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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: March 24, 2009 8:47 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 = 1.0 - California & 2.0 - 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 3/23 thru Sun 3/29
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   

Windswell Continues
Gale Forms in Gulf/Models Hint at Something Down South Next Week


New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)

Significant: Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead)
Advanced: Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Intermediate: Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft)
Impulse/Windswell: Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.

On Tuesday (3/24) North and Central California was chest high or so and blown to bits from brisk local north wind. A springtime pattern was well in control with high pressure strong off the coast providing only local windswell. Southern California was knee to thigh high (basically flat) with moderate northwest wind putting a light chop on it mid-day. Top spots in San Diego had some chest high sets from local windswell wrapping in and better conditions. Hawaii's North Shore was flat other than wrap around windswell from the East Shore at waist high. The East Shore had some chest to shoulder high easterly windswell with east wind on it. The South Shore was flat with no southern hemi swell in the water.

North and Central CA surf is to continue having less and less period and looking more and more like locally generated north windswell, typical of the Spring. Size to be roughly in the chest to head high range. Chopped conditions are all that's indicated too, at least through the end of the workweek. Southern CA is to be receiving a portion of that north windswell, only at the most exposed breaks in the knee to thigh high range.  At least local winds are to be more cooperative than up north.  Hawaii's North Shore is to remain flat until sunset Wednesday when a little swell from off Japan is to start showing, peaking Thursday to 2 ft overhead the slowly settling down through the weekend. The East Shore is expected to have some increase in east windswell Thurs-Sat (3/28), then settling down some after that. The South Shore is expected to remain flat with no southern hemi swell forecast for the next 5 days.

Longterm a small gale wound up off Japan on Saturday (3/21) dropping southeast directly towards Hawaii generating a small area of 35 ft seas on Sunday west of the dateline, offering probable small swell for the Islands mid-week. Remnants of this gale were trying to build into something on the dateline  Tuesday (3/24) aimed mostly east of Hawaii and expected to turn most of it's energy towards Canada by Wednesday into Thursday (3/26).  Possible small swell pushing towards the Islands but most aimed towards Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Beyond a gale pattern is forecast for the far North Gulf of Alaska, but that's a week away from even forming, so it's just a guess by the models. Of course local windswell is to continue for the US West Coast and the East Shores of Hawaii.


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

North Pacific

On Tuesday (3/24) the North Pacific jetstream remained a fractured mess providing no support for gale development. A weak cut-off trough was over the dateline with 120 kts winds blowing up it's eastern flank and not providing much of interest.  Over the next 72 hours through Friday (3/27) the dateline trough is to remain weak and lifting northeast, pushing over the Aleutians and into mainland Alaska not offering much to support gale development. A massive .cgiit is to continue draining energy from the northern branch and feeding it into a weird almost cutoff low over northeastern Siberia. A large ridge to hold off the US West Coast supporting high pressure at the oceans surface. Beyond 72 hrs no real change is forecast with most energy following the northern branch of the jet from Japan tracking northeast up into Alaska and Northern Canada while the southern branch pushes under Hawaii and that weird cutoff low remains over Northwestern Russia.  No real troughs are forecast and no support for gale development apparent.

At the surface strong high pressure at 1036 mbs was 800 nmiles west of Big Sur ridging hard into California and generating a steady fetch of north winds at 25 kts pushing down the North and Central CA coast then turning southwest and west pushing up to the Hawaiian Islands. These winds were serving only to generate chop local windswell along the exposed California coast and more direct easterly windswell pushing into East Shores of the Hawaiian Islands. Swell from a ale off Japan over the weekend was pushing towards the Hawaiian Islands (see Japan Gale below). Over the next 72 hours a tiny storm is to redevelop from the remnants of the Japan Gale (see Gulf Gale below) tracking through the northern Gulf of Alaska, shunted there by strong high pressure locked off the Central CA coast and continuing to generate north windswell along the CA coast and east windswell into the Hawaiian Islands.

Japan Gale
A small gale formed Saturday AM (3/21) just off Northern Japan and sinking southeast producing a short lived fetch of 45 kt northwest winds at 43N 158E aimed well down the 312 degree path to Hawaii and bypassing any path to the mainland. It's dropped southeast through Sunday fading all the while but still aimed well toward Hawaii down the 302 degree path. Seas were modeled at up to 35 ft Sunday AM (3/22) at 38N 160E, then fading from 30 ft in the evening at 34N 164E. Limited swell possible for the Hawaiian Islands starting late Wed (3/25) and peaking Thursday AM near 5.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (7.0-7.5 ft faces) from 302-310 degrees.


