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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: May 4, 2006 10:05 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 5/1 thru Sun 5/7
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 Pushing Towards CA
One Last Gale for the North Pacific


On Thursday (5/4) Northern CA surf was waist to chest high and junky. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were near flat with thigh high sets. Central California surf was up to waist high in the Morro Bay area and clean. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were near flat. 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 chest to head high. The North Shore of Oahu was near flat. The South Shore was waist high but top spots were pulling in head high sets. The East Shore was thigh to waist high.

Swell #1S has peaked out in Hawaii, showing there a bit smaller than anticipated, and is now tracking towards California, the first significant class southern hemi swell of the summer season. Fun sized surf expected, but not anything to get too excited about. Otherwise North and Central California to continue on a steady trend of northern windswell from the Cape Mendocino area, down over the weekend but then on the upswing next week. Also some very modest windswell from the Gulf of Alaska is possible for California and Hawaii. High pressure near New Zealand to retain a lock on the South Pacific with no swell producing fetch suggested. Make the most of Swell #1S and the Gulf pulses while they're here. See details below...



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

North Pacific

Thursdays jetstream charts (5/4) indicated a broad trough (dip) off the Kuril Islands with 170 kt winds flowing up it's east side touching Aleutians Islands just west of Alaska then flowing into the faintest hint of a trough in the northern Gulf of Alaska. The Kuril trough looks capable of supporting surface level low pressure. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (5/7) that trough to rapidly fade while tracking northeast push into the western Gulf of Alaska Saturday with no energy of interest left. At the same time another trough is to push off Kamchatka tracking east with 130 kt winds flowing under it. Some support for surface level development possible. Beyond 72 hours that second trough is to fade out as it pushes into the Gulf of Alaska Monday (5/8) with a very weak jetstream flow to follow and no indication of any support for surface level low pressure development.

At the surface on Thursday (5/4) moderate high pressure at 1024 mbs stretched from just off North California to the dateline centered north of Hawaii, while a second high at 1024 mbs was just off Japan. Faint remnants of a fading low were present in the northeastern Gulf of Alaska while a second broader gale low was over the dateline at 980 mbs (details below). Other than these two systems, no obvious macro-level swell producing fetch was indicated. 20-25 kt north winds persisted off Cape Mendocino generated by the usual summertime pressure gradient there generating small weak windswell for the North and Central CA coast.

Over the next 72 hours another 1000 mb low is forecast to push off the Kuril's reaching the dateline by Sunday (5/7), but no swell producing fetch is expected to result. Otherwise high pressure is to rule supreme covering the greater part of the North Pacific at 1024-1028 mbs.

The Cape Mendocino gradient to surge just a little by Saturday (5/6) with north winds rebuilding to 25-30 kts, improving the potential for windswell along the North and Central CA coasts, but period to remain short.

Two lows of minor interest developed in the north most Pacific Ocean late Tuesday (5/2), one in the Gulf of Alaska and the other just west of the dateline, both tracking east. They built to the 984 mbs range Wednesday (5/3) while tracking east with winds briefly hitting the 40 kt range over a tiny area for the one in the Gulf aimed generally east towards Canada and the Pacific Northwest while the dateline low did the same thing into Thursday AM (5/4) with winds pushing near 45 kts but again over a tiny area. The issue is winds in both system held for only about 12 hours (24 hours for the second one) aimed almost due east, limiting swell generation capacity and targeting areas mostly north of Hawaii and California. 22 ft seas were modeled from the Gulf low late Wed/Thurs AM and 25 ft seas forecast for the dateline low late Thurs-Sat AM pushing into the Gulf. Most of this energy to bypass Hawaii with swell only 3 ft @ 10 secs (2-3 ft faces) Friday 5/5 and 3.1 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces) Monday 5/8. North CA to see small swell starting late Saturday into Sunday at 3.4 ft @ 13 secs swell (4.0-4.5 ft faces) with a slightly larger pulse possible Tuesday (5/9) at 3.7 ft @ 13 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces) but both to be buried in local windswell.


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


California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (5/4) high pressure remained the dominant force in the Northeastern Pacific though expected to back off over the weekend. This to result in a decreased northwesterly flow over offshore waters of North and Central CA (south of Pt Reyes) especially by Friday evening. South eddy flow winds forecast for all of CA Friday. But by Saturday more high pressure to be moving east and centered further south generating northwesterly winds north of Pt Conception and slowly building, with pronounced buildup starting Tuesday of next week with winds 35-40 kts again off Cape Mendocino through Wednesday. Larger windswell expected then. Southerly eddy flow to continue in South CA through the weekend and into next week but north of Pt Conception a northwesterly flow to prevail, light in the mornings and coming on near noontime each day.

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


South Pacific

On Thursday (5/4) the jetstream continued ridging strongly south of New Zealand nearly over Antarctica with no change expected through the weekend into next week and if anything building eastward and 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 mid-next week. No clear signs of surface level gale development suggested aloft.

At the surface on Thursday (5/4) strong high pressure was in control of the Southwestern Pacific centered east of New Zealand at 1028 mbs riding south to nearly Antarctica completely blocking the storm corridor there between the Indian Ocean and the Southwest Pacific. A 956 mb low was in the far Southeastern Pacific generating a small fetch of 40-45 kt winds aimed north towards California with a tiny area of 29 ft seas suggested by late Thursday into mid-Friday (5/5), but not enough o generate any noteworthy swell.

Over the next 72 hours the current high pressure center east of New Zealand to track east to the Central South Pacific and hold it's strength while a new high at 1024 mbs builds over New Zealand, destin to move east and reinforce the blockade. No swell producing gale or storm systems forecast.

A decent 956 mb storm has been tracking under South Australia the past few days and was south of Tasmania Thursday AM (5/4) still producing 55-60 kt west to southwest winds aimed towards New Zealand while generating 40 ft seas at 48S 140E and just moving into the Hawaiian swell window. This low to start fading fast overnight and into Friday while diving south as it starts encountering strong high pressure in the Southwestern Pacific, expected to be gone by mid-Friday. Some energy will likely track north into Fiji, but those islands should sufficiently shadow the swell so that little to no energy will track beyond it towards Hawaii. Next to no swell generation potential for Hawaii.


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: 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) starting to peak at 4.3 ft @ 16 secs by sunset (6.5-7.0 ft faces and up to 9 ft at top spots). Swell to hold into early Saturday AM (5/6) at 4.3 ft @ 16 secs fading to 15 secs through the day (6.5-7.0 ft faces and up to 8 ft at top spots). Solid size expected to continue Sunday but filtering down, starting at 4.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.5-6.0 ft faces). Swell 3.6 ft @ 14 secs (4.5-5.0 ft faces) Monday AM and fading. 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 4.0 ft @ 17 secs by sunset (6.0-6.5 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 3.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.0-5.5 ft faces). swell fading Monday from 3 ft @ 13-14 secs (4 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 one more weak low is charted pushing off the Kuril Islands Wednesday (5/10) tracking east to the dateline, but no swell producing fetch is indicated.

The Cape Mendocino gradient will become more active starting late Monday (5/8) as high pressure builds off the CA coast then at 1032 mbs, with north winds reaching 30-35 kts, enough for sizeable but junky windswell fading by Thursday.

Otherwise no swell producing fetch suggested for the North Pacific.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours high pressure at 1024 mbs is to continue holding control of waters southeast of New Zealand, 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.

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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