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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 2:02 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
2.0 - California & 2.1 - 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 2/27 thru Sun 3/5

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   

Two Weak Gales Forecast
.cgiit Jet Excepted for 2 More Weeks

On Tuesday, February 28, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 6.1 ft @ 10.5 secs with swell 4.1 ft @ 9.2 secs from 19 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.7 ft @ 6.2 secs with swell 1.8 ft @ 14.1 secs from 272 degrees. Wind northwest 10-12 kts. Water temperature 58.3 degs. At Ventura swell was 3.2 ft @ 6.5 secs from 270 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.3 ft @ 16.0 secs from 234 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.2 ft @ 16.3 secs from 230 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 5.2 ft @ 6.4 secs from 279 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 11.3 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 7.8 ft @ 10.5 secs from 327 degrees. Wind northwest 21-23 kts at the buoy. Water temp 54.0 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 Tuesday (2/28) in North and Central CA north windswell was producing surf in the head high to 1 ft overhead range and clean and somewhat lined up even though it was pure windswell. Conditions were clean but there was some lump in the water. At Santa Cruz surf was chest to head high with sets maybe 1 ft overhead and clean and rideable and a bit lined up. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves in the thigh to waist high range and clean but weak. In North Orange Co surf was maybe waist high and breaking on the beach with light onshore winds and not really rideable. In San Diego surf was waist high or so and mushed and textured if not chopped further south looking very much like gutless windswell. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northeast windswell with waves chest high and clean and lined up with clean conditions and rideable a select breaks. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell with waves chest high and chopped from southeast winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Tuesday (2/28) no swell was in the water from previous weather systems. Windswell was all that was occurring in our forecast area. Beyond that a gale is forecast on the dateline Thurs-Fri (3/3) with up to 30 ft seas aimed at Hawaii from a very westerly angle. And maybe a weak gale is to develop in the Northern Gulf on Fri PM (3/3) with 20 ft seas aimed at California. Otherwise a heavily .cgiit jetstream pattern was hampering gale development.

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

North Pacific

On Tuesday AM (2/28) the jetstream was pushing east off Japan at 160 kts making it to the dateline before .cgiitting with the northern branch peeling off to the north if not northwest pushing over the Western Aleutians and well north of the Bering Sea then falling south east through the extreme northern Gulf of Alaska and moving inland over the Central Canadian coast while the southern branch fell southeast some eventually tracking over Hawaii and then into Baja. No troughs were present offering no real support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold but with a steep and pinched trough developing on the dateline on Fri (3/3) just west of where the jet is to be peeing off to the north. 140 kts winds are to be falling into the trough offering some support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours more of the same is expected with the trough easing east to a point just 800 nmiles north west of Hawaii on Sat 93/4) continuing to offer limited support for gale development. east of there the jet is to lift hard north-northwest pushing up into the the Eastern Bering Sea, then falling southeast through the Eastern Gulf of Alaska with winds building to 130 kts tracking inland over North CA on Sat-Mon (3/6) mainly offering support for weather production for the US West Coast. The trough is to dissipate Sun (3/4) with a weakly consolidated jet pushing across the PAcific generally on the 35N latitude line, but looking like it's ready to .cgiit at 150E and again at 150W with winds barely 140 kts only over Japan and weaker elsewhere through Tues (3/7). In short, the Inactive Phase of the MJO is in control of the North Pacific and weakening the jet, causing the .cgiit. The interesting thing is that the predominant pattern this winter has been supportive of precipitation relative to California, even through the Inactive Phase of the MJO. And if one is to believe the models, it now appears that that pattern will be sustained. Maybe it's hangover from 2 years of El Nino (unlikely at this late date) or the switch of the PDO (more likely), but it is interesting regardless. Once such a bias is in.cgiace, it bulls it's way through whatever is happening on a day to day basis.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (2/28) no swell of interest was in the water. High pressure was filling the Gulf of Alaska at 1032 mbs while a weak pressure pattern was in control of the West Pacific. A weak surface low was tracking east off Southern Japan.

Over the next 72 hours that surface low is to start building as it approaches the dateline Wed PM (3/1) starting to generate 45 kt north winds aimed at the Southern Hemisphere only with seas building from 26 ft at 34N 170E. On Thurs AM (3/2) winds to build to 50-55 kt aimed south but starting to get some momentum wrapping into the gales southwest quadrant aimed somewhat at Hawaii with seas 32 ft at 33N 173E. In the evening winds to fade from 45 kts still aimed mostly south with seas 30 ft in the gales southwest quadrant at 27N 179E. On Friday AM (3/3) the gale is to continue with 40 kt northwest winds on the dateline aimed better at Hawaii with 28 ft seas at 34N 180W. The gale is to start fading in the evening with winds fading from 30 kts and seas fading from 24 ft at 33N 180W targeting Hawaii well. The gale is to dissipate Sat AM (3/4) with 30 kt west winds just north of Hawaii with 20 ft seas fading at 26N 165W. Swell possible for Hawaii by the weekend.

