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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 3:19 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 & 2.0 - 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 8/28 thru Sun 9/3

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   

1 Small S. Hemi Swell Hitting CA
Another On the Way - NPac to Possibly Stir


On Tuesday, August 29, 2017 :

  • Buoy 146 (Lanai): This buoy is down and there is no backup site and no date if or when it will return to service. Buoy 233/51211 (Pearl Harbor) is available but has a new frequency layout. We'll have to code a new program to read it's output (date TBD).
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.4 ft @ 14.7 secs with southern hemi swell 2.0 ft @ 15.1 secs from 187 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 6-8 kts. Water temperature 67.3 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.8 ft @ 5.9 secs from 270 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.9 ft @ 13.5 secs from 195 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.5 ft @ 15.9 secs from 208 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.4 ft @ 16.2 secs from 176 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.0 ft @ 7.1 secs with local north windswell 4.7 ft @ 6.6 secs from 311 degrees and south swell 2.1 ft @ 15.6 secs from 175 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 12 kts. Water temp 57.6 degs.

    46006, 46059, Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (bottom of the page)
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.


Current Conditions
On Tuesday (8/29) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf at waist to chest high on the sets and pretty wonky from northwest lump running through it an moderate northwest wind bump. Protected breaks were waist high and cleaner and more rideable. At Santa Cruz surf was thigh to almost waist high on rare sets and clean but weak and slow. In Southern California up north waves were knee to maybe thigh high on the sets and clean and weak. In North Orange Co southern hemi swell was hitting producing waves at chest to shoulder high but slow and a bit warbled from lump of indeterminate source. In South Orange Co sets at top spots waves were shoulder to maybe head high on the sets and clean but with some warbled running through it. In San Diego surf was thigh high and clean but foggy. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was waist high on the sets and clean. The East Shore was knee high and chopped from modest east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Tuesday (8/29) minimal locally generated north windswell was in-play along the coast of North and Central California with north winds 15 kts along the immediate coast. Windswell is to continue on a slow upward trend into Fri (9/1) then starting to fade fast on Sat (9/2). For Hawaii, no windswell was present and a none is forecast. But some form of gale is forecast for the Northwestern Gulf on Sun (9/3) producing 40-45 kts winds and 31 ft seas aimed southeast. Certainly something to monitor. Looking south a small pulse of southern hemi background southeast swell was hitting Southern CA and exposed breaks in NCal from a gale previously off Southern Chile. And another small gale developed south of Tahiti on Fri-Sat (8/26) producing 28 ft seas aimed north resulting in a second small southern hemi swell that is to arrive over the weekend. But nothing else is on the charts. Local windswell is to be the main swell source until the North Pacific comes online.

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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (8/29) an improving weather pattern was setting up over the greater North Pacific with weak local north fetch off California at 15 kts producing minimal north local raw windswell for North and Central CA and a tropical system in the far West Pacific that is to start feeding energy into the jetstream and support formation of a gale in the Western Gulf of Alaska longer term. For Hawaii trade winds were blowing at 15 kts over a decent sized fetch but all positioned south of the Islands resulting in no windswell of interest along exposed east shores.

Over the next 72 hours for California the pressure gradient is to continue weakly building on Wed (8/30) attributable to high pressure at 1020 mbs 750 nmiles west of Pt Conception generating north winds at 15-20 kts nearshore for all of North and Central CA producing somewhat building raw local north windswell. That fetch is to build to 20-25 kts off all of North and Central CA on Thurs (8/31) with raw windswell building some more, and then to 25-30 kts on Fri (9/1) but limited to North CA with an eddy flow over all of Central CA. This is to be the peak of windswell production.

For Hawaii, easterly trades at 15 kts are forecast to be building in coverage on Wed (8/30) attributable to the above high pressure system with fragments of the fetch almost lifting north and in the Hawaiian swell window 600 nmiles east of the Island and continuing into Thurs (8/31) offering some minimal support for windswell production targeting exposed east shores. But small is the operative word.


