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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:36 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
2.5 - California & 2.5 - 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 12/5 thru Sun 12/11

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   

W. Pacific Swell Hitting CA
Weak Storm Pattern Setting Up

On Saturday, December 3, 2016 :

  • Buoy 202 (Hanalei): Seas were 9.6 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 5.8 ft @ 13.3 secs from 297 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 11.4 secs with swell 2.5 ft @ 10.2 secs from 268 degrees. Wind northwest 12-16 kts. Water temperature 59.9 degs. At Ventura swell was 1.7 ft @ 10.0 secs from 273 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.1 ft @ 14.6 secs from 208 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.3 ft @ 15.0 secs from 208 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 1.8 ft @ 21.1 secs from 261 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 12.1 ft @ 20.0 secs with swell 7.5 ft @ 19.3 secs from 299 degrees. Wind northwest 20-23 kts at the buoy. Water temp 55.9 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 (12/3) in North and Central CA swell the originated from across the dateline was hitting with waves about 8-10 ft on the face at exposed breaks and pretty torn up by northwest wind and chop. At Santa Cruz some this swell was wrapping in producing waves in the head high range.cgius on sets with light winds and clean conditions. In Southern California up north surf was waist high and blown out by northwest winds. Down in North Orange Co set waves were waist high or so and clean but rare and weak. In San Diego surf was waist to chest high and pretty blown out later. Hawaii's North Shore was getting dateline swell with waves up to 10 ft on the face at top breaks and clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves head high to 1 ft overhead 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 storm that tracked east from the Kuril Islands Mon-Wed (11/30) over the dateline with seas to 43 ft aimed east was fading in Hawaii and still coming up in California. Remnants of this system redeveloped in the extreme North Gulf late Thurs (12/1) with seas rebuilding to 40 ft. And a small system was developing off the North Kurils on Sat-Sun (12/4) with seas briefly to 32 ft but fading as it tracks to the dateline. After that, the storm track is to evaporate.

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

North Pacific

On Saturday AM (12/3) the jetstream was falling apart. It was .cgiit over Japan the consolidating briefly 1/2 way to the dateline building to 130 kts forming a trough just off the Northern Kurils, then .cgiitting heavily just east of the dateline only to reconsolidate again in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska building to 150 kts while ridging up into British Columbia and moving onshore. One the Kuril Island trough was providing any support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to fade as it pushes to the dateline late Sun (12/4). And beyond the .cgiit on the dateline is to grow into Tues (12/6) filling the core of the North Pacific cutting the legs off any support for gale development. The northern branch of the jet is to be tracking hard north pushing well north of the Bering Sea while the southern branch falls south down to 15N. Residual energy from the northern branch is to join weak energy from the southern branch in the Eastern Gulf moving onshore over North CA offering nothing in terms of support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the .cgiit is to hold while easing slowly east now repositioned over the Western Gulf on Fri (12/9) but with consolidated energy in the Eastern Gulf at 130 kts perhaps forming a trough in the Northern Gulf offering some support for gale development for 24 hours, then moving onshore on Sat (12/10). At the 180 hr mark the .cgiit is to still be in control at 170W but a pocket of 170 kts winds is to be building just off Japan pushing northeast. No support for gale development is indicated from it, but maybe beyond there's some hope. Still, the Inactive Phase of the MJO appears to remain problematic and is to continue for a bit longer.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (12/3) swell from a storm that developed in the far West Pacific tracking east is past it's prime in Hawaii and about peaking in California (see West Pacific Storm below). Swell from a gale that developed in the North Gulf Thursday (12/1) was pushing towards Oregon and North CA (see North Gulf Gale below). And another gale was developing in the extreme Northeast Gulf. Also a gale was developing off the Kuril Islands.

Over the next 72 hours a final gale was starting to develop over the Kuril Islands on Fri (12/2) with limited 35-40 kt west fetch pushing over the open Northwest Pacific with 25 ft seas at 46N 156E in the evening. By Sat AM (12/3) 40 kt west fetch was finally becoming exposed over a small area off the Northern Kurils with seas 32 ft at 48N 158E. In the evening 30-35 kt west fetch is to be tracking northeast with 28 ft seas at 48N 166E targeting Hawaii obliquely. Fetch is to fade out Sun AM (12/4) with seas from previous fetch fading from 23 ft at 48N 173E. Limited swell possible for Hawaii.

