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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016 4:16 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
3.3 - California & 1.5 - 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 10/17 thru Sun 10/23

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   

Small Gale in Gulf
Generally Weak Pattern in Play - MJO Neutral

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.

Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.

On Thursday, October 20, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.3 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 2.6 ft @ 16.1 secs from 322 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.7 ft @ 10.8 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 10.3 secs from 264 degrees. Wind calm. Water temperature 64.8 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.3 ft @ 9.3 secs from 269 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.8 ft @ 8.6 secs from 272 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 3.3 ft @ 10.1 secs from 277 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.0 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 4.3 ft @ 12.1 secs from 295 degrees. Wind northwest 16-20 kts. Water temp 59.2 degs.

    46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Thursday (10/20) in North and Central CA residual Gulf windswell was producing waves in the shoulder to head high range on the face at exposed breaks and clean but weak. At Santa Cruz the same swell was producing waves at head high on the sets and clean but soft. In Southern California up north the same swell was producing waves in the waist to maybe chest high range and clean but soft. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were waist to maybe chest high and clean and weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting small swell from a gale previously in the Northwest Pacific with waves waist to chest high and clean at top breaks. The South Shore was flat to thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting waist high east windswell and chopped from east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
Residual windswell from a series of local gales that tracked through the Gulf of Alaska last week into the weekend was still dribbling into North and Central CA but fading out. A new gale was tracking through the Northern Gulf Wed-Fri (10/21) with up to 27 ft seas aimed southeast. Also a somewhat stronger gale is forecast racking off the Kuril's on Fri-Sat (10/22) with up to 32 ft seas aimed east at Hawaii. And maybe a local gale is forecast just off Oregon on Mon-Tues (10/25) with 22 ft seas aimed down into Central CA with more potential activity in the Northwest Pacific beyond.


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

North Pacific

On Thursday AM (10/20) the jetstream was consolidated tracking over the Kuril Islands forming a trough then ridging some over the dateline before starting to form another trough over the Gulf of Alaska before moving inland over North Oregon. Winds were 130 kts over the Kuril's and 140 kts falling into the Gulf offering some support for gale development. Both troughs to track east into Friday PM (10/21), then are to start loosing energy and organization with support for gale development fading out. Still a reasonably cohesive flow is to hold into Sunday AM (10/23) with the jet pushing off North Japan at 140 kts in pockets ridging slightly over the dateline then falling into what appears to be the start of a new trough developing off North CA also near 140 kts offering some support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the ridge over the dateline is to build pushing the jet hard north up into the North Bering Sea on Tues AM (10/25) then falling hard south into the Eastern Gulf of Alaska at 130 kts forming a trough and offering some support for gale development, then tracking hard east into North CA. But by Wed (10/26) that Gulf trough is to pinch off while falling further south to almost 25N. By Thurs (10/27) more of the same is expected with the jet tracking flat off Japan at 140 kts ridging over the dateline then falling in steps southeast through the Gulf with a pinched trough just off California. there is just not quite enough wind energy in the jet to keep it stable in any one position long enough to have a real positive impact down in lower levels of the atmosphere.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (10/20) a new gale was tracking through the Gulf of Alaska targeting the US West Coast (see Gulf Gale below)/ Also small swell was hitting Hawaii from a short lived gale previously in the West Pacific (see West Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a gale is forecast developing off the South Kuril Islands on Fri AM (10/21) producing 45-50 kt west winds just free and clear of the South Kuril's with seas building from 28 ft at 44N 151E. On Fri PM (10/21) the fetch is to continue producing at 40-45 kt west winds with seas building to 30 ft at 46N 160E targeting Hawaii (315 degrees). On Sat AM (10/22) this system to move east and fade with 40 kt west winds and seas fading from 31 ft at 44N 165E (315 degs HI). This system is to be gone after that. Small swell is possible for Hawaii. Will monitor.


West Pacific Gale
On Sun AM (10/16) a tiny fetch of 40 kt west winds was pushing off the Northern Kuril's starting to get traction and generating 20 ft seas over a tiny area at 46N 165E. Fetch faded from 35 kt while falling southeast in the evening with seas building to 23 ft at 45N 170E (319 degs HI). By Mon AM (10/17) fetch was over the dateline and fading from 30 kts with seas fading from 18 ft at 43N 175E. This system was gone.

