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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Monday, January 23, 2017 5:17 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
4.0 - California & 3.8 - 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 1/23 thru Sun 1/29

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   

Storm #10 On Dateline
Weaker But Still Active Pattern to Follow

On Monday, January 23, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 7.4 ft @ 10.5 secs with swell 5.7 ft @ 10.1 secs from 70 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 10.2 ft @ 12.8 secs with swell 5.8 ft @ 12.8 secs from 265 degrees. Wind west 16-23 kts. Water temperature 57.9 degs. At Ventura swell was 5.8 ft @ 12.4 secs from 279 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 4.5 ft @ 12.6 secs from 264 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 2.9 ft @ 9.4 secs from 252 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 4.1 ft @ 14.6 secs from 277 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 15.4 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 11.0 ft @ 13.1 secs from 279 degrees. Wind west 12-16 kts at the buoy. Water temp 54.5 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 Monday (1/23) in North and Central CA a raw windswell looking mix of chop and swell was producing waves in the 14 ft range and chopped from west wind and basically unrideable. At Santa Cruz surf was 10-12 ft and washing around and a bit out of control but reasonably clean. In Southern California up north surf was 3-4 ft overhead and jumbled, cloud breaking and tattered by onshore wind. In North Orange Co surf was 2-3 ft overhead and chopped and ill formed and moving somewhat sideways down the beach. In San Diego surf was 2-3 ft overhead and lined up but chopped from onshore winds and not rideable. head high and fairly lined up but completely chopped with whitecaps and wind in effect. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northeast windswell at 2-3 ft overhead at top spots and lined up and clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at 3 ft overhead and chopped from east-southeast winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
A secondary low developed just off California on Sun (1/22) generating 24 ft seas targeting the coast with more raw local swell. Of more interest was a stronger system that started building off Japan Sat (1/21) while lifting east-northeast and expanding in coverage with seas to 49 ft on the dateline Mon (1/23) then tracking into the Western Gulf later Tuesday and fading with seas dropping from 38 ft. A far weaker system is forecast behind that tracking from the Northwest Pacific to the Dateline Tues-Thurs (1/26) with up to 28 ft seas aimed east-southeast with a secondary fetch redeveloping in the same area Sat-Sun (1/29) falling southeast towards and in close proximity to Hawaii with up to 30 ft seas. Remnants of that system to lift northeast and be redeveloping Mon (1/30) starting to target California with 26-28 ft seas. The North Pacific is active.

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

North Pacific

On Monday AM (1/23) the jetstream was well consolidated tracking east off Japan with winds to 200 kts lifting just over the dateline then falling southeast a bit and then .cgiitting 700 nmiles north northwest of Hawaii with a trough developing just aft of the .cgiit point in the Western Gulf of Alaska. The trough was providing great support for gale development down in lower levels of the atmosphere. The just .cgiit weakly then reconsolidated just off Central California with winds again building to 140 kts pushing over Pt Conception and also offering support for gale development there. In all, a very active pattern was in.cgiay. Over the next 72 hours this pattern is to hold through Thurs (1/26) with the jet running east off Japan over the dateline and to a point 900 nmiles north-northeast of Hawaii with winds 200 kt over the duration. The trough in the Western Gulf is to move east and dissipate into Wed (1/25) but a new trough is to develop there on Thursday offering yet more support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the new trough is to build in the Gulf into Sat (1/28) being fed by 170-180 kts winds, but the energy is the jet is generally to start declining focused from the dateline feeding into the trough. Some decent support for gale development is expected. Beyond starting Sunday (1/29) the jet is to be steadily loosing energy with a .cgiit developing mid-way between Japan nd the dateline with a somewhat unorganized pattern taking hold east of the .cgiit point into Mon (1/30). Still winds over Japan are to be 180 kts and consolidated pushing east, but the Inactive Phase of the MJO might start having a dampening affect on the NPac jetstream pattern for a few weeks.

Surface Analysis
On Monday (1/23) two swells were being monitored. One was from a local gale just off California (see Secondary California Gale below) and a far stronger system over the Dateline (see Dateline Storm #10 below).

Over the next 72 hours another gale is forecast developing on the dateline on Thurs AM (1/26) with 35 kt northwest winds and 25 ft seas at 40N 178E targeting Hawaii. In the evening 35 kt northwest winds to be falling southeast with 25 ft seas at 38N 173W. The gale is to dissipate from there with seas fading from 23 ft at 36N 165W still targeting Hawaii well.

More fetch is to be directly behind (see Long Term Forecast).


