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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: September 16, 2005 3:22 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 Hits CA
Small Pulse Behind


On Thursday (9/13) Northern CA surf head high and broken up with a mix of swells in the water. South facing breaks were waist to chest high. Central California surf was waist to chest high. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were waist to chest high with some bigger sets at the right breaks. The LA area southward into Orange County was chest high with sets head high to 2 ft overhead. Southward to San Diego waves were chest to head high with slightly overhead sets. The North Shore of Oahu was fading from waist to chest high. The South Shore was booming at double overhead with sets to 12 ft on the face. The East Shore was chest to head high.cgius from easterly windswell.

The South Shore of Hawaii takes to honors today with the Swell #5S providing all the energy. Sets double overhead and bigger on the face. Tahiti also reported large 15-17 ft Hawaiian surf from this swell. This is right on track with our expectations for this swell with little doubt remaining that anything less than what is forecast for California will arrive. Proceed with caution if you haven't been through this drill before. Large sets much bigger than the average will appear once every 15-20 minutes catching those uninitiated off guard. The next 3 days in CA should be quite entertaining. One little pulse is forecast behind this swell from the south, then back to a rather stagnant pattern. See details below...


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

North Pacific

On Thursday (9/15) at the jetstream level a basic zonal flow was in.cgiace tracking from west to east over the Aleutian Islands. There was no obvious support for surface level storm development but wind speeds up to 160 kts were suggested over the dateline with a much healthier flow in.cgiace than in weeks past (animation here). Over the next 72 hours that pocket of energy over the dateline is to track northeast to into the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska providing a little window in the far northern Gulf of a low to develop at the surface. Otherwise a typical early season pattern was in.cgiace.

At the surface on Thursday strong high pressure at 1028 mbs continued north of Hawaii, a bit further south and west than in days before and opening up a little space in the Gulf of Alaska, though not much. Low pressure at 976 mbs was in the bering Sea but no fetch was extending south of the Aleutians. East northeast trades at 20 kts continued over a broad area north and east of the Hawaiian Islands producing the never ending east windswell there. A tiny weak little low was tracking northeast off the southern Kuril Islands but had no swell generation potential at this time (animation here). Over the next 72 hours (through the weekend) the big high pressure centered it to continue tracking west and fading while the little low approaching the dateline tracks east and north. It is expected to move into the Northern Gulf of Alaska early Saturday (9/17) with pressure dropping to 988 mbs and get invigorated some as it taps energy in the jetstream. Winds forecast building to 45-50 kts over a tiny area aimed east to southeast barely in the Northern CA swell window, then tracking rapidly east and into canada on Sunday. If this develops as forecast another small pulse of Northern Hemi energy should radiate south towards North and Central CA producing rideable surf, but nothing really note worthy. Points in Oregon, Washington and up into Vancouver Island might far better assuming this system develops at all.

More model data here


California Offshore Forecast
Thursday mornings local charts (9/15) indicated high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered north of Hawaii barely riding into the state generating a rather weak northwest flow. many nearshore reporting stations were near calm or less than 10 kts from the northwest. That is to start changing on Friday into Saturday as high pressure starts to regroup pushing towards the coast just enough to set up a 15 kt northwest flow over exposed waters producing short period junky windswell. The high is to slowly build into early next week reaching 1030 mbs while pushing into Oregon on Tuesday (9/20) generating a semi real gradient off cape Mendocino there with 25-30 kts winds forecast. A slight increase in windswell projected. tropical activity has been steadily projected on the models and might be worth watching. Otherwise the gradient off the Cape is to persist through at least mid-next week.

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


Tropical Storm Kenneth
is positioned 1200 nmiles south of Los Angeles tracing due west at 5 kts with winds 50 kts. Slow strengthening is forecast with Kenneth reaching hurricane status on Saturday (9/17) but continuing on it's westerly track. No swell generation potential forecast.

A series of tropical waves persist under Baja and off Mexico with the GFS model suggesting one strengthening and tracking northwest into next week. This will likely not happen, but it is worth monitoring.


South Pacific

Thursday's (9/15) jetstream charts indicated that a weak trough remained present in the southern branch of the jet well southeast of Tahiti on the edge of the California swell window. Winds were 130 kts flowing over the top of the trough. Surface level storm development was being supported by these winds (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the trough is to get wiped out by a ridge pushing south and east from the Central Pacific. A weak trough is suggested just east of New Zealand, but the trough is to be so pinched and tracking to the west that there's little if any hope that something could form in it.

