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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, November 19, 2016 9:49 AM
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
4.3 - 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 11/21 thru Sun 11/27

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   

Dateline-Gulf Swell Builds in CA
4 More Solid Systems to Follow

On Saturday, November 19, 2016 :

  • Buoy 187 (Pauwela): Seas were 9.6 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 5.3 ft @ 13.0 secs from 336 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.2 ft @ 10.8 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 10.1 secs from 255 degrees. Wind south 2-4 kts. Water temperature 64.8 degs. At Santa Barbara no data was available. At Santa Monica swell was 1.7 ft @ 12.2 secs from 263 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.4 ft @ 10.2 secs from 271 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 13.9 ft @ 10.5 secs with swell 6.3 ft @ 17.3 secs from 288 degrees. Wind southeast 27-33 kts at the buoy. Water temp 58.1 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 (11/19) in North and Central CA new Gulf swell was starting to show earlier than expected with waves in the 10 ft range but destroyed by howling south winds except at protected breaks. At Santa Cruz surf was maybe chest high and hacked by south winds but not fully white capping yet. In Southern California up north surf was near flat with occasional waves in the thigh high range coming through with glassy conditions. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were occasionally chest high and clean with light Santa Ana's. Hawaii's North Shore was getting sideband swell from the Gulf of Alaska producing waves in the 2 ft overhead range at top spots and clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting a mix of east windswell and northwest wrap around swell with waves head high 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 from the Western Gulf Wed (11/16) to a point off North CA on Sat (11/19) with seas in the 25-28 ft range was starting to show in North CA. Another gale is to track east from the North Dateline region through the Northern Gulf Sat-Tues (11/22)  with 26 ft seas. Another gale is to develop just off Kamchatka on Mon (11/21) with up to 34 ft seas but quickly track northeast into the Bering Sea offering little. Yet another gale is to develop in the Gulf on Wed-Thurs (11/24) with seas quickly building to 32 ft falling southeast. A stronger storm is to develop in the Northwestern Gulf on Thurs (11/24) with seas building to 45 ft 24 hours later then weakening while falling southeast. And yet another is forecast on the Northern Dateline region on Sat (11/26). The pattern is well dug in now favoring the Northern Dateline route southeast into the Gulf targeting primarily North CA. This is as it has been projected and there's no signs of it stopping.  

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

North Pacific

On Saturday AM (11/19) the jetstream was tracking east off Japan with winds to 120 kts in one pocket but mostly less and a bit diffuse, then ridged over the Dateline but still south of the Aleutians before starting to fall into a developing trough in the Eastern Gulf being fed by 150 kt winds offering decent support for gale development in that trough.  From there the jet tracked east pushing over North California at 120 kts. Over the next 72 hours that same basic pattern is to hold with the Gulf trough starting to get pinched and moving onshore over Central CA later Sun (11/20) but a new trough is to start building right behind it in the Central Gulf Monday with 110 kts winds moving east into Washington on Wed (11/23). At the same time winds to builds some tracking off Japan to 130-140 kts helping to repair a weak .cgiit just west of there that is forecast on Mon-Tues (11/22). Beyond 72 hours the same overall pattern is to hold with a gentle ridge over the dateline and winds energy tracking through it falling into the Gulf supporting troughiness there. The next trough is forecast late on Wed (11/23) being fed by 150 kts then slowly weakening while falling southeast moving into North CA on Fri (11/25). And another is to be behind that developing on Sat (11/26) with winds again to 150 kts targeting Oregon. What an amazingly prolific pattern.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (11/19) swell from a gale that tracked from the dateline towards California was starting to hit the Golden State (see Gulf Gale below). A series of 4 gales are forecast to stack up behind tracking from the North Dateline region into the Central Gulf and on into the Pacific Northwest.

