New Swell Classification Guidelines
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 Friday (11/16) Northern CA surf was 1-3 ft overhead and clean. San Francisco area beaches were still closed including OB due to the oil spill, though we're hearing that Sharp Park, Rockaway and Lindamar are either open or being considered for opening by Saturday. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest to head high. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was chest to head high with sets 1 ft overhead. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was chest to head high at the better exposed north facing breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to chest high. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist to chest high. The North Shore of Oahu was head high,maybe a foot more. The South Shore was chest to head high. The East Shore chest high spots.
North/Central California was on the down side of an advanced class Gulf swell that hit on Thursday. Southern California was still a little further in the meat of a Gulf swell with rideable surf in best exposed north facing breaks. Hawaii's North Shore was getting a bit of smallish dateline swell. And a nice little pulse of late southern hemi swell was hitting the South Shore. The little south swell currently hitting Hawaii is expected to hit Southern California by late Sunday. But of more interest is swell from the second in a series of Gulf gales that pushed east then tracked north in to the Gulf, and is expected to arrive for the weekend. It generated 25 ft seas aimed well to the east through it's life. Some sideband energy to track into Hawaii. Longterm the trend looks more favorable for the Western Gulf of Alaska providing Hawaii better potential, and offering the opportunity for better groomed swell pushing into California and the Us West Coast. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Fridays jetstream charts (11/16) for the North Pacific indicated a moderate flow tracking generally west to east with a slight hint of t trough in the Gulf of Alaska with winds strongest there at about 140 kts offering the best odds for surface level low pressure development. A slight almost-split pattern was trying to develop over the dateline pushing up in to the Bering Sea, but returning to the main flow just as fast. Over the next 72 hours a bit of a trough is to try and set up north of Hawaii late Saturday offering a little hope, but then quickly pushing into Candia by Monday not offering much hope there. But a strong pocket of energy is to push off Japan at the same time with winds to 160 kts, offering hope for the future. Beyond 72 hours a big trough is to start building over the dateline from the Japan energy by Wednesday (11/21) very much supportive of surface level low pressure development while a big ridge sets up off the US West Coast. Possible storm development possible in the trough. The trough, and some form of strong jet winds are to continue over the jetstream well into next week.
At the surface today weak high pressure at 1020 mbs was just off southern CA with a second strong high at 1028 mbs over the northern dateline. A gale was off British Columbia (see Gulf Gale below) generating swell mainly for California, though earlier in it's life it generated some energy pushing towards Hawaii.
Over the next 72 hours the models suggest a nice little storm is forecast building in a steep upper level trough over the dateline on Sunday (11/18) with winds to 50 kts at 42N 175W in the storm northwest quadrant building seas to 27 ft, aimed a bit east of the Hawaiian Islands. North winds to continue in the area into Monday at 50 kts near 46N 162W aimed right at Hawaii and generating 29 ft seas at 46N 162W (Monday AM). Then these winds to resurge late Monday aimed more to the east at 55-60 kts continuing into early Tuesday at near 48N 152W aimed well towards California, fading out Tuesday in the northern Gulf. Up to 42 ft seas forecast at 48N 152W Tuesday AM. Possible north angled small significant class swell pushing towards Hawaii with more size aimed towards California.
A gale developed Tuesday AM (11/13) near the dateline with pressure 992 mbs and winds 30-35 kts over a fragmented are near 37N 160E aimed generally towards Hawaii. Seas were building. By evening it was tracking due east but lacked definition, with 30-35 kt winds at 37N 165E again aimed towards Hawaii down the 303 degree great circle path. Seas were only 18 ft.
On Wednesday AM (11/14) the gale was reorganizing with 30 kt winds still aimed at Hawaii from it's aft at 37N 170E with 20 ft seas at 37N 165E but 40 kts confirmed winds were building to the east at 41N 159W. Seas were modeled at 25 ft at 41N 165W. By evening most of the fetch moved fast east to the leading edge of the gale repositioned at 40N 150W aimed 10 degrees north of the 290 degree path to North CA (293 SCal) but totally perpendicular to any route to Hawaii (though sideband energy is still likely). Seas were modeled at 25 ft at 40N 155W. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the fetch and reported seas at 24 ft, not too far off expectations.
