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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, October 29, 2016 4:50 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
4.7 - 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 10/24 thru Sun 10/30

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 Hitting CA
Active Gulf Pattern Forecast

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 Saturday, October 29, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 6.5 ft @ 8.3 secs with swell 4.0 ft @ 9.0 secs from 30 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.4 ft @ 10.0 secs with swell 2.7 ft @ 9.8 secs from 210 degrees. Wind northwest 8-10 kts. Water temperature 65.1 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.7 ft @ 13.0 secs from 266 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.5 ft @ 9.3 secs from 205 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 3.0 ft @ 13.6 secs from 255 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 12.5 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 9.2 ft @ 16.0 secs from 307 degrees. Wind southeast 14-18 kts. Water temp 60.8 degs.

    46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Saturday (10/29) in North and Central CA new Gulf swell was 3-4 ft overhead at top exposed breaks and perhaps bigger outside the shadow but pretty torn up by south winds expect at protected breaks. At Santa Cruz the same swell was producing waves at shoulder to head high and pretty lumped up from south wind. In Southern California background swell was producing waves in the waist high range and clean but weak. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were waist high and clean but weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northeast windswell at head high at top breaks and clean but unremarkable. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting chest high northeast windswell 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 gale that tracked south from the Northern Gulf Thurs-Sat (10/29) with seas fading from 33 ft was hitting California. And of some interest is a small storm forecast for the Northwestern Gulf Sun-Mon (11/1) with up to 39 ft seas aimed east. A small storm is forecast behind that for the Central Gulf on Wed (11/2) with 42 ft seas aimed east then redeveloping off Vancouver Island on Thurs-Fri (11/4) with 39 ft seas with more local fetch forecast just off the Pacific Northwest after that. Much swell for the US West Coast is possible, but also a bit on the raw side.


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

North Pacific

On Saturday AM (10/29) the jetstream was consolidated tracking strongly east off North Japan with winds 170 kts pushing to the dateline and then tracking hard north over Alaska before falling hard south again at 110 kts setting up a weak trough off the Pacific Northwest offering some support for gale development there. The jet energy pushing off Japan is also offering some potential to support gale development, but not trough was yet in.cgiay. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to rapidly dissipate on Mon AM (10/31) quickly getting over ridden by the dateline energy, and by Tues AM (11/1) the jet is to streaming off Japan ridging slightly over the dateline and then falling into a developing trough in the Gulf being fed by 170 kts winds and offering great support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours that trough is to be peaking in the Central Gulf on Tues PM (10/31) with more 170 kt winds tracking over the dateline. A much broader trough is forecast for the Central Gulf on Thurs (11/3) being fed by almost 190 kt winds with that trough moving east and impacting the Oregon coast on Sat (11/5). At that time the jet is to start weakly .cgiitting over Japan but pulled back together just east of the and tracking due east on the 40N latitude line with winds 160 kts on the dateline fading some but still 140 kts before pushing into Oregon. More support for gale development. The Active Phase of the MJO is having a positive effect on storm development, though it is somewhat masked.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (10/29) swell from a gale that tracked southeast through the Gulf of Alaska was hitting California (see Gulf Gale below). A small storm is forecast over the Aleutians just east of the dateline on Sun (10/30) (see Possible West Gulf Gale below). Another local gale is forecast off NCal on Sun-Mon (10/31) (see below).

Over the next 72 hours another tiny gale is forecast developing in the Eastern Gulf on Sun AM (10/30) generating a small fetch of 35 kt northwest winds and falling south. In the evening fetch to build to 40 kt over a tiny area with seas building to 20 ft at 42N 140W (296 degs NCal). fetch is to fade from 35 kts Mon AM (10/31) 430 nmiles west of San Francisco with seas 20 ft over a tiny area at 39N 134W (290 degs NCal) targeting San Francisco directly.

NCal: For.cgianning purposes - Possible raw swell arrival on Tues AM (11/1) building to 6.0 ft @ 13-14 secs (8.0 ft) fading late afternoon. Swell Direction: 285-295 degrees


Gulf Gale
A gale developed in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska on Wed PM (10/26) producing 45 kt northwest winds over a small area and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. Seas were building from 26 ft at 50N 154W targeting mainly Canada. That fetch held it's ground and build to nearly 50 kt Thurs AM (10/27) over a small area with seas building to 33 ft at 50N 152W again aimed east at Canada and the Pacific Northwest. In the evening the gale started falling southeast with winds 45 kts and seas 33 ft at 49.5N 148W (310 degs NCal). The gale continued falling southeast on Fri AM (10/28) with winds 35+ kts from the northwest and seas 29 ft at 46N 147W targeting California best (303 degs NCal). The gale continued southeast in the evening with winds fading from 35 kts and seas 26 ft targeting Central CA well (295 degs NCal). 30 kt northwest winds to continue 700 nmiles off North CA on Sat AM (10/29) with seas fading from 23 ft at 38N 142W targeting Central and South CA (293 degs SCal). Fetch is to be gone in the evening with seas fading from 20 ft at 35N 139W targeting Southern CA and Baja (285 degs SCal). This system to dissipate after that. A nice pulse of modest swell could result for the Pacific Northwest down into North and Central CA with lesser size into South CA. Something to monitor.

