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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, September 27, 2016 4:03 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
2.7 - California & 1.2 - Hawaii
Using the 'Winter/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 9/26 thru Sun 10/1

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   

Weak S. Hemi Swell Pushing North
2 Smaller Systems on Charts - NPac Sleeps

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.

On Tuesday, September 27, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.1 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 4.1 ft @ 8.8 secs from 300 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.4 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 14.2 secs from 189 degrees. Wind east 6-8 kts. Water temperature 70.0 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.9 ft @ 14.8 secs from 209 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.4 ft @ 15.5 secs from 202 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.5 ft @ 14.6 secs from 197 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.7 ft @ 10.0 secs with windswell 4.5 ft @ 9.9 secs from 299 degrees and southern hemi swell 2.2 ft @ 13.8 secs from 196 degrees. Wind northwest 10-12 kts. Water temp 59.9 degs.

    46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Tuesday (9/27) in North and Central CA northwest windswell was producing waves in the chest high range and warbled from light northwest winds and encased in fog. At Santa Cruz residual southern hemi swell was producing waves in the waist to chest high range and clean but a little warbled. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at waist high and clean but weak. Down in Northern Orange Co sets waves were chest high and clean but weak with south winds just off the beach. Further down south top spots had set waves almost head high and clean but slow and weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northwest windswell at chest high.cgius at top spots and clean. The South Shore was near flat with maybe waist high sets and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at chest to shoulder high and chopped from east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
Fading residual swell from the Southeast Pacific (southern hemi) was fading in California. Another small gale developed in the Southeast Pacific on Thurs (9/22) producing 30 ft seas aimed northeast. Swell is pushing north. Looking at the forecast charts there hints of a weak gale developing in the Northwestern Gulf on Fri-Sat (9/31) producing maybe 20 ft seas. Nothing much swell wise is to result. In the Southern Hemi a tiny gale was in the Central Pacific producing 32 ft seas aimed northeast. Another small gael is forecast southeast of New Zealand on Fri-Sat (10/1) with seas to 36 ft aimed east-northeast. But the Inactive Phase of the MJO continues having a negative impact for now.


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

North Pacific

On Tuesday AM (9/27) the jetstream was running in zonal pattern flat across the North Pacific on the 40N latitude line but with winds very weak at mostly 70-80 kts. A .cgiit was in.cgiay over the Kuril Islands with the northerly branch tracking east through Bering Sea rejoining the main flow inland over British Columbia. There was no support for gale development indicated in upper levels of the atmosphere. This .cgiit pattern is typical of the Inactive Phase of the MJO. Over the next 72 hours the same pattern is to hold but with winds energy starting to build in the West on Thurs (9/29) with winds to 140 kts pushing east helping to consolidate the jet some with the consolidated flow pushing east to the dateline on Fri (9/30) with winds fading to 130 kts but extending from North Japan to the dateline if not the Western Gulf. A bit of a trough is to form in this new flow near the dateline helping to support gale development. Beyond 72 hours the consolidated flow is to reach across the North Pacific pushing into Oregon and North CA on Mon (10/3) with winds 130-140 kts in pockets in the East and West with a bit of a trough trying to organize over the dateline on Tues (10/4). A much improved environment supportive of gale development is possible if all goes as.cgianned.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (9/27) no swell of interest was in the water and no fetch of interest was occurring. Weak low pressure was in the Northeastern Gulf but a generic high pressure pattern was over the bulk of the North Pacific.

Over the next 72 hours high pressure at 1032 mbs is to dominate the Northeast Pacific most pronounced on Mon (9/26) and part of a broader high pressure pattern at 1020 mbs filling the North Pacific generally suppressing low pressure development. No fetch of interest is forecast.

A low pressure system is forecast developing in the Northwest Pacific on Thurs AM (9/29) building to gale status in the evening on the dateline with northwest winds at 35 kts starting to get traction on the oceans surface. The gale is to lift northeast on Fri AM (9/30) generating a decent fetch of 30+ kt northwest winds on the Northern Dateline targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast with seas starting to build to 16 ft at 45N 177E. By evening the gale is to start lifting into the Eastern Bering Sea with 35 kt northwest winds still extending a bit south of the Central and Eastern Aleutians with 19 ft seas aimed east at 48N 175W. A small patch of residual northwest fetch is to move to the Western Gulf on Sat AM (10/1) with 21 ft seas at 50N 170W. This system is to be gone after that. Low odds of background 12-13 sec period swell is possible.

Relative to North CA high pressure is to start ridging into North CA later Tues (9/27) forming the usual pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino down to Pt Arena with north winds building to 25 kts likely producing north windswell and holding into Wed (9/28). Winds to remain light south of there. But by Thurs AM (9/29) the gradient, north winds and windswell is to evaporate.

Relative to Hawaii the same high pressure system is feeding trades from the east-northeast on Tuesday (9/27) at 15 kts producing minimal east windswell and forecast to hold into Thurs AM (9/29). But that high and fetch is to fade out after that.


