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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: May 18, 2006 9:38 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 = 2.0 - California & 3.0 - 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 5/15 thru Sun 5/21
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   

Downward Trend
Minor Activity Under New Zealand


On Thursday (5/18) Northern CA surf was shoulder to head high and sloppy. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist high. Central California surf was chest to head high and foggy in the Morro Bay area. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were waist to near chest high at the best spots on the sets though most were thigh high. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to chest high pushing head high at the better breaks. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were waist to chest high wit a few head high sets. The North Shore of Oahu was 1-2 ft overhead, wrap around energy from the east shore. The South Shore was thigh high or less. The East Shore was head high to 1 ft overhead, windswell from the gale northeast of the state.

In California small to moderate southern hemi swell expected to be showing along all south facing shores by Friday building into Saturday. After that windswell from the Gulf of Alaska forecast mid-next week. Northeast facing shores in Hawaii continue to receive windswell from the Gulf of Alaska and that to be slowly trickling down and turning more northeasterly. The South Shore is near flat and expected to stay there till Sunday, when swell from low pressure under and along New Zealand arrives to finally provide something rideable. Nothing solid to follow though. See details below...



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

North Pacific

Thursdays jetstream charts (5/18) indicate a double dip pattern in.cgiace. That is, one trough is in the eastern Gulf of Alaska up to 100 kt winds flowing through it with a second trough just west of the dateline with up to 140 kt winds flowing through it. High pressure and a big ridge was north of Hawaii and just inland of the US west coast. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (5/21) the Gulf of Alaskan trough is to reenergize Friday-Sunday with 140-150 kt winds flowing down and under it just off the California coast setting up good potential for surface level development there. The trough over the dateline is to quickly pinch off by late Friday with a big .cgiit jet flow setting up overtop of it, eliminating any chance for decent surface level low pressure development there. Beyond 72 hours a .cgiit flow to continue in the west pushing east with the Gulf trough slowly fading and pushing east (inland), completely gone by Tuesday night (5/23). After that a weak anemic flow to continue through the end of the workweek with no support for surface level low pressure development suggested.

At the surface on Thursday (5/18) the pattern reflected what was happening aloft, namely low pressure in the areas where the jet was dipping south (troughs) and high pressure under the ridges. The low off California was at 1012 mbs with only a small area of 20 kt north winds and 11 ft seas aimed a bit east of Hawaii while the dateline low was at 992 mbs covering a broader area but still only producing 20-25 kt northwest wind aimed at Hawaii, and a fair distance away from the Islands at that. High pressure at 1028 mbs was north of Hawaii forming a mild gradient with the low pressure center off California providing moderate trades blowing over the Islands from the northeast.

Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (5/21) the dateline low is to rapidly dissipate while lifting north and east over high pressure north of Hawaii. There it is to start tapping the favorable jetstream flow over the Gulf of Alaska and rapidly build into Sunday with pressure down to 996 mbs producing 25-30 kt northwest winds as it forms a medium gradient with high pressure to it's west producing 15 ft seas pushing towards California. This system to hold into Monday morning then rapidly fade as it pushes into the California coast. A rare late season front with rain is currently forecast pushing into California late Saturday with subsequent pulses through Monday reaching into Southern CA. We'll see what actually happens. Windswell possible for all of California Tues-Thurs (5/25).

Note: A minor pulse of the Madden Julian Oscillation is occurring, and appears to be having some impact on the jetstream and subsequent production of low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska. The 30 day averaged Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has pushed from a positive value of 12.0 at the start of the month to 0.18 today, with daily values of -18 values reported the past 2 days. This is contrary to the steady push up into the La Nina range that has been going on the past 2 months. This appears to be setting us up for a return to ENSO neutral conditions for the summer (neither El Nino or La Nina).

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


California Offshore Forecast
On Thursday (5/18) the models suggest a relatively rocky weekend ahead for the coast as compared to the past few weeks. Calm winds Friday are to give way to south winds at 15-20 kts Saturday (north of Morro Bay) as remnants of low pressure currently off the coast pushes up to San Francisco and settles in. That to build into Sunday as another low drops out of the Gulf of Alaska with south winds pushing 2-250 kts late with the final onslaught scheduled for Monday night with 25-30 kts south winds and rain moving in as far south as Santa Barbara. Tuesday to be a clearing day with high pressure and north winds building in by Wednesday even into South CA.

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


South Pacific

On Thursday (5/18) a .cgiit jetstream pattern continued over the South Pacific with the southern branch ridging over the Ross Ice Shelf and tracking east from there, through wind speeds continued weak. No support for surface level gale development. The northern branch remained dominant blowing mostly flat west to east at 150 kts. No real change forecast till Monday (5/22) when the southern branch is to start lifting north of the Ross Ice Shelf with winds building to 140 kts and merging with the northern branch right as the two impact the South America coast over Chile. Some potential for surface level low pressure development in the mid-South Pacific then.

