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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Sunday, November 27, 2016 11:05 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
3.0 - California & 3.0 - 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 11/28 thru Sun 12/4

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   

North Gulf Gale Developing
Stronger West Pacific Storm to Forecast

On Sunday, November 27, 2016 :

  • Buoy 187 (Pauwela): Seas were 11.8 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 8.8 ft @ 9.1 secs from 84 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 6.7 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 3.7 ft @ 9.9 secs from 266 degrees. Wind west 21-25 kts. Water temperature 63.7 degs. At Ventura swell was 4.0 ft @ 12.5 secs. At Santa Monica swell was 3.4 ft @ 9.1 secs from 261 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 3.1 ft @ 6.3 secs from 241 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 3.6 ft @ 13.0 secs from 277 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 14.3 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 9.9 ft @ 11.8 secs from 301 degrees. Wind northwest 14-18 kts at the buoy. Water temp 57.2 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 Sunday (11/21) in North and Central CA Gulf swell was fading with waves about 8-10 ft on the face and blown out with northwest winds producing whitecaps and lump. It was basically unrideable. At Santa Cruz the same swell was wrapping in producing surf at head high or so and clean but still a bit lumpy and raw. In Southern California up north surf was shoulder to head high but chopped from west wind and not really rideable. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were almost head high and clean and rideable a select breaks. Hawaii's North Shore was small with northeast windswell producing waves at chest high or so and clean at top spots. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves 1-2 ft overhead high and chopped from east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
Residual swell from a series of local gales that moved through the Eastern Gulf was still hitting California, but well past it's prime. A new gale was developing in the Northern Gulf on Sun -Mon (11/27) with seas to 38 ft targeting mainly North Canada. But on Mon-Wed (11/30) a new storm is forecast developing just west of the dateline with seas building to 45 ft aimed east, but not making it any further than the Western Gulf. Another smaller system is to follow off the Kurils on Sat-Sun (12/4) with seas to 33 ft and fading before reaching the dateline. It appears the pattern is shifting west, at least for the time being.

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

North Pacific

On Sunday AM (11/27) the jetstream was tracking east off Northern Japan with winds to 190 kts in one pocket starting to form a weak trough off Southern Kamchatka then fading while pushing over the dateline, only to redevelop with winds again to 190 kts over the extreme Northwestern Gulf fading some while pushing up to Vancouver Island at 140 kts and then falling down the coast reaching Pt Arena before moving inland. There was support for gale development off Kamchatka and also in the Northern Gulf. Over the next 72 hours the jet is to .cgiit over the Western Gulf with the trough in the Northern Gulf turning into a strong ridge by Mon AM (11/28) pushing along the Alaskan coast and then down the Canadian coast and inland over the US no longer offering support for gale development. But off Japan the trough there is to build being fed by 180 kts winds offering good support for gale development. It is to track east while slowly moderating into Wed (11/30) positioned over the dateline then with winds down to 150 kts but still offering some support for gale development. The .cgiit flow east of there is to weaken and move east isolated mainly off the immediate US West Coast. Beyond 72 hours the Japan trough now over the dateline is to weaken more and be gone by Fri (12/2) but with another pocket of 180 kts winds developing off North Japan starting to form another trough pushing east and weakening into late Sat (12/4) almost reaching the north dateline region. To the east another .cgiit in the jet is to develop just northeast of Hawaii with the northern branch ridging through the Northern Gulf pushing into Vancouver Island not offering any support for gale development. At that time the big picture indicates the jet is to to start .cgiitting over Japan with the northern branch tracking north of the Bering Sea with the southern branch tracking east from Japan to a point over the Northwestern Gulf, with the two stream joining there and pushing into the the Pacific Northwest. Winds over the entirety of the Pacific to not exceed 100 kts, meaning there is to be little support for gale development a week from now. It looks like the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to start having the usual effect.

Surface Analysis
On Sunday (11/27) residual raw swell from a series of local gales that developed and tracked through the Eastern Gulf of Alaska was fading in California. A new gale was tracking through the Northern Gulf of Alaska (see North Gulf Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours and of more interest is to be a system developing over the Southern Kuril Islands on Mon AM (11/28) with west winds building from 40-45 kts and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By evening 50 kt west winds are to be blowing with 36 ft seas building at 45N 163E targeting Hawaii decently (316 degs HI, 303 degs NCal). Fetch is to build some Tues AM (11/29) at 50-55 kts with seas building to 46 ft at 45N 170E aimed east and targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast (319 degs HI, 301 degs NCal). In the evening fetch is to be fading from 45 kt from the west with seas fading from 44 ft at 45N 177E (315 degs HI, 300 degs NCal). On Wed AM (11/30) residuals fetch from the gale is to be fading from 35-40 kts from the west with seas dropping from 37 ft at 46.5N 176W (335 degs HI, 301 degs NCal). This system is to be gone after that. If all goes as forecast a decent pulse of swell could result for Hawaii with small and decayed energy from the US West Coast. Something to monitor.


North Gulf Gale
A new gale started to develop in the Northwestern Gulf on Sat AM (11/26) with 40 kt west winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface with seas building from 25 ft at 50N 170.5W aimed east. By evening 45 kt west winds were on the increase tracking east with seas building to 32 ft at 53.5N 161W (131 degs NCal). On Sun AM (11/27) a solid fetch of 45 kt west winds were over the North Gulf aimed at Vancouver Island northward with 38 ft seas tracking east from 53.5N 151W (318 degs NCal). Fetch is to fade from 40 kts from the northwest in the evening just off Central Canada with seas fading from 35 ft at 52.5N 141W and outside the North CA swell window. The gale is to be moving inland over Central Canada Mon AM (11/28) with seas fading from 28 ft at 52N 134W and effectively gone. Large raw swell is possible for Canada with decent sideband swell pushing into the Pacific Northwest and smaller north angled sideband swell for North CA.

