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 Tuesday (11/11) North/Central California was getting chest to shoulder high Gulf swell but with a little wind on it. Southern California was getting minimal mixed northwest swell in the waist high range and unremarkable. Hawaii's North Shore was getting residual dateline swell at chest high with reasonably clean conditions. The South Shore was getting a little southern hemi background swell, but not too much. The East Shore had chest to head high east windswell.
For Central California building northwest mid-period swell from the Gulf of Alaska is expected for the rest of the week, with size building to the 2-3 ft overhead range Thursday into Friday. Southern CA to see a fraction of that Gulf swell, peaking later Thursday into Friday. The North Shore of Hawaii to get some semi real swell starting Thursday (11/13) at 7.8 ft @ 15 secs (14 ft faces) originating from the dateline. The South Shore of Hawaii to go flat by Wednesday with nothing in sight behind it. The East Shore to continue seeing easterly windswell in the 4.5-5.0 ft range on Wednesday then dropping to 4.0-4.5 ft on the face for Thursday through Saturday. Longterm the charts had suggested an improving pattern, but as of yesterday the bottom fell out and now the jetstream is to fall apart with no solid gale development forecast for the next week.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (11/11) the North Pacific jetstream was flowing well east from Japan dipping a little over the dateline then heading gently northeast up into British Columbia. Winds were 170-180 kts over the entire width of the jet, pretty impressive. There was some support for surface level gale development in the dateline trough. Over the next 72 hours the trough over the dateline is to hold into Wednesday while pushing east, then energy levels to start dropping off Friday and be gone by Saturday. Fading potential for surface level low pressure development anticipated. Beyond 72 hrs a weak trough is forecast redeveloping in the Gulf Monday (11/17), but winds to be only up to 120 kts and only over a small area feeding into the trough. A big ridge is forecast developing over the West Pacific pushing into the Bering Sea Monday and pushing east shutting things down there, though a new pocket of 150 kt winds is forecast starting to build over Japan Tuesday (11/18) offering potential in the week beyond with luck.
At the surface today the remnants of the Dateline Gale (below) were riding over the top of high pressure centered 650 nmiles west of San Diego CA generating 35 kt west-southwest winds and 20 ft seas in the Gulf of Alaska pushing towards the Pacific Northwest on down into Central CA. The high pressure system was generating easterly winds at 20 kt pushing into the east shores of the Hawaiian Islands and generating limited easterly windswell there. No other fetch of interest was occurring. Over the next 72 hours this whole area of low pressure is to move into Western Canada by late Wednesday (11/12) with no swell producing fetch for US waters expected to result. At the same time the high off California is to start moving east too, pushing into the Pacific Northwest on Thursday and generating a short lived pressure gradient over North and Central CA with north winds expected along the coast there for 24 hrs. A little spurt of low pressure to wrap up into a gale in the northern Gulf at the same time, but is expect to move inland over Alaska by late Friday with no fetch aimed south. In short, a quiet pattern is forecast. Whatever swell is coming has already been generated by the systems documented below.
Small Gulf Gale
A new weak gale built in the Western Gulf with 35 kt west winds Saturday PM (11/8) pushing east and expected to hold into Sunday AM. 20 ft seas developed at 45N 165W Sat PM peaking at 23 ft Sunday AM at 46N 157W pushing down the 300 degree path to North CA and 1500 nmiles out. This suggest swell in North CA of 5.5 ft @ 13 secs (7.0 ft faces) starting early Wednesday AM (11/11) from 300 degrees.
Another Weak Gulf Gale
Secondary fetch off the leading edge of the Dateline Gale (below) was pushing into the CA swell window Monday PM (11/10) at near 40 kts racing east and nearly gone by Tuesday evening but not before generating 21 ft seas at 40N 160W (Tues AM) and near 21 ft seas in the evening at 43N 143W 1000 nmiles from North CA. Possible swell for NCal starting Thursday 5 PM at 6.1 ft @ 13 secs (8.5 ft faces) holding into Friday AM.
A gale pushed off Japan moving just west of the dateline by Monday AM (11/10) generating 35-40 kts fetch all the while. By Monday AM (11/10) a broad area of 35 kt northwest winds were in-place at 39N 170E generating 32 ft seas at 39N 172E aimed right at Hawaii down the 310 degree great circle path. This fetch held at 35-40 kts in the evening at 39N 178E with 29 ft seas modeled at 38N 178E, 1700 nmiles from HI and 2800 from NCal (292 degrees). Fetch was fading Tuesday AM (11/11) from 30-35 kts with 25 ft seas at 37N 175W aimed at Hawaii down the 315 degree path. Fetch is to be gone after that with 20 ft seas Tues PM at 39N 165W targeting the US west coast better. Possible decent swell for Hawaii first light Thursday AM (11/13) at 7.9 ft @ 15 secs (14 ft faces). Energy to be seeping into NCal by Saturday AM (11/15) at 5.2 ft @ 15 secs (7-8 ft faces) from 292 degrees.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (11/11) high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered 650 nmiles west of San Diego starting to ridge northeast into San Francisco. A limited gradient was setting up off Pt Conception generating 20 kt north winds there over a small area. Otherwise light winds were elsewhere other than a perpetual onshore flow over the Pacific Northwest and a string of low pressure systems stacked up off the coast pushing onshore there, riding over the top of the high off CA. The high is to ridge onshore with more vigor on Wednesday starting to generate more north winds over the Central CA coast reaching up into SF by late evening and then covering all of Central and North CA by Thursday with north winds at 20 kts in most nearshore locations. Fortunately it to be short lived, isolated to only the Cape Mendo area by Friday with an offshore flow in place from Pt Arena southward by Friday Am and getting better established. Light offshores expected through the weekend, over the entire state and slowly moderating through Tuesday of next week (11/18).
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.
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 small gale is to push off Kamchatka on Saturday (11/15) tracking east just barely south of the Aleutians with 45 kt west winds generating up to 30 ft seas over a tiny area Sunday as it crosses the dateline, then dropping southeast but with winds down to 35 kts Monday with seas at 25 ft moving into the Central Gulf of Alaska Tuesday (11/18) with a fragmented area of 30-35 kt northwest winds and 23 ft seas aimed midway between Hawaii and California. Possible moderate swell for Hawaii initially late Wednesday (11/19) and then tracking into California perhaps by Friday (11/21).
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (11/11) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was moving into the Active Phase. The Daily SOI index was down at -0.19, the lowest in over a month. The 30 day average was down to 13.83 and the 90 day average was steady to 13.71. This is symptomatic of a weak La Nina. Winds anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated east winds over the Eastern equatorial Pacific looking more like the Inactive Phase. The leading edge of the Active Phase of the MJO was starting to push east over the Philippines but is not expected to make much more headway. This active phase is expected to continue into the third week in November (11/20), but dissipating all the while. The Active Phase is to slightly enhance storm development in the Northern Pacific over the coming week or so, but not much given this weak projection above.
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