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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: September 12, 2005 1:05 AM GMT
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 = 5.0 - California & 5.5 - 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 9/12 thru Sun 9/18
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 #5S Pushing North
ET Nabi Swell First


On Sunday (9/11) Northern CA surf was chest high, down from the overhead sets a day before, with increased northwest winds junking it up again. South facing breaks were waist high with some slightly bigger sets. Central California surf was waist high with sets a bit more. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were mostly flat with best breaks up to waist high. The LA area southward into Orange County was waist high. Southward to San Diego waves were waist to maybe chest high. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was maybe waist high. The East Shore was chest high with bigger sets.

Nowhere is really any good right now especially considering what is coming in the days ahead. So we'll focus on the future and write off today. Of note decent windswell continues on the Eastern Shores of Oahu and on Saturday decent northwest windswell was hitting North CA. Top story now is Storm #5S that developed well south of Tahiti on Thursday (9/8) producing 50-60 kts winds and 43 ft seas. This swell is pushing north fixing to provide solid if not a bit on the large sized surf for Hawaii, and California with Tahiti expected to reach the biggest size of the year (easily). And if that isn't enough, right before Swell #5S Hawaii and California to get another swell for the extratropical remnants of Typhoon Nabi, with even some semi real size along Hawaii's North Shore. Looks like a good week to come down with a sudden une.cgiained illness. See details below...


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

North Pacific

On Sunday (9/11) at the jetstream level a big ridge filled the Gulf of Alaska while a very weak trough was pushing off Kamchatka. There was no indications of anything capable of supporting surface level storm development (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the ridge in the east is to break down while a far more pronounced trough starts to push off the Northern Kurils with winds up to 140 kts. Some surface level development possible.

At the surface on Sunday strong high pressure at 1032 mbs remained centered in the Gulf of Alaska with a secondary surf high at 1024 mbs over the dateline south of the Aleutians. The pair had a virtual lock on the entire North Pacific. Storm energy was tracking through the Bering Sea but there was no opening for it to drop south into the greater Pacific. Easterly trades continued blowing over Hawaii in the 15-20 kt range generating windswell there with a solid patch of equally strengthed north winds positioned well off the Oregon coast driving small windswell into North and Central California. (animation here). Over the next 72 hours (through mid-week) high pressure is to break down over the dateline and some in the east allowing a new 984 mb low to push east off Kamchatka getting some traction in open Pacific waters. Winds forecast in the 30-35 kt range initially, not very exciting and not capable of generating any real swell.

More model data here


Extratropical Storm Nabi
On Thursday AM (9/8) the extratropical remnants of Typhoon Nabi started to emerge into the Northwest Pacific from the west side of the Northern Kuril Islands. Pressure was 976 mbs with 50 kts winds confirmed over a small area aimed east centered at 47N 154E. These winds were aimed well down the 314 degree path to Hawaii and reasonably well up the 308 degree path to California. Seas were building. In the evening a small fetch of 40-50 kt west winds continuing to push into clear unobstructed waters east of the Northern Kuril Islands. Seas built to 27 ft centered at 47N 155E aimed well towards Hawaii down the 315 degree path and towards California up the 304 degree path.

On Friday AM (9/9) the system continue east and fading with pressure up to 980 mbs and winds confirmed barely 40 kts centered at 46N 171E. Seas were modeled at 28 ft centered at 45N 170E. Fairly unimpressive. In the evening the last little bit of winds were present at 40 kts centered at 46N 173E aimed well towards California up the 301 degree path but aimed to far to the east to get much angle into Hawaii (321 degrees). Seas were modeled at 27 ft centered at 45N 170E.

By Saturday (9/10) Nabi had reached the dateline but was all but gone with no swell producing fetch left.

Some decent swell to reach the northern shores of the Hawaiian Islands starting Tuesday (9/13) at 4 AM HST with period at 17-18 secs. Peak size to arrive from noon-5 PM with pure swell 4.5-5.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (6-7 ft faces with best breaks 8 ft). Swell fading fast over night with 4 ft @ 12 sec residuals left in the morning and fading (4-5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 314-320 degrees

North California to receive a bit of swell too. Swell to first hit Wednesday (9/14) at 4 PM with period 16 secs and size tiny but coming up. Swell to peak on Thursday (9/15) from 2-9 AM with swell 3.5-4.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.0-5.0 ft faces) but suspect that estimate is a bit high. Swell fading overnight. Swell Direction 301-308 degrees.

Southern California might swell some 2-3 ft faces from this swell (1.5 ft @ 14 secs) focused mainly in San Diego.


California Offshore Forecast
Sunday mornings local charts (9/11) indicated strong high pressure at 1032 mbs continued to be centered right in the middle of the Gulf of Alaska while low pressure retreat well inland, ending the usual gradient of north winds along the coast. Still a moderate fetch of 15-20 kt north winds was centered well off the Pacific Northwest generating minor north windswell. But even that is to fade on Monday and Tuesday, with windswell dissipating. By Wednesday (9/14) a slightly increase in north local winds forecast (to the 15 kt range) though no swell is to result, just more local short period junk in the water. This fetch is to slowly increase in area though not speeds, just junking things up more going into Friday. Finally some defined fetch to develop off Cape Mendocino on Saturday (9/17) with winds there 25-30 kts producing some defined windswell for the weekend confined north of Pt Conception.

