Super American Circus

Big Picture

SNN BIG PICTURE: Saturday 3/16/19 


JETSTREAM: The much-improved Jet has changed back to mostly zonal this past work week with a solid consolidated flow from Japan to past the dateline and nosing to well beyond our longitude of 160W by Friday. Winds were strong with 180-200kts pockets. The High has been ‘pushed’ far east just off the west coast, allowing Lows to track closer now than we’ve seen almost all year (esp from off Japan). Trades have been more Easterly, too.

The Jet gets a dip or trough this weekend on our side of the dateline. One Low gets steered by the Jet and is moving far to our side of the dateline leading to the biggest NNW we’ve ever had in March and spring. There’s more beyond BIG ground swells in past mid-March!

Toward the end of this 7-day outlook, a new eastbound High re-establishes to our NW kicking the Jet up to higher Latitudes. This is going to keep Lows from getting as close and the surf will, in turn, be smaller after this Big run of surf coming.

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

Recent-Current: Saturday saw an Epic morning with pristine conditions: clear, lite trades and a 4-6′ NW at top reefs. Recently, Surfs been about 4’ maybe 5’ average this week from a couple of Low pressures tracking East steered by the zonal Jetstream. Surf size was looking like Spring this past 10 days along with trades and sun. But finally trades weakened and gave way to sea breezes Friday and again Saturday along leeward. A cold Front is pushing the ridge of High pressure near to us, lightening the trades and starting up the weather and wind regime change Sat. nite especially. This will all coincide with a ludicrously large NNW for any time of year, but esp. in Spring; it’s beyond Winter Caliber Sunday afternoon and esp. evening; it won’t look like Spring for a few days.

Next:  A low on our side of the dateline tracks east Thursday and reached our 160 Lat. Friday with some 32’ seas as it moved out of our swell window. A solid moderate 15 sec NNW results from Saturday with surf easily up to 8’ for top refracting reefs. This will be mowed down Sunday. Light ENE trades…it’s gonna be good and the last day for surfing for 99% of us to ride the NS later in the day.

Next: A pair of Lows track east reaching the dateline today 1200 miles away Friday; they merge and build solid 28’ seas as they hit the 170 longitudes just 900 mi off on Sat. Then the beast intensifies with up to 32’ seas just 700 mi away later Sat. as the SE track turns right at us with a captured fetch of severe to storm force gales. By Sunday the storm is only 300 miles away -and closing- not allowing for much swell decay. The winds and seas weaken some but not before sending us HUGE 20-35’ surf (45-55′ faces) at 16sec by late Sunday. The morning will be rideable but onshore. The event will really start ramping from Midday Sunday peaking after dark. Monday we should still have some 30’ sets(45′ faces) and the North winds will back to NE with a moderate clip. The proximity of the storm and strong N winds means terrible and terribly dangerous surf. Run up or inundation advisories are posted in advance.

Next:  A low spawns off the Kuril Islands Sunday the 17th with an Eastbound track reaching the dateline with 30+’ seas Monday. It builds and passes to our NNW to North into Tuesday. Watch for a Winter Caliber NNW at 16 sec to build Wednesday the 20th (The first day of Spring) reaching near 10’ later in the day at spots like Sunset. By Thursday surf should peak at 8-12’ maybe even a few 15’ sets outside. Friday this one fades to 10’ and is overrun by the next overlapping event.

Last: A new eastbound Low spawns Tuesday further south Latitude than the preceding storm. It hits the dateline as it weakens for a day but then re-intensifies and broadens Wednesday with near 30’ seas just 300 miles to our N-NNW. Another Warning Level event builds Thursday evening with possible 18’ waves pounding the outer reefs in the dark. Friday dawn should be greeted with about the same as it slowly fades. ENE trades with be strong.

Long range: A pair of weaker more distant eastbound Lows are suggested after the preceding blast. More time is needed to claim anything other than March 2019 won’t be forgotten.


The Jetstream starts off Zonal this weekend but is looking decent over the next work week esp. by Thursday. Some periods of nice ENE bound 150-170kt flows partially pointing at Hawaii.

Last couple weeks seemed better with enough Jet energy transferred to the surface where a storm is born: our first SSW to South of the upcoming season.

Recent/current: The first event did reach 4’ local size last Sunday Monday 10-11th but most sets and spots were 3’ from the SW to SSW. It was good with nice trades and sunshine. We’ve had background level SSW surf most the week… A strong compact Low off NZL Monday-Wednesday 3/4-6 moved ENE with a short fetch; still, we had some shoulder high SSW to reach us Wednesday the 13th into Thursday. It’s smaller Friday.

Next:  A huge Taz Low tracks east to ESE getting on the other side of New Z Saturday the 9th. WW3 project some .5’ swell at 16-18 sec Saturday which won’t translate to more than a rare 2’ set here and there this weekend. The spectral density graphs do show the forerunners today Friday. These can be found on SNN and are helpful when the text output doesn’t show the sliver of super long periods as early. or GO HERE

Next: A huge Low far SE of New Z tracked ENE from Sunday 10-Tuesday the 12th where it tries to veer NE between 1200-2400 miles off NZL. Most its swell will pass off to our East but with sideband energy, we should see some background 14sec period waist high SSE surf Monday-Thursday.

Last: A Large powerful Low far SSE of New Z Sunday the 17th tracks mostly east. There’s a short fetch on it’s West flank. WW3 might be generous claiming deep water of 1.5’ at 20-sec forerunners Sunday the 24th. Surf of 1-3’ is suggested for Monday-Thursday 25-28.


Next: The surfs been mostly 1-3’ for Windward shores the past week at spots like Makapu’u. Surf will ramp from the North Sunday from local N winds and esp. the GIANT NNW wrap. We will reach adv. levels Sunday late into Tuesday. Trades return to strong this Friday-Monday the 22nd-25th and surf will react with 2-4’ sets. We ease after this.

TROPICS: Nothing new this week.

Long range outlooks are often blurry.


El Nino The ‘Little Boy’ is here.

El Niño has looked pretty “imminent” since October but wait no more.

It’s a Happy Valentines Day for all the climate and surf forecast nerds.

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Thursday 2/14 that after nearly 8 months of flirting with The Little Boy, the climate phenomenon finally stopped making us play the waiting game.

However, before you get too pumped about surf potential and comparisons to 2014/16, this El Niño and its impact on weather & waves will be limited; it’s a weak El Nino.

Scientists have been watching select zones of ocean temperatures of the eastern tropical Pacific known as the NINO3.4 region for more signs of El Niño.

They now can officially declare it “game on” as the temperatures have met the threshold of 0.5 degrees Celsius (about 1 degree Fahrenheit) above normal for three consecutive months.

Temperatures cleared this mark in October, plus models have remained bullish they’ll stay there into July.

Early February, NOAA said sea surface temperatures in the region were 0.8 degrees Celsius or 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.



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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