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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: January 21, 2007 5:26 PM
Buoys: Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Buoy Forecast:
Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Pacific Links:  Atmospheric Models - Buoy Data - Current Weather - Wave Models
Forecast Archives: Enter Here
A chronology of recent Mavericks Underground forecasts. Once you enter, just click on the HTML file forecast you want to review (e.g. 073199.html equals July 31, 1999). To view the maps that correspond to that forecast date, select the html file labeled 073199 maps.html
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Swell Potential Rating = 4.2 - California & 4.1 - Hawaii
Using the 'Winter' Scale
(See Swell Category Table link at bottom of page)
Probability for presence of largest swells in near-shore waters of NCal, SCal or Hawaii.    
Issued for Week of Monday 1/22 thru Sun 1/28
Swell Potential Rating Categories
5 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Significant swell
4 = Good probability for 1-2 days of Significant swell
3 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Utility swell
2 = Good probability for  1-2 days of Utility swell
1 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Impulse or Windswell
0 = Low probability for 1-2 days of Impulse or Windswell   

Storm #12 In the Water
Three More Possible Behind That

 

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
On Saturday (1/20) Northern CA surf was 1.5-2.0 times overhead and windless early but a jumbled mess with lot's of local windswell in the mix. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist high with some bigger sets. Central California surf was chest to head high clean. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were maybe thigh high at the best breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was near flat. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were waist high. The North Shore of Oahu was 1-2 ft overhead. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore had head high plus windswell.

North California was getting a mix of dateline energy and larger local windswell making for a very confused mess of waves. Southern California was starting to see a mix of windswell and smaller dateline swell pushing in, but not much. Hawaii was in the middle of continued fun sized swell coming from the dateline, with more size projected behind. The models have been busy dishing out a wide variety of possible surf scenarios for the coming days, though somewhat erratic. But from an overview one thing is likely - Hawaii will get a decent dose of significant class swell assuming Storm #12 develops as forecast in the coming days. Of less certainty is the possibility that this storm will track north and send a respectable pulse of swell towards California from the Gulf on Wednesday (1/24). Beyond yet another compact storm is forecast to develop taking a more northerly route pushing sideband energy towards the Islands but most energy targeting California and the Pacific Northwest on Thursday. Yet a third system is projected on the dateline behind that. All this is attributed to the developing active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation currently pushing east over the tropical West Pacific with clear evidence of it's influence now showing from a variety of sources. We've got a 2 week window. Let's hope for the best. See details below...

 

SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours

North Pacific

Overview
Saturdays jetstream charts (1/20) depicted a solid consolidated flow pushing flat off Japan paralleling the 35N latitude reaching as far east as a point just northwest of Hawaii with winds to 170 kts centered on the dateline. As usual of late a big split in the jet started north of Hawaii with the two resulting branches tracking southeast and northeast, one pushing over Hawaii into Baja and the other into the center of the Gulf of Alaska then into Washington state. A weak hint of a trough was occurring on the north side of the jet just east of the dateline, but not noteworthy. Best chance for surface level storm development is in this area. Over the next 72 hours much the same pattern is forecast but with a semi-real trough digging out north of HAwaii by Monday (1/22) with 170 kt winds feeding into it. Good potential for surface level storm development in the trough. The split point is to move a bit further east too, repositioned to a point just northeast of Hawaii. Beyond 72 hours this trough is to continue pushing east into the Gulf chopping off the top half of the split flow, or at least making serious inroads into it. By Wednesday (1/24) a new and energized solid flow is to be pushing off Japan with winds to 190 kts pushing flat to the dateline and a bit beyond with a little trough setting up in the far Western Gulf of Alaska. Energy to hold into Thursday as the trough builds some and pushes east with the split point now moving to within 600 nmiles of the South California coast. Improved potential for surface level storm development. Yet another pulse of energy is suggested next weekend pushing off Japan with a new trough forming near the dateline and a corresponding increase in surface level storm development potential.

