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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Sunday, October 16, 2016 1:47 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
3.3 - California & 1.5 - Hawaii
Using the 'Winter' 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 10/17 thru Sun 10/23

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   

Raw Gulf Swell To Continue For CA
Storm Pattern to Back Off Some

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 Sunday, October 16, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.9 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 2.7 ft @ 12.2 secs from 356 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.5 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 2.5 ft @ 13.9 secs from 272 degrees. Wind west 12-14 kts. Water temperature 65.7 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.4 ft @ 12.8 secs from 266 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.0 ft @ 10.2 secs from 254 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 3.8 ft @ 15.3 secs from 261 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 11.3 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 7.8 ft @ 13.6 secs from 297 degrees. Wind south 6-8 kts. Water temp 60.3 degs.

    46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Sunday (10/16) in North and Central CA raw local northwest swell from the Gulf was still hitting producing waves in the 10-12 ft range on the face at exposed breaks and pretty hacked by south winds and shrouded in fog. At Santa Cruz the same swell was producing waves at 10 ft or so and destroyed by south wind and raining on top of that. In Southern California up north local swell was producing waves at chest high or more and and fairly clean but mushy. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were head high coming from the northwest and pretty lined up but weak and intermixed with some texture. Set waves were a foot or so higher down in San Diego. Hawaii's North Shore was getting sideband swell from the Gulf with waves chest high or so and clean and fun. The South Shore was flat to thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around sideband Gulf swell at waist high and chopped from east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
Swell from a long lasting gale that tracked through the Gulf of Alaska Mon-Wed (10/12) with up to 39 ft seas and with 20-22 ft follow-on seas on Fri (10/14) was still hitting California well. Sideband swell was reaching Hawaii too. And swell from a local gale that tracked through the Southeast Gulf on Fri-Sat (10/15) producing 18-22 ft seas was hitting too. A final gale to follow for the Eastern Gulf on Sun (10/16) with 20 ft seas. After that the storm pattern is to weaken but not dissipate completely. Another gale is forecast for the Northern Gulf on Wed-Thurs (10/20) with up to 32 ft seas aimed southeast followed by another gale tracking weakly off the Kuril's with 30 ft seas aimed east at Hawaii. So things are looking a little more positive for the moment.


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

North Pacific

On Sunday AM (10/16) the jetstream was weak and starting to unravel directly over the Kuril's but was consolidated and streaming solidly east half way to the dateline and continued that way the whole way into Northern California with winds 170 kts. It was ridging slightly over the Western Gulf then falling into a broad trough with it's apex 500 nmiles off California offering support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to move onshore over North CA in fits and starts through early Tues (10/18) generating a pocket of 140 kts winds there and offering some support for gale development into Wed (10/19). But back to the west the jet is to progressively be loosing wind energy and starting to almost .cgiit with winds 110 kts. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to pulse a little pushing off Northern Japan with winds back up to 130-140 kts falling southeast and forming a bit of a trough directly over and pushing off the Kuril Islands lifting northeast into Sun (10/23) before reaching the Western Aleutian Islands with the trough collapsing then. East of there the jet is to be generally weak but not horribly fragmented tracking off the Kuril's then ridging slightly over the dateline then .cgiitting with the southern branch falling into a steep trough reaching south to a point just east of Hawaii before tracking northeast and joining the rest of the flow pushing into the Pacific Northwest. A variation of this theme is to hold through Sun (10/23) but with winds building to 130-140 kts again over Japan and a little east of there.

Surface Analysis
On Sunday (10/16) remnant swell energy from a gale previously in the Gulf was hitting all of California (see Strong Gulf Gale below). Also swell from the extratropical remnants of Typhoon Songda were hitting California (see ET Songda below). And another fetch and seas were in.cgiay 600 nmiles off the North CA coast (see Local CA Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a gale is to develop in the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Wed PM (10/19) with 40 kt northwest winds over a small area falling southeast. On Thurs AM (10/20) winds to build to 45 kts over a small area aimed more east positioned 1,000 nmiles west of North Oregon with seas building to 30 ft at 45N 149W (299 degs NCal). In the evening fetch is to fade from 40 kts while tracking east with seas fading from 29 ft at 46N 140W (308 degs NCal). The low is to move into Vancouver Island on Fri AM (10/21) with winds 30-35 kts and seas fading from 24 ft at 47N 133W (324 degs NCal and outside of the swell window). Something to monitor.