Over the next 72 hours starting Sat PM (11/19) a small gale is to develop over the Northern Dateline tracking east-southeast with 40-45 kt northwest winds generating a tiny area of 27 ft seas at 47N 178E. On Sun AM (11/20) a broader area of 35-40 kt northwest winds are to push east with seas 24 ft over a modest area at 47N 172W. Fetch is to build more in the evening to 40 kts over a modest area with seas to 26 ft at 48N 167W. Fetch is to fade from 35 kts Mon AM (11/21) with the gale in the Northern Gulf with seas holding at 26 ft at 46N 157W. Fetch rebuilding in coverage in the evening in the Gulf at 35 kts from the northwest with seas 26 ft over a solid area at 47N 150W. On Tues AM (11/22) fetch is to be tracking east at 35 kts from the northwest with seas 27 ft at 46N 143W. Residuals fading from 30-35 kts off Oregon in the evening with 25 ft seas at 46N 140W. Larger raw swell possible for the Pacific Northwest with solid more north angled energy reaching down to Central CA (above 295 degs for SF).

North CA: Rough data suggest swell arrival on Wed PM (11/23) building to 8.4 ft @ 16 secs (13 ft). Swell fading on Thanksgiving day (Thurs 11/24) from 9.8 ft @ 15 secs early (14.5 ft). Swell Direction: 298-301 degrees     

Gulf Gale
On Tues PM (11/15) a small storm started developing just east of the dateline tracking east with 50-55 kt northwest winds targeting Hawaii some. Seas built from 29 ft at 43.5N 171W. On Wed AM (11/16) 45 kt northwest winds continued easing east with seas building to 30 ft over a small area at 42N 166W targeting mainly the US West Coast (290 degs NCal). In the evening winds were fading from 40 kts from the west with seas fading to 28 ft over a small area at 40N 161W (289 degs NCal). Thurs AM (11/17) 35-40 kt west winds were approaching North CA with seas 27 ft at 39N 155W (283 degs NCal). In the evening the gale hold strength while tracking east-southeast with northwest winds to 35 kts and seas 25 ft at 37N 148W (276 degs NCal, 287 degs SCal). More of the same occurred Friday AM (11/18) with 30-35 kt west winds just off Central CA with 23 ft seas at 36N 143W (270 degrees NCal, 284 degs SCal). In the evening some regeneration occurred with 40-45 kt northwest winds developing off the Pacific Northwest targeting California and seas 26 ft at 42N 142W (300 degs SCal). Fetch built more while falling southeast Sat AM (11/19) at 40 kts from the northwest and seas building to 27 ft at 40N 137W 600 nmiles off Cape Mendocino (286 degs NCal, 297 degs SCal). Fetch to fade in the evening with seas collapsing from 22 ft at 38N 135W targeting mainly Central CA. Larger raw swell is expected for North and Central CA with perhaps some larger energy wrapping into exposed breaks in SCal. Something to monitor.

North CA: An early pulse of swell starting hitting on Sat AM (11/19) at up to 6.3 ft @ 17 .3 secs at 7 AM at Pt Reyes (10 ft faces). Expect swell to fade some then start rebuilding at sunset to 6.2 ft @ 15 secs (9 ft) and building from there. Swell to peak Sun AM (11/20) at 11.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (17 ft). Swell fading Mon AM (11/21) from 7.3 ft @ 12 secs (8.5 ft).  Swell Direction: 270-290 degrees focused on 280 degs

South CA:  E
xpect swell arrival on Sun AM (11/20) building to 4.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (6.0 ft) later. Swell peaking overnight then fading Mon AM (11/21) from 4.9 ft @ 14 secs (6.5 ft). Swell fading Tues AM (11/22) from 3.4 ft @ 11-12 secs (3.5-4.0 ft).  Swell Direction: 285-295 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 (11/19) a front associated with a broad gale just off the Oregon Coast was pushing down the Central CA coast with south winds 25 kts mid-morning over San Francisco and expected fading near Pismo Beach at sunset at 20 kts. Rain was pushing south from Pt Reyes early expected to track over San Francisco mid-AM and down to Pismo Beach during the later part of the day stalling there. 1-2 inches of snow expected for higher elevations of Tahoe and points northward through the evening. The low is to slowly dissipate while lifting north along the Washington Coast on Sun (11/20) with light south winds 10 kts early in SF fading as the day continues. Rain continues pushing south to Santa Barbara and point north of there to the Oregon border through the day. 4-5 more inches of snow possible in tahoe and up to 12 inches for higher elevation and pushing down into the Southern Sierras with 6 inches at Mammoth. Monday a light northwest wind flow is forecast (10 kts or less) with more low pressure building in the Northern Gulf.  Rain clearing early and snow fading over the Southern Sierras. No significant additional snow accumulation forecast. Tues (11/22) north winds are forecast at 10 kts or so for the North and Central Coasts but up to 15 kts for Pt Conception with clearing skies. Light rain late for extreme North CA. Wednesday (11/23) a high pressure front is to be pushing down the Central Coast with low pressure trying to nose into the North Coast and Oregon. Rain to migrate from the North Coast to Monterey Bay at sunrise then evaporating thereafter. A little more snow for Tahoe. Thursday (11/24) northwest winds 15 kts early for Pt Conception and a new front is to be pushing into the Cape Mendocino with 25 kt south winds and rain there pushing south to San Francisco late stalling overnight at Big Sur. Friday (11/25) a 10 kt northwest flow is forecast for the North and Central Coast early fading during the day. Rain fading early at the coast but solid snow possible for Tahoe pushing south and fading at Mammoth. Saturday another front moves into North CA with south winds 30 kts early reaching SF mid-day and possibly solid rain right behind it.



