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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, August 20, 2016 11:00 AM
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
2.1- 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 8/22 thru Sun 8/28

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 Still Hitting CA
Weak Swell Pattern Projected for Pacific Basin

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 20, 2016 :

  • Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.3 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 1.1 ft @ 12.6 secs from 193 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.4 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 14.0 secs from 187 degrees. Wind northwest 6-8 kts. Water temperature 70.2 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.8 ft @ 12.9 secs from 232 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.4 ft @ 13.9 secs from 204 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.8 ft @ 14.7 secs from 194 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.6 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 3.0 ft @ 14.1 secs. Wind northwest 6-8 kts. Water temp 58.5 degs.

    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Sunday (8/21) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell and southern hemi swell were producing surf in the shoulder range and fairly clean early with just a little south wind texture on it. At Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was still producing set waves in the shoulder to head high range and clean. In Southern California up north surf was waist to maybe chest high on the sets and clean but weak. Down south southern hemi swell was producing waves in the head high range and clean but with a bit of warble intermixed. Further down south top spots had set waves in the 1-2 ft overhead range on the peak and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was thigh high on the sets and clean. The East Shore had thigh high 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 on Thurs (8/11) to 37 ft but aimed very much to the east. A third pulse developed on Sat (8/13) with 29 ft seas pushing due north. That swell from the third pulse is poised to now hit California. In the North Pacific no swell producing fetch has occurred with no swell in the water and none is forecast. In the South Pacific a gale developed in the Southwest Pacific on Thurs (8/18) with seas at 30 ft aimed east. Small swell is pushing northeast. A far smaller gale is forecast in the extreme Southeast Pacific on Mon (8/22) with 33 ft seas aimed northeast. Otherwise nothing of interest is forecast.


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Sunday (8/21) no swell is in-flight and none is expected for the next 72 hours.

The California coastal pressure gradient on Sun (8/21) was nonexistent with no real windswell hitting the coast. By Monday (8/22) the gradient is to build weakly over Cape Mendocino producing a small area of 20-25 kt north winds but reaching no further south that that area and holding Tues (8/23). On Wed (8/24) it is to expand in coverage but fading in velocity at only 20 kts. A weak flow is to be over all of North and Central CA from Pt Arena southward. Small if any local north windswell to result.

For Hawaii on Sunday (8/21) trades were weak from the east at 10 kts offering no windswell producing fetch. No change is forecast until late Wed (8/24) when high pressure starts building in the Gulf at 1034 mbs reaching south to a point well east of the Islands generating an elongated fetch of 15 kt east winds targeting mostly the Big Island and the east shore of Maui. Maybe some rideable east windswell to result at exposed breaks then.


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


Tropical Update
A pair of weak tropical systems (less than typhoon status) were in the far West Pacific. None is forecast to develop nor recurve northeast with no swell production forecast.

Tropical Storm Kay was 225 nmiles west-southwest of Cabo San Lucas Baja Mexico on Sun (8/21) with winds 35 kts tracking west-northwest at 7 kts. No intensification is forecast with Kay hold this course, then fading on Wed (8/23) 500 nmiles west of Cabo. No swell production is forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday AM (8/21) a weak pressure pattern was in control with winds light over all of California coastal waters. By Mon (8/21) high pressure is to try and build off the Pacific Northwest at 1022 mbs generating north winds at 20-25 kts over a tiny area mainly just north of Cape Mendocino but a calm flow south of there and holding on Tuesday. The gradient is to build some on Wednesday with north winds 20 kts reaching south to Pt Arena and 15 kt over outer waters south to Pt Conception, then retracting northward on Thursday (8/25) to just Cape Mendocino and over outer waters off of Pt Arena, but light winds south of there. 20 kt north winds to remain over outer waters on Friday buy fading in coverage with light to no winds nearshore and fading away through the day offshore on Saturday. No winds greater than 10 kts are forecast over California waters on Sun (8/28).


South Pacific

On Sunday AM (8/21) the northern branch of the jet was dominant running west to east on the 28S latitude line at 120 kts slowly falling southeast as it approaches Chile building to 130 kts near 120W and the to 160kts down at 48S pushing into South Chile. The southern branch was down at 70S under Tasmania lifting steadily northeast with a pocket of 130 kts winds near 140W forming a bit of a trough offering some support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to fade on Mon (8/22) while tracking east with winds down to 90 kts no longer offering support for gale formation. On Tues (9/23) the southern branch is to be weak at mostly 90 kts running close to flat east on the 60S latitude line with no troughs offering no support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the southern branch of the jet is to become a little more energetic on Thurs (8/25) with winds to 120 kts pushing northeast at 145W almost forming a trough then fading quickly on Friday (8/26) with support for gale development fading. Beyond the jet is to be southward di.cgiaced running mostly over Antarctic Ice and offering nothing to support gale formation.

