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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, July 19, 2016 3:06 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
2.3- California & 2.1 - 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 7/18 thru Sun 7/24

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   

One More Small Swell Targets CA
2 New Zealand Gales Charted

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.

On Tuesday, July 19, 2016 :

  • Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.8 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 13.5 secs from 202 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.0 ft @ 16.0 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 15.3 secs from 195 degrees. Wind variable 2-4 kts. Water temperature 70.7 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.6 ft @ 6.1 secs from 257 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.6 ft @ 15.7 secs from 205 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.6 ft @ 15.8 secs from 192 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.4 ft @ 9.1 secs with windswell 2.7 ft @ 8.1 secs and southern hemi swell 2.0 ft @ 15.7 secs from 194 degrees. Wind northwest 14-16 kts. Water temp 55.8 degs.

    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Tuesday (7/19) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell was producing waves at maybe waist high and chopped from northwest wind. At Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was still producing waves at waist to chest high on the sets and clean. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at thigh to waist high and clean. Down south southern hemi swell was producing set waves at shoulder to head high and clean and lined up when they come. Further south top spots had sets at head high or so and textured from southwest wind. Hawaii's North Shore was chest high and lined up and clean. The South Shore was maybe waist high and nearly chopped from southeast winds. The East Shore was getting Celia swell with waves shoulder high and chopped from south wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
A gale formed south of New Zealand on Wed-Thurs (7/7) with 32 ft seas aimed mainly east. Small swell from it is fading in CA. A weak and fragmented gale developed Tues (7/12) in the Central Pacific with 28-30 ft seas aimed northeast for 18 hours. Small swell is possible for CA mid-week. A gale formed in the Tasman Sea on Wed-Thurs (7/14) with 34 ft seas aimed northeast. Small swell for Hawaii is possible by Thurs (7/20). Otherwise the South Pacific has been quiet. A gale is forecast pushing under New Zealand on Wed (7/20) with 32-34 ft seas aimed east. Possible small swell to result for Hawaii and the US West Coast. Another gale is forecast tracking under New Zealand on Sat (7/23) with 40+ ft seas aimed east over a small area. In the tropics the remnants of TS Celia were passing north of Hawaii still generating windswell that is hitting exposed northeast facing shores, but on it's way down fast. And Tropical Storm Darby was 1134 nmiles east of the Big Island tracking west and forecast to move very close to the Big Island before possibly strengthening and turning north. And Tropical Storm Estelle was positioned 900 nmiles south of Southern CA tracking west. The Tropical East Pacific is being fueled by the Active Phase of the MJO passing over that region, but that is about to end. Otherwise the transition to La Nina continues.

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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday AM (7/19) no swell producing fetch is occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.

The California coastal pressure gradient was gone on Tuesday (7/19) offering no windswell production potential. Instead a weak northwesterly flow was in effect below 15 kts everywhere but Pt Conception. Over the next 72 hours the gradient is to remain generally weak with northwest winds 15 kts Wed-Thurs (7/21) mostly centered on Pt Conception then building on Fri (7/22) to 15-20 kts and covering all waters of North and Central CA. Low odds for some rideable raw windswell to result on Friday afternoon in Central CA.

For Hawaii on Tues (7/19) trades were suppressed with the remnants of Celia tracking west just 200 nmiles north of the Islands with light south winds in control. But by Wednesday (7/20) east trades are to return at 15 kts courtesy of high pressure in the Western Gulf continuing into Thurs (7/21). Weak windswell possible but of more interest is to the swell and winds from Darby, approaching from the east (see details in the Tropical Update below) especially for exposed east shores of the Big Island with windswell from it reaching into most northeast shores of the other islands.


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


Tropical Update
Post Tropical Depression Celia on Tues AM (7/19) was 130 nmiles north of Kauai producing east winds at 25 kts generating windswell but all aimed west of Hawaii. Windswell from Celias approach was still hitting exposed shores with windswell 4 ft @ 10 secs on Oahu and 4.2 ft @ 9 secs on Maui. This swell is to be heading down. No further updates are to be provided.

Hurricane Darby peaked Sat AM (7/16) 1830 nmiles east of the Big Island with winds 90 kts and heading west at 8 kts. Slow weakening set in thereafter with Darby down to tropical storm status on Tues AM (7/19) with winds at 60 kts positioned 1129 nmiles east of the Big Island. No fetch was aimed well up into California. This system is to continue east with winds generally 45-50 kts then fading to 40 kts Sat AM (7/23) positioned 225 nmiles east of the Big Island. The GFS model has this system stalling there on Sun (7/24) and rebuilding with winds to 45-50 kts then lifting north-northeast Mon (7/25) and starting to accelerate while fading on Tuesday (7/26). Assuming this occurs, there improved odds for swell generation on Sun-Mon (7/25) targeting exposed east and northeast shores of all Islands. Something to monitor.

Big Island (East Shore): Swell from early in Darby's life peaking on Tues (7/19) at 2.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) and fading slightly to 2.5 ft @ 13 secs (3.0-3.5 ft) on Wed (7/20) from 85-90 degrees then possibly building beyond depending on Darby's track and strength. Windswell in the 7 ft @ 12 secs range (8.5 ft faces) is possible on Fri-Sun (7/24).

