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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, September 2, 2017 1:43 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 & 2.2 - 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 9/4 thru Sun 9/10

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   

S. Hemi Swell Hitting HI - Moving to CA
2 Small Gales Forecast for NPac


On Saturday, September 2, 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 2.3 ft @ 13.7 secs with southern hemi swell 1.5 ft @ 13.4 secs from 177 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north at 0-2 kts. Water temperature 69.8 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 0.6 ft @ 16.9 secs from 190 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.0 ft @ 15.9 secs from 207 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.0 ft @ 17.1 secs from 219 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.8 ft @ 13.2 secs from 184 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.2 ft @ 8.3 secs with local north windswell 3.1 ft @ 9.8 secs from 323 degrees and south swell 2.3 ft @ 13.1 secs from 180 degrees. Wind at the buoy was calm. Water temp 61.0 degs. Note: These warm temperatures are unheard of for a non-El Nino year. And even more interesting for a La Nina year.

    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 Saturday (9/2) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf at waist high on the sets and super clean but weak. Beautiful beach day. Protected breaks were waist high on the biggest sets and clean. At Santa Cruz surf was thigh high on the bigger sets and clean but weak and slow and not really rideable. 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 maybe waist high but torn apart by south winds and nearly chopped early. In South Orange Co sets at top spots were waist to chest high and nearly chopped from south wind. In San Diego surf was maybe knee high and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was chest to head high with some bigger sets at top break and clean and lined up. The East Shore was waist high wrapping in from the south and chopped from modest east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (9/2) minimal locally generated north windswell was still hitting weakly along the coast of North and Central California with no winds over CA coastal waters. No windswell production is forecast till at least next weekend (9/9). For Hawaii, no windswell was present and a none is forecast. But a gale is forecast for the Northwestern Gulf on Sun-Mon (9/4) producing 21 ft seas aimed southeast. Small swell is possible. And a tropical system in the far West Pacific is tracking north expected to generate 40 ft seas aimed northeast Sat-Sun (9/3) then turning east just south of the Aleutians late Mon (9/4) with seas fading from 36 ft, fading out over the North Dateline region. Looking south a small gale developed south of Tahiti on Fri-Sat (8/26) producing 28 ft seas aimed north resulting in southern hemi swell that is hitting Hawaii and expected to reach California over the weekend. Beyond a series of gales are forecast for the far Southeast Pacific Sat (9/2), Sun-Mon (9/4) and Wed (9/6) with seas 30 ft barely in the CA swell window and up to 36 ft on the third system but all aimed east. Low odds of anything resulting for the United States. The good news is it looks like the North Pacific is trying to wake up, but not really doing it yet.

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

North Pacific

Since we are now nearing the start of Fall from a swell production perspective, we will start performing regular analysis of the jetstream for the North Pacific.
On Saturday AM (9/2) the jetstream was running east up on the 50N latitude line pushing off the Northern Kurils tracking over the Aleutians then falling southeast in the Northwestern Gulf with winds building to 170 kts carving out a developing trough before ridging northeast pushing into Central Canada. There was building support for gale development in this trough. Over the next 72 hours
the trough is to deepen into late Sun (9/3) pushing south to 42N in the Central Gulf being fed by 160-170 kts winds offering good support for gale development into Monday before pinching off on Tues (9/5) with support for gale development fading then. Beyond 72 hours some remnants of that trough are to try and redevelop in the Northern Gulf Wed-Sat (9/9) being fed by 120-130 kts winds but never really getting well defined. Support for low pressure is possible. At the same time in the west the jet is to remain consolidated running west to east on generally the 45N latitude line offering some hope for the future.
Fall is trying to get organized in the upper atmosphere.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (9/2) two areas of fetch were in play, one developing over the Northwestern Gulf associated with a developing gale there (see Possible Gulf Gale below). Also a tropical system was tracking north off Japan (see Tropical Update below). Otherwise no local fetch was in play relative to either Hawaii or California capable of generating local windswell.

Over the next 72 hours only the systems defined above are to be of interest.

