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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: May 21, 2006 11:37 AM
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 5/22 thru Sun 5/28
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   

Another Gulf Gale
Improved South Pacific Jetstream Flow Possible

 

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
On Sunday (5/21) Northern CA surf was waist to shoulder high and clean early. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist to chest high. Central California surf was thigh high on the sets and clean in the Morro Bay area. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were inconsistent waist to maybe chest high at the best spots. The LA Area southward to Orange County was chest high to near head high at the better breaks on the sets. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were waist to chest high. The North Shore of Oahu was chest to head high, wrap around energy from the east shore. The South Shore was flat with rare southern hemi pulses pushing through to chest high. The East Shore was head high to 2 ft overhead, windswell from the gale and high pressure northeast of the state.

In California southern hemi swell is still trying to hang there, but is expected to be fading fast by Monday. Next up is supposed decent northwest windswell from a gale building in the Gulf of Alaska Sun/Mon setting up potential mid-week northwest swell. While that is hitting the southern hemi is to start stirring, again on the eastern edge of the swell window. Hawaii is still pulling in decent sized northeast windswell, but most of this is now pure tradewind generated energy with period in the 8-9 sec range or less. Some hints of southern hemi energy were showing inconsistently at the buoys this Sunday AM, the first signs of swell expected from under New Zealand. This to be building. Further out a monster storm is on the charts for the deep mid-South Pacific next weekend, but that's a long ways off and things could and likely will change to render that forecast useless between now and then. See details below...

 

 

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

North Pacific

Overview
Sundays jetstream charts (5/21) indicate a big ridge over the West Pacific with now hope there. in the east the jet was dipping hard south just off California supporting some form of surface low just off the coast while a new trough looked to be setting up in the northern Gulf of Alaska. Over the next 72 hours through Wednesday (5/24) the trough just off California is to push onshore Monday with the new Gulf trough builds somewhat with winds only reaching 120 kts, then slowly withering through the workweek. Beyond 72 hours a weak jetstream flow is forecast over the entire North Pacific. The only area of any remote interest is a new trough forecast over the dateline next weekend with 130 kts winds, providing a hint of some support for surface level development. But overall it looks like the North Pacific is done for the season.

At the surface on Sunday (5/21) a huge and strong high pressure system was centered over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians at 1036 mbs ridging south east to a point just north of Hawaii. It was generating brisk trades sweeping over the Islands. A weak 1004 mb low was just off California sitting in the upper trough there producing 25 kt winds aimed best at Baja Mexico. Though no swell producing fetch was indicated for California, this low was producing a late season front centered over Pt Conception, with rather vigorous rain forecast there pushing into South CA Monday. Interesting. Meanwhile a new low pressure center was building in the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska at 996 mbs, forming a pressure gradient with the high to it's west producing 35 kt northwest winds sweeping from Western Alaska down and out over the open waters of the Gulf aimed well towards the Pacific Northwest and California. Otherwise no swell producing fetch was noted.

Over the next 72 hours through Wednesday (5/24) the Gulf low to be the only system of interest. It's to peak early Monday (5/22) with pressure at 984 mbs dropping southeast while producing 35 to near 40 kts winds targeting California best. Seas forecast up to 25 ft Monday morning then the whole system to go into a fast decline by Tuesday with northwest to west winds down to 25 kts and seas dropping to 17 ft. Swell from this system to hit North California late Tuesday (5/23) peaking right before sunrise Wednesday with swell 6.8 ft @ 12 secs (7.5-8.0 ft faces) from 290 degrees, assuming all develops as forecast. This energy to track down into Central CA for mid Wednesday with swell 5.8 ft @ 12 secs (6.0-6.5 ft faces) from 300 degrees, with energy pushing into Santa Barbara that evening at 2.5 ft @ 12 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces) from 305 degrees pushing into San Diego for Thursday morning. 48 hours of declining swell expected for all locations.

Note: A minor pulse of the Madden Julian Oscillation was monitored and appeared to be having some impact on the jetstream and subsequent production of low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska May 10-21. The 30 day averaged Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has pushed down from a positive value of 12.0 at the start of the month to -0.77 as of Saturday (5/20), with daily values of -18 values reported 5/17-5/20. This was contrary to the steady push up into the La Nina range that has been going on since January and appears to be setting us up for a return to ENSO neutral conditions for the summer (neither El Nino or La Nina). Current model data suggests the inactive phase of the MJO is now taking hold over Indonesia pushing east. It will be interesting to see if this returns us to the La Nina-like pattern that was in place over the Spring (positive SOI number), or if it fizzles as it enters the Pacific Basin holding a neutral ENSO pattern.