Gulf Gale
Remnants of the Japan Gale (above) were starting to redevelop Tuesday AM just east of the dateline with pressure 984 mbs generating up to 45 kt northeast winds at 43N 179W aimed well west of Hawaii with limited 40 kts north and northwest winds wrapping into the gales southwest quadrant aimed better at the Islands from 38N 176W down the 319 degree path. But these winds to be lifting northeast and down to 35 kts in the evening generating maybe 22 ft seas pushing towards Hawaii. Not too much swell potential here for Hawaii.

By Wednesday AM (3/25) a small fetch of 40 kts winds is to be building in the gales south quadrant at 47N 163W aimed due east or right up the 298 degree path to North CA with seas building to 20 ft there. In the evening 50-55 kt west winds are forecast again in the storms south quadrant at 52N 158W aimed right up the 309 degree path to NCal. Theoretically 35 ft seas are forecast at 53N 158W aimed towards Vancouver Island and points northward. By Thursday AM (3/26) the storm is to be fading while lifting northeast in the Gulf of Alaska with 45 kt winds and 38 ft seas at 54N 152W, 30 degrees east of the 318 degree path to NCal and mostly pushing towards the Pacific Northwest and points north of there. If all this occurs, some sideband semi-real longer period small swell could result for Northern CA, with better energy into the Pacific Northwest and more up into Canada.

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


California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (3/24) massive high pressure at 1038 mbs was filling the East Pacific from Hawaii to California and up to Northern British Columbia. It was generating brisk north winds at  20-25 kts pushing down the North and Central California coasts generating moderate period local windswell and chopping things up badly.  Southern CA was protected by the Channel Islands, but just barely. No real change is forecast Wednesday and Thursday, the the focus of the wind is to consolidate near Cape Mendocino, with perhaps lighter north winds at 10-15 kts forecast for Pt Reyes southward, continuing Saturday. Yet another push of high pressure is forecast by Sunday (3/290 with north winds at 20 kts again taking over the North and Central coasts, with full chop in effect and holding through Tuesday (3/31).  

No tropical activity of interest was occurring.


South Pacific

No swell producing fetch is 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 and even more anemic weather pattern is forecast over the greater North Pacific. But over the very long view, the models suggest a pair of gales forming late Monday (3/30), one in the Western Gulf and another on the dateline pushing northeast. Current data suggest they are to take a very northern route and remain shadowed for Central CA and all of Southern CA, but at least there's a tease on the models.  


MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (3/24) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) remained in the neutral phase. The Daily SOI index was down to 2.97 (26 days in a row near zero, neutral, and the lowest since June of last year when we almost slipped into an El Nino). The 30 day average was down to 2.26 and the 90 day average was down some to 9.22. The SOI indicies remained symptomatic of La Nina, though steadily fading. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a steady westerly flow over the Philippines pushing over the dateline indicative of what appears to be another instance of the Active Phase of the MJO. This is a bit strange since we just came out of the Active Phase, and now another pulse is developing pushing from the Indian Ocean eastward into the Pacific. There was a weak signal of the Inactive Phase over Africa. This Active Phase easing into the Pacific is looking decent and might actually help the storm track some. This Active phase is to hold through 4/2 on the dateline, then slowly fade through 4/5 while the Inactive Phase tries to get a foothold in the Indian Ocean, but never make it into the Pacific. At this time the residual effects of 3 years of La Nina remain well in-control, with cooler than normal water pooled up off Central America. But even that appears to be starting to erode based on Mondays data, less cool than even a few days earlier. Thee equatorial subsurface warm pool of water that has been repressed back west of the dateline, continues to make hold, reaching east to 154W.  Subsurface cooler waters remain entrenched just east of there.  Will be interesting to see if the SOI stays near neutral and if the warm subsurface waters of the West Pacific continue to make inroads to the east, especially since the Active Phase of the MJO is now unexpectedly back in control. Regardless, it will take months before the atmosphere begins to respond to any changes (warming) of the eastern equatorial Pacific, so expect a cool and foggy Spring in California into early summer. But come summer, if warming develops in the Tropical Eastern Pacific, this could set up up for a decent Fall, and maybe an enhanced late summer southern hemi season.   


