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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: May 5, 2009 7:44 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 = 3.5 - 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 5/4 thru Sun 5/10
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   

Gulf Swell Hits West Coast
South Swell Pushing North - Otherwise the Future looks Bleak


New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)

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 Tuesday (5/5) North and Central California had 1-2 ft overhead westerly swell from the Gulf of Alaska with a fair amount of lump and light chop on top. Rain too early. Southern California had a thigh to maybe waist high version of this same swell wrapping into exposed breaks up north and a windblown mess. Surf was waist to chest high down south and a tad cleaner, but not great. Hawaii's North Shore had chest to head high surf pushing 1 ft overhead on the sets coming from the Western Gulf and clean, with trades in control. The East Shore was getting some wrap-around northwest Gulf swell to waist high at exposed breaks. The South Shore had some weak thigh high surf and clean.

The forecast for North and Central CA projects another day of westerly Gulf swell on Wednesday to 2 ft overhead , then heading down after that with local north shorter period windswell taking over through the remainder of the week and into the weekend. Southern CA is to see a fraction of this same Gulf swell providing something fun to ride through the middle of the week. Then the windswell takes over on Thursday and anything that resembles period is to be gone. Oahu's North Shore is to see fading Gulf energy on Wednesday slowly dissipating through Friday (5/8).  The East Shore is to see a fraction of the Gulf swell, but not much after Wednesday.  No real trade wind induced windswell is forecast. The South Shore is to be quiet during the workweek with no southern hemi swell forecast.   

Longterm, after the swell from the Gulf fades, virtually no other swell producing weather system are forecast. The North Pacific is to go to sleep. Down south a decent storm tracked from well south of Tahiti east towards Chile with seas to 37-39 ft on Wed-Fri (5/1), with little bit's of that swell expected into California by Friday (5/8) and continuing through the weekend. be sure and get some of this cause there's virtually nothing on the charts for the next 7days other than a decent storm pattern projected for the Tasman Sea, with 3 separate swell events  pushing energy well to the north. Hawaii might even get a fraction of this swell assuming all develops as forecast, but only after Fiji filters a good piece of energy out of it.   


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

North Pacific

On Tuesday (5/5) the North Pacific jetstream continued intact with a consolidated flow pushing flat from  off Japan east over the dateline and into Central CA. No .cgiit pattern was present. A weak trough in this flow was positioned north of Hawaii, but not really offering any odds to support low pressure formation. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold with the trough easing to the east and remaining weak and anemic, with the flow pushing over the Pacific Northwest and gradually lifting north. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to .cgiit off the Kuril Islands on Saturday (5/9) with a big ridge pushing up into the Bering Sea eventually rejoining the main flow over North California nd possibly setting up a backdoor trough there by Tuesday (5/12), though that's mostly just and early guess. If it was winter we'd say look out for a cold core snow-maker, but it's way to late in the season for that. Otherwise there's no signs of support for low pressure development over the greater North Pacific. 

At the surface weak low pressure was circulating directly over the British Columbia coast and not producing any wind/fetch of interest. Weak high pressure at 1020 mbs was just off San Diego having no real effect except to produce north winds at 20 kts over the Channel Islands and down into Baja.  Neutral pressure and normal trades were occurring over the Hawaiian Islands. Swell from previous fetch in the Gulf of Alaska was hitting California, the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii (see Gulf Gale below). Over the next 72 hours the low pressure system is to dissipate allowing the high off Southern CA to lift north and build, pushing 1032 mbs by Friday driving a solid flow of 30 kt north winds over Pt Conception and reaching north, with 25 kt north winds building up to Cape Mendocino. Short period local north windswell to be the result along the CA coast. trades to try and build in over Hawaii, but not quite making it yet.  

