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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: December 22, 2005 9:58 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 & 5.0 - 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 12/19 thru Sun 12/25
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   

No End In Sight
Storms #6, 7 & 8 Scheduled and On-Track

 

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
On Thursday (12/22) Northern CA surf was double overhead plus and hacked by south wind. South facing breaks were 2-3 ft overhead and blown out. Central California surf was 3-4 ft overhead and blown, but not horribly so. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were head high to 2 ft overhead with best breaks maybe a foot or two more. The LA area southward to Orange County was 2-4 ft overhead. Southward from Orange County into San Diego waves were 2-4 ft overhead with set to double overhead. The North Shore of Oahu was 2-4 ft overhead and clean early. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was chest to head high.

No change in California with the north part of the state ruined by hard south winds and storm conditions, but gradually improving as one traveled south, with double overhead clean surf still being reported at best breaks into Southern California, down from the triple overhead sets of the day before. Hawaii was in the lull in between storm swells, but not for long with Swell #6 expected at the outer buoy shortly. The storm and swell machine is expected to continue in high gear with Storm #6 pushing north of Hawaii and Monster Storm #7 starting to organize off Japan. Storm #8 is on the charts behind it. Most impressive storm track with the whole North Pacific Ocean pushing east, just the way we like it. See details below...

 

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

North Pacific

Overview
Thursdays (12/22) jetstream continued like a machine pumping up to 210 kt winds over a ridge on the dateline dropping into a trough just north of Hawaii at 190 kts, then pushing northeast into Oregon. Most impressive and entirely supportive of storm development from Japan the whole way to a point north of Hawaii. Over the next 72 hours the ridge over the dateline is to build through late Thursday (12/22) while the trough (dip) north of Hawaii amplifies with up to 210 kt winds feeding into it then lifting north pushing into the Pacific Northwest. The trough is to pinch off Saturday AM (12/24) with the jet to the west settling down just slightly, but not for long. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to start re-energizing Monday (12/26) with 190 kt winds rebuilding off Japan pushing east going to 200 kts mid-week, but flat with no troughs or ridges forecast through the end of the workweek. In all the pattern looks supportive of surface level storm development, but nothing jumping out as an obvious storm starter next week.

At the surface today a small area of high pressure continued hanging down over South Central California at 1020 mbs providing the faintest hint of protection from an otherwise stormy pattern out at sea. Another weak high at 1020 mbs was northwest of Hawaii, but expected to be annihilated by a building storm west of it. Storm #6 was pushing north of Hawaii while the first signs of heavily hyped and massive Storm #7 were starting to form off Japan on Thursday (12/22). Storms #6 and #7 are the dominant weather features for the next 72 hours and beyond.

 

Storm #6 (Hawaii)
On Monday (12/19) Storm #6 was starting to take shape off Japan with pressure 976 mbs. This was a large system with good areal coverage but was nowhere near as strong as was originally forecast. Winds confirmed at 40-50 kt over a broad area terminating at 35N 165E aimed due east or 30 degree south of the 292 degree path to NCal and right up the 300 degree path to Hawaii. Seas built to 30 ft at 37N 155E. In the evening pressure held at 976 mbs with a more modest 40 kt fetch positioned at 38N 170E aimed 30 degrees south of the 292 degree path to NCal and right up the 304 degree path to Hawaii. Seas built to 32 ft centered at 35N 160E.

On Tuesday AM (12/20) this system continued about like before with pressure 972 mbs just east of the dateline with 40-45 kt winds centered at 35N 175E aimed 25 degrees east of the 315 degree path to Hawaii and 20 degrees south of the 287 degree path to North CA. Seas dropped to 30 ft at 36N 169E. In the evening pressure held at 972 mbs over the dateline with a broad area of 40-45 kt winds confirmed centered near 37N 176W aimed 20 degrees south of the 285 degree path to CA and just east of right down the 312 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled at 32 ft centered at 37N 175E. A Jason-1 satellite pass tracked over the eastern edge of the fetch confirming seas in the 32-33 ft range, consistent with the models.

This system continued east through the day Wednesday (12/21), reorganizing with pressure briefly down to 964 mbs early. Seas modeled at 36 ft centered at 39N 178W. In the evening winds covered a reasonably long consolidated fetch of 45 kts stretching from the dateline east to 37N 168W aimed 20 degrees east of the 318 degree path to Hawaii and 20 degrees south of the 289 degree path to North CA (293 SCal). Seas were modeled at 35 ft centered at 39N 172W. The Jason-1 satellite passed dead over the fetch confirming seas 32 ft with one stray reading to 37 ft, on track with expectations.

