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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: October 22, 2008 7:44 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
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Swell Potential Rating = 2.5 - California & 2.0 - 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 10/20 thru Sun 10/26
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   

Gale in the Gulf
Solid Storm Builds West of Dateline


New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)

Significant: Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead)
Advanced: Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Intermediate: Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft)
Impulse/Windswell: Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.

On Tuesday (10/21) North/Central California was getting minimal waist to chest high Gulf background swell mixed with background southern hemi swell in the waist to maybe chest high range as well. Southern California was seeing nothing but the southern hemi swell with the best spots head high or more, but most waist to chest high. Hawaii's North Shore was near flat. The South Shore had some waist high sets leftover from the southern hemi swell but on the decline. Knee to waist high east windswell was pushing into the East Shore.

For Central California no real activity is forecast through Thursday other than southern hemi background swell in the waist to chest high range with maybe a few stray larger peaks mixed with waist to chest high background swell from the Gulf of Alaska. Southern CA to continue seeing background southern hemi swell in the waist to chest high range, with a second pulse a bit bigger suggested for Friday and beyond, though it will be buried by better swell coming from the Gulf. The North Shore of Hawaii to be basically flat until later in the week when background north swell from a gale currently north of the Islands arrives in the head high range. The South Shore of Hawaii is fading out for the winter. Nothing to speak of forecast. The East Shore to have some form of modest east windswell continuing through Friday, then fading out. Long term a progressive series of gales is already in flight. The first developed Mon PM (10/20) and is to hold through this evening generating 22 ft seas 1100-1500 nmiles west of Cape Mendo aimed down the 292-300 degree path to California tracking northeast then inland over Canada by Wed AM. Something decently rideable is schedule from this on for both Hawaii on Thurs/Fri and CA Fri/Sat. But of most interest is a very intense but compact storm forecast tracking from the dateline into the Gulf with up to 65 kt winds and 48 ft seas. In fact it's already generating 60 kts winds as of Tuesday AM off the Kuril Islands, so this one is fore real. Something to monitor. If you want to know the long term projection for the winter, take a look at the El Nino forecast. More details below...


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

North Pacific

On Tuesday (10/21) the North Pacific jetstream had a conclomeration of energy focused on the gulf of Alaska with a stepp trough there with 150 kt winds flwoing into it. Some suport for surface level gael devleopment. And a secondary trough was west of the dateline off the Kuril Islands with 150 kt winds flwoing into it, but not looking particularly impressive, but capable of support something at the oceans surface just the same. Over the next 72 hours the gulf trough is to rapily fade out and the datleine trough to take over, pushing into the gulf with up to 190 kts winds flowing under it, but the focus of the energy looks to be more towards Canada. Decent support for surface level gale devleopment or better. This trough to push into the Gulf and then Canada by Friday (10/24) while another broader and better define yet weaker trough forms west of the dateline. Beyond 72 hrs this dateline trough to push steadily east then stalling the the Western Gulf and deepening through the weekend into early next week, almost reaching the Hawaiian Isalnds late Monday (10/27) but getting pinched off at the same time and offering some support for surface lelve low prssuer devleopemnt. A weaker somewhat muddled flow to build behind, offering little in the ways of support for gale devleopment through mid-next week, but not completely unsupportive either.

At the surface today two systems of interst were being monitored. The first was a modest gale that started building Monday 1500 nmiles west of North CA (see Weak Gulf Gale below). The second was a far larger and stronger storm setting up west of the dateline (See Dateline Storm Below). Otherwise high prssure at 1028 mbs was ridging into the Pacific Northwest generating the usal pressure gradetin down the Northern CA coast and producing north winds at 20-25 kts, but by all estiamtes that to be gone by Wednesday, pushied inalnd by the Weak Gulf Gale with no significant return scheduled for the next week.

