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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: September 4, 2008 9:45 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 = 2.5 - California & 3.0 - 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 9/1 thru Sun 9/7
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   

More Southern Hemi Swell Coming
Windswell Hangs on For Central CA


New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)

Significant: Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead)
Advanced: Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Intermediate: Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft)
Impulse/Windswell: Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.

On Thursday (9/4) Northern CA surf was chest to shoulder high and reasonably clean, though still a little warbled. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist to chest high and clean early. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was waist to chest high and clean. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was waist high and lightly textured. The LA Area southward to Orange County was waist to chest high with some head high sets from the south and textured mid-day. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were chest to head high and clean but packed. The North Shore of Oahu was flat and clean. The South Shore was waist high and clean. The East Shore was chest high.

North/Central California was getting more local northerly windswell with good local wind conditions. Southern California was getting a fraction of that windswell but with far more southern hemi swell, actually two swells hitting simultaneously, one originating close off Chile with a very steep southerly angle and the second from further off the coast. Hawaii's North Shore had no swell. The South Shore was getting some background southern hemi swell. And a solid bit of easterly windswell was hitting the East Shore.

For Central California locally generated northerly windswell remains the best swell source through the weekend, a little bigger on Friday then seeping down Sat/Sun, returning back to the shoulder high range early next week. Southern CA to see a little bit of that windswell, but southern hemi swell is expected to continue Friday, then fading out over the weekend only to return with a more southwesterly angle on late Sunday and building from there, originating from under New Zealand last Thurs-Sun (8/31). The North Shore to remain unrideable through the weekend into next week. Tradewind generated east windswell to drop out on the East Shore later Friday and remain small through the weekend, only to return Tuesday for a day, then fade again. The South Shore of Hawaii is expected to start seeing more swell on Friday into Saturday from a gale that developed under New Zealand Thursday (8/28) with 32 ft seas fading to 29 ft early Sunday. But over the long haul nothing is forecast in the North Pacific and only hints and lies from the models from the southern hemi mid-next week. So enjoy what you have and keep your fingers crossed for the future. See details below...


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

North Pacific

On Thursday (9/4) the North Pacific jetstream was producing a decent trough over the dateline with 150 kts winds flowing south in it's western quadrant offering some support for surface level low pressure development. Otherwise a ridge was east and west of the trough just flowing just barely south of the Aleutians. Over the next 72 hours the dateline trough is to try and hold on while tracking northeast but mostly just get pinched off and be fading out in the Western Gulf of Alaska, reducing odds of further development at the oceans surface. Beyond 72 hours a new steep trough is to form over the dateline with a big ridge behind it off Kamchatka pushing well north of the Bering Sea late next week while the trough fizzles out in the Gulf of Alaska. No surface level low pressure of interest to result. But in all the jet appears to be getting more energetic and holding it's axis south of the Aleutians.

At the surface today high pressure at 1028 mbs remain locked 900 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino CA generating a modest pressure gradient just off the coast there and producing more 25-30 kt north winds and moderate windswell pushing south. Winds off the south side of this system continued taking aim on Hawaii with 15 kt fetch pushing towards Oahu, resulting in modest northeasterly windswell there too. A weak low was on the dateline at 1012 mbs generating 25 kt north winds aimed towards Hawaii, maybe good for a small pulse of windswell at best. Over the next 72 hours high pressure off California is to hold with winds continuing in the 25-30 kt range over Cape Mendocino building to near 30 kts Friday (9/5) with windswell continuing in the head high range at exposed NCal breaks, then fading over the weekend. The dateline low pressure systems is to wind up nicely on Saturday with 35 kts winds, but the low and the winds are to be headed doe north at Alaska, with the low moving onshore there early Sunday. No swell producing fetch forecast to result for our forecast area.


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


California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (9/4) high pressure at 1030 mbs was 900 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino CA ridging into Oregon much as it has all week generating an enhanced pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino CA resulting in 25-30 kt north winds there and northerly windswell for breaks south of there. Winds from that fetch were pushing south to southwest outside Central CA nearshore waters making for reasonably clean surface conditions near the coast. The gradient is to build slightly Friday into early Saturday AM, the fade to the 25 kt range Sunday and hold there through Wednesday (9/10), then fade out to the 20-25 kts range from there. Calm local winds and decent conditions expected for the foreseeable future, other than possible eddy winds from the southwest at 5 kts. Reasonably clean conditions for all of Central and South CA.

On Thursday (9/4) no tropical systems of interest were being monitored.