At the surface today a 956 mb low continued just north of Antarctica and south-southeast of Tahiti with a secondary 952 mb low rotating over it. This low has produced some fetch and seas [indicated below]. Otherwise strong high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered south of Tahiti ridging to 55S and basically cutting of the flow of energy from New Zealand to the east. The storm corridor was blocked (animation here). Over the next 72 hours that blockage is to fade but a general malaise is to set in over the South Pacific with the surface level pattern mirroring that of the upper levels of the atmosphere. A low is to form over New Zealand on Sunday (9/18) but is to be sinking southeast right from the start with 40-45 kts winds aimed at Antarctica. no swell producing fetch of interest forecast aimed at targets near hawaii and the US west coast (though some sideband swell is likely to travel in that direction). Generally a very weak pattern suggested.

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.

On Monday (9/12) at 2 AM this swell hit the Christmas Island buoy on the equator with period at 22 secs. Swell actually came up much faster than expected with pure swell hitting 8.7 ft @ 19 secs a 6 PM. Swell held in that range through noon Tuesday (9/13) then inched up some more as period turned to a pure 17 secs, with swell 9 ft @ 17 secs and seas 10.8 ft @ 17 secs. This is exactly (+ or - 6 inches) what was expected in the core of the swell travel path about 600 nmiles east of this buoy. This suggests that the core swell might actually be a bit larger than forecast and more size might be present in the higher energy bands. We'll stick with our conservative forecast, but don't be surprised if it's a little bigger.

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. Note: We're sticking with our conservative forecast, but don't be surprised if the sets are a bit larger than forecast in California.

Surf Forecast
Hawaii: 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


Weak Southeast Pacific Storm
On Tuesday (9/13) a 968 mb low was tracking east from under New Zealand with 45 kts winds confirmed down at 50S latitude 159W longitude aimed generally towards the northeast at California and somewhat at Hawaii. By early Wednesday (9/14) it started interacting with strong high pressure to it's north at 1028 mbs producing increase southwest winds confirmed at 45-50 kts centered near 54S 144W with seas 30 ft aimed at California and locations south of there fading to the 40-45 kt range late in the evening pushing even more north and east. At that time sea maxed at 34 ft centered at 51S 135W. The system started falling apart on Thursday (9/15) with winds 35 kts at 44N 129W. Residual seas of 32 ft held at 48S 132W and fading by nightfall.

This was no great storm, but prior to Storm #5S it would have been something to get interested in. utility class swell is pushing north heading towards California next Friday (9/23) with max rideable period 18 secs. Hawaii not looking to get much if anything from this one since most the best fetch was well east of the Islands and aimed east of there.



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

North Pacific

Thursdays (9/14) upper level models indicate that beyond 72 hours another pocket of energy at 150 kts is to push east off the Kuril Islands tracking to the dateline. Still, it's to be too far north to provide enough space for anything to form at the surface in the greater Pacific, but the energy levels are to be decent considering the time of year. It's just a waiting game now before the first North Pacific storm of the season forms (ET Nabi doesn't really count because seas never reached the 30 ft level).

Beyond 72 hours at the surface another broad but generally weak low pressure center is to push off the Kamchatka Peninsula next Tuesday (9/20) tracking northeast in to the Bering Sea. By Friday (9/23) some fetch from this low is to start dropping southeast into the greater Pacific near the dateline and points east, perhaps providing a chance for some swell development. But's it's really way too far away to have any confidence in that outcome yet. At least a weak pattern appears to be setting up.


South Pacific

Thursday's upper level models (9/15) indicate that beyond 72 hours a generally zonal flow to persist (flat west to east) with just the faintest gap north of Antarctic Ice for something to form in, though the environment does not look real hospitable. No real storm development potential suggested.

At the surface beyond 72 hours out the gale off new Zealand is to sink southeast and fade, with another smaller one developing over New Zealand on Tuesday (9/20) following the same route, driving by the jetstream pattern aloft. After that some fetch is forecast under New Zealand tracking east on Thursday (9/21), but winds forecast only in the 35 kt range. A weak pattern to continue.

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

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