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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: May 18, 2005 8:07 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 = 3.0 - California & 2.0 - 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 5/9 thru Sun 5/15
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   

Gulf Gale Pushes East
Another New Zealand Pulse Forecast/MJO Surges


On Tuesday (5/16) Northern CA surf was waist to chest high and weak but clean even in the afternoon. South facing breaks were waist high with maybe some slightly bigger rare sets. Central California was waist high with wind on it by the afternoon. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were maybe waist high. The LA area southward into Orange County was waist to chest high. Southward to San Diego waves were waist to chest high. The North Shore of Oahu was waist high. The South Shore was maybe waist high. The East Shore was waist high.

Not much to say today with waist high surf pretty much the standard. One exception is best breaks in Southern California which are picking up a little bit of some southern hemi swell with rare sets to shoulder high or so. The big story is the gale currently pushing through the Gulf of Alaska. This system is to make a nice swell pushing into North and Central California with lesser energy in South CA and Hawaii. A stronger system was to follow, but that is in doubt now. See details below...


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

North Pacific

On Tuesday (5/16) the jetstream had surprising energy over the East Pacific with winds up to 170 kts flowing through a minor trough in the Western Gulf of Alaska. Otherwise a pinched trough with no real energy was off Japan (animation here). Over the next 72 hours through Friday (5/20) the trough is to move into the Central Gulf and deepen some but the wind speeds are to drop down to 110 kts as the trough pushes onshore over Oregon on Friday. A big ridge is to build in the West Pacific while a new trough builds in the Gulf, but with little wind speeds supporting it.

At the surface today a broad 984 mb low persisted in the Gulf of Alaska (more details below - see Gulf Gale). Otherwise strong high pressure at 1024 mbs was centered just east of the Kuril Islands dropping southeast over the dateline and north of Hawaii almost to Baja California. The only swell producing fetch was associated with the Gulf Gale (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the current Gulf low is to fade while a new one starts developing north of Hawaii (more details in the long range forecast).


Gulf Gale Updated Wednesday PM 5/18
On Friday (5/13) a small 100 mb low developed off Japan tracking fast to the east-northeast. By Saturday (5/14) it was over the dateline with a small area of 30 kts winds developing in it's southwest quadrant aimed at Hawaii. On Sunday (5/15) pressure dropped to 984 mbs as it moved into the Western Gulf of Alaska with 35-40 kt west winds confirmed in it's south quadrant aimed right up the 285 degree great circle track to North CA. But those winds faded fast to 30-35 kts in the evening. Still enough energy was present to start generating 20 ft seas pushing east.

On Monday (5/16) the low was still in the Western Gulf tracking east with pressure moving up a bit to 988 mbs. Winds dropped some to 30-35 kts over a moderate area in the gales south quadrant aimed like before. 20-22 ft seas were generated near 43N 170W.

On Tuesday (5/17) the gale was due north of Hawaii in the Central Gulf of Alaska with pressure down a little to 980 mbs and winds confirmed up a bit at 35-40 kts aimed directly at Central CA down the 288 degree great circle path. Seas had built to 23 ft centered at 40N 158W. The gale got just slightly stronger in the evening while tracking closer to Canada, with the leading fringes moving onshore there. 35-40 kts winds were aimed directly at the California coast with seas building to to 26 ft centered at 41N 151W.

This system was slowly fading on Wednesday (5/18) as it lifted north in the Eastern Gulf. Winds were confirmed at 35 kt range but starting to loose coverage late. Seas were estimated at 27 ft in the AM centered at 39N 146W. Winds were confirmed at 30-37 kts at buoy 46006 with seas building rapidly at 2 PM to 21 ft with pure swell 16.5 ft @ 12.5 secs and holding. This was right on track with expectations. In the evening seas are expected to fade to 25 ft and heading down from there near 40N 140W.

Residual energy to spin in the Gulf through Thursday (5/19) but winds to be minimal and seas in the 22 ft range.