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


Tropical Update
Tropical Storm Roslyn was 900 nmiles south of Dana Point with winds 40 kts and tracking north-northeast. A slow fade is forecast as Roslyn continues north, down to Depression status on Wed (9/28) and dissipating from there. No swell to result.

Tropical Storm Ulika was 900 nmiles east-southeast of the Hawaii with winds 45 kts tracking north-east slowly. Winds to build to 55 kts on Wed (9/28) still tracking north, then fading and turning on a westerly heading by Fri (9/30) but also weakening while accelerating forward speed. No swell expected to result.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (9/27) high pressure at 1032 mbs was weakly ridging into the Pacific Northwest starting to produce the normal pressure gradient over North CA generating north winds forecast to 25 kts in the evening but limited in coverage from Pt Arena northward. Light winds south of there. On Wed (9/28) the gradient is to hold with north winds still 25 kts limited from Pt Arena northward. The gradient and north winds are to rapidly collapse on Thurs (9/29) at barely 20 kts over Pt Arena early and fading from there and light from Pt Reyes southward. Weak low pressure is to take over the North Coast on Friday with weak high pressure nosing in under it to Point Conception to setting up north winds at 15 kts for San Francisco to Pt Conception falling south and limited to Pt Conception on Saturday at 20 kts. Low pressure is to move inland on Sun (10/2) with high pressure building the ridge over Central CA generating up to 25 kt north winds for Pt Conception and maybe 15 kts up to Monterrey Bay. A stronger low is to push into Oregon and North CA on Mon (10/3) with light winds up north but light north winds holding from just south of Monterey Bay building to Pt Conception at up to 25 kts. Tues (10/4) the low is to move inland and the high is to weaken with 20 kts north winds limited to Pt Conception and starting to lift north.


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
On Tuesday (9/27) two pulses of swell from a co.cgiex gale that developed in the Southeast Pacific are pushing north (see Southeast Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a small gale developed starting Mon AM (9/26) well southeast of New Zealand with winds from the south at near 45 kts over a small area. In the evening the gale was lifting northeast with winds from the south at 45 kts over a broader area with seas to 31 ft at 54S 143W. On Tues AM (9/27) fetch was fading from 40 kts turning more northeast with seas 32 ft at 50S 135W. This system to dissipate by evening. This system was very small in coverage, but winds were straight from the south and the gale itself tracked well northeast. Perhaps a little more swell than would normally be expected could result targeting California down into Central America and Peru.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (10/5) with period 17-18 secs. Swell Direction: 192 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (10/5) with period 18 secs. Swell Direction: 188 degrees


Southeast Pacific Gale
A gale developed in the Central Pacific on Wed AM (9/21) with 35-40 kt southwest winds tracking east and mainly over Antarctic Ice. In the evening the gail lifted northeast some with winds to 40 kts and starting to get exposure on ice free waters with seas to 20 ft at 60S 153W. The gale moved to the Southeast Pacific on Thurs AM (9/22) over ice free waters with 40-45 kt southwest winds and seas building to 28 ft over a moderate area at 54S 140W aimed north-northeast. In the evening fetch was lifting northeast with south winds down to 30-35 kts over a broad area with seas 30 ft at 51S 125W. This system dissipated after that. Modest swell is expected for California but mainly focused on Mexico down into Peru.

Southern CA: Expect teaser swell to arrive from a gale just prior on Thurs (9/29) building to 2.6 ft @ 15-16 secs later (4.0 ft). That swell to continue on Fri (9/30) at 2.6 ft @ 14 secs (3.5 ft) with the core swell building to 2.1 ft @ 17 (3.5 ft) late. Swell peaking on Sat (10/1) at 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) with the first swell fading from 2.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading on Sun (10/2) from 2.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 189 degrees

North CA: Expect teaser swell to arrive from a gale just prior on Thurs (9/29) building to 2.2 ft @ 16 secs later (3.5 ft). That swell to continue on Fri (9/30) at 2.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5 ft) with the core swell building to 2 ft @ 17-18 (3.5 ft) later. Swell peaking on Sat (10/1) at 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) with the primer swell fading from 2.1 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell fading on Sun (10/2) from 2.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 189 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 a weak low pressure system is to develop in the Eastern Gulf on Sun-Mon (10/3) producing 25 kt northwest winds and moving inland while targeting Oregon and North CA possibly setting up some short period windswell.

There's some suggestions of a low pressure system developing in the far Northwest Pacific on Mon (10/3) and again later Tues (10/4). No swell production is forecast but the trend is suggestive of improvement.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the models suggest a gale developing 1,000 nmiles southeast of New Zealand on Fri AM (9/30) with 45 kt southwest winds tracking east into the evening with seas building to 30 ft at 61S 170W. The gale is to continue east on Sat AM (10/1) with winds fading to 40 kts but increasing in coverage some with seas 31 ft at 58.8S 160W. The gale is to fade from there. Low odds of meaningful swell resulting.

More details to follow...

