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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: May 5, 2005 9:14 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 & 5.0 - 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 5/2 thru Sun 5/8
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 Hits Hawaii Weaker Than Expected
Storm Track to Falter


On Thursday (5/5) Northern CA surf was waist to chest high. South facing breaks were waist to chest high too. Central California was waist high with bigger sets. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were up to waist high at the better spots. The LA area southward into Orange County was up to waist high and chest high at the best spots. Southward to San Diego waves were up to waist high. The North Shore of Oahu was maybe waist high. The South Shore had sets head high.cgius. The East Shore was flat.

Small surf dominated West Coast breaks today, remnants of a swell that originated under New Zealand. But Hawaii took the prize today for pure well, with energy from Storm #1S hitting. The buoys south of Hawaii reported pure swell at 3.5-4.0 ft @ 14-15 secs, 1 ft smaller than anticipated. This was from a low that tracked under Tahiti last weekend. This same swell is expected to move into California by the weekend but with less size than originally forecast. Minimal swell energy also schedule for Hawaii's northern shores by the weekend. See details below...


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

North Pacific

On Thursday (5/5) the jetstream was pretty weak but still not out with a nice late season trough set up directly over California. This produced some rather remarkable rain for the time of year in the San Francisco area. Another weak trough was just west of the dateline with a ridge north of Hawaii (animation here). Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (5/8) the jet is to turn mainly zonal (flat) with a small trough in the Gulf of Alaska, but nothing really noteworthy. Things are all but shut down.

At the surface today a weak low was in the western Gulf of Alaska, but only 20-25 kt west winds were confirmed aimed somewhat at Hawaii (animation here). This one formed on Tuesday (5/3) over the dateline with 30 kt northwest winds aimed towards Hawaii. Pressure dropped to 988 mb on Wednesday (5/4) with 25-30 kts winds and 16-18 ft seas aimed well at Hawaii, then fading. Some tiny relatively short period windswell has been produced for Hawaii. Another little pulse is forecast over the dateline Saturday (5/6) briefly at 988 mbs with 30-35 kt fetch aimed at Hawaii, fading on Sunday in the Western Gulf of Alaska. Perhaps another pulse on tiny short period swell for the Islands mid-next week.

Otherwise the North Pacific is really winding down. Will start monitoring this hemisphere on an exception basis.

More model data here

South Pacific

On Thursday (5/5) in the South Pacific a .cgiit jet pattern continued to dominate the upper levels of the atmosphere, hampering storm development. A large ridge in the southern branch was indicated east of New Zealand with winds there up to 160 kts, pushing most energy originating in the Indian Ocean south over the Ross Ice Shelf (animation here). Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (5/8) the ridge is forecast to fade with the southern branch of the jet merging with the northern branch just off the South American coast. Contrary to previous indications, a .cgiit pattern is to remain in control of the Western 2/3s of the South Pacific with no indications of any solid storm development.

At the surface today the remnants of the storm that has generated Swell #1S was still circulating south of Tahiti, but was all but gone. No seas of interest were being generated. No other swell producing systems were present (animation here). Over the next 72 hours no swell producing systems are forecast.

More model data here


Storm #1S - New Zealand/Tahiti Storm
On Tuesday PM (4/26) a new low pushed under New Zealand with pressure at 972 mbs while high pressure at 1028 mbs held over the Tasman Sea. The difference in pressure produced fetch of 40-50 kt southwest winds confirmed near 56S 162E. Seas were modeled at 29-30 ft centered near 58S 153E.

By Wednesday AM (4/27) the low continued east turning the fetch angle to the northeast. But the fetch stretched and lost momentum, with winds confirmed down to 35-40 kts aimed northeast up the great circle tracks to Hawaii and California. Seas remained in the 29 ft range at 56S 165E. By evening things started to consolidate better on the east side of New Zealand. A solid fetch of 40 to near 50 kts was confirmed at 44S 173W aimed northeast up the 217 degree path to California and 190 degree path to Hawaii. Seas had faded but then started to rebound.

