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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, March 19, 2015 9:46 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 = 3.0 - California & 3.0 - 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 3/16 thru Sun 3/22

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   

Weak Gale Forecast for Gulf
Extratropical Storm Pam Continues Pushing East

Swell Classification Guidelines

Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
- 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).
- 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.
- up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.


Current Conditions
On Thursday (3/19) in North and Central CA surf was 1 ft overhead on the sets and clean and reasonably fun looking. Down in Santa Cruz surf was chest high and textured and a bit wonky. In Southern California up north surf was chest high and lined up and fun looking but textured. Down south waves were also chest high and lined up and textured. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more sideband Gulf windswell with waves head high to 1 ft overhead and a bit warbled from sideshore trades. Rideable but not great. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting the same Gulf sideband swell with waves waist high and chopped with northeast trades in effect.    

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

Meteorological Overview
Windswell from a weak gale that was in the Gulf on Sun (3/15) is hitting California and fading in Hawaii. Another small gale tracked from the North Dateline region on Wed (3/18) with 20 ft seas pushing southeast, then fading but is to be reinforced on Fri-Sat (3/21) while pushing east with 20 ft seas targeting the US West Coast. Something to monitor. More weak activity to follow in the Gulf on Wed-Thurs (3/26) and also in the West Pacific with seas to 28 ft.  And the remnants of Super Pam tracked through the Southwest Pacific caught up in the the jetstream, with 39 ft seas on Wed (3/18), then fading while tracking east, but expected to rebuild Fri-Sun (3/22) in the East Pacific with seas building to near 44 ft aimed east-northeast. An interesting situation with some swell generation potential. 

Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours

North Pacific

Jetstream - On Thursday (3/19) the jet was tracking southeast off Northern Japan with winds barely 140 kts and becoming a bit un consolidated pulling together more over the dateline while falling into a modest trough north of Hawaii. From there the jet lifted northeast, then .cgiit just 400 nmiles off the Oregon/CA border. There was some support for gale development in the trough in the Gulf. Over the next 72 hours the trough is to push east, with winds weakening, and pushing into Washington on late Sat (3/21) with a secondary trough right behind it in the Eastern Gulf but with winds below 110 kts pushing inland over Oregon on Mon (3/23). No real support for gale development. Beyond 72 hrs winds are to be building over Japan on Monday from 140 kts pushing flat east and decently consolidated and continuing to build into Thursday (3/26) but pushing northeast some at 180kts not forming any gale supportive troughs just yet. But the pattern and energy level are looking promising to support some form of gale development longer term.

Surface Analysis  - On Thursday (3/19) low pressure was over the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska (see details below). Windswell from a previous gale was fading in Hawaii and hitting the US West Coast (see Gulf Gale below). 

A gale developed in the Gulf Wed AM (3/18) producing 35 kt northwest winds just south of the Eastern Aleutians generating 20 ft seas at 47N 172W targeting Hawaii somewhat. Fetch faded from 30-35 kts in the evening with seas fading from 20 ft at 45N 170W (340 degs HI). The gale is to dissipated from there but low pressure is to continue circulating in the Gulf.  

Secondary fetch was tracking east over the dateline Thursday AM (3/19) and is to become absorbed into the Gulf low Thurs PM (3/19) with fetch building from 35 kts aimed east and seas building from 20 ft at 39N 173W (331 degs HI).  By Fri AM (3/20) 35 kt west winds to continue tracking east over the Central Gulf producing 20 ft seas at 37N 162W aimed mainly at the US West Coast. Winds to be fading from 30-35 kts in the evening with 19 ft seas at 36N 155W targeting Central CA well (NCal 275 degs, 284 degs SCal). The gale to lift northeast Sat AM (3/21) with winds fading from 25 kts with no seas of interest being generated. Possible sideband swell for Hawaii Sat Pm (3/21) with more direct energy for Central and North CA on Mon (3/23).

Hawaii: For.cgianning purposes expect swell arrival on Sat sunset (3/21) at 4.5 ft @ 13 secs (6 ft) peaking overnight then fading Sun AM (3/22) 4 ft @ 12 secs (5 ft). Swell Direction: 330-340 degrees          

Over the next 72 hours no other swell producing fetch is forecast.

Gulf Gale
On Sat AM (3/14) low pressure was falling from the Southeast Bering Sea southeast and pushing into the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska producing 30-35 kts west winds and seas starting to build. By evening a small area of 35 kt westerly fetch built with seas to 20 ft up at 46N 165W (298 degs NCal). Sun AM (3/15) 30 kt west winds continued over the same general area with 22 ft seas building over a tiny area at 51N 162W (309 degs NCal) targeting mainly British Columbia down to maybe Central CA with 18 ft seas at 40N 168W targeting Hawaii with windswell.  Fetch faded from 30 kts in pockets in the evening with seas dropping from 17 ft at 49N 164W.  This system was gone after that.  

Some odds for small windswell for the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA, but nothing remarkable. See QuikCASTs for details.        


