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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, August 18, 2016 1:28 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
2.5 - 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 8/15 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 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 South Swell Hitting CA
Forecast Charts Benign

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 18, 2016 :

  • Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.5 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 12.8 secs from 199 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.5 ft @ 4.3 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 13.6 secs from 168 degrees. Wind north 4-8 kts. Water temperature 71.2 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.3 ft @ 12.1 secs from 261 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 0.9 ft @ 16.8 secs from 204 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.1 ft @ 13.5 secs from 224 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.2 ft @ 10.8 secs with swell 5.8 ft @ 10.2 secs. Wind south 8-12 kts. Water temp 59.4 degs.

    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Thursday (8/18) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell and background swell from Typhoon Omais was producing surf in the shoulder to head high range but with a bit of south wind on it early. Not chopped through, but close. Clean at protected breaks. At Santa Cruz there was signs of life with sets in the chest high range and clean and lined up but slow. In Southern California up north surf was flat with knee high sets and clean. Down south weak southern hemi swell was producing waves in the waist to chest high range and clean but with a bit too much tide. Further down south top spots had rare set waves in the head high range on the peak and clean but packed. Alot of pent up desire for waves. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was waist high on the sets and clean. The East Shore had no rideable easterly windswell and it was chopped.

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

Meteorological Overview
A gale developed in the South Central Pacific Wed (8/10) with seas to 28 ft aimed northeast with a second pulse developing Thurs (8/11) to 37 ft but aimed very much to the east. Yet a third pulse developed on Sat (8/13) with 29 ft seas pushing due north. But all three were tiny in coverage. Small swell from the first pulse is starting to show in California. In the North Pacific a tropical system is forecast developing on Fri (8/19) but not recurving northeast with no swell generation potential expected. In the South Pacific a gale is developing in the southwest Pacific with seas at 30 ft aimed east. Low odds for background swell to result. Nothing else is on the charts.


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (8/18) the last of small swell from what was Tropical Storm Omais combined wit low pressure that was in the Gulf of Alaska was in the water hitting exposed breaks in California. It's to be gone by Fri (8/19).

No other swell is in flight and none is expected for the next 72 hours.

The California coastal pressure gradient was fading in coverage and intensity on Thursday (8/18) with north winds 25 kts just over North CA waters but mainly off the coast with an eddy flow holding along the Central CA coast and up into NCal to Pt Arena. By Friday (8/19) the fetch is to still be 25 kts early from the north-northeast well off the coast, still producing windswell, but fetch is to be fading to 20 kts later and size fading relative to North and Central CA. A rapid decline in the fetch coverage and velocity is to set in Sat (8/20) with winds fading from 20 kts and windswell from it fading out. By Sunday (8/21) the gradient is to be gone with north winds 15 kts along the Cape Mendocino coast and no windswell of interest resulting.

For Hawaii on Thursday (8/18) trades were from the east at 10-15 kts in patches east of the Islands driven by high pressure centered off North CA making for some minimal easterly windswell along exposed easterly shores. More of the same is expected on Fri (8/19) then trades fall steadily below the 15 kt range east of the Islands with windswell dropping out completely and holding through Sun (8/21). No rideable east windswell is expected at exposed breaks.


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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest were occurring.

Over the next 72 hours a tropical system is forecast developing in the far West Tropical Pacific on Fri (8/19) with seas to 28 ft at 29N 153E but tracking northwest and is not expected to recurve northeast. No swell production is expected relative to our forecast area.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (8/18) high pressure at 1032 mbs was 700 nmiles off the Pacific Northwest ridging east producing the usual pressure gradient over North CA and along the coasts of Oregon and Washington with north winds there 20-25 kts but with a local eddy flow (south winds) from just north of Pt Arena southward. On Fri (8/19) winds over North CA to fall below 15 kts from the north with a calm wind pattern from Pt Arena southward. A dead calm flow is forecast for all of California from there through Sun (8/21) with north winds 15-20 kts developing over Cape Mendocino on Mon (8/22). On Tues (8/23) north winds at 20-25 kts are to be building over Cape Mendocino as high pressure rebuilds off the Pacific Northwest, but north winds only 10 kts from Pt Reyes southward. More of the same is forecast on Wed (8/24). On Thurs (8/25) the gradient is to become more well developed and covering a broader area off the Pacific Northwest down to off Cape Mendocino at 20-25 kts with an eddy flow (south winds) building over North and Central CA.


