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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, July 14, 2020 4:32 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
1.7 - California & 1.7 - 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 7/13 thru Sun 7/19

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 Pacific Lockdown In Effect
Windswell The Only Option

On Tuesday, July 14, 2020 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.3 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 1.2 ft @ 12.5 secs from 170 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 3.0 ft @ 6.7 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 6.2 secs from 32 degrees. Water temp 79.5 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.1 ft @ 6.2 secs with swell 2.2 ft @ 6.2 secs from 260 degrees. Wind at the buoy was southeast at 4-6 kts. Water temperature 70.7 degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 4.2 ft @ 9.8 secs from 310 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 3.0 ft @ 6.2 secs from 265 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 2.6 ft @ 6.5 secs from 270 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 2.0 ft @ 8.4 secs from 232 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.3 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 5.9 ft @ 8.2 secs from 311 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was west at 8-10 kts. Water temp 50.5 degs (013), 58.6 degs (SF Bar) and 56.7 degs (042).

See 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 Tuesday (7/14) in North and Central CA locally generated north windswell was producing waves at thigh to waist high and warbled and crumbled with light northwest winds early. Protected breaks were waist high and clean and weak. At Santa Cruz no real swell was hitting with waves occasionally thigh high and clean and weak. In Southern California/Ventura waves were thigh to waist high and weak but clean. Central Orange County had waves at maybe waist high on the rare set and clean but weak. South Orange County's best summertime breaks had set waves at thigh to waist high on the peaks and weak but clean coming from the northwest and soft. North San Diego had no waves with flat surf and clean but warbled conditions. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting waves to maybe thigh high on occasion and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves thigh to waist high and modestly chopped early.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Tuesday (7/14) no swell was hitting Hawaii or California. Local windswell was all that was rideable, and even that limited to exposed breaks. A small gale developed under New Zealand on Fri-Sat (7/11) producing up to 35 ft seas aimed east. Swell is radiating northeast towards mainly Hawaii. Still literally no meaningful swell producing weather systems are forecast beyond. The doldrums of summer are digging in.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (7/14) no swell of interest was in the water.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.


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


Tropical Update
o tropical systems of interest are being monitored or are forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (7/14) north winds were at 25 kts over North CA waters early and 5 kts for Central CA holding through the day up north and building to 5-10 kts for Central CA. Limited windswell production is expected for North and Central CA. Wed (7/15) north winds to be 30-35 kts limited to Cape Mendocino early with an eddy flow (south winds) developing for the rest of the state south of Pt Arena and holding through the day. More windswell production is forecast. Thurs (7/16) north winds to be 30 kts for North CA near Cape Mendocino early with a steady eddy flow for the area south of Pt Arena but winds the north fetch fading to 25 kts limited to North Cape mendocino later with windswell development starting to fade. On Fri (7/17) a broad fetch of north winds at 20-25 kts is to be limited to Cape Mendocino nearshore but well off the coast extending south to Pt Conception still producing windswell and holding all day while an eddy flow hold south of Pt Arena. On Sat (7/18) north winds are forecast at 20-25 kts over a large area along the coast of Cape Mendocino and extending well off the coast of Central CA fading some through the day with an eddy flow continuing nearshore south of there and support for windswell production continuing. On Sun (7/19) north winds to continue at 20-25 kts mainly off the coast of Cape Mendocino with an eddy flow south of there and fetch fading to 20 kts in the afternoon with support for windswell production fading some. On Mon (7/20) north winds are forecast at 20-25 kts off the coast of Cape Mendocino with a light northwesterly flow south of there down to Pt Conception offering modest odds for windswell production and the fetch and windswell fading as the day progresses. On Tues (7/21) a light northwesterly flow at 5 kts is forecast for all of North and Central CA with no windswell producing fetch indicated.

Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 0, 0, 0 and 0 inches respectively. Freezing level 14,000 ft or higher for the week.

Snow Models: (Scroll down for resort specific forecasts). Updated!


