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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2016 2:20 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 & 1.1 - 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 8/8 thru Sun 8/14

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 Developing in SE Pac
Minimal Tropical Swell Pushing Towards CA

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 Thursday, August 11, 2016 :

  • Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 12.9 secs from 195 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.1 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 0.9 ft @ 14.6 secs from 189 degrees. Wind southeast 6-10 kts. Water temperature 72.3 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.5 ft @ 6.2 secs from 265 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 0.6 ft @ 15.5 secs from 214 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.9 ft @ 8.4 secs from 264 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 3.9 ft @ 7.7 secs with windswell 3.3 ft @ 7.7 secs and no southern hemi swell in.cgiay. Wind northwest 6-8 kts. Water temp 56.8 degs.

    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Thursday (8/11) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell was producing waves at thigh to maybe waist high and lightly chopped from south winds but cleaner at sheltered breaks. At Santa Cruz minimal background southern hemi swell was producing rare sets waves at thigh high on the peak and clean but weak. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at maybe knee high and clean. Down south residual southern hemi swell was producing waves in the waist high range and clean. Further down south top spots had rare set waves in the waist high.cgius range and clean but soft. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting easterly windswell at thigh to waist high and chopped.

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

Meteorological Overview
A gale had developed in the South Central Pacific Wed (8/10) with seas to 29 ft aimed northeast with a second pulse forecast developing today/Thurs (8/11) to 39 ft but aimed very much to the east. Yet a third pulse is forecast on Sat (8/13) with 34 ft seas pushing due north. But all three are to be tiny in coverage. In the North Pacific tropical storm Omais produced 32-38 ft seas 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. It's remnants tracked north and redeveloped on Tues-Wed (8/10) off the Kurils with seas 27 ft possibly sending more more minimal sideband swell towards the US mainland. It is forecast to move through the Bering Sea and fall into the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Sat (8/13) but seas to not exceed 14 ft offering no swell generation potential. More tropical development is forecast in the West Pacific, but nothing recurving northeast is expected.


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (8/11) tiny swell from what was Tropical Storm Omais was in the water tracking east.No other swell of interest other than windswell was present.

Tropical System Omais
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 turned more southeast after that targeting only Japan.

North CA: Swell arrival forecast for Fri (8/12) at 1.2 ft @ 17-18 secs (2 ft). Swell continues Sat (8/13) at 1.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) fading some Sun (8/14) from 1.5 ft @ 14 secs (2 ft) fading Mon (8/15) 1.5 ft @ 12-13 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Extremely inconsistent. Swell Direction: 288 degrees

Omais turned north to northeast again on Tues AM (8/9) with winds barely 40 kts on the east side of the core with seas to 28 ft over a tiny area at 41N 151E (303 degs NCal). Fetch turned more northeast in the evening but faded at 35 kts with seas 26 ft at 45N 155E (306 degs NCal). More of the same occurred on Wed AM (8/10) with winds 35 kts and seas 25 ft at 47N 159E (306 degs NCal). Fetch held at 35-40 kts in the evening off Kamchatka but aimed east with seas up to 27 ft at 49N 167E (308+ degs NCal) and starting to become shadowed by the Aleutians. Omais to move into the Bering Sea after that.

North CA: Possible swell arrival on Mon (8/15) with pure swell 1.3 ft @ 16-17 secs late (2 ft). Swell to build slightly on Tues (8/16) to 2.0 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell peaking on Wed (8/17) to 3.6 ft @ 11 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) then fading thereafter. Swell Direction: 300-305 degs

The California coastal pressure gradient was in quick retreat on Thurs AM (8/11) with high pressure fading from 1030 mbs in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska producing 20 kt north winds over North California waters reaching no further south than Pt Arena and fading quickly. Over the next 72 hours the gradient is to be gone on Friday then rebuilding Sun AM with north winds to 25 kts 25 kts over North CA water later with 20 kt north winds reaching south to Monterey Bay but a bit off the coast offering potential to generate local north windswell.

For Hawaii on Thursday (8/11) trades were from the east-northeast at 15 kts driven by the same high pressure system in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska making for some minimal easterly windswell along exposed easterly shores. Fri (8/12) high pressure to continue to generate trades at 15 kts from the east-northeast reaching half way to the mainland and holding Sat (8/13). Minimal easterly windswell to continue. But by Sunday (8/14) the coverage of those winds is to be less contiguous and fetch area fading with winds only 15 kts in patches. Windswell fading.


