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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, January 10, 2015 5:23 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
Swell Potential Rating = 3.0 - 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 1/12 thru Sun 1/18

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   

Jetstream Strengthening While Pushing Hard East
Series of Small Gales to Develop Tracking East

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.


Current Conditions
On Saturday (1/10) in North and Central CA surf was 1-2 ft overhead at top spots and on the increase with clean conditions but a little hazy. Down in Santa Cruz surf was chest high and mostly clean with perhaps a little texture and soft.  In Southern California up north surf was head high on the sets and lined up and clean looking fun, but a bit on the soft side. Down south waves were chest t0 maybe head high and clean and hazy. Hawaii's North Shore was getting dateline swell fading from about 9 ft early and clean with light trades in effect. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around dateline swell at 3 ft on the face and lightly chopped.   

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

Meteorological Overview
Small residual swell from a gale that developed in the Gulf of Alaska Mon-Tues (1/6) with 27 ft seas aimed east was hitting California. Swell from another small gale that developed on the dateline Wed (1/7) with seas to 33 ft was hitting Hawaii with little bit expected into California on Monday (1/12). Long term a broad gale is forecast developing on the dateline pushing east Sun-Mon (1/12) with seas briefly to 34 ft over a small area just northwest of Hawaii Sun (1/11) aimed east offering potential swell for the Islands and the mainland. Another gale is forecast for the Gulf on Tues-Wed (1/14) with 41 ft seas aimed east targeting the mainland. A weak but broad area of 20-22 ft seas is forecast northwest of Hawaii Thurs-Fri (1/16) offering sideband swell mainly for the Islands beyond.

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

North Pacific

Jetstream - On Saturday (1/10) the jet was pushing due east off Japan with winds strong near 200 kts reaching over the dateline while weakening and .cgiitting north of Hawaii with the southern branch falling just east of a track directly over the Islands and then into Mainland Mexico while the northern branch was trying to make headway up into the Gulf of Alaska, but basically just fading while tracking due east. There was limited support for gale development over the dateline but not organized trough was in.cgiay. Still, wind energy/speeds in the jet alone were impressive. Over the next 72 hours winds are to continue at 200 kts over a larger area pushing flat east off South Japan Sat (1/10) reaching over the dateline to a point almost north of Hawaii Mon AM (1/12) with the .cgiit point reaching east to 150W and a bit of a trough starting to form in the Gulf in association with the northern branch of the jet at the .cgiit point, with that branch pushing up into North Canada and easing slightly east into Tuesday (1/13) with the .cgiit point moving east to 140W. Beyond 72 hours winds are to continue at 175 kts into Thurs (1/15) with a broad trough continuing over the Gulf of Alaska with the jet still running flat west to east on the 33N latitude line. The .cgiit point to progress to 133W at that time, Winds to slowly fade to 150 kts mainly north of Hawaii by late Fri (1/16) with a broad trough continuing in the Gulf while a new pulse of wind energy builds over Japan at 180 kts tracking flat east, and building to 190 kts on Sat (1/17) and starting to fall into what appears to be a building trough east of the dateline and in close proximity (600 nmiles) northwest of Hawaii. Increasing support for gale development there. In all a very nice jetstream flow looks to be setting up an extended window of support for gale if not storm development. The .cgiit point is to move directly into Central CA on Sat (1/17) likely setting up weather. If anything both Hawaii and California might be in for weather events. All this is likely being supported by the  development of the Active Phase of the MJO building over the West Pacific (see MJO/ENSO section below).

Surface Analysis  - On Saturday (1/10) swell from a gale the developed on the dateline Tues AM (1/6) was continuing to hit Hawaii and moving weakly towards the US (see Dateline Gale below). Otherwise low pressure was starting to build over the West Pacific easing east and expanding in coverage, but lacking in organization. One small area of 35 kt west winds was starting to build approaching the dateline and expected to push over it in the evening building to 45 kts over a tiny area generating a small area of 23 ft seas at 37N 180W targeting Hawaii. Winds to briefly build to 45 kts Sun AM (1/11) with seas to 30 ft at 36N 171W (328 degs HI). Winds fading some from 40 kts but pushing east in the evening with a small area of 34 ft seas at 36N 164W (338 degs HI) mostly bypassing Hawaii and aimed better at the US West Coast (280 degs NCal, 286 degs SCal). 35 kt west winds to fade in the Gulf Mon AM (1/12) with 28 ft seas moving to 38N 156W (280 degs NCal, 290 degs SCal). Secondary fetch possible for the same area into Tues AM (1/13) at 35-40 kts resulting in a short lived area of 26 ft seas possible near 38N 152W targeting the US West Coast (283 degs NCal, 291 degs SCal). Something to monitor.    

On Mon PM (1/12) a new fetch of 45 kt west winds is to build in the southern periphery of the larger co.cgiex gale in the West Pacific that is to now be filling the entire Northern Pacific. 28 ft seas building west of the dateline at 30N 170E (292 degs HI). fetch fading from 40 kts Tues AM (1/13) with seas 26 ft at 30N 175E (298 degs HI). Modest west swell possible for Hawaii.

