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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, January 12, 2017 4:42 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   

West Pacific Swell In the Water
Another One On the Charts

On Thursday, January 12, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 6.9 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 4.3 ft @ 15.6 secs from 318 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 6.1 ft @ 12.8 secs with swell 4.8 ft @ 12.6 secs from 255 degrees. Wind southwest 12-16 kts. Water temperature 59.4 degs. At Ventura swell was 5.2 ft @ 12.3 secs from 275 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 3.9 ft @ 12.3 secs from 275 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.8 ft @ 16.9 secs from 220 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 4.6 ft @ 11.7 secs from 286 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 10.2 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 6.2 ft @ 12.4 secs from 274 degrees. Wind northwest 14-18 kts at the buoy. Water temp 54.3 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 Thursday (1/12) in North and Central CA local westerly windswell was producing waves in the 2-3 ft overhead range and lumpy and raw despite light local winds. At Santa Cruz surf was waist to chest high and and raw and lumpy and nearly chopped by west winds. In Southern California up north surf was surf was head high to 1 ft overhead and lined up and reasonably clean though some lump was in the water. In North Orange Co surf was head high or a foot more and raw and lumpy with rain and northwest winds less than ideal. In San Diego surf was chest high.cgius and building with decent lines coming through and reasonably clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting Dateline swell with waves 2-3 ft overhead and clean and lined up when they arrive. The South Shore was getting small swell with waves waist high or so and clean and lined up. The East Shore was getting wrap around dateline swell with waves head high and textured from light southeast wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
Swell from a small gale that developed over the dateline was hitting hawaii producing fun sized surf. Of more interest is swell from a storm that developed off Japan on Mon (1/9) with seas to 41 ft building to 44 ft early Tuesday, then tracked east-southeast Wed-Thurs (1/12) over the dateline with seas 39 ft and forecast to fade with remnants tracking northeast up into the Gulf of Alaska into the early weekend. That swell is poised to impact Hawaii. At the same time another gale is forecast developing off Japan Sat (1/14) with seas building to to 37 ft on Sunday, then slowly rebuilding while tracking to the dateline on Tues (1/17) with seas pushing near 40 ft aimed east. Continued 30-35 ft seas to track into the Gulf on Thurs (1/19) with secondary seas developing in the Gulf behind. Relative to California, a brief dryout is forecast, but a return to stormy weather and rain is forecast starting late Tues (1/17).

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

North Pacific

On Thursday AM (1/12) the jetstream was well consolidated over Japan with winds to 200 kts pushing flat east and reaching the dateline but with winds down to 140 kts. A bit of a trough was developing on the leading edge of this energetic wind burst in the Western Gulf with the jet lifting north some, only to fall back southeast with a trough just off Central CA being fed by 130 kt winds. There was no signs of the .cgiit pattern that has been in control for week. There was some support for gale development in the proto-trough in the Western Gulf. Over the next 72 hours this pattern is to get more entrenched with 180-190 kts winds pushing from Japan straight east over the dateline and reaching to a point 700 nmiles north of Hawaii by Sun (1/15) with a defined trough developing north of Hawaii on Sat (1/14) and being fed by this flow lifting to the northeast and into the Gulf offering good support for gale development. The trough currently off Central CA is to fall south into and over Southern CA on Sat (1/14) supporting weather there with a new trough redeveloping just off North CA on Sun (1/15) also falling south possibly supporting some sort of weather. Beyond 72 hours winds in the jet to continue building to the east extending the whole way from Japan over the dateline at 160-180 kts reaching just 600 nmiles off North CA and with 120 kts winds pushing into North CA on Wed (1/18). The is to be an impressive surge in jetstream velocity. By late Thurs (1/19) a bit of a trough is to start developing on the dateline with another trough developing just off the Pacific Northwest forcing the jet into Central CA at 140 kts. And winds to be rebuilding to 180 kts over Japan at that time. Great potential for storm development over the North Pacific and weather relative to the US West Coat. It appears the Active Phase of the MJO is to come into.cgiay feeding jetstream activity.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (1/12) swell from a gale previously over the dateline was hitting Hawaii (See Dateline Gale below). Local swell from a gale previously off California was fading in North CA but still present. A stronger gale was tracking from off Japan over the Dateline (see Japan-Dateline Gale below). And another similar system is forecast to follow (see Japan-Dateline Gale #2 below). In short, the North Pacific is starting to wake up.


Dateline Gale
On Sun PM (1/8) a fetch developed over the dateline producing a small area of 45 kt northwest winds. That fetch built in intensity Mon AM (1/9) with winds to 50 kts still from the northwest producing 33 ft seas over a tiny area at 42N 177E targeting Hawaii well (320 degrees HI). In the evening 40 kt northwest winds were falling southeast with seas 28 ft at 40N 179E (318 degs HI) still targeting Hawaii well. The gale was fading while tracking southeast Tues AM (1/10) with winds fading from 30 kts and seas fading from 24 ft at 39N 175W (327 degs HI). The gale to dissipate from there. Possible modest swell moving towards mainly Hawaii and arriving early for Thurs AM (1/12).