Gulf Gale
On Thursday low pressure system was building in the Western Gulf of Alaska with 35 kt northwest winds extending from the dateline to a point well north of Hawaii generating 23 ft seas at 45N 180W Thursday PM pushing southeast. Friday AM seas reached 25 ft at 44N 173W then moving while holding at 23 ft in the evening but covering a larger area at 42N 170W. More fetch at 35 kts developed Saturday AM (5/2) producing 23 ft seas again at 43N 168W, holding at 25 ft in the evening at 42N 160W.  23 ft seas held into Sunday AM at 41N 153W then are to be fading from 18-20 ft in the evening at 40N 148W. Residual 20 ft seas forecast into Monday AM.

Swell is hit  the US West Coast as expected starting late Sunday up in Oregon and into Central CA on Monday (5/4). The final pulse is expected on Wednesday (5/6), the best of it with swell at 5.5 ft @ 14 secs producing 7.5 ft faces from 289-290 degrees.


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


California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (5/5) fading low pressure over British Columbia was making it's final push into the northern half of Central CA, with high pressure just off San Diego ridging hard into the coast between Monterey Bay and SLO, driving an brisk north wind flow at 20 kts there wrapping into the northern half of Southern CA. More of the same is forecast Wednesday as the last of low pressure fades in the Gulf. By Thursday (5/7) high pressure is to be building fast filling the Eastern Gulf with 30 kt north winds over Pt Conception with some portion of them wrapping into Santa Barbara County and 20 kt north winds up into Cape Mendocino.  Chop is to be the name of the game. More of the same is forecast Friday with winds to 25 kts up to Cape Mendo and 20 kt north winds up into the Pacific Northwest.  Southern CA to start seeing some relief as the core of the gradient pushes north. No real change is forecast from there into next week with north wind and high pressure totally dominating the picture from the Channel Islands northward.  But Southern CA to remain mostly protected. 

No tropical activity of interest was occurring.


South Pacific

On Tuesday (5/5) the South Pacific jetstream was heavily .cgiit over the West and that .cgiit pattern was pushing east, basically filling even the California swell window. This will not contribute to the formation of surface level low pressure and, if anything, will inhibit it. Over the next 72 that .cgiit pattern is to become even more entrenched with the southern branch pushing south (ridging south) into Antarctica and holding totally shutting storm production down. A series of persistent very steep troughs are to push up into the Tasman Sea Wed (5/6) on into Sun (5/10) possibly offering some hope there, but that's it. Beyond 72 hrs there's hint that a trough may try and build under New Zealand  Mon/Tues (5/12) perhaps offering some relief, but that's purely a guess by the models. 

At the surface on Tuesday high pressure at 1036 mbs was east of New Zealand and had the South Pacific totally locked down.  No swell producing fetch of interest was occurring. Over the next 72 hours that high pressure system is to remain stationary oscillating between 1032-1036 mbs and completely eliminating low pressure development in that area. 

Of some interest is a push of energy is expected to start tracking into the Tasman Sea on Wednesday (5/6) from under Australia with 405 kt south winds fed by an upper trough forecast in that area. Seas building to 30 ft at 47S 158E. That to push up to northwest New Zealand on Thursday (5/7) with 35 kt south winds there and more 26 ft seas aimed straight at Fiji pushing up to 38S163E late. Another gale is to build in the South Tasman Sea on Friday again with 35 kt south winds pushing into the center of the Tasman Sea with a secondary fetch expected on Saturday AM (5/9) with 35 kt south winds and seas building to 32 ft at 48S 164E, pushing 36 ft at 45S 162E aimed due north at Fiji. Winds are to be fading Sunday AM off Northwestern New Zealand with seas peaking at 38 ft at 40S 161E fading from 35 ft at 36S 162E in the evening. This continues to look incredibly good for Fiji assuming it occurs.