At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs is holding tight 600 nmiles off the coast of Pt Conception, nestled between the split jetstream flow aloft and also also ridging southwest over Hawaii providing limited protection there too. A pair of small gales were in close proximity to each other with the leading one on the dateline and the second close behind both generating 40 kts winds in their south quadrants aimed well at Hawaii. By evening the second one is to overtake the first, combining forces to form Potential Storm #12 (see details below). Otherwise no other swell producing fetch was indicated. Over the next 72 hours Storm #12 to push east and northeast into the Gulf of Alaska while a new low starts to organize on Monday (1/22) just east of Japan. This one has the potential to develop into Storm #13 (see Longterm forecast). Otherwise high pressure to hold off the California coast and try to provide some protection for Hawaii, but a blast of north wind from a new high coming in from the west to put an end to trades there for Tuesday (1/23).

 

Storm #12 (Hawaii) Updated Sun PM
Of interest is the development of a small storm just west of the dateline Saturday AM (1/20) with a tiny area of 50 kt winds confirmed at 40N 174E. By evening pressure was 996 mbs with winds confirmed up to 60 kts over a small area at 38N 176E targeting Hawaii up the 312 degree path. This one actually combined the forces of 2 smaller gales that formed 24 hours earlier. Seas modeled 23 ft at 38N 175E.

By Sunday AM pressure dropped to 992 mbs with winds confirmed already fading from 50-55 kts at 38N 177W again targeting Hawaii down the 319 degree path and 40 degrees south of the 285 degree path to NCal (292 SCal). Seas 30 ft at 38N 180W. In the evening pressure holding with winds down to 45-50 kts perhaps expanding in coverage at 39N 173W taking aim a bit more to the east targeting Hawaii down the 325 degree path but aimed about 30 degrees east of there and 30 degrees south of the 287 degree path to NCal (293 SCal) with seas to 35 ft at 38N 175W.

By Monday AM (1/22) pressure to still be 994 mbs with the storm (really a gale now) still tracking east but fading. Winds projected at 40-45 kts at 38N 173W aimed 30 degrees east of the 328 degree path to Hawaii but starting to make overtures towards N California aimed 25 degrees south of the 279 degree path (285 SCal). Seas to 35 ft at 36N 171W. In the evening a weak residual fetch of 40 kt wind is forecast at 36N 165W aimed southeast of the Islands (338 degree path) with the core of the gale moving fast to the east. 30 ft seas pushing east-southeast from 33N 164W.

This system to be effectively beyond Hawaii by Tuesday AM and lifting northeast fast towards British Columbia and becoming most disorganized. Fragmented small areas of 40 kt fetch to be aimed well south of California and fading fast. Residual seas from previous days fetch modeled at 25 ft at 30N 160W. This one to be gone by nightfall.

This is not to be a remarkable storm, but is to have a little punch, especially considering what else is occurring in the North Pacific (nothing). Hawaii is focused to get the lions share of the swell energy, with the storm track well to the south and no decent energy forecast to push up any great circle path to the mainland. This is a significant change from early model runs. Given this storms projected close track to the Islands (550-1528 nmiles) and the rather small fetch, Hawaii is likely to get the most size by a long shot. And the fact that the storm is to be rather far from the mainland (1901-2674 nmiles from NCal) with most energy following tracks southeast of there, California will likely suffer, though the southern track might help push comparatively more energy into South California, more than any other system so far this season, but that's not saying much given this seasons track record.

Hawaii (centered on the North Shore of Oahu): Expect swell arrival Tuesday (1/23) about 9 AM with period pushing 20 secs and size tiny but building fast. Swell to start peaking near 2 PM and holding through 11 PM with swell 9-10 ft @ 16-17 secs (14-17 ft faces). Size and period fading overnight with swell down to 8.5 ft @ 14 secs at sunrise (11-12 ft faces) and heading down from there. Swell Direction: 323-334 degrees

 

North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height

 

California Offshore Forecast
On Saturday (1/20) strong high pressure at 1030 mbs remained sitting 600 nmiles due west of Point Conception and starting to ridge into Oregon, providing a barrier to any eastward bound moisture but also generating a pressure gradient along the coast making for brisk north winds at 30 kts off Central CA and generating copious local windswell. That gradient to start fading Sunday but not out, with more windswell in the mix and north winds along the coast north of Pt Conception. The high to finally be ridging inland over Oregon setting up offshore's for Central and North CA Monday continuing through late in the workweek into the weekend. So the northern half of the state to pay the price now for better conditions coupled with increased swell generation potential from storms well offshore later in the week. Southern CA to remain mostly unaffected by the balance of this weather this weekend with light winds following into next week.