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


Tropical Update
Tropical Cyclone (Storm) Nathan was directly over the coast of Northeast Australia on Thurs AM (3/19) with 90 kts winds. A quick fade is forecast as Nathan continues on a westerly track inland. No swell forecast for our area.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (3/19) high pressure at 1024 mbs was off the coast generating 15 kt north winds along the North and Central Coasts. Low pressure is to be building off the North Coast on Friday with a front and south winds and light rain for Cape Mendocino at best late holding into Sat AM, while light winds cover the Central Coast. Light north winds possible near Pt Conception on Saturday but calm from Monterey Bay northward with a front again pushing into Cape Mendocino on Sunday with 15 kt north winds for Pt Conception. 10 kt north winds for North and Central CA on Monday but up to 20 kts for Pt Conception. Light rain projected from Cape Mendocino down to Monterey Bay in the AM, then high pressure takes control on Tuesday (3/24) with 25 kt north winds for Central CA but only 10 kts for North CA. Light rain for Cape Mendocino. North winds build over all of North and Central CA on Wed (3/25) at 20 kts then fading fast Thursday.


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  - The extratropical remnants of what was Super Typhoon Pam on Tues AM (3/17) were just east of Central New Zealand producing 50-55 kt west winds and seas to 34 ft at 41S 171W targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast somewhat, but mainly aimed east of the great circle tracks up there. 45-50 kt west winds held over a small area in the evening with 32 ft seas continuing at 42S 170W aimed like before. More of the same occurred Wed AM (3/18) with 45-50 kt west winds and 38 ft seas at 42S 169W aimed east and higher seas aimed southeast (towards Antarctica). Fetch was fading in the evening with seas aimed more southeast than east. Maybe 32 ft seas aimed east at 42S 163W. Limited odds for small sideband swell pushing north towards Hawaii and the US West Coast. better odds for Central America and points southward. 

This system is to track east and possibly regenerating on Fri PM (3/20) with 50-55 kt south winds building and 44 ft seas developing over a tiny area at 42S 135W aimed east-northeast. Additional 50 kt south fetch to develop Sat AM (3/21) feeding up into the core fetch with seas building from 37 ft at 42S 130W aimed northeast. More 45 kt south fetch is forecast in the evening with 36-40 ft seas at 41S 127W pushing north-northeast. Fetch is to be fading from 35 kts Sun AM (3/22) with 34 ft seas at 45S 120W aimed from California southward though most energy to be targeting Peru.  

Something to monitor.     

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




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

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a broad area of low pressure is to start building in the Gulf of Alaska on Tues AM (3/24) producing 30 kts northwest winds targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. Winds to hold in the evening with seas on the increase, but not yet reaching 20 ft. A core of 35 kt west winds to build Wed AM (3/25) with seas building to 18 ft at 48N 163W but that seems low. More of the same is forecast in the evening with 20 ft seas at 47N 161W. A quick fade to follow. Something to monitor.

Another gale is forecast forming over the Kuril Islands Wed AM (3/25) with 40 kt northwest winds and seas building. 40 kt west winds to hold in the evening with seas building from 24 ft at 43N 158E targeting Hawaii. 35-40 kt west winds to hold Thurs AM (3/26) with 28 ft seas at 42N 163E. 35-40 kt west winds to hold in the evening with seas 26 ft at 38N 167E. Something to monitor relative to Hawaii.  

Note: The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by 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 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the.cgianet. 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 jet stream tends to .cgiit 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 forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).

(1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data. 2nd paragraph where present is analysis data and is updated only as required).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) On Thursday (3/19) the daily SOI was up some at -15.80. The 30 day average was falling from -6.02 and the 90 day average was falling at -7.43. The near term trend based on the daily and 30 day average was indicative of a building Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a steady state Active Phase of the MJO. Weak lower pressure was holding near Tahiti and expected to deepen over the weekend into Mon (3/23) but centered a bit west of Tahiti and holding there for the next 7 days. Steady modestly negative SOI values are possible. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.   

Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated a solid sized area of moderate westerly anomalies were still over the Eastern Maritime Continent reaching to the dateline then continuing from there to a point southeast of Hawaii. Weak west anomalies continued to the Galapagos Islands. Down at the surface the TOA array indicated moderate westerly anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area extending to a point south of Hawaii. A Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) started on 1/15 then faded out on 2/20 (a month in duration) but regenerated on 2/25 positioned more to the east building to the strong category on 3/7. It peaked on 3/10 but held solidly to 3/17. A more modest version of it continued into 3/19. This is already a decent event before it rebuilt on 3/7 and was supporting Kelvin Wave development. But with these additional strong west winds, far more warm water transport is now in progress. A week from now (3/27) weak westerly anomalies are to continue over the East Maritime Continent reaching east of the dateline to a point south of Hawaii. Neutral anomalies are expected from there to the Galapagos. This suggests the Active Phase is to start fading on the dateline a week out. This is a significant WWB and moving into the range of the historic event of last year at this same time. 

See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here .