The storm continued Thursday AM (12/22) diving south towards Hawaii with pressure 972 mbs and 40-45 kt winds terminating at 33N 165W aimed 30 degrees south of the 281 degree path to NCal (285 SCal) and 20 degrees east of the 322 degree path to Hawaii. 33 ft seas were modeled at 36N 165W. By the evening this system is to be gone. 31 ft residual seas forecast at 33N 162W a mere 700 nmiles from Oahu.

The models suggest this system to fade out on Friday AM (12/23) with residual 34 ft seas forecast at 29N 157W tracking east of the Islands and not towards CA.

This was initially to be a stronger storm with much energy forecast aimed well at both California and Hawaii, but has since evolved into something not really optimal for either location. But aside from the technicalities, it still produced 30 ft+ seas for over 96 hours and blowing over an already agitated sea surface, making for solid swell pushing south and east. Also virtual fetch was in-play, such that seas the storm generated were not able to escape the fetch and as a result more energy was piled on top. This should improve the number of waves per set and set consistency early in the swell.

For Hawaii, certainly large swell will occur, but the fetch center is passing very close to the Islands (710-2337 nmiles) resulting in raw, unruly and lumpy surf, even if local winds were favorable (not till Saturday).

For California the issue is that the main swell vector is to be aimed well south of the state, and the fetch is to remain a good distance away (1930-3633 nmiles), and not particularly strong. Certainly some swell to result, perhaps best for Southern CA given it's southerly track, but nothing overwhelming. At least it will have some distance to clean itself up over.

Hawaii (North Shore of Oahu): Expect swell arrival starting Thursday (12/22) at 10 PM with size heading up. Swell to peak starting 2 AM Friday (12/23) continuing through about 11 AM with pure swell 10-11 ft @ 17 secs (17-19 ft Hawaiian) with seas to 15 ft @ 17 secs. Size then starting to trickle down, but not much. More just a shift to a lesser energy period. Solid size to continue through the day Saturday (12/24) with swell 9-10 ft @ 14-15 secs (13-15 ft Hawaiian) early and slowly fading. Swell Direction: 320-335 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival starting Saturday (12/24) at 7 AM with period at 19 secs and size small but building steadily. Swell to peak starting at 8 PM and holding steady through about 7 AM Sunday (12/25) with swell 7 ft @ 17 secs (11-12 ft faces) with piles of local chop on top pushing seas to 11.5 ft. Swell to be trickling down late in the day, but not much. Continued solid energy expected Monday (12/26) with swell 7 ft @ 14 secs (9-10 ft faces). Swell Direction: 280-290 degrees

South CA: Expect swell arrival starting Saturday (12/24) at noon with period near 20 secs secs and size small but building steadily. Swell to peak starting Sunday (12/25) at 4 AM and holding steady through 3 PM with swell 3.0-3.5 ft @ 17 secs (5-6 ft faces) at most breaks and up to 4.0-4.5 ft @ 17 secs (7-8 ft faces) at best breaks in Santa Barbara and San Diego with seas to 6.5 ft. Swell to be trickling down late in the day, and overnight, but not too much. Continued solid energy expected Monday (12/26) early with swell 3.0-3.5 ft ft @ 15 secs (4-5 ft faces) at most breaks and 4.0-4.5 ft @ 15 secs (6-7 ft faces) at best breaks and fading from there. Swell Direction: 285-295 degrees

 

Possible Monster Storm #7
This to be the closest thing to a full on El Nino-like winter storm we've seen in quite a while, assuming it develops as the models depict.

This large storm was tracking off Japan on Thursday (12/22) heading due east with winds confirmed at 50-60 kts winds centered near 32N 164E. In the evening pressure to drop to 954 mbs with hurricane force winds forecast at 60-65 kts over a small area at 40N 160E aimed due east. Seas forecast at 32 ft.

On Friday (12/23) pressure to be down to 950 mbs with a broad fetch of 55-60 kt winds centered at 42n 168E aimed due east or just south of the 297 degree path to NCal (302 SCal) and 25 degrees east of the 314 degree path to Hawaii. Seas building to 44 ft centered at 42N 165E. In the evening pressure to drop to an unbelievable 942 mbs with 55-60 kt winds still aimed due east in the storm south quadrant centered at 42N 173E aimed right up the 296 degree path to Ncal (300 SCal) and 30 degrees east of the 317 degree path to Hawaii. Seas up to 51 ft centered at 43N 173E.

