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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: May 11, 2010 8:34 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 = 3.0 - California & 1.0 - 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 5/10 thru Sun 5/16
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   

Smaller Windswell for CA
Southern Hemi Swell Coming for the Weekend


New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)

Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead). Summer - Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft) Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft). Summer - Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs. Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

On Tuesday (5/9) North and Central California was getting some decent windswell from a gale that was off the coast the day before, with waves 3 ft overhead and heavily textured. Southern California was getting local northerly windswell with surf thigh high and blown to bits both north and south. Hawaii's North Shore was flat. The East Shore was getting chest high east windswell and chopped. The South Shore had some thigh high tradewind generated sets and clean. 

The forecast for North and Central CA is for slowly fading northwest windswell at head high on Wednesday then fading to shoulder high Thursday and holding into Friday with a little more period. Waist high pulse windswell to continue through the weekend with southern hemi swell 1 ft overhead Sat and head high Sunday.  Southern California is to see thigh high north windswell Wednesday and Thursday fading Friday while new southern hemi swell moves in Friday at 1 ft overhead holding on Saturday then fading from head high Sunday. The North Shore of Oahu is to see a little pulse of dateline windswell at waist to maybe chest high Wednesday holding into Thursday then dropping out. The East Shore to see east tradewind generated windswell at chest high Wednesday and building to head high for Thursday and Friday, then settling down to chest high for the weekend. The South Shore is to remain flat through the weekend. 

The models are hinting a some more local gale activity off Oregon by Sunday, with 30-35 kt northwest winds aimed well at the Central CA coast. Maybe some 12-13 sec period swell to result. And a bigger/stronger gale is forecast behind on Wed (5/19) with 45 kts winds, but that is an awful reach at this early date. Tradewind generated east windswell the best hope for Hawaii. Down south a gale developed in the far Southeastern Pacific Fri (5/7) with up to 38 ft seas with some southern hemi energy now expected to push north reaching CA for the weekend. More is forecast behind that too with another smaller gale forecast pushing northeast off New Zealand on Tues/Wed (5/12) with 30 ft seas and possible swell for Hawaii and the US West Coast, followed by a strong system in the deep southeast Pacific on Fri-Sun (5/16) with seas in excess of 40 ft and aimed well to the north. Possible larger swell if one is to believe the models. 


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

North Pacific

On Tuesday (5/11) the North Pacific jet was meandering east over the 38-42 N latitudes, tracking northeast from Japan. Energy levels remained weak.  A small trough was in the Gulf of Alaska and offered no signs of supporting gale development at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is expected to hold with some energy building west of the dateline and starting to work it's way east. Beyond 72 hours a fairly energetic trough is forecast forming just off Japan on Fri (5/14) with 170 kt winds developing east of there building into a ridge over the dateline and then falling into a decent sized trough off the US West Coast Sat/Sun (5/16) providing decent odds for gale development there if all goes as.cgianned.  this trough to push into Central CA on Tues (5/18).   

At the surface on Tuesday (5/11) high pressure at 1028 mbs was positioned just 700 nmiles off the Central CA coast with weak low pressure inland producing a modest pressure gradient over coastal waters and generating 20-25 kt north winds and slightly enhanced windswell.  The high was also generating trades at near 20 kts pushing up to but not over the Hawaiian Islands, producing east short period windswell there. A broad but landlocked area of low pressure was over the Eastern Aleutian Islands offering no swell producing fetch. Over the next 72 hours the gradient and high pressure are to hold off the CA coast generating more 20-25 kts northwest winds and producing localized short period windswell into Thursday, then dropping out on Friday. Trades to continue over Hawaii with limited east windswell resulting.


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


California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (5/11) high pressure was building in behind a low that moved over the coast late Monday with north winds back to 25 kts over outer waters (less nearshore) and focused really on Southern CA. These winds are expected to hold in the 25 kt range Wednesday but focused more on Central/North CA  with light winds in Southern CA taking hold, then steadily fading up north through the day Thursday (5/13). Wind is to be dropping from 15 kts over outer Central CA waters on Friday and down to 10-15 kts Saturday with and even lighter wind regime expected by Sunday courtesy of low pressure forming off the North CA coast. A full on cold front is forecast by Monday with south winds again in the picture down to Morro Bay then fading fast Tuesday with light winds expected.  A stronger gale is forecast behind that.  


