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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: August 17, 2005 2:53 AM GMT
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
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Swell Potential Rating = 3.0 - California & 0.5 - 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 8/15 thru Sun 8/21
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 Utility swell
2 = Good probability for  1-2 days of Utility swell
1 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Impulse or Windswell
0 = Low probability for 1-2 days of Impulse or Windswell   

CA Waits for Southern Hemi Swell
Pacific Otherwise Dormant (Though North is Trying)


On Tuesday (8/16) Northern CA surf was waist high and mushy. South facing breaks were thigh high. Central California surf was thigh to maybe waist high. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were thigh to waist high at the best breaks. The LA area southward into Orange County was waist high with near chest high sets at the best breaks. Southward to San Diego waves were waist high. The North Shore of Oahu was nearly flat. The South Shore was generally less than waist high. The East Shore was 2 ft or so.

A moderate swell from the Southeastern Pacific is traveling towards California with a much small one behind that. The faintest bit's of sideband energy from the first one are to also pushing towards Hawaii. Further out the Southern Hemi is to remain basically dormant, with only one small fetch scheduled to push under New Zealand on Saturday (8/20). Hawaii might see some waist high surf from it at best. The North Pacific is starting to show signs of life with a series of weak lows tracking east, but it's really too early to expect anything rideable to result. See details below...


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

North Pacific

At the jetstream level on Tuesday (8/16) a rather moderate upper level pressure pattern was in.cgiace. A weak trough was just west of the dateline and a weaker one still was over the Aleutians approaching the Gulf of Alaska. Neither was noteworthy though (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to build with winds reaching 140 kts and suggesting that a surface level low will develop late Thursday (8/18). Also a big ridge is to develop over the West Pacific pushing well into the Bering Sea with a cutoff upper low developing south of it in the Pacific. Nothing expected from it though at the surface.

At the surface today a weak pressure pattern remained in.cgiace with high pressure at 1024 mbs off California riding southwest to just north of Hawaii while a weak 1000 mb low was over the Aleutians about to enter the Gulf of Alaska while another slightly stronger 992 mb low was just west of the dateline. Neither had winds of interest. No windswell producing fetch apparent either (animation here). Over the next 72 hours no big change is forecast, with the dateline low being the most interesting dropping to 996 mbs while holding it's ground while 25 kt winds rotate around it, but fading by the end of the period. High pressure currently off California is to retrograde to the west, taking up a position north of Hawaii maybe providing some easterly windswell potential by Friday (8/19) as it interacts with a passing tropical wave to it's south. Otherwise no swell producing fetch suggested.

More model data here


Fernanda has been downgraded to tropical depression with sustained winds 20 kts positioned midway between Hawaii and Baja. No strengthening forecast with no swell producing fetch present.

No other tropical systems present.


California Offshore Forecast
Tuesday mornings local charts (8/16) indicate that high pressure continues to hold ground well off the coast at 1024 mbs, expected to last through Wednesday (8/17). A minor bit of north winds are to develop off Cape Mendocino at 25 kts, producing some small windslop at the best north facing breaks but the fading as the high tracks west and low pressure builds in the Gulf. On Thursday and Friday (7/19) a brief burst of middling winds at 20-25 kts are to take aim on the Pacific Northwest courtesy of low pressure building in the far north Gulf of Alaska. No swell to result, but any building low in the Gulf is a good sign. A brief non-productive low to form well off the North CA coast on Sunday (8/21) but is to die fast as high pressure builds back in in conjunction with low pressure just inland, producing a strong north wind gradient along the coast Monday into Wednesday (8/24). Winds forecast at 35-40 kts with 16+ft seas forecast, improving the likelihood for solid junky windswell. That's still a ways off though and subject to much revision.

The 5 Day wind forecast is now included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.


South Pacific

On Tuesday (8/16) the jetstream charts continue indicating a fully .cgiit jet tracking across the Pacific, with both the north and southern branches reasonably well separated and tracking due east parallel with each other. A rather prominent ridge was in the southern branch pushing over Antarctic Ice and providing no room or support for surface level storm formation (animation here). Over the next 72 hours only the faintest bit of northward drift in the southern branch is forecast under New Zealand, possibly opening up a small area for something to develop at the surface by Friday (8/19), but that's really more a case of wishful thinking.

At the surface today strong high pressure at 1036 mbs had built in over the Southeast Pacific totally locking it down. A 996 mb low was well east of New Zealand starting to interact with the high. Otherwise nothing of interest was occurring (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the high is to hold at 1036 mbs moving east while the new low builds to 988 mbs to it's west, generating strong south winds blowing over a large area into Antarctica and pretty much scouring the oceans surface clean of any swell pushing north towards the Americas.

More model data here


2nd SE Pacific Storm
On Monday (8/8) a 960 mb low develop off Southern Chile with a gradient in.cgiace between it and much higher pressure back towards New Zealand. A broad fetch of 40-45 kt south to southwest winds was confirmed in the morning along the border of these two systems near 55S 129W aimed well at California into Central America. Seas were modeled at 27 ft centered at 52S 129W (pretty weak). Winds built to 40-50 kts in the evening centered at 50S 129W, essentially over the same area as in the morning. Seas held but were covering a larger area.

On Tuesday AM (8/9) the low held but winds were on the wane and slowly migrating east, confirmed at 40 kts near 48S 126W and fading fast. Seas built (mostly from previous days fetch) to 30 ft near 47S 126W. Residual 29 ft seas forecast at 44S 123W Tuesday evening (8/9) and fading out.

In all this was a very weak system with only 36 hours of functional winds and seas reaching barely 30 ft for 12 hours. At least it was in the California swell window with winds aimed generally right up the 180-190 degree great circle paths towards the state and locations east of there (Central America). The fetch was positioned fairly well to the north too, helping to reduce swell decay as it migrated away from the swell source.

