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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2019 4:17 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
3.0 - 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   

Spring Wind In Control Over California
2 Gales For West Gulf

On Thursday, April 11, 2019 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/ Buoy 239 (Lanai): At Barbers Point (238) seas were 2.4 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 1.3 ft @ 13.2 secs from 187 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.6 ft @ 7.7 secs with swell 3.4 ft @ 8.5 secs from 28 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.4 ft @ 6.7 secs with swell 2.4 ft @ 9.2 secs from 266 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 12-16 kts. Water temperature 58.8 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 3.0 ft @ 10.1 secs from 273 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.2 ft @ 10.2 secs from 270 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.7 ft @ 13.4 secs from 229 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 4.7 ft @ 9.5 secs from 287 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 12.24 ft @ 8.3 secs with swell 9.4 ft @ 7.9 secs from 317 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was northwest at 27-35 kts. Water temp 54.9 degs (042) and falling.

See Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (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 Thursday (4/11) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing waves at head high or so and blown out with small whitecaps. Protected breaks were chest and soft and warbled and also whitecapped. At Santa Cruz northwest windswell was producing surf at maybe waist high and warbled but with clean surface conditions. In Southern California/Ventura waves were maybe thigh high and a warbled mess though local wind was calm. In North Orange Co surf was shoulder to maybe head high and soft, crumbled with a little warbled running through it with calm wind. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks had waves in the chest to head high range and clean and occasionally lined up but inconsistent. North San Diego had surf at thigh to maybe waist high and a bit lined up but weak and mushed with clean conditions. Hawaii's North Shore was getting local northeast windswell with waves waist to maybe chest high and reasonably lined up with some north warble running through it and modestly clean. The South Shore was flat to thigh high on the sets and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell with waves chest to shoulder high and chopped with solid trades in control.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (4/11) in California local windswell and chop was in control. No swell of interest was hitting Hawaii. A small gale was tracking northeast over the dateline Wed-Thurs (4/11) with up to 39 ft seas developing just south of the Eastern Aleutians aimed somewhat east. Another gale to follow developing off Japan Fri-Sat (4/13) pushing to the North Dateline region before fading with seas to 37 ft aimed east. No other activity to follow in the North Pacific. No meaningful activity is forecast from the South Pacific either.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Thursday (4/11) the jetstream was consolidated tracking off Japan with winds generally 120 kts pushing east-northeast up into the Western Gulf forming a trough and offering some support for gale development there. The jet proceeded northeast from there pushing to the Canadian Coast then south down the US West Coast with a backdoor trough extending off Central CA. The jet was split starting at 170W with the southern branch pushing southeast over Hawaii merging with the backdoor trough and then tracking over North Baja. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to push east and into North Canada by Sat (4/13). After that the jet is to be mostly consolidated pushing off Japan and lifting gently east-northeast tracking the whole way into Washington on Saturday (4/13) and holding through Sun (4/14) but with no clear troughs forecast. Beyond 72 hours more of the same is forecast with the jet mostly consolidated over the North Pacific with a new trough developing just west of the dateline on Mon (4/15) tracking east-northeast to the Western Gulf on Thurs (4/18) being fed by 140 kts winds offering some support for gale development. A bit of a split is to develop on Tues (4/16) pushing over Hawaii then tracking east into Baja.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (4/11) no swell of interest was hitting California or Hawaii. But swell was being generated by a gale tracking northeast towards the Western Gulf (see West Gulf Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours another small gale is forecast building off North Japan on Thurs PM (4/11) with 40 kts west winds and seas building to 27 ft over a tiny area at 37.5N 160E. The gale is to be lifting northeast Fri AM (4/12) with west winds 45 kts and seas building to 35 ft at 40N 167.0E aimed east. In the evening the gale is to be approaching the dateline with 45 kt west winds over a small area and seas 37 ft at 42N 174E aimed east. The gale is to be fading Sat AM (4/13) on the North Dateline region with 40 kt west winds over a small area and seas fading from 31 ft at 44N 178.5W aimed east. In the evening winds to fade from 35 kts from the west with seas 27 ft at 46.5N 171.5W aimed east. On Sun AM this system is to be fading with west winds 30 kts and seas fading from 23 ft at 47.5N 165W aimed east. This system is to be gone after that. Something to monitor.


