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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, March 7, 2017 6:55 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 & 3.3 - 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 3/6 thru Sun 3/12

Swell Potential Rating Categories
5 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Significant swell
4 = Good probability for 1-2 days of Significant swell
3 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Intermediate/Advanced swell
2 = Good probability for  1-2 days of
Intermediate/Advanced swell
1 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Impulse or Windswell
0 = Low probability for 1-2 days of Impulse or Windswell   

Swell Pushing Towards HI
.cgiit Jet Continues

On Tuesday, March 7, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 8.2 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 6.5 ft @ 11.9 secs from 336 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.7 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 14.0 secs from 186 degrees. Wind north 1-2 kts. Water temperature 58.1 degs. At Ventura swell was 2.1 ft @ 10.0 secs from 276 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.3 ft @ 13.5 secs from 223 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.3 ft @ 13.8 secs from 221 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 2.5 ft @ 13.5 secs from 256 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.4 ft @ 10.5 secs with swell 4.6 ft @ 9.7 secs from 309 degrees. Wind west 2 kts at the buoy. Water temp 54.5 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 (3/7) in North and Central CA windswell was producing waves in the shoulder to head high range on the sets and clean no wind and decent shape at top breaks. Protected breaks were shoulder high and clean. At Santa Cruz surf was shoulder high on the sets and clean and nicely rideable. In Southern California up north set waves were thigh to waist high and clean but weak. In North Orange Co surf was waist to chest high and clean and fun. In San Diego surf was waist high with some bigger sets and textured with light onshore winds. Hawaii's North Shore was getting leftover dateline swell with waves 2-4 ft overhead with a bit of side shore warbled running through it. The South Shore was thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting the same dateline swell with waves head high and pretty clean with a light northeast flow adding some texture.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Tuesday (3/7) lingering swell from a previous dateline gale was still hitting Hawaii making for well rideable surf. Another gale formed on the dateline Mon-Tues (3/7) falling southeast with 31 ft seas targeting Hawaii. A tiny fetch is to produce 18 ft seas off North CA on Fri (3/10). Otherwise a .cgiit jetstream pattern driven by the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to continue to suppress gale organization for a bit longer.

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

North Pacific

On Tuesday AM (3/7) the jetstream was pushing east off Japan at 170 kts making it half way to the dateline before .cgiitting with the northern branch tracking north into the Bering Sea then falling southeast through the extreme Northeastern Gulf eventually moving over Vancouver Island while the southern branch tracked southeast over Hawaii, then .cgiit again with some energy migrating southeast over the southern tip of Baja and the rest tracking northeast up into North California. No real troughs were indicated offer no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours through Fri (3/10) more of the same is forecast but with the .cgiit point moving east to the dateline and the northern branch still tracking through the Bering Sea falling south off North Canada setting up a backdoor trough well off the US West Coast while the southern branch tracks over Hawaii then lifting northeast and impacting North CA. No real support for gale development is indicated. Beyond 72 hours starting Mon (3/14) the northern branch is to shear off from the main flow circulating by itself over the Bering Sea with the main flow tracking flat east off Japan over the dateline and into North CA but weak, with winds averaging 110 kts and with no troughs forecast offering little to support gale development through late Tues (3/14). At this time we're just waiting for the Active Phase of the MJO to appear to feed more energy into and repair the jet.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (3/7) swell from a gale previously over the dateline was pushing towards Hawaii (see Dateline Gale below). Otherwise weak high pressure was weakly in control off California.

Over the next 72 hours a very weak low is to develop just west of the Oregon-CA border Thurs AM (3/9) with winds 30 kts from the west and seas building. In the evening it is to move into nearshore waters off South Oregon with 30 kt northwest winds ands seas 19 ft at 42.5N 134W (302 degs NCal). This system is to be moving inland after that. Low odds for windswell reaching North CA Friday (3/10) into the early weekend.


Dateline Gale
A gale previously over the dateline faded then stated redeveloping Sun AM (3/5) still on the dateline but repositioned further north with 30 kt northwest winds and seas building from 20 ft. In the evening winds built to 35 kts from the northwest with seas building in coverage at 20 at 44N 167W aimed well at Hawaii. Finally on Mon AM (3/6) winds built to 40 kts over a small area aimed directly at Hawaii 1600 nmiles out with 22 ft seas at 42N 170W. In the evening 45 kt northwest winds developed starting to fall southeast with 30 ft seas at 41N 170W aimed well at Hawaii and somewhat at the US West Coast. On Tues AM (3/7) fetch was falling southeast and fading from 40 kts with 30 ft seas at 38N 168W. The gale is to dissipate in the evening with winds fading from 30 kts and seas 23 ft at 35N 167W targeting only Hawaii. Possible decent swell for Hawaii.

Hawaii: Swell arrival Wed (3/8) afternoon building to 8.4 ft @ 15 secs late afternoon (12.5 ft). Swell continues Thurs AM (3/9) fading from 7.6 ft @ 14 secs (10.5 ft). Swell fading Fri AM (3/10) from 5.1 ft @ 11-12 secs (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 330 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 Tuesday AM (3/7) high pressure was ridging into Central California waters with low pressure poised to move into extreme North CA. Winds were light in the San Francisco area but northwest 15-20 kts from Monterey Bay south to Pt Conception and south from Pt Arena northward. Light rain was falling from Pt Arena northward too. Wednesday high pressure is to lift north once the low moves inland with north winds continuing at 15 kts from Monterey Bay south to Pt Conception continuing Thursday (3/9). Rain limited to Cape Mendocino Wednesday then clearing Thursday. Fri (3/10) northwest winds are forecast lifting north covering all of Central CA and up into Pt Arena at 15 kts. No rain projected. Saturday Northwest winds to be 15-20 kts again limited to Central CA building north to Pt Arena on Sunday continuing Monday. By Tues (3/14) northwest winds to be limited to the Pt Conception area. No snow is forecast for the next 10 days.


