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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Sunday, March 12, 2017 3:33 AM
Buoys: Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Buoy Forecast:
Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Pacific Links:  Atmospheric Models - Buoy Data - Current Weather - Wave Models
Forecast Archives: Enter Here
A chronology of recent Mavericks Underground forecasts. Once you enter, just click on the HTML file forecast you want to review (e.g. 073199.html equals July 31, 1999). To view the maps that correspond to that forecast date, select the html file labeled 073199 maps.html
2.0 - California & 3.0 - 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 3/13 thru Sun 3/19

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 for Hawaii
Another Dateline Gale Forecast


On Sunday, March 12, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 2.2 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 9.8 secs from 317 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.0 ft @ 12.0 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 13.3 secs from 276 degrees. Wind southeast 6-10 kts. Water temperature 59.0 degs. At Ventura swell was 1.1 ft @ 13.0 secs from 262 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.8 ft @ 12.6 secs from 274 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.1 ft @ 14.7 secs from 223 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 2.7 ft @ 13.6 secs from 255 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.5 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 2.2 ft @ 12.4 secs from 262 degrees. Wind northwest 12-14 kts at the buoy. Water temp 55.0 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 Sunday (3/12) in North and Central CA windswell was producing waves in the waist to chest high range on the sets but a little warbled with a light northwest winds producing light surface texture. Protected breaks were thigh to waist high and clean early. At Santa Cruz surf was thigh to waist high on the sets and clean but slow and warbled from too much tide early. In Southern California up north set waves were thigh high and clean but weak and fogged in. In North Orange Co surf was maybe waist high on the sets and clean but weak. In San Diego surf was waist high at better breaks and clean with glassy conditions and light fog early. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell at knee high and clean with no trades blowing.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Sunday (3/12) no swell of interest was hitting California or Hawaii. A tiny gale developed on the dateline Fri (3/10) with 21 ft seas targeting Hawaii. Of somewhat more interest is a small gale forecast developing off Japan tracking east to the almost the dateline Wed-Sat (3/16) possibly generating up to 32 ft seas. But nothing else is forecast up north. In the southern hemisphere a gale developed southeast of New Zealand on Fri (3/10) producing a small area of seas to 40 ft then quickly fading with seas dropping from 32 ft Sat AM (3/11). Nothing else is on the charts north or south. Otherwise the .cgiit jetstream pattern that has dominated the past week is suggested to start consolidating a week out with improving odds for swell production.

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

North Pacific

On Sunday AM (3/12) the jetstream was pushing solidly east off Japan building to 170 kts over the dateline then starting to .cgiit north of Hawaii with the northern branch tracking northeast up into British Columbia with the southern branch tracking parallel to it pushing into Baja. A upper level circulation was in.cgiace over the Bering Sea. No troughs were present offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is expected through Wed (3/15) but with the Bering Sea cutoff low starting to become assimilated into the main flow with it's energy joining the main flow in the Gulf of Alaska. At the same time winds in the jet are to start building off Japan to 160 kts pushing east with a weak trough starting to build midway between Japan and the Dateline. The underpinnings of something that looks supportive of gale development is to start setting up. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to become fully consolidated pushing off Japan and building to 150 kts pushing flat east over the dateline and reaching a point north of Hawaii and not .cgiitting but weakening and then pushing northeast up into Oregon. A weak trough is to continue over the West Pacific with the jet looking supportive of it and this pattern is to hold into Sun (3/19). At that time the trough is to start developing off Japan being fed by 140 kts winds.

Surface Analysis
On Sunday (3/12) swell from a gale previously over the dateline was pushing towards Hawaii (see Dateline Gale below). Otherwise weak low pressure was off the Pacific Northwest tracking northeast up into British Columbia and not producing any fetch of swell of interest.

Over the next 72 hours a gale is forecast developing off Japan on Wed AM (3/15) with 45 kt north winds easing east targeting mainly the southern hemi with seas 30 ft at 31N 147E. In the evening 45 kt west fetch is to track east with seas 31 ft at 30N 153E. The gale is to pull apart some Thurs AM (3/16) and lift northeast with 40 kt northwest winds starting to target Hawaii with seas 27 ft at 30N 161E. 40 kt northwest winds to continue tracking east-northeast in the evening with 32 ft seas at 37N 168E. On Fri AM (3/17) the gale is to build coverage with 40 kt west winds approaching the dateline with 30 ft seas at 38N 172E. Fetch is to hold in the evening with 32 ft seas at 40N 173E. The gale is to be stationary Sat AM (3/18) with 40 kt west winds and seas 29 ft at 40N 171E. The gale is to be fading in the evening with fetch dropping from 30-35 kts and seas 28 ft over a smaller footprint at 40N 172E. More of the same is forecast Sun AM (3/19) with 30-35 kt west winds and seas dropping from 22 ft at 38N 178E. Something to monitor.


