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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: December 8, 2006 8:20 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   

Swell #1 Fading
Storm #2 Building

 

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
On Thursday (12/7) Northern CA surf was waist to chest high and clean. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist to chest high. Central California surf was also waist to chest high. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were mostly flat. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh high. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were thigh high. The North Shore of Oahu was 13-15 ft. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was 4 ft overhead.

Swell #1 is hitting strong at Hawaii with solid overhead surf, though not quite as big as hoped for. Swell #1 is also hitting hard on the outer California buoys with landfall imminent. Until them flatness prevailed along most of the coast with no wind to speak of. The models are showing more of the same with a series of three strong storms progressing from the dateline east into the Gulf of Alaska sending sideband energy down towards Hawaii and more and larger direct significant class energy impacting California head on through late next week. After than a bit of a break expected, but likely more to form behind with El Nino in control of the situation. See details below...

 

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

North Pacific

Overview
Thursdays jetstream charts (12/7) depicted a solid flow pushing east off Japan tracking almost flat across the Pacific targeting the San Francisco, but splitting just off the coast there with the northern branch pushing over British Columbia and the southern branch tracking over Southern Baja. a moderate trough was over the dateline with a steeper one well off the California coast. both these troughs were supporting development of surface level storms. Winds were peaking in the dateline trough at 180 kts with pockets of 140 kts winds over most of the rest of the North Pacific. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (12/10) the consolidated jet to hold together well, though slowly loosing a bit of energy but not bad, with winds still in the 150-160 kt range in pockets. The dateline trough is to move to the Western Gulf and the other to push over California. Support still ongoing for surface level gale/storm development. Beyond 72 hours a faint ridge is to set up over California driving the jet more towards the Pacific Northwest helping provide a dryout into California with the faintest hint of a small split in the jet developing over the dateline Wednesday (12/13), though more stronger consolidated energy is modeled over Japan pushing east, so no big concern is warranted.

At the surface today the remnants of Storm #1 were trying to reorganize off the Central CA coast with pressure 1000 mbs. Otherwise a new storm was trying to form in the Western Gulf of Alaska expected to morph into Storm #2. Yet a third pulse was trying to organize over Japan, but it was too early for this one yet.

Over the next 72 hours Storm #2 to take center stage (see details below).

 

Storm #1 - First One of the 2006/2007 Winter Season
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 was up to 972 mbs but contrary to modeled fetch of 45-50 kts, winds were confirmed at 50-60 kts solid over a small to moderate area at winds extending from the dateline southeast terminating at 44N 165W 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 were finally getting some footing on the oceans surface with 35 ft seas modeled at 45N 170W. the Jason-1 satellite just missed passing over this area.

More of the same occurred Tuesday AM (12/5) with a very nice fetch of 50-55 kt winds encased in a broader fetch of 40-50 kt winds were covering the entire area from the dateline southeast to 43N 162W and aimed like before. Good setup. Seas up to 39 ft were modeled at 45N 162W But it isn't over just yet with more of the same occurring in the evening and the low getting well established in the Gulf of Alaska with 50-55 kt winds confirmed 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. 43 ft seas peaked at 44N 159W aimed right down the 298 degree path to N California.

Finally on Wednesday AM (12/6) the low started backing off though pressure was still 964 mbs centered in the north-central Gulf with 40-45 kts west-northwest winds continuing over a moderate area meandering from the dateline east to 45N 151W coming right down the 299 degree path to NCal again. Seas were modeled at 43 ft at 44N 157W. It's was over for this one after that. Swell from this storm hit buoy 46006 off California at 4 PM quickly ramping up to pure swell reading of 12.2 ft @ 19-20 secs at 7 PM and heading up from there. Swell was also hitting buoy 51001 northwest of Hawaii at 9-10 ft @ 15-16 secs from noon through 7 PM, much less than expected. The

But of issue is the forecast development of a new storm from the remnants of Storm #1 right off the Central California coast late Thursday into Friday (12/8). This one to be tiny with pressure 998 mbs and winds 35-40 kts aimed at Pt Conception to Monterey Bay generating 22 ft seas through the day Fri a mere 444 nmiles west of Pt Conception moving to within 224 nmiles by evening and adding piles of chop and warble plus sizeable raw swell on top of the energy already in the water from Storm #1. This will destroy any quality that is left of Swell #1 in the Central CA area.

The models had held rock solid for days, but eventually gave up a little after the storm started forming. Not much, but a subtle step down none the less. 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 took a while to get traction on an otherwise near calm ocean, but they have made a serious divot with seas modeled up to 43 ft (down from 47 ft) 1375-1841 nmiles of North California heading near right down the great circle path there and within 1380-1501 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, though Southern CA might do pretty good too. The local raw component of the follow-on storm off California to seriously degrade what would otherwise been very good quality and size.