La Nina Easterly Wind Burst Continues

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 equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced 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.cgianet, 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 help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. 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: The 2014-2016 El Nino is all but gone except for remnants in the upper atmosphere. La Nina is developing but weaker than expected.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Monday (9/26) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south. Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific and light east over KWGA. This is the first easterly wind burst of this La Nina cycle.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): East anomalies have rebuilt to moderate strength over the KWGA and are to hold to 10/2. A weaker east anomaly pattern is to hold into 10/4 with no clear indication of moving east. This indicates the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in control resulting in a suppressed swell production pattern both north and south. This is in contrast to what the models below suggest. It is actual wind direction/speed in the KWGA that matters more than anything else so we're attributing more weight to these models.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 9/26 a modest Active MJO signal was indicated over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern to continue for the next 2 weeks, fading some late. The dynamic model depicts a weaker version of the same and gone 2 weeks out with a weak Inactive Phase moving into the West Pacific.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (9/27) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak near Papua New Guinea. The forecast projects it fading and racing east and all but gone in the East Pacific 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. No positive affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is forecast.
40 day Upper Level Model: (9/27) This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern over the far West Pacific with the Inactive Phase exiting over the East. The Active Phase is to track east while slowly fading moving over Central America by 10/17. A moderate Inactive Phase to follow in the West starting 10/17 moving to Central America 11/6.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (9/27) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern over the far West Pacific tracking east and becoming less coherent dissipating in the East Pacific 10/14. A weak Inactive Phase if not neutral phase is forecast following in the West Pacific 11/23 tracking east. Overall the MJO signal is very weak and is to hold as we move into Fall. the model does show west anomalies building to modest status starting 11/1 and holding to the end of Dec, but that seems optimistic. La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, but not biasing it towards the Inactive Phase.

CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (9/27) Actual temperatures are stratifying with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to only 160E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 175W but getting steeper, suggesting a hard break between warm water in the west and cool water in the east at depth. This is expected with La Nina developing. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 175W with weak negative anomalies east of there to Ecuador. The cool subsurface flow looks a bit more defined over the past week at depth to -3 degs at 140W and continuous 0 to -1 degs from the far West Pacific reaching east to 175W to Ecuador. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is r.cgiaced with cooler than normal water. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 9/20 a steady flow of +1-2 deg anomalies are traversing the Pacific equator down at 100-150 meters. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so.

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: (9/26) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a weak cool flow along the immediate coast of Peru tracking in pockets towards the Galapagos. But strong warmer pockets exist further off the Peruvian coast to almost Ecuador mostly muting the cooler flow. Cooler waters no longer flow continuously west from the Galapagos along the equator, and only re-emerge at 120W, becoming more established out to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. La Nina is in control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, but weak, with remnant El Nino warm water holding well in the East (Nino1.2 region) mainly between 80W-120W. Almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino 3.4 region, but warm water still is having a significant influence in the Nino 1.2 region.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (9/26): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru extending west to the Galapagos. A mix of warmer and cooler pockets are in control from the Galapagos westward out to 160W but more on the warmer side. A broad warming trend continues off Africa to the Caribbean and Brazil.
Hi-res Overview:
(9/26) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. But neutral to slightly warmer temps are from Peru to 120W. No cool waters exist along Ecuador and Peru suggestive of westward dis
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (9/27) Today's temps were steady at +0.067 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (9/27) temps are warming markedly to +0.032 degs. Temp are oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.3 to -1.0 degs until the warming spike into the positive range the past 4 days. Temps bottomed out at -1.0 degs near 7/21-7/26.

Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (9/27) This model suggests La Nina has been steady at -0.5 degs from July to present. Temps are to start falling to -0.85 degs in early Dec before starting to rise steadily reaching neutral in March 2017 and up to +0.5 by June. This is very interesting with the model holding the strength of La Nina at minimal ' La Nina' territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Sept Plume depicts temps have reached their peak minimum and are to hold there at -0.5 to -0.6 through Nov. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to -0.3 in Feb 2017 and to -0.2 in March holding into May. This is up again from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs and barely in La Nina territory. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):   
Southern Oscillation Index (9/27): The daily index was up some at +17.12 but had been hovering in the +15-20 range back 9/13. The 30 day average was rising at +13.39. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was up some at +6.90, transitioning from negative to positive the first time in years on 7/20. El Nino is gone in all dimensions of the SOI Index now.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (9/27) Today's value was down some at -1.41 suggesting La Nina is getting a little better toe hold. During El Nino this year it peaked on 3/12 at +1.57 then fell until 4/14 when it started rising again peaking 4/23 at +1.12. But after that La Nina took over with it falling steadily dropping as low as -1.50 in early Aug. It has been retreating from the peak recently.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker in July than June (as expected with La NIna setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Aug) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.41, +0.76, +0.18 and now -0.66 in Aug.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-July) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03 and +1.25.
The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive since then. 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 suggests that could be a real possibility. We've been in the negative phase since 1998 through at least 2013 (15 years). 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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