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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: October 20, 2012 12:55 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
Swell Potential Rating = 2.3 - California & 3.0 - 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 10/22 thru Sun 10/28
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   

Dateline Gale Forecast
Expected to Track East Into The Gulf - Something to Watch

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.

Current Conditions
On Saturday
(10/20) North and Central CA had local windswell and new small swell originating from a gale previous north of Hawaii producing waves at chest high, mushy and pretty wonked out with north wind on it early. Down south in Santa Cruz the same swell was producing peaks on the set waves at waist high and clean but weak and pretty foggy early.  Southern California up north was occasionally 2 ft on the sets and clean. Down south the same swell was producing sets at waist high and heavily textured and weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting residual northwest sideband swell with waves waist to maybe chest high on the sets and clean with light trades in effect. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was flat and chopped.     

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

Meteorological Overview
High pressure was off the US West Coast generating north winds at 15-20 kts over North CA and making for weak windswell there. It was also reaching to Hawaii generating trades at 15 kts but not generating much if anything in terms of windswell. A weak low low is to be off the US West Coast by Sunday falling south into early next week (10/22) resulting in northwest winds at 20-25 kts producing local windswell, unfavorable wind, cooler temperatures and rain with snow in higher elevations for California. A gale remains forecast to form Tuesday (10/23) in the Western Gulf falling southeast towards Hawaii initially with seas to 26 ft. It's to make a turn towards the east later in the week and regenerating with seas again hitting the 26 ft mark aimed well at the US West Coast. If this all comes true perhaps some fun sized swell to result for both the Islands and the mainland, but that's just a guess at this early date. Overall the Inactive Phase of the MJO remains in control and not favoring storm development for a few more weeks.Down south a tiny gale formed just south of New Zealand Mon-Tues (10/16) with seas to 36 ft over a small area aimed well northeast, but effectively gone by Tues PM. A pulse of decently rideable swell is expected for Hawaii by Mon (10/22) and California by late Wed (10/24).  


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

North Pacific

Jetstream - On Saturday (10/20) the jet was running flat off Japan at 110 kts, falling into a steep and punched off trough on the dateline and not supportive of gale development, then regrouping with winds to 130 kts over the East Pacific pushing flat into Oregon. Over the next 72 hours the remnants of the dateline trough are to be totally cut off, with the jet flowing well north of it running effectively over the Central and Eastern Aleutians. But by late Monday into Tuesday (10/23) a new steep trough is to push off Kamchatka racing east with winds to 130 kts pushing down into it, possibly providing a little support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours through trough too is to become cut off falling southeast towards Hawaii on Wed (10/24) and then turning east but fading all the while. Maybe some limited support for gale development with luck. After that the jet is to be running flat from Japan into the Pacific Northwest but with winds only 90 kts offering no support for gale development.

Surface Analysis  -  On Saturday (10/20) no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring. High pressure at 1032 mbs was ridging southeast from the Western Gulf forming a pressure gradient over Northern CA and producing north winds there at 20 kts making for weak northerly windswell. Fetch from the high was also producing trades at 15 kts reaching into Hawaii but not producing windswell of interest.

Over the next 72 hours low pressure associated with the remnants of Typhoon Prapiroon and a new upper trough pushing off Kamchatka are to coalesce into a gale on the northern dateline region Tuesday (10/23) producing up to 40 kts northwest winds late and seas to 24 ft at 45N 178W targeting Hawaii up the 330 degree path. The fetch is to barely hold on through Wednesday AM while falling south still producing 40 kts north winds and 26 ft seas at 41N 175W. By evening the gale is to fall apart then theoretically start reorganizing with 30 kt west winds building in it's southwest quadrant. Seas fading from 20 ft at 37N 170W (330 degs HI). Thursday AM (10/25) 35 kt west winds to be building in the gale south quadrant with the gale now turning away from HAwaii and heading east towards the US West Coast. A tiny area of 24 ft seas forecast at 38N 169W (285 degs NCal). Fetch is to hold into the evening if not stabilize with 24 ft seas holding at 37N 163W pushing east into Friday AM at 38N 158W (284 degs NCal/289 degs SCal).

Also a weak low is to develop off British Columbia Sat-Sun (10/21) forming a weak pressure gradient with high pressure in the Western Gulf at 1032 mbs and producing northwest winds at 20-25 kts. This system to fall southeast into Monday then dissipate off the Washington coast in the evening.Seas to not exceed 13 ft.  Maybe some windswell to result for the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA at best. But this system looks more likely to be a rain and snow maker than a surf producer (see California Neashore Forecast below).

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


On Saturday (10/20) no tropical system of interest were occurring.