West Gulf Gale
A gale developed while lifting northeast fast on the dateline Wed AM (4/10) with 40 kt southwest winds and seas 24 ft at 38N 179W aimed east. In the evening the gale built to storm status while racing northeast over the North Dateline/Northwestern Gulf region with 55 kt west winds and seas 35 ft at 44N 169.5W aimed east. The storm is to stall but downgraded to gale status Thurs AM (4/11) over the Eastern Aleutians with 45 kt west winds holding south of the Eastern Aleutians and 38 ft seas at 50N 161.5W aimed east. The gale is to fade in the evening with 40 kt southwest winds and seas 36 ft over a small area at 54N 157.5W aimed east. On Fri AM (4/12) 30-35 kt west winds to still be holding with 24 ft seas fading at 55N 155W in the Northwestern Gulf aimed east. The gale is to fade out after that. Possible decent swell for the Pacific Northwest and less reaching down into North and Central CA. Something to monitor.


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


Tropical Update
No tropical weather systems of interest are forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (4/11) high pressure was in control at 1038 mbs 700 nmiles off the Central CA coast with north winds 20 kts for North and Central CA early building to 30 kts later. Light rain possible for Cape Mendocino building down to Pt Arena later with modest snow for the entire Sierra mainly in the evening. Friday (4/12) high pressure is to continue driving north winds at 20-25 kts over North and Central CA all day. No precipitation forecast. Saturday (4/13) north winds are forecast fading some but still 15-20 kts focused on Pt Arena but maybe only 10 kts over all of Central CA early. Sunday (4/14) north winds are forecast at 15-20 kts for all of North and Central CA holding on Monday (4/15). A weak front to push over Cape Mendocino late afternoon into the evening with light rain pushing south to Monterey Bay. Tuesday (4/16) weak low pressure to move over the Pacific Northwest with northwest winds 10-15 kts early building to near 20 kts later. Light rain down to Monterey Bay early fading quickly mid-AM. A dusting of snow for the Sierra early. Wednesday (4/17) north winds to be 20 kts for all of North and Central CA holding all day. No precip forecast. Thurs (4/18) a more summertime like gradient is forecast with north winds 20 kts over Cape Mendocino but only 10 kts south of there.

Total snow accumulation for for the week (thru Thurs PM 4/18) per the GFS model: Tahoe = 8-11 inches and Mammoth = 3 inches

Snow Models: (Scroll down for resort specific forecasts).


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
Small sideband swell from a storm previously in the Deep South Pacific is tracking north towards California (see South Pacific Storm below).

Over the next 72 hours no meaningful swell producing weather systems are forecast.

South Pacific Storm
A storm developed in the deep Central Pacific on Tues AM (4/2) with 45-50 kt west winds and seas building from 35 ft at 67.5S 144.5W aimed east. 50 kt west winds continued pushing east in the evening with 44 ft seas aimed east at 67.5S 130W. On Wed AM (4/3) winds were fading from 40 kts aimed east with seas 42 ft at 66S 119W and on the east edge of the CA swell window. This system faded from there and pushed out of the CA swell window. Most swell energy is to target Chile but some sideband energy might push north towards CA but given how this system developed weaker than originally forecast, odds are low of any meaningful swell resulting.

Southern CA: Swell arrival expected on Thurs (4/11) building to 1.4 ft @ 18 secs later (2.5 ft). Swell peaking Fri AM (4/12) at 1.5 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fading on Sat AM (4/13) from 1.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 184 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 swell producing weather systems are forecast.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.


MJO/ENSO Forecast


SSTs and ESPI Building Some

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 gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and did not stop, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. A double dip La Nina was in control and continued through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018 associated with two upwelling Kelvin Waves, and continued trying to build over equatorial waters over the Summer and Fall, but not enough to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere. As of January 2019, those warm waters were fading, but then started building some late in Feb associated with another Kelvin Wave (#3).

