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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: January 24, 2008 6:39 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 = 3.7 - California & 2.1 - 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 1/21 thru Sun 1/27
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   

Blustery Weekend for CA
Likely Swell For Hawaii Early Next Week


New Swell Classification Guidelines

Significant: Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead)
Advanced: Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Intermediate: Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft)
Impulse/Windswell: Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.

On Thursday (1/24) Northern CA surf was up to head high but weak and falling apart fast. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist high and windblown. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was up to chest high and almost clean. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was thigh high at the best breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh high and chopped. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were waist high and windy. The North Shore of Oahu was chest high and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was waist to chest high - tradewind generated windswell.

North/Central California was getting some sporadic swell from the dateline mixed with alot of locally generated chop associated with an approaching front. Southern California was near-flat. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the last little dribbles of dateline swell. The East Shore was getting minimal tradewind generated windswell. The South Shore was getting no swell at all. More of the same is forecast with a .cgiit jetstream flow in control of the entire Eastern Pacific. A series of poorly organized lows are dropping south from Alaska south to a point off the California coast, expected to generated some moderate wind and seas, but mostly aimed due south bypassing California. Oddly Hawaii's eastern shores might stand a better chance of swell over the weekend than the mainland. Long term some activity is modeled in Gulf of Alaska, but that seems more like a fantasy at this point. So the bird in the hand for the next few days revolves around precipitation in the Sierra's, a good drive away from the beach. Make the most of what you've got while you've got it. See details below...


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

North Pacific

Thursdays jetstream charts (1/24) for the North Pacific continued imaging a fully .cgiit jetstream with the .cgiit point on the dateline. Winds were moderate at 160 kts pushing over Japan, with the northern branch tracking due north at the .cgiit point over the Aleutians then well up into Alaska then dropping south just off the Canadian coast then veering inland over northern Baja. The southern branch passed just south of Hawaii then northeast into Baja, joining the northern flow there. Only the area just off Kamchatka held any potential for serious gale development, with less potential over the Pacific Northwest coast. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold though the jet is to pushing inland some over Canada then pop back out into the Pacific off California ushering in colder air at the surface, then pushing inland as it joins the southern branch of the jet over Northern Baja. No change in the surface level storm pattern. Beyond 72 hours the situation is to remain more of less the same, other than the .cgiit point moving back west of the dateline opening up the Gulf of Alaska a bit more for some surface level storm development, especially mid-next week.

At the surface today high pressure remained in-control of the Pacific with one high centered on the dateline at 1020 mbs and the more dominant one well north of Hawaii at 1040 mbs. Weak low pressure was over British Columbia at 1008 mbs forming a gradient with high pressure to it's west generating 35 kt north winds off the coast there aimed due south, starting to get some traction and generating building seas in the area but targeting only open ocean between Hawaii and California. Another low was winding up just off Northern Japan. Swell from the dateline was hitting Central CA (see Third Dateline Gale below). Over the next 72 hours the low off Japan is to build with a solid fetch of 45-50 kt winds and 30 ft seas developing at 36N 153E late Thursday in it's southwest quadrant aimed a bit south of any great circle path to Hawaii. That fetch to hang on Friday off Japan with winds holding in the 40-45 kt range aimed better at the Islands, but making zero forward progress eastward and instead drifting north. Up to 37 ft seas forecast mid-day at 38N 162E. 35 kts winds to fade on Saturday off the Kuril Islands as the low drifting well north into the Bering Sea and becoming landlocked, with seas in the 32-36 ft range but aimed pretty well north of any route to Hawaii, but decently towards the US West coast, then gone on Sunday. Good potential for long period advanced class swell for Hawaii late Monday (1/28) into Tuesday (1/29). Maybe even some well decayed inconsistent energy to push into the US West Coast late on Wed (1/30) continuing into the next day with luck.