South Pacific

On Thursday (9/4) a .cgiit jetstream flow was in control of the South Pacific with the north and south jets generally flowing flat west to east. A weak trough was manifest in the southern branch over the Southeast Pacific, but not enough to support surface level low pressure development. Over the next 72 hours that same pattern is to continue with the southern branch developing a bit more of a trough in the east towards Sunday (9/7). Beyond 72 hours a new and almost real trough is forecast building southeast of New Zealand and pushing rapidly northeast with the pushing the southern branch into the northern branch Tuesday (9/9) well south of Tahiti and progressing eastward. Good support for surface level lo pressure development. This trough is to hold in some fashion off Southern Chile through Thursday (9/11) offering more support for low pressure development, but winds speeds are not to be particularly noteworthy thereby limiting surface development potential.

At the oceans surface strong high pressure at 1040 mbs was east of New Zealand ridging south to 57S somewhat suppressing gale development in the Southwest Pacific. A gale was trying to develop off the northern edge of the Ross ice Shelf in the Southeast Pacific, but it's to be short lived. Over the next 72 hrs that same high pressure system off New Zealand is to continue it's grip on the South Pacific storm corridor, minimizing the odds for storm development until Sunday.


Cutoff Chilean Low
A cutoff low coalesced just off Chile on Sunday (8/24) generating 45 kt southerly winds at 53S 93W generating up to 32 ft seas at 50S 95W in the evening pushing north. Some degree of 35 kt fetch held Monday AM (8/25) generating 30 ft seas at 49S 98W ten fading to 29 ft in the evening at 45S 101W. All fetch was gone Tuesday AM (8/26) with residual 27 ft seas fading at 40S 98W. Possible small swell for CA 8 days beyond with period in the 15 secs range, with larger swell for Central America.

Also a secondary gale developed due south of California generating 12 hrs of 29 ft seas at 40S 125W on Wed PM (8/27).

South CA: Residual swell to continue into Friday AM (9/5) with the 2 swells fading from 2.8 ft @ 14 secs (4 ft faces). Swell Direction: 164-168 and 183 degrees


New Zealand Gale
A gale low began to sneak under New Zealand late Wednesday (8/27) at 976 mbs generating 40 kt westerly winds at 58S 160E.

It tracked northeast with 40-45 kts winds over an expanding area Thursday AM (8/28) at 55S 172E generating 30 ft seas at 55S 172E aimed well towards both Hawaii and CA but moving into the Tahitian swell shadow for CA (212 degrees). The Jason-1 satellite confirmed seas at 30-32 ft with a peak reading to 41 ft. Hmmm. It's continued Thursday PM with 45-50 kt winds at 53S 179W aimed northeast targeting Hawaii and California. 32 ft seas were modeled at 52S 178E hanging right on the western edge of the Tahitian swell shadowed for NCal (212 degrees) and in it from SCal (216 degrees).

By Friday AM (8/29) 40 kts winds continued aimed even further to the north (aimed almost due north) at 44S 168W with 32 ft seas modeled at 46S 174W. In the evening a new fetch of 45-50 kts winds built at 47S 163W aimed north-northeast with 30 ft seas modeled at 44S 169W. All of CA was in the Tahitian swell shadow.

The fetch started fading Saturday AM (8/30) with 40-45 kt south winds at 47S 160W and 29 ft seas modeled at 43S 160W pushing north. The Jason-1 satellite passed over the northern reaches of the fetch early Am and reported seas 26.7 ft with a peak reading of 35 ft. So the Wavewatch model likely is presenting a good idealized view of what is going on. In the evening the fetch tried to hang on but was loosing areal coverage with a small patch of winds confirmed at 40-45 kts at 42S 155W and barely 28 ft seas modeled at 42S 158W and shadowed from CA. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the fetch and did one better though, reporting 33.2 ft seas at 45S 157W with a peak reading to 36 ft.

On Sunday (8/31) residual 35 kts winds were hanging on with 28 ft seas modeled at 38S 155W aimed dead for Tahiti. This system to die in the evening with seas falling below 27 ft.

This is not a particularly intense system, really just utility class by usual summertime standards, but holding on for a long time and following a directed path giving it's limited winds every ounce of traction they can get on the oceans surface. Given the limited amount of activity of late, this might actually be something to get a bit excited over, especially in Hawaii and Tahiti, but California to be basically shadowed by Tahiti for the whole thing. Still some degree of rideable southern hemi swell is expected to result. Fun but nothing more and likely a bit inconsistent with few number of waves per set for the mainland, though better for the Hawaiian Islands. Tahiti to get a good last shot at a modest tow swell (or large paddle swell) for select breaks.