The 5 Day wind forecast is now included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.


South Pacific

Sunday's (9/11) jetstream charts indicated a moderate trough in the southern branch of the jet remains set up south of Tahiti. Winds are 130 kts. Storm development is possible in the region (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the trough is to persist but tracking east to the very edge of the California swell window by mid-week. NO obvious signs of surface level development suggested, but that does not preclude it either.

At the surface today a 952 mb low continued south-southeast of Tahiti, but only limited 25-30 kt winds were present. This because high pressure was nowhere near the core of the low, not setting up any strong pressure gradient and reducing the potential for surface wind development. Two high pressure centers were present, one at 1024 mbs just northeast of New Zealand and an extremely strong high at 1040 mbs just off Chile generating a brisk 25-30 kt offshore flow over Peru. No swell development potential suggested (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the New Zealand high is to build to 1028 mbs and track east while waves of low pressure circulate over the core low still in the deep Southeast Pacific. This to generate periodic spurts of northeast winds, one of which is to be mildly interesting starting Tuesday night (9/13) through Thursday AM (9/15). Winds forecast at 35-40 kts building to 45-50 kts on Wednesday positioned well in the California swell window (and better for Central America). Seas forecast briefly to 37 ft for 6 hours, which might be enough for some utility swell, but of course the models are highly dynamic that far into the future, so don't hold your breath.

More model data here


Storm #5S
Storm History
On Wednesday PM (9/7) a co.cgiex storm start developing just east of the dateline with pressure 974 mbs. Contrary to the model projections winds were confirmed at 50-60 kts over a small but expanding area centered at 50S 159W aimed north-northeast towards Tahiti and 15 degrees east of the 180 degree path to Hawaii 15 degrees west of the 206 degree path to South CA. The storm itself was tracking northeast.

On Thursday AM (9/8) pressure was 956 mbs a 960 nmile long area of 50-60 kts winds centered at 49S 155W aimed almost due north towards the same targets (15 degrees east of the 177 degree path to Hawaii and 20 degree west of the 203 degree path to South CA). Seas modeled at 32 ft at 49S 157W but suspect they were higher and expanding in coverage. In the evening the storm started to occlude and fading but, not too fast. Pressure was 958 mbs with winds confirmed at 50 to near 60 kts centered at 46S 148W aimed just the same as before. Seas were modeled at 43 ft centered at 48S 152W.

On Friday AM (9/9) the storm continued east with winds fading fast, though still at 50 kts centered at 48S 144W aimed the same, basically north-northeast. They were blowing 30 degrees east of the 169 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 196 degree path to South California. Seas were modeled at 42 ft centered at 45S 147W. By the evening the storm is to totally be gone with no swell producing fetch left and seas from previous days fetch decaying to 39 ft centered at 45S 140W. This system is to be dead.

Swell Generation Potential
The models did a reasonably good job on this storm. There were 48 hours of 50 kt winds wit 36 hours to 60 kt winds aimed just east of Hawaii, right at Tahiti and just west of California with a solid core of 60 kt winds covering nearly 1000 nmiles of fetch length for 24 hours. This is very good. On the down side is the fetch area is tracking east rather than northeast, not allowing for any virtual fetch to develop (i.e. where seas are not able to escape the fetch but instead keep getting more energy added on top because the fetch is traveling the same direction as the seas it produces). A little more fetch time would have been nice too, but given the total lack of any other real swell potential this summer, this is a good one and will produce a significant class swell. Tahiti is to be right in the center of the bulls eye and positioned 1800 nmiles south of the swell source, allowing.cgienty of distance for the swell to clean up and organize but experience very little unrequired decay. Very large, long period clean energy swell to hit there. Hawaii is a bit on the western edge of the swell spread with most energy to be sweeping just east of the Islands. Still very solid long period swell is expected. And California is to be just a bit west of the core fetch, but not far off. Again solid long period significant class swell to hit there too. This to be a good one, though a bit of a wait between sets with just a normal wave count per set.

Surf Forecast
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival starting Wednesday (9/14) at 4 AM HST with period at 21 secs and size coming up fairly fast, reaching 3.2 ft @ 18-19 secs by sunset (5-6 ft faces with bigger sets to 8 ft). Swell to start peaking at 6 AM Thursday (9/15) with swell 4.9 ft @ 17 secs (7-8 ft with sets 10-12 ft - biggest early) and holding through the day. Swell fading a little overnight but still solid at sunrise Friday (9/16) with swell 4.8 ft @ 15 secs (6-7 ft with sets to 8-9 ft early), dropping to 14 secs by sunset. A steady decline expected through Saturday with period at 13 secs all day. Swell Direction: 173-181 degrees