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


Tropical Update
Tropical Storm Sanvu was 700 nmiles south-southeast of Tokyo with winds 45 kts tracking northwest at 15 kts producing seas 16 ft. This system is to eventually start tracking north and building to hurricane forecast on Thurs (9/31) with winds 70 kts. This system is to continue north while fading with it back down to tropical storm status on Sun (9/3) with winds 45 kts. The GFS model is suggesting that this system is to move over the Kuril Islands, then eventually make a turn to the east on Tues AM (9/5) with west winds 40 kts and seas 30 ft at 49N 163E. Something to monitor.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (8/29) a weak pressure gradient was in control of California nearshore coastal waters generating 15-20 kts north winds over all of North and Central CA. The fetch is to be building coverage Wed AM (8/30) at 20 kts pushing near 25 kts late. By Thurs AM (8/31) north winds to continue at 25+ kts lifting north and centered over Cape Mendocino with and eddy flow (south winds) developing over Central CA. Fri (9/1) winds to be 25 kts over North CA fading late with an eddy flow (south winds) to be in control of Central CA up to Pt Arena. Sat (9/2) winds to be light over all of California waters with light south winds from Pt Arena southward. Sunday more of the same is forecast but with north winds 25 kts over the Oregon-CA border. A light wind pattern is forecast taking over again on Mon-Tues (9/5).


South Pacific

On Tuesday AM (8/29) the jetstream continued in a zonal pattern with the northern branch running east on the 27S latitude line while the southern branch of the jet was running east on the 62S latitude line and generally weak with winds 110 kts in one pocket but generally far weaker over the width of the South Pacific with no troughs present offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours
starting Wed (8/30) the southern branch of the jet is ridge a bit further south being fed by 130 kts winds pushing down to 70S and winds building to 140 kts all over Antarctic Ice and building over the entirety of the South Pacific offering no support for gale development through Fri (9/1). Beyond 72 hours a trough is forecast to start building in the Southeast Pacific starting Mon (9/4) with 170 kts winds pushing north-northeast near 140W with that trough reaching up to 52S on Tues (9/5) repositioned east at 110W offering some decent support for gale development but mostly east of the California swell window.

Surface Analysis  
On Tuesday (8/29) small swell from a gale previously in the Southeast Pacific was tracking north (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). Also small swell from a gale previously south of Tahiti was pushing north (see Small Central Pacific Gale below). Otherwise no swell producing fetch of interest was in play over the width of the South Pacific.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.


Southeast Pacific Gale
On Sat PM (8/20) a small gale developed in the Southeast Pacific Sat PM into Sun AM (8/20) producing 33 ft seas at 57S 97W in association with a gale low there supported by an upper level trough. But most of this energy was targeting Mexico down into Peru and Chile.

Southern CA: Swell continues Tues (8/29) at 3.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.5 ft). Swell fading Wed (8/30) from 3.0 ft @ 14 secs (4.0 ft). Residuals on Thurs (8/31) fading from 2.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 173 degrees

North CA: Swell building into Tues (8/29) at 2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5 ft). Swell fading Wed (8/30) from 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Residuals on Thurs (8/31) fading from 2.1 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 170 degrees


Small Central Pacific Gale
A small cutoff gale developed south of Tahiti Thurs PM (8/24) with 35-40 kt south winds and seas building from 24 ft over a small area at 48S 160W aimed due north. On Fri AM (8/25) fetch built in coverage at 35 kts from the south and with 2 pockets to 40 kts with seas to 28 ft up at 40S 158W aimed due north. In the evening the original fetch was fading from 30-35 kts but a new fetch built south of it at 40 kts aimed north with a new area of 28 ft seas at 47S 153W and seas from the original fetch fading from 25 ft at 36S 155W. Fetch faded from 40 kts Sat AM (8/26) aimed north with seas 27-28 ft at 43S 152W. fetch faded in the evening from 35 kts with seas fading from 28 ft at 39S 151W aimed north. A Decent swell is pushing north towards Tahiti with smaller energy for Hawaii with less energy from the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Fri (9/1) building to 2.0 ft @ 16 secs (3.0 ft) later. Swell to peak on Sat (9/2) at 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs early (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell fading Sun (9/3) from 2.2 ft @ 13 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 180 degrees

South CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (9/2) pushing 1.8 ft @ 16 secs later (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell holding Sun (9/3) at 2.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 210 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on late Sat (9/2) pushing 1.3 ft @ 17 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell peaking Sun (9/3) at 1.9 ft @ 16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 206 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 regarding windswell production for California, on Saturday (9/2) high pressure is to be lifting northeast and fading with northeast winds at 20 kts early fading to 15 kts late and positioned all over Oregon offering no real windswell generation potential relative to California. Beyond no additional fetch is forecast through the end of the model run on Tues (9/5) with no windswell expected.

