New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead). Summer - Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft) Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft). Summer - Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs. Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
On Saturday (8/28) North and Central California was getting locally generated north windswell at chest high and pretty well wind whipped with west winds in control. Southern California was getting windswell up north at thigh high and reasonably clean early but a bit foggy and not doing much better down south but with some wind texture on it early. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean with summer sand clogging the reefs. The East Shore was getting waist high tradewind generated east windswell with moderately chopped conditions. The South Shore had some small residual southern hemi sets coming through with waves maybe knee to thigh high and clean at sunrise with modest trades in effect.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for more local windswell on Sunday at chest high and background very south angled southern hemi swell maybe 3 ft on the face. Monday only the windswell is to remain at 4.5 ft dropping to 4 ft on Tuesday then hovering at 4.5 ft on Wed-Thurs. Maybe a drop of southern hemi background swell underneath at thigh high too then. Southern California is to see small southern hemi swell on Sunday at thigh to waist high from an extreme southerly angle while north windswell drops out. Monday it's all north windswell at thigh high at top breaks fading from knee high at best on Tuesday but a little southern hemi swell might be hitting at 3 ft from a very southerly angle. Wednesday and Thursday north windswell is to be knee high at exposed breaks with southern hemi background swell holding in the thigh to waist high range at better breaks. The North Shore of Oahu is to see no rideable surf for the next 7 days. The East Shore to see short period east windswell at shoulder high Sunday fading to waist to chest high on Monday and waist high Tuesday dropping from thigh high Wednesday and almost gone Thursday. The South Shore is to see no southern hemi swell for the next 7 days.
Up north no swell producing fetch is forecast over the next 7 days other than locally generated short period north windswell for North and Central CA holding well into next weekend (9/4). Down south the models continue to indicate no swell producing fetch forecast for the next 7 days with high pressure well in control of the upper reaches of the atmosphere and the Antarctic Ice Sheet at it's maximum coverage minimizing clear surface area for fetch to gain traction upon. Just waiting for Fall now.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday (8/28) the North Pacific jetstream had a weak trough well off Northern Japan rising into a energetic ridge tracking over the extreme northern Gulf of Alaska almost over land then dipping south into another trough dipping south with it's apex over San Francisco. 140 kt winds were modeled tracking through the ridge, only serving to build high pressure at the oceans surface. There was no indication of any real support for gale development at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours the trough is to pinch off in the west and the trough over Central California is to move inland leaving only the ridge in control of the Eastern Pacific and offering nothing in terms of supporting gale development. Beyond 72 hours the troughs in both the west and east are to be almost gone with just a faint hint of a ridge holding over the Western Gulf, with the jet generally dropping south some to about 47N by Thurs (9/2) but weak with average winds at 95 kts offering nothing in support for gale development.
At the surface on Saturday (8/28) high pressure at 1032 mbs continued locked in over the Eastern Pacific centered 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii and ridging slightly east almost to Northern California and west to the dateline. A weak minimal closed isobar low at 1012 mbs was off Northern CA sinking southeast while dissolving generating 20 kt northwest winds aimed at Central CA and producing weak and hacked local short period windswell. Easterly trades at 15-20 kts were also being generated off the south flank of the high pushing over the Hawaiian Islands while producing limited short period east windswell along east facing shores there. Over the next 72 hours the high pressure ridge is to build somewhat stronger to the east into Cape Mendocino generating up to 20-25 kt north winds there early Sunday (8/29), then faltering only to rebuild later Monday into Tuesday (8/31) setting up more modest short period windswell for Central CA perhaps pushing down into exposed breaks in Southern CA. The high is to continue to fuel modest trades over Hawaii holding mostly in the 15 kt range through Monday (8/30) before faltering making for more modest east windswell pushing in east facing shores there.
