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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: November 1, 2010 11:49 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 = 4.5 - California & 4.0 - 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 11/1 thru Sun 11/7
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   

Swell #1 Hitting California
West Coast of the US on Alert


New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)

Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead). Summer - 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: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft). Summer - 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. Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

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):

On Saturday (10/30) North and Central California was getting remnant locally generated swell in the 2-3 ft overhead range (maybe a high estimate) and clean at south protected breaks but still kinda warbled. Southern California was getting local Gulf swell up north at waist to chest high and a little warbled but with no real local wind. Down south sets were chest high and textured. Hawaii's North Shore was getting waist to maybe chest high windswell and clean though a little lump was running through it due continued trades. The East Shore was seeing easterly tradewind generated windswell at waist to chest high and chopped. The South Shore was asleep for the winter with waves 2 ft or less. 

The forecast for North and Central CA is for smaller swell on Sunday at 3.5-4.0 ft (faces) with south winds on it. Monday northwest windswell bumps up to 5.5 ft. Then Tuesday things start to get very interesting with swell moving up way beyond the rideable range for mere mortals (Details below). Southern California is to see maybe knee high surf Sunday increasing to knee to thigh high high northerly windswell on Monday and heading up from there, with sets 2 ft overhead later Tuesday afternoon. The North Shore of Oahu is to have northeast windswell at waist high Sunday.  Possible larger swell building late Monday to 15 ft pushing 19 ft Tuesday. The East Shore is to hold in the flat range Sunday through Tuesday (11/2). The South Shore is effectively asleep for the winter.

All eyes are on a large strong storm forecast for the Gulf of Alaska on Sunday (10/310. It developed in the Bering Sea on Wed-Thurs (10/28) then was falling into the Western Gulf on Saturday and by Sunday winds are to be 60 kts generating seas at 51 by Sunday, then moderating while tracking east into Central Canada on Tues (11/2).  Possible reasonably large sideband swell is to reach down to Hawaii with extra larger long period swell for the US West Coast (Central CA northward) if all develops as modeled (a very likely probability with winds starting to take root on the dateline region). And there continues to be suggestions of more moderate gale energy forecast behind too. Certainly an active pattern setting up.  


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

North Pacific

On Saturday (10/30) the North Pacific jetstream was most solid with a consolidated flow pushing almost flat on the 45N latitude line from the mid-Kuril Islands over the dateline with near 200 kt winds just west of there pushing into the Central Gulf of Alaska with winds still 150 kts there, then turning north up into Central Canada just 500 nmiles off the coast. A bit of a mild trough was trying to build in the Western Gulf providing decent odds to support gale development there. Over the next 72 hours that little trough is to build into a broad sweeping trough digging out well in the Central Gulf with 170 kts winds flowing into it and providing excellent support for storm development. The jet is to continue to ridge slightly into British Columbia. Later Monday into Tuesday additional energy is to build over the dateline falling harder south into the trough with winds again up to near 200 kts providing yet more support for gale if not storm development. while a ridge holds tight over the US West Coast into Southern Oregon. Beyond 72 hours that steeper Gulf trough is to slowly east east and hold, though winds are to slowly back off with the trough finally fading and pushing into the Pacific Northwest on Friday (11/5). Still a consolidate jet is to hold with the jet sinking to 40N and 160 kts winds building off Japan. No direct support for gale development indicated, but the fuel and basic building blocks are to be present. Very nice.

At the surface on Saturday (10/30) high pressure at 1024 mbs was pancaked over the dateline reaching east to about Hawaii then become diffuse east of there. A Large storm was organizing over the dateline and is forecast to totally take over the North Pacific (see Strong Gulf Storm below).  

Over the next 72 hours the entire focus is to be the large storm forecast for the Gulf. 

Large and Strong Gulf Storm #1 (Updated Mon PM 11/1)
A large gale that was in the Bering Sea on Thursday (10/28) started drifting southeast while the jetstream built under it and tropical moisture and energy from off Japan moved over the dateline.

On Saturday AM (10/30) it all converged on the dateline resulting in a huge area of 35+ kt fetch developing with a solid embedded core of winds to 50 kts at 48N 173W and pressure 968 mbs all aimed at mainly at the US West coast with sideband energy toward Hawaii. The ASCAT satellite confirmed winds at 50-55 kts at 48N 175W and 40 kt or greater winds over a fetch area 860 nmiles long aimed at the US West Coast. At 18Z the NOAA wave model projected seas at 29 ft. The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the core of the fetch at that time and reported a 15 reading average significant wave height at 34.8 ft with one peak reading to 40 ft, way higher than what the models projected. By evening the system was rapidly intensify with a huge fetch of 35+ kt west northwest winds with a core of 60-65 kt west winds (hurricane force) at 46N 162W aimed at the US West Coast down the 298 degree path and sideband energy aimed 70 degrees east of the 355 degree path to Hawaii.  The ASCAT satellite passed over this are and reported winds of 55-60 kts at 45N 160W with 40 kt or greater winds over a 807 nmile wide fetch area again aimed all due east. Seas were modeled to be on the increase fast from 39 ft at 47N 164W (same heading as fetch above). The Jason-1 satellite passed directly over the fetch again and reported a 15 reading average at 39.6 ft with a peak to 41 ft.  