Secondary California Gale
On Sun AM (1/22) a secondary fetch developed just off the California coast producing a broad area of 35 kt northwest winds aimed directly at the coast with seas building from 23-24 ft at 38N 140W. That fetch fell southeast in the evening with 35 kt northwest winds off Pt Conception and also off Oregon targeting California well with 24-26 ft seas 600 nmiles off the coast at 33-44N 134W. On Mon AM (1/23) that fetch was fading from 30 kts off Southern CA but still 40 kts off Oregon with 28 ft seas off Oregon at 43N 132W and 24 ft seas off Southern CA at 32N 130W all heading towards the CA coast. Both fetches to fade in the evening.

North CA: Swell is to be building through Monday (1/23) pushing 14 ft @ 14 secs late (19 ft) and holding there till sunrise Tues (1/24) then starting to fade. Residuals on Wed AM fading from 5 ft @ 11 secs (6 ft). Swell Direction: 280-290 degrees and raw.

South CA: Swell to arrive Tues AM (1/24) at 7 ft @ 14-15 secs (10 ft) and holding then fading some overnight. Swell on Wed (1/25) fading from 5.6 ft @ 13-14 secs early (7.5 ft) Residuals on Thurs AM (1/26) fading from 2.7 ft @ 11 secs (3 ft). Swell Direction: 280-295 degrees and raw.


Dateline Storm #10
Another strong storm started developing off Japan on Fri PM (1/20) with 50 kt northwest winds and seas building from 25 ft. On Sat AM (1/21) west winds faded to 40 kts while easing east with 27 ft seas at 33N 153E. In the evening fetch was building in coverage at 40-45 kts while moving east with seas building to 31 ft at 35N 168E. The gale tracked east to the dateline on Sun AM (1/22) and grew in coverage significantly with 40-45 kt northwest winds on the dateline over a large area and 34 ft seas at 40N 177E. The gale lifted northeast some in the evening with winds up to 50 kts from the west and 38 ft seas over a solid area at roughly 43N 176W. 55 kt northwest winds built while tracking east on Mon AM (1/23) into the Western Gulf with 46 ft seas at 47N 177W peaking at 49 ft at 18Z at 47n 173W. Winds are forecast fading in velocity and coverage in the evening at 45 kts from the west and 46 ft seas over a broad area at 45N 169W. Fetch is to be fading Tues AM (1/24) from 35 kts in the Northern Gulf with seas dropping from 38 ft at 46N 160W. The gale is to dissipate after that. Large sideband swell is possible for Hawaii with a more direct pulse pushing to California. 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 Monday (1/24) remnants of a gale were lingering just off South Oregon with west winds 15-20 kts for the entire state, the strongest of them ironically over Southern CA. Rain continuing even down to San Diego but getting progressively more scattered through the day. Light snow was backing off for Tahoe. Tuesday the low falls south and fades by afternoon off Pt Conception. A light offshore flow sets up from Monterey Bay northward later in the day. Light snow fading out during the day Tues AM for the Sierra. Wed high pressure and light winds take over through shadowed of a front are to be fading off Central CA with south winds 5-10 kts for the SF Bay Area. No precip forecast. Thursday high pressure starts building in wit northwest winds 5-10 kts ridging inland and turning north-northeast Friday (1/27) at 15 kts for all of Central CA and less elsewhere. Light offshore's forecast for Saturday turning more north-northeast Sunday at 10-15 kts. North winds 10 kts for the entire state Monday.


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell producing fetch of interest is occurring or 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

And yet another gale is forecast developing on the dateline Sat AM (1/28) with 45 kt northwest winds falling southeast and targeting Hawaii well 29 ft seas at 37N 175W. Fetch to hold and continue this track in the evening with 32 ft seas at 32N 169W aimed directly at Hawaii 800 nmiles out. Fetch is to be fading from 40 kts on Sun AM (1/29) with seas fading from 27 ft at 29N 165W or 500 nmiles out. Fetch is to be lifting northeast in the evening with residual 40 kt north winds targeting Hawaii and seas fading from 25 ft at 30N 160W. Larger raw swell is possible for Hawaii.