For Hawaii, trades directly east of the Islands are to be below the 15 kts threshold Sat-Tues (9/5) offering no support for windswell production.

But of more interest a pocket of wind energy from the tropical system in the far West Pacific is to break off and move over the Northern Dateline region on Sat AM (9/2) with winds 35 kts from the west just south of the Aleutians (though the core of the system is to be over the Aleutians) and building. By the evening winds are to build to 45-50 kts just barely south of the Eastern Aleutians with seas building to 18 ft at 52N 170W. Fetch is to fade quickly Sun AM (9/3) from 35-40 kts in the Northwestern Gulf with the core just south of the Aleutians and seas 27 ft at 51N 164W. In the evening fetch is to fade from 35 kts over a shrinking area with seas 23 ft at 50N 168W. Mon AM (9/4) fetch is to fade from 30 kts over the same area from the north with seas fading from 19 ft at 48N 165W. Possible small longer period swell to result if all develops as forecast. But we're still 4+ days away from this system even forming.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours starting Mon (9/4) a fetch of 30-35 kt southwest winds is to start building over the Central Pacific in association with an upper trough there tracking east. In the evening fetch is build to 35 kts from the south near 135W with seas building. On Tues AM (9/5) fetch is to build to 40 kts from the south with seas 29 ft at 50S 125W aimed well north. Fetch is to move east of the CA swell window in the evening. Something to monitor relative to California.

More details to follow...