Fall/Winter 2018 = 6.0 (California & Hawaii)
Rating based on a 1-10 scale: 1 being the lowest (small and infrequent surf conditions), 5 being normal/average, and 10 being extraordinary (frequent events of large, long period swells)

Rationale: Assuming the PDO has moved to the warm phase and that El Nino does not develop as strong as previously forecast, and assuming and an ocean-atmospheric coupling becomes weakly established in the January timeframe and ocean temperature anomalies in Nino3.4 build to the +0.6 deg range, there is good probability for slightly enhanced storm production in the North Pacific starting in the late Nov timeframe (specifically the Gulf of Alaska and Dateline regions) with slightly increased intensity in number of storm days and storm intensity, resulting in slightly increased odds for larger than normal swell, with increased duration and higher than normal period. This should be significantly better than the past 2 winter seasons.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast (KWGA - Kelvin Wave Generation Area - The area 5 degrees north and south of the equator from 170W to 135E)
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (4/10) 5 day average winds were solidly from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, then weaker easterly over the KWGA mainly south of the equator. Anomalies were light easterly over the far East Pacific then neutral over the Central Pacific and into the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (4/11) neutral to light easterly anomalies were filling the KWGA. The forecast is for this situation to continue through 4/13, then turning neutral from there through the end of the model run on 4/18. Support for storm development is weak and forecast to hold.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (4/10) A dead neutral MJO pattern was over the KWGA. The statistic model indicates neutral MJO signal is to hold through last day of the model run on day 15. The dynamic model instead indicates a slowly building Inactive Phase taking root at day 5 and modestly in control through day 15 of the model run. The 2 models somewhat in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (4/11) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was exceedingly weak and in no position and is to hold that way through day 14. The GEFS model suggests the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical model): (4/11) This model depicts a very weak Active Phase was over the West Pacific. It is to move east while fading pushing into Central America on 5/6. A modest Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be setting up in the West Pacific on 4/21 pushing east to Central America on 5/11. A weak Active Phase is to be building over the West Pacific 4/29 moving to the East Pacific at the end of the model run on 5/21 while a new Inactive Phase builds over the West Pacific starting 5/11 and pushing east from there.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (4/10) This model depicts neutral anomalies in the KWGA today. Spotty west anomalies are to be easing east and out of the KWGA on 4/19 while a new Inactive MJO signal develops over the West KWGA with east anomalies starting 4/17 moving to the Central KWGA and holding through 5/5. After that weak west anomalies are forecast building over the entirety of the KWGA and holding through the end of the model run on 5/8. If anything storm development is to be suppressed for the next 3+ weeks.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (4/11) This model depicts a weak Active Phase was all but gone over the Eastern KWGA. A neutral anomaly wind and MJO pattern is to set up in the core of the KWGA from now till 5/3. After that a weak Active MJO signal is forecast with weak west anomalies in control through 5/28. A weak Inactive signal to materialize after that but with weak west anomalies holding 5/29-6/14, followed by a weak Active Phase 6/15 through the end of the model run on 7/7. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is fully in control of the KWGA centered on the dateline reaching east to California but not inland and forecast to hold steady for the foreseeable future. A third contour line faded 12/17, then rebuilt starting 2/12 centered over the dateline and is to hold through 4/12, then dissipating. It appears from this model that a tendency towards El Nino was previously in control during 2018, then faded, and tried to build in mid-Feb 2019 and is to fade again mid-April and not return. Given this, it seems likely no meaningful El Nino will develop.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (4/11) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 29 deg temps reaching east to 172W mainly down 50 meters. The 28 deg isotherm line had retrograded west to 160W mid-Nov, then moved east and walled up to 153W near Christmas, then retrograded back at 160W in late Feb, but made a major push east starting 3/16 from 150W to 140W on 3/20, and is steady at 130W today. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing into Ecuador 25-30 meters down. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies are filling the entire subsurface Pacific at +1 degs or greater from the surface to 100 meters down. A pocket of warm water was centered at 120W at +2 degs (Kelvin Wave #3) almost reaching Ecuador and +2 degs C from 140W and point east of there. This Kelvin Wave is the warmest of any Kelvin Wave so far since La Nina faded into early 2018 and is to adding warmth moving into 2019. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 4/3 indicates cool water associated with the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle just east of Ecuador was all but gone. Kelvin Wave #3 was weaker in the West Pacific and stronger over the East Pacific and filling the entirety of that area. +2-3 deg anomalies were over the West Pacific and with a warmer pocket at +4-5 degs from 150W to 95W (attributable to a Westerly Wind Burst 12/30-1/16 and another 2/12-2/24). And there was a hint of more warm water was moving from the Maritime Continent into the far West Pacific at 135E falling into the pre-existing warm pool near 160W. There is a river of very warm water traversing the width of the equatorial Pacific. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (4/3) Positive anomalies were gone from the interior Maritime Continent with weak negative anomalies there now. But positive anomalies were solid tracking east from 155E pushing over the dateline to a point west of the Galapagos (90W) at 0-5 cms with 3 imbedded pockets of +5 cms anomalies at 175E, 140W and 120W. No +10 cms anomalies exist any more. And those pockets of +5 cms anomalies appear to be fading.

