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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, July 15, 2017 1:26 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
1.3 - 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 7/17 thru Sun 7/23

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   

Windswell the Best Hope for Now
Weak Positive Signals for the Southwest Pacific Longterm


Next Forecast Update: Wed (7/26). We're taking a short summer break.

On Saturday, July 15, 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 3.8 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 2.1 ft @ 13.6 secs from 203 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest 6 kts. Water temperature 67.5 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.2 ft @ 12.8 secs from 177 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.5 ft @ 12.7 secs from 199 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.5 ft @ 13.3 secs from 215 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was up to 2.1 ft @ 13.4 secs from 194 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.3 ft @ 8.3 secs with windswell 4.7 ft @ 8.2 secs from 316 degrees and southern hemi swell 2.1 ft @ 13.7 secs from 192 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 14-16 kts. Water temp 54.1 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 Saturday (7/15) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf at waist to chest high and clean with no warble and actually rideable though soft. Protected breaks were waist high and clean early but weak. At Santa Cruz south angled southern hemi swell was producing sets at waist high or so and chest to head high at exposed breaks and clean and lined up but slow. In Southern California up north southern hemi swell was producing waves at maybe waist high with some light texture on it. In North Orange Co south angled southern hemi swell was fading out with sets at shoulder to head high and soft still pushing north up the beach and lined up and clean. In South Orange Co southern hemi swell was way down producing sets maybe chest high or so and clean. In San Diego southern hemi swell was waist high and soft but clean. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore had sets at thigh high and clean. The East Shore was knee to 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 Saturday (7/15) small northwesterly windswell was in the water hitting California and no windswell of interest was along easterly shores in Hawaii. The last remnants of the third in a series of 3 southern hemi swells was fading out in California. No swell producing weather system have been in the Southern Pacific since Wed (7/5) and none are forecast until maybe Thurs (7/20) when a small gale is forecast to generate 30-33 ft seas in the deep Southwest Pacific, maybe capable of generating small background swell. So at best no swell is projected for our forecast area until at least 7/27. Windswell is the call for now. Maybe some tropical swell to result for Hawaii too.

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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (7/15) a broad high pressure system at 1028 mbs was centered in the Gulf of Alaska and was barely ridging east into the North CA coast producing only a small area of 25 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino resulting in small north windswell pushing 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 no windswell from other sources present.

Over the next 72 hours relative to the mainland the high is to start tracking east on Sunday (7/16) with winds building in coverage and velocity at 30 kts late along the North CA coast with 20 kt north winds down to Pismo Beach. Raw windswell is to be building in North and Central CA. Fetch is to hold at 25 kts on Monday then rapidly fading Tues (7/18) at 20 kts over the North and top half of Central CA and fading more on Wed (7/19) at 20 kts limited to limited to North CA with 15 kts north winds down to Pt Conception. Fading raw north local windswell expected.

For Hawaii east trade winds are to remain below the critical 15 kt threshold for producing windswell through Sun (7/16) with no windswell expected along the east shores of the Hawaiian Islands. But starting Monday (7/17) the same high pressure system identified above is to ridge south some generating easterly trades at 15 kts being magnified some by tropical low pressure (Hurricane Fernanda) tracking west on the 15N latitude line near 135W. Trades are to increase coverage and build to 15+ kts into Wed (7/19) as Fernanada approaches Hawaii from the east (see Tropical Update below).


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


Tropical Update
On Sat AM (7/15) Hurricane Fernanda was 1800 nmiles east-southeast of Hilo Hawaii tracking west at 11 kts with winds 120 kts (138 mph) with seas to 45 ft. No fetch was aimed at the mainland. Frenanda is to continue west while slowly building into Sun AM (7/16) with winds supposedly reaching 130 kts (150 mph) at 12.5N 127W or 1650 nmiles east-southeast of Hawaii. A slow fade is forecast thereafter with Fernanda starting to lift west-northwest with winds down to 95 kts on Tues (7/18) at 15N 136W or about 1200 nmiles east-southeast of Hawaii then fading to 50 kts on Thurs (7/20). The GFS model has it tracking almost northwest by Sat (7/22) likely passing 300 nmiles east and northeast of the Hawaiian Islands over the weekend into early the week beyond at tropical storm force. East to northeast swell is possible. Something to monitor.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (7/15) high pressure at 1030 mbs was centered in the Gulf of Alaska barely ridging east generating a small pressure gradient over North CA with north winds there at 20-25 kts over a small footprint and winds less 15 kts down the Central coast. On Sun (7/16) the gradient is to build in coverage and velocity at up to 30 kts north winds over North CA/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 reaching down to Monterey Bay and 20 kts north winds over all of Central CA. Tues (7/18) the gradient is to fade some with 20 kt north winds covering all of North and Central CA with the strongest of those winds moving north to North CA on Wed (7/19) with 15 kt north winds over Central CA continuing Thurs (7/20). On Friday (7/21) the gradient is to build some with 20 kt north winds over all of North and Central CA nearshore waters and building in coverage on Saturday (7/22). Much upwelling likely with water temps falling.


