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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 3:41 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   

Gulf Swell Fading
But Another Gulf Gale Is On the Charts

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, October 18, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.3 ft @ 6.2 secs with swell 3.3 ft @ 6.4 secs from 30 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 5.2 ft @ 7.1 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 12.7 secs from 279 degrees. Wind northwest 4-6 kts. Water temperature 65.5 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.5 ft @ 13.3 secs from 267 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.0 ft @ 12.7 secs from 253 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 4.3 ft @ 12.6 secs from 275 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 10.5 ft @ 12.0 secs with swell 8.6 ft @ 12.4 secs from 291 degrees. Wind northwest 8-10 kts. Water temp 60.8 degs.

    46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Tuesday (10/18) in North and Central CA raw local Gulf swell was still hitting producing waves in the 10-12 ft range on the face at exposed breaks and cleaner than days past with just a little manageable bump intermixed. At Santa Cruz the same swell was producing waves at 6-7 ft or so on the sets and clean but soft. In Southern California up north the same swell was producing waves in the waist high range and clean but buried in tide. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were head high coming from the northwest and pretty lined and clean but inconsistent and weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting sideband swell with waves waist to chest high and clean at top breaks. The South Shore was flat to thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting thigh high east windswell and chopped from east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
Residual raw swell from a series of local gales that directly impacted Northern CA last weekend is slowly settling down, but still producing solid wave on Tuesday (10/18) north of Pt Conception. The good news is the models are suggesting more gale production, though less energetic than the past week. A gale is forecast tracking through the Northern Gulf Wed-Fri (10/21) with up to 32 ft seas aimed southeast followed directly by another gale ton Sat (10/22) tracking through the Eastern Gulf with 19 ft seas. Also a short lived gale is forecast racking off the Kuril's on Fri-Sat (10/22) with 30 ft seas aimed east at Hawaii. And maybe more activity to result for the Northwest Pacific long term.


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

North Pacific

On Tuesday AM (10/18) the jetstream was weak but still consolidated tracking east over the West Pacific on the 40N latitude line with winds only 80 kts in pockets, then building as it moved over the Western Gulf of Alaska with winds to 150 kts and forming a bit of a trough there, continuing east eventually migrating inland over the Oregon-CA border. There was some support for gale development in the Gulf trough. 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 that trough is to peak out on Wed (10/19) slowly moving east then fading Thurs (10/20) in the Eastern Gulf. But another batch of wind energy is to develop in the Western Gulf falling southeast from the Bering Sea at 130 kts building to 140 kts on Fri (10/21) forming a trough and offering good support for gale development into Sat (10/22) when it then rapidly fades out off the Pacific Northwest. Back to the west the jet is to become a little more energetic Thurs-Fri (10/21) being fed by 120 kts winds and a trough developing over the North Kuril Islands offering some support for gale development. By Sun (10/24) the jet is to be consolidated flowing east off Japan with winds 130 kts ridging over the dateline and weakening then falling into a trough off the US West Coast but winds very weak, then moving inland over North CA and Oregon. This is very much what is anticipated with the La Nina oceanic cool pool being westward di.cgiaced between Hawaii and the dateline. This same pattern is to hold into Tues (10/25) with two troughs present, one just off the Northern Kuril's in the West Pacific and the other in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska with winds building over the length of the jet at 120 kts feeding both troughs. Improved support for gale development possible.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (10/18) solid remnant swell energy from a series of gales that tracked through the Gulf over the weekend was still impacting the US West Coast mainly north of Pt Conception with another small pulse of energy in the water tracking towards CA (See Local CA Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a gale is to develop in the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Wed AM (10/19) generating a fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds extending from the Eastern most Aleutians southward. Seas building. By Wed PM (10/19) 45 kt northwest winds are to be over a small area falling southeast. Seas building to 28 ft over a tiny area at 50N 153W. On Thurs AM (10/20) winds to continue at 45 kts over a small area aimed more east and tracking east positioned 1,200 nmiles northwest of California with seas building to 32 ft at 47N 149W (307 degs NCal). In the evening fetch is to fade from 40 kts while tracking east off of Vancouver Island with seas fading from 30 ft at 48N 141W (314 degs NCal). The low is to move into Central Canada on Fri AM (10/21) with winds 35 kts and seas fading from 26 ft at 49N 133W (outside the CA swell window). Another decent pulse of swell is possible for the US West Coat north of Pt Conception.

A secondary fetch of northwest winds is to develop in the Central Gulf on Fri AM (10/21) at 30 kts targeting mainly North and Central CA. In the evening fetch is to build to 35 kts 1,000 nmiles west of North CA with seas building. 35 kt northwest winds to continue Sat AM (10/22) 700 nmiles west of North CA with seas supposedly 18 ft at 44N 140W, but that is likely understated. In the evening 30 kt northwest winds to start moving into Oregon in the evening with 18 ft seas at 43N 133W (310 degs NCal). Possible raw north windswell impacting California.


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). while secondary fetch developed in the Northern Gulf at 35 kts generating 20 ft seas up at 50N 153W. Secondary fetch fell southeast Mon AM (10/17) at 35 kts generating a decent sized area of 21 ft seas at 49N 151W targeting the US West Coast (308 degs NCal). That fetch faded in the evening. More raw swell is expected for CA early in the work week.