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


Tropical Update
Remnants of Tropical Storm Omais are discussed above.
Tropical Storm Conson was 1,000 nmiles southeast of Tokyo Japan on Thurs AM (8/11) tracking north with winds 35 kts and only covering a tiny area. Seas were 14 ft. Conson is forecast to track north up the 155E longitude line with winds building to only 45 kts and then trending to the northwest by Fri (8/12). Winds are to be too weak to generate swell of interest regardless of its track.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (8/11) high pressure was ridging into North CA coast from the Gulf of Alaska at 1030 mbs producing the usual pressure gradient over North CA with north winds there 20 kts but a local eddy flow (south winds) in control from Pt Arena southward. The gradient is to fade on Friday with weak northwest winds (10 kts) in control of CA coastal waters holding through mid Saturday. Sunday the gradient redevelops with north winds 20+ kts over North CA and 15 kts for all of Central CA. Monday the gradient is to be in full effect with 25 kt northwest winds over North CA and the eddy flow redeveloping from Pt Arena southward and holding through Thurs (8/18).

South Pacific

On Thursday AM (8/11) the northern branch of the jet was dominant running west to east on the 30S latitude line steady at 130-140 kts over it's length. The southern branch was building some ridging some under New Zealand at 110 kts pushing south to only 59S then pushing north and joining the northern branch near 145W forming a trough there and supporting gale development. Over the next 72 hours the trough is forecast to weaken on Fri (8/12) with winds feeding it fading to 100 kts and support for gale development fading some while the trough eases east. By Sat (8/13) the trough is to dissipate and by Sun (8/14) the southern branch of the jet is to all but disappear offering no support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the southern branch of the jet is to redevelop weakly on Wed (8/17) pushing southeast under New Zealand at 90 kts starting to form a weak ridge over the Southwest Pacific making only weak easterly progress. There's some indications that by Thurs (8/18) the Southern Branch is to start pushing north from Antarctica under New Zealand at 90 kts perhaps offering some very weak support for gale development. But over all, a weak southern branch is still projected not offering solid support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere.

Surface Analysis  
On Thursday (8/11) small swell was pushing north from a gale that developed in the Central South Pacific (see Central South Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast that would affect our forecast area. A small storm is forecast just off the South Chile coast on Sat (8/13) with seas to 42 ft aimed east and completely east of the CA swell window targeting only Southern Chile.

Central South Pacific Gale
Pulse #1
On Tues AM (8/9) a broad fetch associated with an area of low pressure was filling the South Central Pacific producing southwest winds at 30-35 kts with seas on the increase. Winds built to 35 kts in the evening with seas building from 25 ft at 48S 155W. On Wed AM (8/10) southwest fetch was 35-40 kts in pockets with 27 ft seas over a broad area at 48S 148W aimed northeast. Fetch was fading some in the evening from 35 kts with seas with 26 ft at 43S 138W. Given the sub 30 ft sea height, small swell with period in the 15-16 secs range to result for CA and points south of there.

SCal: Expect swell arrival on Wed (8/17) building to 2.5 ft @ 17 secs (4.0-4.5 ft) in the afternoon. Swell peaks Thurs AM (8/18) at 3.3 ft @ 16 secs (5.0-5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees

NCal: Expect swell arrival on Wed (8/17) at 10 PM with period 17 secs peaking on Thurs 10 AM (8/19) with swell 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 194 degrees

Pulse #2
On Thurs AM (8/11) a new fetch tiny fetch of 50-55 kts south winds was building in the same area with 32 ft seas building at 49S 139W. 55 kt south fetch to hold in the evening over a tiny area with 39 ft seas at 49S 130W tracking east and covering only a tiny area. 45-50 kts south fetch is to be continuing Fri AM (8/12) but falling southeast with a tiny area with 35 ft seas at 50S 125W and aimed mostly east and out of the California swell window. A second pulse of swell to result from CA southward.

Pulse #3
On Friday evening (8/12) a new fetch of 50 kt south winds are to develop from the remnants of the previous fetch with seas again on the increase from 30 ft at 51S 131W. On Sat AM (8/13) 45 kt south winds to be pushing hard north on Sat AM (8/13) while fading with seas 34 ft over a tiny area tracking north at 47S 130W. In the evening 40 kt south winds to be tracking north-northeast with seas fading from 32 ft at 43S 126W. This system to fade there after. A possible 3rd pulse of swell to result.