Hawaii: Possible swell to arrive on Wed (12/7) building to 3.2 ft @ 15 secs late (4.5-5.0 ft). Residuals fading on Thurs AM (12/8) from 2.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 315 degrees

Also a small gale was developing in the extreme North Gulf on Sat AM (12/3) producing 40-45 kt northwest winds over a small area with seas 26 ft at 54N 142W (326 degs NCal and outside the swell window). Fetch is to fade in the evening from 40 kts with seas 22 ft over a small area at 54N 140W targeting mainly Vancouver Island northward (328 degs NCal and east of the swell window). On Sun AM (12/4) 35 kt northwest fetch is to be holding with seas 20 ft at 52N 142W (319 degs NCal and barely unshadowed). It is to fall southeast in the evening with fetch 30 kts from the northwest and seas fading from 18-20 ft at 52N 140W (323 degs and still barely shadowed). This system is to be gone after that. This system is to be mainly a swell producer for the Pacific Northwest and points north of there.


West Pacific Storm
A new system started 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 were blowing with 35 ft seas building at 45N 164E targeting Hawaii decently (316 degs HI, 303 degs NCal). Fetch faded in coverage some Tues AM (11/29) at 45-50 kts with seas building to 43 ft at 45N 171E aimed east and targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast (319 degs HI, 301 degs NCal). In the evening fetch was fading from 40 kts from the west on the dateline with seas fading from 40 ft at 45N 178E (315 degs HI, 300 degs NCal). On Wed AM (11/30) residual fetch from the gale was holding at 35-40 kts from the west with seas dropping from barely 34 ft at 46.5N 174W (333 degs HI, 300 degs NCal). This system is to be gone by the evening with winds fading from 35 kts and seas fading from 29 ft at 51N 165W. A decent pulse of swell should result for Hawaii with small and decayed energy from the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Residual energy dropping off Sun AM (12/4) from 4.5 ft @ 12 secs (5.0-5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 316-319 degrees.

North CA: Swell is to hit starting Sat (12/3) at 5 Am with period 20 secs and size small but building, starting to peak near sunset reaching 7.5 ft @ 18 secs (13.5 ft) but well shadowed in the San Francisco Bay area. Swell to hold overnight into Sun sunrise (12/4) with swell still 7.5 ft @ 15 secs (11 ft) and still shadowed, and being overridden by more local swell from the Northern Gulf (see north Gulf swell below). Swell Direction: 300-305 degrees focused on 302 degrees


North Gulf Gale
Remnants of the West Pacific Gale (above) started redeveloping in the Northern Gulf on Thurs AM (12/1) with northwest winds building from 40 kts and starting to get traction on the oceans surface with seas building from 24 ft at 44N 163W. In the evening those winds rapidly developed building to 55 kts from the west while tracking northeast with seas building to 34 ft at 50N 149.5W (311 degs NCal). On Fri AM (12/2) 50 kt west winds were poised on the North Canada coast with 40 ft seas at 53.5N 140W and well outside the NCal swell window targeting only Oregon northward.

North CA: Swell arrival expected late Saturday afternoon (12/3) peaking at 11 PM at 11 ft @ 17 secs (19 ft) but well shadowed in the SF Bay Area. Residuals fading Sun sunrise (12/4) from 9 ft @ 15 secs (13 ft) and still well shadowed. Swell Direction: 301-315+ 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 (12/3) a pressure gradient driven by high pressure trying to ridge into the Pacific Northwest is to fade some but still north winds at 20 kts are to be over outer waters (but nearshore the coast of Cape Mendocino) of North and Central CA with a lighter wind pattern nearshore at 10 kts. On Sunday (12/4) high pressure is to hold with the same result and strengthening Monday with northwest winds 20- 25 kts from Pt Conception northward continuing at 20 kts on Tuesday (12/6). Water temps to be.cgiummeting caused by the north wind and resulting upwelling. Finally on Wed (12/7) low pressure is to build off North CA lifting northeast di.cgiacing the high with a light wind flow taking root and a front from the low moving into extreme North CA in the evening with south winds 25+ kts late. Rain moving south to Pt Arena late. Thursday (12/8) the front is to stall over San Francisco with southwest winds 15 kts from there northward. Rain moving south to Big Sur late afternoon with light snow for Tahoe. A light flow is expected for the remainder of Central CA. Generally light winds are forecast for North and Central CA on Friday into Sat (12/10) with another cutoff low building well off California. Modest rain to develop for the Central and North coasts late Friday with steady snow for Tahoe through the day clearing Saturday.