The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 3/17 suggests a solid Active Phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in.cgiay over the dateline while a very strong Inactive Phase was over the Eastern Indian Ocean. Beyond the Statistic model suggests the Active Phase is to start slowly fading while barely moving east, almost gone 15 days out south of Hawaii. Meanwhile the Inactive Phase is to be pushing into the West Pacific in the moderate to strong category. The Dynamic model suggests the Active Phase also fading while pushing east, completely gone 15 days out. But this model suggests the Inactive Phase is to totally dissipate too, with a dead neutral pattern in.cgiay 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model run on 3/19 depicts a weak Active Phase in the East-Central Pacific and is to fade while tracking east reaching Central America on 3/27. A very strong Inactive Phase is to enter the West Pacific 3/24 tracking east and fading, pushing into Central America 4/13. Another strong Active Phase to start developing in the West Pacific on 4/8 pushing east and holding reaching the East Pacific on 4/28. A very active MJO pattern is projected. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.    

Surface Water Temps: The more warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). Cold water in that area has a dampening effect. Regardless of what the atmospheric models and surface winds suggest, actual water temperatures are a ground-truth indicator of what is occurring in the ocean.  

As of the most recent low res imagery (3/19) a weak warm water/El Nino like regime remains in control of the equatorial Central and West Pacific. A pocket of cooler water along the Peruvian Coast advecting west over the Galapagos was fading with warmer water starting to di.cgiace it. TAO data suggests 0.0-+0.5 anomalies are covering a region from Ecuador to roughly 135W with warm anomalies at +0.5-1.0 degs holding from 145W into the West Pacific with a pocket of +1.0-1.5 deg anomalies on the dateline. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggest water temps are building some at +0.6 degs, previously peaking late Nov at about +1.0 then falling to 0.0 in early January. With this being a Modoki El Nino, cooler water would be expected in the NINO 1.2 area (near the Galapagos and Peruvian Coast).    

Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator continue warming and expanding. As of 3/19 a +1.0 C anomaly flow was in control under the equatorial Pacific from 150 meters up. And a pocket of +4-5 deg anomalies continues building in coverage now positioned at 150W, suggesting that the extended WWB that occurred 1/15-2/20 has created a Kelvin Wave. And with strong westerly anomalies now in.cgiay in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area, additional warming is expected beyond. This Kelvin Wave is expected to start erupting over the Galapagos on roughly 5/1 peaking on 6/10. Satellite data from 3/14 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over most of the West and Central equatorial Pacific with a core at +5 cm over and pushing from west of the dateline to a point south of Mexico with a building peak to +10 cm from 170E to 135W, indicative of an open pipe with an embedded solid Kelvin Wave. Neutral anomalies cover from 110W eastward. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (3/14) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are holding while easing east between 163E-108W with +1.0-1.5 degs from 168E-118W and a core of +1.5 deg anomalies from 137W-172E. This also supports the thesis that another Kelvin Wave, and strong at that, is in-flight. Theoretically the peak of what was thought to be a developing El Nino occurred (12/21/14) with no more Kelvin Wave development expected beyond if this was to be a single year event. But if this is a true multiyear Modoki El Nino event, then it would not be unexpected to see another Kelvin Wave develop in the Jan-Feb 2015 timeframe (as is actually occurring). See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here.   

Pacific Counter Current data as of 3/12 was more encouraging than previous indications. The current is pushing moderately west to east over patches in the West Pacific reaching east with less energy north of the equator in the East Pacific.  A very weak east current was in control south of the equator in the East. Anomaly wise - strong west anomalies were firmly in control on the equator over the West Pacific then north of the equator in pockets south of Hawaii, then moving back centered on the equator in the East. 

This data suggests a general west to east bias in the current suggesting warm water transport to the east. 

Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 3/19 for the Nino 3.4 region are stable. It suggests water temps are at +0.8 deg C and are to slowly warm into July reaching +1.2 degs C, and continuing to +1.6 degs by Nov. This suggests that perhaps we are moving from a multi-year steady state Modoki event to perhaps a full blown El Nino. But it is too early to believe that just yet.See the chart based version here - link. 

Analysis: Mult.cgie downwelling Kelvin Waves generated by suppressed trades and occasional Westerly Wind Bursts occurring late 2013 though 2014 in the West Pacific. Those Kelvin Waves warmed waters over the Eastern equatorial Pacific, but not sufficiently to declare an official El Nino. Still some degree of teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere is in.cgiay.  The focus now becomes whether this warming and resulting teleconnection will persist into 2015 and transition into a multi-year event, or fade in the March-June 2015 Spring Unpredictability Barrier. At this time we're assuming the situation will move to a multiyear, Modoki event (the better of all options).    

We remain in a neutral ENSO atmospheric pattern, with no El Nino in.cgiay per NOAA.  But we continue monitoring Westerly Wind Bursts and Kelvin Wave development, suggestive of continued warming East Pacific equatorial waters for the 2015 (meaning enhanced support for the jetstream and storm development in Fall/Winter 2015-2016). 

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the  El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13 


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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