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 Thursday (10/21) North/Central California was getting decent southern hemi swell in the waist to chest high range and occasionally more with Gulf background swell mixed in at chest high. Southern California was seeing nothing but the southern hemi swell with the best spots chest to head high, but most waist to maybe chest high. Hawaii's North Shore had head high surf and clean conditions with swell coming from a gale that passed north of the Islands a few days before. The South Shore was flat. Head high north swell was also pushing into the East Shore.
For Central California things to start getting more interesting with a combo of new southern hemi background swell and swell from a gale off the coast a few days before arriving for Friday continuing into Saturday. Southern CA to start seeing new southern hemi swell in the waist to chest high range Friday and beyond. The North Shore of Hawaii is starting to see background north swell from a gale that was north of the Islands expected to continue into Friday, then drop off. The South Shore of Hawaii is flat with no change forecast. The East Shore to see a little more of that northerly gale swell into Friday, then fading out. Long term there's only one system of interest, the first significant class storm of the season. It was a compact one that tracked over the dateline with 60-70 kt winds and 40-47 ft seas Wednesday and is currently fading out in Gulf of Alaska. Long period swell is in the water pushing towards the US West Coast. Limited sideband energy is tracking southwest towards Hawaii from early in this systems life. Make the most of this opportunity. 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 Thursday (10/23) the North Pacific jetstream had a broad soft trough dipping south over the dateline with 120 kt winds feeding into it from over Kamchatka then tracking northeast up into the Gulf of Alaska with 160+ kts winds pushing into to nearly the Central Canadian coast. The trough and the winds feeding to the north offered some degree of support for surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to push east then stall the the Western Gulf with 120 kts winds flowing under it offering some support for low pressure development into Saturday, then getting steeper and almost pinching off there on Sunday, loosing it's effectiveness. Beyond 72 hrs the pinched off remnants of this trough to push south over Hawaii through Tuesday (10/28) while more energy builds over Japan. By late next week a solid area of 150 kts winds to continue brewing over Japan and flowing flat east over the dateline and weakening, then pushing almost right into Central CA later Thursday into Friday (10/31). Almost looks like a winter-like pattern setting up.
At the surface today the remnants of Storm #1 were pushing east into the Northern Gulf while fading (see details below). No other systems of interest were in play though high pressure at 1036 mbs was setting up off Kamchatka possibly indicating a slowdown fro a bit. Swell from a Weak Gulf Gale (details below) was pushing into Hawaii and queued up off California. Over the next 72 hours .a weak gale is to try and wrap up in the Gulf of Alaska on Saturday a brief fetch of 35 kts winds and 20 ft seas, but of no real interest to anyone. Meantime the Kamchatka high pressure system to bloom and track east reaching the dateline later Saturday and generating 25 kt north winds off it's eastern flank almost aimed at Hawaii. Maybe windswell for the future there.
Weak Gulf Gale
On Monday AM (10/20) a new gale started building north of Hawaii with pressure 996 mbs and 35-40 kt wind forecast in it's west and south quadrant confirmed at 41N 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 got better organized in the evening with 45 kt winds confirmed at 43N 155W pushing well towards Hawaii down the 00 degree path with energy also targeting California down the 293 degree path. Seas were building. On Tuesday AM (10/21) this one was holding with 45 kt winds confirmed 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 were modeled at 21 ft @ 44N 153W but that seems low. By evening this gale was in the northeastern Gulf with confirmed 40 kt northwest winds at 51N 144W targeting the PacNW down into Central CA down the 310 degree path. 22 ft seas were modeled at 45N 147W pushing towards Central CA northward, but again that seems low. This system was nearly inland Wednesday AM (10/22) over the Northern Gulf and out of the CA swell window. Some form of limited north swell is expected to push into the North Shore on Thursday (10/23) with swell 4.5 ft @ 11 secs making 7 ft faces from 355 degrees. But the lions share of the swell to he heading east reaching NCal early Friday AM (10/24) with swell 5.0 ft @ 12 secs by sunrise (6 ft faces) from 292-298 degrees.
Dateline Storm #1
Of far more interest is a gale that started wrapping up west of Kuril Islands and well south of the Aleutians on Monday PM (10/20) with 40-45 kts winds confirmed at 38N 160E aimed mostly south.The Jason-1 satellite passed over this area and confirmed seas at 30 ft at 37N 156E at 2Z where the wave model suggested 23 ft. Nice start.
By Tuesday AM (10/21) pressure was down to 972 mbs with confirmed winds at 60 kts at 43N 170W aimed due east aimed right up the 298 degree path tot NCal (302 SCal) and 25 degrees east of the 316 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled at 25 ft at 40N 165E and on the increase. The models did not reflect this early ramp up of the winds so seas are likely higher. By evening pressure was 960 mbs with a small confirmed area of 60-65 kt west winds at 47N 180W aimed right up the 301 degree path to NCal (305 SCal) and 30 degrees east of the 323 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled at 27 ft at 45N 175E, though again this was likely low.
On Wednesday AM (10/22) this storm was crossing the dateline with 60-70 kt west winds confirmed at 47N 174W targeting N. California exactly down the 302 degree path (306 Scal) and 45 degrees east of the 336 degree path to Hawaii. 40 ft seas were modeled over a tiny area at 48N 177W. Jason-1 satellite made a pass right over the area, but all readings were contaminated by either rain or were just beyond the sensors capabilities. In the evening winds were confirmed at 45-50 kts at 50N 168W aimed due west mostly bypassing Hawaii but aimed 20 degrees north of the 305 degree path to NCal (309 SCal) with seas modeled at 47 ft at 48N 170W. This is right on track with earlier expectations.
