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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, April 1, 2017 3:07 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
3.3 - California & 2.2 - 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 4/3 thru Sun 4/9

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   

Dateline Swell Pushing Towards CA
Stormier Pattern Possible for Gulf


On Saturday, April 1, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 8.4 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 5.7 ft @ 15.6 secs from 312 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 12.8 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 12.7 secs from 255 degrees. Wind west 12-14 kts. Water temperature 59.7 degs. At Ventura swell was 2.6 ft @ 12.4 secs from 265 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.0 ft @ 12.5 secs from 260 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.2 ft @ 13.6 secs from 245 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 2.3 ft @ 14.3 secs from 260 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 9.2 ft @ 8.3 secs with swell 6.3 ft @ 8.8 secs from 311 degrees. Wind northwest 25-29 kts at the buoy. Water temp 53.6 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 Saturday (4/1) in North and Central CA local windswell and leftover dateline swell was producing waves 2 ft overhead and clean and lined up but with some warble in the water but not too bad. Protected breaks were up to head high and clean but with the same lump present. At Santa Cruz surf was head high to 1 ft overhead on the sets and clean nearshore but with some lump running through it. In Southern California up north dateline/windswell was producing surf at waist to maybe chest high and clean with some form. In North Orange Co surf was chest to head high with some bigger sets and clean and lined up. In San Diego surf was head high with some bigger sets and clean but with some warble running through it. Hawaii's North Shore was still getting Dateline swell with waves 12-14 ft on the face on sets at better breaks and clean (6-7 ft Hawaiian) and lined up. The South Shore was waist high or so and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell at waist high and chopped from easterly trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (4/1) more swell from a storm that tracked from Japan to the dateline Tues-Wed (3/29) with up to 40 ft seas aimed east then faded in the Western Gulf on Fri (3/31) with seas dropping from 30 ft was still hitting Hawaii nicely and bound for the US West Coast. A weaker but still decent gale pattern to follow focused on the Gulf with one gale on Sun-Mon (4/3) producing 31 ft seas over a small area and a broader one behind it in the Eastern Gulf Tues-Wed (4/5) producing 24-26 ft seas. And possibly a weaker one to develop behind that on the dateline Wed (4/5) with up to 24 ft seas tracking east moving just off North Ca on Fri (4/7) with 22 ft seas. So an improved swell pattern is taking hold.

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

North Pacific

On Saturday AM (4/1) the jetstream was consolidated pushing strongly east-northeast off Japan with winds 180 kts reaching to the dateline then turning east with a broad but weak trough in place just east of there reaching a point 900 nmiles north of Hawaii and weakening with winds down to 110 kts, then splitting with the northern branch tracking east-northeast pushing over Vancouver Island building back to 130 kts while the southern branch was weak pushing over Hawaii and tracking east from there eventually moving over Mexico just south of Baja. There was good support for gale development over and east of the dateline in the trough there. Over the next 72 hours the wind energy centered over and off Japan is to move east reaching the dateline with winds 180 kts with a trough developing off the back end of that pocket over Japan and another trough east of the pocket north of Hawaii and bother building into Tues (4/4) offering good support for gale development, through the trough in the Gulf is to be the stronger of the two again offering good support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours wind energy is to building in this pocket north of Hawaii on Wed (4/5) pushing 190 kts feeding mainly the trough in the Gulf that is now to be pushing east, eventually starting to impact the US West coast late Fri (4/7) with 140 kts winds moving over Pt Arena CA falling south to San Francisco 24 hours later with another trough forming in it just off the North CA coast. Continued support for gale development in the Central to Eastern Gulf. Back to the west the jet is to start splitting over and off Japan on Thurs (4/6) with much weaker winds there and the split point progressing east to the dateline on Sat (4/8) with support for gale development fading over the Western North Pacific. The jet looks supportive of gale development in the East Pacific and possibly weather for the US West Coast long term but fading in the West.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (3/29) swell from the first of two storms over the dateline was fading in California and being overridden by local windswell while swell from
another storm was fading but still sizeable in Hawaii and poised to impact the US West Coast (See Dateline Storm #2 below).

