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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Sunday, January 25, 2015 8:45 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
Swell Potential Rating = 3.5 - California & 3.9 - 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 1/26 thru Sun 2/1

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   

Secondary Dateline Swell To Hit California
Weaker Storm Pattern Forecast Beyond

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.


NOTE: The past 3 weeks have been very trying as NOAA has been upgrading both the Wavewatch III wavemodel and the GFS weather model. There have been unexpected extended outages on our site while we've worked to diagnose the problem and code fixes. As of today 100% of the site is back in operation.  Also our weekly video did not post and we're receiving error messages from YouTube. We'll work that issue next. And beyond we'll get back to removing Flash from the models. We appreciate your emails and patience.      

Current Conditions
On Sunday (1/25) in North and Central CA surf was 3-4 ft overhead on the face, lined up and clean but fairly inconsistent. Down in Santa Cruz surf was 1-2 ft overhead on the sets and clean and lined up. A gorgeous day in Northern CA. In Southern California up north surf was chest high and clean and lined up. Down south waves were shoulder high and clean and lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was getting solid secondary dateline swell with waves occasionally 10 ft Hawaiian and a bit warbled but reasonably clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting some dateline wraparound swell at waist high and chopped with northeast winds in effect.    

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

Meteorological Overview
Swell was still hitting Hawaii from a secondary gale that developed over the dateline Wed-Fri (1/24) producing up to 30 ft seas. Swell from this system is pushing towards California. Swell from a previous strong storm over the dateline was still hitting California, but on it's way down. And yet another small gale developed off the Kuril Islands on Sat (1/24) with 36 ft seas, but faded before reaching the dateline. A far weak storm pattern to follow with only one small gale forecast to produce 26 ft seas on the northern dateline region on Wed (1/28) targeting barely Hawaii. Nothing else to follow.

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

North Pacific

Jetstream - On Sunday (1/25) the jet pushing east off Southern Japan at 140 kts and unorganized, then pulling together on the dateline with winds building to 170 kts, ridging slightly before falling southeast into a trough in the Gulf of Alaska, then .cgiitting at 140W with most energy tracking up into British Columbia and a little bit falling southeast into Baja. Limited support for gale development was indicated in the Gulf trough. Over the next 72 hours the trough is to vaporize with a bit of a .cgiit developing east of Japan by Tues (2/27), pushing up to the Central Kuril Islands, then reconsolidating on the dateline with winds 140 kts pushing flat east before .cgiitting near 145W. No troughs were indicated. the .cgiit is to only grow into Wed reaching up into the North Bering Sea. Beyond 72 hours the .cgiit is to continue but slowly becoming more isolated, almost pulling away from the main flow down at 30N running flat west to east at 130-140 kts before .cgiitting near 150W. A bit of a trough is forecast north of Hawaii on Sat (1/31) offering very limited support for gale development but dissipating by late Sun (2/1). No real support for gale development is suggested beyond.

Surface Analysis  - On Sunday (1/25) swell from a storm that developed off Japan and modestly bloomed while pushing east was fading in California. A secondary fetch from that system produced seas of interest on the dateline with swell having already peaked in Hawaii and bound for the US West Coast (see Secondary Japan Storm Energy below).  Also small swell from a gale that developed off the Kuril Islands is pushing east targeting Hawaii and California (see Kuril Island gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a new gale is to build over the Northern Dateline region on Wed AM (1/28) producing a small area of 40 kt north winds and 25 ft seas at 46N 172W aimed due south (338 degs HI). Winds are to hold into the evening with 25 ft seas at 44N 175W (331 degs HI). 30-35 kt north winds to push south into Thurs AM (1/29) generating 24 ft seas at 39N 175W (324 degs HI). Fetch and seas to fade from there. A small pulse of north angled swell is possible for the Islands if all.cgiays out as forecast.


