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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: September 21, 2005 3:06 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 = 2.8 - California & 1.5 - 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   

Jova Swell for Hawaii?
Windswell for North California


On Tuesday (9/20) Northern CA surf was shoulder to head high. South facing breaks were shoulder high with some head high sets. Central California surf was waist to chest high. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were waist to chest high at the better breaks. The LA area southward into Orange County was chest high with sets to head high and even a little more. Southward to San Diego waves were waist to chest high. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was about waist high. The East Shore was waist high.cgius from easterly windswell.

Top honors today goes to North California with swell coming from the Gulf of Alaska mid-day and on the way up. Decent southern hemi swell was still pushing into select Southern California breaks, though nothing compared to the previous weekend. Hawaii was suffering from a lack of swell, but not for long. Hurricane Jova expected to track north of the Islands making for sizeable windswell. In California small southern hemi swell to continue through the week with localized north windswell expected north of Point Conception over the weekend. The South Pacific looks to be really winding down with no solid swell producing storms forecast while the North Pacific looks to be gaining some momentum, though nothing solid yet projected on the charts. See details below...


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

North Pacific

On Tuesday (9/20) at the jetstream level a basic zonal flow remained in effect tracking from west to east just south of the Aleutian Islands. There was no obvious support for surface level storm development but wind speeds up to 140 kts were starting to push off the Southern Kuril Islands while a weaker 120 kt flow was pushing into the Pacific Northwest (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the pocket of energy over the Kuril Islands is to track east forming a weak trough (dip) in the jet west of the dateline while a big ridge forms in the east pushing into Alaska. There is a little pocket capable of supporting storm development in association with the Kuril Island trough, but even that is to be lifting north by the 72 hour mark, limiting it's potential.

At the surface on Tuesday high pressure at 1032 mbs continued it's domination north of Hawaii stretching west to the dateline and east into the Gulf of Alaska. The tr.cgie hurricane threat of Kenneth, MAx and Jova continued between Hawaii and Mexico (details in the 'Tropics' section). Otherwise a moderate north windflow continued off Cape Mendocino at 25 kts generating windswell there. Also a 992 mb low was positioned off Kamchatka centered over the Aleutians and had no swell producing winds associated with it (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the Kamchatka low is to push in the Bering Sea and intensify some putting pressure on the high north of Hawaii, but not dislodging it. Instead it will help to push it east tightening the pressure gradient along Pacific Northwest, increasing winds along Cape Mendocino to the 30-35 kts range by Thursday (9/22).

More model data here


Gulf Low
On Saturday (9/17) a 986 mb low suddenly developed in the northern Gulf of Alaska with 50 kts west winds confirmed over a small area centered at 52N 155W aimed well down the 310 degree great circle path to North CA. Seas were 23 ft and on the increase. By evening it was tracking east with winds confirmed down to 40-45 kts over a quickly diminishing area centered at 54N 147W aimed 40 degree east of the 319 degree path to North CA. Seas were modeled at 27 ft centered at 54N 143W, mostly outside the North CA swell window.

On Sunday (9/18) the low and it's associated fading fetch were all outside the Northern CA swell window though fetch continued at 40 kts aimed at Central Canada with seas in the 27 ft range.

This system was completely non-impressive, but has the potential to deliver some early seas north swell to the North California coast with much more energy pushing towards Oregon, Washington and Vancouver Island (swell there up to 9 ft @ 13 secs).

This is a tough call but suspect some degree on northwest swell to reaching North California starting Tuesday (9/20) building to 3.7 ft @ 14 secs by sunset (4-5 ft faces). Swell to continue at 4 ft @ 11-12 secs on Wednesday (4.5 ft faces) then fading. Swell Direction: 310-315 degrees
Note: Obviously we blew this one with swell on Tuesday recorded at 5-6 ft @ 15-16 secs in the afternoon at one buoy, though most were 4 ft @ 14 secs - about on track.


California Offshore Forecast
Tuesday mornings local charts (9/20) indicated high pressure continued at 1032 mbs in the Gulf of Alaska ridging east and generating north winds off Cape Mendocino at 25 kts. This to continue Wednesday and Thursday, then the high to build to 1034 mbs and surge east while weak low pressure sets up over the San Francisco Bay Area, tightening up the gradient off the Cape some more. The result is to be increased north winds by very early Friday (9/23) over the Cape at 30-35 kts continuing through Saturday night and increase windswell at 8 ft @ 9 secs (6-7 ft faces North CA). Local winds to be light south though. The gradient to fade some over the coming days as the high gets pushed up to the Canadian coast and the local low fades, with a winter like low building in the Western Gulf mid-next week.

