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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2018 3:23 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
2.3 - California & 2.2 - 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 10/29 thru Sun 11/4

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   

Weak Gulf Gale Forecast
Pacific is to Sleep as Inactive MJO Holds

On Thursday, November 1, 2018 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.9 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 10.6 secs from 236 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 2.5 ft @ 11.8 secs from 325 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.1 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 13.7 secs from 194 degrees. Wind at the buoy was west at 10-14 kts. Water temperature 68.4 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.9 ft @ 10.2 secs from 274 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.5 ft @ 10.0 secs from 255 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.4 ft @ 13.6 secs from 210 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.0 ft @ 13.5 secs from 212 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.8 ft @ 7.1 secs with swell 4.5 ft @ 7.9 secs from 311 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was northwest at 20-25 kts. Water temp 59.7 degs (042).

See Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (bottom of the page)

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.

Current Conditions
On Thursday (11/1) in North and Central CA residual windswell from the Gulf was producing waves at waist to chest high and clean but soft and not well organized. Protected breaks were waist to chest high and clean and mostly closed out. At Santa Cruz minimal wrap around swell was producing waves at thigh to maybe waist high and clean and weak. In Southern California/Ventura northwest swell was producing surf at thigh to waist high or so and clean and weak. In North Orange Co waves were waist high and clean. South Orange Country's best breaks were maybe waist high on the sets and clean and soft. In North San Diego surf was waist high and clean and mushy. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northwest windswell with waves head high or so at top spots on the sets and clean but a bit on the weak side. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves waist high and heavily textured from modest east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (11/1) minimal residual swell from a gale previously over the dateline was still pushing into Hawaii. No swell of interest was hitting California other than minimal northwest windswell. Beyond some sort of ill formed broad gale was developing in the Northwest Pacific Thurs (11/1) and is to develop some while moving into the Western Gulf of Alaska on Fri (11/2) with seas building to 27 ft and holding while pushing into the Northeastern Gulf on Sun (11/4). And perhaps a cutoff low is to develop just northwest of Hawaii on Thurs (11/8) producing 23 ft seas aimed south. But overall a very weak storm pattern is taking hold, presumably hampered by the Inactive Phase of the MJO. .

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Thursday AM (11/1) the northern branch of the jetstream was tracking decently east off North Japan with winds 160 kts pushing flat over the dateline and into the fading remnants of what was a trough in the Western Gulf, then ridging northeast and pushing into British Columbia. There were no decent trough and no support for gale development, though there was ample energy in the jet over the West Pacific. Over the next 72 hours wind energy is to push rapidly east while the jet splits over Japan with the split point moving to almost the dateline by Sat (11/3). A bit of a trough is to develop just east of the split point and just west of the dateline pushing east and offering minimal support for low pressure development in the trough and moving to the Western Gulf on Sun (11/4) with the trough starting to pinch off some. Beyond 72 hours the split point for the split jetstream flow is to continue pushing east and over the Western Gulf early Monday (11/5) while back to the west the jet is to fall apart and be exceedingly weak and split. The split flow is to be pushing off Japan in two parallel streams reaching the whole way across the North Pacific with the northern branch up at 50N and the southern branch down at 30N Tuesday through Thursday (11/8). In short, the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be building over the West Pacific suppressing support for gale development.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday AM (11/1) small residual swell from a gale previously west of the Dateline was dribbling into Hawaii. Otherwise no swell was in the water.

Over the next 72 hours a weak and ill formed gale/low pressure system is to develop in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska on Thurs PM (11/1) generating west winds at 30-35 kts over a fragmented area with seas starting to build. On Fri AM (11/2) winds to build to 40 kts from the west southwest just south of the Western Alaska with seas building to 26 ft at 50N 165W aimed east. In the evening fetch is to hold position at 35+ kts from the west with seas 25 ft over a building area at 50N 163W aimed east. On Sat AM (11/3) 35-40 kt west winds are to hold in the same area with seas building to 27 ft at 51N 157W aimed east. In the evening the gale is to push east with winds fading from 35 kts and seas 27 ft at 53N 152W aimed east (316 degrees NCal). The gale is to continue tracking east while slowly fading from there and outside of the swell window for anywhere but the Pacific Northwest and points north of there. There are some odds of sideband swell possible for Hawaii and a bit more for the US West Coast.


