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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: March 19, 2011 8:30 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
Swell Potential Rating = 2.5 - California & 3.2 - 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 3/21 thru Sun 3/27
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   

Series of Weak Local Gales Scheduled for CA
One More Dateline Swell for All


New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)

Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead). Summer - 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: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft). Summer - 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. Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

In memory of Sion Milosky - On Wednesday (3/16) near sunset Sion Milosky lost his life at Mavericks. Swell #6 was peaking with pure swell running 9.5 ft @ 18 secs from 288 degrees and surf pushing to 20 ft Hawaiian. And the wind, which had been brisk northwest all day creating a heavy texture on the oceans surface, backed down to near calm setting up near glassy conditions for the sessions final hour. A handful of surfers were left savoring the improved conditions with waves breaking on the north end of the second reef and washing into the main bowl, the normal takeoff spot, which had now turned into an inside-out second section. Sion caught one of these waves, followed directly by Shawn Dollar on the next. Both went down. Shawn was able to scratch to the surface and was rescued by a ski. Sion was found 15+ minutes later. It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of Sion. His surfing on both Monday and Wednesday were ground breaking and provided a glimpse of where the future of big wave riding can go. He is survived by with wife and two younger daughters. His sponsor Volcom has set up a foundation to help support his family. Donations can be made here:


Current Conditions
On Saturday (3/19) North and Central California was seeing more locally generated swell with waves estimated at 14 ft at exposed breaks but tattered by southerly winds. Southern California was not yet getting that energy with waves only maybe waist high up north and blown out early. Down south waves at exposed breaks were also waist high with maybe a few bigger sets to shoulder high and pretty hacked by northwest winds. Hawaii's North Shore was effectively flat (maybe a few stray waist high waves) with a little sideshore texture. The East Shore was getting east windswell at head high and chopped. The South Shore is not being monitored for the winter and presumed to be asleep with waves 2 ft or less. 

Surf Forecast Overview
North and Central CA on Sunday (3/20) is for residual swell at 9-10 ft (faces) expected for Sunday. Monday west windswell at 8 ft with longer period energy underneath coming from across the dateline. Dateline swell takes over Tuesday at 12 ft but shadowed in the SF area. Wednesday dateline swell fades from 8 ft with much warble intermixed. Larger west windswell possible on Thursday at 9.5 ft but south winds still blowing.

Southern California is to see residual local swell fading from chest high Sunday. Monday more local windswell continues at chest high the new northerly dateline swell arrives at head high or better from Tuesday. Wednesday dateline swell fades from chest high with new local swell to shoulder high Thursday.
The North Shore of Oahu is to see datelines well swell to 11 ft (faces) on Sunday fading from 9 ft Monday and 7 ft Tuesday. 6 ft leftovers Wednesday with new chest high swell for Thursday.  
The East Shore is to see east windswell at 6 ft on Sunday and Monday fading some Tuesday only to rebound back to 1 ft overhead Wednesday on into Friday.
The South Shore is not being monitored for the late Winter even though small pulses of southern hemi swell are occasionally starting to show up.  

Meteorological Overview
A strong storm tracked hard northeast from a point off Northern Japan pushing over the Western Aleutians Thurs-Fri (3/18) generating up to 49 ft seas just south of the Aleutians, a long ways from the US and aimed well north of the great circle tracks to either Hawaii or California.  Still some decent sideband long period swell might result with a little luck for both locales. Now the usual La Nina pattern has returned with all weather systems dropping out of the Gulf of Alaska down the US West Coast. One such gale is to build off Central Ca on Wednesday (3/23) with 20 ft seas with a bigger one behind Wed-Thurs (3/24) with up 39 ft seas and centered better off the Pacific Northwest. Possible larger swell to be focus on CA. A .cgiit jetstream and the Inactive Phase of the MJO to pretty much drive energy thing north of the Hawaiian swell window tracking over the Aleutians. 


