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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, January 28, 2017 6:00 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
3.3 - 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 1/30 thru Sun 2/5

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   

String of Swells for Hawaii
Lesser Energy for the Mainland

On Saturday, January 28, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 8.2 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 6.0 ft @ 14.7 secs from 320 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.0 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 2.4 ft @ 14.0 secs from 259 degrees. Wind northwest 8-12 kts. Water temperature 57.9 degs. At Ventura swell was 2.5 ft @ 12.5 secs from 276 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.1 ft @ 14.7 secs from 260 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.2 ft @ 15.0 secs from 240 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 2.5 ft @ 15.6 secs from 264 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.6 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 6.1 ft @ 13.1 secs from 290 degrees. Wind north 8-10 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 Saturday (1/28) in North and Central CA dateline swell was fading but still producing waves in the 1-2 ft overhead range and clean with light offshores in.cgiay. At Santa Cruz surf was head high with 1 ft overhead sets and clean and reeling. In Southern California up north dateline swell was producing surf at chest high and lined up and heavily textured from northwest winds. In North Orange Co surf was chest to shoulder high and lined up but heavily textured from northwest winds. In San Diego surf was shoulder high and reasonably clean with a little afternoon bump in the water. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the next dateline swell with waves 7-8 ft Hawaiian on the sets and pretty solid with clean conditions and some northerly bump in the water. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting northwest wrap around swell at head high and lightly chopped from east-northeast winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
A weak system tracked from the Northwest Pacific to the Dateline Tues-Thurs (1/26) with up to 30 ft seas aimed east-southeast with a secondary fetch starting to build just east of the dateline Sat-Sun (1/29) falling southeast towards and in close proximity to Hawaii with up to 32 ft seas. Remnants of that system to lift northeast and be redeveloping Mon (1/30) targeting Hawaii from a very northeast angle with 28 ft seas with 22 ft seas targeting mainly Southern CA. A broader system is to try and develop off the Kurils on Tues (1/31) with 42 ft seas and fading later Wed (2/1) before making it to even the dateline. Another small system to follow Thurs-Fri (2/3) in the exact same area. The North Pacific is to be slowing down some.

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

North Pacific

On Saturday AM (1/28) the jetstream was weakly consolidated tracking east off Japan with winds to 150 kts in one pocket over the dateline feeding and falling into a trough in the Gulf of Alaska but .cgiitting just east of the trough with the northern branch lifting hard north up into British Columbia and the southern branch falling south to the equator. There was some support for gale development in that trough. Over the next 72 hours winds in the jet are to start building over Japan to 200 kts pushing east to the dateline by early Wed (2/1) with a trough forming just off the Kuril Islands offering some support for gale development there. East of there the jet is to be .cgiit with the northern branch tracking north up into the Bering Sea then falling hard south forming another trough in the Gulf by Tues (1/31) but being fed by only 110 kt winds offering weak support for gale development. The southern branch is to tracking over Hawaii and then towards the equator. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to continue pushing east and still consolidated with winds to 190 kts reaching to Hawaii on Sat (2/4) while the trough off California moves inland. Winds to build to 200 kts on Sunday with a trough starting to build in the far Western Gulf. An improving storm pattern seems possible.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (1/28) swell from a weak gale that tracked from Japan over the dateline was hitting Hawaii (see Weaker Dateline Gale) targeting mainly Hawaii. A second gale was developing from the remnants of this gale east of the dateline and starting to fall south towards Hawaii

Over the next 72 hours remnants from the Hawaii Gale (see below) are to start redeveloping while lifting northeast on Mon AM (1/30) with 45 kt north and northeast winds producing 25 ft seas at 36N 151W targeting Hawaii but also swinging towards the US West Coast. In the evening 40-45 kt north-northeast winds to build in the Central Gulf with 29 ft seas at 35N 151W targeting Hawaii and 26 ft seas building in the gales south quadrant at 33N 148W targeting California. Fetch is to be fading Tues AM (1/31) from 35 kts from the north with 27 ft seas at 34N 150W still aimed at Hawaii with 24 ft seas at 31N 147W targeting South CA. This system to start fading from there while tracking northeast with 22 ft seas fading at 32N 149W. Nothing is to be left after Tuesday evening.