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


Tropical Update
No tropical weather systems of interest are forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (11/1) high pressure at 1026 mbs was centered 500 nmiles west of San Francisco ridging into Oregon generating a pressure gradient and producing north winds at 20 kts between Cape Mendocino and Pt Arena but with light winds south of there to Pt Arena. Fri (11/2) light winds are forecast everywhere from San Francisco southward early and 20 kts from the north of North California. But high pressure is to be building offshore with north winds building to 20+ kts nearshore over all of North and Central CA late afternoon. Sat (11/3) high pressure and north winds to hold pushing 20-25 kts over North CA but 10-15 kts for Central CA nearshore. Sunday (11/4) north winds are to be 20-25 kts from Cape Mendocino down to Monterey Bay and 10 kts to Pt Conception early then nearly 20 kts everywhere late afternoon. Monday (11/5) the gradient is to fire up solidly again with north winds 20-25 kts over North and Central CA and holding. Tuesday (11/6) north winds to be 15-20 kts for all of North and Central CA. Wednesday (11/7) the gradient is to hold while lifting north with north winds 20-25 kts for North CA and 10-15 kts for Central CA. Thurs (11/8) north winds to be 20 kts for North CA and 10 kts over Central CA. It continue to look like a summer pattern is setting up, driven by the Inactive Phase of the MJO. This suggests that any El Nino formation is very weak and not coupled.


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
On Thursday (11/1) no swell of interest was in the water.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are 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

Beyond 72 hours a cutoff low is to develop 700 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii on Wed (11/7) producing northwest winds at 35 kts and seas building to 22 ft over a tiny area at 33N 170W aimed southwest. On Thurs AM (11/8) northwest winds to hold of not build in coverage with 23 ft seas at 32N 170W aimed south-southwest continuing into the evening. Something to monitor.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.


MJO/ENSO Forecast


Equatorial SST's Warming - ESPI Unchanged

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 equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing 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 planet, 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 in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.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: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. A double dip La Nina was in control and continued through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018 associated with two upwelling Kelvin Waves, and continued trying to build over equatorial waters over the Summer and beyond, but could not sustain itself, suggesting the demise of La Nina but not yet turning towards El Nino.

Fall/Winter 2018 = 6.5 (California & Hawaii)
Rating based on a 1-10 scale: 1 being the lowest (small and infrequent surf conditions), 5 being normal/average, and 10 being extraordinary (frequent events of large, long period swells)