The models also suggest some flow actually reaching over the top of the high pushing though the northern reaches of the Gulf of Alaska pushing into the Pacific Northwest with winds in the 20-25 kts range. Nothing organized is forecast, but it does hint at the fact the East Pacific high might be starting to give up a little ground opening the doors to the start of a Fall like pattern. But let's not kid ourselves, there has been nary a tropical system in the West Pacific this entire summer and high pressure has been strong. Typically we would expect to see hints of Fall as early as mid-August with some sort pf northerly swell developing, but that has not materialized. With La Nina looking solid by all current indications, there is no expectation that much of a Fall season will develop anytime soon. Prepare for a slow Fall and Winter season but hope for the best.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
On Thursday (8/26) the center of Hurricane Frank was positioned 300 nmiles south of the southern tip of Baja CA just barely in the swell window for Pt Dume and points west of there. It was 1000 nmiles from Pt Dume. Winds were 80 kts and Frank barely had a eye. Projections put Frank drifting northwest at 9 kts and slowly loosing strength, below hurricane strength by late Friday evening (8/27). The latest data indicated that on Saturday AM (8/28) Frank was at depression status and fading fast. If any swell were to result for Southern CA, it would have been generated on Thursday and would arrive 72 hrs later, or mid-day Sunday (8/29) with period at 12 secs.
No other tropical systems were occurring.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (8/28) high pressure was trying to ridge into the coast of Central CA generating the usual pressure gradient and producing northwest winds at near 20 kts over nearshore waters resulting in chop and warble. Low pressure was dropping down the coast from the Pacific Northwest but dissolving all the way. This might set up a marginally weaker pocket of nearshore winds on Sunday (meaning less chop in the morning) but then deteriorating later Sunday as high pressure and a new gradient builds into the coast with winds to 25 kts. This to fade slightly on Monday only to regenerate with a new gradient pulsing on Tuesday (8/31) but focused more over Cape Mendocino generating 25 kts north winds there but pulling away from Central CA waters on down to Pt Conception with a weak eddy flow (southwest nearshore winds) possible. This situation is to hold through the workweek with an eddy flow likely for Southern CA but then getting wiped out on Saturday (9/4) as the high and corresponding gradient surge with 20 kts winds pushing again into Central CA waters making a mess of things.
On Saturday (8/28) the jetstream was heavily .cgiit with the core of the .cgiit just southeast of New Zealand. This was di.cgiacing the southern branch of the jet well to the south over Ross Ice Shelf with the storm track taking the same ice bound route and eliminating odds for gale development there. The jet gently lifted northeast over the extreme Southeast Pacific and to the southern tip of South America, with a weak trough in.cgiace there, but well east of any great circle path up to even Southern CA and offering no odds for swell producing gale development in our forecast area. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold with a new burst of southward pushing energy moving through the southern branch of the jet later Monday (8/30) sweeping everything south over Antarctica while pushing fast east. No support for anything that could produce swell. Beyond 72 hours the ridge is to push east and then moderate some, with something that almost looks like a trough developing under New Zealand on Thurs (9/2) pushing east into the greater South Pacific reaching up to 55S, but also getting a bit pinched off while tracking east. Maybe some limited support for gale development possibly at the oceans surface on Fri-Sat (9/4).
At the oceans surface high pressure at 1024 mbs was locked southeast of New Zealand with the effects of high pressure in the upper atmosphere continuing to be evident over the majority of the South Pacific. No swell producing fetch of any kind was indicated. Over the next 72 hrs the same basic pattern is to hold with no fetch even at a miserly 30 kts 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 hrs high pressure is to hold in the Gulf of Alaska producing the
usual pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino with north winds at 25 kts Tues-Fri (9/3) , then gradually build into Saturday (or at least push further east) with the gradient increasing in coverage then. Increased windswell likely for Central CA next weekend with trade rebuilding some to 15 kts by Sat (9/4) pushing into east facing shores of the Hawaiian Islands and increasing the odds for small local windswell there as well. If anything the East Pacific high is looking to be gradually tracking east opening up the West Pacific a little possibly suggesting a Fall pattern is starting to set up.
MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Saturday (8/28) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued rock solid in the positive range. The daily SOI was holding at 29.50 and has been that way in excess of 40 days. The 30 day average was up a bit to 18.45 with the 90 day average holding at 12.54. The Inactive Phase of the MJO was in full control.
Wind anomalies as of Tuesday (8/25) (latest data from BOM yet) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated the Inactive Phase was in control of the tropical East PAcific with easterly anomalies extending from the dateline east to Central America while a better than expected version of the Active Phase was building in the Indian Ocean (westerly anomalies). This pattern is to continue with easterly anomalies fading over the East Pacific into 9/4 while westerly anomalies build in the West Pacific reaching almost to the dateline, suggesting the Active Phase is to maybe get a toe hold in the Pacific for the first time in a long time. Beyond it is to hold it's ground between the Philippines and the dateline with weak westerly anomalies forecast through 9/14.
We believe the remnants of El Nino are just about gone from the upper atmosphere. The expectation is that we'll see a building moderate to moderate.cgius strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) for the remained of 2010 extending well into 2011 and likely to early 2012. In short, the next year and half is going to be tough for surfers on west facing shores in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, though west facing shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (8/26) indicates that cooler than normal waters continue to expanded their grip on the equator covering solidly from South America west to the dateline and beyond are in fact getting cooler and covering a larger area over time, extending the whole way to almost New Guinea. the coldest waters extended from a point south of Hawaii to just west of the dateline, a clear signal of strong easterly winds there and solid upwelling. Feeder bands of cooler than normal water continued building off the US West Coast and South America reaching to the dateline, only serving to reinforce the existing pattern, suggesting stronger than normal high pressure has built in both hemispheres and upwelling is in full effect. Good for sea life and the food chain, bad for storm production. Looks like a classic La Nina setup. This is a turn for the worse and only seems to be getting stronger. At the same time a massive buildup of warmer than normal waters continues in the Atlantic almost bleeding into the far Eastern Pacific, of concern to hurricane forecasters there. We'll see if upper level winds support development of hurricane activity or whether residual upper level shear from El Nino will chop the tops of developing systems. Suspect shear will be gone by the heart of hurricane season in the Atlantic.
Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present and if anything colder than normal water was building strong over the dateline and pushing east (sort of like a cold Kelvin Wave). This pocket was -5 degs below normal (getting colder). Not good.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond, with easterly anomalies now in control of the entire Western Pacific, though normal conditions in the East. But the Pacific current that runs along the equator turned abruptly from flowing to towards South America to flowing towards the west in mid-March (2010), right as the SOI started it's impressive drive into positive territory and the storm machine abruptly shut down. And it has not wavered since. This suggests trade wind anomalies might be a byproduct of the Pacific equatorial current change and not the other way around. And if anything, the change in the current might actually foretell a coming change in the trades, and then with the advent of the trade wind change, it only serves to reinforce the current in a self a.cgiifying loop, until such time as the cycle runs it's course and the self feeding system collapses over a multiyear period. At that time the current then switches direction, and a whole new self-enforcing cycle stars anew. Something to consider (regarding the formation and El Nino/La Nina).
El Nino is effectively gone and slowly losing it's grip on the global upper atmospheric weather pattern. Still some lingering impact might continue through the Summer of 2010, but likely not enhancing the storm track in the South Pacific any longer. A slow transition to a normal if not cooler than normal conditions (La Nina) is expected through Nov 2010, and the signs continue to point to a La Nina pattern for the long term future.
See more details in the El Nino update.
Beyond 72 hours high pressure is to ease to the east opening up a little window in the New Zealand area by late Thursday (9/2) with low pressure developing in the area. A persistent area of 30 kt west to southwest winds are to develop with a tiny core building to near 40 kts on Sat 99/4) aimed northeast. But it was some small and generally so weak that no swell of interest is expected to evolve from it. In short, there's no indication of any swell producing weather systems forecast for the Southern Hemisphere 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