Secondary Japan Storm Energy
On Tues PM (1/20) a new broad fetch of northwest winds developed over the dateline at near 45 kts generating a tiny area of 36 ft seas at 34N 175W (281 degs NCal, 288 degs SCal). West fetch faded from 40 kts into Wed AM (1/12) with seas 32 ft near 36N 167W targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. A new broad fetch developed Wed PM over the dateline with 40 kt northwest winds generating 26 ft seas at 37N 178E targeting Hawaii well. 35 kt northwest winds were fading Thurs AM (1/22) with seas to 30 ft at 34N 175W targeting Hawaii well (313 degrees, 283 degs NCal). Northwest fetch fading from 30-35 kt into the evening with seas fading from 25-26 ft over a broad area at 30N 170W (310 degs HI). Fri AM (1/23) north fetch was fading from 35 kts targeting only the Islands with 23 ft seas fading at 30N 170W. Much backup swell has already hit Hawaii and is now fading.

North CA: Swell expected to arrive starting Mon AM (1/26) peaking first light at 6 ft @ 15 secs (9.0 ft) and holding through the day.  Residuals expected on Tues (1/27) fading from 5.0 ft @ 14 secs (7.0 ft). Swell Direction: 310-313 degrees


Kuril Island Gale
A gale developed off the Kuril Islands on Fri (1/24) with 50 kt west winds aimed east holding late and generating seas to 30 ft at 41N 152E. Winds faded to 45 kts Sat AM (1/24) with seas 37 ft over a small area aimed east at 41N 160E (308 degs HI, 299 degs NCal). Winds faded from 40 kts in the evening with seas 35 ft at 40N 168E (310 degs HI, 296 degs NCal). Winds continuing to fade Sun AM (1/25) from 35 kts with seas 30 ft at 40N 171E (313 degs HI, 296 degs NCal).

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival Tues(1/27) late building to near 4.8 ft @ 18 secs at sunset (8.5 ft). Swell to continue on Wed AM (1/28) at 7.3 ft @ 16 secs (11.5 ft) holding through late AM. Residuals fading Thurs AM (1/29) from 7.0 ft @ 14 secs early (10 ft). Swell Direction: 308-313 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (1/29) building to 3 ft @ 17-18 secs late (5 ft). Swell peaking Fri (1/30) at 4.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (7 ft). Residuals on Sat (1/31) at 4.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (6 ft). Swell Direction: 296 degrees


  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 Sunday (1/25) high pressure at 1026 mbs was centered just inland over Washington generating a steady offshore flow over California. This same pattern (weak wind or light offshore's) are forecast to hold through Wed (1/28). A new high is to build just off the Pacific Northwest on Thurs (1/29) perhaps setting up northerly winds over outer waters at 15 kts pushing 20 kts on Friday then fading to 15 kts Saturday and weaker still on Sun (2/1). A small gael is forecast off Oregon on Sun (2/1) perhaps offering a more dynamic local weather pattern long term. Of some interest is a weak low pressure system that is to track north from Baja bringing precipitation to Southern CA on Mon (1/26) tracking north up the Sierras and producing light snow (4 inches) Tuesday into Tahoe.

South Pacific

Surface Analysis  - No swell producing fetch of interest is 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

Beyond 72 hours there's some suggestions of a gale trying to form in the Northeast Gulf of Alaska associated with an upper trough there. But this is far from guaranteed. Otherwise a fragmented jetstream pattern to hinder surface level low pressure development.

Note: 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. 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. 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).

(1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data. 2nd paragraph where present is analysis data and is updated only as required).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) On Sunday (1/25) the daily SOI remained down hard for the 10th day in a row at -25.29 attributable to low pressure over both Darwin and strongly over Tahiti. The 30 day average was falling from -11.95 and the 90 day average was down some at -8.88. The near term trend based on the 30 day average was indicative of a weak Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a steady-state Active Phase of the MJO with the 90 day average near -8 since 10/20 (3.0 months). Weak low pressure is to continue holding over Tahiti well into the following week (2/2) keeping the SOI somewhat negative. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.   

Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated moderate westerly wind anomalies were over the East Maritime Continent fading some on the dateline and continuing to fade to the modest category south of Hawaii. Still weak west anomalies continued into the Galapagos. Down at the surface the TOA array indicated the same thing with strong west anomalies in the heart of the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. A Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) continued in.cgiay pushing east. This suggests the Active Phase of the MJO was making good progress over the dateline and into the Central Pacific. A week from now (2/2) solid west anomalies are to continue over the Maritime Continent reaching east to the dateline, Neutral anomalies are forecast east of there to the Galapagos. This suggests the Active Phase is to continue pushing from the West Pacific to the Central and East Pacific but loosing a little coverage.

See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here .

