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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Sunday, February 4, 2018 11:45 AM
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
2.5 - California & 2.4 - 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 2/5 thru Sun 2/11

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   

Modest Swell Bound for CA
Small Gale Forecast for Dateline


On Sunday, February 4, 2018 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 8.5 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 6.7 ft @ 14.7 secs from 308 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.0 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 1.0 ft @ 13.0 secs from 225 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north at 4-6 kts. Water temperature 60.6 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 0.7 ft @ 13.3 secs from 228 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 0.9 ft @ 13.1 secs from 224 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 0.8 ft @ 12.9 secs from 220 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.6 ft @ 13.3 secs from 216 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.5 ft @ 8.3 secs with swell 3.7 ft @ 7.9 secs from 322 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north at 4-6 kts. Water temp 56.5 degs.

See Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (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 Sunday (2/4) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing minimal. surf in the waist to maybe chest high range and clean and rideable but nothing more. Protected breaks were waist high and clean and soft. At Santa Cruz surf was flat and clean. In Southern California up north surf was flat and clean and unrideable. In North Orange Co surf was waist to near chest high on the rare sets and clean but soft. South Orange Country's best breaks were waist to maybe chest high on the sets and clean. In North San Diego surf was maybe waist high on the bigger sets and clean with light offshore winds. Hawaii's North Shore was 8 ft early and clean with good conditions. The South Shore was flat and blown out with south winds. The East Shore was getting warp around northwest swell at waist high and fairly clean early with light south winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Sunday (2/4) swell was hitting Hawaii from a gale that developed on the dateline Thurs-Fri (2/2) with 32-35 ft seas aimed southeast well at the Islands and in close proximity to the Islands. That swell is also tracking east bound for the US West Coast. A smaller system is to form west of the dateline Mon (2/5) with seas to 30 ft aimed east then tracking over the dateline on Tues (2/6) and fading. Another small gale is to form on the dateline on Fri-Sat (2/10) with up to 43 ft seas over a small area aimed east then quickly lifting north and fading. Theoretically an improving storm pattern should develop with the Active Phase of the MJO in the West Pacific, but nothing indicative of that pattern is currently depicted on the forecast charts.


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

North Pacific

On Sunday AM (2/4) the jetstream was pushing east off Japan with winds building to 160 kts half way to the dateline then falling southeast starting to form a weak trough just east of the dateline offering limited support for gale development. The jet split at 160W or 600 nmiles north of Hawaii with the northern branch tracking northeast and pushing into British Columbia while the southern branch fell southeast moving towards the equator. Over the next 72 hours an improving pattern is forecast and by early Tues (2/6) wind energy is to continue building off Japan to 220 kts ridging some then falling into the same trough with it's apex just 300 nmiles north of Hawaii but fairly pinched offering only limited support for gale development and generally holding like that through Wed (2/7). East of there the northern branch is to arch a little more northward to Central Canada pushing the storm track a little further north. Beyond 72 hours starting Fri (2/9) wind energy is to back off to 170 kts off Japan and the ridge is to flatten out with the trough pinching off and the split becoming more pronounced with the northern branch pushing north up to Alaska then falling southeast tracking down the Canadian coast and inland over Washington. A bit of a trough is to form on the dateline Sat (2/10) being fed by only 140 kts winds in the core of the jet offering limited support for gale development while wind energy builds over Japan and pushing off the coast there on Sunday (2/11) to 200 kts while the trough on the dateline start pinching off and the ridge in the east pushes north over the Eastern Aleutians then falls south along the Canadian coast pushing inland over Northern British Columbia leaving the US West Coast high and dry.

Surface Analysis
On Sunday (2/4) swell from a broad gale that previously was northwest of Hawaii was tracking towards the US West Coast (See Broad Hawaiian Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a small gale is to develop while pushing east off Japan on Mon PM (1/5) with 40 kts west winds over a modest sized area and seas building to 30 ft at 40N 163E tracking east. On Tues AM (2/6) the gale is to be pushing east-southeast near the dateline with 40 kt west winds and seas 29-30 ft at 40N 170E. In the evening the gale is to push up to the dateline falling southeast with a fading fetch of 30-30 kt west winds and seas fading from 25 ft at 39N 177E. Fetch is to dissipate Wed AM (2/7) with 20 ft seas fading at 37N 177W. Perhaps small swell to result for Hawaii. Something to monitor.


