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.
We'll be unable to update forecasts 5/1-5/10 while we're on vacation. Please refer to the models to monitor current conditions.
On Tuesday (4/29) Northern CA surf was head high to 1 ft overhead and on the increase, and not quiet as lumpy as in days past. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist high with a few bigger sets and reasonably clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was chest to head high and blow out. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was thigh high and pretty windy by mid-day. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh to near waist high and textured. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were maybe waist high and clean early. The North Shore of Oahu was flat and clean. The South Shore was head high with sets 1-2 ft overhead at top spots. The East Shore was waist high.
North/Central California was seeing the start of a small run of swell coming from the the Gulf of Alaska. Southern California remained effectively flat, though bit's of locally generated windswell were getting in . Hawaii's North Shore was near flat. The East Shore had some minimal trades wind generated windswell. The South Shore was the standout spot today, with surf right on track with projections coming from a gale that was under New Zealand mid-last week.
For the immediate future the North and Central California coast to see an increase in size attributable to swell arriving from the Northern Gulf of Alaska generated over the weekend into Monday, but mainly confined north of Pt Conception. Southern CA to not see much if any of this swell given it's steep northerly angle and limited size. The North Shore of Oahu to possibly see a taste of this same swell Wednesday into early Thursday, but not much. Of most interest to everyone is Southern Hemi swell in the water and hitting the South Shore, expected to remain quite rideable through the end of the workweek. This same swell is to reach California by late Thursday (5/1) possibly providing something decent to ride late Friday into Saturday. Make the most of it cause it's all downhill from there. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Tuesdays jetstream charts (4/29) for the North Pacific indicated a semi-.cgiit flow in.cgiay, with a good stream of wind energy breaking off the main flow and pushing north of even the Bering Sea while a fragmented flow was trying to hold steady pushing generally west to east over the 40 degree north latitude. No support for surface level low pressure development indicated. Over the next 72 hours the .cgiit in the jet is to continue, but with lessening intensity. By Thursday something that almost resembles a trough is to be positioned on the dateline tracking east with 120 kt winds flowing under it, offering some support for surface level low pressure development. Beyond 72 hours this trough is to track to the Western Gulf by Saturday (5/3) then fade some, only to re-establish itself Monday in the Northwestern Gulf and holding through mid-week. Maybe some additional support for low pressure development with a little luck.
At the surface today the only weather feature of interest was high pressure located midway between Hawaii and North California at 1032 mbs generating 20 kt north winds nudging up to the California coast, centered near Pt Conception and pushing up to 25 kt north winds there. Over the next 72 hours (or more) this high is to be pushing inland later Wednesday (4/30) but another high is to develop right behind it continuing the non-stop assault of northerly winds from Cape Mendocino southward to Pt Conception. The core of the fetch is to be drifting north towards Cape Mendo by Sunday and beyond with winds building to 30 kts, offering better local windswell generation potential for Central CA into the weekend. High pressure is to also continue enhancing trades over the Hawaiian Islands Wednesday to 20 kts offering some hope for small windswell along eastern shores, but not much.
Of interest is a new low forecast to build some in the Gulf of Alaska Thurs/Fri (5/2) offering perhaps a brief pulse of 35 kt northwest winds and 20 ft seas aimed at the California and Pacific Northwest coasts, and limited swell potential for late Sunday into Monday (5/5), but that's to be buried in the more locally generated windswell.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (4/29) high pressure at 1032 mbs was building offshore and taking control of coastal waters with local northerly winds starting to pick up in the afternoon, pushing 30 kts over Pt Conception late. By Wednesday (4/30) high pressure is to be fully in control generating brisk northerly winds at 20 kts from Pt Arena southward over the Channel Islands on into Baja with even into Southern CA in the afternoon. A chopped out mess is forecast everywhere. Things to be backing off incrementally Thursday but still an onshore mess from Pt Conception northward (north winds 15-20 kts) though Southern CA to remain protected. Winds to back off a notch more Friday (5/2), but still 15 kts or better. Saturday new high pressure is to start building in with the north wind machine kicking back up, from 15 kts from Pt Conception northward up into Southern Oregon, and 30 kts solid over Cape Mendocino by Sunday, generating sizeable short period windswell on down into Central CA. Local winds to still be an issue though. 30 kt north winds to persist over Cape Mendocino into Wednesday (5/7) offering.cgienty of short period windswell generation potential for Central CA, but also offering.cgienty of opportunity for local chop too. Southern CA to remain protected through all of this.
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
On Tuesday (4/29) at the jetstream level a large ridge was pushing hard south under New Zealand and pushing east, shutting down any low pressure development potential over the greater South Pacific in the Hawaiian and California swell windows. High pressure was manifest at the oceans surface. This ridge is to only a.cgiify and track east, continuing the locked-down pattern into Sunday (5/4). A persistent trough is forecast is to build off Southern Chile though and hold for the next 7 days, offering some surface level potential for Central and South America (but outside our normal forecast area).