Hawaii: Residuals fading Fri AM (1/13) from 4.2 ft @ 12-13 secs 95.0-5.5 ft) and starting to be over run by new possible swell. . Japan-Dateline Gale
A more powerful gale started 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 33N 145E aimed east. On Mon AM (1/9) 50 kt northwest fetch persisted with seas building to 35 ft over a tiny area at 35N 150E. The storm continued east in the evening and built with 55-60 kt northwest winds and seas to 40 ft at 37N 155E (301 degs HI, 299 degs NCal). The storm faded slightly while tracking east on Tues AM (1/10) with 55 kt northwest winds and 44 ft seas at 38N 159E (305 degs HI, 297 degs NCal). In the evening the fetch tracked east and fades some down to 45 kts from the northwest with seas from previous fetch fading at 37 ft at 38N 165E (307 degs HI, 295 degs NCal). The gale fell southeast on Wed AM (1/11) with winds building to 45 kts and seas rebuilding to 39 ft at 38N 172E (310 degs HI, 293 degs NCal). In the evening 45 kt west fetch continued tracking east with 40 ft seas at 35.5N 180W (311 degs HI, 285 degs NCal). Thurs AM (1/12) the gale started fading north-northwest of Hawaii with 40 kt west winds and seas 35 ft at 35N 172W (319 degs HI, 281 degs NCal). The gale is to lift northeast into the Western Gulf in the evening with winds fading from 40 kts and seas fading from 27 ft at 40N 166W (287 degs NCal). On Fri AM (1/13) fetch is to be fading from 35 kt from the west in the Gulf with seas fading from 25 ft at 44N 160W (295 degs NCal).

Maybe some more powerful swell pushing towards Hawaii with inconsistent smaller energy for the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Fri AM (1/13) with period 20+ secs and size small but building through the day peaking at sunset at 7.7 ft @ 18 secs (14.0 ft Hawaiian). swell fading Sat AM (1/14) from 7.0 ft @ 16 secs (11.0 ft). Residuals on Sun AM (1/15) fading from 4.2 ft @ 13-14 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 305-312 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun AM (1/15) before sunrise and building with period 20-21 secs, building to 5.8 ft @ 18 secs at sunset (10 ft). Swell peaks overnight, then fading Mon AM (1/16) from 7.3 ft @ 16 secs (11-12 ft). Residuals fading Tues AM (1/17) from 5.0 ft @ 14 secs (7.0 ft). Swell very inconsistent. Swell Direction: 285-295 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon AM (1/16) before sunrise and building with period 19-21 secs, building to 2.9 ft @ 17-18 secs at sunset (5.0 ft). Swell peaks overnight, then fading Tues AM (1/17) from 3.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (5.0-5.5 ft). Residuals fading Wed AM (1/18) from 2.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell maddeningly inconsistent. Swell Direction: 290-300 degrees


Japan-Dateline Gale #2
Another gale is forecast developing just off Japan Sat AM (1/14) with winds 45 kt from the west and seas building from 28 ft at 34N 149E. Fetch to expand in coverage in the evening from the west holding at 45 kts with seas 36 ft at 35N 156E aimed east. On Sun AM (1/15) 40-45 kt west winds to cover a large area west of the dateline with seas 37 ft at 35N 165E tracking east. More of the same in the evening with 35 ft seas over a solid area at 33N 171E. On Monday AM (1/16) the gale is to start fading with west winds dropping from 35-40 kts over a broad area with seas 34 ft at 33N 178E. The gale is to redevelop in the evening while crossing the dateline with winds 45 kts from the west and seas to 38 ft at 36N 180W. On Tues AM (1/17) west fetch is to be 40 kts over a solid area with 38 ft seas at 35N 170W still targeting Hawaii well but also taking aim on the US West Coast. the gale is to lift northeast in the evening with winds building to 40 kt from the northwest in the Central Gulf with seas 33 ft at 37N 162W targeting mainly the US West Coast. The gale is to bloom in the Gulf on Wed AM (1/18) with 40+ kt northwest and west winds over a solid area and 34 ft seas at 44N 154W. In the evening fetch is to build to 45 kts while lifting northeast into the Northern Gulf with seas building from 36 ft at 48N 149W. The gael is to dissipate from there while tracing into the Pacific Northeast, Certainly something to monitor.


  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 Thursday AM (1/12) a weak low pressure system was over the Central CA coast with generally light winds setting up as the day progressed. Light precipitation was occurring over most of the coast including Southern CA. Snow was falling in the Sierras with up to 11 inches forecast through 4 AM Friday at Kirkwood and 6-8 inches at North Lake Tahoe resorts. All had some terrain open as they continued digging out. Friday high pressure tries to take hold with north winds forecast at 10 kts for North and Central CA. Low odds of a few showers early mainly in Southern CA. A few lingering snow showers early for the Sierra. Saturday north winds to build a little nearshore at 10-15 kts north of Pt Conception. North winds continue Sunday (1/15) north winds continue at 15 kts for North and Central CA. maybe some showers for extreme North CA early. Northwest winds drop to 10 kts on Monday and weaker Tuesday as another weather system start to build filling the Gulf of Alaska. Rain starts building later Tuesday for North CA down to Pt Arena. Wednesday (1/18) the front from the Gulf system starts pushing southeast with south winds pushing down to Monterey Bay at 20+ kts and light rain down to San Francisco, but heavy precip for the North Coast late. Rain turning to snow for Tahoe late. Thursday the real brunt of the storm arrives with west winds 25 kts for the entire state and heavy precip for the Central Coast forecast. Heavy snow for the Sierra Wed PM through mid-day Thurs. A far stronger system is to be just off the coast then too.