Dateline Gale
On Thurs AM (3/9) low pressure was developing just west of the dateline producing a small fetch of 35 kt northwest winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By the evening it was tracking southeast with winds building to near 40 kt over a small area with 20 ft seas at 36N 170E targeting Hawaii. On Fri AM (3/10) fetch is to build in coverage at 30-35 kts from the northwest covering 700 nmiles with seas 21 ft at 35N 177E targeting Hawaii. In the evening 30-35 kt northwest fetch is to hold coverage aimed directly at Hawaii with 18-20 ft seas peaking at 39N 177E. On Sat AM (3/11) fetch is to fade to 25 kts 800 nmiles northwest of Hawaii with seas fading from 18 ft at 40N 180W. This system is to dissipate from there while racing northeast. Maybe windswell is to result for Hawaii peaking on Mon (3/13).

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Mon (3/13) building to 5.1 ft @ 13 secs (6.5 ft) mid-AM. Swell fading over night down Tues AM (3/14) to 3.9 ft @ 12 secs (4.5 ft) and fading from there. Swell Direction: 312 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 Sunday AM (3/12) weak high pressure was ridging into North California with weak low pressure in the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska. Winds were north at 15 kts from Pt Arena southward to Pt Conception and up to 20 kts over the southern portion of that region. On Monday more of the same is forecast. By Tues (3/14) northwest winds to fade to 10 kts or less with high pressure fading and slow pressure trying to edge a little closer. On Wed (3/15) the low is to move into the Pacific Northwest with south winds 25 kt early for Cape Mendocino and weak south winds 5 kts down to the Golden Gate. Light winds south of there. Light rain south to Bodega Bay. Thurs (3/16) high pressure is to return with north winds 15-20 kts down to Pt Conception. Another low is to be building west of it. On Friday that low is to move northeast with light winds for all of California and south winds 20 kts for Cape Mendocino. Light rain for Cape Mendocino. More of the same on Saturday. A light wind and pressure pattern is forecast for Sunday (3/19). There's a hint of snow for Tahoe 10 days out (3/21).


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
A gale is forecast to develop in the far Southeast Pacific on Tues PM (3/14) with 50 kt south winds and seas building from 30 ft at 52S 120W aimed due north at Southern CA and Mexico. The gale is to fade some Wed AM (3/15) with south winds dropping from 45 kts and seas 37 ft at 51S 114W moving out of the Scal swell window but targeting Mexico well. Fetch fading from 40 kts in the evening with 34 ft seas at 49S 108W. The gale is to dissipate from there. Something to monitor.


Small New Zealand Storm
A storm developed southeast of New Zealand on Thurs PM (3/9) with 55 kt southwest winds and seas building to 32 ft at 57S 174E over a tiny area. On Fri AM (3/10) winds faded some to 50 kts over a somewhat larger area though still small with seas 39 ft over a tiny area aimed east at 57S 174W. The gale tracked east in the evening with fetch fading from 45 kts from the west and seas fading to 38 ft at 56S 163W. Fetch faded Sat AM (3/11) from 40 kts with seas fading from 32 ft at 56S 153W. The gale faded from there. Maybe small sideband swell for Hawaii up into the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Tiny swell for Hawaii starting late Fri (3/17) at 0.8 ft @ 16-17 secs (1.0-1.5 ft). Swell fading from Sat (3/18) from 0.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (1.0-1.5 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees

Southern CA: Swell arrival on Sun (3/19) building to 1.2 ft @ 18 secs (2.0 ft). Swell DIrection: 200 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 the same gale/jetstream combination described above is to continue just west of the dateline.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours another gale is projected well south of New Zealand on Fri (3/17) with seas to 32 ft at 56S 175E mid-day, offering some hope for small swell production. Something to monitor.

