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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, February 8, 2018 2:33 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
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   

Small Swell Pushing Towards HI
Another Small Gale Developing


On Thursday, February 8, 2018 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.4 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 9.6 secs from 329 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.5 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 2.1 ft @ 13.6 secs from 275 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north at 4 kts. Water temperature 60.3 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.1 ft @ 13.1 secs from 261 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.8 ft @ 12.8 secs from 257 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.2 ft @ 12.5 secs from 239 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.0 ft @ 13.7 secs from 266 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 3.7 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 2.7 ft @ 12.7 secs from 287 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 2-4 kts. Water temp 56.8 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.

Next Forecast Update: Sunday (2/18)

Current Conditions
On Thursday (2/8) in North and Central CA residual swell originating northwest of Hawaii was producing waves at shoulder high and clean and lined up with not a breath of wind. Soft and dreamy looking. Protected breaks were maybe waist high and clean and weak. At Santa Cruz surf was waist to maybe chest high on the sets and lined up and clean. In Southern California up north surf was thigh high and lined up and inconsistent and clean with brisk northeast winds. In North Orange Co surf was waist to maybe chest high on the rare peaks and slow but clean. South Orange Country's best breaks were getting rare waves at waist high plus and lined up and clean coming from the south. In North San Diego surf was thigh to waist high with some bigger peaks and clean but mostly closed out. Hawaii's North Shore was minimal with occasional waves waist high and fully chopped from north winds. It was an unrideable mess. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting mixed windswell at thigh to waist high and nearly chopped from north wind early.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (2/8) small swell was pushing towards mainly Hawaii from a small gale that formed well west of the dateline Mon (2/5) with seas to 28 ft aimed east then tracked to the dateline later Tues (2/6) and faded. Another small gale is to form on the dateline on Thurs-Fri (2/9) with 29-30 ft seas forecast over a small area aimed east then fading. And another gale is to develop just east of the dateline Sat-Sun (2/11) with up to 34 ft seas aimed mostly east to northeast targeting the US West Coast but from a long ways away. A far weaker pattern to follow with no obvious swell producing weather systems on the charts. Theoretically an improving storm pattern should develop with the Active Phase of the MJO in the West Pacific, but nothing indicates that will occur.


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

North Pacific

On Thursday AM (2/8) the jetstream was pushing east off Japan with winds building to 190 kts reaching almost to the dateline then falling southeast while weakening forming a steep pinched trough with it's apex falling 300 nmiles southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii offering only limited support for gale development. The jet split east of there at 140W with the northern branch tracking north and then splitting again with most energy pushing east into British Columbia while the southern branch tracked southeast moving towards the equator. Over the next 72 hours winds in the jet are to weaken by Sat (2/10) to 140 kts with a weak trough forming on the dateline offering some support for gale development into Sun (2/11) but with the trough progressively getting steeper and pinching off while moving over the dateline. East of there the jet is to split at 155W with the northern branch pushing north up to Alaska then falling southeast just off the coast of British Columbia before moving inland over the Pacific Northwest offering no support for gale development. The southern branch is to push southeast. High pressure is to be reinforced in between the split flow centered in the Southern Gulf of Alaska. At the same time winds are to be building over and off Japan to 200 kts. Beyond 72 hours the jet off Japan is to be building and pushing east-northeast reaching the dateline on Tues (2/13) well consolidated but with no troughs indicated, then splitting at 170W with the northern branch pushing northeast up into the Bering Sea and then falling southeast over Central British Columbia while the southern branch splits multiple time while falling east-southeast. More of the same is expected into Thurs (2/15) with winds in the consolidated portion of the jet fading on the dateline to 120 ks but up to 180 kts over Japan and the split point in the east moving east to 155W, but with a very split flow east of there. No clear support for gale development is projected. It's interesting that winds energy in the jet is for the most part to remain locked over Japan and half way to the dateline, but not proceeding east of there, suggesting the Active Phase of the MJO is stuck in the far West Pacific.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (2/8) swell from a small gale the developed off Japan was pushing east towards Hawaii (see Small West Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a small gale is charted developing west of the dateline Thurs AM (2/8) with 40 kt west winds over a small area and the gale tracking east. On Thurs PM (2/8) 40 kt northwest winds to continue pushing east with seas building to 30 ft over a tiny area at 41N 171E aimed east somewhat at Hawaii. On Fri AM (2/9) fetch is to be fading from 35-40 kts from the northwest with seas 29 ft at 41N 178E. Fetch is to be fading out while tracking east over the dateline in the evening with seas fading from 23 ft at 41N 175W aimed east. This system is to be gone after that.