By Sunday AM (10/31) 55 kt west-northwest winds were modeled at 45N 154W (down a bit from previous estimates).  In reality the ASCAT satellite passed over the fetch at 21Z and reported winds down to 40-45 kts at the above location covering a 607 nmile fetch area aimed east-southeast. Seas were modeled building to 47 ft (previously forecast to 50 ft) back at 45N 157W (297 NCal) with lesser seas at 38 ft back at 43N 168W (344 degs HI). The Jason-1 satellite passed over the western quadrant of the fetch at 17Z and reported a 15 reading average of 39.2 ft with one reading to 41.3 ft where the model reported 42 ft seas for the same area. This was right on track. This fetch was targeting primarily Central CA up to the Pacific Northwest.  In the evening 45 kt west winds were modeled at 45N 147W aimed at Central CA up the 297-299 degree paths.  No ASCAT data was available.  Seas were modeled peaking at 49 ft (previously forecast at 51 ft) at 45N 150W (297 NCal). The Jason-1 satellite passed over the western tip of the core of the highest modeled seas which were supposedly 47-48 ft and indicated actual valudes at 39.6 ft with one peak erading to 41 ft.  We suspect the Jason-1 satellite sensors might max out at 41 ft because oherwise there is a pretty big discrepancy between the models and reality. A secondary fetch of 40-45 kt northwest winds forecast at 45N 170W pushing 60 degrees east of the 340 degree path to Hawaii and almost right up the 297 degree path to NCal did not develop as expected, but instead got absorbed into the main fetch.

On Monday AM (11/1) a quick fade was occurring with 40-45 kt winds modeled in the storms south quadrant at 45N 144W aimed up the 306 degree path to NCal with seas 42 ft at 45N 144W (301 degrees NCal). Also 35 kt northwest winds are forecast at 42N 170W with 25 ft seas at that same location (70 degrees east of the 350 degree path to Hawaii, right up the 292 deg path to NCal), meaning more backup though smaller energy in the 14 sec range pushing on a sideways angle to Hawaii and more direct towards the US West Coast.  This swell started to impact buoy 46006 well off the Califronia coast at 6 AM Mon (11/1) with seas quickly ramping up to 33.5 ft @ 17 secs and pure swell 27 ft @ 18.2 secs from 14Z-18Z then fading slightly. In the evening the main storm is to be fading if not nearly gone with 35 kt southwest winds aimed mostly at Northern British Columbia  with seas fading from 32 ft at 45N 138W and then effectively out of the CA swell window. A secondary fetch of northwest winds at 35 kts back at 44N 165W is to be producing 25 ft seas at 42N 157W. 

This storm developed pretty extremely close to what was forecast for over a week previous, a significant feat for technology and NOAA. The main difference was there was more wind and swell production early in the storm life than anticipated, and less wind and seas towards it's end. There is also some concern about the variance between the models and Jason-1 signfiacint wave height measurements at the storm peak, but we consider that more of an issue with the satelltie sensorsthan an actual failure of the storm to produce. So in effect, this has resulted in no significant change from previous forecast regarding swell arrival times and sizes. This system held together for approximately 36 hours producing winds in the 50-60 kt range with winds in excess of 40 kts over a large 800 nmile eastward moving traveling fetch. Seas estimated at 40-48 ft for 36 hours too. And all this was relatively close to the US West Coast (1027-1655 NCal, 1349-1952 SCal, and even less for Oregon), meaning less time for swell decay but also meaning less room for shorter period elements to decay off, giving the swell a rather raw rogue character rather than completely groomed and refined. A very large raw and powerful swell is likely for the entire US West coast focused mainly from Pt Conception northward to Washington. Take action to protect property now from Monterey Bay northward.

North California: Expect swell arrival just before sunrise Tuesday (11/2) with period 22 secs and size building rapidly. By mid-morning swell of 12.5-13.3 ft @ 20 secs is to be hitting (25-27 ft) with seas 20 ft @ 20 secs and getting more consistent. By sunset swell to be holding at 12-13 ft @ 18 secs (22-24 ft) with bigger sets. Swell Direction: 296-299 degrees. Very Dangerous conditions. 15-16 sec residuals on Wednesday.   