Weak Gulf Gale
Monday AM (10/20) a new gale started building north of Hawaii with pressure 996 mbs and 35-40 kt wind forecast in it's west and south quadrant confirmed at 41N 160W aimed initially at Hawaii down the 358 degree path but also pushing energy into NCal down the 288 degree path. Seas building. This system got better organized in the evening with 45 kt winds confirmed at 43N 155W pushing well towards Hawaii down the 00 degree path with energy also targeting California down the 293 degree path. Seas were building. On Tuesday AM (10/21) this one was holding with 45 kt winds confirmed at 45N 150W aimed entirely at the Pacific Northwest down into CA with most fetch targeting North and Central CA down the 297 degree path. Seas were modeled at 21 ft @ 44N 153W but that seesm low. By evening the gale to be in the northeastern Gulf with 35-40 kt northwest winds at 47N 143W targeting the PacNW down into Central CA down the 304 degree path. 22 ft seas forecast at 45N 147W pushing towards Central CA northward, but again that seems low. This system to be nearly inland Wednesday AM (10/22) over the Northern Gulf and out of the CA swell window. Assuming all goes as forecast some form of limited north swell is expected to push into the North Shore on Thursday (10/23) with swell 4.5 ft @ 11 secs making 7 ft faces from 355 degrees. But the lions share of the swell to he heading east reaching NCal early Friday AM (10/24) with swell 5.6 ft @ 12 secs by sunrise (6-7 ft faces) from 292-298 degrees.


Dateline Storm (Updated Wed PM)
Of far more interest is a gale that started wrapping up west of Kuril Islands and well south of the Aleutians on Monday PM (10/20) with 40-45 kts winds confirmed at 38N 160E aimed mostly south.The Jason-1 satellite passed over this area and confirmed seas at 30 ft at 37N 156E at 2Z where the wave model suggested 23 ft. Nice start.

By Tuesday AM (10/21) pressure was down to 972 mbs with confirmed winds at 60 kts at 43N 170W aimed due east aimed right up the 298 degree path tot NCal (302 SCal) and 25 degrees east of the 316 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled at 25 ft at 40N 165E and on the increase. The models did not reflect this early ramp up of the winds so seas are likely higher. By evening pressure was 960 mbs with a small confirmed area of 60-65 kt west winds at 47N 180W aimed right up the 301 degree path to NCal (305 SCal) and 30 degrees east of the 323 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled at 27 ft at 45N 175E, though again this was likely low.

On Wednesday AM (10/22) this storm was crossing the dateline with 60-70 kt west winds confirmed at 47N 174W targeting N. California exactly down the 302 degree path (306 Scal) and 45 degrees east of the 336 degree path to Hawaii. 40 ft seas were modeled over a tiny area at 48N 177W. Jason-1 satellite made a pass right over the area, but all readings were contaminated by either rain or were just beyond the sensors capabilities. Winds to hold at 55 kts in the evening at 49N 168W aimed due west mostly bypassing Hawaii but aimed right at Ncal (302-303 degrees) with seas up to 45 ft at 48N 169W.

This storm to push east through Thursday AM (10/23) while fading with 45 kt west winds forecast at 50N 157W focused on NCal down the 305 degree path and the Pacific Northwest. 43 ft seas forecast at 49N 160W. This system to race east in the evening and be nearly gone with residual seas of 35 ft still be in the NCal swell window at 49N 152W (308 degs).

Nothing to be left by Friday AM (10/24) with fading seas from previous days fetch at 28 ft at 50N 142 and dissipating.

This storm is developing very close to the projections of the models, which is kinda of surprising. Confirmed data so far supports that prognosis too, with 60-70 kt winds already acting on the oceans surface. We've run another round of preliminary numbers and virtual fetch continues to look likely providing a higher than usual set wave count in the 17-20 sec period energy bands, and energy to top out in the 23 sec period range.

Swell arrival expected over the weekend for California but shadowed in the Bay Area given the relatively steep northerly angle. .

Hawaii to be.cgiagued by the usual issue, namely that the fetch is to nearly bypass the Islands to the east. Still, just sheer brute force will likely insure some degree of swell for the early weekend with most size in the 17 sec range, but size limited to the mid-utility class range (upper intermediate class).

Details to be posted on Thursday night.


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


California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (10/21) high pressure at 1030 mbs was centered over Oregon pushing inland with a weak gradeint over the coast of North CA generating 20-25 kt north widns near Cape Mendocino and lesser winds down the coast of Centgral CA, setting up minimal short period northwest widnswell. But by Wednesday AM that to be a distant memory with a weak offshore flow taking over and holding through Friday, then tilting weaking fro the north Saturday (10/25) only to fade out again on Sunday and remain that way well into the following week. In short, calm wind and glassy conditions expected for the forecast period oterh than a weak onshore flow in the afternoons. Indian Summer is here.

On Tuesday (10/21) no tropical activity of interest was occurring.


South Pacific

At the oceans surface no swell producing fetch was occurring aimed at US targets. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast.