Hawaii: Small swell is expected into the North Shore of Oahu on Thurs PM (10/20) pushing 3 ft @ 13-14 secs (4 ft faces). Swell fading Fri AM (10/21) from 3.3 ft @ 12 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 320 degrees


Gulf Gale
A gale developed in the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Wed AM (10/19) generating a tiny fetch of 35-40 kt north winds extending south from the eastern most Aleutians. Seas building. By Wed PM (10/19) 40 kt northwest winds were over a small area falling southeast. Seas built to 24 ft over a tiny area at 48N 156W. On Thurs AM (10/20) winds were fading from 35 kts over a small area aimed more east and tracking east positioned 1,200 nmiles northwest of California with seas building to 27 ft at 48N 149W (308 degs NCal). In the evening fetch is to fade from barely 30-35 kts while tracking east off of Vancouver Island with seas fading from 25 ft at 48N 141W (314 degs NCal). The low is to move into Central Canada on Fri AM (10/21) with winds 25 kts and seas fading from 20 ft at 50N 134W (outside the CA swell window). Another pulse of swell is possible for the US West Coast north of Pt Conception.

NCal: Expect swell arrival on Sat (10/22) at 10 Am pushing 5.5 ft @ 16 secs (8.0 ft) fading to 6.0 ft @ 14 secs later (8.0 ft). Residuals on Sunday fading from 5.5 ft @ 12-13 secs early (6-7 ft). Swell Direction:308-310 degrees

A secondary fetch of northwest winds is forecast to develop in the Central Gulf on Fri AM (10/21) at 30 kts targeting mainly North and Central CA. In the evening fetch is to fade from 25 kts with low odds of any swell resulting.


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


Tropical Update
Typhoon Haima was in the North Sea of Japan tracking northwest with winds 85 kts and forecast to impact China just north of Hong Kong on Thurs evening (10/20) GMT. No recuravture is expected.

No other tropical systems of interest are being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (10/20) high pressure was weakly ridging into North California generating north winds at 15-20 kts from Pt Conception up to Cape Mendocino. On Friday (10/21) the gradient is to hold with north winds 15-20 kts from Morro Bay northward to Cape Mendocino. Interestingly on Saturday, low pressure is to be moving towards North CA cutting into the gradient with north winds fading to 15 kts over a small area from Morro Bay to Pt Arena then collapsing on Sunday as a front pushes to Cape Mendocino and dissolves. A light wind pattern is to take over on Sunday with rain starting to move into Cape Mendocino late. South winds are to start building on Mon (10/24) reaching down to Monterey Bay late as a low pushes up to Oregon and a front tracks south. Rain reaching south to Pt Reyes. On Tues (10/25) the front and south winds to stall over San Francisco with rain south to San Francisco too. A new local low is to wind up off the coast and keeping winds south from Big Sur northward into Thursday (10/27) but rain limited to extreme NCal.


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell of interest was in the water and no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring.

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


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




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

North Pacific

A gale is forecast developing off Oregon on Mon PM (10/24) producing 40 kt northwest winds over a tiny area and seas building to 22 ft at 44N 135W. Fetch is to fade from 25 kts on Tues AM (10/25) with seas fading from 18 ft at 42N 130W or just off the CA-Oregon border. Small raw swell is possible reaching south to San Francisco if all goes as forecast.

Persistent west fetch at 30 kts is forecast streaming off the Kuril's and Kamchatka Mon-Wed (10/26) generating 18-20 ft seas near 48N 163E somewhat targeting Hawaii. A semi real gale is finally to form in this area on Thurs AM (10/27) generating 45 kt west fetch and 28 ft seas at 48N 160E targeting Hawaii, but that is a long time from now and much could change.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

La Nina Pulsing Colder - But Still Weak Overall

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, though most noticeable in the Pacific. 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. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases help support the formation of El Nino. 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).

