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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: January 29, 2012 6:36 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
Swell Potential Rating = 5.2 - California & 4.2 - 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 1/30 thru Sun 2/5
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 Intermediate/Advanced swell
2 = Good probability for  1-2 days of
Intermediate/Advanced swell
1 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Impulse or Windswell
0 = Low probability for 1-2 days of Impulse or Windswell   

Solid Swell Hits Hawaii
Storm #2 Is Doing It's Thing On the Dateline

 

Swell Classification Guidelines

Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
Summer
- Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate/Utility Class: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft).
Summer
- Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
Summer
- up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
Current Conditions
On Saturday (1/28) North and Central CA was seeing residual dateline-Gulf swell still producing waves at 2 ft overhead and clean. Down south waves were pushing maybe head high and clean.  Southern California up north was getting the same residual swell with waves waist high pushing chest high on the sets and clean. Down south waves were chest high and clean coming out of the north. Hawaii's North Shore was seeing new dateline swell with waves 10 ft and on the increase quickly but a little warbled from northeast trades. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east tradewind generated windswell at waist to maybe chest high and near chopped with moderate trades in effect.

See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view

Meteorological Overview
A solid storm is pushing towards the dateline on Saturday with winds confirmed at 60 kts and seas 44 ft over a solid area aimed well to the east. But it is a long ways away from the US West Coast. Hawaii will likely do best from this one with the storm only 2000 nmiles away. Swell is already in the water and pushing towards Hawaii and the US mainland. Prior to that a far smaller system developed west of the dateline on Wed-Thurs (1/26) with seas in the 34 ft range pushing well towards Hawaii. Swell from that system is hitting the Islands this morning and right on track with size expectations (10 ft at first light and on the way up). And if one is to believe the models, yet another decent gale is forecast developing in the Gulf of Alaska Wed-Thurs (1/2) with 28 ft seas possibly setting up yet more decent swell targeting the US West Coast. In all a pretty productive storm pattern is in effect.

   

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

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream - On Saturday (1/28) the jet was configured in a single stream flowing off Japan at 180 kts into a broad trough then starting to ridge slightly while tracking over the dateline to a point north of Hawaii, then splitting with the northern branch falling apart and flowing northeast up into British Columbia while the southern branch fell south over Hawaii on down to the equator , pushing east from there. There was good support for storm development in the trough off Japan pushing towards the dateline.  Over the next 72 hours the trough is forecast to flatten out West Pacific but still strong at 180 kts pushing over the dateline into Tuesday (1/31) offering solid support for gale development almost to a point north of Hawaii where the jet begins its typical split. Beyond 72 hours the split point is to move further east with a trough building in the Gulf of Alaska on Wednesday (2/1) and 190 kts winds building behind it on the dateline by Friday, eventually extending the whole width of the Pacific from Japan to north of Hawaii. But no troughs other than the one in the Gulf. Decent support for gale development there with lots; of potential energy and a new broad trough possible starting Saturday (2/4) in the Gulf. This is looking far better than anything so far this winter.

Surface  -  On Saturday (1/28) the remnants of what was Storm #2 were fading on the dateline with west winds 45 kts over a solid area (see Storm #2 below). Swell from a gale that developed west of the dateline on Wed-Thurs (1/26) was hitting Hawaii and heading east (see Small Dateline Gale below). High pressure at 1028 mbs was ridging into the Pacific Northwest making for pristine conditions there down into California and setting up light trades for the Islands.Over the next 72 hours no other gales of interest are forecast.

 

Small Dateline Gale
A small low started building just east of Japan on Tues (1/240 with a small area of 45 kt northwest winds early while tracking east and fading. It was repositioned just west of the dateline Wed AM (1/25) with 40 kt westerly winds early and seas 30 ft at 39N 167E.  In the evening winds held with seas to 34 ft at 38N 172E. The gale pushed east and faded Thursday AM (1/26) with winds down to 35 kts and seas at 32 ft at 37N 178E, then effective dissipating by evening with seas dropping fast from 26 ft at 35N 176W. Decent support for swell development targeting Hawaii is expected, with far smaller energy for the US West Coast with swell decay taking a good chunk out of it's size.

Hawaii:  Swell arrived on Sat AM (1/28) with swell building quickly to 7.5 ft @ 17 secs by 10 AM (12-13 ft) and a few readings to 10 ft @ 16 secs near noon then holding decently through the afternoon.  Residuals expected on Sunday (1/29) fading from 7.5 ft @ 14 secs (10-11 ft). Swell Direction: 311 degrees.

