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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: May 2, 2006 7:41 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 = 4.0 - 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 4/24 thru Sun 4/30
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 Utility swell
2 = Good probability for  1-2 days of Utility 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 for Hawaii First
North Pacific Near Dormant


On Tuesday (5/2) Northern CA surf was head high, clean and fun early. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist to chest high. Central California surf was up to waist to chest high in the Morro Bay area. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were up to chest high with most breaks in the waist high range. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to chest high at the better breaks. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were waist to chest high. The North Shore of Oahu was chest high and junky. The South Shore was up to waist high. The East Shore was chest high.

All eyes south in anticipation of Swell #1s, the first significant class southern hemi swell of the summer season. Though officially labeled as a real swell, Hawaii to see something less since the bulk of the fetch was aimed east of the Islands, with California just barely making the grade. So don't get too worked up. Otherwise North and Central California to continue on a steady diet of northern windswell from the Cape Mendocino area, though down some from the past few days. Further out some moderate size windswell from the Gulf of Alaska is possible for California, though not guaranteed. Otherwise high pressure near New Zealand to keep the South Pacific locked down into next week, with no swell producing fetch suggested. Make the most of Swell #1S. See details below...



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

North Pacific

Tuesdays jetstream charts (5/2) indicated the jet was hugging the Japan coast pushing up the Kuril Islands then tracking east just south of the Aleutians with hints of a new trough trying to develop between the Kamchatka Peninsula (Russia) and the dateline. Winds were a very modest 120 kts in this area, not really able to support any surface level gale development. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (5/5) that trough to push into and through the Gulf of Alaska providing a little opportunity for gale development there, but limited to the extreme northern Gulf. Winds to remain below 120 kts. Beyond 72 hours 2 more similar troughs to follow, one Sun/Mon in the Gulf with the second Sun-Tues pushing off Kamchatka reaching the dateline. Neither is to be impressive by any stretch of the imagination, but capable of support some form of weak surface level gale.

At the surface on Tuesday (5/2) strong high pressure at 1032 mbs was anchored off California ridging northeast into Canada with the usual summertime gradient north winds in.cgiace over Cape Mendocino CA at 35-40 kts producing moderate to decent size windswell along the North/Central CA coast. A second weaker high at 1020 mbs was over the dateline. Weak 1000 mb low pressure was over the Kuril Islands with no swell producing fetch and a second equally weak 996 mb low in the western Gulf of Alaska producing a tiny patch of 30 kt winds.

Over the next 72 hours both these lows to build some into the 984 mbs range late Wednesday (5/3) while tracking east with winds briefly hitting the 40 kt range in the Gulf aimed due east towards Canada and the Pacific Northwest while the dateline low does the same thing on Thursday AM (5/4). The issue is the winds in both are to hold for only about 12 hours, again aimed due east, limiting swell generation capacity and targeting area north of Hawaii and California. 26 ft seas forecast from the Gulf low Thursday AM and the same from the dateline low Fri-Sat pushing into the Gulf. Most of this energy to to bypass Hawaii with only 3 ft @ 10 secs swell forecast (2-3 ft faces Friday 5/5) and 3 ft @ 12 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces Monday 5/8) with a little better hope for North CA late Saturday with 4 ft @ 12-13 secs swell possible (5 ft faces) with a slightly larger pulse Tuesday of next week (5/9) but both cloaked in local windswell assuming all comes to pass as modeled. No other swell sources suggested.

Otherwise the Cape Mendocino gradient to be backing off by Thursday (5/4) and nearly gone with winds about 20-25 kts.

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


California Offshore Forecast
On Tuesday (5/2) high pressure remained the dominant force in the Northeastern Pacific though expected to fade somewhat over the coming days. This to result in a decreased northwesterly flow over local waters of North and Central CA (south of Pt Reyes) by Thursday AM holding into Friday. Light south winds forecast for South CA 95 kts). But by Saturday more high pressure to be moving east generating northwesterly winds centered further south and slowly building through at least Tuesday of next week. 25 kt northwest winds are modeled to be raking the coast down into the Channel Islands with a health southwesterly eddy flow pushing up into South CA.

The detailed 5 Day wind forecast is included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.


South Pacific

On Tuesday (5/2) the jetstream continued ridging strongly south of New Zealand and was expected to continue through the week, actually strengthening over the period. A persistent trough that has been centered in the Southeastern Pacific is still in.cgiace expected to remain there though weak (110 kt winds average) and slowly pushing east out of the California swell window by late in the coming weekend. No clear signs of surface level gale development suggested aloft.

At the surface on Tuesday (5/2) a weak pressure pattern remained in.cgiace. Weak high pressure at 1020 mbs was southeast of New Zealand blocking the storm corridor from the Indian Ocean into the Southwest Pacific with weak ill-defined low pressure in the Southeast Pacific.

Over the next 72 hours high pressure southeast of New Zealand to build at 1032 mbs strengthening the blockade of the storm corridor there. No swell producing gale or storm systems forecast.


Storm 1S (California)
Storm History
On Tuesday AM (4/25) a 972 mb gale was developing well south just above the Ross Ice Shelf producing 45 kt south winds at 60S 180W aimed towards Hawaii and California while the low itself tracked east. By nightfall the fetch had increased size with 45-50 kts winds confirmed at 57S 167W aimed right up the 186 degree path to Hawaii and the 202 degree path to California (clear of the Tahitian swell shadow).

