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 Tuesday (10/5) North and Central California was getting large locally generated windswell generated over Cape Mendocino with surf double to tr.cgie overhead and raw and warbled with no exposed clean breaks to be found. Southern California was getting waist high.cgius windswell sets wrapping around from Pt Conception and a little warbled but not too bad with light winds early. Down south waves were waist high to with a little waist high southern hemi swell in the mix but again a bit warbled. Hawaii's North Shore was pretty much flat with waves maybe thigh high and clean with brisk trades in effect. The East Shore was getting tradewinds generated east windswell at near head high with chopped conditions. The South Shore was getting maybe thigh high leftover New Zealand swell and broken up with slightly sideshore conditions due to increased trades.
The forecast for North and Central CA is for surf dropping from 6.5 ft early Wednesday and then waist high on Thursday. Some background New Zealand swell is expected at 2.5 ft (on the face) holding on into early Thursday. Friday background northwest swell to continue producing waist high surf at exposed breaks and about the same on Saturday. Chest high windswell is possible for Sunday. Southern California is to see locally generated north windswell at chest high early Wednesday then dropping fast from knee high early Thursday. Some southern hemi New Zealand swell is expected in the mix at waist high Wednesday dropping from thigh high Thursday. Nothing ridable expected Friday or Saturday. Maybe some knee high north windswell for later on Sunday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see no ridable surf till Thursday when northwest windswell reaches waist to chest high pushing chest high Friday then down to waist high Saturday. New northwest windswell to head high or a little more on Sunday. The East Shore is to see east local windswell holding at head high Wednesday then dropping from chest high early Thursday and waist high Friday before dropping out all together. The South Shore is to see no swell of interest till maybe Sunday (10/10), and then only waist to maybe chest high on the sets.
For now local windswell generated over Cape Mendocino is really over the top in Central CA, but is to be rapidly fading by Wednesday (10/6) and beyond. On the charts a small local gale is forecast to wind up 800 nmiles off the coast on Saturday (10/9) with 40 kt northwest winds aimed well at Central CA but lifting north fast and not getting much traction with seas to only 20 ft. Maybe some swell to result, but it's way to early to know with any confidence.
Down south reinforcing energy from one last storm that tracked under New Zealand last weekend has already hit Southern California and is to hold for another day or tow (till Thurs). But beyond virtually no swell producing fetch of interest is indicated. It's time to wish kiss the Southern Hemi goodnight..
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Tuesday (10/5) the North Pacific jetstream had 150 kt winds ridging over the western dateline region dropping south into a trough in the Central Gulf but with winds dying in it's southern apex, then ridging hard north into Canada again with 150 kt winds there likely supporting high pressure at the oceans surface. A cutoff upper low was over Central CA. There was some limited support for gale development in the Gulf trough and just surface low pressure in the cutoff low over Central CA (more details below). Over the next 72 hours that trough in the Gulf is to push east towards the Eastern Gulf on Thursday (10/7) with 140 kt winds flowing into it and providing better support for gale development at the oceans surface. The cutoff upper low is to be tracking east and out of the picture. Beyond 72 hours some semblance of the Gulf trough is to persist in the Gulf through the coming weekend into early next week (10/12) but winds speed to be limited to the 120 kt range, meaning lower odds for gale development, though low pressure at the oceans surface is most likely.
At the surface on Tuesday (10/5) weak high pressure at 1028 mbs was located over the dateline pretty much locking that area down. A second high at 1028 mbs was located 600 nmiles west of San Francisco ridging into Washington State and forming a tight pressure gradient with an upper level low over the San Francisco Bay area resulting in the production of north winds at 35 kt (or more) over Cape Mendocino resulting in large raw proto-swell of 18 ft @ 12 secs pushing into exposed breaks in the SF Bay area. This was more than any of the models had expected, and was the second swell in 3 days that was considerably larger than forecast. This high was also serving to generate near 20 kts trades pushing over the Hawaiian Islands resulting in easterly windswell along Easterly Shores there. Also of some marginal interest was a gale that quickly wrapped up in the Northern Gulf Monday morning (20Z) with 40 kt west winds confirmed at 47N 157W lifting northeast in the evening (06Z Tues 10/5) to 49N 148W. Seas were modeled to 20 ft with the Jason-1 satellite making a pass directly over the area at 06Z Tues (10/5) confirming seas at 22.3 ft with one reading to 25.3 ft. Possible small 13 sec period swell pushing into Central CA Thurs (10/7) at 8 PM at 4 ft @ 13 secs (5 ft faces) from 304.5 degs. Odds low and more an just an exercise in forecasting.
Over the next 72 hours the Cape Mendocino gradient is to rapidly dissipate as the high fades off the CA coast. Windswell along the CA coast to die with it, as are trades and tradewind swell over Hawaii. By Thursday (10/7) the first in a series of weak low pressure systems is to appear and be developing just north of Hawaii supported by the trough in the upper atmosphere above that area. The first one is to sweep east bypassing Hawaii and lifting northeast rapidly while generating 35-40 kt northwest winds Friday AM at 42N 144W aimed well at Central CA , then down to 30 kts in the evening off of Washington. Seas are not forecast to crack the 15 ft range but it should help rough the oceans surface up some. A second low is forecast developing right behind with 30 kt northwest winds mid-Friday at 38N 158W targeting Hawaii well initially with seas in the 15-16 ft range Friday PM. Then it is to track east out of the Hawaiian swell window and build with 45 kt northwest winds Sat AM (10/9) at 41N 145W lifting fast to the north with near 55 kt northwest winds at 45N 136W in the evening. 22 ft seas are forecast in the Central CA swell window Sat PM (likely a low forecast) at 43N 135W then pushing into land just north of Vancouver Island Sunday AM (10/10). Possible shorter period swell to result. Will monitor.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (10/5) a strong pressure gradient and north winds were in control of outer waters off North and Central CA making large local windswell and bumpy conditions. A local eddy was producing south winds nearshore over Central CA. On Wednesday the gradient is rapidly dissipate but south winds driven by weak remnant low pressure just off Monterey Bay is to remain and even having an effect into Southern CA and continuing into early Thursday. After that things to go calm into early Saturday as a moderate area of low pressure takes over the Southeasterly Gulf pushing up close to California, but not reaching onshore. Then another gradient start to build as high pressure moves into the Northern CA coast. Northwest winds at 15 kts are forecast later Saturday and all of Sunday (10/10) making for pretty warbled if not outright blown out conditions north of Pt Conception. Finally by Monday (10/11) another full on gradient expected with north winds at 30 kts forecast over Cape Mendocino pushing down the entire Central CA coast, then pulling away from nearshore waters south of Pt Arena by Tuesday.