Surface Analysis  
On Sunday (8/21) swell was still hitting California from a gale that developed in the Central South Pacific over a week ago (see Central South Pacific Gale below). Also tiny swell from a gale that developed under New Zealand on Thurs (8/18) was pushing northeast towards Hawaii and California (see New Zealand Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a tiny storm is forecast developing in the far Southeast Pacific on Sun PM (8/21) producing 55 kt southwest winds over a tiny area with seas building from 34 ft at 51S 128W. On Mon AM (8/22) southwest winds to be fading from 50 kts over a small area with seas 36 ft at 48S 120W. Fetch is to be fading from 40 kts in the evening and positioned well east of the California swell window with seas fading from 32 ft at 45S 112W targeting only Chile. If all goes as forecast some small swell might result for California but most size for Central America down into Chile.

Otherwise no swell producing weather systems are forecast.


Central South Pacific Gale
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: Swell fading on Sun AM (8/21) from 3 ft @ 14 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees

NCal: Swell 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


New Zealand Gale
A gale tracked under New Zealand on Thurs AM (8/18) 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.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Fri (8/26) with period 17 secs and size building to only 8-10 inches (1.0-1.5 ft). Swell fading from there on Sat (8/27) with period dropping from 15-16 secs. Swell Direction: 192 degrees

South California: Expect swell arrival on Sat (8/27) building to 1 ft @ 19 secs late. Swell peaking on Sun (8/28) at 1.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 208-211 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (8/27) building to 1 ft @ 19 secs late. Swell peaking on Sun (8/28) at 1.4 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 207-210 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 no swell producing fetch is forecast for the greater North Pacific.

For California on Thurs (8/25) high pressure is to build to 1036 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. Building windswell is expected with improving conditions. On Friday (8/26) the gradient is to lift north and west of the North CA coast fading to 20 kts as the high retrogrades west some, then dissipating on Sat (8/27). Windswell fading. No local fetch of interest is forecast after that through Sun (8/28). We're mainly waiting for the Fall season to wake up.

For Hawaii on Thurs (8/25) trades east of the Islands at 15 kts are to hold at 15 kts offering some windswell generation potential mainly for the Big Island and the east shore of Maui, then dissipating on Fri (8/26) with windswell dropping out. Trades to be in the 10 kt range from the east and east-northeast through Sun (8/28) offering no windswell production capability.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

La Nina Remains Weak

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 Saturday (8/20) 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 neutral over the equatorial East Pacific and weak westerly over the the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): West anomalies were modest over a small area in the western KWGA but are to be retreating westward and gone for the KWGA by 8/24. East anomalies were modest from the dateline eastward are to retrograde west through 8/27 at moderate strength, completely filling the KWGA and 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 8/20 a moderate Active Phase of the MJO was over the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects it fading in the West Pacific and dissipated 8 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): (8/21) 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: (8/21) This model depicts a weak Active Phase over the dateline tracking slowly east finally moving over Central America by 9/17. At the same time a weak Inactive Phase is to be building in the far West Pacific on 9/10 tracking east into the East Pacific through 9/30. 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 9/6. An very weak Inactive Phase is to follow 9/14-9/28 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. Overall the MJO is very weak and expected to remain that way, with east anomalies generally holding in the East Pacific from 120W to 170W now through Nov 17th and west anomalies reaching east to the dateline. There no suggestion of a major pulse of east anomalies in the KWGA. The low pass filter suggests the remnants of El Nino are shifting east and are now south of Hawaii to California (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: (8/21) Actual temperatures are steady in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 166E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 169W. 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 near 150W. 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 8/16 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: (8/20) 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 120W 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, 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 directly on the equator (5 degs N and S).
Hi-res 7 day Trend (8/19): 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 160W. A neutral trend is off Africa.
Hi-res Overview:
(8/19) A clear La Nina cool pool is present in the Central equatorial Pacific 110W 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 +0.605 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/18) temps were trending weakly downward at -0.593 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 (8/21) 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 (8/21): The daily index was up some at +11.53. The 30 day average was down some at +3.69. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was steady at +2.87, 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): (8/21) Today's value was falling some at -1.12. 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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