The latest data is looking solid for the time of year, but not over the top. About like previous expectations. Expect swell reaching Northern CA Thursday (5/19) near 11 PM building through the early morning hours. Swell to max just before sunrise Friday (5/20) with swell 9.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (10-12 ft faces) and seas to 13 ft drifting down through the day. Still decent fetch on Thursday to produce swell arriving on Saturday (5/21) in the 7 ft @ 12-13 sec range (7-9 ft faces). Swell to be fading steadily after that. Swell Direction: 285 degrees

This swell is to push into Southern California starting Friday AM (5/20) with pure swell 4 ft @ 13 secs (4.5-5.5 ft). Still decent energy to hold into Saturday (5/21) with swell 3.6 ft @ 12 secs (3.5-4.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 290 degrees

More model data here

South Pacific

On Tuesday (5/16) the jetstream in the South Pacific showed no indications of any ability to produce a swell generating storm. A .cgiit jet was in-effect with no broad pockets of energy evident. (animation here). Over the next 72 hours through Friday (5/20) only a weak trough is forecast to push under New Zealand fading about mid-way to South America.

At the surface today a real mixed pattern was in.cgiace, but no strong high or low pressure centers were evident. On Wednesday AM (5/18) a 968 mb low is to develop south of New Zealand pushing east. A reasonable fetch of 40-45 kt winds are expected in it's northwest quadrant aimed towards California for 12 hours, then fading out through Thursday (5/19) in the mid-South Pacific. 29-30 ft seas are projected Wednesday night into Thursday AM then fading away. This might be good for some more impulse class swell, but that's it. (animation here).

More model data here


Yet Another New Zealand Storm
A broad 952 mb low developed under Australia on Monday (5/9) tracking east generating 30-40 kt west winds aimed poorly into the Tasman Sea. It held into Tuesday (5/10) with 30 to near 40 kt southwest winds pushing somewhat up into the Tasman Sea but not ideal. Seas were modeled into the 29 ft range through Monday (5/9), but again not aimed well up the Tasman Sea Channel. A quick decline is expected through this evening into Wednesday AM (5/11).

At this time suspect most energy from this storm is to slam directly into western New Zealand. Seas height hindcasts have fallen well behind original estimates too and positioned a long ways from either Hawaii or California. This system was best positioned to drive some swell towards Hawaii, but there is serious doubts as to how much energy will actually reach the Islands due to blockage from Fiji which is sitting right in the middle of the swell window. At this time only background energy is expected to reach the Islands starting Wednesday (5/18) with swell 1.6 ft @ 16 secs and nothing into California. See QuikCASTs for swell details.


Tiny New Zealand Storm
Of most interest was a 972 mb low starting to push east under New Zealand on Thursday PM (5/14). QuikSCAT imagery indicated 40-45 kts winds were circulating around it's north quadrant with a tiny area to 50 kts in it's west quadrant aimed well up the Tasman Sea channel towards Hawaii.

On early Friday AM (5/13) the low developed nicely with pressure down to 964 mbs and a thin sliver of 50-55 kt winds were centered at 56S 168E aimed northeast up the 215 degree great circle path towards California and the 201 degree path to Hawaii. Seas built to 30 ft centered at 53S 170E. But already the balance of the wind in this storms north quadrant were taking aim at Antarctica as the affects of high pressure aloft and at the surface were having a significant influence over this system. By the evening pressure was down to 956 mbs with winds down to 40-50 kts over a tiny area centered at 56S 175E, not even to the dateline and tracking southeast rather than the optimal northeast direction. These winds were aimed 40 degrees east of the 213 degree path to California (shadowed by Tahiti) and 70 degrees east of the 195 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled at 35 ft centered at 54S 174E but covered only a tiny area.

By Saturday AM (5/12) the storm was fading fast with pressure 960 mbs and winds 35-40 kts and on the way down. Residual seas from previous days fetch down to 32 ft at 56S 179W and pushing towards Antarctica. This system was functional gone. Continued 25-30 kt fetch is forecast through Monday (5/16) providing energy pushing towards Tahiti, but of too short a period to survive with any size up to Hawaii and California.

