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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: December 4, 2006 11:52 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 = 5.0 - California & 4.5 - 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 12/4 thru Sun 12/10
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   

First Small Swell Pushing In
Registers at Buoy 46006 and 51001

 

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
On Sunday (12/3) Northern CA surf was waist to shoulder high, clean with reasonably warm temperatures. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were flat. Central California surf was near flat. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were flat. The LA Area southward to Orange County was near flat with best sets waist high. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were thigh high. The North Shore of Oahu was head high. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was waist high.

The North Shore of Oahu get's the prize again today, but not by virtue of it being particularly good, just that everywhere else was near flat. Big changes in store for the entire Northeast Pacific starting Monday as the first of a series of potent storms start developing near the dateline pushing east and expanding, fueled by a strong jetstream flow aloft. The North Pacific had been plagued by a weak split jetstream which suppressed storm development at the surface for weeks, resulting in below normal surf. That is about to end if the models are right now that the jet has consolidated and ample upper energy is present to pour gasoline on low pressure systems pushing off Japan. It's a bit too early to talk details, but suffice to say if the models are even half way right the surf will be coming up in a big way. California to be taking the brunt of it, with Hawaii well off the main path, but that might be a blessing with much weather also expected down the main road. 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 (12/3) were right on track with previous expectation with a single strong flow pushing off Japan at 190-200 kts reaching the dateline, then splitting and fading with the north branch pushing over British Columbia and the weaker southern branch limping over Baja. Much promise starting to build over the West Pacific down at the surface. Over the next 72 hours through Wednesday (12/6) the invigorated jet to make a major push east reaching a point mid-way between Hawaii and California centered towards Central CA. with up to 190 kts are forecast barely riding over the dateline then falling into a weak trough centered in the Western Gulf of Alaska. Much potential for surface level development in the region from the dateline falling southeast towards the Central Gulf. The jet to split east of there through with the northern branch pushing up in to NOrth Canada and the southern branch still limping into Baja, with high pressure expected at the surface in between the splits providing a modest modicum of protection for California from what is likely to be a stormy pattern to the west. Beyond 72 hours that protection is to dissolve though as the split pattern pushes mostly over the US mainland and the consolidated jetstream starts to push onshore over Central CA by late Friday (12/8). Hawaii to be free and clear of all the turbulence with the jet passing 1000 nmiles to the north. Winds to fade a bit in the jet, down to 150 kts over the dateline and again north of Hawaii and holding that was into next weekend, with a trough starting to set up just over the California coast helping to reinforce the bad weather pattern expected there. Lot's of support for surface level storm development though with this new pattern, assuming it unfolds as predicted.

At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs was hanging off the Pacific Northwest and California while a series of two storms started developing in close proximity to each other over the dateline and well south of the Aleutian Islands. Over the next 72 hours winter to start making it's mark on the ocean. Potential Storm #1 to be the focus of all action for the next 72 hours (see details below).

 

Potential Storm #1 - First One of the 2006/2007 Winter Season (updated Mon PM)
Sunday AM (12/3) the first storm of the season was starting to develop west of the dateline and well south of the Aleutians with pressure 972 mbs. Winds were confirmed at 50 kts over a small to moderate area at 43N 178E aimed right up the 297 degree great circle path to North CA (302 SCal) and 40 degrees east of the 322 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were building. A smaller second storm was right behind it but insignificant at this time. By the evening pressure was down to 968 mbs with a small area of 50 kt winds in it's south quadrant at 45N 178W aimed 15 degrees south of the 298 degree path to N. California (303 SCal) and 45 degrees east of the 329 degree path to Hawaii. A tiny area of 27 ft seas were modeled at 43N 180W. The smaller second storm was right behind and beneath it getting absorbed into the first storms circulation with winds 50 kts as well.