South California: Expect swell arrival starting Thursday (9/15) at noon PM with period 21 secs and size tiny but coming up perhaps rideable at sunset with swell 2.5 ft @ 20 secs (4-5 ft faces with sets to 6 ft). Size on the increase through the day Friday (9/16) with swell peaking at 8 PM swell 4.4 ft @ 17 secs (7-8 ft with sets to 9 ft+ at breaks with good bathymetry e.g. 2-3 ft overhead with sets to 4 ft over). Swell continuing to peak through 7 AM Saturday (9/17) with swell 4.4 ft @ 17 secs (7-8 ft with sets to 9 ft). Swell holding through the day, maybe down a little late as the sets dwindle and period drops to 16 secs. Size fading some on Sunday (9/18) with swell 4.2 ft @ 14-15 secs (5-6 ft) with period finally dropping to the 14 secs range at 6 PM. Size fading through the day Monday (9/19) as period drops to 13 secs. Swell Direction: 199-205 degrees

North California: Expect swell arrival starting Thursday (9/15) at 11 PM with period 21 secs and size tiny but coming up. Size on the increase through the day Friday (9/16) with swell coming up to 3.8 ft @ 18-20 secs late (6-7 ft faces with sets to 9 ft - 1-2 ft overhead with sets to 4 ft over). Swell to peak starting 2 AM Saturday (9/17) through noon with swell 4.4 ft @ 17 secs (7-8 ft with sets to 9 ft). Size fading some on Sunday (9/18) with swell 4.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (6-7 ft) with period finally dropping to the 14 secs range at 3 AM on Monday (9/19), trickling out through the day. Swell Direction: 198-203 degrees

Tahiti: This is to be ground zero with swell hitting on Saturday (10/10) at 10 PM HST with period at 20-21 secs and size coming up fast. Swell to peak Sunday (10/11) at 1 AM through 1 PM with swell 10.4-10.9 ft @ 17-18 secs (18-19 ft Hawaiian at the best breaks). Winds southeast 10-12 kts making a slight turn more easterly late. Slight southerly short period lump in the water from south winds 300 nmiles south of the island. Swell fading out through the day Monday. Swell Direction: 175-180 degrees



Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Sundays (9/11) upper level models indicate that beyond 72 hours the new trough in the west is to push north to the Aleutians and go zonal, but spreading 120 kt energy along the entire Aleutian chain into Friday (9/16). By Sunday (9/18) a few small dips (troughs) are forecast in the jet, but nothing of particular interest. Still the pattern is slowly by steadily improving here.

Beyond 72 hours at the surface low pressure is to continue tracking east over the Aleutians with winds up to 35-40 kts on Thursday (9/15) near the dateline then fading on Friday as it gets directed north by the semi permanent high in the Gulf of Alaska. Seas forecast to 24 ft providing a glimmer of hope for some small swell for California and sideband energy moving in to Hawaii. Beyond that another very weak low is forecast over the dateline next weekend, but development (if any) will be slow to occur. High pressure to continue bathing the Hawaiian Islands in 15-20+ kt trades ensuring a continuation of east windswell there. Minor north winds at 25 kts forecast off Cape Mendocino on Saturday (9/17) too as the high wobbles a bit more to the east, then fading 24 hours later. This should generated some short period windswell for the North CA coast.


South Pacific

Sundays upper level models (9/11) indicate that beyond 72 hours the trough in the southeast is to continue through Friday (9/16) and then shut down as a big ridge from under New Zealand pushes east. The outlooks is not completely grim though with a new very steep trough forecast pushing in from the west next weekend just east of New Zealand, and this one is to push so far north and to affect both the south and northern branches of the jet. No much open space to work with though, so it's really a bit of a leap to expect that something will develop at the surface.

At the surface beyond 72 hours out yet another stormlet is forecast, this time having it's own closed low at 960 mbs with winds building to 55-60 kts over a tiny area aimed northeast and on the edge of the CA swell window. These winds to get good but short 24 hour purchase on the oceans surface due to agitation from a series of previous fleeting fetches, with seas building to 39 ft for a second late Thursday (9/15). More swell energy possibly tracking north and east as a result, though it's really too early to have any confidence in this outcome.

Details to follow...


Local Interest

New Stormsurf Wave & Weather Models: After a year of development we're ready to release our newest installment of Regional and Local wave models. Read more here.

Rob Gilley Photgraphy: Please take amoment to check out the selection of limited print images availabe at Rob Gilleys webite. All images in the 2005 line were taken by Rob Gilley, an 19 year Surfer Magazine staff photographer, and are personally signed and numbered by him:

Proposed Senate Bill To Restrict Free Weather Data Giving it only to Private Companies for re-sell to the Public. If you view the free info from buoys, wind, and weather currently provided on this and other sites, prepare to see it end if this bill gets passed. Read more here.

Tutorial on the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) Presented by Dr. Roland Madden: If you're interested in El Nino and the MJO, have a basic understanding of El Nino, and you have broadband connection, audio and Macromedia Flash installed, then the following presentation is a must see. Dr Madden present a great overview of how the MJO works. And there's nothing like hearing it straight from the founders mouth. Link here:

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

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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