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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Sunday, August 6, 2017 1:02 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
1.5 - California & 1.0 - 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 8/7 thru Sun 8/13

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   

Southern Hemi Falls Mostly Quiet
North Pacific Not Ready Yet


On Sunday, August 6, 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 2.9 ft @ 13.7 secs with southern hemi swell 1.7 ft @ 13.4 secs from 177 degrees. Wind at the buoy was west at 4 kts. Water temperature 68.4 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.1 ft @ 13.0 secs from 175 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.2 ft @ 13.5 secs from 203 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.4 ft @ 13.2 secs from 214 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.6 ft @ 12.6 secs from 184 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 3.2 ft @ 13.7 secs with southern hemi swell 2.1 ft @ 13.7 secs from 183 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 6-8 kts. Water temp 61.7 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 Sunday (8/6) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf at thigh to waist high and pretty warbled but not fully chopped from west wind. High fog was obscuring the sun. Protected breaks were flat, clean and overcast early. At Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was hitting producing surf in the knee to thigh high range on the sets and clean. In Southern California up north waves were knee to thigh high and clean early but very slow. In North Orange Co southern hemi swell was limping in producing sets at waist to maybe chest high and clean but weak. In South Orange Co surf was up to head high on the peaks on set waves and clean and still quite rideable. In San Diego surf was thigh to maybe waist high and clean and weak. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore had sets thigh to waist high and clean. The East Shore was thigh to maybe waist 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 Sunday (8/6) no windswell was present along the coast of North and Central California and none is forecast till maybe Thurs (8/10) and then only weakly. Wed for the foreseeable future. Windswell is fading out in Hawaii and not expected to return till maybe Fri (8/11). The last of the south angled southern hemi swell was hitting California generated by a gale previously in the far Southeast Pacific. A gale developed in the deep Southeast Pacific on Wed (8/2) with 34 ft seas aimed northeast. Longer term another gale is forecast in the far Southeast Pacific lifting north but well east of the Southern CA swell window Tues-Wed (8/9) targeting only Chile and Peru. The forecast suggests no swell from tropical sources is to be expected either. Things are to be pretty quiet while we approach the begriming of the transition to Fall.

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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Sunday (8/6) a weak pressure and wind pattern was in control off the California coast with no solid high pressure within 800 nmiles of the coast resulting in no wind of interest and no windswell. In fact, low pressure at 1004 mbs was circulating in the Western Gulf of Alaska looking like the first hints of a turn towards a Fall pattern. For Hawaii a weak pressure and wind pattern was also in control with no windswell producing fetch indicated.

Over the next 72 hours through Wed (8/9) relative to the mainland more of the same is forecast with no windswell expected. The same is also expected for Hawaii.


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


Tropical Update
On Sunday (8/6):
Hurricane Noru was positioned 30 nmiles south of Southern Japan with winds 65 kts tracking northeast at 10 kts producing 21 ft seas. Noru is forecast to continue on it's northeasterly track slowly moving inland over Central japan near Tokyo Mon AM (8/7) with winds 55 kts eventually exiting northeast over North Japan on Wed AM (8/9) with winds 30 kts and fading from there. At this time no swell production is expected relative to our forecast area, though Japan will be impacted by the direct effects of Noru.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (8/6) a weak pressure and wind pattern was in control of the California Coast with winds 10 kts or less and forecast to hold through Tues (8/8). There's some suggestion that high pressure is to try and build in the East Pacific on Wed (8/9) with 15 kt north winds setting up over North CA early building in pockets to Pt Conception later. On Thurs (8/10) north winds to hit 20 kts over north CA and 15 kts down to Pt Conception. Then on Fri (8/11) north winds to build through the day at 20 kts over all of North and Central CA waters pushing near 25 kts in pockets on Sat (8/12) then starting to dissipate on Sun (8/13) with north winds 20 kts over North CA and 15 kts down to Pt Conception.


South Pacific

On Sunday AM (8/6) the jetstream continued in a zonal pattern with the northern branch running east on the 31S latitude line and the southern branch of the jet running east on the 68S latitude line and weak but with a trough developing over the Southeast Pacific being fed by 120 kts winds offering good support for gale development. T
he trough is to continue pushing east Mon (8/7) while migrating into the far Southeast Pacific being fed by 1100-110 kt winds lifting northeast and the trough almost starting to pinch off offering continued support for gale development before getting cut off on Tuesday (8/9) and moving out of the CA swell window. Also a bit of a trough is to try and develop under New Zealand on Mon (8/7) reaching north to 62S but very weak with winds only 90 kts offering no real support for gale development. That trough is to continue east and fading into Wed (8/9) offering nothing of interest. Beyond 72 hours a return of a strict zonal flow is to set up in the southern branch of the jet by Fri (8/11) with one pocket of winds at 150 kts over the Central South Pacific down at 68S but doing nothing and the pattern holding through Sun (8/13).

Surface Analysis  
On Sunday (8/6) residual swell from a gale previously in the far Southeast PAcific was still arriving in California, but on it's last legs (see 2nd Southeast Pacific Gale below). .Another small swell was behind that from a similar gale (see Southeast Pacific Gale below).

