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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, August 6, 2016 12:59 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 & 1.5 - 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 8/1 thru Sun 8/7

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   

Small Gale Forecast for SE Pac
Tropical Swell from the NW Pac Possible

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 Saturday, August 6, 2016 :

  • Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.1 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 13.2 secs from 206 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.9 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 14.0 secs from 211 degrees. Wind south 6-10 kts. Water temperature 71.8 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.7 ft @ 5.9 secs from 261 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.3 ft @ 13.9 secs from 204 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 4.2 ft @ 6.7 secs from 291 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.7 ft @ 7.7 secs with windswell 5.1 ft @ 7.9 secs and southern hemi swell 2.0 ft @ 14.0 secs from 198 degrees. Wind northwest 14-18 kts. Water temp 56.8 degs.

    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Saturday (8/6) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell was producing waves at waist to chest high and reasonably clean early at exposed breaks. At Santa Cruz fading southern hemi swell was still producing rare sets waves at shoulder high and clean and lined up. In Southern California up north surf windswell was producing surf at up to waist high and clean. Down south residual southern hemi swell was producing waves in the waist to chest high range and textured from southerly wind. Further down south top spots had set waves were head high and clean but soft. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was tiny with waves thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting easterly windswell at waist high.cgius and chopped.

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

Meteorological Overview
The remnants of what was Tropical Storm Howard were 300 nmiles northeast of the Big Island of Hawaii and very weak. Tropical Storm Ivette was 1,200 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii with winds 50 kts tracking west. Slow weakening is forecast.The models suggest some sort of weak gale forming in the Southeast Pacific Wed-Thurs (8/11) but the forecast has progressively weakened with each run of the model. And tropical system Omais was in the far West Pacific with seas to 36 ft Fri-Sat (8/6) aimed north and almost up the great circle paths to California and points north of there. Maybe some swell to result. And it is to slightly recurve northeast on Wed (8/10) off the Kurils possibly sending more sideband swell towards the US mainland.


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (8/6) Tropical Storm Omais was in the far tropical West Pacific with winds 60 kts tracking north at 10 kts. Previously on Thurs PM (8/4) it had 45 kt southwest winds with seas building. By Fri AM (8/5) winds were 40-45 kts aimed north with 27 ft seas at 22N 151E. Winds built in the evening to 45 kts with seas 33 ft at 24N 150E tracking north (288 degs NCal, bypassing HI). On Sat AM (8/6) fetch built to 60 kts from the south with seas 36 ft at 26N 150E. Fetch is to turn more southeast after that targeting Japan though building to typhoon force (75 kts) while Omais tracks north, offering no additional immediate swell generation potential for our forecast area. Something to monitor.

Over the next 72 hours Omais is to turn again to then north on Tues AM (8/9) with winds still at typhoon force (65 kts) with seas to 39 ft over a tiny area at 39.5N 150E (302 degs NCal). Fetch is to turn more northeast in the evening at 55 kts with seas 36 ft at 43N 154E (305 degs NCal). More of the same is forecast on Wed AM (8/10) with winds 50 kts and seas 35 ft at 46N 160E (305 degs NCal). Fetch is to be fading from 40-45 kts in the evening off Kamchatka with seas fading from 33 ft at 49N 166E (308 degs NCal) and starting to become shadowed by the Aleutians. Something to monitor.

The California coastal pressure gradient was weak on Saturday (8/6) with high pressure at 1034 mbs centered in the Gulf of Alaska ridging slightly east towards Oregon generating north winds at 20-25 kts along a small area of the North CA coast with 15 kt north winds down to the Channel Islands offering weak windswell production potential. No eddy flow was in.cgiay. Over the next 72 hours the gradient is to be weakening and loosing coverage while falling south through Sun (8/7) with winds 15-20 kts over North CA and Central CA with diminishing windswell size expected with conditions deteriorating. The gradient is to start rebuilding on Mon (8/8) with a broad area of 20 kts north winds setting up later in the day covering all of North and Central CA waters with a small core to 25 kts near Pt Arena with windswell generation potential building. By Tues (8/9) 30 kts fetch is to be in.cgiay over Cape Mendocino with an eddy flow almost in.cgiay for Central CA. Windswell building with conditions improving some.

