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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: January 6, 2007 12:06 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 = 3.9 - California & 3.8 - 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 1/8 thru Sun 1/14
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   

Japan Storm Building
.cgiit Jetstream Pattern for the East Pacific


On Saturday (1/6) Northern CA surf was double to tr.cgie overhead and chunky ugly mix. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest high. Central California surf was head high. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were chst to head high at best breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was chest high at the better breaks. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were chest to head high on the sets. The North Shore of Oahu was head high windswell. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was pushing double overhead from local windswell.

California had surf, but unrelenting north wind too making for rather ugly conditions at all but the most protected spots both north and south. Hawaii was in the doldrums on northern shores with larger easterly windswell the dominant energy source at the moment. A moderate pulse is expected for the Islands on Sunday providing something decent to ride for 2 days, but only in the utility class range. California to get another dose of solid utility class swell from the Gulf Sunday with yet another Mon/Tues with somewhat improved local wind conditions, but in all nothing really eye opening. The real issue is a .cgiit jetstream flow holding strong over the Eastern Pacific, setting up high pressure at the surface from the dateline eastward and driving any strong northward or just not allowing them to develop at all. This is to become real obvious in the coming days as a large lumbering storm sets up over Japan and tries to push east, but instead gets stuck off the Kuril's and drifts north into the Bering Sea with fetch never pushing further east than 170E. The result to be small well decayed long period energy for Hawaii and California, but nothing more. We're attributing much of this to the ongoing inactive phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation, which is producing stronger than normal trades over the West Pacific looking very unlike any El Nino one would expect. Fortunately that is to be short lived with the active phase of the MJO already in control of the Eastern Indian Ocean and expected to push in the to West Pacific this week, possible reversing the trades and fueling the storm track through the end of the month. See details below...


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

North Pacific

Saturdays jetstream charts (1/6) depicted a weak to moderate consolidated flow pushing off Japan reaching the dateline with top winds 170 kts right over the southern part of the peninsula. The jet quickly weakened as it approached the dateline then .cgiit with the southern branch pushing over Hawaii then even further south tot eh equator totally missing even Mexico while the northern branch help most the energy with near 140 kt winds ridging into the mid-Gulf of Alaska then dipping southeast while passing into the Pacific Northwest. Best bets for surface level storm development were inland of Japan maybe in the northern Gulf. Over the next 72 hours through Tuesday (1/9) the jet to continue best over and just off of Japan with 180 kt winds forecast there pushing to 170E flat off the coast providing a nice pocket for storm development there. The .cgiit pattern to continue strongly in the east pushing east into British Columbia with winds 120-150 kts again favoring only small and sporadic storm development for the far northern Gulf of Alaska, through likely continuing the wet pattern for British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. Beyond 72 hours more of the same is forecast with all consolidated energy forecast in the West Pacific with winds still no less than 160 kts pushing a bit further east to 170W a week out with the big .cgiit still in.cgiay over the East and energy becoming even more diffuse, with virtually no support for storm development indicated by Wednesday (1/10) and beyond.

At the surface today the pattern in the upper atmosphere is well reflected at ocean level. Strong high pressure at 1036 mbs was positioned 600 nmiles west of San Francisco riding west to almost the dateline with a second high at 1032 mbs just west of the dateline. These two highs were providing a virtual blockade of the Pacific everywhere other than the northern Gulf of Alaska, where conveniently a small low was sitting at 982 mbs generating a small amount of 35 kt fetch aimed towards North California into the Pacific Northwest. This one to build with up to 45-50 kt winds forecast by nightfall at 46N 148W aimed due east towards the Pacific Northwest generating a tiny area of 32 ft seas in the same vicinity, then all of it to push into North Canada early Sunday and out of the picture. This to generate swell for the Pacific Northwest pushing down into North CA Monday (1/8) at perhaps 9.4 ft @ 15-16 secs (12-14 ft faces) then fading slowly Tuesday as period drops from 14 secs.

Also on Thursday (1/4) a 980 mb low developed over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians generating 45 kt west winds and seas of 35-37 ft pushing mostly east and fading as it tracked into the Gulf of Alaska early Friday. HAwaii to see some of that starting Sunday (1/7) at 6 ft @ 16 secs (8-10 ft faces) from 325 degrees fading Monday. But rather large northeasterly freak tradewind swell to be the main story from the Island into Tuesday driven by all the high pressure to the north.

Japan Storm
Of most interest to both Hawaii and California is the expected development of a large storm early Sunday (1/7) over Japan pushing to the southern Kuril Islands with a moderate area of 45-50 kt winds and 35 ft seas setting up pushing east off Japan. By evening it to have moderated some with winds 45-50 kts lifting just a bit north with seas 42 ft. The storm to continue lifting north Monday (1/8) with the core tracking just barely clear of the Kuril Islands with 45-50 kt west winds continuing from 44N 162E and seas 45 ft drifting north in the evening pushing up to 48 ft. The core of the low to be just off central Kamchatka Tuesday AM with winds down to 35-40 kts aimed east and seas 42 ft pushing into the Aleutians. These winds to be aimed generally right up the 300-304 degree great circle paths to North CA (305-309 SCal) through the storms life but sweeping over a less defined arc for Hawaii over the 300-318 degree paths. Seas modeled in 40 ft range but most of this energy to be pushing rather northeast than due east, limiting the swell generation capacity for Hawaii and putting more energy up paths to the US mainland. The issue here though is that it's to be 3600 nmiles away from the US allowing for lot's of swell decay over it's travel east. Hawaii, though closer and not suffering as much ill effects of decay, is to be a bit off the main energy track. In all, long period large utility class energy expected for both locales. See QuikCAST's for swell details.


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


California Offshore Forecast
On Saturday (1/6) the windy pattern continued driven by a bullet proof 1040 mb high pressure system 600 nmiles west of Monterey Bay. North winds were sweeping down the north coast but turning northeast into Southern CA. No big change forecast Sunday either. Finally on Monday the high to start ridging into northmost CA providing a hint of an offshore flow with less wind velocity for North and Central CA while the south end of the state continues in favorable conditions. Unfortunately the whole scenario to start over again Wednesday as new high pressure at 1040 mbs tracks from the Gulf southeastward setting up strong north winds (25 kts) over nearshore waters north of Pt Conception and lesser speeds into Southern CA through Friday (1/12). Maybe some improvement hinted for Saturday but that is far from certain.


South Pacific

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




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

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours and after the Japan Storm (above) virtually no swell producing fetch is charted over the entirety of the the North Pacific other than north windswell for California. Most uninspiring. We're really banking on the change in the MJO to jumpstart the winter season again.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is indicated.

Details to follow...

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Local Interest

High Noon and Low Tide: Eric Nelson has remastered this epic Mavericks documentary covering a week of giant surf leading up to that fateful day of 12/23/94 when we lost Mark Foo. See all the footage with archived and recent interviews of all the best riders including Grant Washburn, Doc Renneker, Evan Slater, Peter Mel and more. This is a must-have piece for any serious Maverick collection. Available at local surfshops. Will be coming to an on-line store shortly.

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:

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:

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:
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:

Towsurfers & Paddle-in Surfers - Participate in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement: The draft EIR for the new Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary management.cgian 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.

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:

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 i.cgiications 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 exa.cgie of how the science of surfing interacts with other pure science disc.cgiines. All the details are available in this months edition of 'Geophysical Research Letters' and the synopsis is available here:

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.cgius the older style composite images of surf height and wind all updated 4 times daily. Check them out here:

Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's si.cgie and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet E.cgiorer 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! .xml

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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