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 (11/16) North/Central California was getting fun sized westerly swell from the dateline with surf in the head high range and pristine conditions early. Southern California was setting the same dateline swell with waves in the waist to maybe chest high range at top exposed spots with sheet glass conditions. Hawaii's North Shore was getting what could be more classified as north semi-local windswell in the chest to head high range with no wind and glassy conditions early. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore report was not available.
For Central California westerly swell is to all but fade out by Monday (waist high) then go dead and linger in the flat zone through Thursday. Southern CA to see a little more rideable westerly swell into Monday (2 ft faces) then die out with nothing until at least Friday. The North Shore of Hawaii is to continue seeing north turning to more northeasterly windswell Monday through Wednesday in the head high range. The South Shore of Hawaii is flat with no change forecast. The East Shore to see the same northeast windswell as the North Shore into Wednesday, then dying off into the flat zone. Longterm the models have been consistently suggesting that a gale is going to just east of the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians late this evening and dropping southeast into Wednesday with 35 kts winds and 23-26 ft seas aimed a bit towards Hawaii and more towards the US West Coast. Swell possible for the Islands by Thursday and the US a day later. This gale to reorganize off the Pacific Northwest on Thursday possible putting more 20 ft seas on the path to Central CA northward for later in the weekend. And longerterm the Eastern Gulf to become more active if one is to believe the models. So a decent pattern looks possible moving into the Thanksgiving season.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sunday (11/16) the North
Pacific jetstream was tracking west to east centered generally on the 40N latitude through broad and not well defined with a ridge arching up to the Aleutians over the West Pacific then dropping into a bit of a trough digging out north of Hawaii but only 90 kt winds feeding into it, then lifting hard north and ridging into Central Canada. In short, no clear support for surface level low pressure development was indicated. Over the next 72
hours that trough in the Gulf is to be of most interest with a pocket of 150 kt winds starting to building the troughs west flank feeding surface low pressure late Monday and holding into Wednesday (11/19) but slowly moving east and positioning itself more in the bottom of the trough, then pushing over Vancouver Island by later Thursday. Decent support for gale development in this trough. All the while a very strong are of winds are to start building over Japan Mon/Tues (11/18) riding northeast to the dateline into Thursday with velocity up to 190 kts then. This to totally shut down the West Pacific. Beyond 72 hrs that big ridge is forecast to slowly moderate and flatten out over the dateline pushing east into the Gulf of Alaska on the 43N latitude by late Friday (11/21) with winds down to 150 kts pushing east and perhaps feeding development of a trough in the Eastern Gulf by Saturday (11/24) holding into Sunday, though that is far from certain. In all though, a decent flat flow with some energy spread evenly over the Pacific is forecast into next weekend, upping the odds for something better long term.
At the surface today an ill defined high pressure center at 1028 mbs was located on the dateline. It was generating a fetch of northeast winds at 20-25 kts just north of Kauai turning more towards a pure easterly wind direction while flowing over the dateline. This fetch was serving to generate modest 9 sec period north to northeast windswell that was already pushing into the Hawaiian Islands. Otherwise a weak gale was located in the Central Bering Sea with limited 30 kt east winds barely dangling south into the North Pacific on the dateline targeting no one just yet. A totally neutral pressure pattern was over US coastal waters. Over the next 72 hours that high pressure ridge north of Hawaii is to sink south impacting the northern Islands Monday and Tuesday with 20 kt northeast winds likely generating northeast chop swell, then fading into Wednesday.
Of far more interest is the gale in the Bering Sea, schedule to start dropping south into the Western Gulf of Alaska Monday AM (11/17) with 35 kt northwest winds at 49N 170W aimed 30 degrees east of the 345 degree great circle path to Hawaii and 40 degrees south of the 304 degree path to Northern CA. 23 ft seas forecast at 49N 171W. In the evening 35 kt winds to continue falling southeast with 26 ft seas forecast at 47N 165W aimed 35 degree east of the 347 degree path to Hawaii and 30 degrees south of the 300 degree path to NCal. Tuesday AM (11/18) winds to drop to 30-35 kts aimed more westerly at 43N 158W bypassing Hawaii but generating 25 ft seas at 44S 160W aimed 20 degrees south of the 296 degree path to NCal. That fetch to fade to barely 30 kts in the evening with 23 ft seas holding at 42N 155W (290 degrees relative to NCal). Wednesday AM (11/19) 35 kt west winds to regenerate in the lows south quadrant at 40N 145W aimed directly at Central CA up the 285 degree path with seas at 23 ft at 40N 148W. In the evening the low to regenerate with 23 ft seas forecast at 43N 139W (295 deg NCal). A final pulse of 25 ft seas forecast Thursday AM (11/20) off Northern Oregon at 46N 134W (310 degrees NCal).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (11/16) the last vestiges of high pressure at 1022 mbs were seeping onshore over Washington with residuals lingering off California. In essence a near neutral pattern was indicated with light winds the norm. Even slacker winds forecast through Wednesday (11/19) while a gale pattern starts to build in the Gulf and pushing closer to the coast. But Thursday (11/20) a tiny high pressure system at 1026 mbs is to start building off Southern CA riding northeast and starting to generate a weak pressure gradient off Pt Conception with 15-20 kt north winds forecast from Pt Arena to the Channel Islands by evening but miraculously backing off on Friday with less than 15 kt north winds forecast for the entire coast. This seems unlikely. Regardless by Saturday light winds to be in control early while a local low starts winding up 750 nmiles off Cape Mendocino with south winds affecting all the way down to Pt Conception by nigh fall and continuing into Sunday. Odds are rain and south winds are to make a entrance the week beyond.
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 yet more activity is forecast for the Gulf follow roughly on lines with the gale before, with something forming just east of the dateline Saturday (1/22) with 45 kt northwest winds dropping southeast while building with up to 30 ft seas forecast almost north of Hawaii and aimed well to the east into Sunday (11/23). Possible 50 kt winds Sunday evening too. The models have been really jumping around as to what specifically might happen, so no particular outcome is foreseen, but something will likely develop just the same offering potential for both Hawaii (sideband energy ) and more for the US West Coast (though moving dangerously close).
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (11/16) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was trying to move into the Active Phase. The Daily SOI index was way up to 27.55, erasing any previous gains into negative territory. The 30 day average was holding at 13.98 and the 90 day average was up a tick to 14.05, the highest in the past 30 days. This remains 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 (from the dateline into Central America) looking more like the Inactive Phase. The leading edge of the Active Phase of the MJO was trying to push east over the Philippines but making zero headway. This active phase is expected to continue into the fourth week in November (11/25), but dissipating all the while and completely gone by December 1. The Active Phase is to slightly enhance storm development in the Northern Pacific over the coming week or so, but not much of that is expected given this weak strength projection for the Active Phase (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