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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: March 22, 2011 6:51 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   

3 More Local Gales For CA
Dateline Forecast to Produce Longterm


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 Tuesday (3/22) North and Central California was seeing swell from across the dateline at 11 ft at exposed breaks but south wind again on the rise. Southern California was seeing mostly residual local swell at waist to chest high and clean up north with the dateline swell passing by and shadowed. Down south waves at exposed breaks were chest to shoulder high with slightly overhead sets and clean with more dateline energy showing the further south one went. Hawaii's North Shore was running up to 2 ft overhead with trades a little too northerly adding a fair amount of warble.  The East Shore was getting east windswell at chest to 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 Wednesday (3/23) is expected to see 
dateline swell fading from 8 ft (faces) with much warble intermixed, then fading on Thursday from 6.5 ft with windswell near 9 ft building on top. Larger very local west swell possible on Friday at 16 ft with west wind blowing and much local windswell and chop intermixed. Very raw.  Saturday windswell fades from 7.5 ft with a new pulse in on Sunday at 9.5 ft. 
Southern California is to see dateline swell on Wednesday fading from chest high with new local windswell to chest high Thursday. Friday new locally generated westerly swell possible to 2 ft overhead fading from chest high Saturday. Possible new northwest swell to  shoulder high on Sunday.
The North Shore of Oahu is to see fading dateline swell at 6 ft (faces) Wednesday with chest high leftovers for Thursday.  More chest high dateline energy expected Friday dropping to waist high Saturday and then gone.
The East Shore is to see east windswell at 1 ft overhead Wednesday pushing 1 ft more Thursday then back to 1 ft overhead Friday fading to head high by Sunday.
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. That swell arrived in Hawaii over the weekend and into Northern CA on Monday (3/21) and is expected to slowly fade out over the next 2 days. Relative to the US West Coast, another series of small gales are forecast to move southeast from the Gulf of Alaska into Northern CA Thursday and then again Saturday producing 26 ft seas each, but moving directly into nearshore waters making for very raw conditions when their respective swells arrive. Beyond two more systems are forecast tracking flat through the northwestern Gulf  Sat (3/19) with a larger one forecast tracking off Japan Sunday and reaching the dateline Tuesday (3/29) and theoretically expanding. Possible swell for Hawaii from the alter one if it even forms. Otherwise a .cgiit jetstream and the Inactive Phase of the MJO continues to dominate the weather picture. 


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

North Pacific

On Tuesday (3/22) the jetstream was tracking northeast off Japan with 140 kts winds, .cgiitting just off the coast with the northern branch ridging gently to a point over the Central Aleutians with winds building there to 160 kts, then falling into a well established trough off the Pacific Northwest with winds fading as it pushed over Central CA. Decent support for gale development in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska in the trough there. Over the next 72 hours the same pattern is to hold but with the ridge in the Central Pacific building north slightly and easing east some into Wednesday,  then loosing energy but also falling south some.  Still some flavor of a trough to continue off the Pacific Northwest with the jet itself moving inland over North and Central CA. Continued support for gale development there. Also the .cgiit point off Japan is to ease east some. Beyond 72 hours the .cgiit point is to reach the dateline by the weekend with more energy building into the jet over Japan with winds to 160 kts and on  the increase, pushing 190 kts reaching to the dateline by Monday (3/28) with a trough trying to become established and tracking over the dateline just south of the Aleutians.  That trough is to wash out some by Tuesday and move into the Northern Gulf of Alaska with a bit of a ridge building into California. Decent support for gale development in that trough. 

At the surface on Tuesday (3/22) a weak low pressure system gale was circulating 450 nmiles west of Central CA starting to generate 25-30 kt west and northwest winds.  This to result in rain for the Central CA coast and limited westerly windswell , but that's about it. Otherwise high pressure at 1032 mbs was locked 700 nmiles north of Hawaii extending from the dateline to almost Baja and producing enhanced trades over the Islands at 20-25 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 east into Central CA on Wednesday making for rain and and wind there and snow in higher elevations. A second system is forecast forming about 1000 nmiles west of Oregon dropping southeast with 35 kts west winds moving right up to the Central and North CA coast Thursday AM (3/24) with seas building there to 26 ft (40N 134W) and pushing into the coast through the day. Possible larger semi-swell for Central CA Friday AM at 10 ft @ 13-14 secs from 292 degrees, but very raw and windblown. Yet a third system is to form 1000 nmiles off Washington late Thursday producing northwest winds to 40 kts Friday AM at 47N 142W tracking east and pushing into Northern Oregon Saturday (3/26).   26 ft seas forecast at 44N 135W late Friday night (310 degs NCal) tracking east and out of the CA swell window into Oregon. Maybe some north sideband swell for Central CA on Sunday from 310+ degrees  