More details to follow...


Inactive MJO Holds - La Nina Cool Pool Expanding

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 Sat (3/11) 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 eastern Kelvin Wave Generation Area centered near the dateline attributable to the Inactive Phase of the MJO. The forecast suggests east anomalies to rebuild strong on the dateline Mon (3/13) holding through Thurs (3/16) then starting to decay. and weakening through Sun (3/19). This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is in control of the KWGA and is to hold for the coming week possibly fading beyond.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 3/11 the Inactive Phase of the MJO was weakly in control of the dateline region at modest levels. The statistic model projects the Inactive Phase loosing strength while tracking east and gone from the dateline and KWGA 8 days out with the Active Phase moving over the West Pacific 2 weeks out weakly. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with the Inactive Phase redeveloping over the West Pacific to modest strength 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/12) 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 Central Indian Ocean 2 week out and weak. This model runs about a week ahead of what occurs down at the surface.
40 day Upper Level Model: (3/12) This model depicts a weak Active Phase present in the far West Pacific tracking east reaching the dateline 3/22 and then into Central America 4/8. A modest Inactive Phase is to follow in the West Pacific starting 4/1 pushing to Central America 4/18. 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): (3/12) This model depicts the Inactive Phase peaked just west of the dateline on 3/5 and is to slowly loose control of the KWGA into 3/17 with moderate east anomalies in control. Beyond a weak Active Phase is to follow starting 3/18 with weak west anomalies developing and building weakly getting solid by 4/21 and not fading for the foreseeable future through 6/9. La Nina is to be gone per the low pass filter on 4/21 (previously 4/6) with El Nino taking hold 5/6 (previously 4/26 and 4/19 before that). We're thinking the model is still slipping regarding the start of an El Nino like episode. Projected west anomalies are dependent upon the evolution of El Nino and the date of that development has previously been slipping with each run of the model.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (3/12) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 156E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 178E and steep 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 (60 meters at 140W) but continue thickening. Anomaly wise warm anomalies at +1-2 degs rule the West Pacific reaching to 165W with a stream of neutral anomalies tracking from there to Ecuador. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/4 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: (3/4) 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 one continuous thin stream. 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: (3/11) 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 105W at + 2 degs but with solid warm anomalies out to 160W but positioned south of the equator from 120W to 160W and cooler water building on the equator there. This appears to be a southern hemi warming pattern in Nino1.2 but at the same time La Nina cooling is reappearing in the Nino3.4 region. 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 (3/11): The previous warming trend covering waters of Chile, Peru and Ecuador is moderating and neutral if not trending cooler nearshore but still warming some well off the coast. Cooling in indicated between Ecuador and the Galapagos but warming west of there out to the dateline. The warming trend is starting to fade some.
Hi-res Overview:
(3/11) There is now signs of La Nina cool waters redeveloping weakly from 120-160W. A warm regime holds from Ecuador west to 120W. Remnants of La Nina continue from 160W-170E. It almost looks like El Nino is trying to develop but is not making headway into the Nino3.4 region, instead confined to Nino1.2.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/12) Today's temps were rising from +1.521 degs.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (3/12) temps were falling some at -0.121 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 (3/12) The forecast has temps at +0.15 degs mid-March building to +0.7 degs in April rising to +0.8 in May, then fading some to the +0.6 range through the summer then rising to +0.9 degs early Oct suggesting a return of a weak El Nino. This is a bit of a downgrade from previous runs that had temps to +1.3 degs or more. Regardless, La Nina is over and a return to at least normal temps is expected in Spring. The change in the atmosphere will be slower. And a turn to weak El Nino conditions is possible late summer into Fall. Still, there is no source from grater warming with the warm pool in the far West Pacific pretty weak.
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 (3/12): The daily index is negative again at -7.56 (5 days negative) after a short but strong 5 day positive run (+25.61 on 3/5) after a 13 days negative run. It sure seems a move towards a negative trend is setting up. The 30 day average was falling at -5.62 and has been negative al east 30 days. The 90 day average was falling some at -0.23 or effectively neutral. This suggests a return to at least a neutral ENSO conditions has taken hold.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (3/12) Today's value has fallen again at -0.92. This is likely in response to falling sea surface temps in Nino3.4 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. That seems like a reach.

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, Feb = +0.08. 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, Feb = +0.70. 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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