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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Sunday, January 8, 2017 3:48 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
2.2 - California & 3.0 - 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 1/9 thru Sun 1/15

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   

3 Gales Charted
4 More Days of Snow for Sierras

On Sunday, January 8, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.5 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 3.4 ft @ 12.3 secs from 22 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.8 ft @ 12.0 secs with swell 2.1 ft @ 11.5 secs from 242 degrees. Wind east 7-10 kts. Water temperature 58.6 degs. At Ventura swell was 1.0 ft @ 10.2 secs from 262 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.6 ft @ 11.7 secs from 248 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.2 ft @ 14.9 secs from 218 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 1.7 ft @ 11.2 secs from 257 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 11.8 ft @ 8.3 secs with swell 9.6 ft @ 8.1 secs from 153 degrees. Wind south-southeast 31-37 kts at the buoy. Water temp 54.9 degs.

    46006, 46059, New! Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (at the bottom of the page)

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.


Current Conditions
On Sunday (1/8) in North and Central CA local southerly windswell was producing waves in the head high.cgius range at exposed breaks and heavily chopped. At Santa Cruz surf was waist high and blown out and whitecapped. In Southern California up north surf was knee high and clean. Down in North Orange Co surf was waist high and clean and almost fun looking on the sets. In San Diego surf was knee to thigh high on the sets and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting small northeast swell at chest high at top breaks and clean with decent form. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell with waves nearly head high and textured from east wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
The North Pacific has been non-productive for a while but that is to change in the next 24 hours with a series of gales forecast strung from Japan to the Gulf of Alaska. In California consistent rain continues north of Point Conception but with very high snow levels, raining at all major ski resorts to the peak except for maybe Mammoth. But that is to change by this evening. A small gale is developing in the Gulf today, with a stronger but small one forecast for the dateline on Monday (1/9) with up to 36 ft seas, while a third one builds off Japan with seas to 41 ft Monday evening. Remnants of that system are to redevelop northwest of Hawaii Wed-Thurs (1/12) with seas to 36 ft. Perhaps more to follow mainly in the West Pacific. So a modest pattern to set up, but nothing over the top. For now the big story continues to be snow in the Sierras.

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

North Pacific

On Sunday AM (1/8) the jetstream was reasonably consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds to 140 kts in pockets forming a weak trough east of the Kuril Islands offering some support for gale development there. But the jet was .cgiitting over dateline much as it has been doing for weeks with the northern branch streaming north through the Bering Sea up into the Arctic Circle and then falling southeast over Alaska and into interior Canada with a backdoor trough circulating off the Pacific Northwest. The southern branch tracked east over Hawaii then ridged some to the northeast moving inland over Central and North CA feeding the cutoff trough but offering no support for swell producing gale development, but pushing warm weather into California. Over the next 72 hours the .cgiit on the dateline is to vaporize but a new .cgiit is to develop briefly near Japan, but quickly fade on Wed (1/11) as winds build in the jet to 180 kts holding the jet together and starting to push well to the east. The cutoff trough off the Pacific Northwest is to start tracking east and move inland on Tues (1/10) while more backdoor energy falls south over Canada into Wed (1/11) serving mainly to produce weather relative to California. Beyond 72 hours winds to continue building in the jet off Japan to 190 kts Thurs-Sun (1/15) with the .cgiit point moving to 160W or north of Hawaii. No troughs to result but the strong flow tracking flat east off Japan to the dateline should provide some support for gale development. East of the .cgiit point on Sun (1/15) the northern branch is to lift north some then be falling southeast into North CA offering more support for weather into CA while the southern branch tracks over Hawaii and then east into Southern Baja. Perhaps a better pattern supportive of swell development will result beyond.

Surface Analysis
On Sunday (1/8) no swell of interest was in the water over the North Pacific and no swell producing fetch was occurring. But low pressure was circulating off Japan, with another mid-way to the dateline and a third off the US West Coast, all offering some hope for the near term.

A gale previously forecast developing off Japan Fri-Sun (1/8) never developed. Also a fetch associated with a cutoff low off British Columbia did not develop as early as forecast.

On Sun AM (1/8) the low just off British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest finally was starting to look more organized producing 35-40 kt east winds tracking off North British Columbia and starting to wrap south into the gales west quadrant at 30+ kts. But no seas of interest were yet in.cgiay. In the evening 35-40 kt north and northwest fetch is to finally take hold in the gales west quadrant taking aim on Oregon south to Central CA with seas building to 23 ft at 45N 143W. On Mon AM (1/8) the low is to race southeast with 35-40 kt west winds just off the Oregon-CA border producing a small area of 24 ft seas at 42N 139W moving towards the coast. In the evening west winds are to be fading in coverage from 35 kt just off Cape Mendocino with 23 ft seas at 41N 133W. Possible small 13-14 sec period swell to result targeting mainly Cape Mendocino southward to Pt Conception.

