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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, November 12, 2016 5:40 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
4.0 - 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 11/14 thru Sun 11/20

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 #5 Peaks in CA
Another Swell Pushing Towards Hawaii

On Saturday, November 12, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 8.4 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 6.6 ft @ 13.8 secs from 341 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.1 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 15.3 secs from 283 degrees. Wind west 4-8 kts. Water temperature 66.0 degs. At Santa Barbara no data was available. At Santa Monica swell was 1.7 ft @ 18.6 secs from 266 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 4.3 ft @ 13.5 secs from 277 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 12.5 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 9.3 ft @ 16.7 secs from 289 degrees. Wind northwest at the buoy 12-16 kts. Water temp 60.6 degs.

    46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys

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 Saturday (11/12) in North and Central CA final Gulf Swell #5 was hitting producing waves at 15 ft on the face and clean early but pretty foggy. At Santa Cruz the same swell was producing waves in the double overhead range and and reasonably clean and super lined up. In Southern California up north swell was producing well rideable waves in the chest to head high range and clean and lined up. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were head high and clean and lined up but slow. Hawaii's North Shore was still getting waves from Swell #5 with sets in the 10 ft range on the face and clean and lined up. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting Gulf swell too wrapping in with waves 2 ft overhead and lightly chopped from east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
Swell from the 5th in a series of gales that tracked through the Gulf of Alaska was fading in Hawaii and just past peaking in California. After that things are settle down some but not out. A small gale tracked from off the Kuril Islands to the dateline Thurs-Sat (11/12) with 32-35 ft seas targeting Hawaii well. Swell expected there. Another small system is forecast for the Northeastern Gulf on Sun-Mon (11/14) with 28-30 ft seas aimed southeast. And another gale is to develop Wed (11/16) in the Western Gulf tracking east to a point off North CA on Sat (11/19) with 34 ft seas fading to 29 ft. More swell expected for the Islands and the US West Coast.

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

North Pacific

On Saturday AM (11/12) the jetstream was tracking east off Japan with winds building to 160 kts on the dateline falling slightly southeast into a modest trough in the Gulf of Alaska then ridging northeast pushing over the Pacific Northwest Coast. There was some support for gale development in the Gulf trough. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to ease east into the Eastern Gulf on Mon (11/14) while weakening, then redeveloping some with 160 kt winds rebuilding and feeding the trough again while it tracks east pushing inland over North CA on Wed (11/16). Continued support for gale development possible. Beyond 72 hours starting Wed (11/16) another weak but steep trough is forecast developing in the Northwestern Gulf and easing east into the Eastern Gulf on Sat (11/19) with winds mostly in the 110-120 kt range offering some support for gale development, but building to 150 kts on Saturday perhaps starting to fuel development more then. Further to the west the jet is to become a bit less defined and almost .cgiit off Japan consolidating on the date4line and tracking east from there. In all a decent jetstream pattern is projected, but not a strong or consolidated as what has been occurring the past 2 weeks.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (11/12) swell from Gale #5 was still hitting Hawaii and peaking in California (see West Gulf Gale #5 below). Also swell from a gale that tracked off the Kuril's was pushing towards Hawaii (See Kuril Islands Gale - Swell #6 below).

Over the next 72 hours another gale is to form in the Northern Gulf starting Sat PM (11/12) generating a small patch of 40 kt northwest winds extending south from the Eastern Aleutian Islands starting to get traction on the oceans surface with seas building to 20 ft. 40 kt northwest winds to build in coverage Sun AM (11/13) over a thin area generating a small area of 28 ft seas at 48.5N 162W targeting the Pacific Northwest. In the evening fetch is to hold at 40 kts over a broader area with seas 28-30 ft at 48N 158W (307 degs NCal). On Mon AM (11/14) fetch is to fade from 35 kts from the northwest with seas 28 ft at 47N 157W (306 degs NCal). Fetch is to fading in the evening from 30-35 kt from the northwest with seas fading from 23 ft at 45N 151W. This system is to fade from there. Possible decent swell to result for the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA.