Strong Gulf Gale (Swell #2)
A new gale started developing on Sun AM (10/9) when tropically infused low pressure started building over the Southern Kuril Islands extending almost to the dateline producing 35-40 kt west winds with seas on the increase. Fetch tracked east in the evening holding at 35-40 kts from the west with seas building to 22 ft roughly at 43N 173E targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. On Mon AM (10/10) the gale finally started organizing well over the North Dateline region with 40 kt northwest winds just south of the Aleutians generating 24 ft seas at 45N 180W. Fetch built to 45 kts solid in the evening in the Western Gulf embedded in a broad elongated area of 30+ kt west winds with seas building from 34 ft at 47N 172W (338 degs HI, 301 degs NCal) and 30 ft seas down to 45N 170W (297 degs NCal). On Tues AM (10/11) 45 kt westerly fetch was pushing through the Western Gulf generating 39 ft seas at 46N 165W (350 degs HI, 299 degs NCal). Fetch was fading some in the evening covering a large area in the Western Gulf from 35-40 kts with seas fading from 33 ft over a broad area centered at 45N 156W (360 degs HI, 297 degs NCal). This system tracked east on Wed AM (10/12) with 30-35 kt west winds still over the Western Gulf with 27 ft seas over a large area at 45N 150W (296 degs NCal). Fetch slowly lost coverage in the evening at 30-35 kts from the west with seas 25 ft at 48N 163W (355 degs HI, 302 NCal). This system started dissipating while falling southeast on Thurs AM (10/13) with winds fading from 35 kts and seas from 25 ft at 47N 159W. In the evening the gale is to dissipate with residual seas fading from 22 ft at 44N 150W targeting the US West Coast (297 degs NCal). A long run of north angled swell is expected for both Hawaii and California.

North CA: Swell fading Sun (10/16) from 8.0 ft @ 13-14 secs (10.5 ft) starting to become overrun by new local energy overnight. Swell Direction: 297-301 degrees with lesser period energy down to 295 degrees

Southern CA: Swell continues on Sun (10/16) but fading slowly from 4.0 ft @ 14-15 (5.5-6.0 ft) secs early. Residuals on Mon (10/17) from 4.3 ft @ 13 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 300-304 degrees


ET Songda
Starting Fri AM (10/14) the extratropical remnants of Typhoon Songda raced over the dateline and started redeveloping in the Gulf of Alaska with 30 kt west winds and seas developing. In the evening fetch built to 40 kts from the west with seas 20 ft at 39N 142W. Winds faded from 35 kt from the west early Sat AM (10/15) off Oregon and North CA with seas 21 ft at 39N 132W (282 degs NCal, 291 degs SCal). The gale pushed into the Pacific Northwest in the evening with winds up to 50 kts and seas 32 ft at 44N 125W and outside the CA swell window. Something to monitor.

North CA: Swell from this system was hitting Central CA on Sunday AM (10/16) with pure swell 8.0-8.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (10.5-11.5 ft) from 285 degrees and very raw.

Southern CA: Swell to hit on Sun PM (10/16) in the middle of the night pushing 3.8 ft @ 14 secs and fading by sunrise Mon (10/17) from 3.4 ft @ 13 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 292 degrees


Local CA Gale
A fetch of northwest winds started developing in the Gulf of Alaska on Sat AM (10/15) at 30 kts starting to get traction on an already roughed up ocean surface. That fetch solidified in the evening with 30 kt northwest winds covering a large area filling the Gulf targeting primarily California with seas building from 20 ft at 39N 139W (286 degs NCal, 295 degs SCal). On Sun AM (10/16) that fetch held at 30 kts from the northwest moving closer to CA with seas building to 20 ft over a broad area at 41N 140W (288 degs NCal, 296 degs SCal). Fetch is to be fading in the evening from barely 30 kts with seas fading from 19 ft at 40N 134W (286 degs NCal, 295 degs SCal). More raw swell is expected for CA early in the work week.

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (10/16) building through the day peaking near 1 PM at 7.2 ft @ 13 secs (9.4 ft) with seas to 10 ft @ 13 secs and with copious local lesser period energy intermixed. That swell is to be fading on Tues AM (10/17) from 6 ft @ 12 secs (7.0 ft) with seas to 7 ft @ 12 secs. Swell Direction: 285-288 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues (10/18) at sunrise at 4.2 ft @ 13 secs (5.5.ft) holding well through the day. Residuals fading on Wed AM (10/19) from 2.9 ft @ 12 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 295 degrees


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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday AM (10/16) a broad low pressure pattern was filling the Gulf of Alaska and moving east with the front from starting to impact the North CA coast generating 15-20 kt south winds and rain reaching south to Morro Bay and expected to hold into the early evening. Snow is finally expected to start falling in earnest in Tahoe by sunset continuing into Monday before sunrise with accumulations of 6 inches to 1 ft. A break is forecast on Monday (10/17) with light west winds forecast then high pressure start developing off the coast ridging into Oregon on Tuesday with northwest winds strongest near Pt Conception at 25 kts but up to 20 kts over NCal late. The gradient and north winds to continue Wednesday at 15-20 kts fading to 15 kts on Thursday while lifting north limited mainly from Cape Mendocino down to Monterey Bay and then Friday only for North CA at 20 kts. North winds to continue for North CA down to Pt Reyes over the weekend (10/23) at 20-25 kts and 10 kts or less south of there.


