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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: April 9, 2013 9:11 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 = 1.8 - California & 2.5 - 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 4/8 thru Sun 4/14
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   

Last Small Swell Pushing Into US West Coast
Southern Hemi Swell Tracking North

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.

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Current Conditions
On Tuesday
(4/9) North and Central CA was seeing local windswell producing surf in the 3 ft overhead range at top exposed breaks and blown to bits by northwest winds. Down south in Santa Cruz waves were waist to chest high and clean but weak with strong wind outside the kelp. Southern California up north was thigh to waist high and reasonably clean but weak. Down south waves were chest to head high and pretty sloppy with northwest winds on it. Hawaii's North Shore was getting new dateline swell with waves 3 ft overhead and lined up and clean but with increasing trades. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell at waist high and chopped. 

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

Meteorological Overview
Modest swell from a gale that developed on the dateline Sat (4/6) with seas 35 ft has passed it's peak in Hawaii and is to start showing on Wednesday along the US West Coast. But relative to California, local north short period windswell is to remain the dominant swell source, especially come late week and into the weekend. A cut-off low is forecast developing on the dateline easing east mid-week into the weekend with seas to 18 ft providing only modest odds for limited swell for Hawaii. Otherwise the North Pacific is going to sleep. Down south a small gale developed in the deep southeast Pacific Sunday AM (4/7) building while lifting northeast producing a tiny area of seas to 44 ft barely in the CA swell window late in the day but with most energy aimed towards Central and South America. Some small swell to result. The models suggest some sort of gale forming int he deep Southeast Pacific early next week, but it's way too early to believe that just yet. Details below...   


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

North Pacific

Jetstream - On Tuesday (4/9) the jetstream was pushing off Japan flat east to the dateline with winds 140 kts, then .cgiitting with most energy rising northeast in the northern branch tracking directly into British Columbia at 130 kts. A weak trough was embedded in the .cgiit point on the dateline but unremarkable. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold but with the dateline trough becoming more defined and easing east with 130 kt winds feeding it offering some support for gale development but getting more pinched off as time progresses.  Beyond 72 hours the pinches off trough is to hold in some form in the extreme Western Gulf of Alaska through the weekend  (4/14) fading but still giving way to a new but very weak trough in the same location holding next week with only 110 kts winds feeding it at best. The interesting part is the .cgiit in the jet is to move to a point 600 nmiles northwest of Hawaii (which is pretty far to the west for the time of year). But because wind speeds are to be so weak, no support for gale or even low pressure development is indicated. 

Surface Analysis  -  On Tuesday (4/9) swell for a previous gale on the dateline was passing Hawaii bound for the US West Coast (see Tiny Dateline Gale below). High pressure at 1028 mbs was positioned 600 nmiles west of Morro Bay and ridging into Oregon generating a pressure gradient and nearshore north winds at 25 kts along the Central CA coast, producing local windswell.  Otherwise a weak cutoff low was approaching the dateline Tuesday (4/9) a limited fetch of 30 kt northwest winds targeting Hawaii and producing 17 ft seas. It is to hold on the dateline Wed (4/10) generating more 30 kt northwest winds and 18 ft seas near 35N 172E. Fetch is to fade on Thursday (4/110 and move more into the lows north quadrant aimed mostly west at Japan with seas in the 17 ft range. All fetch to remain aimed west into the weekend. Low odds of  limited 13 sec period swell moving towards the Islands Saturday into Sunday (4/14).   

High pressure is to hold in some form off the US West Coast pulsing on Thurs (4/11) generating north winds at 30 kts into Friday and then again into the weekend likely resulting in increased local north windswell mainly for Central CA (see QuikCASTs for details).   


Tiny Dateline Gale
On Thurs PM (4/4) a small gale developed west of the dateline producing a tiny area of 40 kt northwest winds and seas 26 ft at 35N 164E (299 degs HI). Fetch held Friday AM (4/5) while pushing east with seas 28 ft at 36N 170E (305 degs HI). In the evening a small area of 45 kt west winds developed with seas building to 36 ft over a microscopic area at 37N 178E (312 degs HI, 288 degs NCal). By Sat AM (4/6) fetch was fading from 35 kts with seas dropping from 30 ft at 38N 176W (321 degs HI, 290 degs NCal).

NCal: Expect small swell to arrive on late Tues (4/9) at 2 ft @ 19 secs (3.5 ft) and barely noticeable. Swell to peak on Wed (4/10) in the AM at 3.5 ft @ 16-17 secs (5.5. ft) and very inconsistent. Swell fading Thurs (4/11) from 4 ft @ 14 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 188-192 degrees


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


No tropical systems of interest are occurring.   