 

South Pacific

Overview
A
t the surface and through the next 72 hours there were no indications of any swell producing fetch in the South Pacific.

 

South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height

 

QuikCAST's

 

LONG-TERM FORECAST
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours on Monday (1/22) a new system is modeled to develop from moisture streaming north from the equator just off Japan tracking east. A circulation of 40-45 kt winds is forecast through the day in the storms southeast quadrant centered at 34N 168E late pushing reasonably well up the 292 degree path to North CA but 35 degree north of the 298 degree path to Hawaii. Pressure 992 mbs. On Tuesday AM (1/23) this system to reach storm status as it pushes up to the dateline late up to 55 kt winds wrapping from it's north quadrant into the west quadrant at 40N 175E but still aimed well south of the 310 degree path to Hawaii with secondary 45 kt fetch from the south quadrant aimed well at NCal up the 292 degree path. Seas building to 32 ft late at 37N 178E targeting primarily California. Finally on Wednesday AM (1/24) things to get rolling with pressure 956 mbs and 55-60 kts winds forecast at 40N 173W aimed right up the 291 degree path to NCal (296 SCal) with sideband energy aimed 35 degrees east of the 328 degree path to Hawaii. Seas building to 42 ft at 40N 175W. In the evening the storm to be lifting northeast into the Gulf with pressure up to 960 mbs and 45-50 kts winds in the storms south-southeast quadrant at 43N 164W aimed 30 degrees north of the 292 degree path to NCal with secondary fetch of 45 kts aimed at Hawaii down the 335 degree path but getting little traction on the oceans surface. Seas to 44 ft at 42N 168W. The storm to be in the Gulf Thursday and beginning a slow fade with 40-45 kts winds at 45N 163W pushing secondary energy down the 297 degree path to NCal and the 347 degree path to Hawaii from a northerly direction. Seas from previous days fetch 39 ft at 44N 161W with 25 ft seas pushing south towards Hawaii. More of the same in the evening with the system all but gone Friday (1/26). This one looks to have good long period swell generation potential for primarily the US West Coast up into Vancouver Island, though it's still quite a ways off.

Yet another strong gale is modeled right behind that just northwest of Hawaii Friday sending 45 kt winds and 29 ft seas towards the Islands followed by yet a stronger one on the dateline late Saturday with 50 kt winds aimed east. A nice little pattern shaping up with swell generation potential for all locations.

Concerning the Madden Julian Oscillation: It is tracking well to expectations and appears to be providing some fuel to try and jumpstart what was otherwise a weak storm track. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) dropped into weak negative territory starting 1/9 then dove further to the -20 range on 1/14, then down to -25 the 16th and has held in the -25 to -32 range since then. This is a clear sign of lower pressure moving from Australia towards Tahiti. Furthermore greater than normal cloudiness is stretched from Northeast Australia east to the dateline and beyond turning down towards Tahiti, another sign of the active phase of the MJO. Surface trade winds are starting to reverse themselves now blowing west to east (rather than east to west) along the equator out to the dateline and that activity is being reflected in subsurface water temperatures, with a weak Kelvin Wave (pool of warm water under the surface) appearing to be organizing. This is right on track with expectation and should enhance storm development through the end of the month, and might be the last good shot for serious storm development for the next 45 days.

 

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is indicated.

Details to follow...

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MAVERICKSSURF MAVFILM MAVSURFER SURFPULSE Inside Mavericks TOWSURFER

Local Interest

Surf Comics: If you like surf comics take a look at this little gem. A new comic weekly with a nice archive. See it here: http://www.beachnutscomic.com/

High Noon and Low Tide: Eric Nelson has remastered this epic Mavericks documentary covering a week of giant surf leading up to that fateful day of 12/23/94 when we lost Mark Foo. See all the footage with archived and recent interviews of all the best riders including Grant Washburn, Doc Renneker, Evan Slater, Peter Mel and more. This is a must-have piece for any serious Maverick collection. Available at local surfshops. Will be coming to an on-line store shortly.