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


No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (3/22) the next round of storms was starting to take shape off the California coast. Neashore south winds were in control down to Morro Bay and wind was on the increase. A light overcast was building in the San Francisco Bay area with light precipitation poised just off the coast southward to the middle of Big Sur. Rain is forecast moving into the entire Central CA coast by evening with light snow in the Tahoe region by 11 PM. Steady rain and south winds turning to southwest are forecast through the day Wednesday for Central CA with rain building into Southern CA Wednesday afternoon. 20 inches of snow is forecast for  Tahoe through Thursday sunrise. A stronger pulse is to follow directly behind for Thursday with west to southwest winds at 30 kts forecast and moderate rain for all of Central CA working it's way down into Southern CA for late afternoon into the evening. Another 28-30 inches of snow is forecast for Tahoe through Friday AM. A bit of a clearing pattern is forecast Friday with west wind at 10+ kts forecast early, fading some then turning back to southerly at sunset as the next system queues up off the coast. Rain to move back into San Francisco Friday near sunset and continue pushing south to Pt Conception into Saturday PM. South winds to down to Morro Bay Saturday then turning northwest 15+ kts for all of Central CA. Another 10 inches of snow for Tahoe through the day into Saturday evening.  Sunday high pressure takes over with north winds 20 kts focused on Pt Conception and 15 kts up into SF. High pressure is to be building just off the coast hitting fully later Monday with 25 kt north winds in effect through the day Tuesday (3/29). Southern CA to even see some of this. 


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 new gale is forecast developing in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska on Friday (3/25) with 45 kt west winds late and seas building. Saturday it is to continue tracking due east with 45 kt west winds along the line from 47N 152-160W with 28 ft seas in the AM at 46N 163W (352 degs HI) and then 30 ft seas building in the evening at 46N 154W (298 Degs NCal - Outside the HI swell window). The gale to continue east on Sunday (3/27) producing 40 kt west winds before fading in the evening 450 nmiles west of Washington. 32 ft seas are forecast Sun AM at 46N 147W (302 degs NCal) and at 47N 138W in the evening (310 NCal). Possible larger raw swell for the Pacific Northwest on Monday (3/28) with sideband swell for the Islands and north angeled swell for Central CA by Tuesday.

Also another small gale is forecast developing just off Japan on Saturday (3/26) with 45+ kt west winds tracking due east into Sunday AM resulting in 34 ft seas over a modest area at 37N 159E pushing to 36N 167E in the evening and fading with seas down to 32 ft (300-305 degs HI). The gale is to start reorganizing late much further north and by Monday AM (3/28) 45 kt west winds are forecast up at 45N 178W.  Seas starting to rebuild. By evening 50 kt west winds forecast at 46N 173W tracking east with seas with seas starting to exceed 30 ft. Tuesday AM 45 kt west winds to continue at 46N 166W with 38 ft seas at 46N 167W (345 degs HI and 298 NCal).  The gale to fade thereafter with 39 ft seas at 47N 161W late (302 NCal - Outside the HI swell window).  Decent odds for long distance west swell for Hawaii from the initial incarnation of the storm and then more energy from the northwest if it reforms as forecast. North and Central CA to possibly see decent long period energy assuming the reform occurs on the dateline.  

As of Tuesday (3/22) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued backing off. The daily SOI was at 10.48. The 30 day average was down to 18.69 with the 90 day average down slightly to 21.05.  

Wind anomalies as of Monday (3/21) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated weak easterly anomalies covering the dateline and points east tracking into Central America indicative of the middle to late stages of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. It was moving east much faster than expected. A quick fade is forecast with it nearly gone 3/28. A weak new Active Phase was depicted building in the Indian Ocean as of 3/21 and is forecast to push east a bit making it to New Guinea by 3/31 with barely a ghost of it limping to the dateline on 4/10, then dissipating there.  This is actually better than previously forecast. This all suggests that support for gale development should be gone currently, which clearly it is not. And the .cgiit jetstream expected as a result of the Inactive Phase of the MJO, though it exists, is not pushing the Northern Branch as far north as would be expected. The net results is there is still some support for gale development occurring and it is likely to only get enhanced slightly as we move into early April (with the Active Phase of the MJO trying to get a foothold again). 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 continues to surprise with it's consistency (a good thing).  It's almost as if at least a normal pattern is trying to take hold, if not something more.    

Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (3/19) is unchanged and continues to indicate that cooler waters (-1 C degs) had a grip on the equator covering from a bit west of South America westward to the dateline. Cooler than normal waters also were present in feeder bands originating off the US West Coast (not as strong as earlier in the Winter) and somewhat colder ones off South America sweeping fully to the intersection of the dateline and the equator, serving to continue 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. And tongues of warmer water are positioned in the both the Northwest and Southwest Hemispheres trying to make inroads to the east. Regardless, the big picture still looks like a La Nina setup (though 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 and holding there though 3/22. There has been minor fluctuations in it's intensity but in all, reasonably stable.  Negative anomalies continue in the far East Pacific at -2C just off Ecuador.  Regardless, there has been an impenetrable wall at 140W separating the warm and cool anomalies and it has been blocking any eastward progress of warmer subsurface water. Until that configuration changes, La Nina will remain 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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