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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, March 2, 2017 1:53 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   

Three Weak Gales on the Charts
.cgiit Jet to Continue for Now

On Thursday, March 2, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.5 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 2.9 ft @ 9.2 secs from 45 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.3 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 13.8 secs from 171 degrees. Wind west 4 kts. Water temperature 58.3 degs. At Ventura swell was 0.8 ft @ 14.5 secs from 199 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.4 ft @ 15.3 secs from 210 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.6 ft @ 14.8 secs from 225 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 2.0 ft @ 12.7 secs from 237 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.6 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 2.7 ft @ 14.6 secs from 291 degrees. Wind north 14-16 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 Thursday (3/2) in North and Central CA background swell was producing waves to occasionally head high on set but mostly waist to chest high and clean and lined up at top breaks. Protected breaks were up to waist high. At Santa Cruz surf was knee to thigh high and clean on the bigger sets. In Southern California up north set waves were knee to thigh high and clean and lined up, but rare. In North Orange Co surf was flat and clean. In San Diego surf was knee high and clean at top spots. Hawaii's North Shore was small with waves waist high on the sets at top spots and texture coming from the south. The South Shore was flat and lightly chopped. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell with waves waist high and mostly clean with south winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (3/2) no swell was in the water with a calm atmospheric and sea state in control for the past week. state from previous weather systems. A gale is forecast developing on the dateline Thurs-Fri (3/3) with up to 26 ft seas aimed at Hawaii from a very westerly angle. And maybe a weak gale is to develop in the Northern Gulf Fri-Sun (3/5) with 20 ft seas aimed at California. Another gale is to form on the dateline Mon-Tues (3/7) falling southeast with up to 32 ft seas targeting Hawaii. Otherwise a .cgiit jetstream pattern driven by the Inactive Phase of the MJO continues to control the macro weather picture for a bit longer hampering gale development and swell production.

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

North Pacific

On Thursday AM (3/2) the jetstream was pushing east off Japan at 160 kts and thing barely making it to the dateline before .cgiitting with the northern branch tracking northeast .cgiitting again and just a fragmented mess with most energy eventually moving over Vancouver Island while the southern branch tracked southeast also .cgiitting with some energy migrated southeast to the equator and the rest meandering eventually moving into Baja. Something that almost looked like a trough was trying to develop on the dateline west of the major .cgiit point. Over the next 72 hours things are to get a little more organized with the trough on the dateline trying to take shape while easing east into Sat (3/4) with the northern branch peeling off just east of it tracking up into the Eastern Bering Sea then falling south through the Gulf with winds to 140 kts pushing into North CA offering support for gale development in the dateline trough and support for weather relative to California where the jet moves onshore there. Beyond 72 hours the jet almost looks to be consolidating into Mon (3/6) with a single stream reaching from Japan over Hawaii reaching half way to Southern Baja with winds 120 kts. Remnants of the dateline trough are to persist perhaps offering support for gale development. But given the relatively weak winds speeds, a .cgiit is to develop just off Japan on Tues (3/7) with the northern branch tracking hard north up over the Kuril's and west of Kamchatka offering no hope for trough development east of there. The one bit of good news is winds are to start building over and off Japan on Thurs (3/9) pushing near 170 kts nearly reaching to the dateline with the .cgiit point moving east with it. Still, as long as the Inactive Phase of the MJO is in control, the jet will be .cgiit and mostly unsupportive of meaningful gale development. 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 Thursday (3/2) no swell of interest was in the water. High pressure was off California ridging northeast into the Pacific Northwest but covering less real estate than the day before. By late Friday 93/3) the high is to be retreating quickly as low pressure falls southeast through the Northeastern Gulf moving into North CA Sun (3/5).

Over the next 72 hours a surface low previously off Japan was starting to build as it approached the dateline Wed PM (3/1) generating 45 kt north winds aimed at the Southern Hemisphere only with seas building from 26 ft at 33N 168E. On Thurs AM (3/2) winds were 40 kts aimed south but starting to get some momentum wrapping into the gales southwest quadrant aimed somewhat at Hawaii at 35 kts with seas 28 ft at 32N 171E with 23 ft seas aimed at Hawaii at 28N 173E. In the evening winds to building to 45-50 kts still aimed mostly south with seas 28 ft in the gales west quadrant at 35N 179E with 22 ft seas aimed at Hawaii from 28N 178E. On Friday AM (3/3) the gale is to continue with 40 kt north-northwest winds on the dateline aimed better at Hawaii with 29 ft seas at 34N 179E (308 degs HI). The gale is to start fading in the evening with winds fading from 35-40 kts aimed southeast with seas fading from 26 ft at 35N 180W targeting Hawaii better (310 degree path) but not optimal. The gale is to dissipate Sat AM (3/4) with 30 kt northwest winds just east of the dateline targeting Hawaii well with 23 ft seas fading at 33N 177W (312 degs HI). Swell possible for Hawaii by the weekend.

Hawaii: Rough estimates suggest swell arrival Sun (3/5) building to 5.1 ft @ 15 secs late afternoon (7.5 ft). Swell continues Mon (3/6) at 5.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (7.5 ft). Swell fading Tues AM (3/7) from 4.8 ft @ 12 secs (5.5-6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 307-310 degrees


Also on Friday (3/3) a gale is to develop falling south through the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska with winds 30-35 kts into the evening with 18-20 ft seas at 50N 146W (315 degs NCal). By Sat AM (3/4) winds to be fading from 25-30 kts with seas 17 ft at 47N 140W. In the evening 35 kt north winds to redevelop and falling southeast with 20 ft seas over a tiny area at 48N 138W (319 degs NCal). 35 kt northwest winds to continue falling southeast towards North CA into Sun AM (3/5) with 20 ft seas at 43N 133W. The low is to move into North CA in the evening. Some windswell could result for the US West Coast but likely under poor local conditions initially.

