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.
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We hope you've had a great year and wish to extend our many thanks for your support over the past 12 months. Viewership continues to rise enabling us to work on new products. We wish you and your family the best and safest Holiday Season and hope you get some good surf (or snow) whereever your travels may take you. Forecast's will be provided on an as-available basis over the holidays as we try to take some time off as well. Have a great holiday!
On Tuesday (12/18) Northern CA surf was double overhead and south windblown. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were up to 2 ft overhead and hacked to bits. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was up to 3 ft overhead and blown out. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was up to head high at the best spots and hacked by south wind. The LA Area southward to Orange County was up to chest high and blown out. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were near chest high with decent wind. The North Shore of Oahu was waist high. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore had chest high windswell.
North/Central California was working their way through a run of locally generated swell from the Eastern Gulf of Alaska. Southern California was getting some sideband energy from this same storm pattern, with swells filtering through the Channel Islands. Hawaii's North Shore remained essentially flat. Local windswell was pushing into the East Shore. The South Shore was seasonally flat. The storm pattern is isolated to the Eastern Gulf of Alaska focused on North and Central California and the Pacific Northwest with no end in sight. If anything, the models are suggesting this pattern to become much more well entrenched by later this week with a series of strong systems pushing over this well-worn path into mid-next week. Almost all of these system are to just start forming north of Hawaii with no good fetch in.cgiace till after moving out of the Hawaiian swell window. This suggests that points from Central California northward up into the PAcific Northwest are to be the primary recipients of swell, assuming the models are right, which is a bit of a leap of faith at this early date. But considering that we are in the depths of La Nina, such a pattern is completely within reason. See details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Tuesdays jetstream charts (12/18) for the North Pacific indicated cohesive flow pushing off Japan with winds to 160 kts barely ridging gently northeast over the dateline, then .cgiitting with the northern branch continuing on to the east-northeast forming a weak trough in the Gulf pushing on into Oregon while the southern branch weakly sheared off the main flow tracking almost directly over Hawaii then flowing northeast into Central Baja. Best odds for gale development was in the weak trough off the Pacific Northwest. Over the next 72 hours that same basic pattern is to hold but with the pocket of energy off Japan pushing east to the dateline and the .cgiit pattern moving east with it, almost out of the picture by Friday (12/21). A little trough is to be setting up in the Gulf too, leading the charge as this pocket of energetic winds pushes east offering good odds for storm development there. Beyond 72 hours A series of small troughs are to push gently east-northeast from north of Hawaii up into the British Columbia coast each with 160 kts winds supporting them. Good odds for at least gale development associated with each at the oceans surface.
At the surface today high pressure at 1024 mbs remained locked in position just 400 nmiles north of Kauai generating brisk easterly trade winds but pushing mostly south of the Islands, reducing the odds for locally generated short-period windswell. A gale, the third in the series was setting up in the Western Gulf with pressure at 992 mbs and winds confirmed at 45-50 kts over a small area in it's south quadrant at 46N 157W aimed at North CA right down the 297 degree path (302 SCal) but bypassing Hawaii. Over the next 72 hours it's to push east in the evening with 40-45 kts winds forecast at 45N 147W generating 25 ft seas at 46N 152W. On Wednesday AM (12/19) a disorganized fetch of 30-35 kts west winds to be positioned at 44N 138W (off Oregon) generating 25 ft seas at 44n 140W. In the evening 30-35 kts winds to persist at 42N 135W while the core of the low pushes into British Columbia. 25 ft seas to continue at 43N 137W. On Thursday AM (12/20) the system to be dead with fading 23 ft seas forecast at 41N 130W about 500 nmiles west-northwest of San Francisco. Assuming all this is correct another pulse of raw swell is expected to push into Northern CA late Thursday evening with period 15-16 secs, with remnant energy at 8-9 ft @ 13-14 secs (11-13 ft faces) expected at sunrise Friday (12/21) coming from 298-303 degrees.
At the same time a broad area of low pressure is to be building in the Bering Sea on Thursday (12/20) . It in-and-of itself is not to be a swell producer, but is to help set the stage and provide energy for a possible storm local storm pattern forecast in the days ahead. high pressure is to start setting up over California too, offering a modicum of protection from the wet weather pattern that's to be slamming into the Pacific Northwest.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
California Offshore Forecast
On Tuesday (12/18) the remnants of one Gulf gale was pushing over the California coast with one more queuing up in the Gulf of Alaska. It's to be making it's approach on Wednesday (12/19) with light winds at first light, then turning quickly south in San Francisco building to 20 kts and pushing on down to Pt Conception late evening. High pressure to move in right behind and be in control Thursday morning bringing the usual northwest wind at 20 kts with if reaching down into South CA by evening. Al blowout likely. But by Friday things to be settling down, especially later in the day with offshore's in.cgiace for Saturday and Sunday from Pt Arena southward. High pressure to remain in control providing light winds and excellent conditions into Monday, then being reinforced Tuesday (12/25) maybe setting up some northerly winds off Pt Conception, but everywhere else looking good.
No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.
A short-lived storm developed in the Southeastern Pacific Wed (12/12) generating a decent fetch of 50 kt west winds near 60S 128W fading to 45-50 kts in the evening and 40 kts by Thursday AM. Seas were modeled to 36 ft Wed PM at 59S 125W all heading almost due east. Maybe limited hope for small swell pushing into Southern CA starting Fri (12/21) with swell 2 ft @ 18 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces) period 17-18 secs fading from 2 ft @ 15 secs on Saturday (12/22) with 2.5 ft faces. Swell Direction 190 degrees.
Otherwise at the oceans surface no swell producing fetch is occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.
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 models have been highly dynamic, shifting significantly from one run to the next. But in all instances some form of rather high energy storm pattern is imaged. As of the 12Z run of the GFS model on Tuesday (12/18) no less than 4 storms are forecast developing roughly north of Hawaii and making a bee-line for British Columbia, all starting rough below 45N and then lifting gently east-northeast. 55 kt west winds and seas of at least 42 ft are forecast from all. The primary target for these systems is Oregon and Washington, though solid energy would likely traverse southeast to Pt Conception. The first is scheduled Thurs-Sat (12/22), then another on Sat-Sun (12/23) then another Mon-Tues (12/25) and the last and biggest starting on the dateline Tues (12/25). It's anyone's guess whether this will really materialize, but it's a nice tease. Will monitor.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast. The season is over.
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