Also on Friday (3/3) a gale is to be falling south through the Eastern Gulf of Alaska with winds 30-35 kts into the evening with 20 ft seas at 50N 147W. By Sat AM (3/4) winds to be fading from 30 kts with seas 19 ft at 47N 140W. In the evening 30 kt north winds to continue falling southeast with 19 ft seas at 45N 140W. 25 kt northwest winds to continue falling towards North CA into Mon AM (3/6) with seas in the 17-18 ft range. Some windswell could result for the US West Coast.


  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 Tuesday AM (2/28) high pressure was centered in the Eastern Gulf at 1032 mbs ridging into California generating northwest winds 15-20 kts along the North and Central CA coast but lighter nearshore early. Wednesday (3/1) the high is to start ridging inland over Oregon with north winds north winds 10-15 kts north of Pt Conception. The high is to hold Thurs and Fri (3/3) but falling south some with low pressure over Washington and a front pushing to the Oregon-CA border Friday afternoon with southwest winds and rain moving into Cape Mendocino in the afternoon. High pressure is to vaporize on Saturday off California with low pressure moving down the Washington Coast with southwest winds 15 kts reaching south to Monterey Bay at 15 kts and 25 kts up into North CA with rain reaching south to Monterey Bay and snow reaching to Tahoe late afternoon. Sunday west to southwest winds to continue reaching south to Monterey Bay with northwest winds 15+ kts to Pt Conception and rain pushing to nearly Point Conception. Heavy snow possible for Tahoe Sunday AM reaching south to the Southern Sierras through the day then fading slowly overnight. 2 ft of accumulation possible. Monday the surface low is to still be over Washington moving inland later with west winds 15-20 kts from the Golden gate northward and light winds south of there. Light rain from Monterey Bay northward. Light to modest snow for Tahoe down to Kirkwood through the day but no further south. Tuesday (3/7) another far weaker surface low is to move into North CA with south winds 25-30 kts from Bodega Bay northward but light winds into Central CA except north 15 kts for Pt Conception. Rain for North Ca reaching south to Santa Cruz late afternoon. Light snow for the entire Sierra through the day.


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell producing fetch of interest is occurring or forecast.

A small gale previously forecast for the Southeast Pacific Wed PM (2/22) produced barely 28 ft seas over a tiny area at 52S 139W aimed northeast then faded into Thurs AM (2/23) with seas dropping from 25 ft at 49S 130W. Small swell to result for Southern CA. Most energy is to be focused on Mexico down to Peru (and small at that).

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival early Tues (2/28) pushing 1.9 ft @ 15-16 secs later (3.0 ft). Swell continues on Wed (3/1) at 2.0 ft @ 14-15 secs early (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell fading on Thurs (3/2) from 2.0 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 190 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival late on Tues (2/28) pushing 1.4 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell peaking on Wed (3/1) at 1.8 ft @ 15-16 secs early (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell fading on Thurs (3/2) from 1.9 ft @ 14 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 188 degrees


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 no swell producing weather systems are forecast with a .cgiit jetstream in control.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...