North California:  Expect swell arrival on Monday (1/30) near 8 AM with period at 17 secs near noon and pure swell peaking at 5 ft @ 17 secs (8.5 ft). Residuals on Tuesday AM fading from 5 ft @ 14-15 secs (7 ft). Very inconsistent with low wave counts. Swell Direction: 285-290 degrees     

 

Storm #2
A new broad gale started to circulate off the Kuril Islands on Thursday AM (1/26). By evening pressure was down to 968 mbs with 45-50 kt west-northwest winds building in it's south quadrant. Seas on the increase.  By Friday AM it reach storm status with WindSAT confirming west winds at 55-60 kts winds covering a 480 nmiles fetch area centered at 38N 165E with seas building from 32 ft at 40N 166E.  55-60 kt west winds were confirmed into the evening as the storm sank a little southeast with seas building to 41 ft at 37N 170E aimed well at Hawaii (307 degs) and the US West Coast (293 degs NCal/296 degs SCal). The Jason-1 satellite passed over the back end of the fetch and reported seas at 37-39 along it's track, before it could not read the sea heights anymore near the core, but reported a reading to 41.3 ft where the model suggested 38 ft seas. This was right on track or even a bit better than expected. The storm started fading Saturday AM (1/28) with a broad area of 40-45 kt west winds modeled continuing in it's south quadrant resulting in 44 ft seas at 38N 174E (309 degs HI/293 degs NCal/295 degs SCal). But the WindSAT satellite confirmed winds at 55 kts at 37N 170E, another good sign. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the eastern edge of the storm at 20Z and reported seas at 31-38 ft where the model suggested only 28-30 ft seas. This is very good news. A quick fade is to set in by evening with winds dropping from 45 kts and seas fading from 40 ft at 38N 177E (314 degs HI/294 degs NCal/296 degs SCal). This system is to be effectively gone by Sunday AM (1/29) with only 30-35 kt west fetch remaining and seas fading from 39 ft at 40N 177E.

If all goes as forecast solid long period swell is likely to reach the Hawaiian Islands with smaller and more inconsistent swell reaching the US West Coast,  but well groomed upon arrival.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Monday 1/30 at sunrise with period 20 secs and size building steadily through the day building to 9.5 ft @ 18 secs late (17 ft Hawaiian). Swell to continue up overnight peaking near 3 AM Tuesday (HST) and holding solid at 9.5-10.1 ft @ 17 secs early (16-17 ft Hawaiian) with seas to 11.4 ft @ 17 secs and through the morning hours. Maybe only a slight drop in period (to 16 secs) through the day. Residuals on Wednesday (1/1) at 9 ft @ 14-15 secs early (13 ft). Swell Direction: 307-313 degrees.

North California: Expect swell arrival on Tuesday at 9 PM with period 20+ secs and size small but building steadily. Swell to be solid on Wed AM (2/1) with pure swell 8.0 ft @ 19 secs (15 ft) and holding if not building some through the day, pushing 8.8 ft @ 17-18 secs late (15-16 ft). Swell to continue on Thursday AM at 8 ft @ 17 secs (14 ft) fading slowly through the day to 8 ft @ 16 secs late (13 ft). Residuals in Friday. Swell Direction 291-292 degrees.

South California: Expect swell arrival on Wednesday at 7 AM with period 20+ secs and size small but building steadily. Swell to be solid at sunset with pure swell 7.8 ft @ 19 secs (15 ft faces) outside the channel islands and 3.9 ft @ 19 secs (7.5 ft faces) inside the Islands and building some through the evening. Swell up to 8.5 ft @ 17-18 secs (15 ft) just before sunrise Thurs AM outside the Channel Islands and 4.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (7.5 ft) inside the Channel Islands. Swell to continue through the day Thursday falling to 7.8 ft @ 17 secs (14 ft) by sunset outside the Channel Islands and 3.9 ft @ 17 secs (6.6 ft faces) inside the Islands. Swell to be declining by Friday AM fading from 7.5 ft @ 16 secs early (13 ft) outside the Islands and 3.8 ft @ 16 secs inside the Islands (6 ft). Residuals on Saturday. Swell Direction 294-296 degrees.

