Forecast for Surf Contest on 2/8-2/9/2008

Two swells are forecast for the contest window. The first originating from a gale off Washington and the second from a much stronger system that was over the international dateline. Details of each are below. The short story is there will be at best only 2.5-3.0 ft surf in Southern California on Friday (2/8) coming from 310 degrees and only at the most exposed breaks. Winds light north-northeast 5-10 kts early. By far the better swell will be in-place for Saturday (2/9) with surf 6-8 ft plus depending on your location coming from 298-305 degrees with northeast winds 5-10 kts early.

 

Washington Gale
A gale developed in the Central Gulf Monday with pressure down to 1000 mbs late (non-closed isobar low) with an infinitesimal area of 50-55 kt northwest winds confirmed at 45N 144W aimed right down the 298 degree path to North CA. Seas were building. It was moving rapidly east Tuesday AM with a tiny area of 50-55 kt northwest winds confirmed at 47N 133W aimed right down the 315 degree path to North CA with much energy also aimed right at Washington a mere 350 nmiles offshore. Seas built to 26 ft at 47N 138W targeting the Pacific Northwest. This system to be pushing inland over Vancouver Island area by nightfall as 27 ft seas impact the coast there. Possible north angled swell to be pushing south towards Southern CA arriving mid-day Thursday (2/7) peaking then with residuals in-place for Friday AM only at the most exposed breaks. Swell Friday expected at 2.6 ft @ 11 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces) coming from 310 degrees and fading through the day.

 

Storm #16
On Sunday evening (2/3) a 966 mb storm was organizing just off Central Japan with winds confirmed at 60 kts over a small area in it's south quadrant at 36N 162E aimed east and northeast towards Hawaii up the 299 degree great circle path and towards North Ca up the 292 degree path (297 SCal). Seas building.

On Monday AM (2/4) pressure was 960 mbs with a solid fetch of 55-60 kt winds confirmed at 38N 170E aimed due east or 10 degrees east of the 306 degree path to Hawaii and 20 degrees south of the 294 degree path to North CA (300 SCal). Seas modeled to 39 ft over a small area at 37N 163E. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the back half of the fetch area and confirmed seas at 39.6 ft, right on track if not beating the model. In the evening 55 kt winds were confirmed storms south quadrant aimed a bit to the northeast from 41N 175E or 30 degree east of the 315 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 294 degree path to NCal (300 SCal). 40 ft seas modeled at 37N 171E.

On Tuesday AM (2/5) pressure was up barely to 964 mbs with 55 kt winds continuing at the dateline or 43N 180W aimed due east or 30 degree east of the 323 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 297 degree path to North CA (302 SCal). Seas modeled holding near 40 ft at 42N 180W. Amazingly the Jason-1 satellite made a pass directly over the fetch at 15Z and confirmed seas at 40.4 ft, exactly on-track with modeled projections and actually suggesting such seas covered a broader area than suggested by the models. This is the second day of consecutive confirmations and is all good news. In the evening pressure to be rising to 968 mbs with a broad area of 45-50 kts winds at 45N 175W aimed due east or not on any route to Hawaii but aimed right up the 297 degree path to North CA (302 SCal). Seas rebuilding to 43 ft at 45N 173W.

On Wednesday AM (2/6) the last little residual winds of this fading system are to be at 45 kts at 48N 172W aimed right down the 304 degree path to NCal. 43 ft seas forecast at 47N 168W (aimed up the 302 degree route to NCal). In the evening pressure to be up to 992 mbs with 35 kt winds at 49N 165W aimed due east or up the 305 degree path to NCal but focusing more on the Pacific Northwest. 39 ft seas forecast at 50N 162W heading towards Canada.

By Thursday AM (2/7) this system to be gone. 31 ft seas from previous fetch to be at 50N 154W aimed 20 degrees east of the 309 degree path to NCal and focusing on Canada.

In all the models and actual readings are on good track with this system continuing to be fairly strong and holding together well for almost 96 hours, making the full trek from Japan to the Gulf of Alaska, the first such system in a very long while. Wind area is not huge, but it is reasonably strong and cohesive adding much momentum to the swell. This one has been on the charts since last Wednesday and it has not waivered much other than loosing a little strength from earlier projections when it depicted up the 48 ft seas. So far the models are doing quite well. Assuming all plays out as forecast it seems entirely possible that some form of solid long period swell could impact the California coast for the weekend.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival starting Friday (2/8) at 7 PM with period 22 secs and size tiny if even noticeable. Swell building solidly by sunrise Saturday (2/9) as period drops to 20 secs with size coming up. Swell to peak starting near 2 PM and holding through 11 PM with swell 3.8-4.4 ft @ 17-20 secs (6.5-8.5 ft faces with best breaks 8-10 ft). Solid size to continue Sunday morning with swell 3.5-4.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (5-6 ft faces - best breaks to 8 ft) and fading. Swell Direction: 298-305 degrees with energy up to 310 degrees