California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (10/20) high pressure at 1036 mbs was located over the Eastern Aleutians riding hard southeast with the tip of it starting to reach North CA generating the usual pressure gradient and north winds at 15-20 kts pushing down the North and Central CA coast and expected to reach 25 kts overnight. By Sunday that is to be fading as low pressure develops off British Columbia falling south with north winds along the North and Central coasts fading from 20 kts early to 10 kts late. Maybe some light rain moving into that area late in the evening. Monday (10/22) the front from the low is to be moving into the Central Coast driving south winds and rain as far south as Pt Conception. Maybe a foot of snow accumulation through the day at higher elevation in the Tahoe area. Tuesday a light onshore flow (10 kts or less) is expected for all of North and Central CA but north winds at 15 kts to be over Southern CA. Additional light rain forecast mainly for the Central Coast from Monterey Bay northward with 4-6 inches of snow for Tahoe. Wednesday more of the same is forecast with northwest winds for the North and Central coasts at 10 kts and near 20 kt north winds for Southern CA with light but steady rain forecast down to Morro Bay and 3-4 inches of snow to Tahoe. Thursday high pressure start building in with 25 kt north winds for Southern CA over the Channel Islands and up to Morro Bay late with lesser north winds over the rest of the state. North winds finally backing off on Saturday with a new low building in the Gulf.


South Pacific

Surface  -  On Saturday (10/20) no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring.  Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.

Another Small New Zealand Storm
On Monday AM (10/15) a gale developed under New Zealand with 45 kt south-southwest winds at 58S 177E in the HI and CA swell windows. Seas were building from 30 ft over an tiny area at 58S 177E. In the evening fetch peaked at 45-50 kts (minimal storm status) with seas reaching 36 ft at 53S 178W (pushing right up the 210 degree path to CA and barely unshadowed by Tahiti and aimed a bit east of the 192 degree path to Hawaii. Fetch was effectively gone Tues AM (10/16) at barely 40 kts with seas from previous fetch fading from 34 ft at 50S 170W (208 degs CA and shadowed, 188 degs HI).

Expect swell arrival on Hawaii on Monday (10/22) before sunrise building through the day, reaching 2.3 ft @ 17 secs late (4 ft faces).  Swell to continue Tues AM (10/23) peaking at 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4 ft faces) early, then settling down through the day with period dropping to 15 secs. Swell continuing Wed (10/24) fading from 2.3 ft @ 14 secs (3 ft).  Swell fading out late Thurs.  

Expect swell arrival in California on Wed (10/24) with pure swell building to 1.3 ft @ 18 secs late (2.0-2.5 ft) and very inconsistent. Swell peaking Thurs AM at 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft). Long waits between sets.  Swell Direction: 208-210 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 no other swell producing weather systems are forecast.

Note: 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. 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. 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).

As of Saturday (10/20) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was 3.67. The 30 day average was down some at 1.83 with the 90 day average down to -1.90. This is neutral territory and not indicative of El Nino.

Current equatorial wind analysis indicated near neutral anomalies over the Maritime Continent (WPac) to the dateline and the rest of the way across the equatorial Pacific into Central America.  A week from now (10/28) modest east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent and dateline then turning neutral except stronger west anomalies off Central America.  This suggests that the Active Phase of the MJO is continuing to push east with the Inactive Phase building in the West. We had a good long run of the Active Phase (since at least 9/1) but it was over starting on 10/16. 

The longer range models (dynamic and statistical) run on 10/19 are in agreement suggesting a moderate version of the Inactive Phase is in control of the West Pacific. The statistical model suggests it is to fade over the next 2 weeks and nearly gone by 11/3 with the Active Phase starting to push from the Indian Ocean into the West Pacific while the dynamic model remains far more aggressive with a full strong Inactive Phase continuing 2 weeks from now. We don't consider that realistic. But if it does develop it will fully signal the death of any form of El Nino this season (as if it isn't already technically dead).  

More warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). A warm pool that built and peaked off Ecuador 7/2 fed my mult.cgie Kelvin Waves earlier has been steadily loosing ground, but is not gone. That said - pulses of cooler than normal water continue tracking through the core of the warm pool (as of 10/18) signaling it's demise. a near neutral water temp pattern is taking shape. A weak Kelvin Wave propagated east both subsurface (2-3 deg C anomaly at 118W) and at the surface (1 deg C anomaly), moving east of 120 and off the charts by 9/17. It should help to r.cgienish the warm water pool sometime in October, but nowhere near the levels it was in July. A second Kelvin wave developed due to a prolonged WWB event that started Sept 2 in the West Pacific and continued for 21 days in a row through 9/22 then faded on 9/25 only to return with gusto on 9/28 before finally dissipating on 10/9. The resulting Kelvin Wave is to provide reinforcing warming expected 90 days out (Dec). This Kelvin Wave is evidenced by 2 deg C warmer than normal subsurface water building under the dateline as of 10/18 at 175W, but not as strong as even a week earlier. At best it will only be enough to keep things in the normal range and not add any net additional warm water into the mix. 

And what appears to be a strengthening MJO pattern (both Active and Inactive Phases) suggests that El Nino is not forming, but instead is dissipating. Latest projections from the CFSv2 model are not supporting any form of El Nino development either but rather a return to a neutral state by November with -0.25 deg C water temps by Jan into February, then slowly returning to normal if not slightly warmer by June 2013.