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (4/9) high pressure at 1028 mbs was firmly in control of California waters centered 600 nmiles off Morro Bay and generating 25 kt north winds pushing down the entire California coast, though Southern CA was mostly protected from the worst of it. Central CA was getting the full brunt of it. By Wednesday things to settle down some but that's all relative, with north winds still 20 kts near San Francisco  to Pt Arena, but 15 kts or less south of Morro bay and light into Southern CA.  The gradient is to rebuild on Thursday with 30 kt north winds for all of North CA  down into mid-Central CA and 25 kts north winds extending over the Channel Islands (though Southern CA to remain protected). Friday the gradient to fade some but still 25 kt north winds are to be in effect for all of North CA with 20 kts north winds into Central CA. Light winds for the Channel Islands and Southern CA. Saturday a generalized 20 kt north winds flow is forecast nearshore for North and Central CA, building late to 30 kts for the San Francisco Area.  Sunday 30 kt north winds to be building covering all of North and Central CA late with southern CA remaining protected, continuing that way into Monday with 30 kt north winds increasing coverage down into Santa Barbara Co. Finally wind is to start relenting on Tues (4/16) with 15 kt north winds confined to Northern CA.         


South Pacific

Surface  -  Swell from a storm that built in the deep Southeast Pacific last weekend is pushing northeast towards the California coast (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). Otherwise no swell producing fetch is occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.    

Southeast Pacific Storm - Swell 1S
On Sunday (4/7) a storm developed in the deep Southeast Pacific. 55 kt southwest winds were positioned just off Antarctica with seas 42 ft over a tiny area at 65S 137W aimed well up the 187 degree great circle path to SCal. The storm tracked northeast in the evening with southwest winds holding at 50-55 kts resulting in a small area of 43 ft seas at 62S 125W aimed 25 degrees east of the 184 degree great circle path to Southern CA. On Monday AM (4/8) the core of the fetch was east of any clear path to Southern CA but with lingering 40-45 kt southwest fetch still in.cgiay resulting in 38 ft seas at 58S 120W aimed 20 degrees east of the 180 degree path to Southern CA. By evening the gale regenerated with 50 kt south winds just east of the Southern CA swell window and seas 34-36 ft at 55S 115W (178 degs SCal). By Tues AM (4/9) all fetch was clearly east of even the Southern CA swell window. A decent pulse of small significant class southern hemi swell is expected for most of California, favoring the south end of the state and doing better for Central America.

Southern CA:  Expect swell arrival on Sun (4/14) with pure swell building to 1.6 ft @ 22 secs late (3.5 ft with sets to 4.5 ft). Swell to build through the day Monday (4/15) to 3.1 ft @ 19 secs late (6 ft faces with sets to 7.5 ft). Swell to peak mid-Tuesday (4/16) near 3.2 ft @ 17-18 secs (5.6 ft faces with sets to 7.0 ft). Solid residuals expected continuing Wednesday with period at 16 secs. Swell Direction: 178-184 degrees  

Northern CA:  Expect swell arrival on Mon (4/15) with pure swell building to 2.2 ft @ 20-21 secs late (4.5 ft with sets to near 6.0 ft). Swell to build through the day Tuesday (4/16) to 3.0 ft @ 18 secs late (5.5 ft faces with sets to near 7.0 ft). Swell to peak overnight with swell on Wed AM (4/17) still near 3.0 ft @ 17 secs (5.0 ft faces with sets to 6.5 ft). Solid residuals expected continuing Thurs with period at 15-16 secs. Swell Direction: 176-182 degrees    


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




Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no real swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.  The cutoff low is to continue circulating near the dateline-Western Gulf region perhaps producing another short pulse of west winds at 30 kts Sun-Mon (3/15) resulting in ore 18 ft seas targeting Hawaii from the dateline on Mon (3/15). But that is just a guess by the model.  Also high pressure is to again pulse off the US West Coast generating north winds at 30 kts Sun-Mon (4/15) likely resulting in local north windswell for Central CA.    

Note: 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 equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the.cgianet. 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. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. 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).

As of Tuesday (4/9) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down some at 2.09. The 30 day average was down some to 7.19 with the 90 day average up slightly at 2.30. Overall this is neutral territory and not indicative of El Nino. 

Current equatorial wind analysis indicated modest easterly anomalies were over the Maritime Continent and dateline regions. Very light easterly anomalies continued east to a point south of Hawaii, then turning neutral from there into  Central America. This indicates a continuation of the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in.cgiay. A week from now (4/17) light to modest east anomalies are forecast holding over the Maritime Continent then fading some over the dateline, turning neutral east of there into Central America. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to fade some but still remain in control of the greater part of the equatorial Pacific. This scenario provides no support for North Pacific storm development or for the formation of El Nino and is the exact opposite pattern desired for the time of year.          

