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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: January 16, 2007 6:25 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 = 2.5 - California & 2.8 - 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 1/15 thru Sun 1/21
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   

Gales for the Dateline
Better Storm Pattern Hinted Long Term


On Tuesday (1/16) Northern CA surf was head high to 2 ft overhead and clean with frost on the beach. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist to chest high. Central California surf was waist to chest high too. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were near flat. The LA Area southward to Orange County had rare thigh high sets. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were thigh high. The North Shore of Oahu was 1-2 ft overhead. The South Shore was up to thigh high on the sets. The East Shore was chest high.

North California was still getting background energy from the remnants of Storm #11. Southern California was effectively flat with little swell wrapping through the Channel Islands. Hawaii was seeing a little pulse of energy from a dateline gale, but it's a short one. Looking forward a rather lazy pattern to continue with a gale fading over the dateline providing more small surf for all locales late week into the weekend. Another similar gale is forecast for the dateline over the weekend into early next week sending most energy on a projected direct path for Hawaii, possibly bumping size up a bit mid-next week there. Of more interest is a vigorous system projected pushing off Japan next Monday reaching storm status as it tracks towards the dateline mid-week. This to occur in-sync with the eastward push of the active phase of the Madden-Julian Oscillation into the West Pacific. So we'll be watching this one with a keen eye for stronger development and would expect to see more behind it. But that is purely wishful thinking at this time based on long-lead mystical projections. Reality is a whole nother matter. See details below...


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

North Pacific

Tuesdays jetstream charts (1/16) depicted a moderately strong consolidated flow pushing flat off Japan on the 32N latitude reaching as far east as the dateline with winds to 160 kts feeding into a small trough there then riding slightly to a point just north of Hawaii. East of there it .cgiit into two equal branches, one tracking over Baja and the other towards British Columbia with a small trough just off the coast there. The backdoor trough that was pulling cold air from Canada southwest over California had dissipated. Reasonable support for gale development existed over the dateline trying to reach into the western Gulf of Alaska. Over the next 72 hours the core of the jet to falter and loose strength but not cohesiveness, while a new pulse of energy organizes over Japan pushing east and reaching the dateline late Friday (1/19) with winds again back up to 170 kts but less the trough. Beyond 72 hours a trough to develop on the dateline pushing east to a point almost north of Hawaii on Monday (1/22) while a more energetic pocket of of wind pushes off Japan reaching 190 kts on Tuesday. Continued support for gale to light storm activity suggested. but the .cgiit jet pattern in the East Pacific to remain essentially un changed.

At the surface today strong high pressure at 1032 mbs held tight centered 700 nmiles off the coast of San Francisco, nestled well between the .cgiit flow pattern aloft providing an impenetrable blockade to eastward moving weather systems. The remains of a gale low was circulating just south of the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians with 30-35 kt west winds aimed towards North CA and the Pacific Northwest, but generally unremarkable (see 2nd gulf Gale below). Swell from a previous gale had passed Hawaii and was pushing towards CA too (see 1st Gulf Gale below). No other swell producing systems forecast for the North Pacific into Friday (1/19).

1st Gulf Gale
On Friday (1/12) a gale formed over the dateline but didn't even have a closed low pressure center to start with and winds were only barely 35 kts over a tiny area aimed towards Hawaii down the 328 degree path. It got a bit better organized on Saturday (1/13) with 40 to near 50 kt winds moving into it's south quadrant aimed away from Hawaii at 45N 170W and towards N. California right up the 297 degree path then fading to 40 kts in the evening. Seas finally built to 27 ft late at 45N 168W favoring California and the mainland. Sunday revealed a weaker flow positioned in the western Gulf of Alaska with winds 35-40 kts and that was expected to fade through the day. Seas peaked at 28 ft at 45N 165W in the AM and were to push a bit further east before fading out at sunset Sunday. This to result in swell of 6.6 ft @ 15 secs at sunset Wednesday (1/17) in North CA (8-9 ft faces) from 297 degrees fading through Thursday. Swell of 2.8 ft @ 14 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces) expected for exposed breaks in Southern CA on Thursday (1/18).