For Hawaii on Saturday (8/6) trades were steady from the east-northeast at 15+ kts driven by the same high pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska making for some easterly windswell along exposed easterly shores. But winds to turn northeast at 20 kts later in the day generating more east to northeasterly windswell with the remnants of Howard passing north of the Big Island late and then moving over Oahu on Sun (8/7). Windswell starting to fade. Trades to fade after that below 15 kts into Tuesday (8/9).


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


Tropical Update
Remnants of Tropical Storm Howard were 300 nmiles northeast of the Big Island of Hawaii on Sat AM (8/6) tracking west. See details in the North Pacific Forecast. Swell from Howard to reach the east shore of the Big Island on Sat AM (8/6) pushing 5 ft @ 10 secs (5.0 ft faces) from 60 degrees then fading Sun (8/7) from 4.0 ft @ 9 secs (3.5 ft). Swell to reach the East Shore of Oahu late Saturday holding into Sun (8/7) at 5 ft @ 9-10 secs (4.5 ft). Swell gone by Mon (8/8).

Tropical Storm Ivette was 1,300 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii with winds 45 kts tracking west. This same heading is to generally continue with max winds slowly fading into Wed AM (8/10) at minimal depression status (25 kts) 400 nmiles east of the Big Island. Fetch steadily fading from there while tracking just south of the Big Island on Thurs (8/11) with winds barely 20 kts. Some windswell generation potential is possible.


California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (8/6) high pressure was ridging into North CA coast from the Gulf of Alaska producing the usual pressure gradient over North CA with north winds there 20 to barely 25 kts but only 15 kts pushing into Central CA. More of the same is forecast on Sunday as the gradient collapses and falls south with north winds 20 kts along the North and Central Coasts holding into Monday. The gradient is to reorganize over North CA on Tues (8/9) with north winds 30 kts there and barely 15 kts for Central CA. But on Wed-Thurs (8/11) the gradient is to collapse with 20 kts north winds fading over North CA and 15 kts north winds over Central CA waters. Thursday (8/11) and beyond winds to dissipate with a northwest flow at 10 kts or less holding into next weekend.

South Pacific

On Saturday AM (8/6) the northern branch of the jet was dominant running west to east on the 35N latitude line peaking at 190 kts near 150W, but otherwise in the 110 kt range. The southern branch was exceedingly weak and only present over the far Southwestern Pacific running from Antarctica northeast but only at 70 kts, not forming any real trough of interest. Over the next 72 hours that pattern is to hold but with a little more wind energy is forecast developing in the southern branch early Mon (8/8) with southwest winds to 100 kts building under New Zealand joining the main flow near 150W forming a bit of a trough there. This pattern is to hold with a weak trough in.cgiay moving east to 135W on Wed (8/10) with reinforcements at 120 kts developing Thurs (8/11) at 150W. Those winds to fade to 100 kts on Fri (8/12) with support for gale development fading. After that the southern branch is to be weak running generally from under New Zealand east-northeast at 90 kts eventually merging with the northern branch off Southern Chile and offering no real support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere.

Surface Analysis  
On Saturday (8/6) swell from a tiny gale that developed in the Central Pacific was fading out in California. No other swell was in the water behind it.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are 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 start easing west with the gradient rapidly fading Wed (8/10) with north winds fading rapidly along the North CA coast from 25 kts and the eddy flow dissipating. By Thurs (8/11) the high is to retreat to the west and gradient is to be gone with northwest winds down to 10 kts and windswell fading with it. A light northwest flow at 10 kts is forecast through Sat (8/13) only building to 15 kts in the immediate vicinity of Pt Conception. No windswell to result.