South Pacific

On Thursday AM (8/18) the northern branch of the jet was dominant running west to east on the 30S latitude line steady at up to 150 kts except falling southeast as it approaches Chile falling south to 42S there. The southern branch was tracking east at 60S under New Zealand at 130 kts almost forming a trough between it and Antarctic Ice then falling southeast and ridging into Antarctica at 140W. Only the small pocket under and just southeast of New Zealand was supportive of gale development. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to hold into late Fri (8/19) and then the southern branch is to build to 150 kts and start falling southeast pushing the trough off rapidly to the east into Sun (8/21) positioned on the eastern edge of the CA swell window at 120W. Low odds for gale formation given it fast eastward progress. Beyond 72 hours the southern branch of the jet is to start weakening and lifting north some with a trough starting to develop on Wed (8/24) southeast of New Zealand with it's apex at 55S being fed by 120 kts winds. On Thurs (8/25) southwest winds to build to 120 kts over a broader and more contiguous area making the trough look a little more supportive of gale development. Over the Southeast Pacific the jet is to be ridging south over Antarctic Ice offering nothing of interest.

Surface Analysis  
On Thursday (8/18) small swell was starting to arrive from a gale that developed in the Central South Pacific over a week ago (see Central South Pacific Gale below).

Otherwise a gale was tracking under New Zealand producing a small area of 45 kt west winds with a small area of 30 ft seas indicated at 60S 172E aimed east (210 degs NCal and barely unshadowed by Tahiti, 211 degs SCal and shadowed, 193 degs HI). Fetch is to fade from 40 kt from the southwest winds the evening with seas 29 ft at 60S 175W. On Fri AM (8/19) southwest fetch to fade from 35 kts with seas fading from 26 ft at 58S 163W. There's some odds of small 16-17 sec period swell resulting for Tahiti, Hawaii and CA.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast.

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: Swell peaks Thurs AM (8/18) at 3.3 ft @ 16 secs (5.0-5.5 ft). Swell fading Sat AM (8/19) from 3 ft @ 14 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees

NCal: Expect swell peaking on Thurs 10 AM (8/18) with swell 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading Fri AM (8/19) from 2.5 ft @ 15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 194 degrees

Pulse #2
On Thurs AM (8/11) a new fetch tiny fetch of 55 kt south winds was building in the same area with 32 ft seas building at 50S 139W. 55 kt south fetch held in the evening over a tiny area with 37 ft seas at 49S 130W tracking east and covering only a tiny area. 40-45 kts south fetch continued Fri AM (8/12) but falling southeast with a tiny area with 31 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.

SCal: Expect swell peaking on Fri AM (8/19) pushing 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell continues Sat AM (8/20) at 3.6 ft @ 14-15 secs early (5.0-5.5 ft), then fading on Sun AM (8/21) from 3 ft @ 14 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees

NCal: Expect swell arrival on Fri AM (8/19) pushing 2.0 ft @ 17-18 secs early (3.5 ft) Swell continuing on Sat AM (8/20) at 3 ft @ 15 secs (4.0-4.5 ft) then fading on Sun AM (8/21) from 2.6 ft @ 14 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 190 degrees

Pulse #3
On Friday evening (8/12) a new fetch of 45-50 kt south wind developed from the remnants of the previous fetch with seas again on the increase from 26 ft at 52S 130W. On Sat AM (8/13) 40 kt south winds were pushing north while fading with seas 29 ft over a tiny area tracking north at 49S 132W. In the evening 40 kt south winds to be tracking north-northeast with seas fading from 29 ft at 47S 129W. This system to fade there after. A possible 3rd pulse of swell to result.

SCal: Expect swell arrival on Sun AM (8/21) building to 2 ft @ 16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell holding Mon AM (8/22) at 2 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Residuals fading on Tues AM (8/23) from 2.3 ft @ 13 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 192 degrees

NCal: Expect swell arrival on Sun AM (8/21) building to 2 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell holding on Mon AM (8/22) at 2.3 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5 ft). Residuals fading on Tues AM (8/23) from 2.6 ft @ 14 secs(3.6 ft). Swell Direction: 185 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 low pressure is to develop just south of the Eastern Aleutians on Mon (8/22) but generating no swell producing fetch. Somehow high pressure is to hold off North CA at 1022 mbs generating a tiny fetch of 20-25 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino perhaps resulting in minimal windswell down into Central CA and building in coverage some on Tuesday (8/23) with winds up to 25 kts. Windswell building some. On Wed (8/24) the gradient is to build in coverage but weaken with winds only 20 kts reaching south to Point Arena with a far weaker flow down the Central CA coast. Windswell holding. Thurs (8/25) high pressure is to build to 1032 mbs off the Pacific Northwest with the gradient developing solid coverage mostly off the North CA coast at 20-25 kts with an eddy flow (light south winds) nearshore from the south end of Cape Mendocino southward. More windswell with improving conditions.