The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 1/24 are in sync initially. They both suggest the Active Phase of the MJO was in control over the dateline and fading. The Statistic model depicts the Active Phase moving east over the next 10 days eventually positioned south of Hawaii and dissipating on day 10 there while the Inactive Phase of the MJO moves from the Indian Ocean into the West Pacific. The Dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but then the Active Phase retrogrades and is to rebuild over the West Pacific strongly 15 days out. Interesting. And this pattern has held on this model. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is in the Indian Ocean but what happens to it is up for debate. The ultra long range upper level model run on 1/25 depicts a moderate Active Phase was rebuilding over the dateline region and is forecast to tracking east into 2/9. A moderate Inactive Phase is supposed to push into the West Pacific 2/10 and easing east into 3/6 while a new stronger Active Phase takes over the West Pacific 3/6. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.    

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.  As of the most recent low res imagery (1/22) a modestly warm water regime remains in control of the equatorial East Pacific but not getting any warmer recently. A weak El Nino signature is barely holding on. Cool water is developing east of the Galapagos to Peru while warm water has traction just west of the Galapagos reaching west to 160W (the result of the eruption of a Kelvin Wave that peaked 12/21). TAO data suggests neutral anomalies are covering a region south of Hawaii to the Galapagos with +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are holding over the West Pacific west of 160W and pushing 2.0 degs in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggest water temps at +0.75, previously peaking late Nov at about +1.0 then falling to 0.0 in early January. The thought is the Upwelling Kelvin Wave Phase briefly had an impact, but is now loosing ground.  

Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator are now warming. As of 1/25 a +1.0 C anomaly flow was starting to rebuild it's control under the equatorial Pacific from 150 meters up. And a new pocket of +2 deg anomalies was building in coverage under the dateline, suggestive of a new Kelvin Wave and likely associated with the new WWB occurring at the surface there. Satellite data from 1/18 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over most of the West and Central equatorial Pacific, indicative of an open pipe, but neutral anomalies from 140W eastward. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (1/13) indicates +1 deg anomalies are continuing to develop between 130-140E reaching east to 175W, suggestive that another Kelvin wave might be in the early stages of development. Theoretically the peak of El Nino occurred (12/21) with no more Kelvin Wave development expected if this is to be a single year event. If it is a true multiyear Midoki El Nino event, then it would not be unexpected to see another Kelvin Wave develop in the Jan-Feb 2015 timeframe (as appears to be the case). See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here.   

Pacific Counter Current data as of 1/1 is still mixed. The current is pushing moderately west to east over the entire Pacific north of the equator focused on the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) reaching into Central America. It is strongest north of New Guinea and again south of Hawaii. But on the equator a steady modest east to west flow was in control from 85W to the dateline. Anomaly wise - west anomalies were just on the equator over the West Pacific west of the dateline then north of the equator in pockets into the East Pacific, with pockets of stronger east anomalies just south of the equator from the Galapagos to almost the dateline. This data continues to suggest a mixed pattern but generally supportive of warm water transport to the east.

Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 1/25 for the Nino 3.4 region have backed down more. It suggests water temps are down some at +0.6 deg C and are to hold through May 2015. A slight and gentle increase is foreseen beyond with +1.0 deg anomalies in Sept 2015. This suggests that perhaps we are moving towards a multi-year warm event. See the chart based version here - link.  A consensus of other models are not as optimistic though.

Analysis: Mult.cgie downwelling Kelvin Waves generated by suppressed trades and occasional Westerly Wind Bursts occurring through 2014 in the West Pacific. Those Kelvin Waves warmed waters over the Eastern equatorial Pacific, but not sufficiently to declare an official El Nino. Still some degree of teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere is in.cgiay.  The focus now becomes whether this warming and resulting teleconnection will persist into 2015 and transition into a multi-year event, or fade in the March-June 2015 Spring Unpredictability Barrier. At this time we're assuming the situation with move to a multiyear, Midoki event (the better of all options).    

We remain in a neutral ENSO atmospheric pattern, with no El Nino in.cgiay.  But we continue monitoring Westerly Wind Bursts and Kelvin Wave development, suggestive of continued warming East Pacific equatorial waters for the 2015 (meaning enhanced support for the jetstream and storm development in Fall/Winter 2015-2016). 

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the  El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13 


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is 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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