This fetch is to move rapidly northeast and redevelop Tues PM (1/13) pushing 45 kts with 38 ft seas building at 41N 167W (288 degs NCal, 295 degs SCal). 45 kt west winds to hold pushing east into Wed AM (1/14) positioned in the Gulf of Alaska resulting in 40 ft seas at 43N 160W 9293 degs NCal). Fetch is to rapidly fade in the evening from 35 kts with seas dropping from 32 ft at 45N 156W (297 degs NCal). Small longer period swell possible for Northern CA.

Gulf Gale
A gale started organizing on Mon AM (1/5) in the Western Gulf generating 40 kt northwest winds in it's southwest flank in association with a core low di.cgiaced up in the Northern Gulf. Seas were building. By evening a growing fetch of 40 kt northwest wind were at 40N 163W producing a small area of 26 ft seas at 39N 161W (350 degs HI, 285 degs NCal). Fetch was fading from 30-35 kts from the northwest Tues AM (1/6) aimed just east of Hawaii resulting in a broad area of 27 ft seas at 38-40N 159W targeting Hawaii (358 degs) and the US West Coast (287 NCal, 290-295 SCal) then all but gone by evening with seas fading from 24 ft at 40N 159W (358 degs HI,287 degs NCal, 295 degs SCal). Some rideable swell to result for California with sideband energy for the Islands.

North CA: Residuals fading Sunday (1/11) from 4 ft @ 12-13 secs (5 ft). Swell Direction: 285-288 degrees

SCal:  Residuals on Sunday at 2.4 ft @ 13-14 secs (3 ft). Swell Direction: 292-294 degrees   

Dateline Gale
A second gale started to develop on the dateline Tues AM (1/6) with 30-35 kt north winds and seas on the increase. 40 kt northwest winds were building by evening with 24 ft seas at 39N 174E. Winds peaked Wed AM (1/7) at 45 kts from the west-northwest with seas 33 ft at 40N 178E (315 degs HI, 292 degs NCal, 296 degs SCal). 35 kt west winds held into Wed PM pushing over the dateline with 30 ft seas moving to 38N 179W (319 degs HI, 290 degs NCal, 295 degs SCal). A modest pulse of swell for Hawaii is possible by the early weekend with far less size for the US West Coast. 

Hawaii: Residuals on Sun (1/11) fading from 4.5 ft @ 12 sec (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 315 degrees

North CA:  Expect swell arrival late on Sun (1/11) with swell pushing 2.8 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.5 ft). Swell peaking Mon AM maybe 4 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290-292 degrees   

  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 Saturday (1/10) high pressure was continuing to barely hold on over and just west of California waters while low pressure continued in the Eastern Gulf. A weak offshore flow as in effect for all of California, though winds nearshore turned northwest lightly late morning. Light north winds are projected nearshore on Sunday for North and Central CA with a chance of showers for Point Conception down into Southern CA. North winds 10 kts are forecast Monday for North and Central CA continuing Tuesday, then turning calm by Wednesday. A light offshore flow is forecast Thursday for all of CA turning light south Friday and fully south Saturday at 20 kts with a front moving down the state. rain starting in North CA late Friday reaching Pt Conception late Saturday with light snow for Tahoe starting Saturday afternoon. With the jetstream forecast to move onshore, a wetter weather pattern is possible.    

South Pacific

Surface Analysis  - No swell producing fetch of interest is 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

Beyond 72 hours yet another broad area of 30 kt northwest fetch is to develop over the dateline Thurs AM (1/15) generating 22 ft seas and pushing east into Fri AM (1/16) positioned 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii good for possible 13-14 secs period swell for mainly the Islands. residual fetch and seas are to move towards the US West Coast into Sat (1/17).

Also with the rebuilding of the jet in the West Pacific a new gale is theoretically building off Japan on Sat (1/17).

Note: 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. 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. 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).

(1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data. 2nd paragraph where present is analysis data and is updated only as required).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) On Saturday (1/10) the daily SOI was up to 5.52 with weak low pressure just south of Tahiti. The 30 day average was rising some from -6.69 and the 90 day average was up some at -8.09. The near term trend based on the 30 day average was indicative of a weak Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a steady-state Active Phase of the MJO with the 90 day average near -8 since 10/20 (2.5 months).Weak low pressure is to hold south of Tahiti into Wed (1/14) keeping the SOI somewhat negative. A bit of rise in local pressure is expected beyond, then falling again as a new co.cgiex low builds in the area. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.   

Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated modest west anomalies over a area covering the entire Maritime Continent reaching almost to the dateline. Anomalies turned light east at a point south of Hawaii and continued lightly east from there to the Galapagos. Down at the surface the TOA array indicated strong west anomalies from 140E to almost the dateline. A Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) was developing. This suggests the Active Phase of the MJO was making good progress over the West Pacific. A week from now (1/18) moderate west anomalies are to continue over the West Maritime Continent with east anomalies over the East Maritime Continent fading on the dateline and continuing neutral from there south of Hawaii. Neutral anomalies are forecast from there reaching to the Galapagos. This suggests the Active Phase to continue in the West Pacific.

