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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: January 31, 2008 7:31 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 & 3.5 - 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 1/28 thru Sun 2/4
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   

Swell #15 Pushing Towards CA
Slightly More Active Pattern Suggested


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 (1/31) Northern CA surf was 1.5 to 2 times overhead and raw with building southerly chop. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were head high and almost clean early, but that was short-lived. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was head high to 2 ft overhead and somewhat clean. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist to chest high at the better breaks and fairly clean. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high and clean. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were to chest high and clean. The North Shore of Oahu was near head high and decently clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was chest high and windy.

North/Central California was getting northerly semi-real swell generated by a gale off the Pacific Northwest coast earlier in the week. Southern California was getting the leading edge of that same swell starting to push into the coast late Thursday from a very northerly angle. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the last little drops of energy originating off Japan. The East Shore was getting messy northeast windswell. The South Shore was seasonally flat.

Next up is potentially solid swell from Storm #15 currently tracking east through the Gulf of Alaska focused on Central and North CA on up into the Pacific Northwest. But it's to be from a rather northerly direction, causing shadowing at the usual North CA spots. A smaller system was behind it tracking north up the dateline, offering small potential for Hawaii and California a few days out. A much larger and strong system is on the charts for early to mid-next week out on the dateline offering loads of potential, but is too far off into the future to be believable. The models suggest a slightly drier pattern setting up for the US West Coast next week, though not solidly dry with high pressure getting a slightly better foothold. And the storm track is to generally holds it's own out on the dateline. So take what you can get now even though it may not be pretty, and hope the models are right longterm. See details below...


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

North Pacific

Thursdays jetstream charts (1/31) for this last day of January over the North Pacific continued depicting the same old fully .cgiit jetstream with the .cgiit point just west of the dateline near 170E. Winds were holding at 170 kts over Japan, with the northern branch tracking northeast from the .cgiit point but remaining south of the Aleutians moving up into the Gulf of Alaska, then dropping southeast and inland into the Pacific Northwest. The southern branch passed just south of Hawaii then east into Baja, somewhat joining the northern flow there. The area just off Kamchatka held limited potential for gale development as did the gap in the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska. Over the next 72 hours the same pattern is to hold with winds in the northern branch building and ridging north again back over the far Eastern Aleutians at near 170 kts then dropping southeast off Canada, offering a bit more energy to support gale development off British Columbia. Beyond 72 hours the situation is to remain more or less unchanged, but with a better defined trough pushing northeast over the dateline offering some hope for semi-real potential there mid-week then making it a bit further east than anything in a while almost to the Northern Gulf of Alaska. The .cgiit point is to almost move east to Hawaii with it. It seems unlikely but just maybe this semi perpetual blocking high pressure pattern might just be starting to break down.

At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs was strung out east to west from Pt Conception to a point north of Hawaii. It almost looked like it was receding a bit from it's earlier formidable grip on the pattern. The remnants of Storm #15 were off the Pacific Northwest pushing southeast towards Central CA with rain building in there already. Another storm was over the dateline but not doing too much. No other weather features of interest were indicated. Swell from a gale that had been just off the Pacific Northwest coast earlier in the week was hitting the CA coast. Over the next 72 hours the storm on the dateline is to fade (see Dateline Storm below) and a short-lived gale is to fire up off the Pacific Northwest Saturday into early Sunday (2/3) from it's remnants generating up to 40 kts winds aimed right at San Francisco north to Oregon Sat PM, impacting the Oregon coast at that time while generating up to 26 ft seas pushing inland over Cape Mendocino first light Sunday from a real northerly direction continuing into Monday (2/4). Swell in Northern CA to be 13 ft @ 13-14 secs at it's peak (15-16 ft faces) from 305-315 degrees. Basically just storm surf with hard northwest winds in-effect.


Storm #15
On Tuesday AM (1/29) a new storm built in the Gulf of Alaska originating from a low that had previously passed over the dateline. Pressure was 988 mbs with 50 to near 60 kt winds confirmed over a tiny area at 48N 168W aimed due east or right up the 303 degree path to NCal (308 SCal) and totally bypassing Hawaii. Seas were on the increase. By evening 60 kts winds were confirmed solid over a small area at 50N 159W aimed due east or right at North CA up the 308 degree path and 1700 nmiles out. 30 ft seas were modeled at 49N 165W. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the back edge of the storm at 06Z and confirmed seas at 35.7 ft, where the wavemodel suggested it should be 36 ft, so it was right on track.

50 kt winds were confirmed Wednesday AM (1/30) at 49N 150W aimed due east or 10 degrees east if the 308 degree path to NCal (313 SCal). 38 ft seas were modeled at 50N 158W. By evening a small to moderate area of 45-50 kt winds were confirmed at 47N 144W sinking southeast and aimed down the 303 degree path to NCal. Up to 39 ft seas were modeled at 48N 147W. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the center of the fetch and confirmed seas at 37.7 ft (15 reading average) with a singular peak reading of 40.4 ft, so the wave models were pretty much spot-on.