For Hawaii trades to remain below the 15 kt threshold through Tues (8/23) then start building as high pressure develops off the Pacific Northwest on Wed (8/24) with with east trades 15 kts building east of and over Hawaii but mainly in a line from Maui southward. Windswell starting to develop but nothing remarkable targeting mainly Maui and the Big Island. More of the same is forecast on Thurs (8/25).

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.

More details to follow...

La Nina Fading 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 but weaker than expected.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wednesday (8/17) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weak over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south of there). Anomalies were weak westerly over the equatorial East Pacific and over the KWGA. Interesting.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): West anomalies were solid over a small area in the KWGA and are to hold till 8/20, then retreat to the west through 8/25, completely gone at that time. East anomalies were modest east of the dateline and are to build to the west through 8/25 at moderate strength, suggestive of the Inactive Phase of the MJO.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 8/17 a moderate Active Phase of the MJO was over the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects it fading in the West Pacific and dissipated 5 days out and turning slightly Inactive into week #2. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with the Active Phase holding in the West Pacific 2 weeks out at moderate status. This pattern, if it materializes would help to support storm development.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (8/18) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was modest and positioned over the dateline. The forecast projects it holding position and strength for the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (8/18) This model depicts a weak Active Phase over the dateline tracking slowly east and over Central America by 9/17. At the same time a weak Inactive Phase is to be building in the far West Pacific on 9/7 tracking east into the East Pacific through 9/27. A Neutral pattern to follow at that time in the West.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern peaking over the KWGA with modest west anomalies in.cgiay from the dateline westward and forecast holding to 8/26, then collapsing while the Active Phase tracks east thru 9/3. An very weak Inactive Phase is to follow 9/10-9/25 with neutral anomalies over the KWGA. Then another Active MJO signal is to follow 9/26 -10/18 with modest west anomalies in the KWGA and holding into at least mid-Nov. East anomalies are forecast holding in the East Pacific from 120W to 170W now through Nov 6th. 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 8/26. At the same time low pass anomalies are over the Indian Ocean and forecast to build weakly into Nov, typical of La Nina.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (8/18) Actual temperatures are steady in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 165E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 168W. Cooling has stabilized in the east. 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 165W (retreating west). The Kelvin Wave pipeline is chocked with cold water rushing east through it. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/11 depicts a pocket of +1-2 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 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: (8/17) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a very weak cool flow is present along the coast of Peru then fading off Ecuador to nothing. Cooler waters are flowing west from the Galapagos over a thin stream then building in coverage near 125W and tracking solidly out to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. Cool waters extend north and south from the equator about 8 degrees in the west but have contracted some to 3 degs north and south of the equator recently near and just west of the Galapagos to 115W. La Nina is in control of surface waters, but weakening some recently, with remnant El Nino warm water holding in a few small pockets 3 degs north and south of the equator in the east and everywhere north and south of 8N/S. That said, almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino regions on the equator (5 degs N and S).
Hi-res 7 day Trend (8/16): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru. A warming trend is from Ecuador over the Galapagos out to 120W with a mixed trend (pockets of cooling and warming water) from 120W to 145W. A neutral trend is off Africa.
Hi-res Overview:
(8/14) A clear La Nina cool pool is present in the Central equatorial Pacific 125W to 170W. But the stream is very thin and weak tracking west from the Galapagos and nonexistent along Ecuador and Peru suggestive of westward di.cgiacement. A generalized pattern of +1-2 deg above normal temps remains 4-8 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: (8/18) Today's temps were trending warmer at +0.220 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/18) temps were trending weakly upward at -0.330 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 (8/18) indicates temps are to rise to -0.2 degs in Oct, then fall to -0.5 degs in Dec before starting to rise in Jan 2017 and neutral by April. This is a major upgrade from previous projections. This is barely in La Nina territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Aug Plume depicts temps have nearly reached their peak minimum, down at -0.5 to -0.6 by Nov and holding there to Feb, then rising. This is up again from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs and barely in La Nina territory. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):   
Southern Oscillation Index (8/18): The daily index was down some -3.16. The 30 day average was down some at +4.54. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was steady at +2.84, 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 Positive is good, negative bad): (8/18) Today's value was rising some at -1.49. 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) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.60, +1.43, +0.75 and +0.18.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-July) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03 and +1.25.
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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