Southeastern Pacific Gale
At the surface on Tuesday (4/28) a gale organized southeast of New Zealand and on the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. 35-40 kt southwest winds built pushing 45 kts by evening at 62S 162W. Seas on the increase. By Wednesday AM a solid fetch of 45-50 kts southwest winds were in.cgiay at 62S 145W aimed 30 degrees east of the 194 degree path to California. Seas were building from 32 ft at 62S 150W. In the evening a most solid fetch of 45-50 kt southwest winds were present at 60S 133W aimed 20 degree east of the 192 degree path to California.  Seas built to 38 ft at 60S 142W. Thursday AM the storm deepened to 948 mbs with a broad area of 40-45 kt winds at 57S 127W aimed 40 degree east of the 186 degree path to CA with seas to 39 ft at 58S 130W. That fetch faded to the 35 kt range in the evening and pushing out of the California swell window at 53S 115W aimed decent northeast. 37 ft seas were modeled at 55S 119W. On Friday (5/1) this system faded with 35-40 kt east to southeast winds pushing towards southern Chile with residual 32 ft seas at 52S 111W fading away.

Some limited sideband swell from this one is possible reaching up to exposed breaks in Southern CA. Swell is to hit Southern CA on Thurs (5/7) late with swell 2 ft @ 19-20 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) from 190 degrees Friday swell to reach near 3.0 ft @ 18 secs (5 ft faces at top spots) from 188 degree. More is expected in on Saturday at 2.6-3.0 ft @ 16 secs (4.5-5.0 ft faces) then fade on Sunday from 2.3 ft @ 14 secs (3.0 ft faces).

Swell is to hit Northern CA on Fri (5/8) with swell 2.3 ft @ 18 secs (4 ft faces) from 188 degree. Swell to peak on Saturday at 2.3-2.6 ft @ 16 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) then fade on Sunday from 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5 ft faces).


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 high pressure at 1028 mbs is to lock down the Northeast Pacific for the next 5 days (5/7-5/12) producing 25-30 kt north winds centered mainly off Pt Conception but having impacts as far north as the Oregon border and generating consistent short to moderate period local north windswell.  Trades are to try and kick up targeting Hawaii, but are no not quite reach the Islands.  A broad cutoff low is forecast forming 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii on Monday (5/11) but all fetch is to be aimed to the west, completely bypassing any path into the Islands.  No swell to result. 


MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (5/5) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was past the peak of the Active Phase with the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index starting to rise. The Daily SOI index was up some to 9.75, with 9 previous days in a row of negative readings (after 26 days of positive values). The 30 day average was up a tad to  6.44 and the 90 day average was down to 6.02 (the lowest in 6+ moths but still not negative). The SOI indicies remained weakly symptomatic of La Nina mainly attributable to the 90 day average but were trending more towards neutral. Wind anomalies at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated that the Active Phase had peaked out weaker westerly anomalies still covering the entire equatorial Western Pacific to the dateline and into Central America, but fading. It is to be weakening more as it tracks east but still filling the Pacific on 5/9 and then heading east but having lingering effects over the Eastern Pacific through 5/14.  A new version of the Inactive Phase is building in the Indian Ocean, expected to be weak as it moves east, limping to the dateline by 5/12-5/19, and nearly gone by 5/24 with nothing reaching the Eastern Pacific. The residual effects of 3 years of La Nina are still trying to control  the atmosphere, though much weaker than in weeks and months past. Cooler than normal surface water off of Central America are gone with slightly warmer than normal waters temps reported. And below the surface on the equator, cool water that had locked down the region are gone, the first time in months, with a steady flow of normal subsurface water tracking from the West Pacific over the dateline and then breaking the surface near Central America with warmer water starting to pool up there. So now we are waiting to see if this current episode of the Active Phase will pump more warm waters of the West Pacific eastward, kicking us into a building warm regime in the equatorial Eastern Pacific. There continue to be evidence of a Westerly Wind Burst occurring on the dateline 5/3-5/5, but we'll have to wait to see if that results in a transport of warm subsurface waters pushing east.  And the models are depicting a moment of consolidated jetstream pattern occurring over the North Pacific, a early sign of recovery (if it holds). Still months of high pressure off California and stiff north winds there turning trades over Hawaii has resulted in a huge cool tongue of water extending from Central CA the whole way over Hawaii to the dateline generating massive upwelling. That is starting to moderate some, but not entirely. We had expected 1-2 more months of high pressure before a possible neutral pattern takes hold (i.e. no .cgiit in the jetstream over the North Pacific - warmer waters off California). But that might be healing even earlier than expected. . 


