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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: August 24, 2006 9:55 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
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Swell Potential Rating = 4.1 - California & 3.3 - 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 8/21 thru Sun 8/27
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   

Swell #6S Dribbling into CA
South Pacific Pattern Remains Poor


On Thursday (8/24) Northern CA surf was thigh to waist high, maybe a little more and windblown. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were thigh high. Central California surf was thigh to waist high. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were thigh high. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist high, maybe a few bigger sets. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were waist to near chest high on the sets. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was shoulder to head high with sets 1 ft overhead. The East Shore was chest to head high.

California was near flat except for a few spots down on the south end of the state that were starting to pick up the new southern hemi swell. Hawaii was again doing the best of anywhere with southern hemi Swell #6S still in effect on the south shore and hurricane swell from Hector hitting the east shore. The dominant swell source for all locations will continue to be from a gale that tracked through the Central South Pacific earlier this week generating Swell #6S. It is to not be remarkable , and maybe even less than we forecast below, but certainly better than nothing. Mult.cgie gales/storms remain modeled for the South Pacific, but all are to be on a steady west to east track just north of the Ross Ice Shelf directing all swell energy south and east towards Chile and Antarctica, rather than north towards Hawaii and CA. And so far, they all are developing weaker than what was modeled a few days before their formation, so don;t get too hyped by what you see on the charts. Hawaii remains reasonably positioned to pick up some small energy from these systems as they push under New Zealand, but it's to be minimal. Make to most of what you get and pray for the Fall season to start soon. See details below...


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

North Pacific

Thursday jetstream charts (8/24) indicated a seasonally weak flow providing no support for surface level gale development for the next 7 days. Energy is tracking west to east directly over the Aleutian Islands with a weak trough still forecast to develop in the northern Gulf of Alaska Sunday-Wednesday of next week, but nothing really noteworthy. Just a weak tease.

At the surface high pressure was in control of the North Pacific with one core 800 nmiles west of the Oregon/CA border generating a weak pressure gradient off Cape Mendocino CA with north winds there to 25 kts generating small short period (8 sec) windswell for North and Central CA. A second high was tracking from the dateline east towards the first one and nearly joining it. A weak extra-tropical low pressure system had squeezed north between the two days earlier and was now in the Northern Gulf of Alaska, generating a fleeting fetch of 35 kts winds aimed towards the Pacific Northwest, but not getting much surface traction. Trades remains suppressed over the Hawaiian Islands. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (8/27) high pressure to hold off the Pacific Northwest then drift back to the west, with the Cape mendocino pressure gradient and associated winds holding in the 25-30 kts range early Friday, then fading off to near nothing with windswell production fading with it. Trades to remain light over the Hawaiian Islands. A generally weak pattern continuing.


Tropical Storm Hector was gone on Thursday but swell from it's remnants was still hitting eastern Shores of the Hawaiian Islands, expected to slowly settle down through Saturday.

Hurricane Ioke was back to traveling on the near westward path, looking very nice on this afternoons satellite imagery. It was maxed out with winds at 110 kts positioned 600 nmiles southeast of Midway. A slow decline expected over the next 5 days but it is to retain minimal hurricane strength. This is a fish storm, with no landfall expected and no swell generation potential for the US mainland or Hawaii.

Hurricane Ileana peaked out Wednesday afternoon (8/23) 923 nmiles southeast of Southern CA with sustained winds estimated at 105 kts. The storm was just barely in the swell window for most of Southern CA (159 degrees relative to Dana Point) with seas at 28 ft. Assuming this had continued, swell of 4-5 ft @ 14 secs would have pushed into exposed SCal breaks starting Friday AM, but the latest data is far less encouraging. On Thursday AM winds were down to 85 kts with seas 19 ft positioned 800 nmiles from SCal. QuikSCat imagery in all instances suggests the strongest winds were in the storms north quadrant aimed west towards Hawaii, though some fetch in the storms eastern quadrant was likely generating some form of energy pushing towards SCal. And with a northwestward heading at 9 kts holding, this suggests swell possibly at 3 ft @ 11-12 secs arriving in SCal Saturday afternoon. These estimates are likely on the high side, and since southern hemi swell will be hitting at the same time, it will be hard to discern the two swells apart.


