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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: January 25, 2007 10:57 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 = 3.0 - 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   

Swell #12 Hits California
Storm #13 a Dud

 

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
On Thursday (1/25) Northern CA surf was 1-3 ft over at best breaks and clean. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were head high to 1 ft overhead thanks to a rather westerly swell direction. Central California surf was chest high with light wind. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were thigh high and coming up. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high with bigger sets. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were waist high to chest high on sets at the best breaks. The North Shore of Oahu was fading with surf 2-3 ft overhead. The South Shore was thigh high. The East Shore was thigh high.

North California was starting to get the leading edge of Swell #12 mixed with shorter period energy from the remnants of this storm as it weakly reorganized off the coast. Southern California was starting to see the leading edge of Swell #12 too though well filtered coming through the Channel Islands. Hawaii was seeing the last bit's of Swell #12 and fading. The storm pattern is confined to an area bounded by the dateline and a point north of Hawaii, with the jetstream dug out into a bit of a trough there providing support for surface level development. A slow and gradual push to the east is expected over the next week, but Hawaii, by virtue of being so close to the core of this area is expected to see the lions share of the swell. California, comparatively far away and positioned a bit north of the main wind vector to see much more moderate size. But that's not to say it will be flat, and if anything that might work in the Golden States favor. There is a higher probability for Kona winds in the Islands rendering all that swell size a moot point while California remains under high pressure and relatively light winds. The models currently project 2 system of interest developing on Sunday (1/28) and then again Friday (2/2) providing seas above the 30 ft mark. But either of those outcomes is not to be believed given the models current track record (especially seeing how poorly Storm #13 turned out) and the relatively long elapse time before they actually form. But at least there's something to speculate about. See details below...

 

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

North Pacific

Overview
Thursdays jetstream charts (1/25) depicted a solid pocket of wind energy to 190 kts pushing from southern Japan over the dateline while ridging slightly then dipping south towards Hawaii but fading before reaching there. instead the jet split just north of Hawaii with the southern branch pushing directly over the Islands then on to Baja while the northern branch headed almost straight north into the heart of the Gulf of Alaska turning east and into Canada. The best potential for surface level storm development was off Japan moving towards the dateline with lesser secondary potential northwest of Hawaii. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (1/28) a very solid wind pattern is to continue with 180-290 kt winds hanging over the dateline while a bit more of a trough digs in between the dateline and Hawaii providing better support for storm development there. In fact winds are forecast to reach the 200 kt mark late Sunday right on the dateline, strongest of the season so far. The split jet pattern is to hold over the far Eastern Pacific not giving up any ground. Beyond 72 hours that situation is modeled to essentially remain unchanged. Winds to back off a little mid-next week, but then are to start raging again reaching 190 kts over the dateline by Thursday (1/1) diving into a bit of a steeper trough just north of Hawaii with the jet just starting to rake over the Hawaiian Islands pushing the split point a bit east of Hawaii, and closer to the Us mainland. this suggests a perhaps stronger storm pattern building in north of Hawaii putting fetch closer to both the mainland and Islands, but suggests poor winds and weather for the latter. But in all, the upper level pattern is looking to be on the upswing, more like a typical winter.

At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs was holding tight off the coast of Oregon pushing northeast into northern British Columbia and with trailing protection sagging southwest off the coast of California extending west to Hawaii. this was providing a storm barrier and relatively light winds for area under it's domain. Off to the west the remnants of what was to be Storm #13 were fading in the northern Gulf of Alaska. A second very weak low was on the dateline getting ready to make a move towards the Gulf to supposedly tap the remaining energy from System #13. Over the next 72 hours that low to push east fast maybe generating 18 hours of 40 kt winds aimed east on Friday (1/26), then head north and fade before getting much traction on the oceans surface only generating a blip of 23 ft seas. Nothing of interest. A conglomeration of fetch is forecast behind that which could be labeled Storm #13 (since the previous Storm #13 didn't make the grade) It is to be broader and is to take root generating a broad fetch of 40 kt winds Saturday and Sunday (1/28) with 30-32 ft seas forecast in the area between 34N 175W tracking to 34N 160W all aimed on a course just east of Hawaii but far south of California. Yet another fetch is forecast right behind on Sunday/Monday (1/29) generating 45 kt west winds positioned just 600-800 nmiles north of Hawaii and aimed a bit east of there and better but still south of California. Seas forecast at 30 ft Monday tracking from 30N 165W to 30N 155W. The expected result of these two fetches is large raw and stormy surf for Hawaii on Monday and Tuesday (1/30) with only moderate period (14-16 secs). Cleaner and more refined yet smaller surf to possibly reach the California coast Wed/Thurs (2/1).

 

Storm #12 (Hawaii)
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 held with winds down to 45-50 kts expanding in coverage a little 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 was still 994 mbs with the storm (really a gale now) still tracking east but fading. Winds were confirmed at 40-45 kts at 36N 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 were 35 ft at 36N 170W. In the evening a weak residual fetch of 35 kt wind was confirmed at 34N 165W aimed east of the Islands (338 degree path) with the core of the gale moving fast to the east. 30 ft seas were modeled pushing east-southeast from 33N 164W.

This system was effectively beyond Hawaii Tuesday AM and lifting northeast fast towards British Columbia and most disorganized with all winds aligned either north or south with little pushing east. Residual seas from previous days fetch modeled at 25 ft at 30N 160W. This one to be gone by nightfall.

Theoretically a small area of secondary fetch at 35 kts to develop 900 nmiles west of San Francisco on Wednesday (1/24) pushing east but aimed mostly south of even Southern CA producing seas to 18 ft. This to add to the mix of swell eventually pushing into California, but not adding any quality.