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

Another weak gale is forecast developing just off the Pacific Northwest on Wed-Thurs (12/8) producing 35 kt northwest winds and 18-20 ft seas, but moving inland and out of the CA swell window quickly. Low odds of anything resulting.

Nothing else of interest is forecast. Sure looks like a quiet pattern is to be setting up driven mainly by a .cgiit jetstream flow aloft and the Inactive Phase of the MJO.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

Inactive MJO Maybe Giving Up Some Ground

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 (12/2) 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): Modest east anomalies were modeled over the far West KWGA and west anomalies were over the dateline/East KWGA today. The forecast suggests this pattern fading 2 days out with mostly neutral anomalies in control of the KWGA into 12/10. 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 12/2 a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the far West Pacific. The statistic model projects it gone 5 days from now with a weak Active Phase of the MJO moving from the Indian Ocean east to the far West Pacific 15 days out. The dynamic model depicts the Inactive Phase of the MJO in the West Pacific easing east over the next 2 weeks reaching the dateline and fading some. So the two models are contradicting each other.  
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/3) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak and indiscernible and is to make no change over the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing initially but forecast to build some into the East Indian Ocean.  
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/3) This model depicts a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO tracking over the dateline and fading while moving into Central America on 12/20. A neutral to very weak Active pattern to follow in the West Pacific on 12/13 moving east into Central America on 1/7. And another weak Inactive Phase is to develop behind that in the West Pacific on 12/28 tracking east to the dateline into 1/12. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (12/1) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO signal over the KWGA with modest east anomalies developing. It and the east wind is to hold through 12/25. Supposedly the Active Phase of the MJO is to develop and move into the west KWGA starting 12/25 with neutral to weak west anomalies developing and holding into 1/28. A neutral pattern and no MJO signal to follow into late Feb. 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 bias towards the 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: (12/3) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 160E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 176W 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 in.cgiay. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies at +1-2 degs rule from the West Pacific to 170W.  Neutral to weak negative anomalies are east of there to Ecuador at no more than -1.0 degs, and static at depth. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 11/29 depicts this pocket of of cooler water -1-2 degs below normal in the East Pacific. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so and weakening.
Sea Level Anomalies: (11/29) Negative anomalies at -5.0 cm (but no stronger) rule the equatorial Pacific from Ecuador to the dateline and 5 degs north and south. This is an upgrade from months past where anomalies were up to -10 cm and suggest La Nina is loosing it's grip at depth.

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: (12/3) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a thin cool pool of water along the immediate coast of Peru building up along Ecuador and expanding in coverage dramatically. An invigorated cool stream then develops from the Galapagos west continuously along the equator out to 120W with temps dropping to -1.75 degs in pockets. A weaker and less cool footprint is present west of there out to 155W. La Nina is loosing some control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, but is starting to make inroads into the East Pacific. La Nina is moving into it's mature phase.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/2): A warming trend is fading along Chile and Peru. A strong cooling trend is holding from Ecuador to the Galapagos, and then in pockets out to 120W. 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 140W and then fading out beyond. The pattern in the Central Pacific is nowhere near as prominent as weeks and months past but it is building and pronounced in the East.  
Hi-res Overview:
(12/2) A La Nina cool pool is present over the equator from the Galapagos west to 170E a bit broader south of Hawaii but pretty prominent now in the East Pacific too. La Nina is building in coverage to the east, likely in it's mature phase.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/3) Today's temps are falling slightly moving negative to -0.021. We're 7 days coming off a warm peak.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (12/3) temps were rising rapidly at +0.018. 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 (12/3) This model suggests La Nina held from July thru Oct 1 in the -0.55 deg range rising to -0.5 on Nov1. The forecast has temps slowly warming from here forward with temps at -0.35 in early Dec and -0.3 degs Jan 1 rising slowly from there to -0.2 degs in March 2017 and turning neutral in June. This is a weak downgrade from previous runs but still indicates the peak of La Nina is over and returning to normal 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 (12/3): The daily index is falling some at -7.06 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 falling at -1.35. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is in control now driving the SOI upwards. The 90 day average falling slightly +2.49. La Nina is trying to hang on, but not strongly.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (12/3) Today's value was rising slightly at  -0.86. 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, with it moving steadily upwards (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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