The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 4/8 are in some agreement initially suggesting the core of the Inactive Phase of the MJO was located on the dateline with the Active Phase of the MJO building in the Eastern Indian Ocean. But beyond the model diverge with both models having the Inactive Phase dispersing over the next 6 days while the statistic model has the Active Phase of the MJO building in the Indian Ocean pushing in to the West Pacific (150E) 8 days out and almost to the dateline 15 days out while the dynamic model suggests the Active Phase is to disperse and never make any headway into the West Pacific, gone 8 days out with a dead neutral pattern 15 days out. Regardless, there is no support from the MJO towards development of even a weak El Nino.

The more warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). As of now (4/8) a faint pool of slightly warmer water that was in the equatorial East Pacific, appears to have stabilized providing essentially neutral water temps off Central America. A tiny.cgiume of markedly cold water is pushing off the Central American coast to the Galapagos Islands, but making no western headway. A .cgiume of modestly cool water continues radiating off the California coast tracking southwest over Hawaii to the equatorial dateline, typical of the effects of a stronger than normal East Pacific high pressure system. But it appears to have slightly less coverage than previous imagery. Subsurface waters temps continue indicating cooler water (-2 deg C) in.cgiace at 130W and down at 125 meters, blocking the transport path. In short, temperatures on the surface are not warming and the subsurface path is blocked by cooler water to. And the coastal pattern off the US mainland suggests somewhat higher pressure and cooler water temps, all signs of a weak La Nina-like pattern.   

Projections from the CFSv2 model run 4/7 continue mostly unchanged. They suggest water temps have peaked at Nino 3.4 at (+0.1 degs C) and it's all downhill from here with temps falling in July (-0.3 degs C) and holding with Oct and November remaining at -0.3 deg C. A consensus of all the other ENSO models suggest near normal water temps into Spring, Summer and early Fall 2013 with no warming indicated. We are moving into the Spring unpredictability barrier with accuracy of all the ENSO models historically low. So for now the outcome is uncertain, but not trending towards anything that would be considered warm. Historically, if a warm water buildup indicative of any significant El Nino pattern were to occur, it would be starting to happen by now.  But clearly that is not the case.  

We are in a dead neutral ENSO pattern with neither El Nino or La Nina imminent.  But that is a far better.cgiace than the previous 2 years under the direct influence of La Nina. We had expected a normal number of storms and swell for the 2012-2013 winter season, but that did not materialize with the pattern looking more like La Nina than anything. This past season was more of a 3 rating than the 5 that was predicted. That said, there was good consistency, with the west dateline area very productive and almost machine-like.  But the storms were very small in areal coverage and rarely made enough eastern headway to even reach over the dateline.  The result was very westerly but reasonably sized utility class swells for the Islands with far smaller and more inconsistent swell energy for the US West Coast.  Longer term the expectation there will be at least one year of neutral to slightly warmer temps (2013-2014) ultimately converging in a stronger warmer pattern and possible El Nino 2-3 years out (2014 or 2015). And historically, this is the 'normal' pattern (a few years of false starts post La Nina before a legit El Nino forms). 

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the  El Nino Update Finally updated 10/6/12 


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest 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

Visit! Boardshorts - Looking for a sick pair of boardshorts? Check out the selection at with brands from O'Neill, Quiksilver and Rusty and free shipping on every order. They won't disappoint.

The Mavericks Invitational Big Wave Surf Contest is scheduled to air on CBS on Thurs (2/7) at 7 PM (PST) r.cgiaying again on Sunday (2/10) at 7 PM.  Set your DVR.

'CBS This Morning' with the Mavericks Invitational Surf Contest - See a nice morning TV show piece on the Mavericks Contest held Sun 1/20/13. The show aired Wed 1/23. Interviews with Colin Dwyer, Jeff Clark, Mark Sponsler and Grant Washburn:

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Steve Colleta Surfboards - Check out surfboards by local shaper Steve Coletta - A long time Santa Cruz local and master shaper. Progressive shapes for North and Central CA waves

Chasing the Swell has been nominated for a Webby Award. See details of this great piece of video journalism below. Some say this is the "Oscars" of online awards.One of the awards is voter based. If you have a moment,.cgiease cast your ballot by going to:, register, then click on the "Get Voting" tab and then to the "Online Film and Video" > "Sports" category and vote for "Chasing the Swell".

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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: 

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:

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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.   

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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

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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