South Pacific

Starting Sunday (3/29) a gale is forecast to develop under New Zealand generating 45 kt winds and 36 ft seas aimed reasonably well to the northeast, with the whole system lifting steadily northeast into Tuesday with up to 42 ft seas forecast.  This seems highly optimistic, but is at least something to monitor. 

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

Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here: Add to Google
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location


Local Interest

Shark Video: Our friend Curt Myers of Powerlines productions shot this footage of 2 great whites munching on a whale carcass off Devils Slide (south of San Francisco) on Thursday. Kind of interesting to watch. Check it here: (Fixed link)

Wave Model Upgrade Status Report: At this point we believe the installation of the new wave models is complete, with no problems being reported, the server stabilizing and the much requested return of the old style hemispheric Surf Height models now operational (again) and running side-by-side along the new ones. We thank you for your patience and input as we went though this process.  Your feedback helps guide our efforts and ultimately results in a better product for everyone.  Now we're off to start providing better menus to some wave model products most of you probably haven't uncovered yet (site specific graph and text forecasts), updateing the wave model FAQs and then upgrading the Weather Models.  

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

Stormsurf Wave Models Updated: On Friday (2/6) we installed the latest upgrade to our wavemodels. A year in the works, this upgrade essentially is a total re-write of every wave model product we produce. They now take advantage of the new Version 3 of the Wavewatch wavemodel. This version runs at a much higher resolution, specifically 0.0 X 0.5 degrees for the global grib with local products at 0.1667 X 0.1667 degrees, and it uses the hi-res GFS model for wind speeds. And of even more interest, the model now identifies primary swell and windwave variables. As such we now have new model images which displays this data. Also we've included out special 3D topographic land masks into all models. In all it makes for a radical step forward in wave model technology. We'll be upgrading minor components (FAQ, new menu pages etc) for a few weeks to come, but all the basics are available for your use now. Check it out here:

Story About Stormsurf: The folks at SurfPulse (and specifically author Mike Wallace) have written up a really nice article about Stormsurf, complete with some good pics. Learn about how we came to be and a little of where we are going. Check it out here:

Help Out a Fellow Mavericks Surfer: Our friend Christy Davis is going through some tough times. His 14 year old daughter has been diagnosed with leukemia and she is currently undergoing chemotherapy. The prognosis is good but we'd all like to help him out with medical expenses not covered by insurance. If you would like to donate, send an email to us here or send it to Christy directly at: Chris Davis PO Box 628 Moss Beach, CA 94038

Swell #2 Mavericks Videos from Powerlines Productions: Check out the action on both Saturday and Sunday (11/30) from that massive swell of 12-13 ft @ 25 secs. Filmed by Curt Myers and Eric Nelson. Really thick! See this and more.cgius the movie Ride-On 12/11 at the Old Princeton Landing or the Red Vic Moviehouse in San Francisco 12/19-23. &

Stormsurf Video: Just for fun - here's a clip about Stormsurf that ran on Bay Area TV a while back. Thought you might enjoy it:

Pictures from Swell #1 - The first real significant class swell of the season produced a bit of action at Mavericks. See pictures here

Big Surf Up North - the First swell of the Fall 2008/2009 season brought a few large raw waves to the North CA Coast. Check out the details here:

The Kelly Slater Project - A group of dedicated surfers from Cocoa Beach are working to construct a statue of the the home town legend and set it up for all to enjoy near the break where Kelly grew up surfing. Take a look at the statue and read all about it here:

STORMSURF Local Wave Models Upgraded - We significantly upgraded the local waves models on Sunday (6/8). All now utilize our newly developed high-resolution 3D shaded relief topography for mapping landmasses. Coastlines are now accurate down to the individual pixel providing near photographic realism. Mountains and hills are all shaded and accurate to within the same single pixel specification. Cities are overlaid as before, but now we've added major highways and rivers too (for many locations). Some good exa.cgies of this new technology can be viewed here:
- View the reefs north of Tahiti and notice their contribution to the 'Swell Shadow' relative to California - Tahiti
- Notice the detail of the coast in and around Vancouver Islands and Washington State - Pacific Northwest
- See the details of inland waterways of the US Northeast Coast - Virginia
- Details of the Mentawai Island and Nias

And all the local models can be found either on our homepage or from the wavemodel page (bottom half of the page).

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.

Mavericks Contest 2008: View all the action from the 2008 Maverick Surf Contest from Powelines Productions here:

Need Chiropractic Help? Visit our friends at Darrow Chiropractic. Not only will Dr. Darrow fix you up, he might give you some big wave surfing tips too! See more here:

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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