See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here .

The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 1/9 are in sync. They both suggest the Active Phase of the MJO was in control over the Maritime Continent with a weak Inactive MJO pattern holding south of Hawaii. The Statistic model depicts this weak Inactive Phase holding and lifting north over the Islands while the Active Phase itself moves east over the next 15 days and eventually straddling the dateline. The Dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Inactive Phase fading entirely but the Active Phase fading some too 15 days out. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be building in the INdian Ocean. The ultra long range upper level model run on 1/10 depicts a solid Active Phase over the West Pacific today and tracking slowly east and progressively fading as it reaches the East Pacific through 1/25. A moderate Inactive Phase is to follow in the west starting 1/25 pushing east into 2/19 while a new modest Active Phase builds in the West Pacific 2/12. This is the strongest we've seen the MJO all year, if not in several years, suggesting any hope for a legit El Nino are fading. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.    

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.  As of the most recent low res imagery (1/8) a modestly warm water regime remains in control of the equatorial East Pacific but not getting any warmer recently. A clear but very weak El Nino signature is barely holding on. Cool water is developing east of the Galapagos to Peru while warm water has traction just west of the Galapagos reaching west to 160W, likely the result of the eruption of the last of a pair of Kelvin Waves impacting the Galapagos region (peaking 12/21). But that warm water is starting to rapidly decline. TAO data suggests barely +0.5 deg C anomalies are present in a pocket just west of the Galapagos with +0.0-0.5 C anomalies mostly in control west to 150W. +1.0 deg anomalies are rebuilding near 170E. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggest water temps at +0.4, previously peaking late Nov at about +1.0. The thought is the Upwelling Kelvin Wave Phase was developing. 

Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator are cooling. As of 1/10 a +1.0 C anomaly flow was barely hanging on under the equatorial Pacific from 150 meters up and east of 150E with one last embedded pocket of +3 deg anomalies rolling off the eastern edge of chart at 95W (near the Galapagos). This pocket is the last remnants of a second in a pair of recent Kelvin Waves erupting over the Galapagos. Satellite data from 1/3 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific but nothing higher, indicative of an open pipe, but no real Kelvin Wave energy in flight. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (1/3) indicates the second Kelvin Wave was all but gone near 95W. Interesting but +1 deg anomalies are continuing to develop between 130-140E reaching east to 175W, suggestive that another Kelvin wave might be in the early stages of development. Theoretically the peak of El Nino occurred (12/21) with no more Kelvin Wave development expected if this is to be a single year event. If it is a true multiyear Midoki El Nino event, then it would not be unexpected to see another Kelvin Wave develop in the Jan-Feb 2015 timeframe. See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here.   

Now that the second Kelvin Wave has arrived in the east (about Dec 21) we should be set for the winter. Of course what is good enough to feed storm develop and what constitutes an official El Nino are two different things.  We are focused on the former. The quandary now is whether this will be a one year event, or something longer.    

Pacific Counter Current data as of 1/1 is still mixed. The current is pushing moderately west to east over the entire Pacific north of the equator focused on the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) reaching into Central America. It is strongest north of New Guinea and again south of Hawaii. But on the equator a steady modest east to west flow was in control from 85W to the dateline. Anomaly wise - west anomalies were just on the equator over the West Pacific west of the dateline then north of the equator in pockets into the East Pacific, with pockets of stronger east anomalies just south of the equator from the Galapagos to almost the dateline. This data continues to suggest a mixed pattern but generally supportive of warm water transport to the east.

Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 1/8 for the Nino 3.4 region are stable. It suggests water temps are down some at +0.7 deg C and are to fade some to +0.4 degs through April 2015. But the interesting part remains that water temps are to start building from +1.0 degs in late June 2015, pushing +1.9 degs C by Sept 2015.

This suggests that perhaps we are moving towards a multi-year warm event, and not a weak one either. See the chart based version here - link.  A consensus of other models are not as optimistic.

Analysis: Mult.cgie downwelling Kelvin Waves generated by suppressed trades and occasional Westerly Wind Bursts occurring through 2014 in the West Pacific. Those Kelvin Waves have warmed waters over the Eastern equatorial Pacific, but not sufficiently to declare an official El Nino. Still some degree of teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere is in.cgiay.  Note that what we consider 'teleconnected' and what NOAA considers threshold El Nino conditions are two different things and serve different purposes. We are focused on monitoring weather events that contribute to the production of open ocean storms (and therefore swells) mainly in the Pacific Basin that may or may not have the same impacts as a full blown El Nino. So our criteria is certainly less than the threshold of NOAAs.

The focus now becomes whether it will persist into 2015 and transition into a multi-year event, or fade in the March-June 2015 timeframe. At this time we're assuming the situation with move to a multiyear, Midoki event (the better of all options).    

Officially we are still in a neutral ENSO atmospheric pattern, with no El Nino in.cgiay. But given all current signs, from a winter storm and swell production perspective, atmospheric transition is well underway and we are in a far better.cgiace than previous years (2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013) under the direct influence of La Nina. 

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the  El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13 


South Pacific

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

Details to follow...


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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