NCal: Swell peaking overnight and fading Sun AM (10/30) from 6.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (8.5-9.0 ft faces but shadowed in the SF Bay Area). Swell Direction: 303-309 degrees

SCal: Expect swell arrival on Sun (10/30) peaking mid-day at 3.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.5 ft). Swell fading some overnight then dropping on Mon AM (10/31) from 3.0 ft @ 14 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 293-290-295 degrees


Possible West Gulf Gale
A broad area of low pressure was developing just west of the dateline on Sat PM (10/29) aided by a strong jetstream flow aloft generating 45 kt west winds down at the surface and starting to get traction on the ocean with seas building from 27 ft at 47N 175E. On Sun AM rapid intensification is forecast with west winds building to 55 kts over a small area just a bit south of the Aleutians west of the dateline and seas pushing 39 ft at 51N 173W (340 degs HI, 307 degs NCal). The storm is to track east in the evening moving mostly north of the Eastern Aleutians with residual 40 kt west winds continuing barely in the open Pacific moving into the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska with seas fading fast from 34 ft at 54N 165W (353 degs HI, 309 degs NCal). The storm is to move north up into the East Bering Sea on Mon AM (10/31) with winds fading from 35 kts in exposed waters south of the Aleutians and seas fading from 28 ft at 51N 165W bypassing Hawaii but sending sideband energy down the 308 degs path to North CA. This system is to fade from there. Something to monitor.

NCal: Rough data suggests swell arrival in NCal on Wed (11/2) with period 17 secs. Swell Direction: 308 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 Saturday AM (10/29) another weak low pressure system was off North CA generating a steady southerly flow at 10+ kts over all of Central and North CA. Light rain was in.cgiay in the SF Bay area northward. The core of the low is to move up to the Oregon-CA border Sunday AM (10/30) with south winds 20+ kts early AM from Pt Conception northward turning west-southwesterly late afternoon at 15 kts. Rain for San Francisco northward at sunrise pushing south to Pt Conception later in the day. Finally real snow for Tahoe and the Southern Sierra starting near 10 AM and peaking 4 PM then fading slowly into the evening with 10-12 inches of accumulation for most resorts including Mammoth. Yet another weak local low is forecast on Monday just off North CA with south winds building through the day to 20 kts mid-afternoon down to Monterey Bay and pushing south to maybe Morro Bay late. Rain developing from Pt Arena at 10 AM southward to Monterey Bay near 10 PM. Snow again for Tahoe Monday evening with 5-6 inches of additional accumulation. On Tuesday (11/1) weak high pressure is to try and nose into Central CA with light winds forecast. Wednesday another front is to be queuing up with south winds impacting mainly North CA at 25+ kts reaching south to Bodega Bay late with light rain only for Bodega Bay northward mainly after sunset. Thursday (11/3) another front is to stall off the North CA coast with south winds there 15 kts but weak high pressure holding for Pt Arena southward with light winds in control. Friday more of the same with weather limited north of Pt Arena. Saturday a weak front is to stall off Pt Reyes with rain maybe to the Golden Gate and light winds early.


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 to start developing just east of the dateline on Mon PM (10/31) producing a solid area of 45 kt west winds moving towards the Gulf of Alaska with seas building from 27 ft over a broad area at 43N 172W (335 degs HI, 294 degs NCal). That fetch is to move cleanly in to the Central Gulf Tues AM (11/1) with winds to 55 kt over a tiny area aimed east and 40 kts over a broader area aimed the same way and mostly bypassing Hawaii, targeting mainly California with seas building to 30 ft at 42N 160W (360 degs HI, 292 degs NCal). In the evening fetch is to move east and consolidate at 50 kts targeting NCal well with seas building to 41 ft at 42.5N 152W (292 degs NCal, 297 degs SCal). Fetch is to fade some on Wed AM (11/2) to 45 kts from the west over a smaller area 1000 nmiles west of NCal with seas 42 ft at 40N 144W (285 degs NCal, 295 degs SCal). Fetch is to fade in coverage at 35 kts in the evening just off Cape Mendocino with seas 32 ft over a small area at 40N 136W (286 degs NCal, 301 degs SCal). A short pulse of possible large but raw swell to result for the US West Coast.