Oahu: Swell arrival possible starting Tues (1/31) pushing 7.6 ft @ 13 secs late (9.5-10.0 ft) and building a little more overnight. Swell continuing on Wed (2/1) AM fading slowly from 7.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (10.5 ft). residuals on Thurs (2/2) fading from 5.9 ft @ 13 secs (7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 10-20 degrees


Also on Mon PM (1/30) a small storm is to be brewing off North Japan with 60 kt northwest winds and seas building from 34 ft over a small area at 39N 155E. On Tues AM (1/31) a broader area of 50 kt northwest winds are to be in.cgiay generating 42 ft seas at 39N 163E targeting Hawaii well. In the evening fetch is to be lifting north fast and fading from 45 kts with seas fading from 38 ft at 42N 170E. This system is to fade from there producing no additional seas of interest. Something to monitor. .


Weaker Dateline Gale
Another gale developed off the Southern Kurils on Tues AM (1/24) producing 40-45 kt west winds over a small area aimed east with 30 ft seas at 43N 161E. In the evening the gale tracked east with winds barely 40 kts and seas barely 30 ft at 41N 166E. On Wed AM (1/24) residual fetch was fading from 30-35 kts from the west winds seas 26 ft at 42N 172E. In the evening winds held at 30-35 kts over a broader area falling southeast with seas 24 ft at 37N 176E targeting Hawaii well. The gale is to develop a little more on the dateline on Thurs AM (1/26) with 35 kt northwest winds and 24 ft seas at 39N 178W targeting Hawaii. In the evening 30-35 kt northwest winds were tracking east with 25 ft seas at 38N 171W. The gale is to dissipate from there Fri AM (1/27) with seas fading from 23 ft at 37N 164W still targeting Hawaii well.

Hawaii: Swell peaking Sat (1/28) mid-day at 7.7 ft @ 15 secs (11.5 ft). Swell fading some on Sun (1/29) fading from 7.2 ft @ 13 secs (9.0 ft). Swell Direction: 330 degrees


Hawaii Gale
Yet another gale developed on the dateline Friday evening with northwest winds building from 35 kts falling southeast. On Sat AM (1/28) a small area of 45 kt northwest winds were falling southeast and targeting Hawaii well with a small area of 30 ft seas at 39N 170W. Fetch to moderate at 40 kts and continue this track in the evening with 30 ft seas at 36N 165W aimed directly at Hawaii 950 nmiles out. Fetch is to be fading from 35 kts on Sun AM (1/29) with seas fading from 27 ft at 32N 160W or 700 nmiles out. Fetch is to start lifting northeast in the evening with residual 35 kt north winds targeting Hawaii and seas fading from 24 ft up at 33N 158W with a new fetch developing the north (see Longer Term Forecast below). Larger raw swell is possible for Hawaii by late Sunday evening (1/30).

Hawaii: Swell is to build in Oahu by 1 AM Mon (1/30) peaking at 10.4 ft @ 14 secs (14.5 ft) at sunrise fading some through the day 8.4 ft @ 12-13 secs (10.5 ft). Swell Direction: 340 degrees. More energy to follow directly behind.


  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 Saturday (1/28) high pressure was over North CA trying to ridge into Oregon with east winds 10 kts for most of the coast. On Sunday more of the same is forecast but wind turning north 10 kts later in the day north of Pt Conception. The same basic pattern is forecast on Monday too while low pressure building well west of the coast. Light winds are expected early Tues (1/31) starting to turn south late afternoon from Morro Bay northward. On Wednesday the front from the low off the coast starts driving south winds at 15 kts early from Monterey Bay early pushing 25 kts later afternoon and 10 kt south into Santa Barbara. Rain developing from Morro Bay northward into the afternoon. Snow developing for Tahoe later evening. On Thursday rain and south winds continue at 15-20 kts from Santa Barbara northward with snow mainly for higher elevations of the Sierra. Friday south winds weaken from Morro bay northward to 15 kts late as the low lifts north and fades. Rain fading late afternoon for all of North and Central CA. Snow continue with falling snow levels in the evening and dissipating Saturday AM. Light winds at the time.