Possible Gulf Gale
A low pressure system was building in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska on Sat AM (9/2) with northwest winds 25 kts building to 30-35 kts in the evening and seas on the increase. On Sun AM (9/3) northwest winds to be 40 kts over a small area with seas building from 24 ft at 47N 162W targeting mainly the US West Coast with sideband energy towards Hawaii. In the evening fetch is to fade from 35 kts over a broader area and seas 23 ft at 47N 160W targeting mainly the US West Coast. Mon AM (9/4) north fetch is to be fading from 30 kts with a small area of 17 ft seas lingering at 46N 167W. This system is to dissipate after that. Small weak early season 13 sec period swell is possible for the Pacific Northwest, California and Hawaii. Something to monitor.


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


Tropical Update
Tropical Storm Sanvu was 300 nmiles east-southeast of Tokyo Japan with winds 55 kts tracking north-northeast at 20 kts producing 30 ft seas at 33N 147E. This system is to continue tracking north-northeast for the next few days with winds 55 kts Sat PM and seas increasing to 38 ft at 37N 150E. On Sun AM (9/3) winds to be fading from 50 kts with seas supposedly 38 ft at 42N 155E, then fading in the evening with winds 45 kts and seas fading from 32 ft at 45N 160E. Mon AM (9/4) Sanvu is to turn extratropical and turn east with winds from the west at 45 kts and seas 38 ft at 49N 162E aimed east (barely unshadowed by the Aleutians on the 308 degree track to NCal) then turning fully east in the evening with west winds 45 kts and seas 35 ft but up at 51N 166E and totally shadowed relative to the US West Coast and aimed too far east to be of much use to Hawaii. More of the same is forecast Tues AM (9/5) with west winds fading from 40 kts and seas 32 ft at 51N 170E (mostly north of the 308 degree track to NCal and partially shadowed by the Aleutians). A quick fade to follow. Something to monitor.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (9/2) a weak pressure and winds pattern was in play for all CA coastal waters with no winds in excess of 10 kts. No change is forecast Sunday other than one pocket of 15 kt north winds over North CA at sunset. A light wind pattern is forecast again Mon-Thurs (9/7) except building north winds for Pt Conception on Thursday at 20 kts. More of the same is forecast Friday except with north winds starting to build over North CA at 15-20 kts associated with high pressure building at 1024 mbs 700 nmiles off the coast there. By Sat AM (9/9) those winds to build to 25 kts limited to North CA with an eddy flow over all of South CA (south winds).


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
On Saturday (9/2) final remnant swell from a gale previously in the Southeast Pacific was hitting California but effectively gone. Also small swell from a gale previously south of Tahiti was pushing north and hitting Hawaii and bound for California (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.

A gale started getting exposure from Antarctic Ice in the far deep Southeast Pacific Fri PM (9/1) with 40-45 kt west winds producing 29 ft seas at 62S 124W in the CA swell window but not really radiating north much. By Sat AM (9/2) that fetch was all well east of the CA swell window with west winds 40 kts over a good sized area with seas 34 ft at 60.5S 109W and well east of the CA swell window. No meaningful swell to result for California. Most energy is to be aimed at Chile.

Another similar system is to develop in the same location Sun AM (9/3) with 40-45 kts southwest building and seas building. By Sun PM 40-45 kt southwest winds are to continue tracking east and generating 32 ft seas at 61S 120W. By Mon AM (9/4) It is to be well east of there with fetch fading from 35 kts and seas 32 ft at 59S 106W and targeting only Chile and Peru. Again, low odds of any meaningful swell resulting for California given the easterly storm track and mostly westerly wind direction.


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: 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 fading Mon (9/4) from 1.9 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Residual energy on Tues (9/5) fading from 1.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 208 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 fading Mon (9/4) from 1.9 ft @ 15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Residual energy on Tues (9/5) fading from 1.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.0 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 no swell producing weather systems are forecast.