On Thursday AM (4/28) the low held near 970 mbs with 40-50 kts southwest winds aimed like before, just a bit more to the east. Seas were modeled in the 27 ft range near 43S 168W. In the evening the system backed off some with winds confirmed at 40-45 kts centered at 45S 165W aimed northeast. Seas were modeled at 28-29 ft near 40S 170W. The gale was sitting in a hole between the two branches of the jetstream with not enough energy aloft to enable it to do much.

On Friday (4/29) AM winds were confirmed at 35-40 kts over a small area centered at 41S 163 aimed northeast with seas down to 26 ft at 35S 165W. This same scenario continued through Saturday night (4/30) as the gale drifted slowly east-northeast traveling on the 40S line with 30-40 kt fetch and 28 ft seas aimed continuously northeast. This system was starting to fade on Sunday (5/1) AM with winds confirmed down to 30 kts with no seas of interest to be left by Monday AM (5/2).

Of most interest was not this systems strength, but it's position very far to the north (40S) and it's long life. It was essentially a cut-off low, not know for being great swell producers. But it's position cut alot of travel distance out of the swell moving towards Tahiti, California and Hawaii, reducing swell decay. We projected that Tahiti would likely be too close to the fetch, meaning the swell would be raw, which for the most part it appeared to be. Generally poor local winds were reported consistent with what the models projected, but a break did occur on Monday (5/3) with solid size and clean conditions. Lighter southeast winds expected Wednesday (5/4) with trades returning on Thursday (5/5).

California and Hawaii to see some solid size from this system with Hawaii doing especially well.This system is the first significant class storm of the summer 2005 season mainly because of it's projected impact on Tahiti and Hawaii. There is some concern about shadowing from the Tahitian Island chain will have on swell size for California, so we've dropped our size forecast a little.

Hawaii: On Friday (5/6) swell expected at 4.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (5-6 ft faces), dropping slowly through the day. Continued but fading swell expected on Saturday (5/7) with swell initially 3 ft @ 12-13 secs and fading (3-4 ft faces, bigger at best breaks). Swell Direction: 188-192 degrees

South California: Expect swell arrival starting Friday (5/6) with period 18 secs. Swell building to 1 ft @ 17 secs near dark (2 ft faces). Swell to become more noticeable on Saturday (5/7) with swell building through the day to 2.6 ft @ 15-16 secs by sunset (4-5 ft faces). Swell to peak on Sunday (5/8) with swell 3.0-3.3 ft @ 15 secs early (4-5 ft faces). Decent size continuing on Monday early (5/9) with swell 3.0-3.3 ft @ 14 secs holding through the day (4-5 ft faces). Swell dropping on Tuesday (5/10) with swell 3 ft @ 13-14 secs and fading steady through the day (3-4 ft faces). Swell Direction: 213-217 degrees

North California: Expect swell arrival starting Friday (5/6) with period 18-19 secs. Swell building to 1 ft @ 18 secs near dark (2 ft faces). Swell to become more noticeable on Saturday (5/7) with swell building through the day to 2.6 ft @ 16 secs by sunset (3-4 ft faces with 5 ft sets). Swell to peak on Sunday (5/8) with swell 3.0-3.3 ft @ 15 secs mid-day (4-5 ft faces). Decent size to continue on Monday (5/9) with swell 3.0-3.3 ft @ 14 secs, maybe dropping late in the afternoon (4-5 ft faces). On Tuesday swell fading to 3 ft @ 13-14 secs (3-4 ft faces) and continuing down from there. Swell Direction: 210-213 degrees


California Offshore Forecast
Thursday mornings local charts (5/5) depicted the remnants of a weak low pushing over the Sierras heading towards Nevada. Weak high pressure at 1022 mbs was positioned midway between Oregon and Hawaii drifting south. Another low and it's associated weak front is forecast to push over the high and into North California on Sunday (5/8) bring some south winds maybe down to Point Conception. High pressure is to build in behind that with no other weather systems suggested.

Today's infrared satellite imagery depicted clouds associated with the Sierra low over the mountains, but clearing at the coast and offshore. Another thin group of clouds associated with the next Gulf low were midway between CA and Hawaii, presumably pushing east. QuikSCAT imagery was not available for California today. Buoy and nearshore reports indicated west to southwest winds 4-10 kts with seas 3 ft @ 14 secs. In Southern CA winds were south at 12 kts with seas 2 ft @ 13 secs.