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

On Thurs AM (2/2) another small storm is to develop off the Kuril's producing 55 kt west winds and seas building from 30 ft at 43N 158E. The gale is to lift north some in the evening making no eastward progress with 55 kt west winds and seas 41 ft over a tiny area at 46N 162E targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. Fetch fading Fri AM (2/3) from 40 kts with seas 30 ft at 45N 161E. The gale to dissipate from there. Small swell for Hawaii possible.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...


Goodbye La Nina - Waiting To See What Is Next

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 Friday (1/27) 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 into the KWGA. This suggest La Nina was loosing if not completely lost it's grip.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Modest east anomalies were modeled over the dateline but neutral from 155E into the Maritime Continent. The forecast suggests east anomalies holding but easing east some while west anomalies build and ease slowly east almost reaching the dateline a week out. This suggests La Nina is loosing it's grip and the Active Phase of the MJO might finally appear for real in the West Pacific with west anomalies associated with it (the first time this Winter season).

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 1/27 a modest 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 fading significantly. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Active Phase moving into the West Pacific 10 days out. In either case, some form of the Active Phase is projected 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (1/28) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO is weak over the Indian Ocean and is to track east moving to the West Pacific 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts about the same thing but the eastward track weaker.
40 day Upper Level Model: (1/28) This model depicts a weak Active Phase of the MJO was over the West Pacific tracking east into Central America into 2/27. The Inactive Phase is to follow tracking over the West Pacific 2/22-3/9. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (1/28) This model depicts the Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the KWGA with east wind anomalies in.cgiay on the dateline and points east of there (but not west of there). This is to hold into 2/12. Then the Active Phase returns 2/12-2/26 with moderate west anomalies in the far West Pacific and east anomalies gone over the dateline. A weak Inactive Phase is to follow 2/27-3/15 but with west anomalies slowly getting more traction over the dateline region from late-March on. The Active Phase is to follow. 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: (1/27) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 167E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 176W 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 pushing east to 155W. A mini Kelvin Wave is developing.  Neutral anomalies are east of there to Ecuador with a pocket of less than -1.0 deg anomalies over a shallow area between 110W and the dateline and the aforementioned Kelvin Wave pushing under it. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 1/23 depicts 2 pocket of of cooler water to -1.0 degs, one along Ecuador and the other at 160W. But warm water is building east forming a nearly continuous path from the West Pacific to nearly Ecuador. La Nina has lost control of the ocean at depth with remaining negative anomalies weakening and getting shallower.
Sea Level Anomalies: (1/23) Negative anomalies at -5.0-10 cm's control 2 pockets stranding the equator from 105W to 135W 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: (1/28) 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 at +2 degs above normal reaching to 115W solid and building with neutral to weak cool temps west of there to 160W. La Nina is gone and it looks like El Nino is returning, though that seems not possible.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (1/27): A significant warming trend continues along Chile, Peru Ecuador out to the Galapagos. A small pocket of cooling is out at 100-120W with neutral anomalies west of there. In any other year one would wonder if El Nino was developing. Most interesting.
Hi-res Overview:
(1/27) There is no sign of La Nina cool waters from Ecuador west to at least 110W. The only real remnants are from 140W-170E and even those appear to be in collapse and heading west. La Nina is loosing coverage quickly. This is good news.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (1/28) Today's temps were falling at +0.613, down from +1.635 on 1/25.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (1/28) temps were falling some at -0.223. Temps have been oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.0 to -0.5 degs but a re trending steadily warmer.


Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (1/28) 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. The forecast has temps gently rising to to +0.5 degs in March building to +0.6 degs in May and holding if not rising into Oct at +0.75 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 (1/28): The daily index was still negative at -3.53, and has been almost continuously negative for 17 previous readings. The 30 day average was rising slightly at +0.69. The 90 day average was rising some at +0.41. All this suggests the Active Phase of the MJO was trying to get a foot in the door, La Nina is all but gone.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (1/28) Today's value was falling at -1.20. 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 backed off some, only to return to a more negative trend since 1/20. 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 measures atmospheric response, not oceanic. The atmosphere lags changes in the ocean driven by the ENSO cycle. The expectation is this index will start rising shortly.

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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