North CA: Swell arrival possible on Wed AM (11/16) at 8.4 ft @ 15 secs (12 ft) but shadowed in the SF Bay Area. Swell Direction: 305-308 degrees


West Gulf Gale #5
A small gale formed behind Gale #4 off the North Kuril Islands on Mon AM (11/7) with west winds 45 kts and seas 29 ft at 50N 169E. In the evening 40 kt northwest winds were falling southeast moving near the dateline with seas 29 ft over a modest area at 47.5N 175E. On Tues AM (11/8) fetch held at 40 kts from the northwest and seas 31 ft at 48N 178W. Fetch held in the evening at 40 kts from the northwest with seas 33 ft seas at 44.5N 172W. On Wed AM (11/9) fetch held from the northwest at 40 kts with seas 31 ft at 42N 165W. Fetch held at 35-40 kts in the evening with seas 29 ft at 42N 158W. On Thurs AM (11/10) 30-35 kt northwest winds are to be fading in the Gulf with seas fading from 27 ft over a broad area at 37N-46N 150W. On Thurs AM (11/10) fetch was fading from 30-35 kts over a large area in the Gulf aimed southeast with 26 ft seas over a solid area in the Gulf near 41N 148W. Decent swell to result for Hawaii and more directly for the US West Coast.

North CA: Swell peaking Saturday AM (11/12) at 9.5 ft @ 16 secs (15 ft) holding decently through the day. Residuals fading Sun AM (11/13) from 7.8 ft @ 14 secs early (10.5 ft) and dropping pretty fast from there. Swell Direction: 291 degrees


Kuril Island Gale (Swell #6)
On Thurs AM (11/10) a small gale started tracking off the Kuril Islands producing 50 kt west winds and getting traction on the oceans surface. In the evening 45 kt west winds held and seas were building from 35 ft at 45N 161E. On Fri AM (11/11) fetch was fading from 40 kts from the west falling southeast and nearly reaching the dateline with seas fading from 31 ft at 43N 172E targeting Hawaii well. Fetch was fading in coverage in the evening while falling southeast at 40 kts over a small area pushing over the dateline with seas holding at 33 ft at 42N 180W. On Sat AM (11/12) northwest winds were fading from 30-35 kts over a small area with seas fading from 27 ft at 38.5N 174W. Fetch is to dissipate after that. Moderate swell for the Islands is possible roughly arriving on Mon (11/14).

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Monday (11/14) at sunrise at 8.8 ft @ 16-17 secs (14.5 ft Hawaiian) fading slowly through the day. Residuals fading Tues AM (11/15) from 4.8 ft @ 14 secs (6.5 ft) and fading from there. Swell Direction: 325 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues (11/15) building through the day to 5.0 ft @ 17 secs at sunset (8.6 ft). Swell Direction: 292 degrees. This swell to get overrun by another swell coming from the Northern Gulf thereafter.


  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 (11/12) a weak front stalled over Pillar Point producing fog. It pushed through in the early afternoon with high pressure behind generating north winds at 15 kts but mostly a local phenomenon. High pressure again trying to get a toehold in later Sunday (11/13) over Pt Conception with 15 kt north winds there with another weaker front building off the Pacific Northwest with south winds 15 kts max late for Cape Mendocino. Monday the front to stall over the Oregon-CA border with light winds forecast everywhere but southwest for Cape Mendocino at 15 kts with light rain moving into that area late evening. On Tues (11/15) high pressure is to build into North and Central CA waters with Northwest winds 15 kts later. Still light rain possible for the North Coast. On Wed (11/16) high pressure is to build in more with northwest winds 15-20 kts for the entire state including Southern CA late. Light rain down to Pt reyes later. Light snow for tahoe and points northward. Thursday (11/17) high pressure is to still be in control early at 20 kts for everywhere but Cape Mendocino fading some late as low pressure builds in the Gulf tracking east. Friday the front from that low is to starting moving towards the North Coast with winds light everywhere but south north of Pt Arena at 15 kts building to 35 kt late. The front is to push south Saturday (11/19) reaching Monterey Bay late in the day with south winds 20 kts later in the day reaching Pt Conception late evening. Rain pushing south from the North Coast to Monterey Bay late evening.


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

On Tues PM (11/15) a small storm is to develop just east of the dateline tracking east with 50 kt northwest winds targeting Hawaii some. On Wed AM (11/16) 45 kt northwest winds to continue easing east with seas building to 34 ft over a small area at 45N 166W. In the evening winds are to fade to 35 kts from the west with seas fading to 28 ft at 38N 160W. Thurs AM (11/17) 35 kt west winds to be approaching North CA with seas from 26 ft at 39N 153W. In the evening some regeneration is possible with north winds to 40 kts and seas 26 ft at 39N 146W. More regeneration is expected into Friday evening (11/18) with 45 kt northwest winds off the Pacific Northwest targeting California and seas 31 ft at 44.5N 145W. Fetch is to fade while falling southeast Sat AM (11/19) with 30 ft seas at 43N 142W. Fetch to fade in the evening with seas fading from 26 ft at 40N 139W. Something to monitor.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...


