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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: January 23, 2007 8:57 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 = 4.2 - California & 4.1 - 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 1/22 thru Sun 1/28
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   

Swell #12 Hits Hawaii
Three More Storms Forecast to Follow


On Tuesday (1/23) Northern CA surf was head high to 2 ft over at best breaks and clean. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were thigh high. Central California surf was chest high and clean early. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were near flat even at the best breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh high at best. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were flat. The North Shore of Oahu was coming up fast with sets tr.cgie overhead early afternoon. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was waist to chest high from windswell.

North California was getting a bit of dateline swell mixed with windswell to provide something rideable. Fortunately wind is not much of an issue. Southern California wasn't seeing any swell or real interest with most spots not rideable. Hawaii was front and center with swell from Storm #12 pushing squarely into the North Shore of Oahu this afternoon and coming up fast. This to be a short one but have some punch. Swell from Storm #12 is the main menu item for the next few days making it's first appearance in the Islands today and expected to slowly filter into California later in the week, but on a much less direct path and coming from a longer distance, resulting in only moderate sized waves. But another storm is in the water pushing over the dateline, expected to wrap up pretty good Wednesday and send a better shot towards the mainland, with most energy pushing east of the Islands. And the cycle isn't over. A healthy jetstream flow aloft in combination with the active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation is expected to continue the storm cycle for at least another week or two, with 2 more gale/storms on the charts and like a little more beyond that. So there's more to come, but don't count on it lasting forever. Get what you can while it's here cause this winter is proving to be far from predicable. See details below...


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

North Pacific

Tuesdays jetstream charts (1/23) depicted a new pocket of wind energy to 170 kts pushing over southern Japan imbedded in a consolidated flow pushing towards the dateline. That energy backed off a bit east of the dateline, then resurged with a small trough set up northeast of Hawaii with 130 kt winds there, remnants of Storm #12. The jet then .cgiit east of there as has been usual as of late with the northern branch pushing up and into British Columbia and the southern branch pushing over Baja. This suggests we're in between storms with the best potential pushing off Japan and lesser secondary potential northeast of Hawaii. Over the next 72 hours the Japan pocket to move quickly to the dateline by Wednesday (1/24) with winds building to 190 kts with a broad and gentle trough setting up north of there supporting surface level storm development well. No big change forecast through Friday (1/26) with a solid pocket of 180 kt winds forecast holding from 150E-170W straddling the dateline and providing reasonably good building blocks for surface level storm development, but not ideal due to the lack of a defined trough. Beyond 72 hours that situation is modeled to remedy itself, with piles of energy continuing pushing off Japan up to 190 kts by Sunday (1/28) ridging slightly just off the coast but falling into a broad trough that extends from the dateline east to a point just north of Hawaii and a.cgiifying into Monday. In the upper levels this looks reasonably impressive, best of the year so far and is certainly conducing to surface surface level storm development. at the same time the .cgiit to hold pat east of the Islands providing a virtual wall of protection from inclimate weather over the Pacific Northwest and California. The trough to lighten up early next week but not give up completely, with a consolidated flow of 160-170 kt winds continuing streaming off Japan support some form of gale development. Things are actually starting to look like winter.

At the surface today high pressure at 1024 mbs was holding 300 nmiles off Central California and ridging inland with the core over Idaho providing a modest amount of protection from Oregon southward from any incoming weather system originating over the greater Pacific. The remnants of Storm #12 were trying to reorganize midway between Hawaii and North CA pushing east, but with little effect. A minor bit of 35 kt winds are expected to result on Wednesday (see details in the Storm #12 forecast) but nothing noteworthy. And the high to drive this system north towards British Columbia, free and clean of the lower 48 states. But of most interest is the next system organizing just west of the dateline. It is larger in areal coverage than it's predecessors with winds starting to get organized in it's south quadrant. Over the next 72 hours it's expected to generate some strong winds, if only for a short time while pushing into the Gulf of Alaska (see Potential Storm #13) through Thursday (1/15). Yet another system is on the charts forming directly in it's wake on the dateline early Friday with a 45-50 kts winds at 45N 175W aimed due east right up the 298 degree path to North CA (303 SCal) and 45 degrees east of the 332 degree path to Hawaii. Another short life is expected with this one gone by Saturday AM (1/27) but not before generating a small but potent area of 39 ft sea at 41N 165W targeting the US west coast with sideband energy for Hawaii.