 

 

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

 

Tropics
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
 
 

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (1/28) high pressure was ridging into the Pacific Northwest setting up a weak offshore flow over all of California resulting in beautiful surf conditions. The same basic pattern is to hold into Sunday but with the high starting to break down and low pressure making a move on the Pacific Northwest. Monday there is to be more of a tendency of northerly winds at 5-10 kt along the North and Central California coast with a new high pressure system setting up well off Pt Conception at 1028 mbs and starting to move into Central CA on Tuesday (1/31). North winds at 10 kts possible for mainly the Pt Conception area, and less elsewhere. The high is to start ridging into Central CA on Wednesday with a slack to light north wind pattern possible there, but south up in Northern CA and offshore in Southern CA and continuing into Thursday as the high moves more onshore with a front just off the North CA coast but getting deflected north. Light winds again on Friday but then a batch of northwesterly winds ahead of a hew high are to be pushing into outer waters moving onshore Saturday for Central CA. A huge area of low pressure is forecast off the CA coast filling the Eastern Pacific by early Sunday with not much high pressure to deflect it. Something to monitor.

   

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

 

Tropics
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
 
 

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (1/28) high pressure was ridging into the Pacific Northwest setting up a weak offshore flow over all of California resulting in beautiful surf conditions. The same basic pattern is to hold into Sunday but with the high starting to break down and low pressure making a move on the Pacific Northwest. Monday there is to be more of a tendency of northerly winds at 5-10 kt along the North and Central California coast with a new high pressure system setting up well off Pt Conception at 1028 mbs and starting to move into Central CA on Tuesday (1/31). North winds at 10 kts possible for mainly the Pt Conception area, and less elsewhere. The high is to start ridging into Central CA on Wednesday with a slack to light north wind pattern possible there, but south up in Northern CA and offshore in Southern CA and continuing into Thursday as the high moves more onshore with a front just off the North CA coast but getting deflected north. Light winds again on Friday but then a batch of northwesterly winds ahead of a hew high are to be pushing into outer waters moving onshore Saturday for Central CA. A huge area of low pressure is forecast off the CA coast filling the Eastern Pacific by early Sunday with not much high pressure to deflect it. Something to monitor.

 

South Pacific

Overview
At the surface in the South Pacific no swell producing fetch was occurring.  Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast.    

 

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 hrs a new gale is developing in the a trough forecast in the jetstream over the Gulf of Alaska on Wednesday (1/1). Pressure is to drop to 980 mbs with a decent fetch of 45 kt northwest and west winds wrapping into the core of the gale in it's south quadrant targeting mainly California. Seas building from 24 ft at 40N 154W. Winds are to build into Thursday AM (2/2) to 55 kt over a small area at 45N 148W (297 degs NCal) with seas to 34 ft at 40N 148W. The gale is to lift north in the evening with winds still near 50 kts but targeting the Pacific Northwest exclusively with seas 32 ft in the NCal swell window at 40N 143W and up to 36 ft up at 46N 1441W targeting the Pacific Northwest. The gale is to be lifting into Alaska by Friday AM with fresh seas all tracking north towards Alaska and Northern Canada. This system looks promising if one is to believe the models.

And yet another storm is to be right behind it in the Western Gulf on Saturday (2/4) with 50-55 kt west winds and 41 ft seas at 45N 168W. Seems a bit hard to believe, but the jetstream aloft is to be quite supportive, so who knows. Something to monitor.

MJO/ENSO Update
Note: The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather event that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized by either enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is on control of or slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 day, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. During the Inactive Phase the jetstream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecast for MJO activity.

As of Saturday (1/28) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down hard at 7.54. The 30 day average was down slightly to 10.40 (still pretty high) with the 90 day up slightly at 15.23.

Current wind analysis indicated modest easterly anomalies were in control of the dateline region extending from 160W over the dateline to 130E.  Westerly anomalies were isolated to Indonesia and not making any eastern headway past 120E. This suggests a weak version of the Active Phase of the MJO which was in-play is gone now. A week from now (2/5) the models indicate those easterly anomalies are to hold, if not strengthen extending from 160W to 160E, but not west of there. If anything weak westerly anomalies are forecast building to 160E. It will be interesting to see if this really occurs. The longer range models all continue to suggest that a weak version of the Active Phase of the MJO is present west of the dateline (150E) and is expected to build east  for the next 2 weeks into early February.  At this point, we're saying that it not likely, and if anything, the Active Phase is effectively over (unless of course the current pulse of easterly anomalies is just a fluke). We believe that a persistent and stubborn Inactive Phase of the MJO is building back in. With La Nina as firmly entrenched as it has been, it would be a miracle to see any real Active Phase activity. 