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 there some suggestion of a trough developing in the jet in the Western Gulf on Tues (8/16) with winds 110 kts falling into it supporting formation of low pressure at the surface with northwest winds to 30 kts but fading fast not getting enough traction to generate seas of interest.

Also a cluster of tropical systems are forecast in the far West Tropical Pacific Sun-Wed (8/17). But none are to recuve northeast.

For California high pressure is to be well in control nosing back into the Northern Coast on Mon (8/15) at 1028 mbs just 600 nmiles off the North CA coast generating north winds over Cape Mendocino waters at 30 kts with a local eddy flow in control for Central CA. The gradient to fade some over North CA waters on Tues (8/16) but north winds to still be 25 kts and continuing on Wed (8/16) if not building in coverage with a local eddy flow (south winds) holding for Central CA up to Pt Arena. Windswell generation expected with decent local conditions. The gradient is to start fading on Thurs (8/18).

For Hawaii trades to continue on Mon (8/15) at 15 kts in patches up to 800 nmiles east of the Islands offering only minimal support for windswell development. More of the same is forecast through Wed (8/17) then getting a little better coverage on Thurs (8/18) with high pressure again building in the Gulf and odds for windswell development increasing some.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the models suggest a gale is to be pushing under the Tasman Sea on Sun PM (8/14) with 45 kts west winds and seas 38 ft at 53S 151E and shadowed relative to CA by New Zealand. Winds to be fading from 40 kts Mon AM (8/15) with seas fading from 34 ft over a small area at 54S 166E and unshadowed. The gale to dissipate thereafter. Very low odds of southwest swell to result. More details to follow...

More details to follow...

La Nina Building Some

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 Tues (8/9) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weaker 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, weak easterly from 160W-180W and then neutral again over the core of the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Modest easterly anomalies were fading over the dateline on 8/11 and area forecast to continue dissipating through 8/13 while tracking east, limited to the far East Pacific on 8/18. Modest west anomalies are to be building in the KWGA starting 8/15 suggestive of the Active Phase of the MJO.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 8/10 a moderate Active Phase of the MJO was over the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects it fading in the West Pacific and dissipated by week #2. 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): (8/11) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak and positioned over the dateline. The forecast projects it holding position and building, getting solid 2 weeks out on the dateline. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (8/11) This model depicts a weak mixed pattern slightly biased in favor of the Inactive Phase over the dateline reaching into the East Pacific and holding if not slightly easing east through 9/20. Basically it depicts a neutral pattern with no MJO signal.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern building over the KWGA with weak west anomalies in.cgiay from the dateline westward and forecast holding while tracking east thru 9/12. An Inactive Phase is to follow 9/13-9/26 weakly but west anomalies holding still reaching east to the dateline (in the KWGA). Then another Active MJO signal is to follow 9/28 -10/14 with moderate west anomalies still to the dateline if not moving east some. East anomalies are forecast holding in the East Pacific from 170W eastward through early Oct, then dissipating once the Active Phase of October takes root. 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: (8/10) Actual temperatures are building in the West Pacific on the surface at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 164E) 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 135W-145W. At depth -3 degs anomalies reach east down 100 meters at 155W (building east). The Kelvin Wave pipeline is chocked with cold water rushing east through it. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/6 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: (8/10) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a very weak cool flow is present along the coast of Peru but building off Ecuador. Those cooler waters extend west from the Galapagos tracking solidly out to at least 160W with with peak temps down to -1.5 degs (mostly south of California). These waters only extend north and south about 5 degrees from the equator. La Nina is in control of surface waters, with remnant El Nino warm water 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 (8/10): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru. But a strongly cooler trend is again developing from the Galapagos out to 145W. A building warming trend is off Africa.
Hi-res Overview:
(8/10) 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 3-5 degs north and south of the equator and west of 180W. Cooler water is also 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: (8/11) Today's temps were trending negative at -0.172 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/11) temps were rising slightly at -0.633 degs. Temps bottomed out recently at -1.0 degs near 7/21-7/26.

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

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (8/11) indicates temps are to be steady from here forward at -0.5 degs maybe dipping to -0.6 degs in Nov/Dec, then steadily 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 (8/8): The daily index was up some at 0.55. The 30 day average was steady at +4.15. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was backtracking at +2.54, 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): (8/11) Today's value was steady at -1.66, continuing it's downward trend. 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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