Overview: The 2014-2016 El Nino is all but gone except for remnants in the upper atmosphere. La Nina is developing but weaker than expected.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wednesday (10/19) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific and over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south. Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific but modest easterly over the KWGA. A new pulse of the Inactive Phase of the MJO appears to be developing.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderately strong east anomalies were over the KWGA 10/20 and are to hold in coverage through 10/24 then weakening and neutral by 10/27. This indicates the Inactive Phase of the MJO lost a little control in the 10/10-10/15 timeframe, but has regained strength, at least for a moment. The first real east wind burst from this La Nina started on 9/23 and is to continue through 10/23.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 10/19 a neutral MJO signal was indicated over the KWGA in the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern holding for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Inactive Phase starting to move into the West Pacific 2 weeks out. This is no change from what both models have been indicating for weeks. So these models are not believable.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (10/20) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was indiscernible and is forecast holding inside the cone of weakness for the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing initially, possible reappearing in the Central Pacific a week out and moving east. We suspect no positive affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is to result.
40 day Upper Level Model: (10/20) This model depicts a very weak Inactive MJO pattern over the West Pacific. It is to hold for the foreseeable future through 11/29.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (10/20) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern was all but gone over the Dateline tracking east and dissipating. A neutral MJO pattern is to follow eventually turning towards a Inactive Phase in the West Pacific starting 11/3 holding through 12/7 supporting neutral wind anomalies if not biased slightly easterly. Another weak Active Phase is forecast to follow 12/10-1/16 with weak west anomalies for the KWGA. Overall the MJO signal is very weak and is to hold as we move deeper into Fall. La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, but not biasing it towards the Inactive Phase.

CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (10/20) No Change - Actual temperatures are stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 158E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 180W and steep, suggesting a hard break between warm water in the west and cool water in the east at depth. This is expected with La Nina developing. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 178W with neutral to weak negative anomalies east of there to Ecuador. The cool subsurface flow is again fading compared to days past at depth no cooler than -1 degs below normal. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is full of neutral to slightly cooler than normal water. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 10/15 depicts the same thing but a bit cooler. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so.

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. All data is from blended infrared and microwave sensors.
Satellite Imagery
Hi-res Nino1.2 & 3.4: (10/19) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a small markedly cool pocket of water developing along the immediate coast of Peru building up in to Ecuador at -1.5 degs. Warm water is just west of that cool pool. Pockets of cooler water continue along the equator from the Galapagos west to 100W, then becoming more established west of there to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. The coverage of the cooler waters from Ecuador westward is a bit larger than weeks previous. La Nina is in control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, and is starting to build in the equatorial East Pacific (Nino1.2 region between 80W-120W).
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/19): A marked stronger cooling trend was indicated from Ecuador west over the Galapagos out to 120W. Pockets of warming and cooling waters are west of there. A weak warming trend continues off Africa to Brazil.
Hi-res Overview:
(10/17) The La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. Cooling temps are rebuilding from Ecuador to 120W on the equator with a continuous stream now in control in this region. A recent pulse of downwelling is over, with cooling starting to develop.

Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (10/20) Today's temps were falling some from +0.036 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (10/20) temps were rising some but well negative at -0.407 degs, falling from a recent peak on 9/25 at +0.45 degs (9/25). Temp are oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.3 to -1.0 degs until the warming spike in late Sept. Temps bottomed out at -1.0 degs near 7/21-7/26.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (10/20) This model suggests La Nina held from July thru Oct 1 in the -0.55 deg range. The forecast indicates temps are to start falling reaching -1.0 degs in late Dec, then rising steadily from Jan reaching neutral in April 2017 and up to +0.5 degs by June. This is very interesting with the model holding the strength of La Nina at minimal ' La Nina' territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Oct Plume depicts temps have reached their peak minimum at -0.6. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to -0.2 in Jan 2017 and neutral in April, starting to turn weakly positive after that to +0.6 in June. This is up slightly from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs and barely in La Nina territory. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):   
Southern Oscillation Index (10/20): The daily index was down some -3.87. The 30 day average was down some at +4.37. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average is down some at +7.08. It transitioned from negative to positive the first time in years on 7/20. El Nino is gone in all dimensions of the SOI Index now and La Nina is becoming pronounced
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (10/20) Today's value was falling slightly at -1.69 (it peaked at -1.77 on 10/12, the deepest it has been so far in this event) suggesting La Nina is getting better established. During El Nino this year it peaked on 3/12 at +1.57 then fell until 4/14 when it started rising again peaking 4/23 at +1.12. But after that La Nina took over with it falling steadily dropping as low as -1.50 in early Aug.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker lately (as expected with La NIna setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Sept) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.42, +0.76, +0.12 then falling to -0.87 and -1.06 in Sept.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Sept) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03, +1.25 +0.52 and +0.45 in Sept.
The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive until Aug 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina. Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data suggests that could be a real possibility. We've been in the negative phase since 1998 through at least 2013 (15 years). By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool


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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