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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, July 13, 2017 2:50 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
3.5 - California & 0.3 - 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 7/10 thru Sun 7/16

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   

3rd Small Swell Hitting CA
Model Teasing Longterm


On Thursday, July 13, 2017 :

  • Buoy 146 (Lanai): This buoy is down and there is no backup site and no date if or when it will return to service. Buoy 233/51211 (Pearl Harbor) is available but has a new frequency layout. We'll have to code a new program to read it's output (date TBD).
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 14.9 secs from 170 degrees. Wind at the buoy was southeast 4-8 kts. Water temperature 69.8 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.3 ft @ 13.6 secs from 178 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.3 ft @ 14.6 secs from 189 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 2.5 ft @ 14.7 secs from 211 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was up to 3.2 ft @ 14.6 secs from 166 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.8 ft @ 8.3 secs with windswell 4.9 ft @ 8.5 secs from 311 degrees and southern hemi swell 2.6 ft @ 15.2 secs. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 16-18 kts. Water temp 57.0 degs.

    46006, 46059, Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (bottom of the page)
Swell Classification Guidelines

Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
- 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/Utility Class: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft).
- 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.
- up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.


Current Conditions
On Thursday (7/13) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf at waist high or so, mushy and warbled from southerly wind early. Protected breaks were thigh to waist high and clean early but weak. At Santa Cruz infrequent south angled southern hemi swell was producing sets at waist to maybe chest high and up to 1 ft overhead at exposed breaks. In Southern California up north southern hemi swell was producing waves at waist high or so with a few peak pushing head high and clean. In North Orange Co south angled southern hemi swell was continuing solid with sets at 1-2 ft overhead and sweeping north up the beach and lined up and closed out and clean. In South Orange Co southern hemi swell was also producing sets at 2 ft overhead and clean and lined. In San Diego southern hemi swell was waist to chest high and lined up and clean but weak. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore had sets at waist high and clean. The East Shore was thigh high and chopped from modest east trades.

See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (7/13) minimal northwesterly windswell was in the water hitting California and minimal easterly windswell was hitting east shore in Hawaii. Swell from the second of three gales that developing late Sun (7/3) in the Southeast Pacific with 26 ft seas aimed northeast then intensified Mon (7/3) producing 36 ft seas barely in the SCal swell window was past it's prime in California. And another small gale developed on the edge of the CA swell window Tues (7/4) with 36 ft seas aimed northeast. That swell is hitting now. After that the South Pacific went to sleep and nothing has resulted and nothing is forecast for the next 7 days meaning a long run of now southern hemi swell is expected.

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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (7/13) a broad high pressure system at 1032 mbs was centered in the Western Gulf of Alaska and for the most part was not ridging into the North CA coast producing only a small area of 20 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino resulting in small north windswell down into exposed breaks in North and Central CA. It was not producing trades of interest east of the Hawaiian Islands with winds there less than 15 kts and windswell from previous fetch is fading out accordingly.

Over the next 72 hours relative to the mainland more of the same is forecast until Sat (7/15) when the high start tracking east but fading to 1028 mbs. Winds are to start building along the North CA coast to 25 kts late with 20 kt north winds down to Pismo Beach pushing near 30 kts early Sunday (7/16) with 20 kt north winds down to Pt Conception. Raw windswell is the likely outcome for North and Central CA.

For Hawaii east trade winds are to remain below the critical 15 kt threshold for producing windswell continuing into Sun (7/16) with no windswell expected along the east shores of the Hawaiian Islands.


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


Tropical Update
Tropical Storm Fernanda was 650 nmiles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas Baja Mexico on Thurs AM (7/13) tracking west at 9 kts with winds 55 kts. No fetch was aimed at the mainland. Frenanda is to continue west while slowly building with winds supposedly reaching 120 kts on Sun (7/16) at 12.5N 127W or 1800 nmiles east southeast of Hawaii. A slow fade is forecast thereafter with Fernanda starting to lift west-northwest with winds still 105 kts on Tues (7/18) at 15N 136W or about 1200 nmiles east-southeast of Hawaii. The GFS model has it continuing on an approach towards Hawaii into Thurs (7/20) about 750 nmiles out. Something to monitor.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (7/13) high pressure at 1032 mbs was centered in the Western Gulf of Alaska barely ridging east generating a small pressure gradient over North CA with north winds there at 20-25 kts over a tiny footprint and less than 15 kts down into the Central coast and that pattern to continue through Fri (7/14) but with 15 kt winds down to Pt Conception. By Sat (7/15) north winds are to start building in coverage over North CA waters at 20-25 kts and 15 kts down to Pt Conception. On Sun (7/16) the gradient is to build in coverage and velocity at up to 30 kts over Pt Arena with 20 kts north winds down to Big Sur. The gradient is to fade some on Mon (7/17) still at 25 kts over North CA and 20 kts north winds over all of Central CA. Tues (7/18) 20 kt north winds to cover all of North and Central CA moving to North CA on Wed (7/19) with 15 kt north winds over Central CA continuing Thurs (7/20) but with north winds to 25 kts over North CA.