Swell 1S (Hawaii, Tahiti, Mexico)
A gale pushed under New Zealand on Monday (4/21) generating a diffuse area of 40 kt winds aimed north east towards Hawaii with seas to 31 ft modeled at 50S 170E. Some form of limited swell was in the Hawaiian swell window pushing north. That low re-organized just off the southeastern New Zealand coast Tuesday (4/22). 45 kt winds were confirmed over a decent sized fetch area at 48S 178E aimed 25 degrees east of the 193-200 degree great circle paths to Hawaii and right up the 216-218 degree path to California (and unshadowed by Tahiti) continuing at 40-45 kt through the day Wednesday at 46S 174W and traveling north into Thursday near 44S 174W all aimed the same headings relative to Hawaii and California. Seas were modeled to 32 ft late Tuesday at 44S 180W then to 38 ft through the day Wednesday at 48S 175W in the AM and 46S 170W in the evening, then fading from 37 ft at 42N 160W Thursday AM then slowly fading into Friday morning (to 30 ft at 41S 160W). Seas on Friday to be somewhat shadowed by Tahiti for California. The Jason-1 satellite made one pass near this fetch, on Wednesday morning and confirmed sea at 33 ft where the model suggested it should have been 35-36 ft. Other partial passes suggested a similar trend, namely that the Wavewatch III wavemodel was over-estimating sea sizes (really the GDAS model was probably overestimating winds, which in turn affected the calculated sea size. Regardless the result is the same - an overestimate).
In all this was not even a storm, but a gale. Still it held together for at least 72 hours with seas in excess of 30 ft pushing the 38 ft mark (if one is to believe the models), and aimed right at California (but shadowed down south) and decently at Hawaii and moreso at Tahiti. Given Tahiti and Hawaii's closer proximities (1551-2133 nmiles and 3816-4269 nmiles), more size is expected there. Southern Mainland Mexico was 4973-5748 nmiles away, and California further still at 5229-5792 nmiles (within 100 nmiles north or south). The big issue in California was that the southern end of the state was shadowed by Tahiti, while the northern end (Monterey Bay northward) was just barely in unobscured waters.
Hawaii: The peak of the swell to hit Wednesday morning at 4.0 ft @ 17 secs (7 ft faces with some 8.5 ft sets). Swell continues Thursday (5/1) at 3.9 ft @ 15-16 secs (6 ft faces with a few bigger sets). Swell fading Friday (5/2) at 3.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.5-5.0 ft faces).Swell Direction: 190-195 degrees
Mainland Mexico: Expect the leading edge of the main thrust of the swell to hit Wednesday (4/30) near sunset with period 20 secs and size pulsing up. Solid swell expected Thursday (5/1) with swell building to 2.9 ft @ 18 secs late (5 ft faces - best breaks 7 ft on the face). The bulk of the swell to hit Friday (5/2) with swell 4.0 ft @ 17 secs (6-7 ft with sets to 8 ft). Swell to continue Saturday at 4 ft @ 15 secs (5 ft faces), fading from 3.8 ft @ 14 secs Sunday (5 ft faces). Beware of possible light onshores though during the swell window. Swell Direction: 221-223 degrees
California (swell arrival times essentially the same for both NCal and SCal): This swell to start arriving on Thursday (5/1) near 2 AM with period 20 secs and swell building to 2 ft @ 19 secs late (4 ft faces - best breaks). Swell to continue up through the day Friday (5/2) with swell to 3 ft @ 17 secs late (5 ft faces with top spots to 6 ft). Swell to peak out early Saturday morning with swell 3.5 ft @ 16 secs (5.5 ft faces with top spots to 6.5 ft) and holding reasonably through the day, though this might be a bit optimistic. Decent energy to continue Sunday (4/27) with swell 3 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces) and settling down into Monday. Swell Direction: 208-212+ degrees NCal and 210-214 degrees SCal. Shadowing by Tahiti to have an effect in Southern CA though, reducing stated sizes about by up to 25%.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hrs the only potential swell source is a new tiny and weak low forecast building 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii on Friday (5/2) with a small area of 30 kts winds aimed at targets a bit east of the Islands with seas to 18 ft. Maybe some limited 10-11 sec sideband swell to push south, but odds low. Yet an even smaller low to form just 600 nmiles north of Hawaii on Monday (5/5) offering a tiny fetch of 30 kt winds aimed directly at the Islands for 24 hours generating 15 ft seas. Odds very low. No other swell source to follow with the North Pacific going into hibernation for the summer.
No swell producing winds are forecast.
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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Grib File Switchover: The old grib1 format wave model datafiles that have been the mainstay of the National Weather service for years now are scheduled to be retired on 1/26. We switched over to the new grib2 files starting with the 00z run of Thurs 1/17. All appears to be running fine. There is no functional change to the content of the models, just that files we receive are now smaller due to improved compression of grib2. But this sets us up to start processing new higher resolution files and building new products in the months ahead. So in all it's a good maintenance level change.
Sharkwater: There's a new feature film called Sharkwater that is hitting theaters November 2nd. Sharkwater is an award winning documentary (22 international film awards including the UN and Cannes) that broke box office records in Canada, opening to bigger numbers than any documentary in history save Fahrenheit 911 and Supersize Me. It is a conservation film that demonstrates that the biggest influence on the air we breathe, and global warming is life in the oceans – except life in the oceans is being wiped out. Shark populations have dropped 90% in the last 30 years alone, and the oceans continue to be destroyed because nobody knows that it's happening Learn more here: http://www.sharkwater.com
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table