Active MJO Fading Some

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 (11/11) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific and solid 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 moderate easterly over the KWGA. These easterly anomalies are solely attributable to La Nina and are modulated by the MJO.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Neutral anomalies were modeled over the KWGA but modest east anomalies are to take hold on 11/13 in the east KWGA holding till 11/16, then fading with neutral anomalies thereafter to 11/19. Theoretically the first real easterly wind burst from this La Nina which started on 9/23 is to finally fade on 11/18. We'll see. We are now thinking it will not end anytime soon but rather will just pulse, stronger at times, then weaker, in true La Nina fashion, modulated by the MJO.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 11/11 a moderate Active MJO signal was indicated over the dateline. The Statistic model projects that pattern holding position and slowly weakening for the next 2 weeks while the Inactive Phase of the MJO tries to build over the far West Pacific. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Inactive Phase of the MJO developing in the West Pacific 12 days out and overtaking the Active Phase on the dateline.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (11/12) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was modest over the dateline. It is forecast to track east and fade over Africa 8 days out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing but it not collapsing until it reaches the Indian Ocean 11 days out.
40 day Upper Level Model: (11/12) This model depicts a weak Active pattern easing into Central America while the Active Phase of the MJO is building over the West Pacific tracking east into Central America on 12/2. A stronger Active Phase is to build in the West on 12/7 tracking east to Central America on 12/22.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (11/11) This model depicts a weak Active MJO signal present over the KWGA with weak west wind anomalies in.cgiay. It is to ease east and fade 11/18. Then the Inactive Phase develops in the West Pacific starting 11/17 holding through 12/10 but with neutral wind anomalies holding in KWGA. A weak Active Phase is forecast to follow 12/15-2/8 with weak west anomalies for the KWGA. Overall the MJO signal is projected to be very weak and this pattern 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. Likewise the MJO is serving to dampen the effects of La Nina when in the Active Phase.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (11/12) Actual temperatures are stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 158E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 180W 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 +1-2 degs rule from the West Pacific to 175W with neutral to weak negative anomalies east of there to Ecuador. The cool subsurface flow is stagnant and weakly negative running from 170E at the surface tracking deeper and east to 110W down at 300 meters with temps maybe -1.0 below normal. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is full of neutral to slightly cooler than normal water. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 11/4 depicts a pocket of cooler water -3-4 deg anomalies in the East Pacific at mainly 140W down 125 meters. 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: (11/12) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates no cool water along the immediate coast of Peru, with instead much warmer water taking control there up into Ecuador and west to the Galapagos. Cool water only becomes defined just west of the Galapagos and continues along the equator continuously out to 125W, a little stronger than weeks past. Cool water that has had a larger footprint west of there out to at least 160W is looking weaker now, as if La Nina is moving east. La Nina is in control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, and is now starting to take control of the East Pacific too, but with less energy.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (11/1): A mostly neutral trend is in control of the entire equatorial Pacific. Pockets of warming and cooling waters are present as they have been for months along the equator from the Galapagos to 160W but balanced towards a neutral pattern.
Hi-res Overview:
(11/1) A La Nina cool pool is most present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 175E. But a thin continuous cool stream extends from the Galapagos to 120W on the equator. La Nina is building slightly, likely in it's mature phase.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (11/12) Today's temps were rising some at +0.773. We're likely at or near a peak of a warm pulse.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (11/12) temps were steady at -0.592. We're moving into a warmer pulse here 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 (11/12) This model has upgraded suggesting La Nina held from July thru Oct 1 in the -0.55 deg range. But the forecast has temps slowly warming from here forward with temps at -0.45 degs Jan 1 rising steadily from there reaching neutral in March 2017 and up to +0.3 degs late April and +0.5 degs in July. This is very interesting with the model holding the strength of La Nina at minimal ' La Nina' territory and moving into weak El nino territory next summer. Not likely, but interesting.
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 (11/12): The daily index was well negative for almost a month, but started turning positive on 11/1 and held steady at roughly +2.0 until 11/10, turning negative for 2 days, then up to neutral today at +0.12 degs. It reached it's peak low recently at -35.46 on 10/28. The 30 day average was rising slightly at -3.78, up from -5.10 on 10/31. 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. The 90 day average is steady at +5.01. La Nina is evolving, but not strongly (so far).
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (11/12) Today's value was rising significantly at -1.45. A peak low was reached on 11/2 at -1.94 the deepest it had been so far in this event suggesting La Nina was getting better established. but that is changing now.
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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