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

North Pacific

On Saturday (3/19) the jetstream was tracking off Japan with 130 kts winds and almost a trough trying to organize before it hit the dateline, but not quite and instead, .cgiitting with the northern branch ridging hard north almost to the Aleutians in the Western Gulf with winds 180 kts, then diving southeast through the Central Gulf at 190 kts before impacting the Central CA coast. Decent support for gale development in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska. Over the next 72 hours the bulk of the higher wind energy is to push through the Gulf trough and into California by later Monday (3/21) with the whole jet lifting north some and flattening out tracking from the Southern Kuril's almost directly over the Aleutians before taking a gradual dip through the Eastern Gulf. Winds to 140 kts in the West and less in the east. Still, some degree of gale development is possible in the trough in the Gulf. Beyond 72 hours more energy is to get infused through the width of the jet, with winds 130-140 kts from Japan arching over the dateline then falling into the Gulf by Wed (3/23) and holding through next weekend. Decent support for gale development in the Eastern Gulf focused on the Pacific Northwest and California.

At the surface on Saturday (3/19) a weak gale was circulating off Oregon with pressure 996 mbs and winds to 25 kts, offering only windswell production for the the California coast. A new gale was trying to organize on the dateline but was tracking due north producing 35 kts winds and expected to be landlocked in the Bering Sea by nightfall. Otherwise broad high pressure at 1024 mbs was stretched from just off Japan to 600 nmiles north of Hawaii producing enhanced trades over Hawaii at 20 kts offering windswell potential there. Otherwise no swell production interest was occurring. Over the next 72 hours the weak weather system off California is to continue circulating while drifting southeast from off Oregon, regenerating some on Sunday (3/20) with up to 30 kt west and southwest winds before eventually moving over Central CA on Monday. Windswell, rain and snow in higher elevations the expected result. High pressure to hold if not build some north of Hawaii with trades up to near 25 kts late Tuesday (3/22) and holding for later in the week, resulting in increase easterly windswell.  

West Pacific Storm
On  Wednesday AM (3/16) a new storm was brewing just off Northern Japan with 50 kt west winds at 40N 154E.  In the evening 55 kt west winds built at 43N 162E and lifting northeast fast. Seas built to 32 ft at the same location. Thursday AM (3/17) 55 kt west winds were up at 44N 165E aimed right up the 302 degree path to NCal and 60 degrees northeast of the 318 deg path to Hawaii. Seas built to 44 ft at 44N 168E.  In the evening west winds held at 50-55 kts at 46N 173E (302 degs NCal and 60 degrees northeast of the 323 degree path to Hawaii) but fading in coverage with seas peaking at 49 ft at 46N 173E.  The storm started tracking east Friday AM with a broad fetch of 40 kt winds fading at 49N 178E with 42 ft seas at 50N 177W impacting the Aleutian Islands (306 degs NCal and 60 degrees east of the 333 degree path to HI).  In the evening  the gale was dissipating with residual seas from previous fetch at 32 ft at 50N 175W (308 NCal and outside the HI swell window) with a good portion of the swell energy impacting the Aleutians Islands directly.  

Some degree of sideband swell is expected to result for Hawaii generated from early in the storms life. Larger but more inconsistent size possible for the US West coast but shadowed in the SF Bay Area. 

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival in the early hours of Sunday (3/20) with period 19+ secs and peaking near noon at 6.3 ft @ 18 secs (11 ft Hawaiian).  Swell Direction: 315-320 degrees.  Residual energy to continue into Monday at  6 ft @ 14 secs (9 ft Hawaiian) and period slowly fading.        

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Monday (3/21) building to 4.5 ft @ 20 secs (8 ft faces) and very inconsistent then peaking early Tuesday at 6.9 ft @ 17 secs (11 ft faces) and only mildly more consistent.A slow fade is forecast starting Wed (3/23) with swell 5.4 ft @ 15 secs early (8 ft) and fading from there. Swell Direction: 300-305 degrees