The interesting thing about this years MJO cycle is that there really is no coherent cycle. Normally one can track the Active Phase as it literally circumnavigates the planet on the equator. But instead, it has been locked over Indonesia, making only slight movement east for short periods of time, then returning to it;s home base.   

Remnants of what was a moderate plus strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) are still evident and momentum from this La Nina event are expected to hold well into the Spring of 2012. In short, it's going to be tough for surfers in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, though shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance during tropical/summer months.  That is not to say there will be no storms, in fact, there could be short periods of intense activity when the Active Phase of the MJO gets an opportunity to come to fruition, but that will be the exception rather than the rule, with the Inactive Phase trying to keep a cap on storm activity. 

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the  El Nino update.  

 

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.

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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Local Interest

Steve Colleta Surfboards - Check out surfboards by local shaper Steve Coletta - A long time Santa Cruz local and master shaper. Progressive shapes for North and Central CA waves http://www.naturalcurvesboards.com

Chasing the Swell has been nominated for a Webby Award. See details of this great piece of video journalism below. Some say this is the "Oscars" of online awards.One of the awards is voter based. If you have a moment, please cast your ballot by going to: http://webby.aol.com, register, then click on the "Get Voting" tab and then to the "Online Film and Video" > "Sports" category and vote for "Chasing the Swell".

Timmy Reyes - Curt Myers from Powerlines Productions found this little gem with Timmy Reyes providing a brief statement about which sites he uses for swell chasing. Thought we'd pass it on. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P30ZCQOsYwY

Buell Wetsuits - When surfing in Santa Cruz, we've been seeing a new wetsuit in the line-up worn by many top flight surfers. They're getting good traction and are well respected. Take a look: http://www.buellwetsuits.com/

Stormsurf Mobile App (1/9/11) We are proud to announce the official public release of our smartphone mobile app. It provides access to our most popular and commonly used products, optimized for use on the road, on the beach or anywhere you don't have a desktop or laptop.  With a smart phone and signal, you will have access to our data. And we're not talking just a few teaser products - We're talking full feature wave models, weather models, real-time buoy data, manually built forecasts and hundreds of spot wave and wind forecasts enabling you to construct a surf forecast for any location on the planet, all from your cell phone and all for free.  No subscription required and no hidden fees. And better yet, there's a few new things sprinkled in that are not yet available even on our full-featured web site. From your smart phones browser just navigate to: www.stormsurf.com/mobile 

Mavericks Surf Shop Grand OpeningSunday, December 19 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. rain or shine!  Check out the new home of Jeff Clark's Mavericks Surf Shop, now located at 25 Johnson Pier in Pillar Point Harbor.  The shop features much of Clark's surfing memorabilia, classic boards and photos, as well as an entirely new line of Jeff Clark original Mavericks clothing, accessories and surfboards. The shop has been open in the new location since December 8, and the Grand Opening party is set for this coming Sunday, just in time for Christmas.  The party starts at 2 p.m., with live music, food and drinks. Jeff Clark and many Mavericks surfers will be there to meet the public. Local restaurants Ketch Joanne's and Princeton Seafood will serve up delicious food, while San Francisco Wine Trading Company is providing the beverages.  The shop will be open all weekend, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Stormsurf Maintenance Upgrades: Buoy 46059 and 46012 were replaced a month or so ago. Totally new buoys were installed. Here on Stormsurf we had to reset the algorithms used to calculate 'pure swell' for them. That was accomplished on 11/13. Pure swell numbers are now correct. Links: 46012, 46059

Also since we moved to the new weather model server last month we discovered that our Longrange Precipitation Models ceased to display frozen precipitation (as they once did). Some of our scripts did not get installed on the new server. That has been fixed (11/13) and now snow is again viewable worldwide. Here the new North America sample.

Chasing The Swell: Sachi Cunningham from the LA Times spent the entirety of last winter chasing surfers and swells around the North Pacific with her high def video cam. Her timing couldn't have been any better with the project exactly coinciding with the strongest El Nino in 12 years resulting in the best big wave season in a decade. And being an accomplished surfer herself helped her to bring a poignant and accurate account of the what it's like to ride big waves and the new (and some not so new) personalities that are revitalizing the sport. This is must-see material for any surfer or weather enthusiast. Check it out here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/chasingtheswell/

New Weather Models With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon): http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html

New Weather Model Server Stormsurf has installed another weather model production server. This has enabled us to spread the load across more servers allowing us to post both wave and weather model updates much quicker.  Also we are testing new content (like North America jetstream, winds and precipitation, local wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments). The model menus will be updated shortly with these new links.   

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New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.

Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.

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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