El Nino Forecast Updated: El Nino is making it's mark on the Pacific Ocean, though yet to have a major impact on the atmosphere above. Read when the storm machine might fire up, and what evidence is stacking up in favor of El Nino here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/enso/current.shtml

New Precipitation Models: Over the holidays we focused on expanding our coverage of precipitation models, and now provide high resolution coverage of all US coastal locations. You can now tell whether it will be raining when the surf is pumping, or better yet, know whether it will be snowing in the higher elevations (West Coast). Take a look here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html

Weather Model Problem: The past few days the 12Z run of the GFS model has been corrupted when posted on government servers, resulting in our graphic output looking like psychedelic gibberish. This is not a Stormsurf problem and we are switching over to backup servers that are operating normally to capture the data. We have reported the problem to NOAA. This problem has been confirmed by other server users as well. We apologize for the inconvenience. Update: The problem has been fixed. Service has returned to normal as of 11/25/06.

Jason-1 Satellite Problem: On Oct 31 the Jason-1 satellite automatically went into safe-hold mode. This is triggered when sensors on the satellite detect an anomaly that suggests the satellite is in danger. It goes into a type of hibernation to protect it's sensitive instruments. JPL has been working on the issue and was able to restore the satellite to normal operations at 8:30 PM on Friday 11/17. No new data is available yet, but as soon as it is we'll be publishing it over the wave models images as usual here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_alt.html
Note: The first bit of fresh data was posted on 11/29/06 and we're processing it right now.

New Book: Inside Mavericks - Portrait of a Monster Wave: Ace photographer Doug Acton, cinematographer Grant Washburn and San Francisco Chronicle writer Bruce Jenkins have teamed up to present an insiders view of Mavericks. Read all the first hand accounts from Peter Mel, Ken 'Skin Dog' Collins, Grant Washburn, Mark Renniker and the rest of the gang as they describe the game of surfing one of the largest waves in the world, fully illustrated with the hauntingly artistic images from Doug Acton, long-time Mavericks lensman. There's even a section featuring Stormsurf! Get your autographed copy here: http://www.insidemavericks.com/

Towsurfers & Paddle-in Surfers - Participate in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement: The draft EIR for the new Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary management plan has been released. Public comment will be accepted until January 7, 2007. The link provided has all of the information that is pertinent to anyone wishing to participate in the crafting of the new regulations. It cannot emphasize enough the importance of making your comments part of the public record as such comments will be used to re evaluate the proposed regulations before inclusion into the final EIR. This will be the public's last and best chance to shape regulations in our Monterey Bay. If you are passionate about what you do, direct that passion into active participation in this process. http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/jointplan/involved.html

Stormsurf Iceberg Breakup Analysis/Decide for Yourself: There been some debate concerning the facts around the breakup of Iceberg B15A. Here's a short exercise that helps to drive out the facts around the research: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/news/ice_wam.shtml

Stormsurf Supports Antarctic Iceberg Breakup Study: CNN is reporting the story of a storm in the Gulf of Alaska in Fall of 2005 that contributed to the breakup of Antarctic Iceberg B15A. We all know that South Pacific storms produce swells that provide surf for California in the summer, but has anyone considered the implications of what monster winter storms in the North Pacific do to the South Pacific? That is the subject of a research paper by professor Doug MacAyeal from the University of Chicago. He and his team traveled to Antarctica and instrumented a series of icebergs with seismometers to see if they could understand what causes icebergs to break up, and their findings are insightful. And best of all, Stormsurf contributed data in support of their research (and received authorship credits to boot). This is a great example of how the science of surfing interacts with other pure science disciplines. All the details are available in this months edition of 'Geophysical Research Letters' and the synopsis is available here: http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/science/10/02/iceberg.cracks.reut/index.html

New Stormsurf Local Wave Models: Nine months in development and testing, Stormsurf is proud to announce the release of our upgraded local wave models. More locations, more fidelity, more variables imaged including sea height, swell period, wind speed & direction, and wave height plus the older style composite images of surf height and wind all updated 4 times daily. Check them out here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wam.html

Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's simple and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet Explorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way!
http://www.google.com/ig/add?moduleurl=http://www.stormsurf.com/gadget/stormsurf .xml

Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here

Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table

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