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

 

California Offshore Forecast
On Sunday (5/21) the models suggest a rather wet Sunday/Monday for Central California courtesy of a weak little low poised just off the coast there. North California is to be too far north of the action, and the low is to fade before having much impact into the San Diego area, though Santa Barbara and even Los Angeles might see late season rain. From a wind perspective a relatively calm pattern forecast through Tuesday all locations other than a light southerly flow from Monterey Bay northward late Monday into early Tuesday. Tuesday evening the next big northwest wind event is to start building in of all places, Southern CA reaching up to Monterey Bay late Wednesday and to Cape Mendocino late Thursday as high pressure builds off the coast. No change through the weekend with brisk northwest winds in effect for all locations except Southern CA, with a weak eddy flow (southwest wind) taking over there in the mornings by Friday as the axis of the high pressure cell pushes more to the north.

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

 

South Pacific

Overview
On Sunday (5/21) a split jetstream pattern continued over the South Pacific with the southern branch ridging over the north edge of the Ross Ice Shelf and tracking east from there, lifting just a little as it tracked over the Amundsen Sea on the eastern edge of the Southern CA swell window, though wind speeds continued weak. No support for surface level gale development. The northern branch remained dominant blowing mostly flat west to east over the 30S latitude with a pocket of 170 kt energy focused over the eastern Pacific. On Monday (5/22) the southern branch is to start lifting just barely north of the Ross Ice Shelf with winds building to 140 kts with the eastern edge of the jet nearly merging with the northern branch off Chile by Wednesday (5/24). A more robust pocket of 140 kt winds is to push over the dateline and into the southern branch then, providing some potential for surface level development over the Eastern Pacific. A second pocket of energy is forecast Friday (5/26) near the dateline pushing further north and tracking east providing more potential for surface level low pressure development in the mid-South Pacific into the weekend.

At the surface on Sunday (5/21) a small 1032 mb high pressure system was east of New Zealand, but otherwise a completely laconic pattern was in place with nothing suggestive of swell development depicted. Over the next 72 hours through Wednesday (5/25) a gradual invigoration of the pattern is suggested with a more favorable jetstream flow aloft trying to take hold. A series of weak gales are to form an rapidly track east, the most interesting starting late Tuesday (5/23) well south of Tahiti pushing fast east. By Wednesday AM pressure to be 968 mbs with a tiny fetch of 55-60 kt winds forecast aimed due north to 120W by night fall. Seas supposedly forecast to 40 ft at 55S 125W. This tiny low to push northeast into Thursday AM then rapidly decay just east/outside the Southern CA swell window, producing more 40 ft seas tracking north towards California and Central America. Will monitor this situation, though it seems a bit optimistic. The pattern has been for these systems to appears on the models, then develop as something much less intense, so the trend is not encouraging.

 

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.

 

Weak Hawaiian Background Pulse
On Thursday (5/18) a small patch of 30-32 ft seas was modeled under New Zealand at 59S 170E heading due east generated by 24 hours of 45 kt west winds confirmed by the QuikSCAT satellite there, but that was gone by nightfall. Limited potential for background swell for Hawaii from 200 degrees starting late Thursday (5/25) with swell up to 1.6 ft @ 17 secs Friday (2.5-3.0 ft faces) holding into Saturday with swell 2 ft @ 15 secs.

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 near neutral pressure pattern is forecast with no swell producing low pressure systems indicated. Low pressure is to form over Japan tracking east on Friday (5/26), but it's to fade Saturday with it's remnants pushing up off Kamchatka Sunday.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a storm of real interest is forecast but a word of caution first. The models have been spouting lot's of hope, only to have something far less materialize, especially looking more than 3 days forward. Anyway, on Thursday (5/25) a 948 mb storm is to form under New Zealand producing 50 kts winds and 37 ft seas, dropping to 944 mbs Friday with 50-55 kt west to southwest winds taking hold. Seas supposedly up to 47 ft This one to start fading Saturday south of Hawaii as winds drop from 40-45 kts aimed due east, but not before seas reach 48 ft at 61S 155W early in the day. A steady decline in sea height forecast thereafter. If this develops as forecast large summer class swell could push northeast focusing on Central America with solid size pushing into California and sideband energy into Hawaii. Confidence very low at this time.

Details to follow...


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Local Interest

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

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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

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