Rationale: Assuming the PDO has moved to the warm phase and that El Nino develops as forecast, and assuming and an ocean-atmospheric coupling becomes established in the Sept timeframe and ocean temperature anomalies in Nino3.4 build to the +1.0 deg range, there is good probability for enhanced storm production in the North Pacific starting in the late Nov timeframe (specifically the Gulf of Alaska and Dateline regions) with an increased intensity in number of storm days and storm intensity, resulting in increased odds for larger than normal swell, with increased duration and higher than normal period.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wed (10/31) 5 day average winds were solid from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific fading while pushing towards the dateline, then calm over the KWGA. Anomalies were starting to turn westerly over the Central East equatorial Pacific and the dateline, and modest westerly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (11/1) moderate east anomalies were over the core of the KWGA. East anomalies are to hold at moderate strength over of the whole KWGA through 11/4, and then fading some in intensity and coverage through the end of the model run on 11/8 and effectively gone at that time with west anomalies starting to build over the dateline. This easterly wind event was previously not on any of the longer range models and is not a good sign. But conversely, it appears it is going to be short lived.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (10/31) A modest Inactive Phase of the MJO was building over the West Pacific/KWGA and this pattern is to continue with the Inactive Phase filling the KWGA at day 5, then weakening and all but gone at the end of the model run at day 15 with the Active Phase of the MJO moving over the Maritime Continent. The statistical model depicts a variation on the same theme. The 2 models are mostly in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (11/1) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was moderate over Africa and is to quickly fade to weak status 4 days out and track steadily east moving over the Maritime Continent 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts a variation on the same thing but with the MJO building in strength while moving to the Indian Ocean and then weakening 2 weeks out. The 2 models are generally in sync.
40 day Upper Level Model: (11/1) This model depicts a weak Active/Wet pattern was over the far East Pacific and is to track east pushing into Central America on 11/11. A moderate Inactive/Dry signal was over the West Pacific and is to be pushing east to the Eastern equatorial Pacific and into Central America on 11/26. A weak Active Phase is to push over the West Pacific 11/20 fading while pushing to the East Pacific and Central America at the end of the model run on 12/11.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (10/31) This model depicts east anomalies were centered over the core of the KWGA and filling it. East anomalies are to hold filling the KWGA through 11/5. After that moderate west anomalies are to rebuild in the core of the KWGA by 11/7 holding in strength through 11/20, then a little weaker but still holding a weak status through the end of the model run on 11/28. This run suggests some sort of weak El Nino is developing, but not as strong as previous runs.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (11/1) This model depicts weak east anomalies were over the KWGA today with a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO all but gone on the dateline. East anomalies are to hold a few days 11/2-11/7 then fade and be gone in the KWGA. After that west anomalies are to rebuild modestly in the heart of the KWGA with no discernible MJO Phase present. West anomalies are to build some to near Westerly Wind Burst status (WWB) 11//20-12/15, then fade some but still solid through 1/12/19. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is forecast setting up 1/13 through the end of the model run 1/29 with west anomalies fading some and east anomalies building over the western KWGA. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is fully in control of the KWGA reaching east over California to 115W and forecast holding beyond. A 4th contour line forecast to to develop in the 12/22-29 period is back on for 12/28-1/21. We're beginning to think this whole El Nino setup is a bit overblown on this model and that it will not develop, or develop only weakly. The atmosphere and ocean are theoretically slowly becoming coupled towards an El Nino bias in the Pacific Ocean. But actual data (not forecast data) indicates that coupling has not happened yet. If it hasn't happened yet (by Nov 1), it's doubtful there will be significant atmospheric influence until mid-way through Winter. Still this pattern is slowly becoming more favorable to support storm production in the Pacific regardless of whether El Nino develops, especially compared to the 2 previous years. But there is not one shred of evidence that this is actually happening with the storm track dead and below annual norms.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (11/1) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs solid retrograding west slightly to 174E. The 28 deg isotherm line was retrograding west to 160W. The 24 deg isotherm was 125 meters deep at 140W then setting progressively shallower east of there but retrograding to 103W. It seems that Kelvin Wave #2 has already peaked and retrograding temps are the evidence of it. Anomaly wise warm anomalies are building indicative of Kelvin Wave (#2) extending from 180W at +3 degs but now appears to be centered near 110W down 90 meters reaching east and pushing into the coast of Ecuador. Basically warm anomalies are filling the entire Pacific subsurface region and reaching South America but tracking east. This is likely the peak of the Kelvin Wave cycle for this El Nino. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 10/25 paints the same picture with the Second Kelvin Wave starting in the West Pacific near 160E pushing down under the dateline with building temps peaking at +5.0 degs at 120W and then pushing into Ecuador. A small pocket of neutral anomalies that was in the far West Pacific just east of the Maritime Continent appears to be getting some warm anomalies now flowing into it. Kelvin Wave #2 was breaching the surface from 100W to 145W solidly with secondary solid warm anomalies starting to fill the entire region on the equator from 105W-165E. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (10/25) Positive anomalies were solid from north of New Guinea over the Dateline and into Ecuador and broad in coverage peaking at +10 cms from 100W-135W. This indicates that Kelvin Wave (#2) was peaking south of California and pushing quickly east. It was branching north to Baja and south to Southern Peru, a good sign.