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


No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (3/19) low pressure was the name of the game for California at 994 mbs centered just 300 nmiles off Oregon but driving a steady west southerly wind flow into the Golden State from Pt Conception northward. Snow was falling from above 4500 ft with nearly 2 ft accumulated since Friday AM. A new pulse of stronger energy is forecast pushing into San Francisco late Saturday evening reaching down to Pt Conception mid-Sunday with heavy rain near Pt Conception into the evening. South winds forecast from later Saturday in Southern CA on up to the north end of the state through Sunday. Another 50 inches of snow is possible into Monday AM in the Lake Tahoe region. The bulk of the storm is to be onshore by Monday AM though light precipitation is to continue for all locations through the day. A bit of a break is forecast on Tuesday though lingering light precipitation is possible along the Central CA coast with winds going near calm. Maybe 6 more inches of snow in Tahoe. Then Round #2 starts late Tuesday as a new gale redevelops off Cape Mendo with south winds in control from Pt Conception northward and rain through Wednesday. Another 6 inches in Tahoe.Yet a third pulse is forecast building off the coast arriving in San Francisco Thursday (3/24) with more south winds and periods of heavy rain down to Pt Conception, with lingering precip moving into Southern CA on Friday and less up north. 18 more inches of snow in Tahoe. Clearing on Saturday but another pulse looks possible for Sunday (3/27).


South Pacific

At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was occurring at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast with no swell producing weather systems modeled. 


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 hrs a gale is forecast for the Northern Gulf on Thursday with 26 ft seas, but quickly fading. Another small gale is forecast developing well off Oregon on Saturday (3/26) with 35 kt winds and 22 ft seas while a stronger one pushes over the northern dateline with a small are of 50 kt west winds and seas building from 30 ft. It's such a long reach for the models none of this is believable yet.

As of Saturday (3/19) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued backing off. The daily SOI was down to 5.26. The 30 day average was down to 20.56 with the 90 day average down slightly to 21.53.  

Wind anomalies as of Friday (3/18) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated weak easterly anomalies covering the Eastern Indian Ocean to the dateline symptomatic of the early stages of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. It is expected to be straddling the dateline on 3/23 then stall there and fade, effectively gone by 3/28 with a neutral pattern in control into 4/7. A weak new Active Phase is depicted building in the Indian Ocean by 3/23 pushing east but dissipating before making it into the Western Pacific on 3/30. This all suggests that support for gale development is gone with a .cgiit jetstream and reduced support for gale development likely from 3/15 through at least 4/4. the interesting thing is that even though we are in a La Nina pattern, the Active Phase has been more dominant than expected from February onward and continue to surprise with it's consistency (a good thing).     

Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (3/17) is unchanged and continues to indicate that cold waters (-1 C degs or cooler) had a grip on the equator covering from a bit west of South America westward to the dateline and a little beyond. Colder than normal waters also were present in feeder bands originating off the US West Coast and even colder ones off South America sweeping fully to the intersection of the dateline and the equator, only serving to reinforce the existing La Nina pattern. These colder waters are a reflection of stronger than normal high pressure built in over both hemispheres causing upwelling in the Gulf of Alaska and off South America, though it looks like the upwelling effect was stronger in the southern hemi than in the north. But the cooler waters in the North Pacific are relating as are the cool temps over the equator. Warmer than normal waters remain over the Galapagos Islands and over a very narrow band west of there. Regardless, the big picture still looks like a La Nina setup 9though fading in intensity). 

Below the surface on the equator there has been indications of Kevin Wave activity.  Colder than normal water that had been locked all winter southeast of Hawaii under the equator evaporated in late February and moved to dead neutral presumably from the effects of two consecutive bouts of the Active Phase of the MJO which in turn might have driven a Kelvin Wave. In parallel warmer than normal water was edging east from the West Pacific, up +2 degrees above normal and positioned due south of Hawaii (150W) under the equator on 3/3, but loosing a little of  it's punch. By 3/6 those temps were down to +1 degrees above normal and loosing more heat. But as of 3/10 +2 degree anomalies looked stronger but had made no eastward progress, stuck at 155W. And then on 3/12 it looked like it was loosing heat again making no eastward progress as of 3/15 with negative anomalies again showing up in the East Pacific at -2C just off Ecuador.  As of 3/19 there appeared to be an impenetrable wall at 140W that was blocking any eastward progress of warmer subsurface water. La Nina is still in control. 

Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond. From a historical 'normal' perspective these easterly winds were anomalous, blowing harder than normal from the east to the west, but not unusually so.  We actually expected more from this La Nina.