Over the next 72 hours a small secondary gale is forecast forming in the Western Gulf on Sun AM (4/2) with 40-45 kt west winds and seas building from 26 ft at 43N 163W. In the evening winds to build to 45 kts over a small area with 32 ft seas building at 45N 159W. The gale is to fade and track east Mon AM (4/3) with winds 40 kts from the west over a small area in the Northern Gulf with seas 30 ft at 48N 152W. the gale is to fade from there. Small swell possible mainly for Central CA up into the Pacific Northwest.

Another gale is to be right on it's tail forming in the Western Gulf north of Hawaii Mon AM (4/3) with 35 kt west winds over a small area and seas building. In the evening 45 kt west winds to develop tracking east with seas building from 24 ft over a small area at 40N 156W. The gale to build in coverage Tues AM (4/4) tracking east off the Pacific Northwest with 45 kt west winds and seas 27 ft at 41N 147W targeting the US West Coast well. In the evening the gale is to lift northeast and fade with winds down to 30-35 kts over a broad area filling the Northern Gulf with seas 25 ft over a solid area at 44N 143W. Wednesday AM (4/5) winds to be barely 30 kts and fading in the Northern Gulf with 23 ft seas at 47N 139W. possible larger swell for the US West Coast.


Dateline Storm #2
A gale started developing off Japan on Mon PM (2/27) with 50 kt west winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface with seas building from 38 ft at 32N 153E over a tiny area. By Tues AM (3/28) winds were 45 kt from the west and seas 38 ft over a tiny area at 33N 161E. In the evening west winds continued at 40-45 kts approaching the dateline with 33 ft seas at 33N 170E. Fetch was rebuilding some at 45 kts on the dateline Wed AM (3/29) with seas 33 ft at 36N 179E. Fetch held at 45 kt in the evening with seas building to 39 ft at 38N 175W targeting Hawaii well but also the US West Coast. Fetch moved east Thurs AM (3/30) at 35-40 kts over a broad area with seas fading from 37 ft at 38N 166W aimed east targeting mainly California. Fetch faded in the evening from 35 kts in the Western Gulf still over a broad area aimed east with seas 34 ft at 43N 164W. The gale faded out from there Fri AM with winds dropping from 35 kts and seas 30 ft at 44N 157W aimed a the Pacific Northwest. Remnant energy is to continue northeast into Sat PM (4/1) with seas fading from 23 ft up at 53N 146W. Solid energy to target Hawaii with good energy from the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Residuals on Sun (4/2) fading from 3.8 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.5-5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 316 degrees

North California: Expect swell arrival on Sun (4/2) building to 8.3 ft @ 17-18 secs later (14.5 ft). Swell continues on Mon (4/3) at 8.1 ft @ 15-16 secs (12.5 ft) with copious windswell intermixed. Residuals on Tues (4/4) fading from 4.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 286-290 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 Saturday (4/1) high pressure at 1034 mbs was locked off Oregon starting to ridge into the coast there forming the usual summertime pressure gradient over North CA with northwest winds 25 kts over North CA from Point Arena northward and 15 kts down to Bodega Bay and less nearshore early. High pressure builds in Sunday with north winds 30 kts from the Golden Gate northward early and holding with 20 kt north winds just off the coast coast to near Pt Conception. Monday northwest winds and high pressure continue at 30 kts early from San Francisco northward and 20 kts down to Pt Conception but fading to 20 kts everywhere later. Tuesday (4/4) northwest winds fading from 15 kts for all of North and Central CA and down to 10 kts or less mid-day as a front moves towards the Pacific Northwest. Wednesday the front dissolves off the North CA coast with south winds for Cape Mendocino 15 kts but light winds for the remainder of North and Central CA. Light rain for Cape Mendocino after sunset. Thursday another low starts building off the CA coast with south winds 10-15 kts building south to Morro Bay later. Light rain making it south to Pt Reyes later afternoon. Friday a major weather change supposedly is to set up with south winds 20-25 kts for all of North and Central CA with solid rain for the coast for that region. Snow for higher elevations of the Sierra developing during the day and snow levels falling by evening down to the Southern Sierra. Saturday (4/8) the front is to hold with west winds 20+ kts early turning northwest 15 kts later. Solid snow for the Sierra fading some later with another gale queuing up off the coast.