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: (10/31) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were warm in a classic Kelvin Wave pattern straddling 5 degrees north and south of the equator from Ecuador west to the dateline, with imbedded pockets of slightly stronger warming. These temps were a little warmer than days past but still limited in coverage. There was minimal slight warming along the coast of Chile up into Peru, but less so than days past. Generic warm anomalies were north of the equator from Central America and south of Mexico building out to Hawaii and the dateline. This pattern looks somewhat like El Nino, but also like La Nina with no solid warming branching north and south along the Central and South American coast, and most warming still in the West Pacific. suggesting this developing El Nino is only weakly in control at best and very fragile over the East equatorial Pacific.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/31): A weak warming trend was set up from Ecuador to the dateline on the equator. No cooling was indicated. Building warming was along the coast of Peru and Chile.
Hi-res Overview: (10/31) A pocket of weak cool water was present just off the outer coast of Chile but loosing coverage with warm water holding along the immediate coast of Peru. Otherwise moderate warm water was on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos building out to the dateline with a few pockets of stronger imbedded warming. There were no pockets of imbedded cool anomalies. It seems we've turned the corner to a warm regime and are no longer in a mixed pattern where La Nina cool anomalies are present intermixed with warm anomalies. But it is not at all apparent that we are in a legitimate El Nino pattern.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (11/1) Today's temps were steady at +0.103 after falling to -0.628 on 10/22, down from the all time high for this event on 9/25 +1.316. Two previous peaks occurred of +0.510 degs on 9/17 and +0.459 on 5/13. Otherwise temps have been steady in the -0.50 deg range.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (11/1) Today temps were dramatically rising from +0.471 on 10/30 to +0.982 today, beating the previous peak temps of +0.795 on 10/9, and +0.649 on 9/27, and that beating the previous peak at +0.490 on 7/2. Overall temps are noodling around at +0.5 degs above normal, but nothing more other than one reading today. One day is not a trend. This looks like perhaps El Nino is trying to develop, but nothing serious.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (11/1) The forecast calls for a slow but steady increase from here rising to +0.90 degs in mid-Nov then toggling from 0.8 to +1.10 degs from Dec into May 2019, then slowly fading through July 2019 down to +0.70 degs. This suggests that perhaps El Nino is to build through the Fall of 2018 but weaker than previous model runs. But given the weak El Nino forecast, this somewhat dampens the odds of La Nina following in Fall of 2019. Most other models are also suggesting a possible turn to weak El Nino conditions by late Fall.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Oct Plume depicts temps are to slowly rise from here, to +0.90 degs in October and +0.9-+1.0 degs in Nov through March 2019, then slowly fading to 0.78 in June. See chart here - link. It looks like La Nina is fading out and there's a 76% chance of a weak El Nino developing.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (10/30): The daily index was falling today at +8.46. The 30 day average was rising at +4.27 suggesting an Inactive MJO was building. The 90 day average was rising some at -3.91 and has been essentially steady for a month now. The 90 degree average turned negative for the first time in a year on 6/30 suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern was building in the atmosphere. This is expected for a month more before falling into steady negative territory by mid August.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (11/1) Today the index was steady at -0.16, up from -0.22 the week of 10/22, after having risen to +0.39 on 10/10, the highest so far this event. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO was having a negative effect and that precip and evaporation are just slightly less than normal, and not above normal as one would expect if El Nino were in play. The reading from 8/14 (+0.11) was the first time it's turned positive in a year. In reality, we're in ENSO neutral state now and it's not unexpected that the Index will toggle between weakly positive to weakly negative. Recent points of interest in reverse chronological order are: -1.04 on 6/5, -0.70 on 5/20, -0.60 on 5/17, -0.36 on 5/11 and -0.38 on 5/10, -0.35 on 4/26, -1.02 on 4/5, -1.13 on 3/27. The trend suggests La Nina is all but gone. This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina situations.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly positive, even though La Nina is in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values: June 2017 +0.21, July -0.50, Aug -0.62, Sept -0.25, Oct -0.61, Nov -0.45, Dec -0.13, Jan 2018 +0.29, Feb -0.19, Mar -0.61, April -0.89, May -0.69, June -0.85, July -0.09, Aug -0.42, Sept -0.42. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): June 2017 +0.79, July +0.10, Aug +0.09, Sept +0.32, Oct +0.05, Nov +0.15, Dec +0.50, Jan +0.70. Feb +0.37, Mar -0.05, April +0.11, May +0.11, June -0.04, July +0.11, Aug +0.18, Sept +0.09. No real negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 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 strongly suggests that could be a possibility. 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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