Another small gale is to form from the remnants of the above system on the southern dateline Sat AM (2/10) producing 45 kt northwest winds 1000 nmiles northwest of Hawaii generating 23 ft seas at 33N 177W aimed at the Islands. Sat PM the gale is to build with a decent sized area of 45 kt northwest winds lifting north-northeast producing 33 ft seas at 37N 169W targeting Hawaii reasonably well but taking better aim on the US West Coast. On Sun AM (2/11) the gale is to be lifting hard north with 40-45 kt northwest winds targeting only the US West Coast producing 33 ft seas aimed east to northeast at 43N 164W. In the evening the gale is to lift further north over the Eastern Aleutians with 45 kt west winds and seas 28-34 ft at 50N 162W aimed east at Canada. The gale is to be gone after that. Perhaps some swell to result.

Hawaii: Based purely on forecast data the combined swell energy from both systems above are to arrive simultaneously in Hawaii starting late on Sun (2/11) building to 3.4 ft @ 16 secs (5.0-5.5 ft). Swell to peak early Mon AM (2/12) at 6.2 ft @ 15 secs (9.0 ft). Swell to fade Tues AM (2/13) from 4.8 ft @ 12-13 secs (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 315 degrees


Small West Pacific Gale
A small gale started developing while pushing east off Japan on Mon PM (1/5) with 35-40 kts west winds over a modest sized area and seas building to 26 ft at 40N 164E tracking east. On Tues AM (2/6) the gale was pushing east-southeast near the dateline with 35 kt west winds and seas 27 ft at 40N 170E. In the evening the gale pushed up to the dateline falling southeast with a fading fetch of 30 kt west winds and seas fading from 25 ft at 39N 177E. Fetch dissipated Wed AM (2/7) with 20 ft seas fading at 39N 177W. Perhaps small swell to result for Hawaii.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Fri (2/9) pushing 6.4 ft @ 15 secs (9.0 ft) mid-day. Swell fading Sat (2/10) from 4.0 ft @ 13 secs (5.0 ft). Residuals on Sun (2/11) fading from 2.8 ft @ 11-12 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 315 degrees

North CA: Minimal inconsistent energy to reach North CA later Sun (2/11) building to 2.8 ft @ 15 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading Mon (2/12) from 3.3 ft @ 13-14 secs early (4.0-4.5 ft). This swell to fade fast from there. Swell Direction: 290 degrees


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


California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (2/8) a broad area of high pressure at 1028-1030 mbs was filling the Eastern Gulf of Alaska off Canada and the entire US West Coast ridging inland over Northern California. A light northeast flow (5 kts) was over the California coast and expected to hold through the day. Friday (2/9) the high pressure system is to be ridging stronger into Oregon with a gradient building over North CA with north winds there 15-20 kts early south to Pt Arena pushing 25 kts late and building south to Pt Reyes and north winds 15 kts down to Pt Conception. Saturday the gradient is to build more while the high pushes inland over British Columbia with north winds 25-30 kt in control over North CA early and 15-20 kt north winds down to Pt Conception building to 25 kts later. Sunday (2/11) the high is to fade fast and falling south with a light northeast flow at 10-15 kts over all of North and Central but with a local cutoff low off North Baja building south winds over Southern CA at 10 kts mid-day. Monday (2/12) high pressure returns 700 nmiles off the Oregon-Washington border with north winds rebuilding to 20 kts early over all of North and Central CA becoming more focused on North CA later at 30 kts. Tuesday (2/13) the gradient is to hold with north winds 20 kts limited to Cape Mendocino with a 10 kt northeast flow south of Pt Arena and weaker to Pt Conception. Wednesday (2/14) a weak north to northeast flow is forecast from Pt Conception northward all driven by high pressure 400 nmiles off Washington. More of the same is expected on Thurs (2/15).

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 series of gales are to develop mainly in the Bering Sea tracking east with no meaningful fetch aimed anywhere but north towards the Aleutians. 180 hrs out a gale is to be developing off the Kuril ISlands with 45 kt west winds over a small area aimed east. Low odds of this system actually materializing.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...