Additional fetch is to be directly behind on Wed AM (11/2) at 45 kts from the west with seas building from 24 ft at 40N 165W aimed east (345 degs HI). Fetch is to race east in the evening at 45 kts with seas 30 ft at 46N 155W and 27 ft over a larger area at 40N 150W targeting California. The fetch is to lifting northeast on Thurs AM (11/3) with winds 35 kt from the west over a solid area with 45 kts west winds embedded in it and seas building to 35 ft at 45N 140W and 30 ft back to 45N 150W (296-302 degs NCal). The fetch is to consolidate and lift northeast off Vancouver Island at 45+ kts in the evening with seas near 40 ft up at 49N 135W 319+ degs NCal but with 26 ft seas at 40N 140W (285 degs NCal).

Additional fetch to follow just off the NCal coast Friday with seas 20-24 ft. Much swell to be in the water with a rather confused seas state nearshore.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

Active MJO In Control - But Masked By La Nina

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 Friday (10/28) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weaker 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 weak easterly over the KWGA. The Inactive Phase of the MJO appears to still be in.cgiay but other indicators suggest the Active Phase is.cgiaying a role.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Weak east anomalies were over the eastern KWGA on 10/29 but are to start building on 11/1 and continuing into 11/5. Another pulse of the Inactive Phase of the MJO or more likely La Nina is forecast. The first real east wind burst from this La Nina started on 9/23 and is continuing through 10/29. We are now thinking it will not end anytime soon but rather will just pulse, stronger at times, then weaker.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 10/28 a neutral MJO signal was indicated over the KWGA in the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern holding for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Active Phase of the MJO developing in the West Pacific in week #2.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (10/29) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was indiscernible inside the cone of weakness. But finally the ECMF model suggests the Active Phase is to emerge in the West Pacific 6 days out holding at moderate status while tracking east through the 14 day mark. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. We suspect that finally the Active Phase of the MJO is actually already in.cgiay by virtue of the SOI (see below).
40 day Upper Level Model: (10/29) This model depicts a neutral pattern over the Pacific. No change is forecast for the next 40 days.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (10/29) This model depicts no MJO signal present with weak east anomalies in.cgiay and holding in the KWGA into 11/11. The Inactive Phase is to develop in the West Pacific starting 11/20 holding through 12/16 but neutral anomalies are to remain in KWGA. A weak Active Phase is forecast to follow 12/20-1/25 with weak west anomalies for the KWGA. Overall the MJO signal is projected to be very weak and is to hold as we move deeper into Fall. We suspect La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, and producing weak east anomalies in the KWGA but not producing an outright Inactive Phase of the MJO.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (10/29) No Change - Actual temperatures are stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 156E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 178W and steep, 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 neutral to weak negative anomalies east of there to Ecuador. The cool subsurface flow is weakly negative with one tight pocket of -4 degs anomalies at 140W down 125 meters but otherwise no cooler than -1 degs below normal at 150m. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is full of neutral to slightly cooler than normal water. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 10/20 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: (10/29) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a small cool pocket of water along the immediate coast of North Peru. Warmer water is in control along the coast of Ecuador. Warm water is just west of the Galapagos and continue along the equator west to 120W a little stronger than weeks past. Cool water is more established west of there to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. La Nina is in control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, but not so much for the East Pacific.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/28): A warming trend is developing from Ecuador west over the Galapagos out to 120W in pockets. Pockets of warming and cooling waters are west of there as they have been for months but balanced in favor of warming. A weak warming trend is fading off Africa to Brazil.
Hi-res Overview:
(10/28) A La Nina cool pool is most present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. But a thin continuous cool stream is present from Ecuador to 120W on the equator.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (10/29) Today's temps were warming at +0.024 degs up from a week ago.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (10/29) temps were falling and have been for a week now down to -1.019 degs. We're in a cool pulse now. Temps 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.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (10/29) This model suggests La Nina held from July thru Oct 1 in the -0.55 deg range. The forecast indicates temps are to hold at -0.5 degs through the end of Oct, then start start falling reaching -0.95 degs in late Dec, then rising steadily from Jan reaching neutral in mid-March 2017 and up to +0.4 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-Oct Plume depicts temps have reached their peak minimum at -0.6. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to -0.2 in Jan 2017 and neutral in April, starting to turn weakly positive after that to +0.6 in June. This is up slightly 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 (10/29): This is where the interesting data is. The daily index was down hard -32.88 and has been falling for 8 day. The 30 day average was down more pushing negative at -2.91, falling from a high of +14.03 on 10/7. This strongly suggests the Active Phase of the MJO or some other mode of variability was having the same effect as the Active Phase of the MJO. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average is down some at +4.94. It transitioned 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 evolving, but not strongly (so far).
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (10/29) Today's value was steady but well negative at -1.80. It peaked at-1.81 on 10/27, the deepest it has been so far in this event suggesting La Nina is getting better established.
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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