On Saturday AM (12/24) the storm to cross the dateline with pressure still an impressive 948 mbs with 55-60 kt winds aimed due east at 44N 180W or right up the 297 degree path to NCal (302 SCal) and 50 degrees east of the 326 degree path to Hawaii. Seas forecast at an impressive 53 ft at 43N 180W. in the evening this system to be pushing into the Gulf of Alaska with pressure 952 mbs and a broad fetch of 45-50 kt west winds centered at 45N 172W aimed right at NCal up the 297 degree path (302 SCal) but nothing at Hawaii. Seas forecast at 50 ft at 44N 174W.

On Sunday (12/25) the core storm is to falter and fade with 44 ft residual seas forecast at 45N 165W. But by evening a new system is to take up the slack developing with pressure 976 mbs with 55 kt winds centered at 37N 175w aimed right at Hawaii down the 319 degree path but too far south of any path to California. Seas building.

On Monday AM (12/26) pressure to drop to 964 mbs with 60 kt winds again at 40N 161W taking aim east of Hawaii but almost right up the 286 degree path to North CA (290 SCal). Seas forecast at 41 ft centered at 42N 163W. In the evening pressure to be down to 954 mbs with 55-60 kt winds centered at 42N 150W aimed right at Ncal up the 287 degree path (291 SCal). Seas forecast at 43 ft centered at 42N 152W.

This storm to fade out Tuesday (12/27).

It's way too early to tell with any certainty but the sheer size and duration of this storm coupled with the intense wind speeds projected and their trajectory towards both Hawaii and California would insure a large, very long period and long lasting swell (especially for California), if all this play out. Hawaii to likely get slammed by the most size but it might be a little less refined (more geared towards tow surfing), where California would see the groomed longer period energy ideal for paddle in surfing. Of course local winds will have a major effect on either location, ands it's silly to try and project them at this time. Monitor this situation closely.

Rough estimates suggest swell arrival in Hawaii early Monday (12/26), Ncal late Tuesday and Scal Wednesday AM.

 

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

 

California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (12/22) low pressure remained was in control of the waters off California but high pressure was trying to take a stand centered of Northern Baja at 1022 mbs. The next in the series of local storms (remnants of the larger mother systems out in the open Pacific) is to approach the coast late Saturday (12/24) setting up more south winds starting in the San Francisco Bay area and pushing south to Pt Conception by early Sunday. From there south winds are to dominate the Central and North coasts through Wednesday (12/28) then be replaced by north winds of velocity after that. Southern California to remain protected with a light wind regime until Thursday, when the north wind scenario also washes them out.

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

 

South Pacific

Overview
No swell producing fetch forecast over the next 72 hours.

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 weather scenario is to remain solid. Of interest is the forecasted development of yet another storm off Japan on Monday (12/26) tracking east and slowly fading as it reaches the dateline. Pressure to drop to 960 mbs with 50-55 kt west winds initially down to 35 kts as it reaches the dateline Thursday (12/29). Seas to 38 ft initially aimed well at California with decent and more local 30 ft energy taking aim at Hawaii from the dateline.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.

Details to follow...


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Local Interest

More Local Wind Models: Stormsurf is proud to announce the expansion of our local wind models, now providing global coverage. Get the latest local wind forecast updated 4 times daily with coverage out 7.5 days. See them here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu.html

Sharks, Sharks and more Sharks: Want to know all the details of every shark encounter over the past few months in California? You can read all about it in the fascinating chronology produced be the Shark Research Committee. There's alot more going on in our waters than you could ever have imagined (or ever wanted to know). http://www.sharkresearchcommittee.com/pacific_coast_shark_news.htm

Stormsurf Weather Model Update: Over the weekend (10/30) we moved new new code into production that should dramatically improve the efficiency and reliability of our weather models. We've had problems with them not keeping in-sync with the wave models. Hopefully that problem is now resolved though we're still dependent on NOAA data servers just like everyone else. What this fix does do is provide the infrastructure now to rapidly expand our offering of weather models, enabling more detailed global coverage. We will be working on that as time permits.

Rob Gilley Photgraphy: Please take amoment to check out the selection of limited print images availabe at Rob Gilleys webite. All images in the 2005 line were taken by Rob Gilley, an 19 year Surfer Magazine staff photographer, and are personally signed and numbered by him: http://www.pacificsurfgallery.com

Tutorial on the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) Presented by Dr. Roland Madden: If you're interested in El Nino and the MJO, have a basic understanding of El Nino, and you have broadband connection, audio and Macromedia Flash installed, then the following presentation is a must see. Dr Madden present a great overview of how the MJO works. And there's nothing like hearing it straight from the founders mouth. Link here: http://meted.ucar.edu/climate/mjo/mjonav0.htm

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

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table

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