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 (5/24) North and Central California had chest to shoulder high windblown northwest local period windswell at exposed breaks. Southern California was small getting the same northwest windswell at waist high and textured early. Hawaii's North Shore had some thigh to waist high northeast angled sets occasionally breaking and clean. The East Shore was tiny with knee high northeast windswell at best. The South Shore had some small southwest leftover swell at thigh to waist high coming from the Tasman Sea and textured.
The forecast for North and Central CA remains dismal for the short term, with smaller northwest junky local windswell for Wednesday shrinking some on Thursday, then gone by Friday and not budging above the flat line into next week. Southern CA is to see a fraction of this same northwest local windswell at exposed breaks into maybe Wednesday or Thursday if you're desperate, then turning dead flat and staying there into next week. Oahu's North Shore is become flat by Wednesday and stay there all week. Maybe a hint of northeast swell next Sunday (5/31) into Monday originating from a gale forecast northeast of the Islands this week, but that's far from a sure bet. The East Shore is not expected to see any normal easterly windswell for the foreseeable future, with trades suppressed. The South Shore is to see nothing for the next 6 days.
Longterm the picture remains much the same: Another little cutoff low is to form north of Hawaii on Saturday (5/30) possibly generating 14 ft seas aimed a bit west of Hawaii. A little hope for northern shores from this one. But of way more interest is a gale forecast for the South Pacific on Tues/Wed (5/27) still forecast to generate 35 ft seas aimed decently to the northeast targeting Hawaii a little but the US Mainland better. And more is to follow next week with a gale forecast just east of New Zealand targeting the Islands quite nicely. So use the down spell now to take care of business, and keep an eye on the long term prize (as if there is really any other alternative other than booking a trip to the Mentawais.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
At the surface high pressure at 1024 mbs was centered 600 nmiles west of San Francisco ridging northeast into the Pacific Northwest generating the usual pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino down to Monterey Bay resulting in 25 kt north winds there with northerly windswell propagating south into Central CA with much less wrapping into exposed breaks in Southern CA. Trades remained suppressed over the Hawaiian Islands with very weak low pressure north of there. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (5/29) high pressure is to try and hold on till Wednesday with the associated windswell continuing, then fading out as low pressure starts developing 900 nmiles north of Hawaii on Thursday AM (5/28). A small fetch of 30 kt north to northeast winds are forecast in the lows west quadrant late at 37N 145W aimed well at the Islands, building to supposedly 35 kts early on Friday at the same location with seas to 20 ft. The low to dissipate on Saturday. Possible small swell pushing into Hawaii late in the weekend if this comes to pass.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (5/26) high pressure at 1024 mbs was holding 600 nmiles west of San Francisco ridging northeast to Oregon generating north winds to 25 kts over Pt Arena and lesser winds pushing south from there to well off Pt Conception, remaining well off the beaches from Pt Reyes south. Windswell was still present. A modest northwest to west flow was occurring on the coast and scheduled to slowly fade through Wednesday. The gradient is to hold into Wednesday AM (5/27) then start withering away with windswell dropping out and all but gone by Thursday as low pressure builds off the coast. No sign of high pressure or north winds from Thursday on through the weekend on well into next week with a light wind pattern forecast nearshore.
No tropical activity of interest was occurring.
On Tuesday (5/26) the South Pacific jetstream remained .cgiit over it's width. But a small trough was starting to build in the southern branch well southwest of Tahiti but with only 100 kt winds flowing up into it. This could support gale development. A big ridge was covering the far Southeast Pacific shutting gale development down there. Over the next 72 hrs that weak trough is to hold while pushing east into Friday, but with the bulk of the energy taking a more west to east track rather than a northward push. This suggests that whatever gale energy develops at the surface, it will be directing it's winds more towards Chile than northward over the longer haul. Beyond 72 hrs a certified trough is forecast building under New Zealand on Friday (5/29) 160 kt winds pushing well to the north with reinforcing energy holding into early Sunday. And yet another pulse of energy is forecast pushing into this trough on Tuesday (6/2). This looks most favorable on the charts and offers good support for storm development assuming it comes to pass.