Otherwise a gale low was developing in the far Southeast Pacific with 35 kt south winds trying to get traction on the oceans surface. In the evening winds to build to 40 kts from the south with winds 24 ft at 55S 115W mostly out of the SCal swell window. On Mon AM (8/7) more of the same is forecast with the low holding with 40 kt south winds but starting to fall south with barely 28 ft seas at 58S 11W and outside the CA swell window. In the evening the gale is to build but well east with 50 kt southwest winds off South Chile with a tiny area of 30 kts seas at 51S 93W. No swell production is forecast relative to CA. Theoretically this fetch is to build into Tues PM (8/8) while holding position with 45-50 kt southwest winds and seas to 40 ft at 51S 99W and way too far east to be of interest to California targeting only Chile and Peru. Something to monitor.


2nd Southeast Pacific Gale
A new gale developed on the eastern edge of the Southern CA swell window on Sun PM (7/23) with 45 kt south winds and lifting north with seas building from 32 ft over a small area at 57.5S 119W. On Mon AM (7/24) fetch fading from 40 kts still lifting north and on the edge of the SCal swell window with 30 ft seas at 53S 114W tracking north. Additional 35-40 kt south fetch built in the same area in the evening with 32 ft seas at 51S 115W pushing due north. On Tues AM fetch was still 40 kts from the south but well east of the SCal swell window with 31 ft seas at 45.5S 11W pushing due north. This system is to be gone by evening.

Southern CA: Swell continues Thurs (8/3) at 2.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell fading on Fri (8/4) from 2.6 ft @ 14 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Dribbles on Sat (8/5) fading from 2.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.5 ft). Swell fading Sun (8/6) from 2.5 ft @ 13 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 175 degrees

North CA: Swell continues Thurs (8/3) at 2.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.0 ft). Swell continues on Fri (8/4) at 3.0 ft @ 14-5 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading Sat (8/5) from 3.0 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading Sun (8/6) from 2.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 170-175 degrees


Southeast Pacific Gale
Tuesday PM (8/1) a gale developed building in the far Southeast Pacific with southwest winds 45 kts and seas to 33 ft over a small area at 60S 127W. The gale raced east and out of the Southern CA swell window Wed AM (8/2) with winds 45 kts at 58S 110W and seas 33 ft at 58S 111W. Low odds for any swell to push up into the Southern CA swell window.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs AM (8/10) pushing 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell fading Fri (8/11) at 1.6 ft @ 15 secs (2.5 ft). Swell fades out on Sat (8/12) fading from 1.4 ft @ 14 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 192 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs AM (8/10) pushing 1.4 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell holding Fri (8/11) at 1.5 ft @ 16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fades out on Sat (8/12) fading from 1.1 ft @ 14 secs (1.5 ft). Swell Direction: 190 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 weak high pressure is to start building north of Hawaii on Thurs (8/10) at 1024 mbs ridging east generating a weak pressure gradient and a small fetch of north winds at 15+ kts over North California perhaps starting to produce minimal short period weak north windswell down into Central CA. That pattern is to build some on Fri (8/11) with winds to 20 kts reaching south to Pt Conception and peaking at up to almost 25 kts on Sat (8/12) over North CA resulting small north windswell down into Central CA. Winds are to start fading on Sun (8/13) down to 15 kts with windswell dropping from there.

For Hawaii trades to start building just east of the Islands at 15 kts on Thurs (8/10) when high pressure starts regenerating 600 nmiles north of the Islands at 1024 mbs with some slight increase in east windswell possible. More of the same is forecast Fri-Sun (8/13) with some sense of a tropical wave developing south of Hawaii while tracking west helping to fuel the above gradient and easterly fetch.

Also of some interest is a pattern of southwest winds aligned from off Japan up into Central Canada with three weak low pressure systems tracking along it demarking the boundary between high pressure in the East Pacific a weaker low pressure over the Northwest Pacific. Perhaps a sign of Fall developing, at least for the moment.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours nothing of interest is forecast until Thurs PM (8/10) when a cutoff low is to generating a tiny area of 45 kts south winds in the Central Pacific with seas building to 34 ft over a tiny area at 45S 142W. The gale is to lift north and fade Fri AM (8/11) with winds fading from 40 kts with 32 ft seas at 40S 140W. the gale to fade from there. Perhaps something to monitor.

More details to follow...