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the models suggest no additional swell development in the South Pacific with high pressure totally in control and not moving one inch. A series of 2 gales are forecast in the deep South Pacific mainly over ice, but might help to dislodge the high starting Tues (5/12), but that is far from guaranteed.  

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

Rebuild Jeff Clark: Jeff Clark the first pioneer of Mavericks, recently underwent hip resurfacing surgery due to severe pain from deterioration of his hip. Needless to say the procedure is very expensive and his insurance only covers tiny portion of the bill. If you're interested in learning about the procedure or would like to donate to help Jeff out,.cgiease take a look here:

Half Moon Bay Surf Club, "A Luau for the Waveriders", May 16th, Seacrest School Half Moon Bay
The Half Moon Bay Surf Club is hosting its annual fundraiser on May 16 at 6:00. The club consists of students from 6th Grade - High School who compete in the Interscholastic Surfing Federation against schools along the central coast. This is the primary fundraiser for 2009 and your smile would add to the rich gathering of friends. The location is Seacrest School, 901 Arnold Way, HMB. Tickets are $40 for adults ($50 after May 9th) and Kids 2-12 are $25. Music entertainment is by Blame It On The Dog. There will be lots of prizes, a silent auction and a raffle. Several surprise guest appearances and a few bonus prizes may find their way in through the doors. Please contact Tracy at 650-712-1242 for tickets. 

North California Surf Report Works Again: After an extended downtime we finally got the North California Surf Report working again. Thanks for your patience. See it here:

Shark Video: Our friend Curt Myers of Powerlines productions shot this footage of 2 great whites munching on a whale carcass off Devils Slide (south of San Francisco) on Thursday. Kind of interesting to watch. Check it here: (Fixed link)

Wave Model Upgrade Status Report: At this point we believe the installation of the new wave models is complete, with no problems being reported, the server stabilizing and the much requested return of the old style hemispheric Surf Height models now operational (again) and running side-by-side along the new ones. We thank you for your patience and input as we went though this process.  Your feedback helps guide our efforts and ultimately results in a better product for everyone.  Now we're off to start providing better menus to some wave model products most of you probably haven't uncovered yet (site specific graph and text forecasts), updateing the wave model FAQs and then upgrading the Weather Models.  

New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.

Stormsurf Wave Models Updated: On Friday (2/6) we installed the latest upgrade to our wavemodels. A year in the works, this upgrade essentially is a total re-write of every wave model product we produce. They now take advantage of the new Version 3 of the Wavewatch wavemodel. This version runs at a much higher resolution, specifically 0.0 X 0.5 degrees for the global grib with local products at 0.1667 X 0.1667 degrees, and it uses the hi-res GFS model for wind speeds. And of even more interest, the model now identifies primary swell and windwave variables. As such we now have new model images which displays this data. Also we've included out special 3D topographic land masks into all models. In all it makes for a radical step forward in wave model technology. We'll be upgrading minor components (FAQ, new menu pages etc) for a few weeks to come, but all the basics are available for your use now. Check it out here:

Story About Stormsurf: The folks at SurfPulse (and specifically author Mike Wallace) have written up a really nice article about Stormsurf, complete with some good pics. Learn about how we came to be and a little of where we are going. Check it out here:

Stormsurf Video: Just for fun - here's a clip about Stormsurf that ran on Bay Area TV a while back. Thought you might enjoy it:

The Kelly Slater Project - A group of dedicated surfers from Cocoa Beach are working to construct a statue of the the home town legend and set it up for all to enjoy near the break where Kelly grew up surfing. Take a look at the statue and read all about it here:

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.

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:

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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