South Pacific

On Tuesday (7/14) the jetstream was well split over the width of the South Pacific with the southern branch still weak and what of it was coherent was positioned well south down at 65S or beyond forming no troughs and over the Southeast Pacific pushing fully into Antarctica offering no support over the South Pacific for gale development. Over the next 72 hours starting Wed (7/15) a weak trough is to start building under New Zealand being fed by 110 kts winds pushing east on Thurs (7/16) while lifting north to 56S perhaps offering some weak support for gale development but then rapidly dissipating on Fri (7/17). Low odds of any real support for gale development expected. Beyond 72 hours starting Sat (7/18) a weak ridge is to start building under New Zealand being fed by 130 kt winds pushing southeast to 63S and over Antarctic Ice and that ridge sweeping east into Mon (7/20) over the Southeast Pacific still offering no support for gale development and then being reinforced by another ridge following the same path Mon-Tues (7/21). The lockdown of the South Pacific continues.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (7/14) no swell of interest was hitting California or Hawaii.

Over the next 72 hours tiny swell from a gale previously under New Zealand is radiating northeast towards Hawaii (see Small New Zealand Gale below). Otherwise no swell producing weather systems are forecast.


Small New Zealand Gale
On Thursday PM (7/9) a small gale tried to develop south of the Tasman Sea producing 30-35 kt west winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface. On Fri AM (7/10) the gale was south of New Zealand producing southwest winds at 45-50 kts over a tiny area tracking east with seas 30 ft at 58.5S 160E aimed east-northeast. Fetch held in the evening aimed east at 45 kts with seas 35 ft over a tiny area at 57.5S 175.5E aimed east-northeast. On Sat AM (7/11) fetch was fading from 35-40 kts with seas 27 ft at 55S 177.5W mainly form previous fetch with the core of the system falling southeast. Fetch and seas are to be gone in the evening. Low odds of meaningful swell resulting.

Oahu: Expect swell arrival on Fri (7/17) building to 1.2 ft @ 18-19 secs later (2.0 ft). Swell peaking on Sat (7/18) mid-day pushing 1.4 ft @ 17 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fading on Sun (7/19) from 1.3 ft @ 15 secs (2.0 ft). Dribbles on Mon (7/20) fading from 1.1 ft @ 14 secs early (1.5 ft). Swell Direction: 197 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (7/20) building to 1.3 ft @ 17 secs later (2.0 ft). Swell holding on Tues (7/21) at 1.3 ft @ 16 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 214 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (7/20) building to 1.3 ft @ 17 secs later (2.0 ft). Swell holding on Tues (7/21) at 1.5 ft @ 16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 214 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 no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.


MJO/ENSO Forecast


La Nina Development Appears to be Restarting

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: A double dip La Nina was in control through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018 associated with two upwelling Kelvin Waves, and continued trying to build over equatorial waters over the Summer and Fall, but not enough to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere. In January 2019, those warm waters were fading, but then rebuilt late in Feb associated with Kelvin Wave (#3). But as of early June 2019 warm water was fading and by August a tongue of cool water was tracking west on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos reaching to a point nearly south of Hawaii. El Nino was dead. A bit of a recovery occurred during Fall of 2019, with weak warm water building in the Nino 1.2 region, but cool water held in a pool off Peru and had not changed until March 2020. By April the cool pool pushed east and by May subsurface cool waters erupted off Ecuador, forming a well defined cool tongue that looked like the start of La Nina, holding into July 2020.

Fall/Winter 2020/2021 = 3.0/3.5 (California & Hawaii)
Rating based on a 1-10 scale: 1 being the lowest (small and infrequent surf conditions), 5 being normal/average, and 10 being extraordinary (frequent events of large, long period swells)