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


(updated Tuesday AM 9/20)
Hurricane Kenneth
was positioned midday between Mexico and Hawaii with sustained winds down to 65 kts tracking west at 2 kts with an expected turn to the northwest over the next 5 days. This storm has no swell generation potential for California and only some slim potential for Hawaii (Big Island) over a week out. Will monitor.

Hurricane Max was 780 nmiles south of Los Angeles with sustained winds at minimum hurricane strength (65 kts) tracking northwest with an expected turn to the west in another 2 days. No strengthening suggested. No swell generation potential for California forecast.

Hurricane Jova was positioned about 640 nmiles southeast of the island of Hawaii with sustained winds 100 kts tracking west-northwest. Swell from this system is already pushing towards the Islands and that is only to increase in the coming days as Jova moves closer. Jova has maxed in intensity (same as we said 2 days ago) and a slow decay to set in over the next 5 days as an upper low pulls it northwest over cooler waters. Still Jova is to be at minimal hurricane forecast as it pushes north of the Big Island Saturday (9/24) with solid fetch aimed towards northeast shores of all the Hawaiian Islands. East to northeast windswell likely starting late Saturday at 6 ft @ 10 secs (6-7 ft faces) peaking overnight then fading through the day Sunday cycling from 90 to wards 65 degrees.


South Pacific

Tuesdays's (9/20) jetstream charts indicated a major change was continuing with the southern branch of the jet loosing much energy and the northern branch taking over. Still a large ridge was present in the northern branch pushing south over the Central South Pacific killing anything that was trying to form in that region. A bit of a trough continued just east of New Zealand with surface level development possible, but the major energy there (130 kt winds) was pushing southeast into the ridge discussed above and directing everything towards Antarctica (animation here). Over the next 72 hours no significant change forecast, with the trough east of New Zealand holding while strong energy tracks to the southeast pushing everything towards Antarctic Ice.

At the surface today a 968 mb low remained east of New Zealand with varying degrees of 40-45 kts winds circulating up it's west flank aimed a bit west of Hawaii. In fact the QuikSCAT satellite indicated winds possible to 50 kts this AM but only over a thin area. Otherwise a strong 1032 mb high was centered south of Tahiti driving a brisk southeasterly flow over the Society Islands (animation here). Over the next 72 hours the New Zealand low is to track east with winds wrapping around it's north quadrant and then fading by Wednesday (9/21). 30 ft seas are forecast but all aimed southeast towards Southern Chile with 23 ft seas pushing north towards Hawaii. Some small utility class swell might result for the Hawaiian Islands, but not much else. Another weak low is forecast pushing up the east coast of New Zealand Thursday and Friday (9/23) with 45 kts winds and 25 ft seas aimed well at Hawaii, possibly generating more utility class energy for the Islands (assuming the models are right).

More model data here


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

Tuesdays (9/20) upper level models indicate that beyond 72 hours the big ridge in the Gulf is to move into Canada while bit of a trough tries to get reestablished over the dateline early next week with winds up to 150 kts feeding into it and then pushing generally to the east towards the Gulf of Alaska mid-week. This suggests some potential to support surface level storm development at that time.

Beyond 72 hours at the surface brisk north winds to continue at 30-35 kts off Cape Mendocino through the Saturday (9/24) generating large short period windswell for the northern half of California. Hurricane Jova to be taking an odd-ball track north of Hawaii generating windswell for the northern shores there. And by Sunday 9/25) some form of low pressure is forecast tracking east over the dateline and intensifying, possibly generating 35-40 kts winds aimed at Hawaii and California with 23 ft seas suggested, but it's way too early to have any confidence in such an outcome. Regardless, the North Pacific is looking to be more active.


South Pacific

Tuesdays (9/20) upper level models indicate that beyond 72 hours a bit of a return of the jetstream's southern branch is forecast. A parallel-zonal flow to set up with not real troughs or ridges, suggesting a rather calm pattern at the surface. this is not unexpected given the time of year though.

At the surface beyond 72 hours a broad 952 mb low is forecast under New Zealand early next week with 45 kt west winds and 35 ft seas suggested just barely north of the Ross Ice Shelf. Will believe this when it happens.

Details to follow...


Local Interest

New Stormsurf Wave & Weather Models have been Released: After a year of development we're released 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:

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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