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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: May 16, 2006 6:31 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 = 2.0 - California & 3.0 - Hawaii
Using the 'Summer' 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 5/15 thru Sun 5/21
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   

Windswell from Gulf Hitting Hawaii
On the Way to California

 

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
On Tuesday (5/16) Northern CA surf was waist high on the sets, foggy, onshore and miserable. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist high. Central California surf was up to waist high and clean in the Morro Bay area. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were up to waist high at the best spots on the sets with most near flat. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to maybe chest high at the better breaks. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were waist to chest high. The North Shore of Oahu was head high, wrap around energy from the east shore. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was head high plus, windswell from the gale northeast of the state.

In California not much is going on just yet, but some swell is on the way at exposed breaks from a gale in the Gulf of Alaska, providing a day or two of relief. Small to moderate southern hemi swell to follow for the weekend with perhaps another weak gale forming in the Gulf beyond. Northeast facing shores in Hawaii are currently receiving the same Gulf swell but with a little more size and that is to continue through the end of the workweek. Shore Shore's are less fortunately with nothing going on and nothing forecast till early next week, when swell from low pressure under and along New Zealand arrives to finally provide something rideable. See details below...

 

 

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

North Pacific

Overview
Tuesdays jetstream charts (5/16) indicated a big trough carved out in the Gulf of Alaska dropping hard south almost to Hawaii then lifting north up and over the Central Canadian coast. Winds to 140 kts flowing down the west side of the trough, but fading fast through the day. A solid ridge was over the dateline. This trough is the only area of interest to support gale development. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (5/19) the ridge is to hold and drift east, while the Gulf trough slowly fades and drifts east just off the California/Pacific Northwest coast with winds only in the 100 kt range. In parallel a big trough to build just west of the dateline dipping as far south as the one in the east, with winds pushing 150 kts down it's west side on Friday. Some support for gale development possible here. Beyond 72 hours the dateline trough is to quickly pinch off and become non-supportive of anything at the surface by late Saturday (5/20) while Gulf trough persists just barely off California, re-energizing some over the weekend though somewhat pinched then fading while a new trough develops further north in the Gulf early next week, but without much wind energy running through it. Again the Gulf of Alaska looks not quite ready to totally give up for the season.

At the surface on Tuesday (5/16) moderate high pressure at 1024 mbs was centered over the dateline with a second centered off North Japan, both at 1024 mbs. The only low pressure of interest was roughly centered northeast of Hawaii and well off the Pacific Northwest coast with pressure 992 mbs. 25-30 kt north winds at 17 ft seas were pushing down it's western quadrant aimed well at Hawaii with a similar strength fetch in the east quadrant pushing 15 ft seas towards California and points north of there.

Over the next 72 hours through Friday (5/19) the only weather feature of real interest is to be the gale low in the Gulf of Alaska, but it's to be on the downswing. It is to continue producing some degree of 25 kt north winds aimed a bit east of Hawaii with 13 ft seas Wednesday fading to below 10 ft by Thursday. Some degree of windswell to continue pushing south towards northeastern shores of the Hawaiian Islands. High pressure to be building right behind driving yet more north winds over the same region into the weekend, but whatever swell is generated then will be aimed too far east of Hawaii to be of any real interest. No fetch suggested aimed towards California other than the swell that was generated Monday that is already en-route to California, pushing through the outer buoys late Mon/early Tues with a Wednesday arrival expected mostly north of Pt Conception (swell 5-6 ft @ 13 secs - 6-7 ft faces) from 270-280 degrees.

A 984 mb low is to develop over the dateline Thursday (5/18) in response to a short-lived dip in the jet there, but it is to lift quickly north as the upper flow fades, all but gone by late Friday. No swell producing fetch forecast here.

Note: A minor pulse of the Madden Julian Oscillation currently is occurring, and appears to be having some minor impact on the jetstream and subsequent production of low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is pushing sharply to the neutral range, contrary to the steady push up into the La Nina range that has been going on the past 2 months. This is setting us up for a return to ENSO neutral conditions for the summer (neither El Nino or La Nina).

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

 

California Offshore Forecast
On Tuesday (5/16) high pressure and north winds were being held back by lower pressure off the coast, but not for long. By Wednesday a thin ridge of high pressure at 1022 mbs to be developing over Vancouver Island pushing sharply south, setting up the development of north winds along the California coast Wednesday and Thursday at 15-20 kts while low pressure persists further out. but low pressure to get the upper hand Friday breaking the high pressure pattern down and killing the north winds. A hint of south winds enter the forecast for the weekend as the low builds slightly to 1008 mbs and pushes up to San Francisco Saturday drifting south and finally pushing onshore late Monday over the LA area.

The detailed 5 Day wind forecast is included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.

 

South Pacific

Overview
On Tuesday (5/16) a split jetstream pattern continued over the South Pacific with the southern branch ridging steadily southeast of New Zealand pushing up to the Ross Ice Shelf and east of there, and wind speeds continued weak. No support for surface level gale development. The northern branch was strong blowing flat west to east at 150 kts. No real change forecast through the next week with the only exception being an increase in the winds in the southern branch starting next Tuesday (5/23) with winds under New Zealand to 140 kts. No clear support for broad scale surface level gale development suggested.

