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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: January 18, 2007 10:36 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   

Stronger Storm Pattern Suggested
Hawaii and California to Benefit


On Thursday (1/18) Northern CA surf was 1.5 times overhead and clean but a bit confused. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were chest high with some bigger sets. Central California surf was chest high too. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were thigh high and clean at the best breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County had thigh high sets. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were chest high. The North Shore of Oahu was 2 ft overhead. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore had head high windswell.

North California was getting a mix of dateline energy and local windswell making for rather mixed up waves and only a small portion of that was working it's way into exposed breaks in Southern CA. Hawaii was on the front edge of projected rather long run of moderate surf. But of more interest is that the models are starting to wake up a little bit with two storms projected over the coming week. The first to be a rather moderate one forming on the dateline late in the weekend pushing east and targeting California with potential decent energy while rather solid sideband energy makes a shortlived push towards Hawaii. And beyond that mid-next week a certified solid storm is projected pushing east over the dateline bound for the Gulf along a rather southern route. All this is just projections, but is consistent with symptoms of the active phase of the Madden-Julian Oscillation pushing east into the Pacific. Such meteorology suggests there should be more storm activity behind these two as well. See details below...


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

North Pacific

Thursdays jetstream charts (1/18) depicted a moderate reasonably consolidated flow pushing flat off Japan along the 35N latitude reaching as far east as a point north of Hawaii with winds to 170 kts but confined to the area just east of Japan. Lesser winds and a near .cgiit in the jet occurred on the dateline, then the jet became a bit more cohesive north of Hawaii. As usual a big .cgiit was over the far Eastern Pacific with the two ends pushing into British Columbia and Baja with a bit of a backdoor trough continuing to filter cold air over Central CA. No defined troughs were present over the open Pacific so generally weak to moderate support for gale development was confined to the area from Japan to the dateline and a bit east of there. Over the next 72 hours the pocket of energy over Japan is to track east with a bit of a trough setting up north of Hawaii. In all a good solid cohesive flow expected from Japan to a point north of Hawaii with winds Sunday there still to 170 kts providing decent support for storm development down at surface levels. the .cgiit over the East Pacific to hold if not become more exaggerated. Beyond 72 hours more of the same is forecast with a new pocket of energy pushing off Japan tracking east and another mild trough setting up over the dateline an points just east of there mid-next week. In all a reasonably productive and stable storm pattern suggested at the surface.

At the surface today strong high pressure at 1032 mbs remain centered 700 nmiles off the coast of Pt Conception, nestled between the .cgiit jetstream flow aloft and providing a solid blockade to eastward moving weather systems. It was also ridging southwest over Hawaii providing limited protection there as well. Weak gale energy was in the northern Gulf of Alaska associated with generic low pressure there while another weak low tried to organize on the dateline. But in all, no real swell producing fetch was suggested. Swell from a gale on the dateline earlier in the week was providing surf for Hawaii and pushing towards the California coast for the weekend. Over the next 72 hours the dateline low to get marginally better organized Friday (1/19) providing 18 hours of 40 kt northwest winds targeting Hawaii from 35N 180W and generating seas up to 25 ft by early Saturday AM, but this to vaporize quickly with only a very modest pulse of 13 sec energy pushing towards the Islands.

Possible Storm #12
Of more interest is the projected development of a small storm just west of the dateline Saturday evening (1/20) with pressure 996 mbs and winds to 55 kts over an infintessimal area at 38N 176E targeting Hawaii up the 310 degree path.

By Sunday AM pressure to drop to 988 mbs with winds holding at 37N 175W again targeting Hawaii down the 317 degree path. Seas forecast to 29 ft at 36N 175W. In the evening pressure to drop to 984 mbs with winds holding if not expanding some to 55 kts at 36N 167W again targeting Hawaii down the 335 degree path with seas to 35 ft at 37N 168W.

By Monday AM (1/22) pressure to be 980 mbs with the storm starting to track northeast. Winds projected at 50 kts at 39N 162W targeting Hawaii down the 350 degree path but starting to make overtures towards California. Seas to 37 ft at 37N 161W. In the evening a solid fetch of 50 kt winds is forecast at 42N 155W aimed right at North CA down the 290 degree path (295 SCal) and holding steady with 37 ft seas pushing east from 38N 155W.

More of the same forecast Tuesday AM with 50 kts winds holding at 42N 155W getting great traction on the oceans surface and aimed like before. An expanding area of seas building to 38 ft at 43N 153W. This one to be winding down in the evening with wind fading fast from 40-45 kts. 37 ft seas forecast at 40N 150W and fading fast thereafter.

In all this is not to be a remarkable storm, but not a total slacker either. Hawaii is focused to get all the energy from the early part of this one, then it is to swing quickly northeast Monday evening and stall with all it's energy targeting California through Tuesday evening. will be interesting to see how this.cgiays out but rough guesses suggest Hawaii might see a tiny blast of near significant class energy with exposed breaks in California getting the lions share of the size, especially considering it's near ideal location and the fact that it's to stall. But as always, this is just a projection subject to major revision as we get closer to it actually forming.


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 Thursday (1/18) strong high pressure at 1034 mbs remained sitting 650 nmiles due west of Point Conception and ridging into Oregon, providing a barrier to any eastward bound moisture. The high is to actually sag a bit south on Friday and then make another push in towards Oregon on Sunday but not before setting up a pressure gradient off Central California Sat/Sun with up to 30 kt north winds forecast centered just off San Francisco (late Saturday). Looks like copious windswell to be in the mix then into Sunday. The high to finally be ridging inland over Oregon setting up offshore's for Central and North CA Monday continuing through late in the workweek. Southern Ca to mostly unaffected by the balance of this weather system tough with generally light winds through the period.


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 on Tuesday (1/23) a new more powerful system is modeled to develop from moisture streaming north from the equator off just Japan tracking east. A solid circulation of 55-60 kt winds is forecast in the evening pushing east and holding through the day Wednesday as it approaches the dateline. 50-55 kt winds to continue on the dateline Thursday (1/25) from 38N 180W with seas pushing the 46 ft mark from 39N 178W. This is a strong one, especially compared to anything else in recent weeks. Most energy currently indicated to be pushing due east providing solid sideband energy into Hawaii and longer period energy towards California, but from a much more distant location, ensuring more swell decay. In all it looks tantalizing if moderate sized long period energy is your thing. 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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