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


California Offshore Forecast
High pressure off the coast of Oregon at 1030 mbs was generating a weak fetch of 25-30 kt north winds off the coast of Cape Mendocino California, generating small short period windswell pushing south. but that to start fading late Friday with swell generation potential backing off. By Friday the gradient is to be isolated to the north, with a calmer wind pattern settling over North CA locations south of Pt Arena on into Central CA. A light winds regime (if not a bit of an eddy flow - southwest) to hold through Monday (8/28). A new gradient to set up Tuesday (8/29) bringing north winds back to the local picture north of Pt Conception through Wednesday, then fading out.

The detailed 5 Day Wind Forecast is included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.


South Pacific

On Thursday (8/24) a .cgiit jetstream pattern was becoming well established over the entire South Pacific with the northern branch actually diving southeast to meet the southern branch just off Chile. This was most unfavorable and not conducive to the development or large swell producing systems in the South Pacific. Over the next 72 hours through Sunday (8/27) the southern branch of the jetstream is to continue sweeping eastward over the boundary of the Ross Ice Shelf and open waters to the north with only the faintest hint of a trough over open waters under New Zealand late in the period, and then only with 100 kt winds flowing over it, not supported of storm development. Beyond 72 hours more of the same is generally modeled, with a slightly stronger trough emerging under New Zealand next Wednesday with 140 kts winds flowing over it, providing a bit more support at the surface for storm development if one is to believe the models.

At the surface today a thin elongated low was sitting over the length of the Ross Ice Shelf generating 30-35 kt west winds over waters over the northern edge of the shelf. no swell generation potential suggested. Over the next 72 hours a much better system is forecast pushing under New Zealand starting Saturday (8/26) with 40-45 kts southwest winds aimed towards Hawaii and the US mainland while tracking steadily east before fading late Monday well south of Tahiti off the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. These winds are to slowly turn more to the east over time putting the vector more and more off the great circle paths aimed north towards either location, and reducing swell generation potential. Sea modeled at 35 ft through the gales life. Will see what actually happens as we get closer to the storms formation, but if history is a guide, something less will result.


Storm #6S - Central Pacific Gale
The next candidate system formed just east of New Zealand on Monday AM (8/14) with pressure 964 mbs producing a tiny confirmed fetch of 40-45 kts winds aimed due north from 55S 153W targeting locations near Hawaii. Slightly more fetch built late Monday into early Tuesday with 40 kt south winds continuing in the gales west quadrant aimed better at Hawaii from 52S 162W up the 180-185 degree path. But because the fetch is so small only 20 ft seas were modeled, increasing to 29 ft Tuesday AM centered at 55S 165W. This is good for some small 13-15 sec energy pushing towards Hawaii. By Tuesday night this system started tapping improving jetstream energy, with pressure dropping to 960 mbs and the west side of the storm becoming somewhat better organized, though winds were confirmed still only in the 40-45 kt range at 50S 156W aimed 35 degrees east of the 180 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 200 degree path to California. 30 ft seas were modeled at 51S 160W, good for both Hawaii and California - just barely unshadowed by Tahiti.

By Wednesday AM (8/16) a broad fetch of 35-40 kt winds were set up in the gales northwest quadrant centered at 46S 147W aimed northeast and barely providing sideband energy to Hawaii up the 175 degree path and more directly at California up the 196 degree path totally unshadowed by Tahiti. Seas were modeled at 35 ft at 50S 155W. By evening the core of the low was a bit diffuse but 35-40 kt winds continued centered at 48S 143W outside the Hawaiian swell window and aimed 20 degrees east of the 195 degree path towards California. Seas were modeled at 37 ft over a moderate area centered at 48S 148W and mainly a function of the continued stress over the oceans surface for an extended period of time and even that may be a little optimistic. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass directly over the core of the fetch and reported one reading with seas at 35.8 ft, but most averaged in the 32 ft range. This was a bit lower than the 37 ft indicated by the model, possibly indicating the models was on the high side. This system was all but gone by Thursday AM with winds down to 30-40 kts centered roughly near 40S 135W with seas 32 ft at 45S 140W heading towards California up the 190 degree path. A quick decay forecast after that as a new storm starts building in west, stealing any remaining energy left behind.

This was not a well organized gale (not even a storm), or a strong wind producer. In fact, there was nothing that was remarkable about it other than it's to be 'something' as compared to nothing. In it's favor it held together reasonably well for 3 days and traveled reasonably well to the northeast towards California, but not moving as close as was forecast earlier. This will likely result in solid utility class swell/small significant class energy for the California. Hawaii to get some initial energy from this system too, but at it's peak this gale was a bit too far east relative to the Hawaiian swell window with fetch aimed east of there, only enabling solid utility class swell to push towards the Islands.