Reinforcing low pressure is to develop just off Central CA on Tues AM (1/10) generating 40 kt west winds and seas building from 20 ft at 37N 145W. In the evening 40 kt west winds are to be just off Central CA producing 26 ft seas at 38N 130W then impacting the coast Wed AM (1/11) at sunrise. Larger raw swell is possible for Central CA.

Also on Sun PM (1/8) another fetch is to be building over the dateline producing a small area of 45 kt northwest winds. That fetch is to build in intensity Mon AM (1/9) with winds to 50 kts still from the northwest producing 36 ft seas over a tiny area at 42N 177E targeting Hawaii well (320 degrees HI). In the evening 45 kt northwest winds to be falling southeast some with seas 33 ft at 39N 179W (319 degs HI) still targeting Hawaii well. The gale is to be fading while tracking east Tues AM (1/10) with winds fading from 40 kts and seas fading from 29 ft at 39N 172W (329 degs HI). The gale to dissipate from there. Possible modest swell moving towards mainly Hawaii and arriving early for Thurs AM (1/12).

Yet another gale is to develop just off Japan on Sun PM (1/9) producing a small area of 50-55 kt west winds and seas 30 ft at 34N 145E aimed east. On Mon AM (1/9) 50-55 kt northwest fetch is to persist with seas building to 38 ft over a tiny area at 35N 150E. the storm is to continue east in the evening with 55 kt northwest winds and seas to 40 ft at 37N 155E. The storm is to hold strength while tracking northeast on Tues AM (1/10) with 39 ft seas at 39N 158E. In the evening the fetch is to track hard north and be moving inland over the Kuril Islands with seas from previous fetch fading at 30 ft at 39N 166E. Maybe more swell pushing towards Hawaii.


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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday AM (1/8) south winds continued at 20-25 kts from Pt Conception northward infused with warm tropical moisture and solid rain from Morro Bay northward heaviest from San Francisco northward. Also heavy rain was occurring in the Sierras above the peaks of all resorts except for perhaps the top of Mammoth. The high peaks of Yosemite and peaks north of there to about Kirkwood to continue with snow all day. By 10 PM rain is to turn to snow for all Tahoe resorts with a foot of accumulation possible by sunrise Monday. On Monday AM wind is to be from the west- southwest 15-20 kts from Monterey Bay northward and less south of there. Rain to become less consistent along the coast but reaching south to Los Angeles early, the retreating northward to Monterey Bay late. Steady snow is expected at Tahoe fading but still falling at sunset. A few more inches of accumulation into 4 PM. Precip from the next system is to start arriving in Tahoe by 7 PM with another 14 inches of snow accumulation focused on North Lake region. On the coast Tuesday AM southwest winds building from 15 kts early from Monterey Bay northward building to 30 kts later. Rain building in intensity through the day for the same area heaviest from San Francisco northward but reaching south to Morro Bay. Snow in Tahoe through the day building by noon and heavy till sunrise. 20-35 inches of accumulation possible. Wed AM (1/11) the front pushes through the North and Central Coasts at sunrise with west winds 25 kts early fading later and turning northwest. Snow tapering off for the Sierra with 6 more inches of accumulation possible. Thurs AM (1/12) high pressure builds some with northwest winds 15-20 kts for all of North and Central CA but Southern Ca to be protected. Rain showers fading early except lingering for Southern CA. Snow showers for the Sierra and fading. Friday north winds forecast at 10-15 kts strongest for Central CA. Saturday a weak weather system is to be pushing into Oregon and down to Cape Mendocino but high pressure and north winds holding at 10-15 kts south of San Francisco down to Pt Conception. rain limited to Cape Mendocino. Sunday high pressure and north winds are forecast at 10 kts for North and Central CA. Light rain for the North Coast.


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell producing fetch of interest is occurring or 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

Spinoff energy from the Japan storm is to start redeveloping near the dateline on Wed AM (1/11) producing 40 kt northwest winds and seas building from 27 ft at 37N 172E. Winds to build to 45-50 kts over a tiny area on the dateline in the evening with 35 ft seas building at 35N 179E. On Thurs AM (1/12) fetch is to be tracking east and fading from 35-40 kts with seas 37 ft at 34N 174W targeting Hawaii well. Fetch is to be fading from 35 kts in the evening with seas fading from 31 ft 36N 168W. the gale to fade from there while lifting northeast.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