South Pacific

On Saturday AM (7/15) 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 depressed well south and flowing east on the 72S latitude line and over Antarctic Ice with winds peaking at 100 kts in one pocket but mostly less than that. There were no troughs and no support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere.
Over the next 72 hours through Mon (7/17) no change is forecast. But starting Tues (7/18) the southern branch of the jet is to start lifting north under New Zealand up to 60S with winds building to 120 kts forming something that looks like a trough pushing over the Southwest Pacific offering some support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to start moving east but additional favorable winds are to be lifting east-northeast at 140 kts under New Zealand on Thurs (7/20) easing east through the Southwest Pacific into Fri (7/21) offering some support for gale development. But by Sat 97/22) that trough is to be collapsing south over the Central South Pacific while another weaker pocket of 110 kts winds try to push northeast under New Zealand perhaps setting up another weak trough. Some limited support for gale development still possible at this time.

Surface Analysis  
On Saturday (7/15) the last fading remnants of swell from a series of gales that formed in the far Southeast Pacific was dissipating in California. No other swell was in the water from the deep South Pacific pushing northward to California or Hawaii.

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 faded 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. No swell is projected moving into Hawaiian or California waters.

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


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 persist weakly ridging into the North CA coast generating north winds at 20 kts over north Ca and 15 kt north winds down to Pt Conception making for small raw north windswell into north and Central CA. The gradient and north winds are to build to 25 kts on Sat (7/22) over North CA and 20 kts down to Pt Conception with raw local windswell increasing size some.

For Hawaii trades to hold at 15+ kts from the east Thurs-Sat (7/22) driven by the combination of high pressure to the north and Fernanda approaching from the east. Easterly windswell on the increase through the period assuming Fernanda does what the models suggest.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a gale is forecast developing south-southwest of New Zealand on Wed PM (7/19) producing 45 kt southwest winds tracking east into Thurs AM (7/20) with seas 30 ft at 59S 168E. 45 kt southwest winds to hold while tracking east into the evening with 33 ft seas at 58S 177W. The gale to fade from there. Something to monitor.

More details to follow...


SSTs Warming Some in Nino1.2 - But ESPI Falling

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 Friday (7/14) 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): (7/15) Moderate east anomalies were modeled over the far East KWGA and forecast to build solidly over the Central KWGA in 24 hours while retrograding west and filling the KWGA by 7/17 then slowly giving up strength but still easterly through the end of the 7 day model run (7/22). 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. Other models offer a different perspective (see below).

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 7/14 a neutral MJO pattern was depicted with neither the Inactive/Dry Phase or the Active/Wet Phase in play. The statistical model depicts a neutral pattern holding with perhaps a weak West/Active MJO signal moving into the far West Pacific 2 weeks out. 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): (7/15) The ECMF model has not updated since 7/11. We are ignoring it. The GEFS model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak over the Indian Ocean and is to track steadily east reaching the Maritime Continent 1 week out and the dateline 2 weeks out while fading some.
40 day Upper Level Model: (7/15) This model depicts a modest Active/Wet Pattern over the Maritime Continent moving east while building slightly reaching the West Pacific 7/23, then moving east to the East Pacific and over Central America on 8/22. A modest Dry/Inactive Phase to set up in the far West Pacific on 8/9 tracking east through 8/24 to the Central Pacific. 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: (7/15) 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 145W. 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. A previous pocket of +2 deg anomalies off Ecuador has dissipated. 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: (7/14) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a weak but building 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 upwelling pattern previously along the immediate coast of Chile, Peru and Ecuador has dissipated. Cooling was present over a broad area off Central America and Mexico out to 120W but is warming some. Also a broad pocket of cooling that was building centered at 25S 100W (well off Chile) has backed off some. Overall cooling both north and south was less defined as compared to a few days ago and a few weeks before. 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 pattern possibly trending cool.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (7/13): 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:
(7/13) A weak warm regime holds over Chile but a thin stream of cooler water is depicted just off Peru northwest to the Galapagos then turning 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: (7/15) Today's temps were rebounding after falling hard, now up to -0.072, up from -0.82 on 7/8 but down from a warm peak of +3.0 degs on 3/18 and +1.0 degs on 5/2..  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (7/15) temps were steady at +0.552 degs.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (7/15) The forecast has temps falling steadily from +0.50 degs July 1 to +0.2 in early Aug to 0.0 in Oct, then dropping steadily to -0.45 in Dec then stating to rebound to 0.0 in mid-Feb 2018 and perhaps warming to +0.4 degs in March. This suggests a neutral pattern biased cool setting up for the Winter of 2017-2018. CFS data (7/14) 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 (7/15): The daily index was rising at 16.31 having been negative a few days earlier. The 30 day average was rising steadily -2.06. The 90 day average was rising at -3.59 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): (7/15) Today's value was falling again at -1.92 (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 (2016) 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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