Oahu East Shore: Windswell possibly building starting Thurs (7/21) at 5 ft @ 8-9 secs (4 ft) pushing 4.5 ft @ 11 secs (4.5-5.0 ft) on Mon (7/25).

Tropical Storm Estelle was positioned 900 nmiles south of Los Angeles with winds 55 kts tracking west-northwest at 11 kts and forecast to strengthen slightly. Estellte to reach hurricane status on Tues PM (7/19) with winds 65 kts, then fading from there while tracking steadily more northwest. Estelle to be down to depression status on Fri AM (7/22) mid-day between Hawaii and California. Minimal odds of swell reaching either the Islands or CA.

A weaker tropical pattern to follow.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (7/19) high pressure was well retrograded away from the coast with only a small patch of northwest winds at 15 kts limited to the Point Conception area. On Wednesday that area is to grow slightly at 15 kts maybe reaching northward to Monterey Bay Wednesday and unchanged until Friday, building to 20 kts for North CA and up to 25 kts over Southern Central CA. By Sat (7/23) the moderate version of the gradient is to be in.cgiay with northwest winds 20-25 kts for all of North and Central CA then lifting north to North CA on Sunday at 25-30 kts with an eddy flow (south winds) starting to develop along nearshore Central CA coastal waters. That pattern is to only get more entrenched Mon-Tues (7/26).

South Pacific

On Tuesday AM (7/19) the jet was .cgiit over the entire South Pacific with the southern branch dragging over Antarctic Ice south of New Zealand continuing east to the Southeast Pacific finally lifting a little north of the ice line near 100W before pushing into southern South America. Over the next 72 hours the ridge is to start fading in the far West Pacific on Thurs (7/21) with 120 kts winds pushing under New Zealand down at 55S but not further south while pushing east through later Friday (7/22). Limited support for gale development possible. Beyond 72 hours a new weak ridge is to try and develop south of New Zealand on Sat (7/24) but fading all the while momentarily squashing support for gale development. But by Monday (7/25) the jet is to be re-consolidate but diffuse up at 30-40S over the Tasman Sea and holding that way well east into the Central Pacific with a pocket of northeast winds moving into the area under Tasmania on Tues (7/26) at 120 kts perhaps developing a trough and offering better odds for gale development.

Surface Analysis  
On Tuesday (7/19) swell from a gale that developed under New Zealand Wed-Thurs (7/7) was all but gone in Hawaii and fading in CA. One more small fetch developed behind in the Central Pacific on Tues (7/12) sending small swell towards CA (see Central Pacific Gale below). But behind that, no swell was in the water.

Over the next 72 hours starting Tues PM (7/19) a gale low is to be tracking well south of the Tasman Sea with west winds 45 kts generating 35 ft seas at 53.5S 151E and barely unshadowed by New Zealand relative to North and South CA (222 degs). On Wed AM (7/20) 40 kt southwest winds to be tracking under New Zealand generating 33 ft seas at 52.5S 163E and unshadowed relative to CA (219 degs) and clear of New Zealand relative to Hawaii (201 degs). Fetch is to be rapidly fading in the evening from 35 kts from the southwest with seas fading from 30 ft at 54S 171E (214 degs CA, 197 degs HI). This system is to be gone after that. Some small 18 sec period swell could result.


Central Pacific Gale
On Tues AM (7/12) a weak gale developed while lifting up into the aforementioned trough in the Central South Pacific producing a small area of 40 kt south winds and seas to 30 ft at 58S 158W. In the evening those winds to continued tracking northeast and holding speed while loosing coverage with seas fading from 28ft over a small sized area at 53S 151W. By Wed AM (7/13) this system is to be gone. Small swell is possible.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed AM (7/20) at 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5 ft) holding through the day. Swell fading Thurs AM (7/21) from 2.0 ft @ 14 sec early (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 201 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed AM (7/20) at 2 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0-3.5 ft) holding through the day. Swell fading Thurs AM (7/21) from 1.8 ft @ 15 sec early (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 200 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 be developing at 1028 mbs just 600 nmiles west of North CA on Sat (7/23) generating a solid version of the usual coastal pressure gradient with north winds 20-25 kts over all of North and Central CA with the focus being the north end of the state. Windswell on the increase, but raw. By Sun (7/24) the gradient is to be focused on North CA with north winds to near 30 kts while a weak eddy flow tries to get established from Pt Reyes southward. Windswell building. More of the same on Mon-Tues (7/26) with north winds 30 kts over North CA with the eddy flow holding for Central CA from Bodega Bay southward.

For Hawaii winds and windswell associated with Darby to the the major weather factor through Sun (7/24). Then Darby to head north and weak trades from the east in the 10 kt range are to return on Tues (7/26).

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a small storm is forecast developing southwest of New Zealand on Fri PM (7/23) with 50-55 kt west winds and seas building to 43 ft over a tiny area at 50.5S 160.5E and barely in the CA swell window (221-222 degs). 50 kt west winds to hold pushing east into Sat AM (7/23) with 45 ft seas at 52S 172E (216 degs CA, 196 degs HI). This system is to be fading and falling southeast in the evening with seas 34 ft at 55.5S 176E and aimed more at Antarctica than any points northward. Small swell from this system is possible. At least it's something to monitor.

