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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, August 23, 2016 3:51 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
2.1- 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   

2 Tiny South Swells Pushing North
Weak Pattern To Continue

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 Tuesday, August 23, 2016 :

  • Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.4 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 1.2 ft @ 15.8 secs from 219 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.8 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 13.2 secs from 185 degrees. Wind east 4-6 kts. Water temperature 70.5 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.3 ft @ 5.6 secs from 255 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.4 ft @ 13.1 secs from 200 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.9 ft @ 13.4 secs from 193 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 3.5 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 2.2 ft @ 13.6 secs. Wind south 4-6 kts. Water temp 58.6 degs.

    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Tuesday (8/23) in North and Central CA southern hemi swell was producing surf in the waist to shoulder high range and fairly clean early with just a little texture coming from the south on it. At Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was still producing set waves in the shoulder to almost head high range on the bigger sets and clean. In Southern California up north surf was thigh high and clean but weak. Down south southern hemi swell was producing waves in the shoulder high range and clean. Further down south top spots had set waves in the head high 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
Residual swell from a gale that developed in the South Central Pacific Wed-Sat (8/13) is fading out in California. A small gale developed in the Southwest Pacific on Thurs (8/18) with seas at 30 ft aimed east. Small swell is pushing northeast. A tiny gale developed in the far Southeast Pacific on Sun-Mon (8/22) with 32 ft seas aimed northeast. Not much is expected from it. In the North Pacific no swell producing fetch has occurred with no swell in the water and none is forecast. A tropical system is forecast to develop on Thurs (8/25) in the far West Pacific pushing east through at least Tues (8/30) but still isolated to the far West Pacific. Otherwise nothing of interest is forecast with a generally weak storm pattern in.cgiay both north and south.


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (8/23) no swell is in-flight and none is expected for the next 72 hours.

The California coastal pressure gradient on Tues (8/23) very weak producing only 15-20 kt north winds over a small area on the Oregon-CA boarder producing no real windswell with none hitting the coast. By Wed (8/24) it is to expand in coverage while lifting north velocity holding at 15-20 kts. By Thursday (8/25) the gradient is to expand while moving west with 20 kt north winds over a broad area from just of Cape Mendocino to 600 nmiles west of there. Windswell building some. off the coast On Fri (8/26) the gradient is to start fading while continuing to track west, offering little hope for producing windswell.

For Hawaii on Tuesday (8/23) 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 1036 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 and holding through Thurs (8/25) then fading on Friday. Maybe some small rideable east windswell to result at exposed breaks when the wind is strongest.


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


Tropical Update
Tropical Storm Lionrock was 350 nmiles south of Southern Japan on Tues AM (8/23) with winds 60 kts and effectively stationary. This system is to hold position and slowly strengthen with winds to 75 kts on Wed (7/25) and still not moving. There's suggestion that by Sun (8/28) this system is to start moving east with winds 70 kts. The GFS model has Lionrock continuing slowly east into Tues (8/30) but still positioned well in the West Pacific, at 31N 147E. Something to monitor long term.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (8/23) a weak pressure pattern was in control with light winds over all of California coastal waters except from Cape Mendocino northward, where a small gradient was producing north winds at 20 kts. 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 San Francisco, but light nearshore, then retracting northward on Thursday (8/25) to just Cape Mendocino and over outer waters off of Pt Arena at 20 kts, but light winds south of there. 20 kt north winds to remain over outer waters on Friday but fading in coverage with light to no winds nearshore and fading away from 15 kts from the north through the day offshore on Saturday. No winds greater than 10 kts are forecast over California waters on Sun and Mon (8/29) except near Pt Conception at 15-20 kts Monday. The normal gradient is to return on Tuesday (8/30) with winds 15-20 kts from the north over all nearshore waters of North and Central CA.


South Pacific

On Tuesday AM (8/23) the northern branch of the jet was dominant running west to east on the 30S latitude line at 150 kts in the west then slowly falling southeast as it approached Chile fading from 130 kts and weak pushing into Chile. The southern branch was down at 70S under Tasmania lifting steadily northeast to 60S over the Central South Pacific then ridging south back into Antarctica in the Southeast Pacific. There was a weak trough offering some support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere in the Central South Pacific near 150W. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to build some late Wed (8/24) with winds feeding it to 120 kts offering somewhat improved odds for gale development while tracking east, then fading with winds down to 90 kts on Thurs (8/25) no longer offering support for gale formation. Beyond 72 hours the southern branch of the jet is to be ridging south over Antarctic Ice over the Central Pacific actively suppressing gale development through Tues (8/30). There some suggestion of a trough trying to form in the far West Pacific on Tues (8/30) being fed by 130 kts perhaps offerings support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere.