South Pacific

On Thursday AM (7/13) the jetstream continued in a zonal pattern with the northern branch running east on the 25S latitude line and the southern branch of the jet ridging south generally flowing east on the 70S latitude line and over Antarctic Ice with winds to 130-140 kts in two pockets. There were no troughs and no support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere.
Over the next 72 hours through Sun (7/16) no change is forecast. Beyond 72 hours starting Mon (7/17) the southern branch of the jet is to be weak and start lifting north some under New Zealand up to 62S and then lifting further north on Wed (7/19) with winds building to 130 kts with something that looks like a legitimate trough taking shape over the South Tasman Sea pushing into the Southern West Pacific on Thurs (7/20). There's potential for improved support for gale development if this occurs as modeled.

Surface Analysis  
On Thursday (7/13) swell from a
gale that formed in the deep Southeast Pacific was fading some in California (see Second Gale below). Another small gale formed behind that and swell from it is hitting CA now (see Third Gale below). After that the storm pattern faded with no additional swell producing weather systems having occurred and no other forecast over the coming 72 hours.

But a cutoff low did develop south of Tahiti on Wed AM (7/12) with 40-45 kt west wind and seas building to 31 ft at 38S 149W very far to the north of normal. Winds from the west built to 45 kts in the evening with seas to 34 ft at 38S 145W aimed east and northeast. Fetch was fading from 40 kts from the west Thurs AM (7/13) with 33 ft seas at 37S 141W again aimed east. Fetch is to fade from 35 kts in the evening aimed northeast with seas fading from 29 ft at 36S 135W. Swell possibly targeting Chile and Peru with low odds of energy up into Mexico.

Otherwise no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.


Second Gale
Also on Sat AM (7/1) a new fetch of 30-35 kt southwest winds started building over the deep South Central Pacific rushing east with seas building from 20 ft over a small area and inconsequential. In the evening fetch built in coverage to the broad category at 35 kts from the southwest moving to the Southeast Pacific with seas building to 23 ft at 55S 128W. On Sun AM (7/2) that fetch tracked east and faded with a secondary fetch building right behind it at 40-45 kts from the southwest and positioned further north with a new area of seas to 24 ft at 58S 132W. Fetch tracked east in the evening while building to 50-55 kts over a tiny area from the southwest at 61S 119W (mostly east of the CA swell window) with seas building to 27 ft at 53S 125W targeting California and up to 30 ft at 60S 118W. On Mon AM (7/3) 50 kt southwest winds continued tracking east with 34 ft seas at 60S 116W over a tiny area targeting Chile and seas from previous fetch at 28 ft at 59S 120W targeting California. The storm started lifting north in the evening with fetch 45 kts over a tiny area and seas building to 35 ft over a tiny area at 57S 115W barely targeting Southern CA and mainly targeting Chile. The gale dissipated from there with a small area of seas still targeting Chile. Possible small swell for Southern California with most energy towards South America and specifically Chile but nowhere near as large or strong as previously forecast.

Southern CA: Swell fading Thurs (7/13) from 2.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 190 degrees

Northern CA: Swell fading Thurs (7/13) from 2.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 185 degrees


Third Gale
On Mon PM (7/3) another tiny gale developed in the deep Southeast Pacific with southwest winds building from 40 kts and seas building. On Tues AM (7/4) fetch built to storm status at 50 kts from the southwest over a small area with 32 ft seas building at 62S 129W. In the evening fetch was fading from 45 kts tracking northeast with seas building to 36 ft at 59S 120W targeting Southern California and points southward. Wed AM (7/5) the gale was racing northeast and fading from 40 kts with 33 ft seas over a small area at 55S 110W targeting mainly Chile.