Rationale: It is assumed the PDO has moved to the warm phase in 2014 and that a weak borderline El Nino from 2018 faded out in the Fall of 2019. A La Nina like ocean temperature pattern developed in the equatorial East Pacific in the summer of 2019, then faded and returned to a neutral if not weak warm status during the Winter of 2019-2020 only to return stronger in the Summer of 2020. We have been suspecting a turn towards a La Nina like atmospheric pattern to develop in the late Winter/early Spring of 2020. Our best hope is that moderation from the warm phase of the PDO might tamp down development of a full blown La Nina as we move into 2020. But at this time that does not appear likely. Given all that, for the 2020 there is decent probability for development of La Nina meaning a reduced number of storm days and storm intensity during the summer season, resulting in a below normal level of swell, with swell being below normal duration and period. And by the Fall and early Winter of 2020/21, the number of storm days, intensity and duration of those storms should fade even more, resulting in depressed swell production. This pattern is expected to hold through the Spring of 2021.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast (KWGA - Kelvin Wave Generation Area - The area 5 degrees north and south of the equator from 170W to 135E)
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (7/13) 5 day average winds were solid from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific then continuing solid easterly over the Dateline and the whole of the KWGA. Anomalies were light easterly over the East equatorial turning neutral over the Central Pacific then modest easterly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (7/14) moderate east anomalies were filling the KWGA and now the whole of the equatorial Pacific. The forecast calls for east anomalies holding steadily for the next week through 7/21 filling the equatorial Pacific, but maybe weakening some south of Mexico the last 2 days of the model run. Significant equatorial upwelling should be expected.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (7/13) A moderate plus strength Inactive MJO pattern was filling the KWGA today. The statistic model indicates this pattern is to hold on day 5 of the model run continuing on day 10 then rapidly dissipating on day 15 but with the Active Phase of the MJO remaining locked in the Indian Ocean. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with the Inactive Phase weaker on day 10 and holding at weak status at day 15.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (7/14) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was weak to modest over the Central Indian Ocean today and is to slowly ease east and weaken and all but gone over the Maritime Continent at day 15. The GEFS model suggests the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (7/13) This model depicts a strong Inactive Phase over the East Pacific today and tracking east pushing into Central America on 7/25 and then fading out while pushing east. A modest Active MJO is forecast developing over the far West Pacific 8/2 pushing east and filling the Central Pacific at the end of the model run on 8/22.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (7/13) This model depicts no coherent MJO signal over the KWGA today with east anomalies filling the KWGA at modest strength but with weak west anomalies on the dateline. East anomalies also reached to a point south of Mexico on the equator. The forecast indicates a continuation of no MJO signal but with modest east anomalies in control over the KWGA and the entirety of the Pacific. East anomalies are to hold filling the KWGA and the entire Pacific onward through the end of the model run on 8/10 with the focus of those easterly anomalies in the KWGA and holding thru then end of the model run.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (7/14 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO tracking over the KWGA today with modest east anomalies filling the KWGA and reaching east to a point south of California on the equator but with a patch of weak west anomalies limited to the immediate dateline region. The forecast depicts no change with the Inactive MJO holding while slowly easing east through 8/23 with modest east anomalies holding in the KWGA and building east to Ecuador in mid-August. An Active MJO is forecast moving over the KWGA 8/15 and then filling it by 8/25 and holding through the end of the model run on 10/11 producing westerly anomalies limited reaching east to only 165E, filling only half of the KWGA at best and only of modest strength. Moderate to strong east anomalies are to prevail from 170E and points east of there to Ecuador through the end of the model run. A weak Inactive Phase is to follow 10/1 just starting to make some headway into the eastern KWGA. The low pass filter indicates a high pressure bias is in control over the dateline today and is to build steadily in coverage through the end of the model run with a second contour setting up on 8/23 filling the equatorial Pacific by 8/20. A single contour low pressure bias is to appear over the Indian Ocean starting 8/20 building in coverage through the end of the model run. East anomalies that have been previously solid in the Indian Ocean are migrating east today into the Pacific are to set up on the dateline and points east of there by 7/21 and continuing if not building there for the foreseeable future fueled by the building high pressure bias contour. Based on this model it appears a clear transition to La Nina is starting today and is to become entrenched by mid-July.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (7/14) Today in the far West Pacific the 30 deg isotherm was gone (previously at 163E). The 29 deg isotherm was pushing east from 171W to 168 today. The 28 deg isotherm line was unchanged at 155W today. The 24 deg isotherm was backtracking to 118W. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies 0-1 deg C were previously isolated to the West Pacific were today pushing east to 147W today and east to 115W 50 m down. Cool anomalies continued upwelling to the surface from a rapidly collapsing subsurface pocket of cool water -1 degs off Ecuador but with a second pocket now building under the West Pacific pushing east to 138W today. It appears a conveyor belt of cool water was building subsurface at 175m deep over the entirety of the equatorial Pacific. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 7/7 indicates the cool water bubble at depth was erupting in the east to the surface between 130W to 85W at -4 degs C with warm water on the surface west of 145W. But another cool pocket of water was building at depth under the West Pacific 150 m down at 160E with another pocket at 150W. All three appear to be taking an easterly track. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (7/7) Negative anomalies at -5 to -10 cms had collapsed over the equatorial Pacific between Ecuador reaching east only 120W (previously 140W). Neutral anomalies were west of there to 160E. Negative anomalies were along and down the coast of Peru and up the coast of Central America to mainland Mexico. No positive anomalies were over the equatorial Pacific except west of 160E.