On Friday (10/9) a diffuse fetch of 40 kt west-southwest winds pushed under New Zealand aiming more to the northeast on Saturday (10/10) and fading from 40 kts early generating 32 ft seas Friday night at 55S 167E and then a more solid area of 32 ft seas Saturday AM at 55S 175E fading from 30 ft at 55S 178W in the evening. These were on the 201-193 degree paths to Hawaii and 215-210 path for California (unshadowed by Tahiti). The US West Coast has already started to see some swell from this one, expected to be fading from 2.3 ft @ 15 secs (3.5 ft faces) on Wednesday (10/22) and down to 14-15 secs on Thursday. All from 210-215 degrees.

On Tuesday PM (10/14) a new 948 mb gale was building over the northern edge of the Ross Ice shelf generating 45 kt southwest winds into Wednesday AM, then fading. Theoretically it produced 35 ft seas Tues PM at 62S 172W building to 38 ft seas at 60S 155W Wed AM, then fading from 36 ft at 56S 145W Wed PM. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass over the core of the fetch Wednesday Am (10/22) and confirmed seas at 34.9 ft, 3 ft less than the 38 ft forecast by the model. So the models were a little optimistic. This should be good for background swell pushing into exposed breaks in California starting Thurs (10/23) with swell 1.6 ft @ 19 secs (3 ft faces) and heading up some from there in the days beyond coming from 195 degrees. Swell to 2.3 ft @ 18 secs (4 ft faces) on Friday (10/24) and 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5 ft faces) on Saturday (10/25) fading from 2 ft @ 14-15 secs (3 ft faces) on Sunday. But this will likely be buried by North Pacific energy.

We have started focusing on the North Pacific exclusively and will update South Pacific activities on an exception basis.


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 yet another moderate gale is forecast forming in the Central Gulf of Alaska on Saturday (10/25) with 40 kt west winds holding for 24 hrs between 45N 160W and 48N 148W aimed towards the Pacific Northwest and into North CA down the 296-305 degree paths generating 20-25 kts seas. Moderate utility class swell in the 13-14 sec range possible early next week.

A cutoff low is forecast forming due north of Hawaii Monday (10/27) sending 40-45 kt winds down towards the Isaldns with 28 ft seas building at 35N 160W targetting Kauai from just 750 nmiels away. Interesting.

The storm pattern to fall appart after that.

MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Tuesday (10/21) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the Inactive phase. The Daily SOI index was up to 23.78. The 30 day average was steady at 13.46 and the 90 day average was up barely at 10.42. This is symptomatic of a weak La Nina. Winds anomalies at at the surface and the 850 mb level (approx 1000 ft up) indicated a broad area of abnormal west winds extending from the Philippines east over the dateline and into Central America, pretty much filling the tropical Pacific. This was symptomatic of the inactive phase of the MJO. This to slowly fade out through Nov 6thr, offering no enhancement for surface level low pressure development. All the while the Active Phase of the MJO is to be building in the Indian Ocean, starting to seep eastward the first week in November, but be weak upon arrival there. For now the Inactive Phase to slightly suppress storm development in the Northern Pacific.


South Pacific

No swell producing fetch forecast for the next 7 days.

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

Big Surf Up North - the First swell of the Fall 2008/2009 season brought a few large raw waves to the North CA Coast. Check out the details here:

The Kelly Slater Project - A group of dedicated surfers from Cocoa Beach are working to construct a statue of the the home town legend and set it up for all to enjoy near the break where Kelly grew up surfing. Take a look at the statue and read all about it here:

STORMSURF Local Wave Models Upgraded - We significantly upgraded the local waves models on Sunday (6/8). All now utilize our newly developed high-resolution 3D shaded relief topography for mapping landmasses. Coastlines are now accurate down to the individual pixel providing near photographic realism. Mountains and hills are all shaded and accurate to within the same single pixel specification. Cities are overlaid as before, but now we've added major highways and rivers too (for many locations). Some good exa.cgies of this new technology can be viewed here:
- View the reefs north of Tahiti and notice their contribution to the 'Swell Shadow' relative to California - Tahiti
- Notice the detail of the coast in and around Vancouver Islands and Washington State - Pacific Northwest
- See the details of inland waterways of the US Northeast Coast - Virginia
- Details of the Mentawai Island and Nias

And all the local models can be found either on our homepage or from the wavemodel page (bottom half of the page).

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.

Mavericks Contest 2008: View all the action from the 2008 Maverick Surf Contest from Powelines Productions here:

Need Chiropractic Help? Visit our friends at Darrow Chiropractic. Not only will Dr. Darrow fix you up, he might give you some big wave surfing tips too! See more here:

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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Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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