Strong Active MJO Continues

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 Wed (2/7) 5 day average winds were solidly from the east over the bulk of the equatorial Pacific but strongly from the west over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area east to 175E. Anomalies were neutral over the East and Central Pacific and strongly from the west over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (2/8) This model suggests moderate to strong west anomalies were over the entirety 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 reaching east to 150W through 2/15. The Active Phase of the MJO is 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: (2/7) The Active/Wet Phase of the MJO is solidly entrenched over the Western Pacific and filling the KWGA to a point south of Hawaii centered just west of the dateline. The statistical model depicts the Active Phase moving east centered to the dateline 3 days out then slowly easing east and out of the KWGA at day 15 with an equally strong Inactive/Dry Phase moving to the West Pacific with its leading edge reaching the dateline. 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. Quite a divergence between the two models.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (2/8) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO very strong over the Dateline. The ECMF model depicts to to fade fast over the next 3 days then slowly track east across the Atlantic and over Africa on day 15. The GEFS model suggests the Active Phase is to hold intensity and position stalled over the dateline the next 15 days.
40 day Upper Level Model: (2/8) This model depicts a moderate Active/Wet MJO pattern over the Central and East Pacific pushing east and slowly fading while pushing into Central America on 2/23. A moderate pulse of the Inactive Phase is to follow in the west on 2/16 pushing east to the East Pacific and into Central America on 3/15. The Active Phase to follow in the far West Pacific weakly starting 3/10 and pushing east to the dateline on 3/20. This model runs about 1-2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (2/8) This model depicts an Active/Wet pattern is solidly over the KWGA peaking on the dateline with west anomalies in control. The Active Phase is to hold through 2/21 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 2/21 holding through 4/4 with mostly neutral or light west anomalies forecast in the KWGA. A weak Active Phase to follow starting 4/1 in the West Pacific and in control through 5/4 with moderate west anomalies building the heart of the KWGA. A weak Inactive Phase is to flow in the west at the end of the model run 5/8. The low pass filter indicates a modest low pressure bias over the western half of the KWGA at 165E and is to push east steadily from here forward reaching the dateline 4/19 with a high pressure bias over the East KWGA at 175E and is to steadily 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 atmosphere meaning no change this winter.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (2/8) The overview pattern depicts that warm water is sequestered 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 continues slowly retrograding east to 173E and steep (meaning there is a headwind of cooler water pushing into it from the east). The 24 deg isotherm was shallow 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 Kelvin Wave pushed through the area in late Jan. Today negative anomalies to -1.0 degs were broad in coverage from the East Pacific to 165E from 150 meters upward. A thin stream of neutral anomalies were running through this area down 100 meters to the far East Pacific, remnants of the previous Kelvin Wave, but fading. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 2/2 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: (2/2) Negative anomalies at -5 cms were over the equatorial East Pacific out to 165W with the biggest concentration of cool water mainly south of the equator with -10 to -15 cm anomalies at 120W and 5S.

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: (2/7) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a cool pattern in the Southeast Pacific. Weak warm anomalies are off the coast of Chile and Southern Peru while a cool upwelling pattern is indicated along the immediate coast of Peru and Ecuador turning west on the equator from the Galapagos out to 140W in pockets and generally weak and diffuse with a far smaller footprint than months past but building in intensity the past few days along the coast of Peru turning west over the Galapagos.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (2/6): 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 very weak but steady warming trend is ongoing.
Hi-res Overview: (2/6) 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 steadily loosing density. It appears La Nina may have peaked out.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (2/8) Today's temps were holding at -1.100 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: (2/6) Today temps were inching up to -0.588. A dramatic rise occurred 1/12-1/28 reaching up to -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 (2/8) The forecast depicts temps bottomed out at -0.75 in Nov and have been slowly rebounding forecast up to -0.45 in early Feb. But after that the model indicates temps falling again to -0.7 in May then slowly rising through the Summer and Fall to -0.35 degs in Oct. This suggests the peak of this years La Nina has occurred but it is to possibly hold through Summer only to start fading in the Fall. 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 (2/8): The daily index was holding well negative at -23.54 today. The 30 day average was falling at +4.16 suggesting the Active Phase of the MJO was building hard. The 90 day average was falling at +2.73 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): (2/8) The index was stuck at -1.04 (suspect there is a technical problem with the data collection)(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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