By Monday AM (12/4) these systems were well consolidated with pressure 966 mbs and a solid area of 50 kts winds terminating at 44N 173W aimed 25 degrees south of the 298 degree path to NCal (303 SCal) and 25 degrees east of the 336 degree path to Hawaii. A small area of 32 ft seas were modeled at 45N 175W. In the evening pressure to be up to 972 mbs with a moderate fetch of 45-50 kt winds extending from the dateline southeast terminating at 45N 168W aimed 20 degrees south of the 297 degree path to NCal (302 SCal) and 45 degrees off the 343 degree path to Hawaii. These winds to finally be getting some footing on the oceans surface with 35 ft seas forecast at 45N 170W.

More of the same forecast Tuesday AM (12/5) with 45-50 kt winds centered at 44N 163W aimed like before. Seas up to 39 ft at 45N 162W But it isn't over with more of the same forecast in the evening and the low getting well established in the Gulf of Alaska with 45-50 kt winds continuing terminating at 44N 155W aimed just 15 degrees south of the 297 degree path to NCal (302 SCal) and 55 degrees off the 360 degree path to Hawaii, effectively out of their swell window. 42 ft seas peaking at 45N 160W aimed right down the 298 degree path to N California.

Finally on Wednesday AM (12/6) the low to start backing off through pressure still to be 964 mbs centered in the north-central Gulf with 40-45 kts west-northwest winds continuing over a moderate area meadnering from the dateline east to 45N 151W coming right down the 299 degree path to NCal again. Seas 43 ft at 44N 155W. It's over for this one after that, but two more are to be right on it's tail.

The models had held rock solid for days, but now that this storm is forming the ususalbackoff is starting to occur. not much, but a subtle step down none the less with more likely. Still a rather large significant class swell is expected to be pushing east and south towards California and Hawaii, with the bulk of the size towards the mainland. 72 hours of 50 kt winds might take a while to get traction on an otherwise near calm ocean, but they will make a serious divot with seas modeled up to 43 ft (dwon from 47 ft) expected within 1800 nmiles of California heading near right down the great circle path there and within 1400 nmiles of Hawaii but heading a bit east of there. Given the projected amount of weather to push in to the mainland, Hawaii will likely be the preferred target for swell arrival with trades holding in the forecast.

Detailed surf forecasts to be posted once this storm gets some time under it's belt.

 

Dateline Utility Class Storm
Late Thursday (11/30) a new low pressure system was rapidly building due east of Japan and nearly over the dateline. An infinitesimal fetch of 45-50 kts winds was present at 42N 171E aimed generally towards Hawaii. By Friday AM pressure was down to 968 mbs with a moderate size area of 50-60 kt winds in the storms west quadrant at 45N 177W aimed at Hawaii almost right down the 328 degree great circle path and 45 degrees south of the 299 degree path to NCal. Seas on the increase. By evening the storm was lifting rapidly north with 60-65 kt winds at 47N 177W aimed directly at Hawaii down the 331 degree path and 40 degrees south of the 303 degree path to NCal. Seas built to 32 ft at 47N 178E. The Jason-1 satellite confirmed seas at 33.0-35.8 ft in this area. By Saturday AM the core of the storm was north of the Aleutians almost totally encased in the Bering Sea with the no real fetch hanging just south of the Islands. 36 ft seas were modeled at 50N 177W. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass right over this area at 6Z (actually late Friday evening) and confirmed seas at 36.0-38.7 ft, consistent with the Wavewatch III Wave Model. This system was gone by afternoon with no swell producing fetch left.