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.

North CA: Expect swell arrival Thursday (1/25) at 1 AM with period near 20 secs with size tiny and ticking up steadily. Swell peaking from 5-11 PM at about 5-6 ft @ 17 secs (8.5-10.0 ft faces). Swell 5.5 ft @ 14-15 sec expected for sunrise Friday (7-8 ft faces) and fading fast with larger lesser period energy (13 secs) on top. Swell Direction: 275-287 degrees

 

Former Storm #13 (Storm number to be re-used)
On Monday (1/22) a new system developed from moisture streaming north from the equator just off Japan while tracking east. A small circulation of 40-45 kt winds were confirmed through the day in the storms southeast quadrant centered at 34N 168E pushing to 36N175E late aimed reasonably well up the 290 degree path to North CA but 35 degree north of the 298 degree path to Hawaii. Pressure dropping to 984 mbs.

On Tuesday AM (1/23) this system reached storm status as it pushed up to the dateline with 50-55 kt winds confirmed wrapping from it's north quadrant into the west quadrant at 40N 177E still aimed well south of the 310 degree path to Hawaii with secondary 45-50 kt fetch from the south quadrant located at 37N 180W aimed well at NCal up the 289 degree path. Seas modeled to 23 ft early. In the evening this storm really started blooming with pressure dropping to 960 mbs and winds 45-50 kts still pushing down the west quadrant aimed well west of the Islands and getting little traction on the oceans surface while 60 kt winds were confirmed in the south quadrant at 42N 172W aimed right up the 292 degree path to North CA (297 SCal). Seas building to 27 ft at 38N 178W targeting areas mostly north of California with sideband energy pushing towards the Islands.

On Wednesday AM (1/24) contrary to previous forecast this storm lifted fast to the north with a shrinking area of 50 kt winds confirmed at 45N 169W aimed a bit north of the 297 degree path to NCal (302 SCal) with 45 kt sideband energy aimed 35 degrees east of the 329 degree path to Hawaii. Seas building to 30 ft at 43N 170W but aimed mostly well north of our forecast area. In the evening the storm lifted even more to the north while fading east in the Gulf with pressure up to 956 mbs and 45-50 kts winds confirmed in the storms south quadrant at 46N 166W aimed reasonably well down the 300 degree path to NCal with secondary fetch of 45 kts aimed at Hawaii down the 343 degree path but getting little traction on the oceans surface. Seas to 32 ft at 46N 165W heading mostly north of our area.

The storm was in the north Gulf Thursday and quickly fading with 40-45 kts winds at 47N 162W pushing secondary energy down the 304 degree path to NCal and the 347 degree path to Hawaii from a northerly direction. Seas were modeled up to 35 ft at 47N 162W but aimed mostly from Washington northward. After that this one was effectively gone.

At one time this was to be a somewhat interesting storm. But regardless of what the models thought would happen, this one developed with a mind of it's own. Wind imagery from the QuikSCAT satellite suggested a fair amount of energy pointed well down the great circle routes to California, especially the north end of the state up into Oregon. But the direction of travel of the fetch as a whole was almost due north, suggesting the best swell generation area was off to the southeast quadrant of the storm, favoring targets even north of Oregon. For this reason we have determined this storm will not generate significant class surf for with Hawaii or any exposed break in California, though mid-sized utility class surf could result. Consult the QuikCAST's for swell details.

North CA: Expect swell energy arriving Saturday near 9 AM with period 20 secs and size tiny but building, pushing maybe 2-3 ft @ 20 secs by sunset. Swell to peak Sunday morning at 5.3 ft @ 15 secs (7-8 ft faces), holding through the day. Swell Direction: 290-300 degrees

 

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

 

California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (1/25) weak to moderate high pressure remained in control of waters off California providing a light local wind pattern. Current models suggest this to hold virtually unchanged through Tuesday of next week (1/30). Low pressure that was forecast to move close to the coast this weekend has vaporized, a good thing for Central CA. A new batch of high pressure is forecast pushing in next Wednesday (1/31) bringing the potential for some 15 kt north winds then as it moves closer to the coast, but by Thursday even that is to be gone with calm winds back in control.

 

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 a day or two lull is forecast though the upper trough north of Hawaii is to hold. Another storm is forecast to drop into this trough Wednesday (1/31) quickly deepening and pushing 45 kt north winds right at Hawaii from a mere 600 nmiles away by nightfall. Winds to build to near 50 kts Thursday AM from due north of the Islands likely generating more raw seas and surf pushing towards northern shores with a repeat of the previous swell and weather conditions likely. The storm to start lifting north fast in the afternoon while winds build to 60 kts in it's southern quadrant taking aim right at California closer than any system so far this year. Seas building to 35 ft.

This all looks fine on the models, but don't believe a word of it. There has been so much variability on a day to day basis over the past week in the models output that even systems forecast just 24 hours in the future are suspect (Storm #13 for starters). Still the raw building blocks are in-place for significant class storm development, so nothing should be ruled out, just taken with a healthy dose of skepticism.

The Madden Julian Oscillation remains the suspected fuel for the current storm cycle with SOI value again dipping to the -28 range , so it isn't over just yet. Weak tradewind anomalies persist over the dateline and are trying to work their way east, typical of the active phase of the MJO. But it is weakening as it pushes east. We're estimating another 1.5 weeks of storm enhancement potential, maybe a little more. So make the most out of any swell you can tap into because once the MJO goes inactive we're expecting the storm trend to drop off.

 

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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