At the surface on Tuesday (5/26) a new gale was forming in the Southwest Pacific generating a decent fetch of 40-45 kt southwest winds at 59S 177W and getting some traction. By evening winds are forecast to near 45 kts at 58S 168W aimed well to the north pushing right up the 203 degree path to California and on the edge of the Tahiti swell shadow generating 30 ft seas at 54S 166W late a bit shadowed by Tahiti relative to California (203 deg) and pushing a bit east of 183 degree path to Hawaii. Additional 40-45 fetch is forecast on Wednesday AM (5/27) at 54S 162W pushing right up the 202 degree path to California almost unshadowed by Tahiti. 35 ft seas are forecast at 51S 160W pushing towards CA with sideband energy to Hawaii. In the evening a broad and fragmented fetch of 30-35 kt winds are forecast with a core to near 40 kts at 49S 152W aimed right up the 198 degree path to California resulting in 35 ft seas at 45S 152W tracking up the 198 degree path to CA (unshadowed) and mostly outside the range of Hawaii. The core fetch is to be effectively gone on Thursday AM (5/28) with residual 30 ft seas from previous fetch at 45S 145W pushing up the 196 degree path to California. If this system develops as forecast, some possible decent sized near significant class southern hemi swell could result for California up into the Pacific Northwest and Mexico. Tahiti might do quite well too. Hawaii might even see near significant class sideband energy. This is definitely something to monitor.
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 broad low pressure system is to seep off Kamchatka pushing to the dateline through the weekend (5/31). 25 kt winds are forecast with seas to the 15-16 ft range on the dateline at 42N 175E on Saturday (5/30), possibly pushing some tiny energy towards the Hawaiian Islands. If this actually develops it would be a testament to the strength of current Active phase of the MJO.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (5/26) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was resurging in the Active Phase, with the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index still negative. The Daily SOI index was up to -2.13 making it 31 days of near consecutive negative readings (since 4/26). The 30 day average was down to -9.47 (the lowest since 7/2007) and the 90 day average passed over a momentous threshold, into negative territory at -0.01 (the lowest since Mar 2007and still on a steep nosedive). The SOI indicies remained completely neutral at the moment but something appears to be happening on a grand scale. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated that this second incarnation of the Active Phase has peaked out with weak westerly wind anomalies over the entire equatorial Western Pacific. It looks like it's on it's last legs now with minimal residual to seep into Central America through 6/4. What was a new Inactive Phase that was trying to form in the Indian Ocean has all but dissipated. Perhaps we are entering a phase biased towards the Active Phase and less supportive of the Inactive Phase (a good thing if this occurs) The residual effects of 3 years of La Nina are effectively gone in the ocean, and fading fast in the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere (though the Southern Hemi will take another 2 months longer to heal). Cooler than normal surface waters off of Central America are gone with slightly warmer than normal waters temps reported over the entire width of the equatorial Pacific. Below the surface on the equator a steady flow of slightly warmer than normal subsurface water was tracking from the West Pacific over the dateline and then breaking the surface near Central America with warmer water starting to pool up there. It appears that previous episodes of the Active Phase have primed the warm water pump, and are now pushing warmer than normal subsurface water eastward with more building up behind, and feeding a slightly warm regime in the equatorial Eastern Pacific. This is very good news. Months of high pressure off California and stiff north winds there turning trades over Hawaii had resulted in a huge cool tongue of water extending from Central CA the whole way over Hawaii to the dateline which generated massive upwelling. That continues to moderate, through a large pocket of cooler than normal waters remains off California extending to almost Hawaii with no immediate abatement. We expect 1-2 more months of high pressure and local La Nina conditions before a fully neutral pattern takes hold and warmer waters start building off California. It can't happen soon enough with water temps in the San Francisco Bay Area hovering in the 51-53 degree mark.
Beyond 72 hours the models suggest that by late Thursday (5/28) a new gale (almost a storm) is to form southwest of New Zealand with a decent fetch of 45-50 kts forecast at 60S 170W aimed well to the north. But those winds are to quickly wrap into the storms north quadrant on Friday AM (5/30) at 55S 155W pushing to 55 kts and all aimed due east. Larger seas likely being generated but all pushing towards Peru. The gale is to push rapidly east with 45 kts west winds at 54S 140W in the evening. This is a brand new system on the charts and confidence is not real high, but it is something to watch for.
And yet beyond a larger system is forecast forming snuggled up to New Zealand starting Saturday PM (5/30) with 45 kt winds pushing almost due north continuing on Sunday (5/31) generating 40-45 kt south winds at 45S 180W continuing into the evening.
And residuals from this are forecast to push to the Central South Pacific next Tuesday (6/2) with a fetch of near 50 kts south winds and more energy tracking under New Zealand likely feeding this system. This is the first time this has hit the models (12Z run Tues), and we all know how unlikely the exact results will be, but it looks way more favorable than anything so far this season.
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