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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: May 7, 2005 9:40 AM
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   

South Hemi Swell Starts Hitting California
Nothing Behind It


On Saturday (5/7) Northern CA surf was waist to chest high. South facing breaks were waist to chest high too with more south in the mix. Central California was waist to chest high and clean early. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were about waist high with maybe a bit more at the best spots. The LA area southward into Orange County was waist high with maybe chest high sets. Southward to San Diego waves were waist high with bigger sets. The North Shore of Oahu was waist to chest high and maybe a little more. The South Shore was waist to chest high. The East Shore was flat.

Little energy from the southern hemisphere was working it's way into California breaks with the same swell fading in Hawaii. Size to be building steadily through the day Saturday on the mainland getting decent by sunset while this same swell should be nearly gone on the rock. Looking further out there was a solid storm under New Zealand on Thursday, but all it's fetch was aimed towards Antarctica and Chile. Little hope here. Another is forecast for this area the middle of next week. Things aren't looking real promising. See details below...


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

North Pacific

On Saturday (5/7) the jetstream remained weak but still trying with a trough pushing over California early and a stronger one over the dateline (animation here). Over the next 72 hours through Tuesday (5/10) another trough is to develop in the Gulf of Alaska pushing over North California while the dateline trough moderates and moves in to the Gulf. No real energy is to be associated with either through.

At the surface today a weak 996 mb low was over the dateline pushing east with 25-30 kts northwest winds aimed well at Hawaii. This is to continue into Sunday (5/8) then fade in the Northern Gulf (animation here). This is good for another pulse of 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 Saturday (5/7) the jetstream in the South Pacific continued in a .cgiit jet pattern in the west, hampering storm development there, but was consolidated off South America with good energy in.cgiay with winds 160 kts (animation here). Over the next 72 hours through Tuesday (5/10) no big change is forecast with the .cgiit pattern continuing and pushing further east. A bit of a trough is forecast to try and set up under New Zealand but not much energy is to be there to support it.

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 to see some solid size from this system.This 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.

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


Another New Zealand System
On Thursday AM (5/5) a new 956 mb low developed 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 occurred in the evening with seas building to 40 ft late over a small area centered at 63S 177E.

On Friday (5/6) pressure dropped to 952 mbs with the gradient holding producing more 50-55 kt west to southwest winds at 65S 173W blowing mostly over sea ice. 32 ft seas were over a tiny area right off the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf at 65S 170W. By evening the low pushed farther east, but the high kept pace with it and the gradient eased some. Winds down to 45-50 kts centered near 65S 150W, all over the Ross ice Shelf. No seas were being produced. Swell generation potential was over.

On Saturday AM (5/7) the low tracked further east and was starting to reemerge from the Ice, getting some traction on the oceans surface. But it was pretty far east, moving towards the eastern edge of the US swell window. Maybe some energy eventually for South America.

Based on confirmed data to date, it looks like the vast majority of the fetch is this system was aimed too far south towards Antarctica and too far away from the US to have much hope of producing any decent swell. Background energy might make it up towards Hawaii, but even that is wishful thinking. At this time we suspect no swell of interest will result.


California Offshore Forecast
Saturday mornings local charts (5/7) depicted high pressure at 1022 mbs north of Hawaii ridging east to South California while low pressure at 1004 mbs was in the Gulf of Alaska pushing southeast with a front extending south, off the California coast. This is to be the major weather producer for the coming days. The front is to push into Northern CA as far south as Monterey Bay on Sunday producing a bit of a south winds event with rain (bad for the southern hemi swell hitting at the same time) while the core of the low tracks towards the coast. The low is to push into south Oregon early Monday (5/9) producing rain as far south as Southern CA while the high north of Hawaii tracks east, forming a bit or a gradient between the two systems. By Tuesday (5/10) high pressure is to take over with clearing skies forecast.

Today's infrared satellite imagery depicted only the faintest wisps of clouds associated with the Gulf low, but certainly nothing indicative of even a rain event. QuikSCAT imagery indicated northwest winds 5-10 kts in the north but up to 15 kts further south near Pt Conception. Southern Ca was imaged with light northwest winds nearshore, but up to 10 kts over the Channel Islands. Buoy and nearshore reports indicated northwest winds 10 kts or less with seas 3-5 ft @ 8 & 17 secs. In Southern CA winds were north at 6 kts with seas 5 ft @ 6 secs.

The 5 Day local overview looks like this:

  • On Sunday (5/8) southwest winds 10-15 kts all day north of Pt Conception as a front pushes in. Light winds early in Southern CA building northwest 10-15 kts late.
  • On Monday (5/9) northwest winds 10-20 kts early north but light in the south. Northwest winds 10-15 kts in the afternoon all locations as high pressure builds.
  • On Tuesday (5/10) north to northwest winds 10 kts building to 15-20 kts+ in the afternoon.
  • On Wednesday (5/11) north to northwest winds 20 kts + all day as high pressure sits off the coast.
  • On Thursday (5/12) northwest winds 15-20 kts all day expect Southern CA with calm winds early building northwest 10-15 kts in the afternoon.

See QuikCAST's for swell details.



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

North Pacific

Saturdays upper level models (5/7) indicate that beyond 72 hours the trough in the Gulf is to build a little through Wednesday (5/11) before pinching off. Behind it the jet is to go zonal (flat) but be stronger with winds up to 150 kts over the dateline eventually pushing into the Gulf of Alaska. No storm support projected though.

At the surface another broad but unorganized low is forecast to develop over the Kuril Islands on Wednesday (5/11) with 35-40 kt winds aimed at Hawaii. But this system is to get pulled apart as it track rapidly east, maybe reorganizing in the Gulf late next week into the weekend. Odds of that happening are low though.


South Pacific

Saturdays upper level models (5/7) indicated that beyond 72 hours the .cgiit pattern is to dominate, with the trough under New Zealand building some and drifting east through late next week. This is good. But a strong upper level ridge is to set up in the northern branch of the jet over the Central South Pacific which is not good. This looks to have the tendency to push whatever fetch is generated in the trough south towards Antarctica. Let's see what the surface models say.

At the surface high pressure is to have the upper hand under Tahiti at 1028 mbs. The affects of the jetstream are to be apparent in the storm track too, with everything migrating under New Zealand getting shunted south towards Antarctica.


New Zealand Storm
Of most interest is a 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. It is to hold into Tuesday (5/10) with 35 to near 45 kt southwest winds pushing up into the Tasman Sea but with enough southerly angle to likely push swell up the channel towards Hawaii. Seas forecast in the 32 ft range by Monday AM (5/9) pushing up the channel between New Zealand and Australia's east coast, but suspect most energy is to slam directly into western New Zealand. 35 ft seas projected by the evening then to 34 ft but aimed better up the channel by Tuesday AM (5/10). A rapid fade is expected thereafter as the storm dies, pushed south by strong high pressure and a poor jetstream flow east of New Zealand.

This system is to be best positioned for Hawaii, but there is serious doubts as to how much energy will actually reach the Islands due to blockage from Fiji. Is is sitting right in the middle of the swell window to Hawaii.


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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