Storm #12 (Hawaii)
Of interest is the development of a small storm just west of the dateline Saturday AM (1/20) with a tiny area of 50 kt winds confirmed at 40N 174E. By evening pressure was 996 mbs with winds confirmed up to 60 kts over a small area at 38N 176E targeting Hawaii up the 312 degree path. This one actually combined the forces of 2 smaller gales that formed 24 hours earlier. Seas modeled 23 ft at 38N 175E.

By Sunday AM pressure dropped to 992 mbs with winds confirmed already fading from 50-55 kts at 38N 177W again targeting Hawaii down the 319 degree path and 40 degrees south of the 285 degree path to NCal (292 SCal). Seas 30 ft at 38N 180W. In the evening pressure held with winds down to 45-50 kts expanding in coverage a little at 39N 173W taking aim a bit more to the east targeting Hawaii down the 325 degree path but aimed about 30 degrees east of there and 30 degrees south of the 287 degree path to NCal (293 SCal) with seas to 35 ft at 38N 175W.

By Monday AM (1/22) pressure was still 994 mbs with the storm (really a gale now) still tracking east but fading. Winds were confirmed at 40-45 kts at 36N 173W aimed 30 degrees east of the 328 degree path to Hawaii but starting to make overtures towards N California aimed 25 degrees south of the 279 degree path (285 SCal). Seas were 35 ft at 36N 170W. In the evening a weak residual fetch of 35 kt wind was confirmed at 34N 165W aimed east of the Islands (338 degree path) with the core of the gale moving fast to the east. 30 ft seas were modeled pushing east-southeast from 33N 164W.

This system was effectively beyond Hawaii Tuesday AM and lifting northeast fast towards British Columbia and most disorganized with all winds aligned either north or south with little pushing east. Residual seas from previous days fetch modeled at 25 ft at 30N 160W. This one to be gone by nightfall.

Theoretically a small area of secondary fetch at 35 kts to develop 900 nmiles west of San Francisco on Wednesday (1/24) pushing east but aimed mostly south of even Southern CA producing seas to 18 ft. This to add to the mix of swell eventually pushing into California, but not adding any quality.

This is not to be a remarkable storm, but is to have a little punch, especially considering what else is occurring in the North Pacific (nothing). Hawaii is focused to get the lions share of the swell energy, with the storm track well to the south and no decent energy forecast to push up any great circle path to the mainland. This is a significant change from early model runs. Given this storms projected close track to the Islands (550-1528 nmiles) and the rather small fetch, Hawaii is likely to get the most size by a long shot. And the fact that the storm is to be rather far from the mainland (1901-2674 nmiles from NCal) with most energy following tracks southeast of there, California will likely suffer, though the southern track might help push comparatively more energy into South California, more than any other system so far this season, but that's not saying much given this seasons track record.

Hawaii (centered on the North Shore of Oahu): Expect swell arrival Tuesday (1/23) about 9 AM with period pushing 20 secs and size tiny but building fast. Swell to start peaking near 2 PM and holding through 11 PM with swell 9-10 ft @ 16-17 secs (14-17 ft faces). Size and period fading overnight with swell down to 8.5 ft @ 14 secs at sunrise (11-12 ft faces) and heading down from there. Swell Direction: 323-334 degrees

North California: Expect swell arrival Thursday (1/25) at 1 AM with period near 20 secs with size tiny and ticking up steadily. Swell peaking from late afternoon to midnigh at about 5-6 ft @ 17 secs (8.5-10.0 ft faces). Swell 5.5 ft @ 14-15 sec expected for sunrise Friday (7-8 ft faces) and fading fast with lesser period energy (13 secs) on top. Swell Direction: 275-287 degrees


Potential Storm #13
On Monday (1/22) a new system developed from moisture streaming north from the equator just off Japan while tracking east. A small circulation of 40-45 kt winds were confirmed through the day in the storms southeast quadrant centered at 34N 168E pushing to 36N175E late aimed reasonably well up the 290 degree path to North CA but 35 degree north of the 298 degree path to Hawaii. Pressure dropping to 984 mbs.