With luck, a small swell will push north providing a short lived shot of something to ride, but not much else. This storm was 4784 nmiles from Hawaii and 6289 nmiles from California. Expect swell arrival on the South Shore starting Saturday (5/21) with period at 17 secs and size minimal but building, maxing Sunday afternoon (5/22) with residual energy continuing through Monday (5/23). Whatever is going to arrive in California will hit starting late Monday evening (5/23) with period 17-18 secs and maxing midday Tuesday (5/24). Remnants to continue through early Thursday (5/26).


California Offshore Forecast
Tuesday mornings local charts (5/17) depicted the gale in the Gulf of Alaska pretty much filling it, with pressure at 980 mbs and the windfields pushing as far south as 30N (south of the the California-Baja border). This was the dominant weather feature and is expected to remain so through Thursday as it slowly fades off the Canadian coast. Strong high pressure was behind it in the Western Pacific and trying to slide underneath, but no isobars had impacted the Southern CA coast yet. but that is to change as the Gulf gale fades, with high pressure building in strong Friday afternoon (5/20) and continuing through the weekend while lower pressure builds inland over Nevada, setting up a coastal gradient. As a result strong northwest winds are forecast along the coast from Pt Conception northward through the weekend and beyond.

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



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

North Pacific

Tuesdays upper and surface models models (5/16) indicated that beyond 72 hours the new trough is to push through the Gulf of Alaska but with steadily decreasing wind speeds. Ridging is to persist in the West Pacific until Tuesday (5/24) when a new trough is to develop over Japan. It's way too early to tell if this one will develop into anything.

Starting Thursday (5/19) a new weak 1000 mb low is to start circulating near the dateline tracking east. By Friday (5/20) pressure is to drop to 968 mbs with 60 kt north winds building in the storms west quadrant aimed right at Hawaii. The storm is to be moving east though, giving the fetch little time over any one part of the oceans surface and limiting it's ability to get good traction . Seas building to 20 ft pushing south towards Hawaii. On Saturday (5/21) the fetch in the west quadrant is to fade and move into the south quadrant where 50 kt winds are expected to slowly fade to 40 kts aimed right at North and Central CA. No fetch aimed at Hawaii. Seas building to 29 ft. Beyond that all fetch is to move into the storms east quadrant taking aim on North Canada into Alaska. This scenario suggest that some nice swell could push into California with lesser energy into Hawaii. But it's really too early to tell with any confidence what might actually happen. Monitor this one.

Beyond that a new broad low is forecast off Japan (on Tuesday 5/24), but no details of any confidence available.


MJO Note
The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) took a dive starting Saturday (5/14) and has remained in the solidly negative range ever since, down to -43 today (Tuesday). The SOI measures the difference in surface pressure between Darwin Australia and Tahiti. Consistently positive values signify La Nina and negative one signify El Nino. El Nino conditions support the development of stronger, larger and more consistent winter storms in the North Pacific and decreased Atlantic tropical storm activity. This dip is associated with the next active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation, currently pushing along the equator from the Indian Ocean into the West Pacific, centered near the dateline. This had been forecast and actuals are tracking well to the projections. As would be expected, trades winds have dropped to slightly below normal levels across the equator eastward to 150W, but no Westerly Wind Burst capable of producing a Kelvin Wave has been evidenced yet. But we are only a few days in to this event. And it has only been 15 days since the end of the last active MJO pulse. Overall the 30 day average SOI is -10 as is the 90 day average. This is but one indicator of mild El Nino conditions, but not conclusive by itself, though there has been a steady push towards such a state.


South Pacific

On Tuesday (5/16) beyond 72 hours out the jetstream is to continue in a .cgiit mode with the southern jet actually digging further south as high pressure builds east of New Zealand into early next week.

At the surface 72 hours out strong high pressure is to build east of New Zealand starting Sunday (5/22) and pushing east, up to 1028 mb by Monday and holding through Tuesday. No swell producing fetch 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:

Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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