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

A tiny gale is to develop off Kamchatka Mon PM (11/21) with 45 kt west winds building seas to 32 ft at 52N 165E targeting mainly the Central Aleutians with sideband energy from Hawaii. Tues AM (11/22) fetch at 45 kts from the west is to ease east with 35 ft seas at 53N 167E aimed like before. It's to track east-northeast in the evening at 35 kts moving over the Western Aleutians with residual 28 ft seas at 52.5N 172E mostly shadowed by the Aleutians. It is to track over the Aleutians on Wed (11/23) getting sheared and obscured by land and loosing identity. Maybe some swell for Hawaii with luck.

Another gale is forecast developing in the Gulf on Wed AM (11/23) with 40-45 kt northwest winds aimed well at the Pacific Northwest and seas building fast to 30 ft up at 49N 148W. Fetch is to hold while falling southeast in the evening with 32 ft seas at 46N 139W, 600 nmiles west of Oregon. Fetch to fade Thurs AM (11/24) from 40 kts off Southern Oregon with seas fading from 30 ft at 44N 138W targeting Cape Mendocino.

Yet another gale, actually a storm, is to start developing on the North Dateline region on Wed PM (11/23) with winds to 50 kts from the west just south of the Central Aleutians. Sea on the increase. By Thurs AM (11/24) 50 kt west winds are to be over and south of the Aleutians with seas 30 ft at 50N 175W. In the evening a solid area of 55 kt west winds are to be building in the Northwestern Gulf just south of the Eastern Aleutians with seas building to 44 ft at 52.5N 165W. On Fri AM (11/25) 45 kt northwest winds are to start falling southeast into the core of the Gulf with 43 ft seas at 51.5N 157W targeting the Pacific Northwest. Fetch is to be fading in the evening from 35-40 kts with 30 kt northwest winds filling the Gulf and impacting the Pacific Northwest. Sea fading from 37 ft at 49N 150W. On Sat AM (11/26) northwest fetch is to be fading from 35 kt well off Oregon with seas 34 ft at 46N 143W. Another solid swell is expected for the PAcific northwest down into Central CA from a more northerly angle.

And yet one more storm is forecast developing just southwest of the Northern Dateline region on Fri AM (11/25) with winds building from 50 kts over a small area lifting northeast in the evening with winds building to 55 kt from the west and seas building from 30 ft over a tiny area at 48N 175E. On Sat AM (11/26) 55 kt west winds to be just south of the Central Aleutians with seas building to 43 ft at 50.5N 179E and building from there. Quite a pattern is projected.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...


