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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: April 19, 2011 8:57 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 = 3.0 - California & 2.5 - Hawaii
Using the 'Summer' 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 4/11 thru Sun 4/17
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   

Southern Hemi Swell Hitting HI
California Up Next


New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)

Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead). Summer - Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft) Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft). Summer - Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs. Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.


Current Conditions
On Tuesday (4/19) North and Central California was seeing locally generated  windswell producing waves at maybe waist high with southern hemi background swell at the same size at exposed breaks.  Winds were light and conditions glassy early. Southern California was seeing southern hemi swell in the waist to maybe chest high range up north and clean early.  Down south southern hemi swell was waist to near chest high and clean and well lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was seeing windswell in the waist to chest high range and a little textured with modest trades in effect. The East Shore was getting trade wind generated east windswell at knee to thigh high and chopped. The South Shore was getting the New Zealand southern hemi swell with waves chest to head high and a bit tattered from east-southeast trades.  

Surf Forecast Overview
North and Central CA on 
Wednesday is to see windswell dropping out to 2 ft (faces) with southern hemi swell 3 ft (on the face). Thursday windswell fades more with new southern hemi swell to 2.5 ft early. Windswell bumps up on Friday to near 2.5 ft with new semi real southern hemi swell 3.5 ft. Saturday southern hemi swell peaks at 4 ft then fading Sunday from 4 ft.
Southern California is to see no windswell of interest. Southern hemi background swell is to be waist to chest high Wednesday. Swell fades to waist high Thursday with new southern hemi swell arriving Friday at near chest high.  Saturday southern hemi swell peaks at chest high fading Sunday from waist to chest high. 
The North Shore of Oahu is to see northwest windswell fading from shoulder high early Wednesday and waist high or less Thursday.  Maybe some more windswell on Saturday at waist high and maybe thigh high early Sunday.
The East Shore is to see no east windswell Wednesday then maybe bumping up to knee high Thursday then back to flat Friday. Knee to thigh high east windswell for Saturday and up slightly Sunday.
The South Shore is to see better southern hemi swell arriving Wednesday at almost 1 ft overhead fading from shoulder high.cgius early Thursday and chest to shoulder high Friday. Saturday that swell fades from waist high with knee high leftovers Sunday.

Meteorological Overview
The North Pacific is asleep and expected to stay that way with no seas in excess of 17 ft forecast for the next week. Down south a decent gale pushed under New Zealand Tues-Thurs (4/14) with 40-42 ft seas but shadowed by Tahiti. Swell from it started hitting Hawaii late on Tuesday and is expected into the US West Coast near the weekend. Otherwise no swell producing fetch is aimed up into our forecast area and nothing else forecast for the next 7 days.


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

North Pacific

On Tuesday (4/19) the jetstream was pushing off Japan running almost flat to the east over the dateline with winds to 170 kts in a pocket just off Japan, and then on into Oregon but much weaker with winds not exceeding 100 kts. No troughs of interest were indicated, but the .cgiit jetstream pattern which has.cgiagued the North Pacific was gone too. Over the next 72 hours the winds pocket off  Japan is to be pushing over dateline with winds down to 140 kts and something that almost looks like a trough trying to form there. Maybe some support for low pressure development possible in that area. Beyond 72 hours that wind energy is to push east and hold, at 140 kts off Oregon on Sunday (4/24) with a semi real trough forecast on the dateline and providing some support for low pressure development. The trough and winds energy are to push east with the trough just off the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday providing more support for low pressure development down at the oceans surface. 

At the surface on Tuesday (4/19) nothing of real interest was occurring.  Weak low pressure at 1016 mbs was 800 nmiles west of San Francisco (winds only 20 kts) with a much broader system trying to organize on the dateline, but fetch only up to 25 kts. Weak high pressure was in between the two and not strong enough to even generate trades greater than 15 kts over and east of the Hawaiian Islands. Over the next 72 hours the low off California is to move inland over Central CA early Thursday (4/21) while the broad low over the dateline continues to circulate generating 25 kt westerly fetch.  Seas to 17 ft on the dateline possible  maybe holding a smidgen of potential for windswell for the Hawaiian Islands. Set your sites low. 