The 5 Day local overview looks like this:

  • On Friday (5/6) light northwest winds all locations all day 5-10 kts.
  • On Saturday (5/7) light northwest winds turning southeast in North CA and northwest building to 10-15 kts in the afternoon Southern CA .
  • On Sunday (5/8) southwest winds 10 kts all day north of Pt Conception early as a new front possibly pushes in. Light winds early in Southern CA building northwest 10-15 kts late.
  • On Monday (5/9) northwest winds 10 kts early building to 15-20 kts all locations as high pressure builds.
  • On Tuesday (5/10) north to northwest winds 10 kts building to 15-20 kts+ in the afternoon.

See QuikCAST's for swell details.



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

North Pacific

Thursdays upper level models (5/5) indicate that beyond 72 hours no noteworthy troughs are forecast. A weak zonal flow is forecast with no gale producing signs indicated.

At the surface another broad but unorganized low is forecast to develop over the Kuril Islands early next week pushing slowly east. Maybe some 25 kt fetch is to be aimed towards Hawaii from the dateline mid-next week, but odds are low. The North Pacific is in hibernation.


South Pacific

Thursdays upper level models (5/5) indicated that beyond 72 hours out .cgiit pattern is to dominate, but that slowly but surely a trough is to develop under New Zealand, becoming pretty solid by late next week. This is a nice tease, but purely just a modeled outcome, and it's way too early to put any stock in it.

Another New Zealand System
At the surface Thursday AM (5/5) a new 956 mb low was developing south of New Zealand while strong high pressure at 1032 mbs was sitting just east of New Zealand forming a tight gradient between the two systems. Winds were confirmed at 50 to near 60 kts centered at 59S 166E, but they were all aimed mostly southeast towards the Ross Ice Shelf, the high pressure system having the upper hand. The same situation is to occur persist in the evening with seas building to 36 ft over a small area centered at 60S 170E.

On Friday (5/6) pressure is to drop to 952 mbs with the gradient holding producing more 50-55 kt west to southwest winds at 65S 173W blowing mostly over sea ice. 35 ft seas expected over a tiny area right off the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf pushing into it. By evening the low is to push farther east, but the high is to keep pace with it and the gradient is to ease some. Winds down to 45-50 kts centered near 65S 150W, over the Ross ice Shelf. No swell generation potential.

On Saturday AM (5/7) the low is to track further east and fade eventually pushing outside the California swell window.

The models have change from 48 hours ago, now depicting most fetch to be near the Ross Ice Shelf or over it and aimed at it, severely limiting swell generation potential. At this time the probability for any energy to push north and remain rideable is remote.


Another broad 952 mb low is forecast under Australia on Monday (5/9) tracking east generating 40-45 kts west winds aimed somewhat into the Tasman Sea. Seas forecast in the 32 ft range by Tuesday (5/10) pushing up the channel between New Zealand and Australia's east coast, but suspect most energy is to slam directly into western New Zealand. Hawaii might see some rideable energy from this system eventually (assuming it forms at all). But high pressure is to squash the storm as it tries to push east under New Zealand, with no swell producing fetch left.

No other swell producing systems forecast.

Details to follow...


Local Interest

El Nino Forecast Updated: Check out all the latest indicators to get a handle on how the Summer and Fall seasons could unfold.

Big Florida Swell: A strong gale pushed off Cape Hatteras on 4/15 generating solid seas and a 70 ft rogue wave that hit a cruise ship before proceeded south to make solid waves for the Southeast US coast. Matt Kechele was there to catch it. Take a look here:

Stormsurf Weather Models Updated Again: Yes, we've been at it again this weekend getting another batch of weather models running. Global coverage is now provided for jetstream forecasts and surface pressure and winds. Zoomed in data is also available for such locations as the Mentawai Islands to Western Australia corridor, Tahiti, South America, Europe and Norwegian Sea. So now you can get local wind forecasts for these and more locations with one click. Take a look here: - New Surf Forecast Website: Read this teaser about something new on the scene.

Ghost Tree 3/9/05: Check out the pics of Don Curry and others on Monster Swell #16 in Monterey.

SURFRIDER Web Site:  The San Mateo County Chapter of SURFRIDER can be found at:  Take a minute to visit and find out what's happening to your coast.

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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