For Hawaii trades to not be an issue Tues (8/9) but the remnants of Ivette are to move to within 600 nmiles of the Big Island offering swell generation potential longer term. Trades to remain below 15 kts on Wed (8/10) with no windswell potential expected. But the remnants of Ivette are to move up to the Big Island on Thurs (8/11) while dissipating with northeast winds 15-20 kts targeting northeast shores of all the Islands. Some support for windswell development possible. trades to hold Fri-Sat (8/13) at 15-20 kts attributable to high pressure in the Southwestern Gulf with windswell on the increase.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours general low pressure is to start building in the central South Pacific on Sun (8/7) but fetch is to be fragmented and not exceeding 30 kts from the southwest. On Tues AM (8/9) that fetch is to consolidate some generating a broad area of 30-35 kts southwest winds with seas on the increase. Winds to build to 35 kts in the evening with seas building from 25 ft at 43S 150W. On Wed AM (8/10) southwest fetch is to be 40 kts in pockets with 29-30 ft seas over a broad area at 45S 143W aimed northeast and continuing in the evening with 30-32 ft seas over a tiny area at 41S 135W. On Thurs AM (8/11) a new fetch of 40-45 kts southwest fetch is to be building in the same area with 31 ft seas building at 48S 139W. 45 kt southwest fetch to continue in the evening with 32 ft seas at 42S 130W. Fetch continuing east Fri AM (8/12) at barely 45 kts over a tiny area with 36 ft seas at 47S 120W and moving out of the California swell window. 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 all but gone except for remnants in the upper atmosphere. La Nina is developing.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Fri (8/5) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific and solid over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south of there). Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific but modest easterly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderate easterly anomalies were over the KWGA on 8/6 and reaching to a point south of California are are forecast to hold unchanged through 8/9 suggestive of a moderate Inactive Phase of the MJO. But then they are to start fading by 8/10 with next to nothing left by 8/13 with some hints of weak west anomalies building in the KWGA at that time.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 8/5 a modest Active Phase of the MJO was trying to set up in the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects it continuing to try and build into the West Pacific, then fading 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with a stronger version of the Active Phase building in the West Pacific 2 weeks out. This pattern, if it materializes would help to support storm development.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (8/6) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak and positioned over the Maritime Continent. The forecast projects it moving east and building, getting solid if not strong over the dateline 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing but then weakening 2 weeks out.
40 day Upper Level Model: (8/6) A strong Inactive Phase was over the far East Pacific and tracking east, inland by 8/15. A modest Active Phase was also building in the west and is to slowly track east eventually moving into Central America on 9/2. A weak Inactive Phase is to be building in the West Pacific on 8/31 and tracking east through 9/15.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern starting to build over the KWGA with weak west anomalies in.cgiay and forecast holding thru 9/5. An Inactive Phase is to follow 9/6-9/17 weakly but west anomalies are to hold reaching east to the dateline (in the KWGA). Then the Active MJO signal to follow 9/21 -10/15 with weak west anomalies still over the far West Pacific. East anomalies are forecast holding in the East PAcific from 170W eastward from now forward. 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 8/28. 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: (8/6) Actual temperatures are building in the West Pacific on the surface at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 170E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 170W. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 165W with weak negative anomalies east of there towards Ecuador. Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting between 145W-155W but building to the east now. At depth -3 degs anomalies reaching east down 100 meters at 150W (building east). The Kelvin Wave pipeline is chocked with cold water rushing east through it. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/1 depicts a pocket of +1.0 deg anomalies building in the West Pacific to 170W. Cool water 2-3 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: (8/5) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates warmer than normal water is building along the coast of Peru and Ecuador, at least for the moment. Cool water still extends west from the Galapagos tracking solidly out to at least 160W with with peak temps down to -1.5 degs (mostly south of Hawaii) and building north and south to 8 deg (N/S). La Nina is firmly in control of surface waters, with remnant El Nino warm water quickly dissipating in a few small pockets 3 degs north and south of the equator. Almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino regions on the equator.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (8/5): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru. But a warming trend is developing from the Galapagos out to 145W. A weak cooling trend is off Africa.
Hi-res Overview:
(8/4) A clear La Nina cool pool is tracking from west of the Galapagos 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: (8/6) Today's temps were steady at +0.704 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/6) temps had rebounded slightly recently but are starting to fall again today from -0.704 degs.

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

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (8/6) indicates temps are to be steady from here forward at -0.5 degs maybe dipping to -0.65 degs in Nov, then slowly rising in Jan 2017 and neutral by March. This is a major upgrade from previous projections. This is barely in La Nina territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-July Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.6 by Nov and holding there to Feb, then rising. This is up from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):   
Southern Oscillation Index (8/6): The daily index was up slightly at -6.98. The 30 day average was steady at +4.14. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was steady in the positive range at +2.86, transitioning from negative to positive the first time in years on 7/20. El Nino is gone in all dimensions of the SOI Index now.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (8/6) Today's value was down to -1.45. 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 much weaker in July than June (as expected with La NIna setting in). Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-July) have been +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.60, +1.43, +0.75 and +0.18. The Washington EDU index for the Jan-June 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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