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell of interest was in the water and no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.


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




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

North Pacific

Another gale is forecast developing off the South Kuril Islands on Fri PM (10/21) producing a small area of 45 kt west winds and seas 29 ft at 44N 154E targeting Hawaii. This system to move east and fade in the evening with 30-35 kt west winds and seas fading from 29 ft at 44N 160E. this system is to be gone after that. Small swell is possible for Hawaii.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.

More details to follow...

La Nina Steady

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 Saturday (10/15) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weakening 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 neutral over the KWGA. This appears to be the end of the first easterly wind burst of this La Nina cycle (9/12-10/7).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderately strong east anomalies are starting to rebuild over the KWGA focused near 150E and are to grow in coverage filling the KWGA by 10/17 and holding through 10/22. This indicates the Inactive Phase of the MJO lost a little control over the past week, but is to rebuild some over the coming week, then perhaps fading on 10/23. It is actual wind direction/speed in the KWGA that matters more than anything else, so we're attributing more weight to these models. That is a good sign.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 10/15 a weak Active MJO signal was indicated over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern fading to neutral in 5 days and holding for the next 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts the Active Phase holding weakly for the next 2 weeks. This is no change from what both models have been indicating for weeks, but that pattern never materializes. So these models are not believable.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (10/16) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was indiscernible and is forecast holding inside the cone of weakness for the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing initially, possible reappearing in the West Pacific a week out and moving east. We suspect no positive affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is to result.
40 day Upper Level Model: (10/16) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern over the far West Pacific. The Active Phase is to track east while slowly fading moving over Central America by 11/2 and incoherent. A weak Inactive Phase to follow in the West starting 10/28 moving to Central America 11/22. Another weak Active Phase is to follow in the West 11/10 moving to the dateline on 11/25.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (10/16) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern over the Dateline tracking east dissipating in the East Pacific 11/2. Neutral wind anomalies are expected. A weak Inactive Phase is forecast follow in the West Pacific 11/2 tracking east into 11/25 supporting more neutral wind anomalies if not biased slightly easterly. Another weak Active Phase is forecast to follow 11/26-12/12 with weak west anomalies for the KWGA. Overall the MJO signal is very weak and is to hold as we move into Fall. 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: (10/16) No Change - Actual temperatures are stratifying with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 160E) and the 28 deg isotherm line retracting west to 180W and 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 180W with neutral to weak negative anomalies east of there to Ecuador. The cool subsurface flow is again fading compared to days past at depth no cooler than -1 degs below normal. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is r.cgiaced with cooler than normal water. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 10/10 depicts the same thing but a bit cooler. 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: (10/15) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a marked rebuilding of warm water along the immediate coast of Peru cutting off any cool flow migrating towards the Galapagos. Cooler waters have retracted from the Galapagos on the equator out to 110W also, then becoming more established out west of 120W to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. And even at that coverage of the cooler waters west of 120W is a bit less than weeks previous. La Nina is in control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, but is fading in the equatorial East Pacific (Nino1.2 region between 80W-120W).
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/15): A neutral trend was over waters of Chile and Peru extending northwest to the Galapagos. A weak warming trend extends from the Galapagos out to 120W, weakening west of there. A weak warming trend continues off Africa to Brazil.
Hi-res Overview:
(10/15) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. Warming temps are rebuilding from Ecuador to 110W on the equator. A recent pulse of upwelling is over, with warming now in control.

Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (10/16) Today's temps were falling some from +0.759 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (10/16) temps were rising some but well negative at -0.490 degs, falling from a recent peak on 9/25 at +0.45 degs (9/25). 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 in late Sept. 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 (10/16) This model suggests La Nina was building slightly from July thru Oct 1 dipping to -0.75 degs. The forecast indicates temps are to start falling reaching -1.0 degs in late Dec, then rising steadily from Jan reaching neutral in April 2017 and up to +0.5 degs 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 (10/16): The daily index was up some at +0.97. The 30 day average was down some at +6.13. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average is down some at +7.69, 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 and La Nina is becoming pronounced
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (10/16) Today's value was rising slightly at -1.72 (it was -1.77 on 10/12, the lowest it has been so far in this event) suggesting La Nina is getting better established. 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.
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-Aug) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03, +1.25 and now +0.52 in Aug.
The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive until Aug 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina. 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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