A short bit of utility class swell with period in the 14-17 secs range is expected for North and South California, arriving first in the south on Tuesday AM (8/16) with period at 17 secs and size peaking on Wednesday (8/17) near 2.9 ft @ 16 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces with sets at best breaks to 5.5 ft). Swell to reach the north Tuesday evening peaking 24 hours later with similar size, but only at the most exposed south facing breaks.


Southeast Pacific Storm
On Friday (8/12) a minor dent in the southern branch of the jet stream aloft allowed some activity at the surface. A 948 mb storm developed well east of the Southern CA swell window over Antarctic Ice with some fragmented areas of 40-45 kts west winds north of the iceshelf near 58S. They blew from Friday AM through Sunday morning (8/14) with seas modeled at 32 ft late Friday and again late Saturday on the very edge of the Southern CA swell window and 5280 nmiles away. But the winds and seas were tracking fast to the east aimed 70+ degree east of any great circle path to Southern CA. Maybe some hope for small utility swell focused on Southern CA starting mid-day Sunday (8/21) through Wednesday (8/24), but sizes that large are probably wishful thinking. Expect 2.0-2.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0-3.5 ft faces) only at the most exposed south facing Southern CA breaks. Swell Direction 180 degrees.




Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Tuesdays upper level models (8/16) indicate that beyond 72 hours the relatively strong trough in the Gulf of Alaska is to push east into Canada leaving a very weak cutoff low circulating in the Southern Gulf, but all the real energy is to be well north of it. There's hints of a new trough developing there, but that's way too early to have any confidence in it just yet. No activity of interest forecast for the West Pacific, though the jet is to be looking much more robust. Things are on the upswing if the models are right, but just not quite where they need to be yet.

Beyond 72 hours at the surface a weak low is forecast in the southern Gulf over the weekend supported by the cutoff low in the upper levels of the atmosphere, but pressure still to be high at 1012 mbs with no real winds of interest forecast. Next week mild high pressure to take over the North Pacific as a strong north wind gradient building along the North California coast, with 35-40 kts north winds expected off Cape Mendocino. A significant increase in windswell along the North and Central CA coasts could be expected if this develops as forecast.


MJO Update
On Tuesday (7/27) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) dropped to -14 and has held in that range steadily through Thursday 8/4 with a -16 value posted. Then it gave up ground with values bouncing from near 0 to -16 with the average hovering near -6 through today (Tuesday 8/16). A negative SOI is conducive to the development of El Nino and prolonged negative readings (2 weeks.cgius) is evidence that the active phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was occurring. A reversal of tradewinds over the Pacific equator typically accompanies such events. The first signs of such a breakdown developed west of the dateline starting Thursday (8/4). By Saturday (8/6) west wind were clearly evidenced to 160E and building eastward reaching 170E by Tuesday (8/9) then holding. But by Sunday (8/14) the trades dropped to near neutral and were likely poised to return to normal (blowing from east to west). Subsurface waters temperatures were 1 degree above normal in the West Pacific pushing towards the dateline, suggesting a minor Kelvin wave was trying to organize. But it will impact a pool of -3 degree cooler than normal water southeast of Hawaii likely resulting in it's demise. Forecast models suggest this Active Phase of the MJO is over, with the inactive (cool phase) of the MJO forecast to build in, but then quickly fade by 8/23. Though it is too late in the year for a full blown El Nino to start forming, a series of active MJO's can help to improve the chances for winter season storms and are a catalyst for development of strong tropical systems in the West Pacific (look for them to turn extratropical and curve northeast in the fall). This minor bout of the MJO appears to have influenced the North Pacific jetstream and improved the potential for early season low pressure development in the Gulf of Alaska. Unfortunately that has come to an end.

South Pacific

Tuesdays upper level models (8/16) indicate that beyond 72 hours another strong ridge is to build in over the Ross Ice Shelf pushing east, eliminating any hope for surface level strong development in the Southwest Pacific. A minor hole is to open up off Chile the middle of nest week, but the new ridge forecast back to the west will likely sweep east and shut it down before anything has a chance to develop at the surface. Is the summer totally over? Sort of looks like it.

At the surface beyond 72 hours out the models suggest a weak low is to push under New Zealand tracking east with pressure 960 mbs and west winds 35-40 kts for about 24 hours generating some 28 ft seas. Also on Sunday (8/21) a small low is to develop south of Tahiti pushing a very little fetch in the 40 kt range up their way for 18 hours. But in all neither of these systems is to last long enough with enough strength to generate seas of interest, and this is at best an optimistic projection by the models. Expect nothing and hope that we're wrong.

Details to follow...


Local Interest

Proposed Senate Bill To Restrict Free Weather Data Giving it only to Private Companies for re-sell to the Public. If you view the free info from buoys, wind, and weather currently provided on this and other sites, prepare to see it end if this bill gets passed. Read more here.

Tutorial on the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) Presented by Dr. Roland Madden: If you're interested in El Nino and the MJO, have a basic understanding of El Nino, and you have broadband connection, audio and Macromedia Flash installed, then the following presentation is a must see. Dr Madden present a great overview of how the MJO works. And there's nothing like hearing it straight from the founders mouth. Link here:

Stormsurf Weather Models Updated Again: Yes, we've been at it again this weekend getting another batch of weather models running. Global coverage is now provided for jetstream forecasts and surface pressure and winds. Zoomed in data is also available for such locations as the Mentawai Islands to Western Australia corridor, Tahiti, South America, Europe and Norwegian Sea. So now you can get local wind forecasts for these and more locations with one click. Take a look here:

Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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