Southern CA:  Expect swell arrival on Tuesday (11/2) near 1 PM with period 22 secs and size building rapidly. By 8 PM swell of to be pushing 11.5-12.5 ft @ 20 secs outside the Channel Islands (23-25 ft) and 5.5-6.0 ft @ 20 secs nearshore (11-12 ft faces). Swell to get more consistent as the evening wears on with peak consistency likely near sunrise Wednesday (11/3) at 11-12 ft @ 17-18 secs outside the Channel Islands (18-20 ft) and 5.5 ft @ 17-18 secs nearshore (9-10 ft). Bigger sets likely with seas pushing 17 ft @ 18 secs outside the Channel Islands. Swell Direction: 303-308 degrees.  


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


No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (10/30) light south winds were blowing down to Pt Conception driven by a small local low pressure system moving onshore over Oregon. Rain up in the SF Bay Area. South winds continuing early Sunday down to maybe Morro Bay northward but rain effectively over for the state. High pressure remains forecast to get a weak foothold into the Central CA region on Monday enough to produce light winds over all of Central CA while a huge weather system slams into Oregon northward. High pressure is to finally get a foothold up into even Oregon on Tuesday with light winds up there late and north winds at 10 kts or less of all of North and Central CA. A light wind regime to hold through the workweek, the high pressure building stronger for the weekend with north winds at 15 kts forecast for all of North and Central CA by Saturday (11/6).   


South Pacific

At the oceans surface on Saturday (10/30) no swell producing fetch was occurring at the oceans surface. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast with no swell producing weather systems modeled. 


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 hrs another small fetch is to develop almost due north of Hawaii falling out of the Bering Sea Monday with winds 30-35 kts on Tuesday (11/2) near 45N 160W with a broad area of 25 ft seas at 40-45N 160-165W, a mixture of leftovers from the previous monster storm and new seas from this fetch. Solid swell likely for Hawaii with sideband energy for the US West Coast. And yet another gale is forecast tracking over the dateline pushing into the Gulf on Fri (11/5) with 45 kt west winds and 28-30 ft seas sweeping east targeting the Pacific Northwest down to Central CA. Certainly an active pattern.


See the official El Nino/La Nina Forecast using the link posted below.  

As of Saturday (10/30) the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was rising again. The daily SOI was up to 10.44. The 30 day average was down to 19.90 with the 90 day average down slightly at 20.92.  

Wind anomalies as of Friday (10/29) at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicated that the MJO continued settling down.  The last easterly remnants of the Inactive Phase were still pushing over Central America. In the West a modest Active Phase (west anomalies) was filling the eastern 50% of the Indian Ocean and tracking into the far Western Pacific but not reaching the dateline. The core remained over the Philippines. The Active Phase is forecast to dissipate by 11/8 in the West Pacific with a totally neutral wind pattern forecast and holding through 11/18.

This was the first real Active Phase of the MJO so far this Fall and it continues to offer fuel to support formation of North Pacific gales starting 10/18 and continuing for a few weeks (into the first week in November). The models continue to pick up on this trend with a series of gales if not storms forecast for the East Pacific into at least 11/7. It is pretty typical for MJO Phases to be not well defined during summer months or during El Nino years, and to then become much more apparent as Fall develops, with the effects at the surface more obvious then too. The swing from Active to Inactive and back to Active becomes more pronounced too during La Nina years. So this current development of a strong Active Phase is not unexpected. We'll be following the phase shifts much more closely this Winter because only during the Active Phase will there be good potential for storm development.  

Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (10/21) continues to indicate that downright colder than normal waters (-2 C degs or cooler) expanding their grip on the equator covering solidly from South America west to the dateline and beyond and are in fact getting cooler and covering a larger area over time, extending the whole way to New Guinea.  The coldest waters were on the equator, but a broad secondary area extended from a point off Chile pushing gently northwest towards the dateline, a clear signal of strong easterly winds there and solid upwelling. Feeder bands of cooler than normal water continued building off the US West Coast and South America sweeping fully to the dateline, only serving to reinforce what is already an impressive if not mature La Nina pattern, suggesting stronger than normal high pressure has built in both hemispheres and upwelling is in full effect in the Gulf of Alaska and off South America.  Looks like a classic La Nina setup.  Below the surface on the equator no Kevin Wave activity was present and if anything colder than normal water was building strong over the dateline and pushing east (sort of like a cold Kelvin Wave). This pocket was -6 degs below normal on 10/18 (getting a little warmer than previous readings of -7 degs in mid- Sept). regardless, this is still not good.  