Southern CA: Swell holding on early Thurs (7/13) at 2.1 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5 ft). Swell pulsing Fri (7/14) at 3 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.0 ft) then fading Sat (7/15) from 2.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 184 degrees

Northern CA:Swell holding on early Thurs (7/13) at 1.7 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading Fri (7/14) at 2.0 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft) then fading Sat (7/15) from 2.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 180 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 hours high pressure is to slowly weaken but the gradient is to remain with north winds over North CA at 25 kts on Monday (7/17) then rapidly fading in coverage on Tues (7/18) and holding in the small coverage category into Thurs (7/20). A bit of an eddy flow is to develop over Central CA on Wed (7/19) holding into Thursday and providing some improved conditions for Central CA.

For Hawaii trades to remain weak below the 15 kt threshold Sat-Mon (7/17) offering no odds for windswell production along exposed easterly shores. Theoretically a tropical system is to be building well southeast of the Islands on Mon-Tues (7/18) tracking east helping to fuel a gradient with it and high pressure to the north perhaps resulting in some east windswell by Tues (7/18) holding into Thurs (7/20) as the tropical system approaches from the east-southeast.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a storm is forecast developing well south of Tasmania on Wed AM (7/19) with 45-50 kt southwest winds and seas building. In the evening 45-50 kt southwest winds are to be tracking east under New Zealand with 36 ft seas at 60S 164E. 40 kt southwest winds to continue east on Thurs AM (7/20) with 34 ft seas at 60S 175E and a secondary fetch of 40 kt southwest winds under New Zealand producing 33 ft seas at 55S 165E. Fetch is to fade from 35 kts in the evening under New Zealand with seas fading from 31 ft at 51S 171E. Something to monitor.

More details to follow...


Weak La Nina Signal Continues

The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).

Overview: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration and is holding.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wednesday (7/12) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weaker over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were neutral on the dateline but weak westerly over the Central KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (7/13) Weak east anomalies were modeled over the far West KWGA but forecast to build solidly over the East KWGA in 24 hours while retrograding west and filling the KWGA by 7/16 and holding through the end of the 7 day model run (7/20). As of a few weeks ago it was looking like the long running Inactive Phase of the MJO/La Nina was dissipating. But now it appears to have not given up and if anything is building per this, the GFS model.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 7/12 a neutral MJO pattern was depicted with neither the Inactive/Dry Phase or the Wet/Active Phase in play. The statistical model depicts a neutral pattern holding with no MJO signal in play over the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts the same thing. Perhaps a real neutral pattern will set up rather than being dominated by the Inactive Phase of the MJO as has been the case the past 6 months.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (7/13) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak over the Indian Ocean and is to track steadily east while building reaching the Maritime Continent 1 week out and the dateline 2 weeks out. The GEFS depicts the Active Phase building in the Indian Ocean then collapsing while moving over the Maritime Continent 2 weeks out.
40 day Upper Level Model: (7/13) This model depicts a modest Active/Wet Pattern over the Maritime Continent moving east while building reaching the West Pacific 7/23, then moving east to the East Pacific and over Central America on 8/22. Perhaps a modest Dry/Inactive Phase to set up in the far West Pacific on 8/12 tracking east through 8/22. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (7/13) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO signal over the KWGA with neutral to weak west anomalies indicated there. Over the coming days weak east anomalies are to develop 7/15 fading on 7/22 in the KWGA with the weak Active MJO signal dissipating then redeveloping 7/28 with west anomalies slightly more defined and both holding into at least 8/8. A legitimate Active Phase of the MJO is to fully develop in the West Pacific on 8/24 with building west anomalies modest in strength holding till 10/9. No Inactive Phase of the MJO is forecast for the next 3 months. Of note: East anomalies are to be in-play from the dateline and points east of there from 7/21 onward. The west wind anomaly scenario is likely overstated as the model has been teasing at west anomalies for months and yet they never develop. The low pass filter indicates La Nina dissipated as of 6/14. A lowpass La Nina signal is to redevelop 7/29 (previously 7/21) but from the dateline eastward. Best guess is a very weak directionless pattern is to set up or even a weak La Nina redeveloping in Fall of 2017. It will take 5 years for the Pacific to recharge from the 2014-16 El Nino.

CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (7/13) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the far West Pacific at 30 degs over a shallow area at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line is steady at 144W. The 24 deg isotherm has retrograded west ending at 98W but it remains 100 meters deep at 140W. Anomaly wise a generic pattern of +1 deg anomalies stretches from the East to West Pacific from 110 meters upward but up to +2 degs off Ecuador. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 7/7 depicts a continuous stream of warm water tracking from the west to the east suggesting a homogenous pattern biased warm was in effect of the upper reaches of the entire equatorial Pacific. There is no real warm water in the far West Pacific to feed any sort of a progressive Kelvin Wave pattern. The GODAS image appears to be about 1 week behind the TAO data.
Sea Level Anomalies: (7/7) In all no positive or negative anomalies are present over the length of the equatorial Pacific other than a pocket of 0-5 cm anomalies at 140W that was shrinking in coverage. Effectively a dead neutral pattern is in control of the entire equatorial Pacific.

Surface Water Temps: The more warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). Cold water in that area has a dampening effect. Regardless of what the atmospheric models and surface winds suggest, actual water temperatures are a ground-truth indicator of what is occurring in the ocean. All data is from blended infrared and microwave sensors.
Satellite Imagery
Hi-res Nino1.2 & 3.4: (7/12) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a very weak warm pattern is just west of the coast of South American tracking northwest up to a point just south of the equator and then west from there. Nearshore a weak upwelling pattern is depicted lifting north off Chile, Peru and Ecuador then turning west over the Galapagos and west along the equator but only to 100W. Also cooling was present over a broad area off Central America and Mexico out to 120W. Also a broad pocket of cooling was building centered at 25S 100W (well off Chile) and starting to merge with the cooling pattern above. But it seem the cooling both north and south was less defined as compared to a few days ago and a few days before that too. The La Nina that developed last Spring faded and was replaced by an El Nino like pattern that tried to build after it during March-May, but that too has dissipated and is being replaced by a neutral to cool pattern.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (7/12): A neutral trend was along the coast of Chile and Peru. A warm trend was pushing west off Ecuador and the Galapagos. Alternating pockets of cool and warm water are west from there to 140W. What looked like an early start of a legit La Nina pattern appears to be backing yet more off today. A strong warming trend continues in the Northern Hemi from California pushing north of Hawaii and reaching west to the Philippines. But overall nothing remarkable is indicated.
Hi-res Overview:
(7/12) A weak warm regime holds over Chile but pockets of cooler water are depicted from Peru north to Ecuador and west along the equator to 125W. West of there a warmer pattern existing out to 140E. Overall waters of all oceans of the planet are warmer than normal. Suspect climatology needs to be updated to reflect this new reality, or the recent Super El Nino has significantly redistributed heat across the oceans.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (7/13) Today's temps were rebounding after falling hard, now up to -0.223, down from the peak of +3.0 degs on 3/18 and +1.0 degs on 5/2..  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (7/13) temps were steady at +0.542 degs.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (7/13) The forecast has temps starting to fall steadily from +0.50 degs July 1 to +0.2 in early Aug holding to Oct, then dropping steadily to -0.25 in Dec then rebounding to 0.0 in mid-Feb 2018 and perhaps warming to +0.5 degs in March. This suggests a neutral pattern setting up for the Winter of 2017-2018. CFS data (6/26) still suggests a Modoki style warming pattern over the dateline this Fall and Winter but other models are no suggesting a return of a weak La Nina pattern. There is no source for El Nino like warming with the warm pool in the far West Pacific weak and fading. Much recharging and heat buildup is required for a real El Nino to develop. We're at least 5 years out from that.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-June Plume updated (6/15) depicts temps have warmed to +0.3 degs. Temps are forecast to hold at this level for the coming 8 months suggesting a neutral pattern in control. See chart here - link.  The NMME consensus depicts the same thing with temp +0.3 degrees above normal through Feb.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (7/13): The daily index was rising at -1.91 having been negative for 2 days previously. The 30 day average was rising some at -3.78. The 90 day average was falling some at -4.70 or just south of neutral. This suggests a return to ENSO neutral conditions has taken hold.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (7/13) Today's value was falling again at -1.84 (up from -2.20 on 6/28) but still strongly suggesting a turn towards La Nina. A peak of this La Nina was reached on 11/2/16 at -1.94. So the index is about as negative as it was at the peak of last years La Nina. At this time it looks like La Nina is returning. This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina events.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker lately (as expected with La Nina setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.10, Feb = +0.04, March = +0.12, April=+0.52, May=+0.31, June=+0.17. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO. No consistently negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.77, Feb = +0.70, Mar = +0.74, April=+1.12, May=+0.88. No negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina). Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data strongly suggests that could be a possibility. By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool


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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