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell producing fetch of interest is occurring or forecast.

A solid storm is forecast tracking through the South Tasman Sea on Sat AM (1/14) from just south of Tasmania over Southern New Zealand Sun AM (1/15) with 45 kt southwest winds producing 38-39 ft seas traversing the 50S latitude line in the Fiji swell window. Possible larger swell for Fiji if this comes to pass.


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




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

North Pacific

A secondary storm is to develop behind the Second Dateline storm just east of the dateline on Wed AM (1/18) with winds 55 kts over a small area and starting to get tractions on the oceans surface with seas building from 28 ft at 37N 177W. In the evening 50-55 kt west winds to be building some in coverage while tracking east with seas 38 ft over a tiny area at 39N 168W targeting the US West Coast. On Thurs AM (1/19) 55-60 kt west winds to continue east over a small area with 43 ft seas in the Central Gulf at 42N 154W. The storm is to race east with winds still 55 kts 900 nmiles off Cape Mendocino CA with seas 44 ft at 40N 142W aimed directly at North and Central CA. Large raw swell is possible.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...


Mixed Signals For MJO - PDO Continues Warm

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 Wednesday (1/11) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including 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 strong easterly on the dateline to 160E, then fading to calm into the western 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 east anomalies weakening to moderate strength and moving into the West Pacific a week out (1/19) suggesting the development of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. 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 1/11 a modest Active Phase was present over the West Pacific. The statistic model projects it holding and easing east to the dateline 15 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 10 days out fading significantly 15 days out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (1/12) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO is weak and barely discernible in the far West Pacific and forecast to collapse over the next 4 days falling back into the far Western Indian Ocean 2 weeks out and getting strong. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (1/12) This model depicts a weak Active MJO in.cgiay over the Central Pacific. It is to move into Central America 1/25. A moderate Inactive signal is to follow in the West Pacific 1/23 moving into Central America 2/21 with a moderate Active Phase building over the West Pacific 2/11 tracking east. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (1/12) This model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO building over the dateline today with modest east anomalies from La Nina and a Rossby Wave holding on the dateline and points 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 2/11 the fading, while weak west anomalies hold over the west KWGA, then moving to the dateline 2/20. Then the Inactive Phase is to set up in the west starting 3/1 pushing east over the dateline through 4/10 but with no east anomalies associated with it, and instead west anomalies holding. We suspect at that time La Nina is to dissipate. La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, and producing weak east anomalies over the dateline 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: (1/11) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 165E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 178W 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 one pocket near 120W. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so and weakening and getting shallower.
Sea Level Anomalies: (1/8) Negative anomalies at -5.0 cm with a few small pockets to -10 cm control portions of the equatorial Pacific mainly from 110W 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: (1/11) 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 fading off Ecuador and the Galapagos and lifting north of the equator out to 110W. 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 (1/11): A warming trend continues along Chile and Peru. A warming trend is also developing between Ecuador and the Galapagos out to 110W. It's also warming west of there with pockets of warming and very few cooling pockets remaining.
Hi-res Overview:
(1/11) A La Nina cool pool is present over the equator generally from 110W west to 170E, broadest south of Hawaii. It has significantly faded from Ecuador over the Galapagos out to 110W. La Nina is holding coverage in the west and loosing coverage in the east.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (1/12) Today's temps were rising slightly at +0.742.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (1/12) temps were steady at -0.448. 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 (1/12) 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 up to -0.2 degs on Dec 1 and neutral on Jan 5. The forecast has temps gently rising to to +0.35 degs in April then drifting down to +0.25 in Sept. This indicates that La Nina is effectively over and a return to normal temps is expected in Spring. The change in the atmosphere will be slower.
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 (1/12): The daily index was finally fading down to -1.13, but was well positive for 11 days prior. The 30 day average was rising at +6.95 and has been rising for 14 days. The 90 day average was at 1.15 rising for 13 days. All this suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in control.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (1/12) Today's value was rising at -1.00. 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-Dec) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.42, +0.76, +0.12 then falling to -0.87, -1.06 and -0.70 in Oct. But in Nov, it was up to +0.80 and +0.45 in Dec. This looks much like the warm phase of the PDO.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Dec) are: +1.53, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03, +1.25 +0.52, +0.45, +0.56, +1.88 and +1.17 in Dec.
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive since other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 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 strongly suggests that could be a possibility. 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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