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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: April 24, 2008 8:54 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
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Swell Potential Rating = 1.0 - California & 1.0 - Hawaii
Using the 'Winter' Scale
(See Swell Category Table link at bottom of page)
Probability for presence of largest swells in near-shore waters of NCal, SCal or Hawaii.    
Issued for Week of Monday 4/21 thru Sun 4/27
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   

Swell #1S Pushing Towards Hawaii
Gale Stationary in the Gulf of Alaska


New Swell Classification Guidelines

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


On Thursday (4/24) Northern CA surf was chest high and reasonably clean early. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were near flat and clean. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was waist high and blown. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was up to thigh high at top spots and windy. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh high and textured. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were maybe thigh high and clean early. The North Shore of Oahu was chest to shoulder high and clean. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was thigh high and onshore.

North/Central California was seeing minimal locally generated northwest windswell. Southern California was getting tiny bit's of wrap around windswell from the north. Hawaii's North Shore was on the leading edge of an extended bit of small but rideable northwesterly swell from a gale that was over the dateline days earlier moving north of the Islands. The East Shore had no tradewind swell of interest. The South Shore was receiving no swell of interest.

For the future the North and Central California coast to continue seeing minimal locally generated windswell, then some energy from a low that moved from the dateline into the Gulf of Alaska is to start arriving Sunday. Size to still be small though (chest high), but certainly better than nothing and hanging on for a few days. If the models are right this low is to hold in the Gulf and then bloom early next week , possibly providing something that almost looks like surf mid-next week - but odds are very low. Southern CA is in the dead zone with virtually nothing of interest forecast for the next 5 days. The North Shore of Oahu is on a small roll, with surf hitting and expected to hold for the next few days. Go get it while you can. Southern hemi swell is forecast for the South Shore starting late Monday and getting pretty good mid-week and holding through the end of the workweek. This is definitely the.cgiace to be. That same swell is to reach California next Thursday (5/1) possibly providing something decent to ride by the weekend. See details below...


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

North Pacific

Thursdays jetstream charts (4/24) for the North Pacific indicated a cutoff upper level low pressure system 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii and weak. This was the only system offering any support for surface level low pressure development. Otherwise all other energy was flowing west to east through the Bering Sea, totally landlocked north of the Aleutians and offering no hope. Over the next 72 hours the cutoff low is to tap the core of the jet, dragging it down through the Gulf of Alaska and forming a nice little trough by Saturday (4/26) holding through Monday before pushing inland over Canada. Winds forecast to 120 kts offering good surface level potential for maybe even gale development. Beyond 72 hours a weak flow is to persist over the North Pacific, further south than previous down on the 45N latitude, but very weak with winds 110 kts or so. Maybe some very limited hope, but it's late in the season.

At the surface today weak high pressure was positioned just 400 nmiles off the California coast at 1024 mbs, serving to generate limited northerly winds at 15-20 kts (more near Pt Conception) down the coast from Bodega Bay south into Baja. Trades over the Hawaiian Islands were light to almost no-existent. Of more interest was low pressure camped in the Central Gulf of Alaska at 996 mbs generating a limited fetch of 25-30 kt north to northwest winds and 18 ft seas aimed at Hawaii and California from 38N 160W. This system has actually been exerting influence over the North Pacific since Sunday (4/20) when it was moving southeast from the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians with pressure at 996 mbs generating 30-35 kt north winds targeting initially Hawaii with 18-20 ft seas at 47N 180W (Sunday). 13 sec swell is already hitting Hawaii from early in the lows life.

Over the next 72 hours the Gulf low is to be the only thing of interest. It's to sit unchanged till Saturday (4/260 when it starts lifting northeast and builds in size but still only produces a broad area of 25 kt northwest winds targeting the Pacific Northwest down into California (from a steep northerly angle) and seas only 16 ft or so. Windswell possible for the targeted areas. Swell fading out along the Hawaiian North Shore by Sunday (4/27).


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


California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (4/24) high pressure at 1028 mbs was nestled up to the coast, sandwiched between land and low pressure out in the Gulf of Alaska, generating moderate northerly winds down the coast at 15 kts but pushing 25 kts over Pt Conception. Southern Ca was protected. That pattern to basically hold Friday, though slightly weaker as low pressure from the Gulf inches closer, taking some of the legs out of the high. But by Saturday (4/26) the Gulf low is to lift north and the high is to get marginally better footing with northerly winds hanging tight at 15 kts from Pt Arena and up to 25 kts over Pt Conception. Southern Ca is still to remain protected. No change forecast through mid-Monday, then the high to start building-in more with winds on the increase to near 20 kts from Pt Arena southward and holding until the low to the north moves inland late Tuesday (4/29). The high to surge inland with 20-25 k north winds Wednesday fading Thursday. Southern CA likely to see northerly winds at this time for 24 hours.

No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.