South Pacific

On Tuesday (5/11) a gale was tracking southeast of New Zealand.  It formed under New Zealand on Mon (5/10) with a small area of 40 kt west-southwest winds producing 30 ft seas. By Tuesday AM the gale was taking a more northeasterly track but with only 35 kt winds at 50S 160W resulting in 30 ft seas at 49S 160W.  In the evening 35-40 kt south winds are forecast at 43S 157W and pushing even more to the northeast with up to 32 ft seas forecast at 45S 156W on the 203 degree track to California and in the middle of the Tahitian swell shadow relative to CA. The gale is to be fading and tracking even better to the north on Wed AM with a small area of 35 kt winds and barely 30 ft seas at 42S 151W pushing up the same heading relative to CA and shadowed. Given the weak wind speeds, the 30 ft sea estimate put forth by the models seems like a best case scenario. Still some degree of limited support for small scale swell is possible in CA. But Hawaii looks to be better positioned, with energy pushing unshadowed up the 180-185 degree tracks. And Tahiti will do even better, especially considering the close proximity of this system (1400 nmiles out). Will monitor. Over the next 72 hours no additional swell producing fetch is forecast.  


Southeast Pacific Gale
Previously a gale organized, winding up in the far Southeast Pacific late Thurs (5/6) tracking east-northeast resulting in a fetch of 45 kts southwest winds on Thurs PM at 52S 137W aimed 35 degrees east of the 189 degree path to California with seas 35 ft at 52S 138W. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over this area and confirmed a 15 reading average of 30.5 ft with one reading to 35.8 ft, lower than what the model suggested. On Friday AM fetch held with 40 ft with seas modeled peaking at 51S 128W. 36 ft seas were fading Fri PM at 47S 123W. 

The models looked pretty good on this one, but there was no confirmation that the 40 ft seas forecast actually materialized. And if anything, the limited confirmed data available suggested something less. Still, it appears that some degree of decent swell might radiate north into California, though most energy is to be focused on Central America down into South America. The forecasts below are using the modeled data,.but are likely on the high side (optimistic)

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Friday (5/14) with swell to 3.3 ft @ 18 secs late (6 ft faces with top spots to 7.5 ft). Swell to continue decent on Sat (5/15) with pure swell 3.3 ft @ 16 secs (5.0 ft faces with top spots to 7 ft). Swell to be dropping on Sunday from 3.0 ft @ 15 secs early (4.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 186-189 degrees

Northern CA: Expect swell arrival Friday afternoon (5/14) with swell to 3.0 ft @ 19 secs late (5.5 ft faces with top spots to 7.0 ft). Swell to continue decent on Sat (5/15) with pure swell 3.3 ft @ 18 secs (6.0 ft faces with top spots to 7.5 ft). Swell to be dropping on Sunday from 3.0 ft @ 16 secs early (5 ft faces with top spots to 6 ft). Swell Direction: 183-186 degrees

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 hrs high pressure to fade off California Friday (5/14) with another weak low pressure system setting up in the Eastern Gulf and building into Sunday (5/16). Winds to reach 30-35 kts Monday AM at 42N 135W aimed well at the Central CA coast and possibly setting up 12-13 sec period windswell for Tues or so if one is to believe the models (very risky at this early date).  That gale is to move into Washington on Tuesday while a far stronger gale wraps up in the same area with 45 kt northwest winds forecast at 43N 142W Tuesday evening.   Larger swell possible, but again odds are very low at this early date. At least there's something to monitor. with the supposed proliferation of low pressure near the Hawaiian Islands, trades to settle down some and windswell to back off along the East Shore. 

MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (5/11) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was raising some. The daily SOI was at 9.21.  The 30 day average was stable at 9.21 with the 90 day average up to 1.38.  A massive upward trend started in early March, peaked at the end of April, and is now loosing ground. This looks like the transition from El Nino to a neutral state.  

Wind anomalies at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models suggest moderate easterly anomalies filling the entire equatorial Pacific basin, indicating the Inactive Phase is still in control. It is scheduled to push hard east into 5/15 and be exiting over Central America 5/20. This signals the end of El Nino and eliminates any support for gale development. The Active Phase is forecast brewing behind it, and is fairly strong in the Indian Ocean as of 5/10.  It is to reach the dateline on 5/15-5/20, then slowly fading while pushing east towards Central America on 5/30. 

At this point we belie that El Nino will not hang on for another year, and that rather we'll fall back into at least a neutral pattern if not a La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control). Of other interest will be whether the Iceland Volcano will spew enough high level fine particle dust and aerosols into the atmosphere to produce a reflective effect, dropping surface temperature and pushing us into a multi-year La Nina.  This is a very real concern.  

Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (5/9) indicated no dramatic change from previous weeks, with warmer than normal waters consolidated on the equator with a new pocket of warmer water off Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, fading some south of Hawaii and then regrouping the in the West Pacific. A massive buildup of warmer than normal waters is occurring in the Atlantic, of concern to hurricane forecasters there. We'll see if upper level winds support development of hurricane activity though. Suspect residual upper level shear from El Nino will have an impact well into the summer there.

Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present and if anything colder than normal water was building over the dateline and pushing east. Not good.. 

Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to almost the Philippines, but only in the normal range. This looks like the normal Springtime transition typical for this time of the year. 

El Nino is effectively gone and slowly loosing it's grip on the global atmospheric weather pattern. Still some lingering impact is to continue into the Summer of 2010 enhancing the storm track in the South Pacific some. A slow transition to a normal state is expected through Nov 2010. 

See more details in the new  El Nino update.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the models indicate another broad and decent strength gale is to form in the deep Central Pacific on Thursday AM (4/13) with 45 kt southwest winds at 55S 158W pushing pretty quickly east and positioned at 57S 143W in the evening. 35 ft seas are forecast building at 55S 150W.  On Friday AM a solid area of 40-45 kt south winds are forecast at 60S 140W aimed right up the 190 degree path to Southern CA with sideband swell up the 178 degree path to Hawaii .  35 ft seas forecast at 50S 145W.  In the evening 45 kt winds to build over a larger area again aimed well to the north at 60S 140W over the same area as before producing a large area of 36 ft seas at 57S 140W.  That fetch is to hold a lift north Sat AM (5/15) with 45 kt south winds at 57S 135W pushing up the 188 degree path to CA with 42 ft seas at 55S 135W.  Fetch is hold solid in the evening at 52S 132W with 43 ft seas at 50S 133W. 40-45 kt southwest winds to fade on Sunday AM (5/16) with 42 ft seas at 46S 126W.  If all this comes to pass some decent degree of  south angled southern hemi swell would seem likely for California with sideband energy into Hawaii. 

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

A Luau for the Wave Riders is presented by the HMB Surf Club (an affiliate of the Boys and Girls Cub of the Coastside). All proceeds will benefit the HMB Middle and High School Surf Teams. Date: Saturday the 8th of May 2010 at 6pm Location: Sea Crest Gym at 901 Arnold Way, Half Moon Bay, CA. Cost: $40.00 per person [tickets purchased after May 1st $50], $25.00 per kid (12 and under) For more information or to purchase tickets,.cgiease contact Paula (email: or call: 650-269-3180)

  • 6:00pm - Appetizers
  • 7:30pm - Buffet Dinner
  • 8:30pm - Live Music by, Blame it on the Dog
  • Cash Bar- Beer & Wine
  • Raffle & Silent Auction

Stormsurf Hi-Res Coastal Precipitation Models Upgraded Though a bit late in the season, on 3/20 we i.cgiemented the same basic technology used in our new snow/ski models into the coastal hi-res precipitation models. So now you can not only determined whether rain is forecast for your area, but also snow. And not just light, medium or heavy snow like most sites, but the exact snowfall amount (in inches) for each 3 hr frame of the animation. Here's a sa.cgie, but now this approach is used in all our precipitation models.

Stormsurf Precip Models Upgraded! On 2/20 we upgraded some of the broader precipitation models driven by the hi-def GFS model to include snow fall. The algorithm used is similar to the recently released snow models for the Southwest US in that the areas where snow is expected are identified and the exact amount of snow forecast over a 3 hr window is e.cgiicitly color coded. For East and West Coast US interests the following links provide good exa.cgies:
West Coast:
East Coast:

Stormsurf Weather Models have all been upgraded! Over the New Years break we installed all new and upgraded weather models. Also new are experimental snow models for the Southwest US. Take a look here:

Read about Eric Nelson and Curt Myers, the makers of Ride-On and other Big Wave Surf Movies here:

Ride On! Powerlines new big wave epic is now available on DVD. Get the entire big wave story of the 2008-2009 season here:

Click here to learn more about Casa Noble Tequila! Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here:

Interview With Stormsurf:  The crew at worked with Stormsurf on a feature about why surfers should be able to read wave charts themselves. They are firm believers that a little learning can go a long way to help your surfing.  This is a great article to help convince your friends that they can benefit from being able to read the data themsleves rather than just relying on the forecasts of others.  See the full thing here:  Create Your Own Surf Forecast with Stormsurf

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:

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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