SOI Rising Some - PDO Rising Too

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 Saturday (11/18) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific continuing over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south. Anomalies were weak westerly over the equatorial East Pacific and modest easterly confined to the far west KWGA. These easterly anomalies are solely attributable to La Nina and are modulated by the MJO.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Weak east anomalies were modeled over the dateline/East KWGA today and are forecast to build a little over the dateline for the coming week (through 11/26). The first real easterly wind burst from this La Nina started on 9/23 and is to continue holding fro the foreseeable future. We are thinking it will not end anytime soon but rather will just pulse, stronger at times, then weaker, attributable to La Nina, and modulated by the MJO.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 11/18 a weak and fading Active MJO signal was barely over the dateline with the Inactive Phase building moderately over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects the Active signal gone in 5 days while the Inactive Phase of the MJO builds over the far West Pacific moving to the dateline 2 weeks out while weakening. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Inactive Phase of the MJO weakening and not making much eastward progress. 
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (11/19) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak and over Africa. It is forecast to collapse in 48 hours and remain indiscernible for the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.  
40 day Upper Level Model: (11/19) This model depicts the Inactive Phase of the MJO covering the North Pacific tracking over and into Central America on 11/27. A weak Active Phase is to build in the West Pacific on 11/27 tracking east to Central America on 12/19. A weak Inactive Phase to follow in the West Pacific starting 12/14 pushing east tot eh Central Pacific on 12/29.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (11/19) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO signal starting to reach into the KWGA from the west with weak east anomalies in.cgiay. It is to holding through 12/7 with neutral wind anomalies holding in KWGA. A weak Active Phase is forecast to follow 12/8-12/21 with weak west anomalies for the KWGA. An Inactive Phase to follow 12/22-1/8 with stronger east anomalies forecast. 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: (11/19) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 158-160E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 170W 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 a tongue of warmer water at depth reaching east to 150W. This is an upgrade and sort of looks like a Kelvin Wave, but it is not. Neutral to weak negative anomalies are east of there to Ecuador at not more than -1.0 degs. This large cool pocket appears to be warming some. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 11/14 still depicts a pocket of cooler water -2-3 degs below normal in the East Pacific at mainly 140W down 125 meters, but it is warmer and less expansive than months past. 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: (11/18) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a thin cool pool of water along the immediate coast of Peru reaching up to Ecuador. The effects of the Active Phase of the MJO are at least temporarily evident with much warmer water just west of the South American coast. Cool water becomes better defined just west of the Galapagos and continues along the equator continuously out to 120W, but a little weaker than weeks past. Cool water that had a larger footprint west of there out to at least 160W continues looking weaker, and is limited to pockets rather than being continuous, as if La Nina is retreating. La Nina is loosing control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, but is starting to make inroads into the East Pacific.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (11/17): A weak warming trend continues along Peru and strong off Chile. A neutral trend is in control of the entire equatorial Pacific with pockets of warming and cooling waters present as they have been for months along the equator from the Galapagos to 160W but nowhere near as prominent as weeks and months past. Interesting. 
Hi-res Overview:
(11/17) A La Nina cool pool is most present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 120W to 170E mainly in pockets. A thin continuous cool stream extends from the Galapagos to 120W on the equator. La Nina is building in coverage to the east slightly, likely in it's mature phase.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (11/19) Today's temps continued falling at -0.388. We're a week off a warm peak that was up to +0.7 degs on 11/10. 
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (11/19) temps were steady at -0.423. We're moving into a warmer pulse here since 11/5. Temps are oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.3 to -1.0 degs.


Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (11/19) This model suggests La Nina held from July thru Oct 1 in the -0.55 deg range. The forecast has temps slowly warming from here forward with temps at -0.5 in early Dec and -0.4 degs Jan 1 rising steadily from there reaching neutral in March 2017 and up to +0.2 degs late April and holding in July. This is very interesting with the model holding the strength of La Nina at minimal ' La Nina' territory and then returning to neutral next summer.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Nov Plume depicts temps have reached their peak minimum at -0.6. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to -0.4 in Jan 2017 and neutral in April, starting to turn weakly positive after that to +0.1 in June. This is consistent with last months forecast 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 (11/19): The daily index is rising some after nose diving a few days ago, up to +3.88 today (but down to -27.55 on 11/16). It was well negative for most of October, then turned weakly positive for most of Nov other than the past week. The 30 day average was steady at -5.28. 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 in early Nov. The 90 day average falling slightly +4.09. La Nina is trying to hang on, but not strongly.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (11/19) Today's value was steady at  -1.35. 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, moving in a better direction.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker lately (as expected with La Nina setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Oct) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.42, +0.76, +0.12 then falling to -0.90, -1.09 and -0.88 in Oct.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Oct) are: +1.53, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03, +1.25 +0.52, +0.45 and +0.56 in Oct.
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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