Over the entire Equatorial Pacific trades were blowing all the way to the Philippines and beyond. And now from a historical perspective these easterly winds were now fully anomalous, blowing harder than normal from the east to the west, as would be expected looking at all the other data. But this is a rather recent development, with only normal winds indicated prior to 9/11. The interesting twist to all this is that the Pacific current that runs along the equator turned abruptly from flowing towards South America to flowing towards the Philippines in mid-March (2010), right as the SOI started it's impressive drive into positive territory and the North Pacific winter storm machine abruptly shut down. And it has not wavered since. But trades never waiver from the normal range.  This suggests trade wind anomalies might be a byproduct of the Pacific equatorial current change and not the other way around i.e. the trades do not drive the temperature change initially, but the current change does. And then the atmosphere responds in kind to the change, building high pressure and reinforcing the flow and water temps. Said a different way, the change in the current might actually foretell a coming change in the trades, and then with the advent of the trade wind change, it only serves to reinforce the current in a self a.cgiifying loop, until such time as the cycle runs it's course and the self feeding system collapses over a multiyear period. At that time the current then switches direction, and a whole new self-enforcing cycle stars anew. Something to consider (regarding the formation and El Nino/La Nina).     

El Nino is effectively gone and slowly losing it's grip on the global upper atmospheric weather pattern. Still some lingering impact might continue through early Fall 2010, but likely not enhancing the storm track in the South Pacific any longer. The expectation is that we'll see a building moderate.cgius strength La Nina Pattern (where the Inactive Phase takes control) for the remainder of 2010 extending well into 2011 and likely to early 2012. In short, the next year and half is going to be tough for surfers on west facing shores in the Eastern Pacific and Eastern Atlantic, though east facing shores of the West Pacific and Atlantic might do well from the Inactive Phase's dominance.  That is not to say there will be no storms, in fact, there could be short periods of intense activity when the Active Phase gets an opportunity to come to fruition, but that will be the exception rather than the rule, with the Inactive Phase trying to keep a cap on storm activity.     

See more details in the   El Nino update.


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

Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here: Add to Google
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location


Local Interest

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.   

Interview with Stormsurf: Coastviews Magazine has written up a very nice article on Stormsurf in their latest edition. You can read it here:

Stormsurf Hi-Res Coastal Precipitation Models Upgraded Though a bit late in the season, on 3/20 we i.cgiemented the same basic technology used in our new snow/ski models into the coastal hi-res precipitation models. So now you can not only determined whether rain is forecast for your area, but also snow. And not just light, medium or heavy snow like most sites, but the exact snowfall amount (in inches) for each 3 hr frame of the animation. Here's a sa.cgie, but now this approach is used in all our precipitation models.

Stormsurf Precip Models Upgraded! On 2/20 we upgraded some of the broader precipitation models driven by the hi-def GFS model to include snow fall. The algorithm used is similar to the recently released snow models for the Southwest US in that the areas where snow is expected are identified and the exact amount of snow forecast over a 3 hr window is e.cgiicitly color coded. For East and West Coast US interests the following links provide good exa.cgies:
West Coast:
East Coast:

Stormsurf Weather Models have all been upgraded! Over the New Years break we installed all new and upgraded weather models. Also new are experimental snow models for the Southwest US. Take a look here:

Read about Eric Nelson and Curt Myers, the makers of Ride-On and other Big Wave Surf Movies here:

Ride On! Powerlines new big wave epic is now available on DVD. Get the entire big wave story of the 2008-2009 season here:

Click here to learn more about Casa Noble Tequila! Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here:

Interview With Stormsurf:  The crew at worked with Stormsurf on a feature about why surfers should be able to read wave charts themselves. They are firm believers that a little learning can go a long way to help your surfing.  This is a great article to help convince your friends that they can benefit from being able to read the data themsleves rather than just relying on the forecasts of others.  See the full thing here:  Create Your Own Surf Forecast with Stormsurf

Wave Model Upgrade Status Report: At this point we believe the installation of the new wave models is complete, with no problems being reported, the server stabilizing and the much requested return of the old style hemispheric Surf Height models now operational (again) and running side-by-side along the new ones. We thank you for your patience and input as we went though this process.  Your feedback helps guide our efforts and ultimately results in a better product for everyone.  Now we're off to start providing better menus to some wave model products most of you probably haven't uncovered yet (site specific graph and text forecasts), updateing the wave model FAQs and then upgrading the Weather Models.  

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

Story About Stormsurf: The folks at SurfPulse (and specifically author Mike Wallace) have written up a really nice article about Stormsurf, complete with some good pics. Learn about how we came to be and a little of where we are going. Check it out here:

Stormsurf Video: Just for fun - here's a clip about Stormsurf that ran on Bay Area TV a while back. Thought you might enjoy it:

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.

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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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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