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


No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (4/19) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was trying to ridge into Central CA from a position off the Pacific Northwest.  Light winds were in control everywhere but Cape Mendocino (northwest 15-20 kts there). Weak low pressure was 800 nmiles west of San Francisco pushing east. The low is to track east into and over the San Francisco Bay area by Thursday (4/21) with modest south winds at 10 kts expected ahead of it on Wednesday extending down to Pt Conception. Light rain is forecast for the same area late Wednesday into Thursday AM, with 1 ft or snow in the Lake Tahoe region. But by Thursday AM high pressure is to be ridging in behind the low generating northwest winds at 15-20 kts for the entire North and Central CA coasts chopping things up pretty well, and slowly fading into Friday. Again a large area of low pressure is to be moving into the Eastern Gulf of Alaska by Saturday AM reducing northwest winds from Pismo Beach northward with southerly winds possible for that area into Sunday.  Rain moving into the north coast before sunrise Saturday, then down to San Francisco mid-AM and to Monterey Bay by sunset. Additional rain down to Monterey Bay through Sunday. High pressure is to finally take hold on Tues (4/26) with northwest winds back in control. 


South Pacific

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast in the California or Hawaiian swell windows.  Remnants of the New Zealand Gale (details below) are regenerating just off the southern tip of South America with south winds to 50 kts and expected to generate a small area of  seas to 36 ft by mid-Wednesday (4/20) aimed northeast, but aimed well east of any great circle track to US interests. Chile and Peru might do well though. 

Otherwise high pressure at 1032 mbs is to be building east of New Zealand on Thursday (4/21) driving the storm track to the southeast pretty much shutting down swell generation potential for the Southwest and Central Pacific.

New Zealand Gale
A gale built south of the Tasman Sea tracking east-northeast on Tues (4/12) producing a solid area of 40 kt west-southwest winds and seas building. With the Antarctic Ice Sheet at it's Fall minimum, the fetch was getting some traction on ice free waters there. By Tuesday evening the fetch built to 45 kts over a solid fetch area while pushing east-northeast with seas building to 36 ft at 58S 168E (a long ways from the US West Coast - 6690 nmiles away on the 212 deg track - and aimed pretty much east of the 199 deg great circle track to Hawaii). The Jason-1 satellite passed over the southeast quadrant of this system and reported average seas at 28.4 ft with one reading to 32.8 ft where the model indicated 32 ft seas. This was about right on track. 45 kt winds held into Wed AM (4/13) with seas to 40 ft at 56S 178E (210 degs CA -193 degs HI), with new fetch developing a bit south of there. By Wed PM 45 kt southwest winds were blowing generating 42 ft seas at 56S 170W (205 deg NCal - 185 degs HI). The Jason-1 satellite passed over the northwest quadrant of this system again and reported average seas at 31.1 ft with one reading to 34.4 ft where the model indicated 31 ft seas. This was right on track. Thursday AM (4/14) 45 kt west winds continued to hold generating 44 ft seas at 55S 161W bypassing Hawaii and aimed a bit east of the 201 degree track to CA. By evening the fetch is to be fading fast and aimed due east with seas from previous fetch at 42-43 ft and fading fast at 54S 151W (197 degs NCal). The Jason-1 satellite passed over the northwest quadrant of this system are reported average seas at 28.8 ft with one reading to 36.4 ft where the model indicated 30 ft seas. This was again right on track.

This system developed right on track with the models and the models were well correlated to the readings coming off the Jason-1 satellite, though most of those readings were from the outer periphery of the systems rather than over it's core. For the most part this system was totally shadowed from CA by Tahiti and surrounding Islands and fetch aimed well east of any track going up to Hawaii.   The net result is to be rideable swell at both locations, but nothing to get excited about.  Just something rideable. Tahiti will do alright, but not optimal.

Hawaii:  Expect swell arrival starting at sunset Tues (4/19) with period 20 secs and size likely no noticeable, but building overnight.  Swell to be 2.6 ft @ 18 secs sunrise Wed (4/20) with sets near 5 ft (face) and holding through the day.  Swell to hold solid Thurs (4/21) with swell 3 ft @ 16 secs early (5 ft faces with bigger sets), then starting to fade some later in the day. Swell down to 2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (4 ft faces) on Fri (4/22) and fading. Swell Direction: 185-195 degrees. 