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
A gale developed in the West South Pacific Thurs PM (3/30) with 40 kt southwest winds and seas building 35 ft at 62S 175W aimed east. The gale tracked east Fri AM (3/31) to the Central South Pacific with 45 kt southwest winds lifting northeast and seas 34 ft over a small area at 60S 166W. In the evening 40 kt southwest winds lifted northeast with seas 33 ft at 58S 157W. Sat AM (4/1) fetch was fading from 35 kts from the south with seas fading from 30 ft at 55S 150W. In the evening winds to build to 40 kts from the south with 29 ft seas at 53S 147W aimed north. South fetch fading Sun AM (4/2) from 35 kt and seas 29 ft at 50S 143W. 35 kt south winds to continue but fading in coverage in the evening with seas barely 29 ft at 50S 140W. A nice little pulse of southerly swell is possible for Tahiti, Hawaii and up into the US West Coast. Something to monitor.


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 theoretically one last small gale is to be behind these on the dateline Tues PM (4/4) with 40 kts northwest winds over a small area with seas 20 ft at 36N 175E. By Wed AM (4/5) 40 kt northwest winds to build in coverage pushing east with seas 23 ft at 37N 175W targeting Hawaii well. In the evening winds to be fading from 30-35 kts from the west racing east with seas 23 ft at 37N 167W. The gale to race east Thurs AM (4/6) with 30 kt west winds and seas 19 ft at 36N 161W. The gael is to reorganize off North CA on Thurs PM (4/6) with 35 kt west winds and seas building to 20 ft at 39N 141W. The gale to migrate just off North CA Fri AM (4/7) with 35 kt northwest winds and seas 22 ft at 40N 135W. The gale is to hold off the North CA coast into Sat (4/8) with seas 20 ft or so. Possible raw larger swell to result targeting mainly North and Central CA.

South Pacific

No swell producing fetch of interest is forecast

More details to follow...


Inactive MJO Finally Starting to Fade

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 planet, 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 split 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 displaced 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. Still, the atmosphere is in a La Nina configuration.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Fri (3/31) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific and the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were light westerly over the equatorial East Pacific with light east anomalies over the KWGA. La Nina's remnants in the atmosphere appear to be finally be fading.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): East anomalies are finally gone over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area with neutral anomalies in play. The forecast suggests a small area of modest east anomalies are to move east to west over KWGA starting 4/5 on into 4/8, but nowhere near as solid in coverage as past east anomaly events. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO and La Nina are starting to loosing control of the KWGA.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 3/31 a neutral MJO pattern was in effect over the KWGA. The statistic model projects a weak Inactive Pattern rebuilding 4 days out and holding to the end of the forecast period 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts the neutral pattern holding for the next 15 days,. That is good news. All this suggest the Inactive Phase of the MJO constructively integrating with the remains of La Nina might finally be fading out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (4/1) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was indiscernible over the Maritime Continent but is now forecast to start making some eastern headway, weakly in the West Pacific 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts no movement to the West Pacific, instead with the Active Phase weak and not moving. This model runs about a week ahead of what occurs down at the surface.
40 day Upper Level Model: (4/1) This model depicts a weak Active Pattern in the West Pacific easing east into Central America 4/21. A weak Inactive Phase is to follow in the West 4/21 drifting east to Central America 5/6. A neutral pattern is to follow. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (3/29) This model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was over the KWGA today but with moderate east anomalies still in control. The core of the Active Phase was still centered over the Maritime continent reaching east to the dateline. Beyond the Active Phase is to stall on the dateline through 4/6 with east anomalies still in control of the KWGA (attributable to La Nina) then finally giving way to a neutral wind trend. West anomalies are to be developing by 4/14 and building solid from there as the Active Phase of the MJO builds and moves east centered over the dateline 4/18 and not fading for the foreseeable future with nary a hint of east anomalies. 3/28 was the anchor date for the final demise of east anomalies (but the previous update suggested 4/4 and now today's suggests 4/8, so there is still slippage occurring). La Nina is to be gone per the low pass filter on 5/2 (previously 5/6) and 4/28 before that) with El Nino taking hold 5/16, (previously 5/22 and before that 5/8). Projected west anomalies are dependent upon the evolution of El Nino and the date of that development has been continuously slipping.
Confidence low on this forecast. We'll see what happens.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (4/1) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30 degs C retrograding west and no longer on the chart. The 28 deg isotherm line is steady at 175E 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 with 24 degs anomalies over a shallow pool down 40 meters (75 meters at 140W) and holding. Anomaly wise warm anomalies at +1 degs rule the entire upper reaches of the equatorial East Pacific from 75 meters upward reaching west to 160W with neutral anomalies west of there. A pocket of -2 degs anomalies is building while easing west at depth between 120-170W down 125 meters. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/24 depicts that warm water has built in the east at +3-5 degs and trying to ease west to about 130W. Otherwise warm water is confined to the West Pacific at +1-2 degs reaching east to 170W. La Nina has lost control of the ocean at depth with something that almost resembles a warm pattern taking shape. The concern is there is not much warm water in the far West Pacific to feed any sort of a progressive Kelvin Wave pattern, but more warm waters appears to be building in the west.
Sea Level Anomalies: (3/24) A previous pool of positive anomalies at 0-+5 cms on the equator from Ecuador west to 130W forming one continuous thin stream broke up some 2 weeks ago, but has now rebuilt, with 5+ cm anomalies along the coast of Peru and Ecuador. La Nina is gone in the East Pacific with a neutral to warm trend building in.