This storm to push east through Thursday AM (10/23) while fading with 40-45 kt west-southwest winds at 50N 155W focused on NCal down the 306 degree path and the Pacific Northwest. 41 ft seas were modeled at 49N 160W. This system to race east in the evening and be nearly gone with residual seas of 32 ft still be in the NCal swell window at 49N 152W (308 degs).
Nothing to be left by Friday AM (10/24) with fading seas from previous days fetch at 28 ft at 50N 142 and dissipating.
This storm developed very close to the projections of the models, which is kinda of surprising considering their performance over the 2 weeks previous. Confirmed data so far supports that prognosis too, with 36 hrs of 60-70 kt winds acting on the oceans surface generating estimated seas of 40 ft or greater for 36 hrs and and expected 84 hrs of seas greater than 30 ft. Virtual fetch continues to look likely for the US West coast providing a higher than usual set wave count in the 17-20 sec period energy bands. Peak energy to top out in the 23 sec period range.
Swell arrival expected over the weekend for California but shadowed in the San Francisco Bay Area given the relatively steep northerly angle. .
Hawaii to be plagued by the usual issue, namely that the strongest fetch was north of the Islands and aimed due east, basically bypass them. But there was higher seas than what the models indicated when the storm was west of the dateline, and suspect that something more than what is officially indicated will result. And just sheer brute force will likely insure some degree of sideband swell coming from the north. The forecast below is a best guess, but it is possible slightly more energy will result than what is indicated below.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival at sunset Friday (10/24) with swell 1.5 ft @ 20 secs (3 ft faces) and building. Swell to peak near sunrise Saturday at 4 ft @ 16 secs (6 ft faces) drifting down through the day with swell down to 3.6 ft @ 13-14 secs by sunset (5 ft faces). Weak leftovers on Sunday. Swell Direction: 315 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival starting starting near sunrise Saturday (10/25) with period 22-23 secs and size tiny if even noticeable. Size creeping up as period drops, peaking just after sunset with swell 9.0-9.5 ft @ 18-19 secs at exposed breaks (16-18 ft faces) but shadowed in the SF Bay Area since the direction is so north, with size roughly 6-7 ft @ 18 secs (11-13 ft faces) there. Period turning to 17 secs near midnight with peak frequency occurring then. Swell to continue into Sunday at 8-9 ft @ 16 secs early (13-14 ft faces at unshadowed breaks) fading to 14 secs by sunset. Swell Direction: 299-303 degrees.
South CA: Expect swell arrival starting starting near 2 PM Saturday (10/25) with period 22-23 secs and size not even noticeable. Nothing rideable on Saturday. Size creeping up as period drops, peaking near 4 AM Sunday with swell 8.0-8.5 ft @ 18-19 secs at exposed breaks outside the Channel Islands (14-16 ft faces) and 3.7-4.0 ft @ 18-19 secs in many spots nearshore, especially into San Diego County (7-8 ft faces). Period turning to 17 secs near 10 AM with peak frequency occurring then and size roughly the same. Swell to continue through the day with period dropping to 16 secs late. 13-14 sec residuals expected on Monday with swell roughly 3 ft @ 14 secs early (4 ft faces) and fading. Swell Direction: 303-308 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (10/23) and elongated high pressure at 1030 mbs was ridging into Vancouver Island and trying to generate some north fetch in the usual place over Cape Mendocino, but not effective. Light winds controlled nearshore waters from Pt Arena southward. On Friday the gradient to get slightly better legs producing 25-30 kt winds over a small area off Cape Mendocino, but light winds to remain south of there. Limited short period windswell to be pushing south. By Saturday the gradient to be fading and aimed more to the west, likely having no impact on waters south of there, then completely gone by Sunday. Calm wind and glassy conditions expected other than a weak onshore flow in the afternoons. Then Tuesday afternoon (10/28) high pressure to start showing up again, possibly bring a slight increase in northerly winds.
On Thursday (10/23) 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 Tuesday PM (10/14) a 948 mb gale built 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 2.3 ft @ 18 secs (4 ft faces) on Friday (10/24) and 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5 ft faces) on Saturday (10/25) fading from 2 ft @ 14-15 secs (3 ft faces) on Sunday. But this will likely be buried by North Pacific energy.
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 high pressure to continue tracking east and sinking south some, resulting in more 25 kt north winds and 15 ft seas pushing very close to the Islands Sunday-Tuesday (10/28) and likely generating some form of 10-11 sec period windswell, but fading out on Wednesday. A calm pattern to follow though low pressure is forecast building over the Kuril Islands Wednesday 910/29) but quickly getting shunted northeast up into the Bering Sea and of no interest to anyone.
There are remote odds of a little gale wrapping up off Oregon Wednesday (10/29) generating 40 kt winds and 25 ft seas aimed at Central CA, but that seems far fetched.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (10/23) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the Inactive phase. The Daily SOI index was steady at 21.4. The 30 day average was steady at 14.0 and the 90 day average was inching up at 11.25. 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 broad area of abnormal west winds extending from the Philippines east over the dateline and into Central America, pretty much filling the Tropical Pacific. This was symptomatic of the inactive phase of the MJO. This to slowly fade out through Nov 6th, 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, then starting to seep east into the equatorial North Pacific 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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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table