On Tuesday AM (1/23) this system reached storm status as it pushed up to the dateline with 50- 55 kt winds confirmed wrapping from it's north quadrant into the west quadrant at 40N 177E still aimed well south of the 310 degree path to Hawaii with secondary 45-50 kt fetch from the south quadrant located at 37N 180W aimed well at NCal up the 289 degree path. Seas modeled to 23 ft early. In the evening this storm to really start blooming with pressure dropping to 960 mbs and winds 45-50 kts still pushing down the west quadrant aimed well west of the Islands and getting little traction on the oceans surface while 40-45 kt winds continue in the south quadrant at 39N 176W aimed right up the 290 degree path to North CA (285 SCal). In reality, based on current QuikSCAT data, winds are likely already higher than modeled. Seas building to 30 ft at 38N 178W targeting primarily California with sideband energy pushing towards the Islands.

Finally on Wednesday AM (1/24) things to get rolling with pressure dropping to 952 mbs and 60 kt winds forecast at 42N 172W aimed right up the 292 degree path to NCal (297 SCal) with sideband energy aimed 35 degrees east of the 329 degree path to Hawaii. Seas building to 35 ft at 42N 171W. In the evening the storm to be lifting northeast into the Gulf with pressure up to 956 mbs and 50-55 kts winds in the storms south quadrant at 45N 164W aimed right up the 297 degree path to NCal with secondary fetch of 45 kts aimed at Hawaii down the 338 degree path but getting little traction on the oceans surface. Seas to 40 ft at 45N 167W.

The storm to be in the Gulf Thursday and quickly fading with 40-45 kts winds at 46N 163W pushing secondary energy down the 299 degree path to NCal and the 347 degree path to Hawaii from a northerly direction. Seas still holding at near 40 ft at 45N 162W. Even less wind in the evening with seas from previous days fetch fading fast from 35 ft at 47N 160W.

All fetch to be gone by Friday AM (1/26).

This storm is looking to be a decent swell producer with about 48 hours of core fetch forecast in excess of 50 kts aimed best at North CA (Pt Conception up into south Oregon) but good potential for areas just outside that area. Small signficant class swell generation potential seems likely given the current state of the models for the prime swell target. Hawaii to be well south of the main wind vector limiting it to only sideband and lesser period energy. The reason this one isn't going to do more is it's short life and rather fast forward track, all a function of a strong but rather flat jetstream.


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


California Offshore Forecast
On Tuesday (1/23) high pressure has moved inland centered over Idaho with the 1024 mbs remnants dangling into the far Eastern Pacific off California. This is to continue to afford a modicum of protection against any westward moving weather system, one of which is trying to organize off the coast. Current projection depending on which model one references suggest a light wind pattern through the forecast period with perhaps some mild south to southeast winds from Monterey Bay northward (5-10 kts) either Friday or Saturday (1/27) as remnants from the gale off the coast fade nearshore. Then back to calm to light offshore's well into the following 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 another gale low is forecast late Saturday (1/27) developing over an area extending from the dateline to a point just north of Hawaii with 35-40 kts winds targeting the Islands from a close proximity. That to hold into Sunday AM while a core low develops to the north, with the whole system lifting fast north through Monday while some degree of 45 kt winds target California. But this one not to be well organized in the classic sense, and fetch not getting real good traction on the oceans surface. 35 ft seas to target Hawaii late sunday into Monday AM providing them the best chance for swell in the 17 sec range (but it will be raw) while some form of 25 ft seas target California providing 14 secs period swell potential.

Yet another larger but non-cohesive system forecast for the same area late Tuesday (1/30) in close proximity to the Hawaiian Islands.

Perhaps the end of the Madden Julian Oscillation is already in the making with the Southern Oscillation Index already starting to rebound from negative values down to the -25-30 range late last week. Current readings are in the -14 range. Still a bit of reverse trades are being experienced over the West Pacific to the dateline, mostly confined south of the equator. But that was enough to generate what appears to be the start of a small Kelvin Wave with subsurface water temps near 1 degree C above normal under the equator and just west of the dateline heading east. Reverse trades 1000 ft above the oceans surface now extend to 140W and are getting thin. This suggests the MJO has about peaked out, with only a week or so left in it. Whatever surface level storm a.cgiification that can be expected in the North Pacific is likely occurring now.


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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