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 no swell producing fetch is forecast. A low pressure system is to develop north of Hawaii on Sat (3/11) perhaps generating 30 kt northwest to west winds, but is to quickly track northeast with that fetch getting little traction on the oceans surface. Not even 20 ft seas are to result. Something to monitor.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours there's suggestion of a gale developing southeast of New Zealand on Fri (3/10) with seas to 42 ft late over a tiny area aimed east at 57S 160W. The gale is to track east Sat (3/11) with seas fading to 30 ft late. Maybe small sideband swell for Hawaii up into the US West Coast.

More details to follow...


Strong Inactive MJO Peaking

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 Thurs (3/6) east winds were solid over the entire equatorial Pacific and the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific but 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): Strong east anomalies were modeled over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area attributable to the Inactive Phase of the MJO and extending east into the East Pacific. The forecast suggests east anomalies to peak on 3/8 then starts slowly fading while easing east, but still totally in control of the KWGA at moderate strength a week out (3/14). 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 3/7 the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in control of the West Pacific at modest levels. The statistic model projects the Inactive Phase loosing strength while tracking east over the dateline the next 5 days, then starting to fade on the dateline and gone 2 weeks out with the Active Phase moving over the West Pacific from the Indian Ocean. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with the Inactive Phase retrograding and building over the West Pacific to moderate strength 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/7) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak over the East Indian Ocean and is to ease east while loosing strength and fading, still over the Maritime Continent 2 weeks out and indiscernible. The GEFS model depicts the Active Phase retrograding back to the West Indian Ocean 2 week out. This model runs about a week ahead of what occurs down at the surface.
40 day Upper Level Model: (3/7) This model depicts a weak Active Phase moving into the West Pacific 3/12 reaching the dateline 3/20 and very weak, then reaching Central America 3/27. A modest Inactive Phase is to follow in the West Pacific starting 4/1 pushing to Central America 4/16. 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): (3/3) This model depicts the Inactive Phase is peaking just west of the dateline today into 3/8 and is to then slowly loose 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 progressively stronger by 4/20 and not fading for the foreseeable future through 6/3. La Nina is to be gone per the low pass filter on 4/16 (previously 4/6) with El Nino taking hold 5/2 (previously 4/19). Projected west anomalies are dependent upon the evolution of El Nino and the date of that development keeps slipping out.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (3/7) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 158E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 177W and steep, but not as steep as weeks and month before, but still suggesting a hard break between warm water in the west and cool water in the east at depth. But 26 deg anomalies continue building to the east reaching to the Galapagos over a shallow pool down 25 meters but continue thickening. Anomaly wise warm anomalies at +1-2 degs rule the West Pacific reaching to 165W but not pushing east of there. Neutral anomalies are east of there to Ecuador. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 2/27 depicts that warm water has built east forming a continuous path from the West Pacific to Ecuador at +0.5-1.0 degs suggesting a Kelvin Wave has evolved. La Nina has lost control of the ocean at depth with something that almost resembles a warm pattern taking shape.
Sea Level Anomalies: (2/27) A significant upgrade has developed here with the remaining La Nina negative anomalies dissipating at -5.0 cm's over 2 pockets stranding the equator between 100W to 120W 5 degs north and south getting progressively smaller in coverage. Positive anomalies are depicted at 0-+5 cms on the equator from Ecuador west to 140W in small pockets. La Nina is gone in the East Pacific.

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: (3/6) 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 solid warm anomalies out to 160W but 2 degs but falling south of the equator. This appears to be a southern hemi warming pattern. Temps are 2-4 degs above normal along the immediate South American coast and advecting west along the equator. Very impressive. And these waters extend east thousands of miles off the coast as far south as 25S. La Nina is gone and it looks like an El Nino like pattern is returning, though that seems hard to believe given the limited volume of subsurface warm water in the West equatorial Pacific.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/6): The previous warming trend covering waters of Chile, Peru and Ecuador is moderating and neutral now nearshore but still warming some well off the coast. Cooling in indicated between Ecuador and the Galapagos and in another pocket at 120W. The warming trend has peaked and is possibly fading some.
Hi-res Overview:
(3/6) 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. And it almost looks like El Nino is trying to develop. The timing is right if a major event were to occur.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/7) Today's temps were falling some at +1.366 degs.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (3/7) temps were rising some at +0.179 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 (3/7) The forecast has temps rising steadily to +0.5 degs mid-March building to +0.8 degs in April rising to +1.0 in May, holding then rising in August to +1.1 degs early Oct, and +1.2 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 (3/7): The daily index has moved positive (not good) at +4.45 and wa strong positive 2 days ago (+25.61 on 3/5). The 30 day average was falling at -2.79. The 90 day average was rising some at +0.37. This suggests at least a neutral pattern has taken hold.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (3/7) Today's value was rising quickly at -0.72 up from -0.97 10 days ago. This is likely in response to rising sea surface temps, but still negative 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. The expectation is this index will rise to 0.0 three months after the oceanic change occurred (Oceanic change occurred approx Jan 20 2017). So on March 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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