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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: May 7, 2009 9:51 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   

South Swell Starting to Show in CA
Calm Pacific Weather Pattern Longterm


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 Thursday (5/7) North and Central California had 2 ft overhead northwest local windswell with fading Gulf swell underneath.  Northwest winds were making a mess of things too. Southern California had a waist to chest high northwest windswell with Gulf swell intermixed up north and heavily textured up north. Surf further south was chest high pushing head high on the sets and cleaner, but still warbled. Hawaii's North Shore had chest to head high surf  on the sets coming from the Western Gulf and pretty clean with light trades blowing. The East Shore was getting some wrap-around northwest Gulf swell to waist high at exposed breaks. The South Shore was near flat with sideshore trades blowing making it textured.

The forecast for North and Central CA suggests that local north short period windswell is becoming the name of the game for the next week. Waves from shoulder high or better are expected over the duration, but with north winds on it at exposed breaks. Southern CA is to see a fraction of this same north windswell through coming week with southwest eddy winds building in by the weekend and holding. Southern  hemi swell to move in for the weekend (more below). Oahu's North Shore is to see things move into the flat zone by the weekend and stay there for the foreseeable future. The East Shore is to see the wrap-around Gulf swell fade out on Friday.  Low odds for limited trade wind induced windswell over the weekend is possible, but dying after that. The South Shore is to see a little background southern hemi swell for the weekend (waist high), then fading out.   

Longterm virtually no swell producing weather system are forecast over the North Pacific. Summer is upon us. 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. Take this for all it's worth cause there's  nothing on the charts for the SPac for the next 7days.  The only exception is a decent storm pattern that started Wed (5/6) in the Tasman Sea, with 3 separate swell events forecast to   push energy well to the north through Tues (5/12). Hawaii might even get a fraction of this swell late next week assuming all develops as forecast, but only after Fiji takes a good slice out of it.   


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

North Pacific

On Thursday (5/7) the North Pacific jetstream was starting to .cgiit some in the west, but continued intact from the dateline eastward with a consolidated flow pushing from the dateline north of Hawaii with a weak trough there then on into the Pacific Northwest.  Wind speeds were light at 90 kts and not offering any odds to support low pressure formation. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold but with a ridge peeling off the main flow off Japan and pushing hard north into the Bering Sea, then crashing back into the main flow north of Hawaii, further hindering low pressure development. Beyond 72 hours the main flow is to continue but with a persistent ridge arching up into the Bering Sea stealing energy from the main flow and basically shutting surface level low pressure development down over the greater North Pacific. 

At the surface high pressure at 1028 mbs was building over the Eastern Pacific forming the usual summer time pressure gradient along the California coast and starting to generate north winds and short period local north windswell centered on Pt Conception but affecting waters from Cape Mendocino south into Central Baja. Some form of weak to moderate high pressure was in control of the Pacific from the dateline eastward, with only weak and non-productive low pressure isolated to the area  near Kamchatka.  Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast and if anything high pressure is to get better established in the Gulf of Alaska, continuing the lock down and eliminating swell generation potential. Summer has arrived. 


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


California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (5/7) high pressure was building fast over the Eastern Gulf of Alaska with 30 kt north winds centered over Pt Conception with some portion of them pushing down into Baja and originating up into Cape Mendocino.  Chop was the name of the game. More of the same is forecast Friday and through the weekend with 25 kt north winds extending from up in Cape Mendo  southward over the Channel Islands.  Southern CA to be mostly protected from the bulk of this (other than maybe Santa Barbara Co).  The core of the gradient is to try and push north over the weekend,  but get shunted back south on Monday (5/11) as weak low pressure pushes into the Pacific Northwest, only serving to fuel a strong gradient after it gets inland with 25 kt northwest winds extending from the Pacific northwest down to the Channel Islands on Tuesday. No real change is forecast well into the end of next week with north wind and high pressure totally dominating the California picture, with the core of the gradient remaining south off Central CA.  Southern CA to remain mostly protected. 

No tropical activity of interest was occurring.


South Pacific

On Thursday (5/7) the South Pacific jetstream was heavily .cgiit over most of it's width with a ridge in the southern branch pushing down over the Ross Ice Shelf and totally shutting off surface level low pressure production. But a steep trough was pushing up into the Tasman Sea, possibly helping low pressure development there. Over the next 72 that .cgiit pattern is to become even more entrenched with the southern branch ridging south into Antarctica and continuing to totally shut down surface level low pressure development. The trough is to hold in the Tasman Sea into Sun (5/10) possibly offering more hope there, but that's it. Beyond 72 hrs the .cgiit pattern is to continue if not get strong and now encompassing the Tasman Sea too.  No immediate hope indicated. 

At the surface on Thursday high pressure at 1036 mbs was well east of New Zealand in the middle of the South Pacific and totally locking things down.  No swell producing fetch 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 35 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 30-35 kt south winds there and more 23 ft seas aimed straight at Fiji pushing up to 25 ft at 37S 162E late and to 33S 165E Friday AM. 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 45 kt south winds and seas building to 25 ft at 43S 161E, pushing 30 ft in the evening at 40S 162E aimed due north at Fiji. Winds to hold Sunday AM with 35 ft seas forecast at 44S 163E peaking at 38 ft in the evening at 42S 162E. Winds are to be fading Monday AM (5/11) off Northwestern New Zealand with seas at 37 ft at 36S 166E fading from 32 ft at 33S 168E in the evening a mere 900 nmiles from Fiji. This continues to look incredibly good for Fiji, with some potential for Hawaii assuming it all occurs as forecast.

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 remain locked down the Northeast Pacific.  Of remote interest is a broad cutoff low is forecast forming 900 nmiles north of Hawaii on Monday (5/11) but most  fetch is to be aimed to the west, bypassing any path into the Islands. Recent runs of the models suggest late Monday and into Tuesday limited 35 kt northwest winds might wrap into the lows west and south quadrants perhaps generating seas of 16 and 19 ft respectively pushing towards the Islands and even the US West Coast, then fading on Wednesday (5/13) with winds dropping to 25 kts. The low is to dissipate in the Gulf on Thursday. Low odds for any swell to result.  A return to a high pressure regime is expected to follow.  


MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Thursday (5/7) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was past the peak of the Active Phase with the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index likely bottomed out. The Daily SOI index was down to -17.52, with 12 previous days in a row of near negative readings (after 26 days of positive values). The 30 day average was down to 4.91 and the 90 day average was down to 5.3 (the lowest in 6+ moths but still not negative). The SOI indicies remained weakly symptomatic of La Nina (regardless of what NOAA indicates) 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 having lingering effects over the Eastern Pacific through 5/16.  A new version of the Inactive Phase is queued up in the Indian Ocean, expected to be weak as it moves east, not even making it intact to around 5/21, and nearly gone by 5/26 with nothing reaching the Eastern Pacific. The residual effects of 3 years of La Nina are effectively gone over the ocean, and fading fast in the atmosphere. 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). Months of high pressure off California and stiff north winds there turning trades over Hawaii had resulted in a huge cool tongue of water extending from Central CA the whole way over Hawaii to the dateline which generated massive upwelling. Now even that is quickly  moderating, but not entirely gone. 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 that high pressure in the central South Pacific is to break down some, but not totally, and offering no swell development potential for the region.

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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