More details to follow...


La Nina 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 equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced 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.cgianet, 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 help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. 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: The 2014-2016 El Nino is fading out. La Nina is emerging.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Tues (7/18) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific, but strongest east of 170W. Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial Pacific.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderate easterly anomalies were over the KWGA on 7/19 and area to hold through 7/22, then weakening but still modestly easterly through 7/26 suggestive of a moderate Inactive Phase of the MJO.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 7/18 a modest Inactive MJO signal was over the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects it fading over the next week with neutral anomalies in.cgiay 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts the same thing. Neither of these outcomes is encouraging from a swell production viewpoint.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (7/19) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak and positioned in the far east Indian Ocean. The forecast projects it fading to nothing while easing east over the next 6 days. The GEFS model depicts basically the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (7/19) A strong Inactive Phase was over the far West Pacific and expected to move east through 8/15. A very weak Active Phase to follow in the west starting on 8/12 easing east through at least 8/28. This is a typical La Nina pattern.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Active MJO signal all but gone over the KWGA moving east with weak west anomalies in.cgiay mainly south of California offering minimal support for enhancing the tropics in the East Pacific. An Inactive MJO pattern to develop in the KWGA 7/27 with weak east anomalies taking root 7/29-8/24. An Active MJO signal to follow 8/28 to 10/16 with west anomalies over the far West Pacific to 170E and stationary with east anomalies from 175W and points east to Central America. The low pass filter suggests the remnants of El Nino are shifting east and are now south of Hawaii (rather than in the KWGA) and offering nothing to enhance the jetstream and are to dissipate (gone) south of California by 9/4. At the same time low pass anomalies are over the Indian Ocean and forecast to build into Oct, typical of La Nina.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (7/18) Actual temperature are building in the West Pacific near the surface to 30 degs C and the 28 deg isotherm line stable reaching east to only 165W. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 160W with weak negative anomalies between there and 130W. Neutral anomalies are east of there over a shallow pool near the surface and are fading. Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting between 135W-160W with -3 degs anomalies reaching east down 100 meters to 130W (building east). The Kelvin Wave pipeline is chocked with cold water rushing east through it. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 7/12 a pocket of +1.0 deg anomalies is building from 130E to 170W. Cool waters 3-4 degs below normal was under the entire width of the equator, undercutting any residual warm water above it and forming a bubble near 150W and upwelling from 120-150W but also reaching east to Ecuador. La Nina is in control of the ocean.

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: (7/18) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates cooler than normal water continues along the coast of Peru (though weaker than weeks past) pushing north and expanding coverage then extending west from Ecuador over the Galapagos, tracking solidly west out to at least 160W with with peak temps down to -1.75 degs (near the Galapagos and south of Hawaii). This cool pattern is weakening in the east but solid in the west. La Nina is firmly in control of surface waters, with remnant El Nino warm water 3 degs north and south of the equator being pushed further north and south away from the equator with cool water now reaching up to 10N in pockets quickly edging out the warmer water. No warm water remains anywhere in the Nino regions on the equator.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (7/18): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru. Strong cooling that was in control from the Galapagos out to 140W continues backing off some, but the trend is still negative. A warming pattern was previously off Africa but is being r.cgiaced by a cooling trend. The PDO warm pool was pulsing solidly from Oregon out across the Pacific at 40N to Japan.
Hi-res Overview:
(7/18) A clear La Nina cool water pool is tracking from Ecuador and building south of Hawaii. A generalized pattern of +1-2 deg above normal temps remains 3 degs north and south of the equator and west of 180W. Cooler water is over the north dateline region in the North Pacific with warm water off the Pacific Northwest streaming over Hawaii looking very much like the classic Active PDO pattern.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (7/19) Today's temps were rising slightly at +0.556 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (7/19) temps were falling down to -0.771 degs.

Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (7/16) indicates temps on a steady downward trajectory falling to -0.8 degs Oct 1 and holding through Dec, then slowly rising in Jan 2017 and neutral by March. This is moderate La Nina territory but it's up from the -1.5 and -1.25 degs indicated even a few weeks ago.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-June Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.7 by Sept then holding there to March. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):   
Southern Oscillation Index (7/17): The daily index was falling negative at -7.00. The 30 day average was falling at +1.99. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was rising from -1.53. El Nino was evident only in the 90 day average, and even that will soon be a distant memory.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (7/19) Today's value was steady at -1.18. It peaked on 3/12 at +1.57 then fell until 4/14, when it started rising again peaking 4/23 at +1.12. But it has been falling steadily ever since.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though a little weaker in June (as expected with La NIna setting in). Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-June) have been +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.60, +1.45 and +0.78. The Washington EDU index for the Jan-May period indicates +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35 and +2.03 . The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive since then. 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 suggests that could be a real possibility. We've been in the negative phase since 1998 through at least 2013 (15 years). 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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