North CA: Expect swell arrival near noon on Tues (11/29) with period 17+ secs and size building fast. Swell peaking at sunset at 8.0 ft @ 16 secs (12.8 ft) but well shadowed in the San Francisco Bay area. Swell fading Wed AM (11/30) from 6.4 ft @ 14 secs (9.0 ft) and still shadowed. Swell Direction: 313-318 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 Sunday (11/27) high pressure is to be trying to get a toe in the door relative to Southern CA but with with generally lower pressure from San Francisco northward setting up northwest winds at 15-20 kts from much of the state but starting to fade later in the day. Clearing skies forecast. Snow from the previous days front resulted in accumulations of 15-18 inches at better Tahoe resorts. Monday (11/28) high pressure is to take hold with northwest winds 20-25 kts down the coast to Pt Conception with light scattered rain moving south from North CA to to Pt Conception by late AM. 2-4 inches of new snow possible for Tahoe during the morning. Tuesday high pressure and north winds to still be in control at 20+ kts early from Pt Conception northward, fading some late. Wednesday generally light winds are forecast early, but another pulse of high pressure and north winds are to take control later at 20+ kts from Pt Conception northward. Maybe light rain is to precede that high reaching south to Monterey bay late afternoon. Thursday the high is to try and start ridging into the Pacific Northwest with a summer like gradient setting up over Cape Mendocino at 25-30 kts with 20 kt north winds down to Pt Conception. More of the same on Friday but with winds weakening to 15 kts later. Finally Saturday a lighter winds pattern is to take hold with north winds 10 kt or less holding into Sunday (12/4). But water temps should have.cgiummeted by then with upwelling from north winds the cause.


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

And another gale is forecast developing over the Kuril Islands on on Fri (12/2) with perhaps limited 30-35 kt west fetch pushing over the open Northwest Pacific Sat (12/3) with seas in the 25-28 ft range. Something to monitor.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...


Weak Inactive MJO Trying to Get Established

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 (11/26) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south. Anomalies were weak over the equatorial East Pacific but moderate easterly over the KWGA. These easterly anomalies are attributable to La Nina and are modulated by the MJO.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Solid east anomalies were modeled over the dateline/East KWGA today and are forecast to slowly fade limited to the dateline for the coming week (through 12/4). The first real easterly wind burst from this La Nina started on 9/23 and is to continue holding for 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 11/26 a modest Inactive Phase of the MJO was tracking over the dateline/KWGA. The Statistic model projects it slowly fading there over the next 8 days while the Active Phase of the MJO moves from the Indian Ocean east to the far West Pacific 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Active Phase of the MJO not moving east, but instead fading in the Indian Ocean.  
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (11/27) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak over the Indian Ocean. It is forecast to collapse in 24 hours there and remain indiscernible for the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.  
40 day Upper Level Model: (11/27) This model depicts a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO tracking over the Central East Pacific moving into Central America on 12/12. A weak Active Phase is to build in the West Pacific on 12/2 tracking east to Central America on 1/1. A weak Inactive Phase to follow in the West Pacific starting 12/22 pushing east to the Central Pacific on 1/6. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (11/27) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO signal over the KWGA with weak east anomalies in.cgiay. It is to holding through 12/20 with east anomalies fading out by 12/5 and then mostly neutral wind anomalies in core of the KWGA. Weak west anomalies are to develop 12/8 holding through 1/1/17. But the MJO is to remain neutral through at least 1/22. After that a weak Inactive Phase is to set up with weak east anomalies into early Feb in the KWGA. Overall the MJO signal is projected to be very weak and this pattern is to hold as we move deeper into Winter. 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: (11/27) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 161E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 177W 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 175E with a previous tongue of warmer water at depth retreating to 155W.  Neutral to weak negative anomalies are east of there to Ecuador at no more than -1.0 degs, and continue to slowly warm at depth. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 11/19 still depicts a broad pocket of cooler water -1-2 degs below normal in the East Pacific at 100 meters down and above, less expansive than months past. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so and weakening.

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: (11/26) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a thin cool pool of water along the immediate coast of Peru reaching up to Ecuador. A thin cool stream of water extends continuously from the Galapagos west along the equator out to 120W, then develops a slightly larger footprint west of there out to at least 160W. La Nina is loosing control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, but is starting to make some inroads into the East Pacific.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (11/25): A weak warming trend continues along Chile and is very warm from Ecuador to the Galapagos. West of there a neutral trend was exhibited 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:
(11/25) 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 and continues to build over recent weeks. La Nina is building in coverage to the east, likely in it's mature phase.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (11/27) Today's temps are rising up to +0.376. We're 6 days into a build warm pulse. 
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (11/27) temps were falling slightly at -0.786. We're pretty much steady and have been 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 (11/27) 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 -0.45 in early Dec and -0.3 degs Jan 1 rising steadily from there reaching neutral in March 2017 and up to +0.2 degs in June 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 (11/27): The daily index is rising some up to +8.08 today. It was well negative for most of October, then turned weakly positive for most of Nov other than a deep negative dive near 11/17. The 30 day average was rising at -1.61. 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 +3.47. La Nina is trying to hang on, but not strongly.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (11/27) Today's value was rising slightly at  -1.06. 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 and suggesting La Nina is fading.
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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