This was a relatively small though vigorous storm but with only 24 hours of effective seas being produced. And even moreso was the issue that it was acting on a positively calm seas state, taking much longer to generate swell than if it was acting on an already agitated surface. Hence the relatively long ramp up time. It was 1947-1959 nmiles from Hawaii and 2413-2631 nmiles from California. We're not classifying this as a significant category storm mainly due to it's short life and limited fetch, though some near significant class waves could be found in Hawaii if all works out just right, but occurring during darkness. Assuming all occurs as forecast the first long period swell of the season is expected to reach Hawaii some time Monday afternoon (12/4) with period 17-19 secs, peaking overnight with swell 6.2-7.2 ft @ 17 secs (10-12 ft faces) with residuals fading from 6 ft @ 14 secs Tuesday morning (8.0-8.5 ft faces). Swell Direction 328-331 degrees. Much smaller energy possible for exposed breaks in North California starting Tuesday (12/5) right at sunset with period 17-18 secs peaking after midnight with swell 4.3-5.8 ft @ 16-17 secs (6.8-8.5 ft faces) with swell down to 4.5-5.0 ft @ 15 secs (6.7-7.5 ft faces) at sunrise Wednesday (12/6). This is likely on the high side with swell realistically about 4-5 ft @ 15 secs Wed AM (6-7 ft faces). Swell Direction 303-308 degrees. Lesser energy pushing into Central and South CA.

 

Tropics
Tropical Storm Durian was positioned 220 nmiles southwest of Guam on Sunday (11/26) tracking almost due west with winds 45 kts and on the increase. By Tuesday (11/28) winds were up to minimal hurricane force at 75 kts positioned just east of the Philippines. On Thursday (11/30) sustained winds were up to 100 kts with the core just south of Manila and still over exposed waters, threading the channel between Islands of the Philippines. By Sunday (12/3) Typhoon Durian was just off the Vietnam coast with sustained winds 90 kts expected to push inland within 24 hours still at hurricane strength. A rapid decline forecast thereafter. No indication of it recurving northeast towards open waters of the Pacific.

 

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

 

California Offshore Forecast
On Sunday (12/3) high pressure at 1030 mbs was centered 450 nmiles west of San Francisco trying to ridge into South Oregon, but not really making. A light to moderate offshore flow was the result over the state. No significant change forecast through Thursday (12/7). But low pressure to start building off the coast in response to a stronger jetstream flow aloft. By Friday AM strong south winds to start moving into North and Central CA pushing south into Southern CA as low pressure moves up to the coast moderating late Saturday some. But a small secondary low to be right behind blowing Sunday out as well especially into South CA. And much more is forecast behind that queuing up in the Gulf. If nothing else a good opportunity to build much needed snowpack in the Sierra's.

 

South Pacific

Overview
A
t the surface and through the next 72 hours there were no indications of any swell producing fetch in the South Pacific.

 

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 the North Pacific storm machine to continue in high gear. Thursday AM (12/7) a moderate 988 mb storm is forecast developing 1200 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino with 45 kts winds developing in it's west quadrant aimed a bit south of California. 36 ft seas initially. This one to track due east with up to 55 kt winds forecast in the evening aimed right at Central CA from 36N 141W down the 301 degree path to SCal with 38 ft seas. This storm to push further east Friday AM (12/8) with 45-50 kts winds and 43 ft seas continuing at 35N 132W 550 nmiles from the coast. This system to start fading and push onshore late Friday evening with 35 kt onshore winds affecting North and North-Central CA.

Yet a third and stronger system forecast developing just west of the dateline on Friday (12/8) with winds to 60-65 kts in the evening straddling the dateline at 43N 178W continuing rapidly east Saturday and not loosing any intensity and getting excellent traction on an already well agitated ocean surface. Seas 43 ft building to 46 ft through the day Saturday This on to fade out on Sunday.

Yet another one is forecast developing west of the dateline late next weekend, and we didn't even mention a 4th weaker one forecast over the Aleutians in the Gulf on Thurs/Fri (12/8). When it rains it pours.

 

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is indicated.

Details to follow...