A moderate.cgius strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) is in control and momentum from it is expected to hold well into the Fall of 2011 (and likely to early 2012) in the upper atmosphere regardless of how quickly La Nina's demise occurs in the ocean. In short, it's going to be tough for surfers on west facing shores in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, though east facing shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance, especially in summer months.  That is not to say there will be no storms, in fact, there could be short periods of intense activity when the Active Phase gets an opportunity to come to fruition, but that will be the exception rather than the rule, with the Inactive Phase trying to keep a cap on storm activity. Conversely, the tropical season in the Atlantic (2011) might be fairly active.  

See more details in the   El Nino update.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.

Details to follow...


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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Local Interest

Timmy Reyes - Curt Myers from Powerlines Productions found this little gem with Timmy Reyes providing a brief statement about which sites he uses for swell chasing. Thought we'd pass it on. Enjoy:

Buell Wetsuits - When surfing in Santa Cruz, we've been seeing a new wetsuit in the line-up worn by many top flight surfers. They're getting good traction and are well respected. Take a look:

Stormsurf Mobile App (1/9/11) We are proud to announce the official public release of our smartphone mobile app. It provides access to our most popular and commonly used products, optimized for use on the road, on the beach or anywhere you don't have a desktop or laptop.  With a smart phone and signal, you will have access to our data. And we're not talking just a few teaser products - We're talking full feature wave models, weather models, real-time buoy data, manually built forecasts and hundreds of spot wave and wind forecasts enabling you to construct a surf forecast for any location on the.cgianet, all from your cell phone and all for free.  No subscription required and no hidden fees. And better yet, there's a few new things sprinkled in that are not yet available even on our full-featured web site. From your smart phones browser just navigate to: 

Mavericks Surf Shop Grand OpeningSunday, December 19 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. rain or shine!  Check out the new home of Jeff Clark's Mavericks Surf Shop, now located at 25 Johnson Pier in Pillar Point Harbor.  The shop features much of Clark's surfing memorabilia, classic boards and photos, as well as an entirely new line of Jeff Clark original Mavericks clothing, accessories and surfboards. The shop has been open in the new location since December 8, and the Grand Opening party is set for this coming Sunday, just in time for Christmas.  The party starts at 2 p.m., with live music, food and drinks. Jeff Clark and many Mavericks surfers will be there to meet the public. Local restaurants Ketch Joanne's and Princeton Seafood will serve up delicious food, while San Francisco Wine Trading Company is providing the beverages.  The shop will be open all weekend, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Stormsurf Maintenance Upgrades: Buoy 46059 and 46012 were r.cgiaced a month or so ago. Totally new buoys were installed. Here on Stormsurf we had to reset the algorithms used to calculate 'pure swell' for them. That was acco.cgiished on 11/13. Pure swell numbers are now correct. Links: 46012, 46059

Also since we moved to the new weather model server last month we discovered that our Longrange Precipitation Models ceased to display frozen precipitation (as they once did). Some of our scripts did not get installed on the new server. That has been fixed (11/13) and now snow is again viewable worldwide. Here the new North America sa.cgie.

Chasing The Swell: Sachi Cunningham from the LA Times spent the entirety of last winter chasing surfers and swells around the North Pacific with her high def video cam. Her timing couldn't have been any better with the project exactly coinciding with the strongest El Nino in 12 years resulting in the best big wave season in a decade. And being an acco.cgiished surfer herself helped her to bring a poignant and accurate account of the what it's like to ride big waves and the new (and some not so new) personalities that are revitalizing the sport. This is must-see material for any surfer or weather enthusiast. Check it out here:

New Weather Models With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon):

New Weather Model Server Stormsurf has installed another weather model production server. This has enabled us to spread the load across more servers allowing us to post both wave and weather model updates much quicker.  Also we are testing new content (like North America jetstream, winds and precipitation, local wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments). The model menus will be updated shortly with these new links.   

Click here to learn more about Casa Noble Tequila! Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here:

New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.

Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.

Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's si.cgie and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet E.cgiorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way! .xml

Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here

Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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