At the surface on Tuesday (5/16) moderate high pressure at 1028 mbs controlled the Southeastern Pacific, minimizing potential for gale development there. The split jetstream flow aloft was having it's affects in the Western Pacific too, with weak low pressure present under New Zealand, but nothing swell worthy.

Over the next 72 hours through Friday (5/19) a low is to pass under New Zealand with pressure 968 mbs producing a tiny fetch of 50-55 kts winds for 24 hours generating seas building up to 37 ft Thursday (5/18) at 59S 175E, aimed mostly due east. If this occurs some background swell or better might develop for California and Hawaii, but not much more given it's tiny size, short duration, bad aim and distance away from both locations.

Otherwise no swell producing fetch forecast for Hawaii or California.

 

California Pulse
On Tuesday (5/9) a 960 mb gale tracked east just over the Ross Ice Shelf with 55 kt southwest winds confirmed just barely pushing over open waters at 150W. 29 ft seas modeled at 65S 150W, free and clear of ice. By Wednesday the low was at 948 mbs just off Antarctica and well east of the actual fetch with a broad fetch of 35-40 kt winds arching northeast aimed well at California and targets southward positioned on the eastern edge of the CA swell window. Seas were modeled at 25-27 ft through the day [far less than previously forecast] at 58S 131W holding through the evening at 55S 125W, then continuing at 25 ft Thursday pushing out of the California swell window. This was actually the precursor to another gale indicated below and has generated small swell of 1.6 ft @ 14-15 secs pushing north towards California arriving Thursday (5/18). No energy expected for Hawaii.

On Thursday (5/11) a little 980 mb gale developed in the far southeastern Pacific (remnants of a previous gale in the area) with 40-45 kt south-southwest winds centered at 40S 111W aimed reasonably well towards South CA, though totally outside the swell window for anywhere north of Pt Conception. This low wrapped up late in the evening into Friday AM (5/12) with winds 50-60 kts at 42S 110W and seas modeled at 32 ft over a tiny area at the same location aimed north to northeast for 12 hours. A small pulse of 15-17 second energy is tracking towards Southern CA and points south of there arriving Friday AM (5/19) into Saturday with swell up to 3.0-3.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.5-5.0 ft faces) from 180 degrees. Some energy from early in the gales life might make it up to North California by late Friday with swell up to 2.6 ft @ 16 secs early Saturday (3.5-4.0 ft faces) from 180-185 degrees.

 

Hawaiian Pulse
A small 956 mb storm formed just southwest of New Zealand Friday AM (5/12) with 55-60 kt winds pushing northeast targeting New Zealand. That storm tracked east, south of New Zealand, through Saturday AM before beginning to feel the effects of an adverse jetstream flow aloft, but not before more 45-50 kt winds build seas to near 40 ft over a tiny area at 52S 157E sending a burst of energy directly into New Zealand but totally shadowed from Hawaii by New Zealand. That low finally entered the Hawaiian swell window (201 degrees) midday Saturday (5/13) but by then winds had faded to the 40-45 kts range and were heading down fast after that. 33 ft sea were pushing northeast towards Hawaii from 55S 165E and falling below 30 ft by nightfall, still providing some hope for Hawaii there. Nothing was left by Sunday AM (5/14). Small swell is likely pushing north towards Hawaii expected to arrive Sunday (5/21) with swell to 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) late from 201 degrees. Swell to peak Monday at 3 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces), fading through the day Tuesday.

A small gael developed right off the Northeastern tip of New Zealand sending a tiny fetch of 40-45 kt winds aimed right at Hawaii on Monday (5/15) producing 26 ft seas, fading out on Tuesday. This swell to be intermixed with the swell indicated above for Hawaii.

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 another weak low is to form in the northern Gulf of Alaska late Sunday (5/21) holding there through early Tuesday with 25-30 kt winds aim well at California and the Pacific Northwest with seas peaking Monday AM at 20 ft. More windswell likely pushing southeast for the mainland mid-week. windy conditions forecast in the Pacific Northwest though as the front from this low impacts the coast there.

No other swell producing systems forecast.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no solid high or low pressure systems are forecast with the split jetstream flow aloft routing all upper level energy away from the prime storm corridor. As soon as something tried to get organized, it fades for lack of upper level fuel. No swell producing fetch forecast.

Details to follow...


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Local Interest

Mavericks Surf Contest on TV - the epic 2006 Mavericks Surf Contest will be broadcast this Saturday (5/13) at 11 AM PDT (2 PM EDT) on your local NBC affiliate channel. Check it out.

Wired Magazine - Read about the technology that supports the Mavericks Surf Contest in this months edition of WIRED Magazine (pg 48 - Al Gore on the cover).

New Content - QuikCAST's and Satellite Altimetry: Stormsurf has been busy this winter putting some new things together. First up is two new QuikCAST's for the Northeast US Coast, one for Cape Hatteras-to-Virginia Beach and another for New Jersey-to-New York. Check them out Here
Also we now provide Jason-1 Altimetry data overlaid on our Wavewatch III wave models. Take a look Here

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

Mavericks Surf Contest and Stormsurf
- Science hangs 10 at Surf Contest: CNET - Read it Here
- Pillar Point Unique Conditions swell Mavericks Monsters: Rough seabed, winds and seas currents to create California biggest surfing challenge; San Francisco Chronicle - Read it Here
- Tyler Smith's Quest: Chasing the Moby Dick of the Surfing World: San Francisco Chronicle - Read it Here

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

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table

1997

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