Broad Hawaiian Gale
A small gale started building on the dateline Mon PM (1/29) with 40 kt northwest winds over a pinpoint sized area falling southeast. More of the same occurred Tues AM (1/30) with 27 ft seas at 37N 177E falling southeast targeting Hawaii. Fetch faded in the evening from 35 kts positioned 1000 nmiles northwest of Hawaii with 26 ft seas at 32N 178W. The gale faded more while approaching Hawaii Wed AM (1/31) with northwest winds 35 kts and seas 23 ft at 28N 171W. All this was primer activity. In the evening the real event is to start with a broad fetch of 40-45 kt northwest winds building on the dateline with 30 ft seas building at 35N 178E targeting Hawaii directly. On Thurs AM (2/1) 45 kt northwest winds are to be 1000 nmiles northwest of Hawaii with 36 ft seas at 33N 176W. In the evening a broad but less defined fetch of 35-40 kt northwest winds are to be 600 nmiles west-northwest of Hawaii with 33 ft seas over a broad area at 32N 175EW with 28 ft seas to 30N 171W targeting the Islands directly. Fri AM (2/2) 35 kt northwest fetch is to be fading in the same location with 31 ft seas at 29N 176W. In the evening 30 kt northwest winds to be over a broad area with 27 ft seas at 27N 170W or 500 nmiles northwest of Hawaii. Sat AM (3/3) the gale is to be fading with 30 kt northwest winds still on the dateline with 20-21 ft seas northwest of the Islands at 30N 165W. This system is to dissipate from there. A long run of larger raw swell is possible for Hawaii starting Fri (2/2).

Hawaii: Swell fading on Mon (2/5) from 5.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (7.0 ft). Residuals on Tues (2/6) fading from 4.9 ft @ 12 secs (5.5 ft). dribbles on Wed (2/7) fading from 4.6 ft @ 11-12 secs (5.0-5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 308-313 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (2/5) building to 5.4 ft @ 15-16 secs later (8.0 ft). Swell fading early Tues (2/6) fading from 4.9 ft @ 14 secs (6.5-7.0 ft). Dribbles on Wed AM (2/7) fading from 3.1 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 280 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues (2/6) peaking at 2.8 ft @ 15-16 secs mid-day (4.0 ft). Swell fading early Wed (2/7) from 2.2 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0 ft). residuals on Thurs AM (2/8) fading from 1.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 280-287 degrees


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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday AM (2/4) moderate high pressure at 1028 mbs was 600 nmiles off the Oregon-CA border ridging inland over the Pacific Northwest producing a light north to northeast flow at 10 kts down the North and Central CA coast but north winds at 20 kts early over Cape Mendocino and forming a bubble of storm protection from South Washington southward. Monday (2/5) the high is to ease east just a little generating north winds over all of North CA at 20 kts and lighter north winds at 15 kts from Pt Reyes down to Monterey Bay and then 10 kts down to Pt Conception. Tuesday the gradient is to be stronger early blowing from the north at 20-25 kts over all of North CA retreating to Pt Arena mid-AM with north winds 10 kts down to Monterey Bay and light south of there. Wednesday the gradient is to fade high pressure still present ridging into Washington and a light offshore flow expected for all of California holding into Thursday (2/8). Friday (2/9) high pressure at 1030 mbs is to be along the Canadian coast with a gradient rebuilding over North CA with north winds there 20 kts early pushing 25+ kts late. Saturday the high is to build to 1030 mbs just off British Columbia with the gradient raging over North and Central CA with 30 kts north winds in control there. Sunday (2/11) the high is to fade fast and falling south with a light northeast flow at 10 kts over all of North and Central but with a local cutoff low over North Baja building northeast winds over Southern CA at 20-25 kts mid-day. Maybe a few drops of rain for Southern CA. Otherwise there's no hope for rain or snow.