La Nina Pattern Developing on the Surface and at Depth in Nino3.4

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 Sat (8/5) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were neutral over the East Equatorial Pacific and light easterly over the Eastern KWGA but light westerly over the Western KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (8/6) Modest east anomalies were modeled over the entire KWGA. This pattern is to start building through the week with moderate east anomalies forecast over the core of the KWGA and holding through the end of the 7 day model run (8/12). It appears something like an Inactive Phase of the MJO/La Nina was holding if not building. This is a downgrade from previous forecasts.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 8/5 a dead neutral MJO pattern was depicted over the West Pacific with neither the Wet/Active or the Dry/Inactive Phase indicated in play. The statistical model depicts no change over the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts the same thing. We had been thinking perhaps a real Active Pattern would set up rather than being dominated by the Inactive Phase of the MJO as has been the case the past 6 months, but that is not to be.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (8/6) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO exceedingly weak over the Maritime Continent and is to remain weak and directionless over the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. This is not promising.
40 day Upper Level Model: (8/6) This model depicts a weak Active/Wet Pattern over the Central Pacific and the Inactive/Dry pattern over the Maritime Continent. Both are to move east while slowly fading with the Active Phase fading over Central America 8/31 while the Inactive Phase is to reach the West Pacific 8/15 and then tracking east to the East Pacific through the end of the model run, 9/15. So basically the Inactive Phase is to take over and hold for the next 40 days. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (8/6) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO signal over the Central KWGA with neutral to weak west anomalies indicated there. Over the coming days weak west anomalies are to fade to neutral 8/8 as the Active MJO dissipates over the dateline. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is to develop 8/12 with neutral wind anomalies forecast through 9/1 as the Inactive Phase dissipates. After that the Active Phase of the MJO is to return starting 9/5 with west anomalies in control through 10/15 when the Inactive Phase starts developing the West Pacific and west anomalies start fading. Of note: East anomalies are to develop from the dateline and points east of there 8/22 and are to hold into early-Oct. The low pass filter indicates a very weak La Nina signal redeveloped 7/25 from the dateline eastward and is to hold very weak till 9/7, then building and holding for the foreseeable future. There's some sense the El Nino core is to start shifting east some in later October. 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: (8/6) 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 retrograding west and currently is at 162W. The 24 deg isotherm has retrograded again to 115W but holding at 75 meters deep at 140W (previously 100 meters). The warm water layer in the East Pacific is getting shallower suggesting a transition to La Nina. Anomaly wise a generic pattern of 0.0 anomalies stretches from the East to West Pacific from 90 meters upward and is getting shallower a pocket of +1.0 degs anomalies is in the far West Pacific with a smaller one in the east at 120W. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/1 depicts fragmented pockets of warm water from the west to the east suggesting a homogenous pattern biased warm in effect of the upper reaches of the entire equatorial Pacific but a building pattern of cooler water is building at depth from the dateline eastward down at 100m. 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: (8/1) A neutral high pattern has been in control for the past month but now negative anomalies have developed between 180W to 120W suggesting cooler water at depth.

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) indicate a weak warm pattern trying to hold tracking northwest off north Chile. But a small upwelling pattern is indicated nearshore along North Peru and Ecuador almost reaching to the Galapagos. And pockets of cooling continue on the equator from the Galapagos westward and getting better defined and continuous west of there between 105-160W. A broad pocket of cooling is also holding centered at 25S 100W (well off Chile). Cooling previously south of mainland Mexico to the equator has faded with warm anomalies rebuilding solidly. Overall cooling in the heart of the Nino3.4 region is suspicious. The La Nina that developed Spring 2016 faded and was replaced by an El Nino like pattern that tried to build March-May 2017, but that too has dissipated and is being replaced by a neutral pattern possibly trending cool (starting July 2017).
Hi-res 7 day Trend (8/1): A neutral trend was along the coast of Chile and Peru. A mixed pattern was pushing west off Ecuador and the Galapagos out to 150W with alternating pockets of warm and cool water but favoring the cooler water. An early start of a legit La Nina pattern appears to be developing. 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:
(8/2) A weak warm regime is barely holding off Chile while a thin stream of cooler water is depicted running through it just off Peru northwest to the Galapagos then turning west along the equator tracking west to the dateline. A broad cool stream is pushing northwest off Chile almost reaching the equator too. A marked cool stream is developing on the equator from 110W to 170W running through the heart of the Nino3.4 region suggesting the development of a legit La Nina. 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: (8/6) Today's temps are falling down at -0.446, down from a warm peak of +3.0 degs on 3/18 and +1.0 degs on 5/2 and +0.6 degs on 6/20.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/6) temps were falling some, at +0.093, way down from +0.5 degs where it was consistently through 7/18.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (8/6) The forecast has temps falling steadily from +0.0 in early Aug to -0.2 in Oct, holding there to Nov, easing down to -0.3 late Dec then stating to rebound to 0.0 in early March 2018 and perhaps warming to +0.5 degs in April. This is an upgrade from previous model runs. This suggests a neutral pattern biased cool setting up for the Winter of 2017-2018. CFS data (7/26) continues to suggest a weak La Nina cool pattern building on the equator off the Galapagos starting weakly in August and building steadily looking very La Nina like in Nov through Jan 2018. There is no source for El Nino like warming with the warm pool in the far West Pacific weak and fading.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-July Plume updated (7/25) depicts temps warmed to +0.5 degs in June. Temps are forecast to fade some to +0.3 degs in July, and are to hold there solid through March 2018 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 March.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (8/6): The daily index was falling at -3.82 but has been mostly positive for 24 days now. The 30 day average was falling at 6.86. The 90 day average was rising at +0.41 or just north 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): (8/6) Today's value continued rising some to -1.36 (up from -2.20 on 6/28) but still strongly suggesting a turn towards La Nina. A supposed 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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