Remnants of the above system are to start redeveloping while lifting northeast on Mon AM (1/30) with 45 kt northwest winds and 30 ft seas at 37N 157W targeting Hawaii but swinging towards the US West Coast. In the evening 50 kt northwest winds to build in the Central Gulf with 28 ft seas at 34N 150W and 26 ft seas building up at 44N 155W. Something to monitor.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

La Nina is Dead in the Ocean - Atmosphere Still Thinks it's There

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 Sunday (1/22) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but lighter over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south. Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific and neutral to light westerly near 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): Modest east anomalies were modeled over the western KWGA (West Pacific east to 160E) with weak east anomalies on the dateline. The forecast suggests east anomalies weakening some over the far West Pacific but building on the dateline a week out. This appears to be a mixed pattern no indicating either the Inactive or Active 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. But even that may be coming to an end.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 1/22 a moderate Inactive Phase was present over the West Pacific reaching to the dateline. The statistic model projects the Inactive Phase moving to the dateline two weeks out and still pretty strong. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with the Inactive Phase fading 10 days out and the Active Phase trying to build over the West Pacific 2 weeks out. This model suggests a stronger MJO signal in the weeks ahead, much more so than what has been in.cgiay for the past year.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (1/23) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO is strong over the West Indian Ocean ad is to ease east then collapse only to try and reappear over the Maritime Continent 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts about the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (1/23) This model depicts a weak Inactive signal is over the dateline. The Inactive Phase is to track east reaching Central America 2/7. A weak Active Phase is to be building over the West Pacific 2/2 tracking east to the dateline on 2/17 and into Central America on 2/27. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (1/23) This model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was all but gone over the dateline today with neutral wind anomalies in.cgiay. The Inactive Phase is to take control for a short window 1/26-2/14 with neutral anomalies continuing, then the Active Phase returning 2/15-3/28 with weak west anomalies in the West Pacific. A neutral pattern is to follow with west anomalies slowly getting more traction over the dateline region from late-March on. The MJO is very weak and having little influence on winds in the KWGA, which are dictated more by La Nina. But with it fading, a more normal MJO/wind pattern should take hold in Spring. 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: (1/23) 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 174W 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 there's no signs of La Nina. Warm anomalies at +1-2 degs rule from the West Pacific to 180W.  Neutral anomalies are east of there to Ecuador with a pocket of less than -1.0 deg anomalies over a shallow area between 140W and the dateline. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 1/18 depicts 2 pocket of of cooler water to -1.0 degs, one along ecuador and the other at 160W. La Nina has lost control of the ocean at depth with remaining negative anomalies weakening and getting shallower.
Sea Level Anomalies: (1/18) Negative anomalies at -5.0-10 cms control portions of the equatorial Pacific mainly from 110W to 130W and 5 degs north and south. Slowly sea levels are rising with La Nina loosing 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: (1/22) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate warm water dominating the region extending from Southern Chile north to Panama and then extending west over the Galapagos reaching to 115W solid with neutral temps biased warm out to 160W. A pocket of cool water previously southeast off Costa Rica is gone. La Nina is gone and it looks like El Nino is returning, though that is not possible.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (1/22): A significant warming trend continue occurring along Chile, Peru Ecuador out to the Galapagos. A small pocket of cooling is out at 110-120W but a warming trend continues west of there to 160W. In any other year one would wonder if El Nino was developing. Most interesting.
Hi-res Overview:
(1/22) There is no sign of La Nina cool waters from Ecuador west to at least 140W. The only real remnants are from 140W-170E and even those appear to be in collapse. La Nina is loosing coverage quickly. This is good news.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (1/23) Today's temps were rising fast at +1.078.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (1/23) temps were steady at -0.047 or effectively neutral. Temps have been oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.0 to -0.5 degs.


Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (1/23) This model suggests La Nina developed from June thru Oct in the -0.55 deg range then started fading with temps rising to -0.5 on Nov 1 up to -0.2 degs on Dec 1 and neutral on Jan 1. La Nina is dead by this measure too. The forecast has temps gently rising to to +0.35 degs in March building to +0.5 degs in May and holding if not rising into Sept at +0.6 degs, bordering on minimal El Nino. This indicates that La Nina is over and a return to normal temps is expected in Spring. The change in the atmosphere will be slower.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Jan Plume depicts temps are warming and are now at -0.2 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 no different than the Dec 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 (1/23): The daily index was still well negative at -23.31 and has been negative for 12 readings now. The 30 day average was falling hard at +0.10 and has been falling for 11 days. The 90 day average was at -0.83 falling for 10 days. All this suggests the Active Phase of the MJO was trying to get a foot in the door, and that La Nina was weak.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (1/23) Today's value was falling at -0.96. 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 neutral. Of all the indicators, this is the only one that suggests La Nina is not loosing it's grip. That is to be expected though as this measured atmospheric response, not oceanic. The atmosphere lags the ocean in changes to the ENSO cycle.

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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