South Pacific

Swell 1S (Hawaii)
A gale pushed under New Zealand on Monday (4/21) generating a diffuse area of 40 kt winds aimed north east towards Hawaii with seas to 31 ft modeled at 50S 170E. Some form of limited swell was in the Hawaiian swell window pushing north. That low re-organized just off the southeastern New Zealand coast Tuesday (4/22). 45 kt winds were confirmed over a decent sized fetch area at 48S 178E aimed 25 degrees east of the 193-200 degree great circle paths to Hawaii and right up the 216-218 degree path to California (and unshadowed by Tahiti) continuing at 40-45 kt through the day Wednesday at 46S 174W and traveling north into Thursday near 44S 174W all aimed the same headings relative to Hawaii and California. Seas were modeled to 32 ft late Tuesday at 44S 180W then to 38 ft through the day Wednesday at 48S 175W in the AM and 46S 170W in the evening, then fading from 37 ft at 42N 160W Thursday AM then slowly fading into Friday morning (to 30 ft at 41S 160W). Seas on Friday to be somewhat shadowed by Tahiti for California. The Jason-1 satellite made one pass near this fetch, on Wednesday morning and confirmed sea at 33 ft where the model suggested it should have been 35-36 ft. Other partial passes suggested a similar trend, namely that the Wavewatch III wavemodel was over-estimating sea sizes (really the GDAS model was probably overestimating winds, which in turn affected the calculated sea size. Regardless the result is the same - an overestimate).

In all this was not even a storm, but a gale. Still it held together for at least 72 hours with seas in excess of 30 ft pushing the 38 ft mark (if one is to believe the models), and aimed right at California (and unshadowed) and decently at Hawaii. But given Hawaii's closer proximity, more size is expected there.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival in Hawaii on late on Monday (4/28) with swell to 2 ft @ 20 secs (4 ft faces and occasionally more). Swell building, peaking mid-Tuesday with swell 3.6 ft @ 19 secs (7 ft faces - maybe some 8 ft faces at best breaks). Swell holding solid Wednesday at 3.6 ft @ 17 secs (6 ft faces with some 7 ft sets). Swell continues Thursday (5/1) at 3.9 ft @ 16 secs (6 ft faces with a few bigger sets). Swell Direction: 190-195 degrees

California (swell arrival profile same for both NCal and SCal): This swell to start arriving on Thursday (5/1) with swell building to 2 ft @ 20 secs late (4 ft faces). Swell Direction: 212-218 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 only potential swell source of interest is to come from the low in the northern Gulf of Alaska. Monday (4/28) pressure is to drop to 992 mbs with 35-40 kt northwest winds building over a small area aimed at the Pacific Northwest as the low and associated fetch sink southeast, impacting Southern Oregon late Tuesday. 26 ft seas are forecast at 48N 138W Tuesday AM aimed down the 312 degree path to North CA and heading southeast. Residual fetch and 20 ft seas are project impacting Cape Mendocino Wednesday AM (4/30). Will believe it when it happens.

No other swell source is indicated.


South Pacific

No swell producing winds are 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

Time Zone Converter - Finally! By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.

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

Half Moon Bay Surfers - Attention: There¹s a movement afoot to dredge sand out of the Pillar Point (i.e. Half Moon Bay) Harbor and dump it just south of the jetty, so it will r.cgienish all sand that¹s disappeared between the harbor and HMB. The guy who¹s spearheading the project, Brian Overfelt, has already received a positive preliminary reading from the local harbor commissioners. He¹s making a formal presentation to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary¹s advisory council this coming Friday (2/15) at Our Lady of Pillar church in Half Moon Bay. (It's on Kelly Ave, just east of the Coast Highway, across the street from Cunha Intermediate School.) starting at 9 AM. More details here:

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

Grib File Switchover: The old grib1 format wave model datafiles that have been the mainstay of the National Weather service for years now are scheduled to be retired on 1/26. We switched over to the new grib2 files starting with the 00z run of Thurs 1/17. All appears to be running fine. There is no functional change to the content of the models, just that files we receive are now smaller due to improved compression of grib2. But this sets us up to start processing new higher resolution files and building new products in the months ahead. So in all it's a good maintenance level change.

Sharkwater: There's a new feature film called Sharkwater that is hitting theaters November 2nd. Sharkwater is an award winning documentary (22 international film awards including the UN and Cannes) that broke box office records in Canada, opening to bigger numbers than any documentary in history save Fahrenheit 911 and Supersize Me. It is a conservation film that demonstrates that the biggest influence on the air we breathe, and global warming is life in the oceans except life in the oceans is being wiped out. Shark populations have dropped 90% in the last 30 years alone, and the oceans continue to be destroyed because nobody knows that it's happening Learn more here:

Bluewater Gold Rush: The first and only chronicle of the California sea urchin dive fishery. Diving, surfing, comedy, and tragedy on and under the waves of California. "A quintessential tale of California ... dramas of adventure and loss on and under the sea" We read it and it's a great story about the bloom of the urchin diving boom in the 70's and the few lucky souls who were right there when it took off. An easy read that's hard to put down. The trials and success of a 'real' California dream right down to it's core. Check it out here:

Submit your story to 'Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Vol. 2': DEADLINE: January 15th, 2008 Casagrande Press is seeking stories, articles, and essays on the general subject of surfing misadventure for publication in Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Volume 2. We are looking for nonfiction, first-person surf stories of bad judgment calls, pranks, comical/ironic episodes, disaster, attacking predators, misfortune, injury, loss of wit or limb, panic, critical conditions, contest meltdowns, everyday fears, surf trips gone wrong or the out-of-water episodes that surround surfing. We are looking for well-written stories that tell a good tale, reflect a culture, and develop the depth of the characters involved. We also like stories that have a tight narrative tension and a payoff at the end. Open to writers and surfers of any level. There is no fee to submit a story. We will consider previously published stories. To see more info on the first book visit Submit online at

Waveriders Gallery: Check out this collection of high quality artwork all related to waves and the ocean. Surf Paintings, Photography, Posters, Books, Boards and exhibits all produced by a variety of top artists provide a beautiful selection of pieces to chose from. Take and look and see some of the stunning work available from these artists.

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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