On Tuesday (10/5) a weak trough was located in the Southeast Pacific with 170 kt west-northwest winds riding over it, offering nothing in terms of support for gale production. This general pattern is to persist for the next 72 hours with the trough holding it's ground but all energy aimed due east. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to collapse on Saturday 910/9) with a ridge building across the width of the South Pacific eliminating odds for gale development.
At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was in.cgiay. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast. No swell production is expected.
One More New Zealand Gale
A gale low developed under New Zealand with up to 55 kt west winds over a small area on Friday AM (9/24) at 55S 175E aimed mostly east of any great circle track to Hawaii or the US West coast and continued east in the evening at 55S 177E. It was fading into Saturday AM. 35 ft seas were indicated Fri AM At 55S 170E pushing 42 ft in the evening at 55S 180W and again at 42 ft Saturday AM at 55S 172W. The issue was that though seas were large, all energy was aimed due east and not pushing up into the Hawaiian or CA swell windows.
Limited swell for Southern CA at select south facing breaks not masked with stronger northerly swell is possible at 2 ft @ 15 secs (3 ft faces) on Wednesday and 2 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces) on Thursday (10/7). Swell Direction: 214 degrees.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
72 hrs continued weak low pressure is to circulate in the Northern Gulf of Alaska late weekend into early next week (10/12) sandwiched between two high pressure systems (one over the dateline and another ridging into the Pacific Northwest resulting in a small fetch of 25-30 kt west winds in the Eastern Gulf. Windswell possible for Central CA up into the Pacific Northwest. But the high ridging into the Pacific Northwest is to also generate another pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino with 30 kt north winds on Monday (10/11) likely making for chop and local windswell along the Central and North CA coasts. Also strong high pressure is to be setting up over the dateline hindering swell production there much as it has so far this season.
We're updated the official El Nino forecast and it is now posted at the link below.
As of Tuesday (10/5) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued solid in the positive range. The daily SOI was at 26.36 and has been that way in excess of 79 days now. The 30 day average was at 24.77 with the 90 day average up to 21.59 and still inching upward. But in reality, it will be very difficult for it to get any higher unless the daily SOI redlines about 27 for the next 30 days. Regardless, the Inactive Phase of the MJO is in firm control.
Wind anomalies as of Monday (10/4) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated a weak to moderate easterly anomaly extending from Central America east over the equator over the dateline reaching just about to the Philippines, clearly indicating the Inactive Phase of the MJO. A weak Active Phase (west anomalies) was trying to organize in the Indian Ocean. The Inactive Phase is forecast to slowly push east into Central America through 10/14, with the Active Phase starting to reach into the West Pacific at that time, the furthest it has progressed since the early Spring. Finally a ray of hope. And it is now forecast to almost reach the dateline on 10/19 then slowly fade there through 10/24. This is the first Active Phase of any substantial strength so far this Fall, and offers at least a tease of some potential fuel to support to formation of North Pacific gales while it is present in the equatorial North Pacific. Of course this is only a projection.
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 east facing shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance.
Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (9/30) indicates that downright colder than normal waters (-2 C degs) continue to expand their grip on the equator covering solidly from South America west to the dateline and beyond and are in fact getting cooler and covering a larger area over time, extending the whole way to New Guinea. The coldest waters extended from a point off South America pushing gently northwest towards 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 sweeping fully to the dateline, only serving to reinforce what is already an impressive La Nina pattern, suggesting stronger than normal high pressure has built in both hemispheres and upwelling is in full effect in the Gulf of Alaska and off South America. This is good for sea life and the food chain (since they tend to like colder waters), but bad for storm production. Looks like a classic La Nina setup.
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 a little warmer than previous readings of -7 degs in mid- Sept. but this is still not good.
Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond. And now from a historical perspective these easterly winds were slightly anomalous, blowing harder than normal from the east to the west, as would be expected looking at all the other data. But this is a rather recent development, with only normal winds indicated prior to 9/11. The interesting twist to all this is that the Pacific current that runs along the equator turned abruptly from flowing towards South America to flowing towards the Philippines in mid-March (2010), right as the SOI started it's impressive drive into positive territory and the North Pacific winter storm machine abruptly shut down. And it has not wavered since. But trades never waiver from the normal range. This suggests trade wind anomalies might be a byproduct of the Pacific equatorial current change and not the other way around i.e. the trades do not drive the temperature change initially, but the current change does. And then the atmosphere responds in kind to the change, building high pressure and reinforcing the flow and water temps. Said a different way, 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 early Fall 2010, but likely not enhancing the storm track in the South Pacific any longer. A transition to 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 no swell producing fetch is 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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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table