At the surface on Thursday (5/18) moderate high pressure at 1028 mbs controlled the Tasman Sea and waters off Chile with an unremarkable pressure pattern over the rest of the South Pacific, minimizing potential for gale development. A small patch of 30-32 ft seas was modeled under New Zealand at 59S 170E heading due east generated by 24 hours of 45 kt west winds confirmed by the QuikSCAT satellite there, but that is to be gone by nightfall. Limited potential for background swell for Hawaii. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (5/21) another similar low is to pass under New Zealand with pressure 968 mbs producing a tiny fetch of 40-45 kts winds for 24 hours generating seas building up to 30 ft Friday (5/19) at 61S 163E, aimed due east. If this occurs some more background swell for Hawaii, but not much more given it's tiny size, short duration, bad aim and distance away from both locations. Nothing for California to result.


California Pulse
On Tuesday (5/9) a 960 mb gale tracked east just over the Ross Ice Shelf with 55 kt southwest winds confirmed just barely pushing over open waters at 150W. 29 ft seas modeled at 65S 150W, free and clear of ice. By Wednesday the low was at 948 mbs just off Antarctica and well east of the actual fetch with a broad fetch of 35-40 kt winds arching northeast aimed well at California and targets southward positioned on the eastern edge of the CA swell window. Seas were modeled at 25-27 ft through the day [far less than previously forecast] at 58S 131W holding through the evening at 55S 125W, then continuing at 25 ft Thursday pushing out of the California swell window. This was actually the precursor to another gale indicated below and has generated small swell of 1.6 ft @ 14-15 secs pushing north towards California arriving Thursday (5/18). No energy expected for Hawaii.

On Thursday (5/11) a little 980 mb gale developed in the far southeastern Pacific (remnants of a previous gale in the area) with 40-45 kt south-southwest winds centered at 40S 111W aimed reasonably well towards South CA, though totally outside the swell window for anywhere north of Pt Conception. This low wrapped up late in the evening into Friday AM (5/12) with winds 50-60 kts at 42S 110W and seas modeled at 32 ft over a tiny area at the same location aimed north to northeast for 12 hours. A small pulse of 15-17 second energy is tracking towards Southern CA and points south of there arriving Friday AM (5/19) into Saturday with swell up to 3.0-3.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.5-5.0 ft faces) from 180 degrees. Some energy from early in the gales life might make it up to North California by late Friday with swell up to 2.6 ft @ 16 secs early Saturday (3.5-4.0 ft faces) from 180-185 degrees.


Hawaiian Pulse
A small 956 mb storm formed just southwest of New Zealand Friday AM (5/12) with 55-60 kt winds pushing northeast targeting New Zealand. That storm tracked east, south of New Zealand, through Saturday AM before beginning to feel the effects of an adverse jetstream flow aloft, but not before more 45-50 kt winds build seas to near 40 ft over a tiny area at 52S 157E sending a burst of energy directly into New Zealand but totally shadowed from Hawaii by New Zealand. That low finally entered the Hawaiian swell window (201 degrees) midday Saturday (5/13) but by then winds had faded to the 40-45 kts range and were heading down fast after that. 33 ft sea were pushing northeast towards Hawaii from 55S 165E and falling below 30 ft by nightfall, still providing some hope for Hawaii there. Nothing was left by Sunday AM (5/14). Small swell is likely pushing north towards Hawaii expected to arrive Sunday (5/21) with swell to 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5-4.0 ft faces) late from 201 degrees. Swell to peak Monday at 3 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces), fading through the day Tuesday.

A small gael developed right off the Northeastern tip of New Zealand sending a tiny fetch of 40-45 kt winds aimed right at Hawaii on Monday (5/15) producing 26 ft seas, fading out on Tuesday. This swell to be intermixed with the swell indicated above for Hawaii.

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 a near neutral pressure pattern is forecast with no swell producing low pressure systems indicated.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours 2 small lows are to start building Monday (5/22) under New Zealand tracking rapidly east back-to-back aided by an improving jetstream flow aloft. The second one is to have some length to it's life, producing winds modeled at 50-55 kts generating 39 ft seas Tuesday lifting northeast into Wednesday with seas still 35 ft before pushing out of the California swell window. Possible small swell for both Hawaii and California if this situation develops as modeled, but confidence is very low at this time.

Details to follow...


Local Interest

Wired Magazine - Read about the technology that supports the Mavericks Surf Contest in this months edition of WIRED Magazine (pg 48 - Al Gore on the cover).

New Content - QuikCAST's and Satellite Altimetry: Stormsurf has been busy this winter putting some new things together. First up is two new QuikCAST's for the Northeast US Coast, one for Cape Hatteras-to-Virginia Beach and another for New Jersey-to-New York. Check them out Here
Also we now provide Jason-1 Altimetry data overlaid on our Wavewatch III wave models. Take a look Here

Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here

Mavericks Surf Contest and Stormsurf
- Science hangs 10 at Surf Contest: CNET - Read it Here
- Pillar Point Unique Conditions swell Mavericks Monsters: Rough seabed, winds and seas currents to create California biggest surfing challenge; San Francisco Chronicle - Read it Here
- Tyler Smith's Quest: Chasing the Moby Dick of the Surfing World: San Francisco Chronicle - Read it Here

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

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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