At this time there is only limited atmospheric evidence of a El Nino pattern in.cgiay.  Remnants of La Nina are still affecting the atmosphere and will likely continue for several months into the middle of Fall (mid-Oct), but steadily degrading. We believe we're in a hybrid atmospheric state with the trend shifting more towards the normal category. The atmosphere is like a big ship, it takes a long time and alot of energy to turn. The good news is there is confirmed evidence of tropical systems recurving northeast and migrating to the dateline. This suggest La Nina is dissipating.            

As of right now its seems the Active Phases of the MJO are not strong enough to usher in some flavor of real El Nino, but the Inactive Phases are not strong enough to shut off the warm water pump to the East Pacific either.  Regardless, we are effectively past the La Nina hump and the tendency will be for a return to a normal if not slightly El Nino-like enhanced state. This is way better than where we've been for the past 2 years (under the influence of La Nina). The preference is that El Nino does not form this year, because that would only usher in another La Nina the year or two beyond.  Rather, a neutral pattern biased slightly warm would be good, followed by at least another year of slightly warmer temps ultimately converging in a stronger El Nino 2-3 years out. And historically, this is the 'normal' pattern (a few years of false starts before a legit El Nino forms). We think we are in a slowly building multi-year pattern that will culminate with a real El Nino 2 or more years beyond.    

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the  El Nino Update Finally updated 10/6/12 


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.

Details to follow...


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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Local Interest

The Making of 'Chasing Mavericks' - See some background footage on how the movie was made: Part1, Part2

The Psychology of Big Wave Surfing with Greg Long - A must see for any aspiring big wave rider:

Greg Long XCel Core Files - Here's a great profile of Greg Long and his contributions toward pushing the state of big wave surfing. Well Done -

Chasing Mavericks - The Jay Moriarty Movie: Two trailers for the new movie about Jay, Frosty and Mavericks has been posted. Movie opens on 10/26/12. Here's the link: &

Props from the Pros:  Stormsurf was mentioned over the past week in two different media sources.  One was in an interview Kelly Slater did with the New York Times and another was in a promotional piece Ramon Navarro did for the Big Wave World Tour. Many thanks to Curt Myers from Powerline Productions for alerting us and of course thanks to Kelly, Ramon and the Tour for using our service. Here's the links:

Steve Colleta Surfboards - Check out surfboards by local shaper Steve Coletta - A long time Santa Cruz local and master shaper. Progressive shapes for North and Central CA waves

Chasing the Swell has been nominated for a Webby Award. See details of this great piece of video journalism below. Some say this is the "Oscars" of online awards.One of the awards is voter based. If you have a moment,.cgiease cast your ballot by going to:, register, then click on the "Get Voting" tab and then to the "Online Film and Video" > "Sports" category and vote for "Chasing the Swell".

Timmy Reyes - Curt Myers from Powerlines Productions found this little gem with Timmy Reyes providing a brief statement about which sites he uses for swell chasing. Thought we'd pass it on. Enjoy:

Buell Wetsuits - When surfing in Santa Cruz, we've been seeing a new wetsuit in the line-up worn by many top flight surfers. They're getting good traction and are well respected. Take a look:

Stormsurf Mobile App (1/9/11) We are proud to announce the official public release of our smartphone mobile app. It provides access to our most popular and commonly used products, optimized for use on the road, on the beach or anywhere you don't have a desktop or laptop.  With a smart phone and signal, you will have access to our data. And we're not talking just a few teaser products - We're talking full feature wave models, weather models, real-time buoy data, manually built forecasts and hundreds of spot wave and wind forecasts enabling you to construct a surf forecast for any location on the.cgianet, all from your cell phone and all for free.  No subscription required and no hidden fees. And better yet, there's a few new things sprinkled in that are not yet available even on our full-featured web site. From your smart phones browser just navigate to: 

Chasing The Swell: Sachi Cunningham from the LA Times spent the entirety of last winter chasing surfers and swells around the North Pacific with her high def video cam. Her timing couldn't have been any better with the project exactly coinciding with the strongest El Nino in 12 years resulting in the best big wave season in a decade. And being an acco.cgiished surfer herself helped her to bring a poignant and accurate account of the what it's like to ride big waves and the new (and some not so new) personalities that are revitalizing the sport. This is must-see material for any surfer or weather enthusiast. Check it out here:

New Weather Models With the activation of our new server we have now released a new block of weather models including North America jetstream, wind and precipitation, local coastal wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments. The new animations can be found here (look for those items tagged with the New! icon):

New Weather Model Server Stormsurf has installed another weather model production server. This has enabled us to spread the load across more servers allowing us to post both wave and weather model updates much quicker.  Also we are testing new content (like North America jetstream, winds and precipitation, local wind forecasts in 1 hr increments and snow and mountain wind forecasts in both 1 and 3 hours increments). The model menus will be updated shortly with these new links.   

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New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.

Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.

Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's si.cgie and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet E.cgiorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way! .xml

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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