No windswell production is expected for CA or HI either.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a gale is to start building in the Southeast Pacific on Wed PM (9/6) with a broad area of 40 kt west to northwest winds and seas building but mainly targeting the Antarctic. The storm is to build rapidly Thurs AM (9/7) and track east fast with 50+ kt west winds and seas building to 33 ft at 61S 117W aimed mainly at Southern Chile. This system is to race east from there in the evening with 45-50 kt southwest winds and seas 36 ft at 60S 107W and well east of the Southern CA swell window. Low odds of any swell resulting for California.

More details to follow...


La Nina Not Going Anywhere

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 Fri (9/1) the 5 day average indicated east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were light easterly in pockets over the East Pacific and modest easterly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (9/2) Moderate east anomalies were modeled over the Western KWGA with neutral anomalies over the East KWGA. East anomalies are to hold and start building east again starting 9/7 filling the KWGA by the end of the model run on 9/9. It now looks like the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to again start asserting itself refueling La Nina.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 9/1 a neutral MJO pattern was in control of the KWGA. The statistical model depicts a neutral pattern to continue for the next 2 weeks biased weakly Active/Wet in the far West Pacific making no eastward progress. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with a weak and building Inactive/Dry Phase setting up in the west starting on day 8 continuing through day 15. The two models are in conflict long term.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (9/2) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO weak over the Maritime Continent and forecast to collapse to nothing and not changing. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (9/2) This model depicts the Inactive/Dry Phase was over the far East Pacific and modest in strength. It is to track rapidly east while slowly fading pushing over Central America through 9/9. At the same time a very weak Active/Wet MJO pattern is over the far West Pacific and is to push east while fading and gone over Central America on 9/27. A weak Inactive/Dry Phase is to push over the far West Pacific 10/5 tracking east through the end of the model run 10/12. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (9/2) 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 far West Pacific. Those anomalies are forecast to rebuild over the coming weeks as the Inactive Phase rebuilds in the West Pacific 9/10-10/1. After that the Active Phase of the MJO is to return starting 10/4 with weak west anomalies in control through 10/28. Then the Inactive Phase starts redeveloping the West Pacific 11/1 with neutral anomalies biased weak westerly holding through 11/17, then turning easterly and holding through the end of the model run (11/30). The low pass filter indicates a very weak La Nina signal is in control of the KWGA and is to hold till 10/6, then building in coverage while drifting east and out of the KWGA by the end of November. There's some sense the pattern is to start shifting east early November 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: (9/2) A pattern change set up in August, with warm water retreating west and cooler water building in the east. Today 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 is holding at 120W and at 75 meters deep at 140W. 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. But there's some sense of neutral anomalies starting to rebuild in the far East Pacific. The dividing line between cool and warm is at 160W. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/26 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 in few weeks while east winds are pushing all warm surface waters of the equatorial Pacific to the West Pacific. The GODAS image appears to be about 1 week behind the TAO data.
Sea Level Anomalies: (8/26) Negative anomalies are building coverage at -5 cms from 165W to Ecuador with 2 small pockets of -10 cm anomalies embedded 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: (9/1) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a clear cool pattern has developed with weak upwelling nearshore along Peru and Ecuador 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. 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 (8/31): A neutral temperature trend is along Peru trending cool along Ecuador and out over the Galapagos out to 145W. There are interspersed warmer pockets from the Galapagos westward La Nina is starting to make some headway again.
Hi-res Overview:
(8/31) A clear La Nina cool stream is present 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. If anything the stream of cooler water associated with nearshore upwelling just off Peru northwest to the Galapagos is building in the past few days. Otherwise 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: (9/2) Today's temps were steady at -0.853, 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 (9/2) temps were falling at -0.341, 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 (9/2) The forecast has temps falling steadily from +0.0 in early Aug to -0.65 in early Oct and down from there to -1.3 in late Dec. Then the trend is to turn upwards rebounding to -0.15 in April 2018. This is yet another 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 (9/2): The daily index was positive at +7.01, and has been nearly continuous positive for months now. The 30 day average was rising some at 3.55. The 90 day average was rising at +0.84 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): (9/2) Today's value was stable at -1.18 (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 for a double dip 2 year La Nina (not unusual). 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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