South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell producing winds of interest were occurring.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are 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 a small storm is charted developing on the dateline Fri PM (2/9) with 55 kt northwest winds and seas building from 33 ft over a small area aimed southeast at Hawaii. On Sat AM (2/10) fetch is to be fading from 50 kts from the northwest with seas 42 ft at 37N 176W. Fetch is to be lifting north on the evening from the northwest at 50 kts with seas fading from 41 ft at 43N 173W aimed east. On Sun AM (2/11) fetch is to continue lifting north and blowing from the northwest at 45 kts with seas 31 ft near 43N 170W aimed both east and southeast targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. Something to monitor.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather system nor fetch is forecast.

More details to follow...


Strong Active MJO in Control

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 equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing 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 planet, 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 in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.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 displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. So it appears now a double dip La Nina is setting up and is to continue through the Winter and Spring of 2017-2018.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Sat (2/3) 5 day average winds were solidly from the east over the bulk of the equatorial Pacific but form the west over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were neutral over the East and Central Pacific and modestly from the west over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (2/4) Moderate to strong west anomalies were over the core of the KWGA extending east to 130W on the equator. This pattern is to hold through the week with westerly anomalies solid over the entirety of the KWGA through 2/11. The Active Phase of the MJO is building in the from the west and filling the KWGA and expected to hold through the end of the model run offering great support for a consolidated jetstream flow.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (2/3) The Active/Wet Phase of the MJO is solidly entrenched over the Western Pacific and filling the KWGA to a point south of Hawaii. The statistical model depicts the Active Phase moving east to the dateline 3 days out then slowly easing east and near out of the KWGA at day 15 with an equally strong Inactive/Dry Phase setting up over the Maritime Continent and pushing into the the West Pacific. The dynamic model depicts the Active Phase moving far slower to the east and still strong over the KWGA 15 days out with the Inactive Phase strong but locked in the Indian Ocean.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (2/4) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO very strong over the West Pacific and is to move to the dateline in 1 day, stall while fading then moving into the Atlantic by day 15. The GEFS model suggests the same thing initially but with the Active Phase holding intensity and only fading slightly 15 days out and stalled in the East Pacific.
40 day Upper Level Model: (2/4) This model depicts a weak and fading Active/Wet MJO pattern over the Central Pacific pushing east and fading over Central America on 2/14. Another moderate pulse of the Inactive Phase is to follow in the west on 2/16 pushing east to the East Pacific and Central America through the end of the model run on 3/16. The Active Phase to follow in the far West Pacific starting 3/11 and pushing east. This model runs about 1-2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (2/4) This model depicts an Active/Wet pattern is building solidly over the KWGA with west anomalies in control. The Active Phase is to hold through 2/19 with west anomalies in the core of the KWGA. A moderate Inactive Phase is to follow in the West KWGA starting 2/15 building east and taking control 2/20 holding through 4/8 with mostly neutral or light east anomalies forecast in the KWGA. A weak Active Phase to follow starting 4/1 in the West Pacific and in control through 5/4 (the end of the model run) with moderate west anomalies building the heart of the KWGA. The low pass filter indicates a modest low pressure bias over the western half of the KWGA to 165E and is hold till 2/18, then start moving east reaching the dateline 4/19 with a high pressure bias over the East KWGA at 175E and is to move east and out of the KWGA on 3/8. No significant oceanic change is expected until 3 months after the change has taken place in the ocean meaning no change this winter.

CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (2/4) The overview pattern depicts that warm water has retreated to the west and cooler water is in control in the east but losing ground quickly. Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 29-30 degs in the far West Pacific at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line is steady at 175E and steep (meaning there is a headwind of cooler water pushing into it from the east). The 24 deg isotherm was weak but has migrated east to 100W and 75 meters deep at 140W. Anomaly wise in the East Pacific it appears modest negative temperatures are starting to get reestablished after a weak semi Kelvin Wave pushed through it in late Jan. Today negative anomalies at -1.0 degs were broad in coverage from the East Pacific to 165E at 75 meters and above and builds at depth down 200 meters. A small patch of warm anomalies were in the far East Pacific, remnants of the previous Kelvin Wave. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 1/28 depicts the remnants of the Kelvin Wave dissipating at 120W down 80 meters. But cool water filling the subsurface East Pacific has significantly lost is density and intensity with one pocket at -3.0 degs limited to the extreme East Pacific. Cool anomalies continue erupting to the surface almost continuously between Ecuador to 170W. The cool pool appears to be slowly discharging to the surface. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data.
Sea Level Anomalies: (1/28) Negative anomalies at -1-5 cms were over the equatorial East Pacific in pockets out to 165W with the biggest concentration of cool water mainly south of the equator at -5 cms with a shrinking core of -10-15 cm anomalies present at 119W and 5S. This area is steadily loosing coverage while drifting south. This is encouraging.