La Nina Holding

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 equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing 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 planet, 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 in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.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: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration and is holding.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Sat (8/28) the 5 day average indicated east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were neutral over the East Pacific and weak easterly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (8/29) Moderate plus strength east anomalies were modeled over the core of the KWGA. They are to hold for 2 more days and then a quick fade is forecast with neutral wind anomalies taking root by 9/1 and holding through the end of the model run on 9/5. It appears an Inactive Phase of the MJO is feeding a La Nina pattern, at least for now.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 8/28 a modest Dry/Inactive MJO pattern was depicted over the far West Pacific reaching to the dateline. The statistical model depicts the Dry pattern to fade 5 days out turning neutral and holding for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with a weak Active/Wet Phase setting up in the west on days 10-15.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (8/29) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO weak over the West Indian Ocean tracking east and forecast to reach the Maritime Continent 2 weeks out and collapse. The GEFS model depicts the same thing but the MJO holding a bit stronger and making it to the West Pacific 2 weeks out.
40 day Upper Level Model: (8/29) This model depicts the Inactive/Dry Phase over the Central Pacific and modest in strength. It is to track rapidly east while slowly fading pushing over Central America through 9/18. At the same time a weak Active/Wet MJO pattern is forecast to follow in the West Pacific starting 9/6 pushing east but fading quickly and gone 9/28. a stronger Inactive/Dry Phase is to push over the far West Pacific at the end of the model run on 10/8. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (8/29) This model depicts a very weak version of the Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the KWGA with modest east wind anomalies over the West Pacific and forecast holding over the bulk of the KWGA through 9/30. After that the Active Phase of the MJO is to return starting 10/1 with weak west anomalies in control through 10/23. Then the Inactive Phase starts redeveloping the West Pacific and neutral anomalies setting up and holding through the end of the model run (11/26). The low pass filter indicates a very weak La Nina signal redeveloped 7/25 from the dateline eastward then built a little on 8/15 but still minimal and is to hold weak till 10/6, then building in coverage but drifting east and showing signs of weakness in it's core. There's some sense the El Nino like core currently in the Indian Ocean is to start shifting east to the West Pacific in early November while the La Nina pattern shifts east too taking root entirely east of the dateline. Best guess is a very weak directionless and low energy weather pattern biased towards La Nina redeveloping in Fall of 2017. It will take 5 years for the Pacific to recharge from the 2014-16 El Nino.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (8/27) A pattern change has set up the past month, with warm water retreating west and cooler water in the east. In the far West Pacific water temps were depicted at 30 degs centered at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line has stabilized at 167W. The 24 deg isotherm has retrograded to 125W and is holding at 75 meters deep at 140W (previously 100 meters) but that is expected to fade soon. Anomaly wise a clear change is present in the East Pacific with warm water gone and turning neutral to weak negative +0.0 to -1.0 degs indicative of La Nina while +1.0 degree anomalies build in coverage in the West Pacific at 125 meters deep. The dividing line between cool and warm is at 160W. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/21 depicts the same thing, but with more cool water east and less warm water in the west. It looks like the cool water pocket is poised to erupt to the surface in the equatorial East Pacific while east winds are pushing all warm surface waters of the equatorial Pacific to the West Pacific. This might be the start of a pattern to build warm water in the far West Pacific that eventually might be able to feed some sort of a progressive Kelvin Wave pattern, a few years from now. The GODAS image appears to be about 1 week behind the TAO data.
Sea Level Anomalies: (8/21) Negative anomalies are building coverage at -5 cms from 165W to Ecuador suggesting a building cool pool 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: (8/28) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a clear cool pattern developing with modest upwelling nearshore along Peru and Ecuador while tracking northwest over the Galapagos and then flowing steadily west from there on the equator and well defined out to 160W. There is no breaks in the cool stream over this entire area. The upwelling pattern nearshore to Peru is somewhat more subdued for the moment. This looks very much like a classic La Nina signature. Cooling in the heart of the Nino3.4 region is building.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (8/28): A weak warming trend is building from Peru to Ecuador over the Galapagos out to 100W. Cooling continues in pockets between 110W-145W. La Nina is stalling for the moment.
Hi-res Overview:
(8/28) A clear legit La Nina cool stream has developed on the equator from Peru up to Ecuador then west to 180W. There is no sign of warm anomalies in the Nino 1.2 or Nino3.4 regions. But the stream of cooler water associated with nearshore upwelling just off Peru northwest to the Galapagos is subdued for the moment. Overall waters of all oceans of the planet are warmer than normal other than the aforementioned stream. We now assert that climatology needs to be updated to reflect the new reality of warming ocean temperatures over the entire planet.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (8/29) Today's temps were rising slightly at -0.841, down from a warm peak of +3.0 degs on 3/18 and +1.0 degs on 5/2 and +0.6 degs on 6/20. 
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/29) temps were up some at -0.119, still down from +0.5 degs where it was consistently through 7/18. A clear downward trend is indicated.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (8/29) The forecast has temps falling steadily from +0.0 in Aug to -0.5 in Oct and down from there to -1.1 in Dec then stating to rebound to 0.0 in April 2018. This is a upgrade in the strength of La Nina and suggests a legit La Nina now forecast for the Winter of 2017-2018. The CFS SST images (8/28) continues to suggest a weak La Nina cool pattern building on the equator off the Galapagos in Sept and building steadily into Dec/Jan 2018. There is no source for El Nino like warming with the warm pool in the far West Pacific weak and fading.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Aug Plume updated (8/20) depicts temps forecast to fade 0.0 degs in Aug, and are to hold there solid through Feb 2018 suggesting a neutral pattern in control. See chart here - link.  The NMME consensus depicts the same thing with temps -0.01 degrees below normal through Jan. last month both models depicted temps at +0.3 degs above normal through the Winter. So this is a significant downgrade.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (8/29): The daily index was positive at +9.53 and has been positive for a long time now with no end in sight. The 30 day average was falling some at 4.46. The 90 day average was stable at +0.47 or just north of neutral. This suggests a return to ENSO neutral conditions has taken hold.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (8/29) Today's value was falling again at -1.25 (up from -2.20 on 6/28) but still suggesting a turn towards La Nina. A supposed peak of this La Nina was reached on 11/2/16 at -1.94 (last year) . So the index is about as negative as it was at the peak of last years (2016) La Nina. At this time it looks like La Nina is returning or a double dip 2 year La Nina. This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina events.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker lately (as expected with La Nina setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.10, Feb = +0.04, March = +0.12, April=+0.52, May=+0.30, June=+0.19, July=-0.41. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO. No consistently negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.77, Feb = +0.70, Mar = +0.74, April=+1.12, May=+0.88, June=+0.79, July=+0.10. No negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina). 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 strongly suggests that could be a possibility. 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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