By Wednesday AM pressure was down to 964 with a broad fetch of 40-45 kt winds in.cgiace at 54S 159W pushing north towards Hawaii up the 181 degree path and towards California up the 200 degree path. Seas modeled at 30 ft at 54S 165W. In the evening pressure dropped to 948 mbs with a decentralized fetch of 45-50 kt winds building at 50S 144W aimed more to the east, or northeast at California up the 195 degree path and with sideband energy still pushing 40 degree east of the 180 degree great circle path to Hawaii. Seas building to 35 ft at 53S 155W. Seas modeled at 30 ft at 53S 155W, and the Jason-1 satellite passed over the outer fringes of the fetch near 06Z Thursday reporting seas 30 ft, consistent with the wave models expectations.

On Thursday AM pressure dropped to 932 mbs with fetch confirmed ramping up to 50-55 kts over a small area at 54S 132W aimed over a arch from California (188 degree) east to South America and moving to the eastern edge of the California swell window by nightfall. Seas 32 ft at 51S 152W in the AM. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass directly over the fetch Thursday AM confirming seas at 34 ft at 51S 148W, right on track if not better than what the models suggested. Winds were still be holding in the 50-55 kt range at 55S 127W aimed up the 183 degree path to California by nightfall with seas modeled to 40 ft at 54S 122W.

Contrary to previous model runs, the low went stationary there and spun out through Saturday (4/29) with winds fading to the 30-35 kts range and 37 ft seas at 54S 121W on the edge of the swell window Friday AM fading fast afterward (below the 30 ft threshold by nightfall) as all fetch was targeting Antarctica.

Swell Generation Potential
This has not been a great storm by any summertime standard, mainly because it's tracking fast to the east not allowing it's fetch to get good purchase/traction on the oceans surface, limiting swell production capacity. Still it generated a broad area of decent sized seas pushing towards Hawaii, but not enough to reach the significant class threshold. The expected reorganization of the storm in the Eastern Pacific occurred as expected sending another larger pulse of energy north and east, with California and South/Central America the expected recipients. Significant class size with solid period expected, earning this one the title of first significant class swell of the summer.

Surf Forecast
Hawaii: A large summer-time utility class swell will push into Hawaii starting before sunrise Wednesday (5/3) with period at 18 secs, building to 2.6 ft @ 17 secs by sunset (4.0-4.5 ft faces - best breaks to 5.5 ft). Swell to peak Thursday at 3 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.5-5.0 ft faces - best breaks to 6 ft). Decent energy to hold into Friday AM (5/5) with swell 3 ft @ 14 secs early and fading from there ( 4 ft faces) down to 2.3 ft @ 13 secs Saturday AM (3 ft faces). Swell Direction: 180-186 degrees

South California (Orange County): Expect the first small signs of this swell to hit near sunset Thursday (5/4) with swell 1.0-1.3 ft @ 20 secs (2 ft faces). Swell building steadily through the day Friday (5/5) reaching 4 ft @ 16 secs by sunset (6.0-6.5 ft faces and up to 8 ft at top spots). Swell to peak Saturday AM (5/6) at 4.6 ft @ 16 secs fading to 15 secs through the day (7.0-7.5 ft faces and up to 9 ft at top spots). Solid size expected to continue Sunday but filtering down, starting at 4.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (6 ft faces). Swell Direction: 190-195 degrees

North California (Santa Cruz): Expect the first small signs of this swell to hit near sunset Thursday (5/4) with swell 1.0 ft @ 20 secs (2 ft faces). Swell building steadily through the day Friday (5/5) reaching 3.6 ft @ 17 secs by sunset (6.0 ft faces and up to 7.5 ft at top spots). Swell to peak Saturday AM (5/6) at 4.3 ft @ 16 secs fading to 15 secs late (6.5-7.0 ft faces and up to 8.5 ft at top spots). Solid size expected to continue Sunday but filtering down, starting at 4.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (6 ft faces). Swell Direction: 185-192 degrees

No other swell producing fetch was present or forecast to occur.

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 only a weak low is charted pushing off Kamchatka Sunday (5/7) tracking east into the Gulf of Alaska next Tuesday (5/9) but wind to remain 25 kts or less aimed at Hawaii and California. No hope here.

There's some suggestion the Cape Mendocino gradient will become more active starting Tuesday (5/9) as high pressure builds off the CA coast then at 1028 mbs, but the currently outlook does not suggest a major wind event, with north winds reaching only into the 25 kt range, enough for junky short period windslop and that's all.

Otherwise no swell producing fetch suggested for the North Pacific.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours high pressure at 1032 mbs is to continue southeast of New Zealand drifting east, continuing the lock on the swell corridor there for the foreseeable future. This system to totally dominate the Southern Pacific eliminating any chance for storm development.

A decent 960 mb storm is forecast to make a fleeting trek across the southern Tasman Sea starting Sunday (5/7) pushing 55-60 kt west winds towards New Zealand for 24 hours generating 40-42 ft seas, but not much of that is expect to track well north to Fiji and beyond towards Hawaii. No swell generation potential for Hawaii.

Details to follow...


Local Interest

New Content - QuikCAST's and Satellite Altimetry: Stormsurf has been busy this winter putting some new things together. First up is two new QuikCAST's for the Northeast US Coast, one for Cape Hatteras-to-Virginia Beach and another for New Jersey-to-New York. Check them out Here
Also we now provide Jason-1 Altimetry data overlaid on our Wavewatch III wave models. Take a look Here

Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here

Mavericks Surf Contest and Stormsurf
- Science hangs 10 at Surf Contest: CNET - Read it Here
- Pillar Point Unique Conditions swell Mavericks Monsters: Rough seabed, winds and seas currents to create California biggest surfing challenge; San Francisco Chronicle - Read it Here
- Tyler Smith's Quest: Chasing the Moby Dick of the Surfing World: San Francisco Chronicle - Read it Here

Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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