But of more interest is the dateline trough, scheduled to build steadily with up to 160 kt winds feeding into it as it tracks through the Western Gulf Monday and Tuesday before fading Wednesday in the Northern Gulf. Good odds for gale development from this one. Beyond 72 hrs a new trough is to build out on the dateline Thursday (10/23) pushing east through Saturday with 150 kt winds feeding into it then stalling the the Western Gulf north of Hawaii Sunday (10/26) offering yet more fuel to feed developing low pressure at the oceans surface. Intersting....
At the surface today weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was northeast of Hawaii ridging east to the Pacific Northwest, generating 15-20 kt trades over the Hawaiian Islands and offering small easterly windswell there, but doing nothing else of interest. A broad area of weak low pressure was in the Gulf of Alaska at 984 mbs setting up 25 kt northwesterly winds there pushing generating some windswell. These winds to reach 30-35 kts in the evening generating a tiny area of 20 ft seas at 51N 150W (1400 nmiles out from Central CA) holding into Monday AM at 50N 142W. This to result in small swell pushing into Central California from 310-315 degrees Wednesday afternoon (10/22) at 4 ft @ 12 secs (4.5 ft faces at exposed breaks).
Over the next 72 hours a progressive series of gale is forecast pushing through the Gulf. By Monday AM (10/20) a new gale is forecast building north of Hawaii with pressure 988 mbs and 35-40 kt wind forecast in it's west and south quadrant near 40N 160W aimed initially at Hawaii down the 358 degree path but also pushing energy into NCal down the 288 degree path. Seas building. This system to get better organized in the evening with 50-55 kt winds forecast at 42N 155W pushing well towards Hawaii down the 00 degree path with energy also targeting California down the 293 degree path. Seas building from 22 ft at 42N 155W. On Tuesday AM (10/21) this one to be fading out with 45 kt winds at 45N 150W aimed entirely at the Pacific Northwest down into CA with most fetch targeting North and Central CA down the 297 degree path. Seas from previous fetch to reach 27 ft @ 43N 150W. By evening the gale to be in the northeastern Gulf with 30-35 kt northwest winds at 48N 145W targeting the PacNW down into Central CA down the 304 degree path. 25 ft seas forecast at 45N 145W pushing towards Central CA northward. This system to be inland Wednesday AM (10/22). Assuming all goes as forecast some form of limited north swell is expected to push into the North Shore on Thursday (10/23) with swell 4.5 ft @ 12 secs making 7 ft faces from 355 degrees. But the lions share of the swell to he heading east reaching NCal Thursday afternoon (10/23) with swell 7 ft @ 15 secs (10-11 ft faces) from 292-298 degrees. Will see what actually happens as this gale has not even formed yet.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (10/19) high pressure at 1024 mbs north of Hawaii trying to ridge east, but not making it to California. A weak north flow was in effect for the coast only ushering in some fog and cooler temperatures. By Monday that high pressure system is to make the move east and start fueling northwest winds at 15-20 kts over outer waters of North and Central CA pushing 20-25 kts late and continuing into Tuesday then 15 kts Wednesday AM as the high fades out. No impact to Southern CA. But another high pressure system is to be right behind generating 20 kt north winds late Wednesday pushing 25-30 kts Thursday (10/23) focused mainly on Cape Mendocino and again a bit away from the coast from Pt Arena southward in the mornings. The high to start withering on Friday and gone by Saturday (10/25) with calm wind and glassy conditions expected through the weekend. .
On Sunday (10/19) no tropical activity of interest was occurring.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was occurring aimed at US targets. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast.
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 Sunday PM (10/19) at 1.6 ft @ 18 secs (2.5 ft faces) building to 2 ft @ 16 secs on Monday (3 ft faces) with reinforcing energy Tuesday (10/21) at 2 ft @ 16 secs (3 ft faces). All from 210-215 degrees.
On Tuesday PM (10/14) a new 948 mb gale was building over the northern edge of the Ross Ice shelf generating 45 kt southwest winds into Wednesday AM, then fading. Theoretically it produced 35 ft seas Tues PM at 62S 172W building to 38 ft seas at 60S 155W Wed AM, then fading from 36 ft at 56S 145W Wed PM. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass over the core of the fetch Wednesday Am (10/22) and confirmed seas at 34.9 ft, 3 ft less than the 38 ft forecast by the model. So the models were a little optimistic. This should be good for background swell pushing into exposed breaks in California starting Thurs (10/23) with swell 1.6 ft @ 19 secs (3 ft faces) and heading up some from there in the days beyond coming from 195 degrees. Swell to 2 ft @ 18 secs on Friday (10/24) and 2.3 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces) on Saturday (10/25) fading from 2 ft @ 14-15 secs (3 ft faces) on Sunday.
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 one more gale is forecast to start wrapping up just south of the Aleutians and on the dateline Wednesday AM (10/22) generating 40-45 kt northwest winds at 45N 173W targeting Hawaii and California. 22 ft seas forecast at 43N 175W. Winds to build to 50 kts in the evening at 48N 167W aimed both at Hawaii (from 345 degrees) and California (302 degrees) with seas up to 27 ft at 48N 165W. This storm to push east through Thursday AM (10/23) with 50 kt winds forecast at 48N 156W focused on NCal down the 305 degree path and the Pacific Northwest. 35 ft seas forecast at 49N 158W. This system to race east in the evening with a broad area of 45-50 kt northwest winds at 53N 142W and outside the Ncal swell window but targeting the Pacific Northwest well. 30 ft seas to still be in the NCal swell window at 50N 150W. This one to be gone by Friday AM (10/24). If all this comes to pass some form of tiny swell could push into Hawaii on Sat/Sun (4 ft faces) with more solid swell pushing into California Sunday (10/26).
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (10/16) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was moving into the Inactive phase. The Daily SOI index was steady at 16.44. The 30 day average was up slightly to 13.43 and the 90 day average was up barely at 10.13. 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 building broad area of abnormal west winds extending from the Philippines east over the dateline and into Central America. This was symptomatic of the inactive phase of the MJO. This to slowly fade out through the last week in October, offering no enhancement for surface level low pressure development. All the while the Active Phase of the MJO is to be building in the Indian Ocean, starting to see eastward the first week in November, but be weak upon arrival there. For now the Inactive Phase to slightly suppress storm development in the Northern Pacific.
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
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table