Surface Analysis  
On Tuesday (8/23) the last bit of swell was still hitting California from a gale that developed in the Central South Pacific over a week ago. But it is to be gone in 24 hours. 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). Also possible tiny swell is tracking north from a gale that was on the edge of the California in the Southeast Pacific on Mon (8/22).

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


New Zealand Gale
A gale tracked under New Zealand on Thurs AM (8/18) producing a modest 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 faded from 40 kt from the southwest in the evening with seas 30 ft at 60S 176W. On Fri AM (8/19) southwest fetch faded from 35 kts with seas fading from 29 ft at 58S 164W. 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 1.3 ft @ 19 secs late 92.0-2.5 ft). Swell peaking on Sun (8/28) at 1.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell continues on Mon (8/29) at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). On Tues (8/30) swell fading from 1.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0 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 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.5 ft). Swell continues on Mon (8/29) at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). On Tues (8/30) swell fading from 1.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 207-210 degrees


Small Southeast Pacific Gale
A tiny storm developed in the far Southeast Pacific on Sun PM (8/21) producing 45 kt southwest winds over a tiny area with seas building from 30 ft at 51S 128W. On Mon AM (8/22) southwest winds to be fading from 40 kts over a small area with seas 32 ft at 49S 120W. Fetch was fading from 35 kts in the evening and positioned well east of the California swell window with seas fading from 28 ft at 46S 114W targeting only Chile. Some small swell might result for California but most size was targeting Central America down into Chile.

South California: Small swell arriving later on Mon (8/29) build to 1.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.0 ft). Swell continues on Tues (8/30) building to 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 185 degrees

North CA: Small swell arriving on Tues (8/30) building to 1.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 183 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 Saturday (8/27) high pressure is to be retrograding west and fading in the Western Gulf of Alaska with no gradient remaining and no north fetch forecast. Windswell fading to nothing. A weak pressure and wind pattern is forecast through Monday (8/29) with no windswell forecast. Then on Tues (8/30) there suggestions that high pressure is to again track east with the gradient redeveloping along the North and Central CA coast at 15-20 kts, perhaps offering some small hope for weak north windswell at exposed breaks. We continue waiting for the Fall season to wake up.

For Hawaii on Saturday (8/27) trades east of the Islands are to drop below the 15 kt threshold with no rideable windswell resulting and are to remain that way into Tues (8/30).

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a gale is forecast tracking under New Zealand Sun PM (8/28) producing 35-40 kt southwest winds and seas to 33 ft at 55S 152E. Mon AM (8/29) southwest winds to be fading from 35 kts with seas 30 ft at 51S 166E. The gale is to be in rapid decline in the evening but new fetch is to be building further south under New Zealand at 35-40 kts. On Tues AM (8/30) a broad fetch of 35-40 kt south winds are to be pushing up the east coast of New Zealand with 28 ft seas pushing north. Something to monitor.

More details to follow...

La Nina Remains Weak

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 Monday (8/22) 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 over the the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): West anomalies were modest over a small area in the western KWGA with east anomalies modest from the dateline eastward. West anomalies are to be retreating westward and gone from the KWGA by 8/24 with east anomalies retrograding into the gap through 8/29 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 8/22 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): (8/23) 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: (8/23) This model depicts a weak Active Phase redeveloping over the dateline today and 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 starting 9/12 tracking east into the East Pacific through 10/2. 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 currently just past peaking over the KWGA with modest west anomalies in.cgiay from the dateline westward and retreating in to 8/26, then collapsing while the Active Phase tracks east thru 9/6. An very weak Inactive Phase is to follow 9/9-9/23 but with weak west anomalies still holding in the KWGA. Then another Active MJO signal is to follow 9/25 -10/18 with modest west anomalies in the KWGA and holding into at least mid-Nov. Overall the MJO signal is very weak and expected to remain that way into early Winter, with east anomalies generally holding in the East Pacific from 120W to 170W and west anomalies reaching east to the dateline. There no suggestion of a major pulse of east or west anomalies in the KWGA. The low pass filter suggests the remnants of El Nino in the Pacific are to dissipate south of California in the next 2 days. 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: (8/23) Actual temperatures are steady in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 167E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 170W. 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: (8/22) 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 then redeveloped flowing west from the Galapagos over a thin stream then building in coverage/width near 100W 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 weak, 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 (8/22): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru and also extending from Ecuador over the Galapagos. A cooling trend is from 120W and points westward with a intermixed pockets of warming water from 120W to 160W. A neutral trend is off Africa.
Hi-res Overview:
(8/2) 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: (8/23) Today's temps were trending cooler at +0.161 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/23) temps were trending downward at -0.734 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 (8/23) 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 (8/23): The daily index was up some at +15.96. The 30 day average was down some at +3.40. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was up some at +3.07, 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): (8/23) Today's value was falling some at -0.98. 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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