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: (4/10) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were modestly warm straddling 20 degrees north and south of the equator from the Galapagos west to the dateline and now also filling the area south of Mexico. These temps are stable if not slightly down compared to days past. Cool water was along the entirety of the coasts of Peru up to Ecuador and Columbia and holding steady in terms of areal coverage but losing density steadily. There is some weak indication of El Nino but not strong.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (4/10): A weak warming trend was over the equatorial East Pacific with slightly stronger warming off Ecuador and Columbia and migrating west to a point just east of the Galapagos. Otherwise a weakly warming pattern was building on the equator from 90W to 120W.
Hi-res Overview: (4/10) Cool water was no longer present along the immediate coast of Peru and slightly along Columbia. Otherwise warmer than normal water was from immediate Ecuador to the Galapagos and then modestly warmer along the equator west of there to the dateline. It was holding compared to days past.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (4/11) Today's temps were falling at -0.485 and have generally been falling for the last 3 months.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(4/11) Today temps were steady at +0.739 today. Temps are generally up some over the past 3 months.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (4/11) The model indicates temps were at +1.00 degs on March 1 and forecast holding April then slowly building to +1.20 degrees in early June fading to +1.1 degs on July 1, then fading slightly through the Fall to +0.75 degs in Sept, down to +0.6 degs in Oct and +0.5 in Nov 1, then falling to +0.4 degs
in early Dec. If one is to believe the model then one would assume that El Nino tried to build weakly in the Winter of 18/19, but didn't really make it, then is to build in the summer on 2019 before fading through the Fall and Winter of 2019/20. But maybe a multiyear warming event is in progress as suggested by this model.
IRI Consensus Plume: The March 2019 Plume depicts temps are at +0.65 degs today, and are to hold in the +0.75 range into July, then holding at +0.75 through Nov 2019. See chart here - link.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (4/11): The daily index was negative at -17.23 but had been positive for 7 days before that, and was previously negative for 57 days before that (Feb 4-4/2 other than 3/23 & 3/24). The 30 day average was rising at -1.24 suggesting a fading Active MJO. The 90 day average was steady at -5.60, suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern biased towards El Nino (for now).
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (4/11) The index was neutral at -0.01 on 2/14 but has been rising ever since and pushed up to +0.99 on 3/3 (the highest its been in years), then fell some but rose again to +0.47 on 3/28 and is up to +0.81 today. It was down to -0.24 in late December, down from +0.28 on 12/15 and not anywhere near as strongly positive as it should be if El Nino were developing. It suggest only ENSO neutral conditions.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly positive, even though La Nina is in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values: June 2017 +0.21, July -0.50, Aug -0.62, Sept -0.25, Oct -0.61, Nov -0.45, Dec -0.13, Jan 2018 +0.29, Feb -0.19, Mar -0.61, April -0.89, May -0.69, June -0.85, July -0.09, Aug -0.43, Sept -0.46, Oct -0.75, Nov -0.78, Dec -0.12, Jan -0.23, Feb -0.55 This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): June 2017 +0.79, July +0.10, Aug +0.09, Sept +0.32, Oct +0.05, Nov +0.15, Dec +0.50, Jan +0.70. Feb +0.37, Mar -0.05, April +0.11, May +0.11, June -0.04, July +0.11, Aug +0.18, Sept +0.09. No real 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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