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Local Interest

El Nino Forecast Updated: El Nino is making it's mark on the Pacific Ocean, though yet to have a major impact on the atmosphere above. Read when the storm machine might fire up, and what evidence is stacking up in favor of El Nino here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/enso/current.shtml

New Precipitation Models: Over the holidays we focused on expanding our coverage of precipitation models, and now provide high resolution coverage of all US coastal locations. You can now tell whether it will be raining when the surf is pumping, or better yet, know whether it will be snowing in the higher elevations (West Coast). Take a look here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html

Weather Model Problem: The past few days the 12Z run of the GFS model has been corrupted when posted on government servers, resulting in our graphic output looking like psychedelic gibberish. This is not a Stormsurf problem and we are switching over to backup servers that are operating normally to capture the data. We have reported the problem to NOAA. This problem has been confirmed by other server users as well. We apologize for the inconvenience. Update: The problem has been fixed. Service has returned to normal as of 11/25/06.

Jason-1 Satellite Problem: On Oct 31 the Jason-1 satellite automatically went into safe-hold mode. This is triggered when sensors on the satellite detect an anomaly that suggests the satellite is in danger. It goes into a type of hibernation to protect it's sensitive instruments. JPL has been working on the issue and was able to restore the satellite to normal operations at 8:30 PM on Friday 11/17. No new data is available yet, but as soon as it is we'll be publishing it over the wave models images as usual here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_alt.html
Note: The first bit of fresh data was posted on 11/29/06 and we're processing it right now.

New Book: Inside Mavericks - Portrait of a Monster Wave: Ace photographer Doug Acton, cinematographer Grant Washburn and San Francisco Chronicle writer Bruce Jenkins have teamed up to present an insiders view of Mavericks. Read all the first hand accounts from Peter Mel, Ken 'Skin Dog' Collins, Grant Washburn, Mark Renniker and the rest of the gang as they describe the game of surfing one of the largest waves in the world, fully illustrated with the hauntingly artistic images from Doug Acton, long-time Mavericks lensman. There's even a section featuring Stormsurf! Get your autographed copy here: http://www.insidemavericks.com/

Towsurfers & Paddle-in Surfers - Participate in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement: The draft EIR for the new Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary management plan has been released. Public comment will be accepted until January 7, 2007. The link provided has all of the information that is pertinent to anyone wishing to participate in the crafting of the new regulations. It cannot emphasize enough the importance of making your comments part of the public record as such comments will be used to re evaluate the proposed regulations before inclusion into the final EIR. This will be the public's last and best chance to shape regulations in our Monterey Bay. If you are passionate about what you do, direct that passion into active participation in this process. http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/jointplan/involved.html

Stormsurf Iceberg Breakup Analysis/Decide for Yourself: There been some debate concerning the facts around the breakup of Iceberg B15A. Here's a short exercise that helps to drive out the facts around the research: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/news/ice_wam.shtml

Stormsurf Supports Antarctic Iceberg Breakup Study: CNN is reporting the story of a storm in the Gulf of Alaska in Fall of 2005 that contributed to the breakup of Antarctic Iceberg B15A. We all know that South Pacific storms produce swells that provide surf for California in the summer, but has anyone considered the implications of what monster winter storms in the North Pacific do to the South Pacific? That is the subject of a research paper by professor Doug MacAyeal from the University of Chicago. He and his team traveled to Antarctica and instrumented a series of icebergs with seismometers to see if they could understand what causes icebergs to break up, and their findings are insightful. And best of all, Stormsurf contributed data in support of their research (and received authorship credits to boot). This is a great example of how the science of surfing interacts with other pure science disciplines. All the details are available in this months edition of 'Geophysical Research Letters' and the synopsis is available here: http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/science/10/02/iceberg.cracks.reut/index.html

New Stormsurf Local Wave Models: Nine months in development and testing, Stormsurf is proud to announce the release of our upgraded local wave models. More locations, more fidelity, more variables imaged including sea height, swell period, wind speed & direction, and wave height plus the older style composite images of surf height and wind all updated 4 times daily. Check them out here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wam.html

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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