Southern CA: Expect perhaps a few signs of this swell arriving later Thursday (4/21) with swell 1 ft @ 21 secs (2 ft) and very inconsistent. By Friday swell to build to 2 ft @ 18-19 secs (3.5-4.0 ft with some bigger sets).  Swell to peak on Saturday (4/23) with pure swell 2.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.5 ft). Swell to continue Sunday at 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4 ft with some bigger sets), then heading down on Monday. Swell Direction: 205-210 degrees

Northern CA: Expect perhaps a few signs of this swell arriving late Thursday (4/21) with swell 1 ft @ 21 secs (2 ft) and very inconsistent. By Friday swell to build to 2 ft @ 18-19 secs (3.5-4.0 ft with some bigger sets).  Swell to peak on Saturday (4/23) with pure swell 2.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.5 ft). Swell to continue Sunday at 2.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (4 ft with some bigger sets), then heading down on Monday. Swell Direction: 203-208 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 hrs the dateline low pressure system is forecast to track east pushing into the Western Gulf Sat-Sun (4/24) generating a modest fetch of 25-30 kt west winds north of Hawaii and west of Oregon possible setting up 18 ft seas pushing east towards the Pacific Northwest. Maybe some limited 11 sec period windswell might result if all goes as forecast.

As of Tuesday (4/19) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued in the positive range, though down from previous readings. The daily SOI was down to 15.79. The 30 day average was up to 25.15 with the 90 day average down slightly at 21.18.  

Wind anomalies as of Monday (4/18) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated that the Active Phase of the MJO was gone with only a tiny area of weak westerly anomalies holding just over the dateline and neutral conditions everywhere else.  They were having no impact on the daily SOI. These anomalies are to be dissipated on the dateline 4/23 with neutral conditions in control then on into 5/8. At the same time the Inactive Phase was all but gone in the Central Indian Ocean and expected to be dissipated while tracking east on 4/28, not even getting out of the Eastern Indian Ocean. It looks like the pull of Springtime trumps anything the MJO is trying to produce at this point, meaning that the 2010-2011 Winter season is likely over. 

Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (4/18) is unchanged and continues to indicate that cooler waters (-1 C degs) had a grip on the equator covering from a a good bit west of South America westward to the dateline. Cooler than normal waters also were present in feeder bands originating off the US West Coast (not as strong as earlier in the Winter) and somewhat colder ones off South America sweeping fully to the intersection of the dateline and the equator, serving to continue the existing La Nina pattern. These colder waters are a reflection of stronger than normal high pressure built in over both hemispheres causing upwelling in the Gulf of Alaska and off South America, though it looks like the upwelling effect was stronger in the southern hemi than in the north. But the cooler waters in the North Pacific are relenting some as are the cool temps over the equator. Warmer than normal waters remain over the Galapagos Islands and over a very narrow band west of there. And tongues of warmer water are positioned in the both the Northwest and Southwest Hemispheres trying to make inroads to the east. Regardless, the big picture still looks like a La Nina setup (though fading in intensity). 

Below the surface on the equator there had previously been indications of Kevin Wave activity.  Colder than normal water that had been locked all winter southeast of Hawaii under the equator evaporated in late February and moved to dead neutral presumably from the effects of two consecutive bouts of the Active Phase of the MJO which in turn might have driven a Kelvin Wave. In parallel warmer than normal water had edged east from the West Pacific, previously up +2 degrees above normal and positioned due south of Hawaii (150W) under the equator through 3/22. But there had also been an impenetrable wall at 140W separating the warm anomalies, and cool anomalies east of there that was blocking any eastward progress of warmer subsurface water. But on 4/4, it appeared that that wall was fading if not gone entirely (by 4/7).  And currently (4/19) a small but steady finger of normal to slightly warmer (0 to +1 deg C) water was flowing east making it to the equatorial East Pacific up at 100-150 meters and building some.  Almost +1 degrees anomalies are tracking from the West Pacific to the East Pacific short of one small break at 160W. It would be best to see warm anomalies down to 200 meters, but the current state is the best it's been in 9 months and suggestive of a near normal subsurface thermocline.  The thought is this normalization of the subsurface flow will eventually affect water temps at the surface and then the atmosphere above it (months later).  So all this is a step in the right direction though painstakingly slow.  

Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond. From a historical 'normal' perspective these easterly winds were almost normal and any anomalies that persisted were dying to almost totally normal as of 3/27. 

Remnants of what was a moderate.cgius strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) are still evident and momentum from this La Nina event are expected to hold well into the Fall of 2011 (and likely to early 2012) in the upper atmosphere regardless of how quickly La Nina's demise occurs in the ocean. In short, it's going to be tough for surfers on west facing shores in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, though east facing shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance, especially in summer months.  That is not to say there will be no storms, in fact, there could be short periods of intense activity when the Active Phase gets an opportunity to come to fruition, but that will be the exception rather than the rule, with the Inactive Phase trying to keep a cap on storm activity. Best bet's at this time are for an enhanced tropical season in the Atlantic (2011).  

See more details in the   El Nino update.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours there's some suggestion of a gale starting to build under New Zealand on Tues (4/26) with 50 kts southwest winds. It's a very long reach for the models though.  At least it's a little tease 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

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Local Interest

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".

Timmy Reyes - Curt Myers from Powerlines Productions found this little gem with Timmy Reyes providing a brief statement about which sites he uses for swell chasing. Thought we'd pass it on. Enjoy:

Buell Wetsuits - When surfing in Santa Cruz, we've been seeing a new wetsuit in the line-up worn by many top flight surfers. They're getting good traction and are well respected. Take a look:

Stormsurf Mobile App (1/9/11) We are proud to announce the official public release of our smartphone mobile app. It provides access to our most popular and commonly used products, optimized for use on the road, on the beach or anywhere you don't have a desktop or laptop.  With a smart phone and signal, you will have access to our data. And we're not talking just a few teaser products - We're talking full feature wave models, weather models, real-time buoy data, manually built forecasts and hundreds of spot wave and wind forecasts enabling you to construct a surf forecast for any location on the.cgianet, all from your cell phone and all for free.  No subscription required and no hidden fees. And better yet, there's a few new things sprinkled in that are not yet available even on our full-featured web site. From your smart phones browser just navigate to: 

Mavericks Surf Shop Grand OpeningSunday, December 19 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. rain or shine!  Check out the new home of Jeff Clark's Mavericks Surf Shop, now located at 25 Johnson Pier in Pillar Point Harbor.  The shop features much of Clark's surfing memorabilia, classic boards and photos, as well as an entirely new line of Jeff Clark original Mavericks clothing, accessories and surfboards. The shop has been open in the new location since December 8, and the Grand Opening party is set for this coming Sunday, just in time for Christmas.  The party starts at 2 p.m., with live music, food and drinks. Jeff Clark and many Mavericks surfers will be there to meet the public. Local restaurants Ketch Joanne's and Princeton Seafood will serve up delicious food, while San Francisco Wine Trading Company is providing the beverages.  The shop will be open all weekend, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Stormsurf Maintenance Upgrades: Buoy 46059 and 46012 were r.cgiaced a month or so ago. Totally new buoys were installed. Here on Stormsurf we had to reset the algorithms used to calculate 'pure swell' for them. That was acco.cgiished on 11/13. Pure swell numbers are now correct. Links: 46012, 46059

Also since we moved to the new weather model server last month we discovered that our Longrange Precipitation Models ceased to display frozen precipitation (as they once did). Some of our scripts did not get installed on the new server. That has been fixed (11/13) and now snow is again viewable worldwide. Here the new North America sa.cgie.

Chasing The Swell: Sachi Cunningham from the LA Times spent the entirety of last winter chasing surfers and swells around the North Pacific with her high def video cam. Her timing couldn't have been any better with the project exactly coinciding with the strongest El Nino in 12 years resulting in the best big wave season in a decade. And being an acco.cgiished surfer herself helped her to bring a poignant and accurate account of the what it's like to ride big waves and the new (and some not so new) personalities that are revitalizing the sport. This is must-see material for any surfer or weather enthusiast. Check it out here:

New Weather Models With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon):

New Weather Model Server Stormsurf has installed another weather model production server. This has enabled us to spread the load across more servers allowing us to post both wave and weather model updates much quicker.  Also we are testing new content (like North America jetstream, winds and precipitation, local wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments). The model menus will be updated shortly with these new links.   

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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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