Thursday AM (1/31) a small area of residual 35-40 kts winds were confirmed at 45N 135W aimed like before with seas modeled fading from 36 ft back at 46N 140W. The Jason-1 satellite passed right over the core of the fetch and reported seas at only 33.5 ft with one reading to 35.8 ft, off a foot or two from what the models suggested. Swell from this system hit buoy 46005 well off Washington at 11 Am building to 22.3 ft @ 16.8 secs at 2 PM with seas to 27.4 ft. This is right on track with expectations. Winds to be gone late with seas from previous fetch fading from 31 ft at 44N 133W.

This was a nice little compact system that held together well for about 60 hours with all energy focused well at North CA with peripheral energy expected as far south at Pt Conception and northward up into Washington. Virtual fetch is expected to come into.cgiay too adding consistency and size in the 17 sec period band. The downside is the storm moved too close the the coast to really allow the swell to clean itself up before impacting land, likely making from a rather raw swell. Large significant class swell from a north angle forecast for the North CA coast and areas north and south of there, but well shadowed in the vicinity if the Farallon Islands. Swell arrival expected mid-Friday holding into Saturday (2/2). No energy expected to reach the Hawaiian Islands from this one.

North CA: Expect swell arrival at mid AM Friday (2/1) with period 20-22 secs and size ramping up very fast. Swell to start peaking between mid to late afternoon with pure swell 10.5-11.5 ft @ 17-18 secs (18-21 ft faces) with imbedded longer period energy. Swell in shadowed areas (behind the Farallon Islands and Cordell Bank) to only be 7-9 ft at 17-18 secs (12-15 ft faces). Peak consistency to hit just before sunset attributable to virtual fetch in the 17 sec band. Swell Direction: 305-310 degrees


Small Dateline Storm
Another storm developed just west of the dateline Wednesday AM (1/30) with 45 kt winds at 40N 165E aimed right at Hawaii up the 310 degree path. Seas were 23 ft at 39N 166W. In the evening winds built to 50 kts at 43N 173E aimed 20 degree east of the 319 degree path to Hawaii and almost right up the 297 degree path to North CA (302 SCal). A small area of 30 ft seas were modeled at 42N 170E. This system held if not bloomed a little while tracking north just west of the dateline Thursday AM (1/31) with 45-50 kts winds at 46N 175E aimed due east or 40 degrees east of the 322 degree path to Hawaii but right up the 302 degree path to North CA (307 SCal). Seas built to 35 ft at 45N 176E. This one to be essentially gone by evening. 36 ft seas to be fading from 49N 180W and moving into the Aleutians.

Assuming all this is true some form of small longer period swell could be expected arriving along north facing shores of the Hawaiian Islands early Sunday with swell 3.5 ft @ 15 secs (5 ft faces) from 315 degrees or so. Maybe a little bit of swell for NCal late Monday (2/4) at 3.7 ft @ 17 secs (6 ft faces) from 302-307 degrees maybe pushing 4 ft @ 15 secs (6 ft faces) Tuesday AM (2/5). Nothing expected for SCal given the northerly angle.


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


California Nearshore Forecast
As of Thursday (1/31) south wind and rain were building over North and Central CA in association with the arrival of the front from Storm #15. No rain in SCal forecast from this one. That to clear out by Friday AM (2/1) in the Bay Area with a weak northwest flow building over the state into Saturday, but not too bad. Then another quickly developing system off the Pacific Northwest to push south sending more wind and rain into the the Bay Area by mid-Saturday pushing into Southern CA late and holding into Sunday. High pressure to get a better hold up north Sunday working it's way into Southern CA Monday (2/4) with northwest winds in the 20 kt range forecast all locations. A light to moderate north flow to follow all locations Tuesday through Thursday (2/7) though Southern CA might end up a little more protected, resulting in light winds there. Rain to basically end too other than a few brief showers pushing south into San Francisco Wednesday, but not progressing any further south.


No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.


South Pacific

No swell producing systems of interest 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 hrs a bigger storm is forecast developing off Japan late Sunday (2/3) with a broad area of winds building to 55-60 kts targeting Hawaii well Monday (2/4) while tracking northeast. Seas building to 30 ft at 38N 170E, then going stationary just south of the Aleutians and just west of the dateline near 48N 170W Tuesday (2/5) with winds still 55 kts and seas building to 43 ft. And yet more 45 kts winds are forecast in it's south quadrant Wednesday (2/6) hanging just south of the Aleutians at 50N 175W generating more 43 ft seas pushing east to 47N 170W aimed basically east towards California up the 305-308 degree paths. His possibly to be a decent swell producer though the swell is to be coming from a rather long distance away and rather northerly relative to even North CA. None of this larger energy to target Hawaii, bypassing it while traveling east though some form of small to moderate swell is not out of the question.

Two more systems are charted developing behind this one pushing off Japan and tracking east-northeast, but it's way to early to tell with any certainty what the outcome will be.


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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