North California: Residuals energy fading by Saturday AM at sunrise with combined swell 11 ft @ 14-15 secs and raw (12-14 ft faces). Swell Direction: 294-298 degrees

South California: Period to drop towards the 17 sec range about sunset continuing there through 3 AM Saturday (12/9) with swell 4-5 ft @ 17 secs (7.0-8.5 ft faces). Swell from the local storm off the Central CA coast to arrive at 3 AM too quickly building to 5.5 ft @ 14 secs (8 ft faces and 9 ft at best breaks but raw) with residual energy from both swells fading at sunrise Saturday from 7 ft @ 14-15 secs (10 ft most breaks) and up to 8 ft @ 14-15 sec for best breaks (11 ft faces) but again raw. Swell Direction (both swells): 295-303 degrees

 

Storm #2
Storm Forecast/History
A new storm formed over the dateline Thursday AM (12/7) with pressure 972 mbs producing a broad but diffuse fetch of 40-45 kts winds roughly near 44N 176W aimed just 10 degrees south of the 298 degree path to California and 30 degrees east of the 328 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled building from 25 ft over a large area getting good traction on a well roughed up ocean surface. In the evening winds became more organized and repositioned at 43N 163W with seas modeled building to 32 ft over a moderate plus sized area at 47N 175W.

On Friday AM (12/8) pressure dropped to 964 mbs with the core over the eastern Aleutians with winds confirmed down to barely 40 kts over a diffuse area at 46N 156W with seas up to 36 ft centered there (47N 165W) positioned and aimed right down the 303 degree path into North CA and aimed 40 degrees east of the 348 degree path to Hawaii. But this seemed a little high. This fetch to fade be gone in the evening with residual 35 ft seas forecast at 48N 158W heading well down the 305 degree path to California and the Pacific Northwest with most energy bound well east of any track to Hawaii.

This system to be north of it's predecessor and not as strong, but that's all relative. More sizeable energy to be pushing southeast targeting California with significant class swell and Hawaii with significant class tangent swell.

At the same time on Friday AM (12/8) a new low was racing east from the dateline with a small fetch of 50-55 kts winds confirmed in it's south quadrant at 43N 178W aimed right up the 296 degree path to NCal (301 SCal) and 30 degrees east of the 319 degree path to Hawaii. Seas trying to build but it was moving east too fast for it's winds to get much traction. More of the same is forecast in the evening with 50 kts west winds modeled at 45N 165W.

Finally Saturday AM (12/9) 50-55 kt winds from this system to get traction on the remnants of seas from the earlier incarnation of this storm at 43N 153W generating 38 ft seas there aimed right down the 295 degree path to NCal (300 Scal) and aimed mostly east of the 360 degree path to Hawaii. In the evening 40-45 kt residual winds are forecast at 43N 142W aimed again right at NCal down the 298 degree path (302 SCal) with 42 ft seas pushing towards the coast from 44N 146W.

By Sunday AM (12/10) 35 northwest winds associated with the fading core of this low pushing up to the Cape Mendocino coast. 35 ft seas modeled at 42N 138W This one to be gone by nightfall.

Swell Generation Potential
We had originally projected this as 2 different storms, which in essence they really are, but since the resulting swells will arrive along the California coast simultaneously, we're going to consider it a single system. This is looking to be another moderate typical winter storm with 60 hours of 45-50 kts winds and a nice core in the second incarnation in the 50-55 kts range for 36 hours. This will result in a good dose of 35-40 ft seas all aimed due east right up the great circle paths to California with sideband energy drifting south towards Hawaii, but from a very oblique angle and likely not enough to reach significant class thresholds. So significant class swell is expected for North CA with lesser energy in the south end of the state with period 17-20 secs, though not as strong as Storm #1. And of course, weather to be a concern as it is modeled to push very close to the coast.

 

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

 

California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (12/7) the last vestiges of high pressure at 1020 mbs was centered a few hundred nmiles southwest of San Diego providing a calm wind pattern over the state. That to be short lived though as localized low pressure is developing north of the high and just off the Central California coast bound for a northeastward push during the day Friday (12/8) with south winds impacting the coast through the day. The to open the door for a another local low late Saturday with more onshore/southwesterly winds. In all instances this to be limited mainly north of Pt Conception though warble and short period energy associated with these event to likely have some impact into Southern CA. High pressure to start building in on Sunday bringing north winds as it clears out lower pressure, then a calmer pattern to follow Monday through Thursday (12/140 of next week.

 

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 multiple smaller fetches of short lived 35-40 kt winds are forecast circulating under what is now becoming a semi-permanent low in the Gulf of Alaska generating continuous 20-25 ft seas pushing east and south towards California with smaller sideband energy into Hawaii. This indicates continuous large background swell in the 13 sec range, with larger longer period energy from the aforementioned storms superimposed over that.

One more strong system tentatively names Storm #4 is charted building east of the dateline Sunday (12/10) with 60-65 kt east winds projected through the day Monday (12/11) in the vicinity of 40N 175E-175W aimed right down the 292 degree track to California and 40 degrees east of the 325-332 degree tracks to Hawaii. Seas forecast at 38-39 ft. 55-60 kt winds to unbelievably continue through the day Tuesday (12/12) again in the storms south quadrant aimed due east from 42N 165W to 43N 158W and again like before down the 292 degree path to NCal (297 SCal). Seas building from 45 ft to 51 ft late. This system to fade through the day Wednesday (12/13), but that's relative and in closer proximity to the US West Coast taking a bead on Washington and British Columbia. Seas still 52 ft at 44N 151W in the AM aimed like before (293 degrees relative to NCal, 298 SCal) fading to 49 ft late. this system to move out of the California swell window Thursday. if this comes to pas a very large and long period swell is expected to push into California and the Pacific Northwest late next workweek.

 

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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