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 (11/18) North/Central California returned to the domain of fog with northwest windswell producing surf in the waist high range. Southern California was thigh high coming from the southwest with clean conditions. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northeast windswell. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore report was not available.
For Central California things to remain in the flat to near-flat zone through Thursday. Southern CA to continue small to flat too through mid-Friday. The North Shore of Hawaii is to see even smaller northeast windswell on Wednesday before new north swell arrives on Thursday coming from the Gulf of Alaska. The South Shore of Hawaii is flat with no change forecast. The East Shore to see more northeast windswell on Wednesday, then dying off on Thursday. Of most interest is a gale that formed over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians Monday AM (11/17) then dropped southeast turning east into Wednesday with 35 kts winds and 22-25 ft seas aimed a bit towards Hawaii initially then more towards the US West Coast later in it's life. Swell possible for the Islands by Thursday and the US by Friday (11/21). This gale to push on into the Pacific Northwest on Thursday. And long term the models, though unstable, suggest that Eastern Gulf to become more active with a series of short lived systems scheduled there Sat-Mon 911/24). And a broad system is forecast for the dateline Mon-Tues (11/25) pushing into the Gulf of Alaska. So some semblance of surf looks like a possibility for Thanksgiving week.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (11/18) the North Pacific jetstream indicated a big ridge was over over the dateline with a pocket of stronger winds building over Japan at 160+ kts, lifting north and fading while tracking over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutian Islands, then dropping southeast into a modest trough in the Central Gulf of Alaska with 110 kt winds flowing under it offering some support for surface level gale development. Over the next 72 hours that trough in the Gulf is to be of the most interest with a pocket of 160 kt winds starting to building the troughs west flank late Tuesday feeding surface low pressure there and holding into Thursday (11/20) while moving east and positioning itself more in the bottom of the trough, pushing into Washington late in the day. Decent support for gale development in this trough. All the while a strong northeast flow of 170-190 kt winds are to be pushing from Japan up to the dateline Thursday totally shutting down the West Pacific. Beyond 72 hrs that big ridge is forecast to slowly moderate and flatten out over the dateline starting Friday (11/21) pushing east into the Gulf of Alaska with winds down to 140 kts perhaps feeding development of a trough in the Eastern Gulf by Saturday (11/24) holding into Sunday then pushing into the Pacific Northwest Monday, though that is not certain. Another strong pocket of winds is to form over Japan Monday (11/24) at 170 kts pushing east and forming a bit of a trough pushing to the dateline Tuesday offering another opportunity for surface level gale development.
At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered 600 nmiles north of Kauai generating 20-25 kt northeast trades over the Islands and producing moderate sized windswell pushing into east facing shores there. Of more interest was a gale located in the Gulf of Alaska tracking southeast (see Gulf Gale below). No other fetch was occurring. A neutral pressure pattern was off the US West Coast. Over the next 72 hours that high pressure ridge north of Hawaii is to track east with northeast winds continuing into early Wednesday while turning more east, then fading relative to Hawaii but ridging into the North CA coast with a north wind pressure gradient expected there late Thursday into early Friday (11/21).
A gale that was landlocked in the Bering Sea started 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. 24 ft seas were modeled at 48N 170W. In the evening 35 kt winds continued falling southeast with 23 ft seas 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 were confirmed at 35 kts aimed more westerly at 43N 158W bypassing Hawaii but generating 24 ft seas at 45S 160W aimed 20 degrees south of the 296 degree path to NCal. That fetch to hold if not build slightly at 30-35 kts in the evening with 25 ft seas holding at 43N 155W (292 degrees relative to NCal). Wednesday AM (11/19) 30 kt west winds to fade some 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 150W. In the evening the low to regenerate some with 35 kt west winds and 23 ft seas forecast at 40N 140W (284 deg NCal). A final pulse of 22 ft seas are forecast Thursday AM (11/20) off Oregon at 41N 135W (292 degrees NCal).
Assuming all this develops as forecast some form of moderate 13-14 sec period swell is expected for both Hawaii and California.
Swell to push into Hawaii before sunrise Thursday (11/20) with swell peaking at 5.5 ft @ 14-15 secs at sunrise (9 ft faces) holding through the day with period down to 13 secs by sunset. Tiny 11 sec residuals expected on Friday. Swell Direction: 340-345 degrees
North CA: Rough data suggest swell pushing into the state on Friday (11/21) with swell a mix of northwest and west energies. The northwest component to be 5-6 ft @ 14 secs (7-8 ft faces) and the westerly component at 7-8 ft @ 14 secs (10 ft faces). Swell Direction: 300 & 285-292 degrees.
Limited westerly energy (290-297 degrees) to push into Southern CA near sunset and peak overnight with residuals left for Saturday AM, bigger the further south one goes.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (11/18) a near neutral pattern continued over California coastal waters with light winds indicated. A little more of a northwesterly directionality is expected Wednesday (11/19) as high pressure tried to get a nose in locally while a gale moves closer from the Gulf. But Thursday (11/20) that gale is to be moving into Canada while a tiny high pressure system builds to 1028 mbs and ridges from off the Southern CA coast right into Cape Mendocino late generating a weak pressure gradient off Pt Conception with 15-20 kt north winds forecast from Pt Arena to the Channel Islands. It theoretically is to get shunted back out to sea some Friday by more low pressure and a front pushing into Cape Mendo later in the day. But bet on north winds through the day, through it's worth watching for a northeast tendency, especially from San francisco northward. Regardless by Saturday light winds to be in control early while a local low starts winding up in the Gulf. Details beyond this timeframe are not worth the effort to discuss because the outlook is most unstable as of this moment in time.
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 secondary gale is form north of Hawaii on Wed/Thurs (11/20) with limited energy aimed south generating a short-lived fetch of 35 kt northwest winds and 19 ft seas Thurs AM at 36N 170W perhaps making windswell for the North Shore on Saturday (11/22) at 4.2 ft @ 12 secs (5 -6 ft faces) from 325 degrees. This low to then race east forming a fetch of 35-40 kt southwest winds auguring into British Columbia on Friday (11/21) offering 20 ft seas and sideband energy down into the Pacific Northwest and exposed breaks in North CA late Saturday into Sunday (11/23).
Longer Term the picture is a little less certain, though some degree of swell producing fetch is forecast, first in the Gulf of Alaska Saturday/Sunday (11/23) with fleeting fetch generating two areas of short lived 23 ft seas, good for possibly more small 13-14 sec period background northerly angled energy for the PAcific Northwest down into Central CA early in the week. And of more interest is a fetch of 45-50 kt west winds forecast west of the dateline aimed well east and generating an elongated area of 28 ft seas Monday pushing into the Western Gulf Tuesday at 23-25 ft. Swell mainly for the Us West Coast possible. .
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (11/18) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was trying to move into the Active Phase. The Daily SOI index (not updated since Thurs 11/13) 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 (as of today) 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