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: (7/13) The latest images indicate cold water was holding along Peru tracking northwest over Ecuador and building in strength then tracking east on the equator over the Galapagos weakening at 110W but continuing west and to nearly the dateline, looking like the start of a La Nina pattern. The stream was starting to rebuilding today after previously being weaker than days past. Warm anomalies were gone off the coast of Chile up into Peru turning decidedly cooler and appearing to be feeding the cool stream. Warm water was off Central America reaching west to the dateline but only north of the equator, remnants of a fading El Nino like pattern. Overall the cool pool on the equator was unmistakable and starting to show signs of rebuilding after previously being stalled.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (7/13): Pockets of cooler water are redeveloping off Ecuador pushing west on the equator out over the Galapagos out to 145W and more pronounced compared to days past. The short term trend is looking like a steady state La Nina pattern. We suspect a previous dampening of La Nina was a short term trend and will fully return to a building La Nina pattern as easterly anomalies start building again in the KWGA.
Hi-res Overview: (7/13) A stream of cool water is entrenched along the coast of Peru lifting northwest to the equator from Ecuador west to the dateline and building in coverage from Ecuador to 110W. Warmer than normal temps were stable north of the equator with cooler than normal water building on and south of the equator. Overall the data suggests a stable La Nina like pattern.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (7/14) Today's temps were falling, down to -1.841 after previously down at -1.511 on 6/16 and have been dropping steadily since March 26. Overall the trend is fading from a warmer range near +0.6 degs between 2/25-3/26.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(7/14) Temps were falling slightly to +0.133 after being up to +0.224 on 7/11. Temps have been rising the last past 3 weeks after bottoming out at -0.595 on 5/27. Overall the trend is steady if not warming after previous being on a downward trajectory April and May. Temps were in the +0.3 degree range in Feb., and up to the +0.5-+0.6 degree range 3/12-4/8.

Click for Full Sized Image Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 Sea Surface Temp (SST) Anomalies & Current SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (7/14) Actual temperatures were in the +0.65 deg range 1/1/2020 through 4/1/2020, then started falling hard down to -0.20 in late-May and held through late June. The forecast depicts temps restarting a precipitous fall, down to -0.70 in late July, then beginning a more gradual downward trajectory reaching down to -1.00 on Oct 1 dropping to -1.10 in late Dec, then starting to rebound at -0.5 in March 2021 and near neutral April 1. According to this model sea surface temps should be falling strongly moving towards La Nina as Summer develops. All objective evidence indicates this is in-fact occurring.
IRI Consensus Plume: The June 19, 2020 Plume depicts temps are at -0.35 degs, and are to hold in that range into November then rising some to -0.1 by Feb 2021. The low outliers are the dynamic models (NCEP CFS, NASA GMAO and the COLA CCSM4) all suggesting solid La Nina. See chart here - link.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (7/14): The daily index was negative today at -11.39. The 30 day average was falling to -2.53. The 90 day average was falling to -1.39, suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern was in control.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): June -0.67, May -0.46, April 2020 -0.69, March -0.09, Feb +0.65, Jan +0.42, This index was steady positive Aug 2018 through Feb 2020, and now is steady negative, but only weakly so.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation
Per NOAAs index recent values: Jan 2018 +0.29, Feb -0.19, Mar -0.61, April -0.89, May -0.69, June -0.85, July -0.09, Aug -0.43, Sept -0.46, Oct -0.75, Nov -0.78, Dec -0.12, Jan 2019 -0.18, Feb -0.50 Mar -0.23, April +0.10, May +0.14, June -0.11, July +0.44, Aug -0.14, Sept +0.05, Oct -0.96, Nov -0.28, Dec +0.01, Jan 2020 -1.17, This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2018 +0.70. Feb +0.37, Mar -0.05, April +0.11, May +0.11, June -0.04, July +0.11, Aug +0.18, Sept +0.09. No real 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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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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