North CA: Rough estimates suggest swell arrival on Sun (3/5) building to 8.5 ft @ 11-12 secs (9.5 ft). Swell fading Mon AM (3/6) from 8 ft @ 12-13 secs (10 ft). Swell Direction: 315+ degrees


  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 Thursday AM (3/2) high pressure at 1032 mbs was centered 600 nmiles west of San Francisco ridging into Oregon generating 15 kt north winds along outer waters but less nearshore. The high is to retreat some to the west Fri (3/3) as low pressure moves south through the Eastern Gulf with a front pushing to the Oregon-CA border Friday afternoon with southwest winds and rain moving into Cape Mendocino late afternoon. Northwest winds at 15 kt to continue for the rest of North and Central CA. 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 20 kts up into North CA with rain reaching south to Monterey Bay and snow reaching to Tahoe late afternoon. Sunday west winds a re to turn northwest later in the day at 20 kts reaching south to Los Angeles and rain pushing south to San Clemente. Heavy snow possible for Tahoe Saturday night into Sunday AM reaching south to the Southern Sierras through the day then fading slowly overnight. 2 ft of accumulation possible. Monday high pressure is to start rebuilding off Pt Conception with north winds 20 kts for Pt Conception but calm from the Golden Gate northward. Light rain from Monterey Bay northward fading through the day. Light to modest snow for Tahoe down to Kirkwood through the day but no further south clearing late afternoon. Tuesday (3/7) another far weaker surface low is to move into Oregon with south winds 20 kts for Cape Mendocino but light winds from Pt Arena south to Monterey bay and north winds 15 kts south of there to Pt Conception. Light rain limited to Cape Mendocino. Wednesday north winds continue at 15 kts from Pt Arena south to Pt Conception also continuing Friday (3/10).


South Pacific

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


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




Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the dateline gale above is to redevelop Sun AM (3/5) still on the dateline but repositioned further north with 30-35 kt northwest winds and seas building from 18 ft. In the evening winds to be 40 kts from the northwest with seas building from 23 ft at 42N 180W aimed well at Hawaii. On Mon AM (3/6) winds to build to 45 kts over a decent sized area aimed directly at Hawaii 1500 nmiles out with 32 ft seas at 42N 178W. In the evening 40 kt northwest winds to continue with 31 ft seas at 40N 175W aimed directly at Hawaii. On Tues AM (3/7) fetch is to be fading from 35 kts while the gale falls southeast with 26 ft seas at 37N 175W. The gale is to dissipate in the evening with winds fading from 30 kts and seas 20 ft at 32N 172W. Possible decent swell for Hawaii with luck.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...


Inactive MJO Rules West Pacific - But Warming Continues Unabated in the East

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 March 2017, it was fading with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wed (3/1) 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 moderate 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 east anomalies were modeled over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area attributable to the Inactive Phase of the MJO also extending east to the far East Pacific. 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. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is in control of the KWGA and is to hold for the coming week and likely beyond.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 3/1 the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in firm control of the West Pacific at moderate.cgius levels. The statistic model projects the Inactive Phase holding strength while tracking east over the dateline a week out then fading on the dateline and almost gone 2 weeks out with the Active Phase trying to push into the West Pacific from the Indian Ocean. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with the Inactive Phase weakening more over the dateline and all but gone 2 weeks out but with its remnants retrograding to the West Pacific.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/2) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was moderately strong over the Indian Ocean and is to track east while loosing strength and fading moving into the West Pacific 2 weeks out and indiscernible. 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: (3/2) This model depicts a modest strength Inactive Phase of the MJO was over Central America and forecast tracking east and out of the picture in 5 days. A weak Active Phase is moving into the West Pacific and expected to reach the dateline 3/17 reaching Central America 3/27. A modest Inactive Phase is to follow in the West Pacific starting 4/1 pushing to the dateline 4/11. 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): (3/2) This model depicts the Inactive Phase is building over the West Pacific peaking 3/7 and to hold control of the KWGA into 3/18 with moderate east anomalies in control. Beyond a broad but weak Active Phase is to follow starting 3/19 with weak west anomalies developing and building stronger by 4/8 and not fading for the foreseeable future through 5/29 and possibly strong by late May. La Nina is to be gone per the low pass filter on 4/11 with El Nino taking hold 4/22.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (3/2) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 160E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 178W and steep, suggesting a hard break between warm water in the west and cool water in the east at depth. But 26 deg 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. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 2/22 depicts that warm water has built 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: (3/1) 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 100W but with warm anomalies to 160W. Temps are 2-4 degs above normal along the immediate South American coast. 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 (3/1): 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 though not as strong. A growing warming trend is developing over the equatorial East Pacific with a large footprint.
Hi-res Overview:
(2/28) 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: (3/2) Today's temps were steady at +2.345 degs.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (3/2) temps were steady at +0.351 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 (3/2) The forecast has temps rising steadily to +0.5 degs late March building to +0.8 degs in later April rising to +1.0 in May, then rising steadily to +1.5 degs early Oct, and +1.6 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 unless 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 (3/2): The daily index has return to negative at -3.45 (17 day negative streak less 2 days positive at Feb 27). The 30 day average was falling at -2.36 despite a clear Inactive Phase of the MJO in.cgiay. The 90 day average was steady at -0.33. This suggests at least a neutral pattern has taken hold.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (3/2) Today's value was rising quickly at -0.83 up from -0.97 6 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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