Inactive MJO Rules - But Strong Warming Building in Nino1.2

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.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 in the Pacific 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. 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 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 Mon (2/27) east winds were solid over the entire equatorial Pacific and the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were modest westerly over the equatorial East Pacific but modest to strong easterly over the KWGA. La Nina's remnants in the atmosphere have not given up and are being enhanced by the Inactive Phase of the MJO.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderately strong east anomalies were modeled over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area attributable to the Inactive Phase of the MJO with weak west anomalies over the far East Pacific (fading remnants of the Active Phase exiting east). The forecast suggests moderate to strong east anomalies are to build over the KWGA into 3/7 as the Inactive Phase of the MJO holds there with west anomalies fading in the far East Pacific as the Active Phase of the MJO dissipates and moves east from there. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is in control of the KWGA and is to hold for the coming week.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 2/27 the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in control of the West Pacific. The statistic model projects the Inactive Phase holding strength while tracking east over the dateline a week out then fading on the dateline 2 weeks out but still identifiable with the Active Phase over the East Indian Ocean easing east. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Inactive Phase weakening more over the dateline and all but gone 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (2/28) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was moderately strong over the Indian Ocean and is to track east and loose strength and fade while moving into the West Pacific 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing only weaker. This model runs about a week ahead of what occurs down at the surface.
40 day Upper Level Model: (2/28) This model depicts a modest strength Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the East Pacific and forecast tracking east and out of the picture over Central America 3/11 while holding strength. A weak Active Phase is to follow in the West Pacific 3/5 reaching to Central America 3/30. A weak Inactive Phase is to follow in the West Pacific starting 3/30 pushing to the dateline 4/9. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface. The MJO is moving fast but to not as strong as previously projected.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (2/28) This model depicts the Inactive Phase is building over the West Pacific peaking 3/7 and to hold control of the KWGA into 3/16 with modest east anomalies over the West Pacific. Beyond a broad but weak Active Phase is to follow starting 3/18 with weak west anomalies developing and building stronger by 4/8 and not fading for the foreseeable future through 5/27. La Nina is to be gone per the low pass filter on 4/12 with El Nino taking hold 4/22.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (2/28) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 164E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 179W and steep, suggesting a hard break between warm water in the west and cool water in the east at depth. But 26 degs anomalies are building to the east reaching to the Galapagos over a shallow pool down 25 meters,and appear to be thickening some. Anomaly wise warm anomalies at +1-2 degs rule from the West Pacific but are not pushing east, reaching east to 165W. Neutral anomalies are east of there to Ecuador. One small pocket of negative anomalies down 100m at 130W at -1.0 degs has nearly dissipated. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 2/22 depicts warm water building east forming a continuous path from the West Pacific to Ecuador at +0.5-1.0 degs. La Nina has lost control of the ocean at depth with something that almost resembles a warm pattern taking shape.
Sea Level Anomalies: (2/22) The remaining La Nina negative anomalies are dissipating at -5.0 cm's over 2 pockets stranding the equator between 100W to 120W 5 degs north and south. Negative sea levels appear to be in collapse with positive anomalies building off Ecuador west to the Galapagos to 105W.

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: (2/27) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate warm water dominating the region extending from Northern Chile over Peru and north to Ecuador then extending west over the Galapagos with the warmest anomalies reaching to 120W but with warm anomalies to 160W. The remaining thin pocket of cooler water along Southern Peru has dissipated. Warm anomalies at +2-4 degs cover all coastal waters of South America. Very impressive. And these waters extend east thousands of miles off the coast. La Nina is gone and it looks like an El Nino like pattern is returning, though that seems i.cgiausible given the limited volume of subsurface warm water in the West equatorial Pacific.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (2/26): A warming trend is covering water of Chile, Peru and Ecuador extending west 4800 nmiles to 160W even as far south as 25S. It is also building north of the equator off Southern Mexico and Central America and west from there. A growing warming trend is developing over the equatorial East Pacific with a large footprint.
Hi-res Overview:
(2/26) There is no sign of La Nina cool waters from Ecuador west to at least 160W. Instead warmer than normal water is in.cgiay over that entire region. The only real remnants of La Nina are one small pocket from 160W-170E and those appear to be in collapse. La Nina is dead and it's remnants are loosing coverage quickly. This is good news.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (2/28) Today's temps were rising steadily at +2.213 degs.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (2/28) temps were rising too at +0.366 degs. 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 now are spiking warm and well outside the previous trend all above the neutral line. A turn to a warmer regime looks like it's developing. But it's way to early to proclaim anything more than that.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (2/28) The forecast has temps rising steadily to +0.5 degs late March building to +0.8 degs in later April slowly rising to +1.0 in June, then rising steadily to +1.5 degs early Oct, and +1.7 by Nov suggesting a return of El Nino. La Nina is over and a return to at least normal temps is expected in Spring. The change in the atmosphere will be slower. But the dramatic El Nino outcome indicated by this model seems improbably high 9unless there is some unknown store of latent heat energy hiding in the equatorial West Pacific.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Feb Plume just updated today (2/16) and depicts temps are warming and are now at neutral 0.0 degs. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to +0.5 degs in July holding into the Fall. This is +0.3 degs warmer than the January forecast and suggests La Nina is over and a warmer regime is setting up. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (2/28): The daily index has risen to positive at +4.56 (the second positive day in a row breaking a 13 day negative streak). The 30 day average was falling at -1.71. The 90 day average was falling some at -0.38. This suggests a neutral pattern has taken hold.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (2/28) Today's value was rising quickly at -0.86 up from -0.97 4 days ago. This was still pretty negative consider what is going on in the ocean suggesting a continuation of La Nina at least for a little longer. A peak low was reached on 11/2 at -1.94 the deepest it had been in this La Nina event. This measures atmospheric response, not oceanic. The atmosphere lags behind changes in the ocean driven by the ENSO cycle. The expectation is this index will rise to 0.0 three months after the oceanic change occurred (approx on Jan 20 2017). So on Mr 20 the index should be neutral.

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): Jan 2017 = +0.21, This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO. No consistently negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.77. 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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