Also on Thursday (1/24) the gradient/gale off Canada was falling south generating 30-35 kt north winds with seas to 20 ft late. That fetch to make it to a point about 600 nmiles off Cape Mendocino CA late Thursday and hold there with winds still 30 kts into Friday and seas to 26 ft late near 35N 138W. Actually fetch is to turn offshore relative to California but take aim directly on Hawaii producing 23 ft seas heading almost in that direction, offering the hope for northeast swell for northeast facing beaches. Some form of raw sideband windswell with period in the 11 sec range likely for much of California late Friday into Saturday (1/26), but any exact estimate is almost worthless. Hawaii to get swell pushing 12 ft @ 12 secs late Sunday (1/27) with 12 ft faces maybe at exposed northeast facing breaks from 40-50 degrees fading fast Monday and buried in local tradewind induced windswell.


Third Dateline Gale
Yet another similar system developed late Saturday (1/19) over the dateline with a tiny fetch of 50 kt winds in it's south quadrant at 33N 175E aimed well at Hawaii up the 300 degree path. It's was lifting fast northeast to north by Sunday AM (1/20) with 55 kt winds holding at 37N 178W aimed 35 degree east of the 330 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 288 degree path to NCal (293 SCal). 26 ft seas were modeled at 38N 179W. A tiny area of 50 kt winds held into the evening at 43N 172W aimed at NCal up the 293 degree path (298 SCal). 32 ft seas were modeled at 41N 172W. By Monday AM 50 kt winds were still present at 47N 165W but the system was lifting fast to the north with little of this energy pushing towards even the Pacific Northwest. 32 ft seas were modeled at 45N 167W. By evening it was gone.

17 sec period swell is expected for Northern California starting Thursday (1/24) reaching 3.4 ft @ 16 secs (5 ft faces) late. Swell fading from 4.7 ft @ 14 secs (6.5 ft faces) early Friday (1/25). Swell Direction: 295 degrees.


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


California Offshore Forecast
As of Thursday (1/24) weak low pressure at 1004 mbs was dropping south into the Central CA area from Canada with south winds building. This low is to actually wind up a little with the core sitting just 300 nmiles off San Francisco pumping 25-30 kt south winds and rain into the coast from Santa Barbara northward through the day making a mess of things. No real relief is expected Saturday except for perhaps a break in the rain in Southern CA, then an even stronger pulse of wind and rain is forecast Sunday as the core of the low pushes inland and over the Sierra. Good time to take cover. Finally Monday a bit of dryout is forecast before the next pulse sets up late Tuesday up north pushing south into Wednesday with north winds building in behind. In short, a real mess is forecast.


No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.


South Pacific

The models suggest another system formed southeast of New Zealand on Wednesday (1/23) tracking east into Friday and generating 29 ft seas Thursday through Friday starting near 57S 160W and moving to 50S 130W aimed mostly towards Central America. Possible swell for Southern CA if this materializes as currently modeled starting Tues (1/29) with swell 2 ft @ 16 secs 93 ft faces) fading to 2 ft @ 14-15 secs Wednesday. Swell Direction: 190 degrees.


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 hrs the models are hinting at development of a storm on the dateline late Monday (1/28) tracking pretty well east with a tiny fetch of 55 kts winds forecast at 42N 178W aimed well at Hawaii down the 321 degree path. 25 ft seas modeled at 40N 180W. On Tuesday AM (1/22) a small area of 55 kts winds are forecast in it's southwestern quadrant at 47N 168W aimed 30 degree east of the 350 degree path to Hawaii and right down the 302 degree path to NCal. 30 ft seas forecast at 45N 170W. In the evening 50 kt winds are forecast at 50N 162W aimed almost due east or right up the 306 degree path to North CA (311 SCal) and bypassing Hawaii. 39 ft seas forecast at 47N 162W. By Wednesday AM (1/30) this system to be fading with 40 kt winds aimed due east from 50N 160W or right up the 308 degree path to NCal. 40 ft seas forecast at 50N 158W. A quick fade is forecast in the evening with winds down to 40 kts at 50N 155W aimed 20 degrees east of the 309 degree path to NCal with 38 ft seas forecast at 50N 153W. This system to be pushing out of the CA swell window towards North Canada Thursday AM (1/31). Sizeable north angled swell possible for NCal if this one develops as forecast with a smaller initial burst of swell for the Islands mid-week. Will monitor.


Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) Update: Starting about 1/1/2008 the MJO started moving into the active phase with a strong area of reversed winds at the 850 mb level starting to encroach into the far Western Tropical Pacific and east-bound. On Sat (1/5) the SOI was very positive reading 40 with no signs of dipping into negative territory. By Monday (1/7) it dipped to 6 then lifted slightly to 12 a day later and has held there through Monday (1/14). Finally on Tuesday (1/15) it dipped to 3 and then -9 and -7 through Thurs (1/17) and holding in the 0 range through Thursday (1/24). The models depict these anomalous winds are currently over the eastern equatorial Pacific and are expected to continue their eastbound travels while slowly fading out south over Central America on 1/31. This is actually an improvement from previous model runs. Regardless the inactive phase is to be building weak momentum right behind pushing into the far Western Equatorial Pacific near 2/10. We suspect this incarnation of the MJO fueled the enhanced storm pattern that resulted in a string of solid surf for the first half of January, but with the jetstream (upper level) now so .cgiit, odds for any additional benefits from the surface level tropical moisture pump afforded by the active phase of the MJO are moot.


South Pacific

No swell producing systems of interst are forecast.

Details to follow...


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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Local Interest

Grib File Switchover: The old grib1 format wave model datafiles that have been the mainstay of the National Weather service for years now are scheduled to be retired on 1/26. We switched over to the new grib2 files starting with the 00z run of Thurs 1/17. All appears to be running fine. There is no functional change to the content of the models, just that files we receive are now smaller due to improved compression of grib2. But this sets us up to start processing new higher resolution files and building new products in the months ahead. So in all it's a good maintenance level change.

Sharkwater: There's a new feature film called Sharkwater that is hitting theaters November 2nd. Sharkwater is an award winning documentary (22 international film awards including the UN and Cannes) that broke box office records in Canada, opening to bigger numbers than any documentary in history save Fahrenheit 911 and Supersize Me. It is a conservation film that demonstrates that the biggest influence on the air we breathe, and global warming is life in the oceans except life in the oceans is being wiped out. Shark populations have dropped 90% in the last 30 years alone, and the oceans continue to be destroyed because nobody knows that it's happening Learn more here:

Bluewater Gold Rush: The first and only chronicle of the California sea urchin dive fishery. Diving, surfing, comedy, and tragedy on and under the waves of California. "A quintessential tale of California ... dramas of adventure and loss on and under the sea" We read it and it's a great story about the bloom of the urchin diving boom in the 70's and the few lucky souls who were right there when it took off. An easy read that's hard to put down. The trials and success of a 'real' California dream right down to it's core. Check it out here:

Submit your story to 'Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Vol. 2': DEADLINE: January 15th, 2008 Casagrande Press is seeking stories, articles, and essays on the general subject of surfing misadventure for publication in Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Volume 2. We are looking for nonfiction, first-person surf stories of bad judgment calls, pranks, comical/ironic episodes, disaster, attacking predators, misfortune, injury, loss of wit or limb, panic, critical conditions, contest meltdowns, everyday fears, surf trips gone wrong or the out-of-water episodes that surround surfing. We are looking for well-written stories that tell a good tale, reflect a culture, and develop the depth of the characters involved. We also like stories that have a tight narrative tension and a payoff at the end. Open to writers and surfers of any level. There is no fee to submit a story. We will consider previously published stories. To see more info on the first book visit Submit online at

Waveriders Gallery: Check out this collection of high quality artwork all related to waves and the ocean. Surf Paintings, Photography, Posters, Books, Boards and exhibits all produced by a variety of top artists provide a beautiful selection of pieces to chose from. Take and look and see some of the stunning work available from these artists.

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

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