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: (2/3) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a cool pattern in the Southeast Pacific. Warming is nearshore along the immediate coast of Chile while cooling is along Peru and Ecuador with weak warm anomalies out beyond the coast of Peru. The nearshore cool water is tracking off Ecuador then turning west on the equator from the Galapagos out to 140W in patchy pockets and generally weak and diffuse with a far smaller footprint than months and even weeks past.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (2/2): A warming trend continues weakly off Chile and Peru and up to Central America advecting west on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos and out to 140W. There were no significant pockets of cooling water over the same area. A warming trend is ongoing.
Hi-res Overview: (1/30) Regardless of the short term warming trend indicated above, a La Nina cool stream is still present well off Chile and Peru. But warm anomalies are nearshore from Chile extending north to a point a bit off Peru. The core of cool waters are running on the equator from the Galapagos pushing west and peaking near 120W, then slowly fading out to 170E. Cool water at depth is still erupting to the surface with the breach point just west of the Galapagos. But over all the cooling pattern is loosing density. It appears La Nina may have peaked out.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (2/4) Today's temps were noodling around at -0.987 degrees. Temps in this area bottomed out on 12/23 at -2.1 degs, a third near peak negative reading. The lowest point so far in this La Nina was -2.248 degs reached on 11/5. And that low point was lower than the previous coldest point reached on 10/11 at -1.9 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (2/4) Today temps were steady at -0.940 after rising 1/12-1/28 in the -0.600 deg range. A peak low was observed on 1/10-1/12 to -1.577. On (12/7) temps hit a previous record low at -1.219, just below the previous coldest peak so far this La Nina on 11/22 at -1.156. And the third previous low peak was reached at -1.1 on 11/23. The long arc suggests perhaps a rising pattern. La Nina is in control, but it's taking a hit.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (2/4) The forecast depicts temps bottomed out at -0.75 in Nov and have been slowly rebounding up to -0.40 in early Feb. But after that the model indicates temps falling again to -0.75 in May then slowly rising through the Summer and Fall to -0.4 degs in Oct. This suggests the peak of this years La Nina has occurred but it is to possibly rebuild through Summer only to start fading again into next Winter (2018-2019). This model is the outlier with others suggesting La Nina is to die this Spring.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Dec Plume updated (1/4) depicts temps bottomed out at -0.8 in early Dec and are to slowly rise, to +0.0 in May and +0.3 in August. See chart here - link  The NMME consensus for Jan indicates temps -0.8 degrees below normal Nov-Dec 2018 then rebounding to neutral -0.0 in May and +0.4 degs by July. It looks like La Nina is peaking out now. The CFSv2 is in the low end of that pack.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (2/4): The daily index was falling hard at -22.29 today. The 30 day average was falling at +5.84 suggesting the Active Phase of the MJO was building hard. The 90 day average was falling at +4.22 suggesting La Nina was weakly in control.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (2/4) The index was steady at -1.04 (up from -1.11 on 1/29). The trend suggests La Nina is stable (was -0.96 on 1/6). Last years La Nina reached -1.94 on 11/2/16 and then fell to -2.20 on 6/28/17. It held pretty negative after that but has been rising some as of late. This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina events. The goal is to have it rise to at least -0.5 before a significant change could be suggested.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly negative, but not as much as one would expect with La Nina in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.12, Feb = +0.05, March = +0.14, April=+0.53, May=+0.29, June=+0.21, July= -0.50, Aug= -0.62, Sept = -0.25, Oct= -0.61, Nov = -0.46, Dec= -0.18, Jan=0.24. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.77, Feb = +0.70, Mar = +0.74, April=+1.12, May=+0.88, June=+0.79, July=+0.10, Aug=+0.09, Sept = +0.32, Oct=+0.05, Nov = +0.15, Dec = +0.50. No negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever 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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