Hawaii: Expect swell continuing upward Friday (9/5) with swell 3 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft faces) fading Saturday with swell 3.2 ft @ 14 secs (4.0-4.5 ft faces) and dropping from 3 ft @ 13 secs early Sunday (4 ft faces). Swell Direction 190 degrees

California: Expect swell arrival Sunday (9/7) with swell pushing 2 ft @ 17 secs late (3.0-3.5 ft faces) from 210 degrees. Swell to build to 2.3 ft @ 15-16 secs late Monday (3.5 ft faces) fading from 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs on Tuesday (3.0-3.5 ft faces).Secondary swell from the same fetch to arrive later Tuesday (9/9) peaking at 2.5 ft @ 15 secs on Wednesday (3.5 ft faces) fading from 2.5 ft @ 14-15 secs on Thursday (3.5 ft faces) fading out from 2.3 ft @ 14 secs Friday (3 ft faces). Swell Direction 210 initially moving to 195+ 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 high pressure off California is to move to the north and weaken some resulting in 20-25 kt north winds off Oregon down to Cape Mendocino CA, producing more limited northerly windswell for exposed breaks in Central CA. Another weak low is to build in the Western Gulf of Alaska Mon/Tues (9/9) but quickly track northeast up into Alaska getting no traction on the oceans surface with no swell resulting. A broad pool of high pressure at 1024 mbs is to build over the dateline a week out,somewhat restricting the easterly flow of energy off Kamchatka towards the Gulf of Alaska, but not totally.

MJO/ENSO Update: As of Thursday (9/4) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) remained firmly in the Inactive phase and not supportive of North Pacific storm formation. The Daily SOI index was at 28.64, highest in a long time. The 30 day average was up to 9.87 and the 90 day average was holding at 4.38, still neutral, but up compared to weeks and days previous. Winds at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up), indicated east winds over the entire Western Pacific reaching over the dateline and into Central America, but not as dense as in days previous and suggesting a definite eastward momentum while thinning. The peak of the Inactive Phase has passed and we are now in the downward side of it. It's to slowly fade through the second week in September and be nearly gone by 9/15. Unfortunately only the faintest signs of the Active Phase are forecast suggesting starting 9/18 and offering no support for fueling the development of North Pacific storms. Of note - the weak MJO pattern of late has caused what was a promising flow of warmer than normal subsurface waters from the West to east Pacific to break down, with a marked cool pocket now positioned 150 deep on the equator south of Hawaii, smack in the middle of the channel that normally enable warm water to flow to the east. This is not indicative of an El Nino like circulation, and if anything looks still like La Nina, thereby suggesting no enhancement to the winter North Pacific storm pattern. The relatively active tropics in the East Pacific also support the thesis that a La Nina-like global circulation pattern is in.cgiay.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hrs the models suggest the oppressive New Zealand high pressure system is to drift east and slowly lift north while loosing some of it's strength, opening the door for development of low pressure just north of the Ross Ice Shelf well off Southern Chile. There is remote possibilities of a gale forming on Sunday (9/7) with 45 kt west winds into Monday producing 36 ft seas with a second one right behind on Tuesday (9/9) and getting better traction on an already prepared/roughed-up surface pushing 45 kt winds to the northeast into Chile through Wednesday and generating 35 ft seas. Rough data suggests these will mainly be swell producers for South America since most of there development will be east of the 125W longitude, though maybe background energy will drift north into the SCal swell window.

Details to follow...


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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Local Interest

The Kelly Slater Project - A group of dedicated surfers from Cocoa Beach are working to construct a statue of the the home town legend and set it up for all to enjoy near the break where Kelly grew up surfing. Take a look at the statue and read all about it here:

STORMSURF Local Wave Models Upgraded - We significantly upgraded the local waves models on Sunday (6/8). All now utilize our newly developed high-resolution 3D shaded relief topography for mapping landmasses. Coastlines are now accurate down to the individual pixel providing near photographic realism. Mountains and hills are all shaded and accurate to within the same single pixel specification. Cities are overlaid as before, but now we've added major highways and rivers too (for many locations). Some good exa.cgies of this new technology can be viewed here:
- View the reefs north of Tahiti and notice their contribution to the 'Swell Shadow' relative to California - Tahiti
- Notice the detail of the coast in and around Vancouver Islands and Washington State - Pacific Northwest
- See the details of inland waterways of the US Northeast Coast - Virginia
- Details of the Mentawai Island and Nias

And all the local models can be found either on our homepage or from the wavemodel page (bottom half of the page).

Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.

Mavericks Contest 2008: View all the action from the 2008 Maverick Surf Contest from Powelines Productions here:

Need Chiropractic Help? Visit our friends at Darrow Chiropractic. Not only will Dr. Darrow fix you up, he might give you some big wave surfing tips too! See more here:

Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's si.cgie and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet E.cgiorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way! .xml

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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