Based on current buoy readings Swell #6S is arriving smaller than anticipated. Presume the forecast below is therefore on the high side.

South California: Expect swell arrival starting Wednesday (8/23) near noon with period at 20 secs and size tiny and barely rideable late (1.0-1.5 ft @ 20 secs - 2-3 ft faces). Swell on the increase through the day Thursday (8/24) becoming much more rideable by late afternoon and nearly peaking with swell up to 3.0-3.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (5.5 ft faces - best breaks to 7 ft). Swell to peak overnight with solid energy still present early Friday (8/25) with swell 3.3-3.5 ft @ 16-17 (5.5-6.0 ft faces - top spots 7.5 ft) holding well through the morning then fading early afternoon. Swell to be on the downswing Saturday morning but still quite rideable with swell 3.0-3.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.5-5.0 ft with sets to 6 ft at the best breaks) heading down by afternoon. Swell still rideable but fading from 3 ft @ 14 secs Sunday morning (4 ft faces). Swell Direction: 201-205 degrees

North California: Expect swell arrival starting Wednesday (8/23) late afternoon with period at 20 secs and size tiny and not likely rideable (1 ft @ 20 secs - 1-2 ft faces). Swell on the increase through the day Thursday (8/24) becoming much more rideable by late afternoon with swell up to 3 ft @ 18 secs (5.0-5.5 ft faces). Swell to peak early Friday (8/25) with swell 3.3-3.5 ft @ 17 (5.5-6.0 ft faces - top spots 7.5 ft) holding well through the morning into early afternoon. Swell to be on the downswing Saturday morning but still quite rideable with swell 3.0-3.5 ft @ 15 secs (4.5-5.0 ft with sets to 6 ft at the best breaks) heading down by afternoon. Swell still rideable but fading from 3 ft @ 14 secs Sunday morning (4 ft faces). Swell Direction: 196-202 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 the 2 high pressure systems in the Northeast Pacific to eventually consolidate into a single one well north of Hawaii on Monday (8/28) then drift slowly east. The Cape Mendocino gradient to start up again maybe Tuesday with 25 kt north winds providing a dribble of northwest windswell for North and Central CA. At the same time the highs are to get a bit better footing over southern waters with trades finally returning to the Hawaiian Islands, but only weakly so. By Thursday (8/31) the high to again retreat with low pressure from the Bering Sea moving into the Northern Gulf of Alaska riding over the eastern edge of the high, setting up a gradient of 25-30 kt winds aimed towards the Pacific Northwest. Still a long shot though. basically a calm pattern still in effect.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a generally unorganized flow to persist with small clumps of proto-energy tracking fast west to east and none developing or getting any real traction on the oceans surface, courtesy of a unfavorable jetstream flow aloft.

Details to follow...


Local Interest

El Nino Forecast Updated: After a long hiatus since our last update (we've been heads-down building new wave models - coming soon) , we've finally dug in and did the analysis of what's going on over the Equatorial Pacific. Things are looking up some, so take a glance and get into all the details:

2006 Wave of Compassion: The 2006 Wave of Compassion is a sweepstakes style fundraiser for SurfAid International; a non-profit humanitarian aid organization on a mission to improve the health of pe.cgie living in isolated regions connected to us through surfing. This October, one grand-prize winner and guest will go on an all expense paid surf/cultural boat trip to the Mentawai Islands and North Sumatra. The Wave of Compassion trip is a chance to raise awareness and funds. Through the support of Surfline, Indies Trader Marine Adventures, FUEL TV, Reef, Jedidiah, Cobian, Anarchy Eyewear, Wave Riding Vehicles, Kandui Resort, Saraina Koat Mentawai, and a many other supporters, Wave of Compassion's ultimate goal is to raise $250,000 for SurfAid International. If you're interested, you have have until September 1st to enter. There's a suggested donation of $10 - but donating more increases the odds of winning the grand prize, or other prizes. Learn more at the Wave of Compassion website:

New Content - QuikCAST's and Satellite Altimetry: Stormsurf has been busy this winter putting some new things together. First up is two new QuikCAST's for the Northeast US Coast, one for Cape Hatteras-to-Virginia Beach and another for New Jersey-to-New York. Check them out Here
Also we now provide Jason-1 Altimetry data overlaid on our Wavewatch III wave models. Take a look Here

Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here

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

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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