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: (3/31) 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 west to 110W at 2+ degs but with solid warm anomalies out to 160W but mainly south of the equator. Of note, cool waters continue to hold along the immediate coast of South Peru and north Chile but not growing in coverage. The warm pool continues to show signs of weakness, but is still solid in coverage. Hopefully this is just a cool pulse. Most warming is in the southern hemi limited to Nino1.2 and trying to build into the Nino3.4 region. Temps are +2-4 degs above normal in pockets along the immediate coast of Peru and advecting west along the equator. These waters extend east thousands of miles off the coast as far south as 15S. 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 (3/30): A neutral trend is along Peru and Ecuador, but it really cant get much warmer there, so this is understandable. A warming trend extends west from the Galapagos out to the dateline. A warming trend is also present in the Northern Hemi from well off California out over Hawaii and reaching to the Philippines.
Hi-res Overview:
(3/30) There is no sign of La Nina east of 160W. A solid warm regime holds from Ecuador west to 120W and building but less energetic out to 160W. Remnants of La Nina continue from 160W-160E. It almost looks like El Nino is trying to develop and making headway into the Nino3.4 region.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (4/1) Today's temps were stable at +1.359, down from the peak of +3.0 degs on 3/18.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (4/1) temps were rising at +0.342 degs, not remarkable like Nino1.2 is.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (4/1) The forecast is down slightly with temps projected at +0.55 degs April 1 building to +0.85 degs later in April holding at 0.8 degs in July then building through the summer rising to +1.0 degs in Sept and +1.1 degs in Oct to +1.35 degs in 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. And a turn to weak El Nino conditions is possible late summer into Fall. Still, there is no source for greater warming with the warm pool in the far West Pacific pretty weak.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-March Plume just updated today (3/16) and depicts temps are warming and are now at +0.3 degs. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to +0.8 degs in July holding into the Fall. This is +0.3 degs warmer than the Feb forecast and +0.6 degs warmer than the January forecast and suggests La Nina is over and a warmer regime is setting up. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Decoupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (4/1): The daily index was falling at -7.50 and has been running negative the last 3 days. The 30 day average was falling some at +3.94. The 90 day average was falling at +0.42 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): (4/1) Today's value was falling slightly at -0.85, still pretty negative given the other oceanic signals. 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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