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (10/76) 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 (10/18) from 7 ft @ 12 secs (8.0 ft). Swell fading Wed AM (10/19) from 5.5 ft @ 11-12 secs (6.0-6.5 ft) with secondary swell from the Northern Gulf of Alaska building to 5.5 ft @ 13 secs near noon (7.0-7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 285-288 degrees initially turning to 305+ degs on Wed (10/19).

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
Super Typhoon Haima was located 350 nmiles east of the Northern Philippines with winds 145 kts (166 mph) tracking west-northwest. It is expected to hit the Northern Philippines early Wed (10/19) then continuing on that course just north of Hong kong on Fri (10/21). No swell of interest is to result for our forecast area.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (10/18) high pressure was developing off California ridging into the North CA coast generating north winds at 20-25 kts just off Pt Conception with 15 kt northwest winds up to Monterey Bay. A weaker northerly flow was north of there. This fetch is to be lifting north through the day with 15 kt northwest winds to Cape Mendocino in the evening. The gradient and north winds to continue Wednesday at 15-20 kts extending from Pt Conception northward to Cape Mendocino. More of the same is expected on Thursday but with the total coverage of the gradient fading some. On Friday (10/21) the gradient is to be weakening with north winds fading to 15 kts from Monterey Bay northward to Cape Mendocino. Interestingly, low pressure is to be moving towards North CA cutting into the gradient with north winds fading to 15 kts over a small area from Monterey Bay to Cape Mendocino. A light wind pattern is to take over on Sunday and continue through Tues (10/25).


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

A gale is forecast developing off the South Kuril Islands on Fri AM (10/21) producing 45 kt west winds just free and clear of the South Kuril's with seas building from 22 ft at 45N 152E. On Fri PM (10/21) the fetch is to continue producing at 40-45 kt west winds with seas building to 32 ft at 45N 156E targeting Hawaii (313 degrees). On Sat AM (10/22) this system to move east and fade with 40 kt west winds and seas fading from 26 ft at 45N 162E (315 degs HI). this system is to be gone after that. Small swell is possible for Hawaii.

On Monday AM (10/24) another fetch of 30 kt west winds is to develop off the Kuril's. Some support for swell development is possible.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

La Nina Pulsing Cold Today

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 (10/17) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific and building some 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 but modest easterly over the KWGA. A new pulse of the Inactive Phase of the MJO appears to be developing.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderately strong east anomalies rebuilt over the KWGA 10/17 and are to hold in coverage through 10/22 then weakening and neutral by 10/25. This indicates the Inactive Phase of the MJO lost a little control in the 10/10-10/15 timeframe, but has regained strength, at least for a moment.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 10/17 a neutral MJO signal was indicated over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern holding for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Inactive Phase starting to move into the West Pacific 2 weeks out. This is no change from what both models have been indicating for weeks. So these models are not believable.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (10/18) 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: (10/18) This model depicts a very weak Inactive MJO pattern over the West Pacific. It is to rack east while slowly fading moving over Central America by 11/22 and incoherent. A weak Active Phase to follow in the West starting 10/28 moving to Central America 11/12 pushing east through 11/27.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (10/18) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern fading over the Dateline tracking east and dissipating in the next week. A neutral MJO pattern is to follow eventually turning towards a Inactive Phase in the West Pacific starting 11/3 holding through 12/13 supporting more neutral wind anomalies if not biased slightly easterly. Another weak Active Phase is forecast to follow 12/15-1/14 with weak west anomalies for the KWGA. Overall the MJO signal is very weak and is to hold as we move deeper 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: (10/17) No Change - Actual temperatures are stratified 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 178W 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: (10/17) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a small markedly cool pocket of water developing along the immediate coast of Peru reaching up to Ecuador. Warm water is just outside that cool pool. Pockets of cooler water continue along the equator from the Galapagos west to 100W, then becoming more established west of there to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. The coverage of the cooler waters west of 120W is a bit larger than weeks previous. La Nina is in control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, and is starting to build in the equatorial East Pacific (Nino1.2 region between 80W-120W).
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/17): A marked stronger cooling trend was indicated from Ecuador west over the Galapagos out to 120W. Pockets of warming and cooling waters are west of there. A weak warming trend continues off Africa to Brazil.
Hi-res Overview:
(10/17) The La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. Cooling temps are rebuilding from Ecuador to 120W on the equator. A recent pulse of downwelling is over, with cooling starting to develop.

Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (10/18) Today's temps were falling some from +0.382 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (10/18) temps were rising some but well negative at -0.476 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 (10/18) This model suggests La Nina was building slightly from July thru Oct 1 dipping to -0.7 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 (10/18): The daily index was up some at +4.19. The 30 day average was down some at +5.60. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average is down some at +7.47, 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): (10/18) Today's value was rising slightly at -1.70 (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 lately (as expected with La NIna setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Sept) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.42, +0.76, +0.12 then falling to -0.87 and -1.06 in Sept.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Sept) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03, +1.25 +0.52 and +0.45 in Sept.
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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