On Thursday AM (11/15) this gale was building in the Gulf of Alaska with 45 kts winds at 47N 143W aimed right down the 303 degree path to NCal (310 SCal) with pressure down to 972 mbs. Seas were still 25 ft at 44N 148W (296 degrees relative to NCal). The Jason-1 satellite passed over this area late morning and reported seas to 29 ft at 46N 143W - a very good sign. In the evening the gale built to storm status with pressure at 960 mbs positioned just off the coast of Northern Canada with 45-50 kt winds aimed due east at 50N 141W aimed 30 degrees east of the 319 degree path to NCal. 28 ft seas were modeled at 48N 140W (312 degrees relative to NCal and outside the SCal swell window).
On Friday AM this gale continued off northern British Columbia with 40 kt winds fading north of any path to California or Oregon and Washington. Seas were up to 32 ft at 50N 140W aimed 35 degrees east of the 319 degree path to North CA. This was pretty much it for this system as it is currently configured.
But it's remnants to continue circulating in the northern Gulf late Friday (11/16) into Saturday with 30-35 kts winds wrapping around it's north quadrant and into it's southwest quadrant near 50N 150W generating seas at 20-23 ft at 47N 140-150W likely generating an extended run of 13 sec period energy pushing towards the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA.
Based on current data large advanced class swell with period at 14-15 secs is expected to arrive in North and Central CA Saturday (11/17) fading some Sunday but hanging on solidly Monday and Tuesday. Swell size to be about 7.5-8.0 ft @ 14 secs Saturday in North CA (10 ft faces) from 285-295 degrees, 7 ft @ 14-15 secs late in Central CA (10 ft faces) from 290-300 degrees, and 3.2 ft @ 14-15 secs at sunset (4.0-4.5 ft faces) in northern South CA from 295-305 degrees. See QuikCAST's for details.
Hawaii to see a little burst of energy on Sunday (11/18), but not anything more than what has occurred recently.
No systems of interest were being tracked.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Friday (11/16) a neutral pressure pattern was in control with generally light winds occurring (other than over Pt Conception) with no change forecast through the weekend. High pressure to move in by Monday though (11/19) bringing north winds mostly from Pt Conception northward, then fading late Tuesday. And offshore flow, maybe even brisk at times expected thereafter into next weekend. A classic late Fall pattern looks possible.
Fridays jetstream charts (11/16) for the South Pacific indicated a ridge pushing south over the Ross Ice Shelf offering no support for low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast with the ridge over the Central Pacific holding tight. Beyond 72 hours the ridge is to fade and a weak trough is to building under New Zealand Tuesday (11/20) pushing northeast through next week, offering a little hope.
At the oceans surface a calm wind pattern was in play. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast.
New Zealand Low
On Thursday (11/8) a non-closed isobar low was sitting just southeast of New Zealand forming a pressure gradient with higher pressure at 1032 mbs centered southwest of Tasmania. The result was and has been a steady patch of 35-40 kt southwest winds near 50S 175E since early Wednesday (11/7) aimed well towards Hawaii up the 200 degree great circle path pushing to near 45 kt Wednesday evening, generating 29 ft seas Wed PM at 53S 165E peaking at 30 ft at 51S 175E Thursday AM. Another little pulse of 40 kts winds are forecast Thursday PM with seas holding in the 29-31 ft range at 46S 170W, then fading. Minimal swell from this system to push into Southern CA late Sunday (11/18) peaking Monday at 2 ft @ 15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces) from 215 degrees.
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 second little storm is to wrap up while falling southeast over the northern dateline region Mon/Tues (11/20) generating a tiny area of 60 kt winds and 38 ft seas aimed midway between Hawaii and California. Possible long period, moderate sized swell to result.
A broad area of low pressure to start building off the Kuril Islands seeping east with winds in the 35-40 kt range generating 30 ft seas near 40N 165E late next week, offering potential for Hawaii initially. Certainly no shortness of opportunity is in the future with the MJO falling out of the inactive phase and improving odds for gale development, but not into the active phase just yet.
Beyond 72 hours the models suggest a short lived gale developing under New Zealand starting next Monday (11/19) with 45 kt winds pushing east-northeast through Tuesday then fading out Wednesday in the Central South Pacific. Seas modeled to 32 ft on Tuesday, but that seems highly unlikely. A second weaker one is forecast Thursday (11/22) with 30 ft seas. This all seems rather unlikely.
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