2nd Gulf Gale
On Sunday (1/14) the next gale organized while tracking northeast to the dateline providing a sweep of 40-45 kts winds over a small area aimed towards Hawaii up the 305-315 degree path with seas 23-25 ft over a small area near 37N 172E. This system got a little bit better organized Monday lifting north over the dateline with pressure 976 mbs and winds 40-45 kts over a tiny area at 42N 180W, fading late. These winds were aimed towards NCal up the 297 degree path generating near 30 ft seas at 43N 177W with only sideband energy towards Hawaii. Additional 35 kt winds followed Tuesday and expected to continue at 30-35 kts through early Thursday in the area near 44N 177W aimed east towards the Pacific Northwest and up the 300-303 degree path to NCal. Seas generating to 27 ft near 45N 170W. In all this one ought to be good for Hawaiian swell of 5.6 ft @ 13 sec (6-7 ft faces) on Thursday (1/18) and Friday from 316 degrees. Equally small swell expected for North CA Saturday (1/20) at 4.7 ft @ 14 secs (6.0-6.5 ft faces) fading Sunday from 297-300 degrees and arriving in Southern California mid-day Saturday (1/20) at 2 ft @ 15 secs (3 ft faces) continuing at 13 secs into Sunday from 300-305 degrees.


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


California Offshore Forecast
On Tuesday (1/16) strong high pressure at 1032 mbs was sitting 600 nmiles due west of Cape Mendocino starting to ridge there late with north winds building. By Wednesday AM (1/17) a very summer-like pressure gradient to be in.cgiace over Cape Mendocino pushing down into Central CA (south of Monterey Bay) with northwest winds 25-30 kts off the coast and less nearshore, but certainly not calm, effecting even into Southern CA. Windswell and chop on the increase. The high to start seeping inland over Oregon/Washington early Thursday with a likely offshore flow settling in from Point Arena southward. Light offshore's to continue Friday into early Saturday. But a new bout of high pressure is modeled pushing into the coast Saturday (1/20) into Sunday with northwest winds again on the increase and poor conditions likely.That too to moderate and push inland later Sunday into Monday with offshore resulting through Tuesday of next week.


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 a small storm is projected developing west of the dateline Friday (1/19) with pressure 980 mbs pushing east with up to 50 kts winds over a tiny area late at 38N 172E aimed right at Hawaii down the 310 degree great circle path. Seas building to 29 ft at 36N 175E late. 45 kt winds to continue Saturday AM (1/20) in the west and south quadrant aimed towards both Hawaii and California from roughly 40N 175E or up the 315 degree and 292 (297 Scal) degree paths respectively though aimed less towards the Islands and more towards the mainland. Seas 25-29 ft roughly at 36N 175E. More of the same expected Saturday evening but with winds solidly 45-50 kts at 38N 180 aimed better towards the Islands up the 317 degree path and less towards North CA up the 290 degree path (295 SCal). Seas 29-30 ft at 36N 178W. Yet more of the same Sunday AM (1/21) at 38N 171W with winds 40-45 kts then fading out late. Seas 30 ft at 35N 178E targeting Hawaii well holding into the evening, then fading out Monday. If this materializes large utility/small significant class swell with period 16-17 secs could hit Hawaii early-mid-next week with lesser energy pushing into exposed breaks in California. Will monitor.

On Monday (1/22) a new more powerful and broader system is modeled to develop from moisture streaming north from the equator off just Japan tracking east. A broad circulation of 40 kts winds is forecast Tuesday AM (1/23) pushing the 50 kts mark by evening with pressure down to 968 mbs. Looks like a normal El Nino enhanced storm This is somewhat encouraging compared to our last forecast and consistent with the eastward encroachment of the active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation, positioned due south of it on the equator. The MJO actually acts as the moisture pump driving energetic tropical air northward to be tapped by an El Nino enhanced jetstream. We'll see what actually happens.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is indicated.

Details to follow...

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Local Interest

Surf Comics: If you like surf comics take a look at this little gem. A new comic weekly with a nice archive. See it here:

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

Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here

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

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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