Big Picture

SNN BIG PICTURE: Friday 7/12/19 



JETSTREAM: The Jet is stronger than normal for the season and it’s fairly consolidated, too. But it’s zonal and with most the energy toward the Gulf. This past work week we did get enough energy ‘up there’ transferred down at the surface for a chest high NW this Thursday the 11th.

Jetstream: Large scale ‘river of wind’ about 30-35,000ft in our upper atmosphere flowing west to east circling earth in both Hemispheres. It has major impacts on climate, weather, and airmass (Lows and Highs) which help form and steer storms that bring our waves.

Recent-Current: Last Sunday we had an out of season Low off the Kurils track ESE to East as it weakened Monday at the dateline; it had some 18’ maybe 20’ seas so we hoped for an out of season NW. Thursday the 11th  we rode some 2’ to 2.5’ (no 3’ sets) from the NW surf at 12sec It faded Friday and will be mostly gone by Saturday.

Last and long range: Nothing on the charts with enough magnitude to reach us.  

SPAC: (8 am Saturday our first 3-wave set about 5′ rolled through Ala Moana. 

The good news: Jetstream has been rocking all July with ‘back to back to back’ swells thanks to the jet’s energy and meridional flows (when the winds cross latitude lines at a sharp angle). This means amplified troughs and ridges; a meridional pattern is a highly curved flow; this generates more vorticity than zonal (or west to east) flows.

This new week of July 8th is starting off poorly: There’s high pressure is off New Zealand and the zonal Northern branch is the only portion showing just 140kts. This outlook stays put into Friday. The area we like to see Red and Purples in is all Blue (High pressure) so we’re going to see a break after the up coming BOMBER SSW this weekend. Luckily, we’re set for the next 10 days.

Recent-Current: Saturday AM addition: Surfs 2-3′ very occ 4′ at focal reefs esp. like Sandys, Diamond head. It’s been an insanely good July so far with non-stop surf. Our S to SSW reached 6’ on its peak late last Saturday-Sunday; long 22sec periods kicked it all off last Friday. The surf was still 3-5’ with occ isolated 6’ last Monday (4’ 15 sec on Lanai Buoy). This one’s been on the decline all week and was about 2 to 2.5’ Thursday and less Friday…  This is the day the next and current SSW showed up. ENE trades are mod to fresh and conditions a bit blustery but still nice corduroy lines roping in when the bigger sets hit.

The long period SSW today came from a Wide 40-45kt Fetch to the SE and East of NZL Friday the 5th. The come from a Large mostly Zonal Low tracking ENE off the Ross Ice Shelf with some 30-35’ seas. This portion greeted us Friday dawn with 1.5’ swell at 18 sec and should be leveling off at 2.5’ swell at 16 sec Saturday, this refracted/shoaled up some thicker surf to 3+’ later Friday and more solid 4’ on Saturday-dropping Sunday… but this episode will be easily overrun by the next SSW.

On Saturday the 6th models have a complex area of Low pressure far SE of NZL track ENE then East as it dissipates. By last Sunday there’s THEE follow up storm on its west flank: THE main swell producer for Sunday-Monday.

A large NE bound Low with up to 38’ seas and a wide captured fetch (the winds were pointing toward us are the same angle as the storm’s track, supporting the higher potential for max sea growth). It starts off hugging the NZL east coast but gets further away by Monday and as it begins to veer East with a diameter of up to 1500miles. Look for 2’ deep water at 20 sec Saturday as the event ramps into the night and all day Sunday.

Monday Update: Surf of 4-6’ per 30 min or so…The minus tide at 8am affected. Huge High tide 330pm. top reefs at top moments Sunday hit 8′ may be higher at SELECT spots we don’t report. Monday has eased up a bit as forecast. It’ll still be cranking Monday and fade from here…but, some of the biggest swells (Sunday) so far this year.

Safety Note: greater time periods of 4-5’ sets will be most common which can be deceptive and trick some less experienced wave riders into the line-up. In a 2-hour session, there could also be a series of 6-7’ even isolated 8’ sets…the difference between fun and fear…safety and trouble. These periods or ‘spells’ of bigger far more dangerous sets is something to keep in mind.

Some models have been under-calling the recent swells. E.G. The last swell (7/8) showed 2’ 15sec but Lanai reached 4’ at 15s. If this same degree of model under-calling is occurring on this next swell, we’re in for some of the biggest surf this season. So far, we’re seeing 3.5’ 18-sec peak Sunday-leveling off at 4’ 16 sec Monday. The main thing is knowing your abilities, & be aware of freak sets and that we’re going to be pumping near warnings along southern and adjacent shorelines for 2 days.

Last: We’re going into a quiet phase for the rest of July…it’s been an epic run since May.

Long range outlooks are often blurry.


Recent/current/next: Makapu’u saw a ramp to 3′ Saturday.  It’s was all about Barbara’s East swell last week but most this past work week it’s all about small local trade swell at 1-2’. Makapu’u could see some SSW wrap Sunday-Monday. As far a wind waves they’ll be small due to light upstream trades and average ENE trades locally.  A longer term uptick is expected Wednesday-Friday 17-19th.

TROPICS: It looks like the Philippines have to watch out from a cyclone that spin off Friday the 19th late in the 7-day forecast right off it’s east coast tracking ENE toward land. Just a ‘heads up’.


On SNN: spectral graphs are helpful when the text output doesn’t yet show the slivers of super long periods as early. https://www.surfnewsnetwork.com/buoy/spectra-snapshots/ or GO HERE

NEW DATE: A transition from El Niño to ENSO-neutral is expected in the next month or two, with ENSO-neutral most likely to continue through Northern Hemisphere fall and winter. ENSO-neutral conditions occur when neither El Niño or La Niña conditions are present.

ENSO refers to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, which is a climate pattern that looks at the sea-surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific and its interaction with the atmosphere.

El Niño conditions occur when average sea-surface temperatures in a region of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific are at least 0.5 degrees Celsius warmer than average than the previous month and last or are expected to last, for three consecutive months.





Surf Climatology HERE

NWS criteria for High Surf Advisories (first number) & Warnings (second number).

All surf height observations & forecasts are for full ‘face’ surf height, or ‘trough to the crest’ of the wave.

North-Facing Shores 15 Feet and 25 Feet

West-Facing Shores – Remaining Islands 12 Feet and 20 Feet

West-Facing Shores – Big Island 8 Feet and 12 Feet

South-Facing Shores 8 Feet and 15 Feet

East-Facing Shores 8 Feet and 15 Feet

Get the latest Central Pac Hawaii HERE

Common Terms:  Split Jetstream

Blocking ridge

Short-wave tough

Note: Spectral density graph in the SNN Buoy Page HERE can show ‘slivers’ of forerunners that initial text readings of new swells which often do not ‘show’ till later on written/text buoy updates. Also, note the vertical graph is not ‘wave height’ rather its a measure of wave energy in hertz (frequency or cycles/sec) for the whole ‘band’ (the distribution of power/period in the total wave energy field/spectrum).

For the SNN Buoys ‘per shore’ arrangement  GO HERE

Links: Get the latest on the Eastern North Pac GO HERE 

For more on the West Pac Typhoons GO HERE

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