Mixed Signals Suggest MJO IS Weak

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: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward di.cgiaced and generally weak. And by early 2017, it appears to be fading.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Saturday (1/7) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but calm over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south. Anomalies were weak over the equatorial East Pacific and modest easterly on the dateline but neutral west of there and well into the KWGA. East anomalies over the KWGA when they exist are attributable to La Nina being modulated by the MJO (a.cgiified during the Inactive Phase, weakened during the Active Phase).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderate west anomalies were modeled over the western KWGA (West Pacific east to 150E) with strong east anomalies over the eastern KWGA (dateline). The forecast suggests this pattern is to hold but with west anomalies weakening to modest strength a week out (1/15). The first real easterly wind burst from this La Nina started on 9/23 and continued into 12/13, then started oscillating beyond. Easterly anomalies have been consistent, pulsing stronger at times, then weaker, attributable to La Nina and modulated by the MJO.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 1/7 a modest Active Phase was present over the dateline. The statistic model projects it holding and easing east to the dateline 10 days out. The dynamic model depicts the same thing for the next 5 days, then the Inactive Phase is to develop fairly strong in the West Pacific 15 days out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (1/8) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO is weak and barely discernible in the far West Pacific and forecast to hold for a few days, then rapidly collapse and fall back into the far Western Indian Ocean 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (1/8) This model depicts a weak Active MJO in.cgiay over the West Pacific. It is to move to the dateline 1/18 and limp into Central America 2/2. A moderate Inactive signal is to follow in the West Pacific 1/23 moving into Central America 2/17 with a weak Active Phase building over the West Pacific into 2/17. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (1/8) This model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO signal was building over the dateline today with modest east anomalies from La Nina holding on the dateline east of there but weak west anomalies west of there. The Active Phase is to hold on the dateline through 2/24 with modest east anomalies continuing over the dateline til early Feb but west anomalies building in the west KWGA and easing east, finally reaching the dateline mid-Feb. Then the Inactive Phase is to set up in the west starting 2/20 pushing east over the dateline through 3/29 but with no east anomalies associated with it, and instead west anomalies holding. We suspect La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, and producing weak east anomalies in the KWGA but not producing an outright bias towards the Inactive Phase of the MJO. Likewise the MJO is serving to dampen the effects of La Nina when in the Active Phase.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (1/5) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 166E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 177W 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 in.cgiay. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies at +1-2 degs rule from the West Pacific to 180W.  Neutral to weak negative anomalies are east of there to Ecuador but at no more than -1.0 degs and only over a very shallow area reaching maybe 150 meters down. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 1/3 depicts this pocket of of cooler water at -1.0 degs in the East Pacific only in pockets and getting weaker. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so and weakening and getting shallower.
Sea Level Anomalies: (1/3) Negative anomalies at -5.0 cm with a few small pockets to -10 cm control portions of the equatorial Pacific mainly from 105W to 135W and 5 degs north and south. Slowly sea levels are rising as La Nina looses it's grip at depth.

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: (1/7) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a very thin cool pool of water along the immediate coast of Peru but locked from migrating anywhere. Cooler water is starting to build off Ecuador and migrating over the Galapagos and west from there along the equator. A broad area of cool temperatures remains from 145W westward to 160W. La Nina is fading in the East Pacific and holding in the Central Pacific suggesting the a westward di.cgiaced La Nina is remains in control.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (1/6): A warming trend continues along Chile and Peru. A warming trend has also developed between Ecuador and the Galapagos out to 100W. It's neutral west of there with pockets of warming and cooling waters present much like it has been all Fall. The cool pattern in the Central Pacific is not as prominent as weeks and months previous and is weakening in the East.  
Hi-res Overview:
(1/6) A La Nina cool pool is present over the equator from the Galapagos west to 170E and broadest south of Hawaii. La Nina is holding coverage in the west and holding coverage in the east.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (1/8) Today's temps were steady at +0.404.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (1/8) temps were steady at -0.304. Temps are oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.3 to -1.0 degs.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (12/30) This model suggests La Nina developed from June thru Oct in the -0.55 deg range then started rising to -0.5 on Nov 1 and up to -0.2 degs on Dec 1. The forecast has temps gently rising to neutral on Jan 1, then slowly rising from there to +0.5 degs in April and steady out till Sept. This indicates that La Nina is effectively over and a return to normal temps is expected in Spring.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Dec Plume depicts temps are warming and are now at -0.3 degs. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to neutral 0.0 in March 2017 warming to +0.2 degs in May and holding into the Fall. This is warmer than last months forecast and suggests La Nina is over. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (1/8): The daily index was rising some at 14.28 and has been in this range for 9 days. The 30 day average was rising at +5.37 and has been rising for 10 days. The 90 day average was at -0.08 rising for 8 days. All this suggests a neutral pattern was in.cgiay and that La Nina was weak.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (1/8) Today's value was falling at -1.17. A peak low was reached on 11/2 at -1.94 the deepest it had been so far in this event suggesting La Nina was getting better established. But that has backed off, with it trending generally upwards (a better direction) and suggesting La Nina is fading.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker lately (as expected with La Nina setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Oct) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.42, +0.76, +0.12 then falling to -0.90, -1.09 and -0.88 in Oct. But in Nov, it was up to +0.53
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Oct) are: +1.53, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03, +1.25 +0.52, +0.45, +0.56 and up to +1.88 in Nov.
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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