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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2016 1:34 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 To Be Somewhat Active
A Weak Gale Forecast for East Gulf Too

On Thursday, December 8, 2016 :

  • Buoy 202 (Hanalei): Seas were 5.5 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 3.2 ft @ 13.3 secs from 319 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.2 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 13.8 secs from 213 degrees. Wind northeast 8-10 kts. Water temperature 59.9 degs. At Ventura swell was 0.9 ft @ 10.2 secs from 267 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.1 ft @ 16.0 secs from 225 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 0.9 ft @ 16.0 secs from 223 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 1.6 ft @ 15.8 secs from 225 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 8.5 ft @ 7.7 secs with swell 7.0 ft @ 7.8 secs from 193 degrees. Wind southeast 12-18 kts at the buoy. Water temp 54.9 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 Thursday (12/8) in North and Central CA locally generated south windswell was producing waves in the head high range and blown out from south winds except at protected breaks. At Santa Cruz the same windswell was producing waves to head high on sets and chopped and blown out. In Southern California up north surf was flat and clean. Down in North Orange Co set waves were maybe waist high and clean. It looks like a flat day in summer. In San Diego surf was thigh high and clean with no wind blowing. Hawaii's North Shore was getting limited small swell from the Kuril Islands with waves at chest high on the sets at top breaks and clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting the same swell with waves chest high and textured from light southeast winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
Residual swell from a gale that developed off the North Kuril's on Sat-Sun (12/4) with seas briefly to 32 ft was fading in Hawaii. An even weaker system developed over the Northern Kuril's on Wed (12/7) with 30 ft seas aimed east. And maybe another is forecast on Fri (12/9) with 32 ft seas just west of the dateline. All of these favor Hawaii. One small system is forecast off the Pacific Northwest on Fri (12/9) with 26 ft seas aimed east with sideband swell possible for Central CA northward. But otherwise a slack storm pattern is forecast over the balance of the North Pacific. There's some suggestions of a broad pattern trying to develop over the far West Pacific, but seas are never to exceed 22 ft, meaning no real swell is to result. The Inactive Phase of the MJO a.cgiified by La Nina continues to extract its toll.

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

North Pacific

On Thursday AM (12/8) the jetstream remained consolidated over and just east of Japan with winds to 170 kts in one pocket trying to form a trough landlocked over the Kuril Islands, but quickly .cgiit half way to the dateline. The northern branch tracked well north of the Bering Sea with the southern branch falling south down to 10N, forming a large hole near the dateline (170E-155W) with virtually no jetstream level winds present there. From there the two streams began to merge in the Central Gulf with winds to 110 kts tracking east and pushing inland over Oregon. In all there was no real support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours generally more of the same is forecast with winds holding at 170 kts off Japan but making a little eastward progress with the dead air pocket point moving to about 150-170W on Sun (12/11) with winds on the east side of the .cgiit up to 140 kts pushing into North CA. There was a bit of a trough over the Kuril Island still offering some weak support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the .cgiit is to get reinvigorated on Tues (12/13) with the northern branch separating from the main flow on the dateline again driving well north of the Bering Sea with the main flow dipping over Hawaii then rebounding and pushing into North CA. Some variant of this pattern is to hold into Thurs (12/15). In all no support for gale development is forecast other than limited to the far Northwest Pacific. The Inactive Phase of the MJO appears to remain problematic and is to continue to steal energy from the jet causing the .cgiit pattern for a bit longer.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (12/8) residual swell from a gale that developed in the far West Pacific fading in Hawaii. A smaller swell from another gale over the Kuril Islands was tracking towards Hawaii (see Small Kuril Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours starting Thurs AM (12/8) another gale is to try and organize just off North Japan with a small area of 40 kt north winds developing. In the evening the gale is to be lifting northeast while building with a tiny area of 55 kt northwest winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface with seas building to 26 ft over a tiny area at 42N 163E. On Fri AM (12/9) 45 kt northwest winds to continue lifting northeast and fading with 32 ft seas at 43N 169E. Fetch is to fade from 35 kts in the evening with seas fading from 27 ft over a small area at 45N 173E. This system is to dissipate thereafter. Limited swell for Hawaii is possible.

Also on Thurs AM (12/8) a small fetch of 35 kt northwest winds was developing 700 nmiles west of Oregon. In the evening that fetch is to hold and build coverage targeting mainly Oregon with 30 kt west winds reaching south to the Oregon-CA border with 24 ft seas building at 47.5N 139W. On Fri AM (12/9) 35-40 kt northwest winds to fall southeast some with 26 ft seas at 47N 135W. In the evening 35 kt west winds are to be poised just off Washington with 23 ft seas at 46N 133W targeting Oregon and Washington. This system is to move inland after that. Small swell is possible for North CA.

North CA: Rough data suggests swell arrival on Sat (12/10) with swell building to 5 ft @ 12-13 secs (6.5 ft) in the afternoon. Swell fading Sunday (12/11) from 5.5 ft @ 11-12 secs early (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 311-316 degrees and shadowed in the SF Bay area.


Small Kuril Gale
Another gale started developing over the Kuril Islands on Tues PM (12/6) producing 40 kt northwest winds but mostly encased west of the Islands getting only limited traction east of the island chain. On Wed AM (12/7) 45-50 kt west winds were starting to pulling east of the North Kuril Islands lifting northeast with seas building to 29 ft at 49N 158E. In the evening the fetch raced north and dissipated with seas fading from 30 ft tracking northeast at 54N 163E. Very limited swell is possible targeting Hawaii.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival late afternoon on Sun (12/11) building to 1.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0 ft). Swell fading Mon AM (12/12) from 1.9 ft @ 13 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 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 Thursday AM (12/8) low pressure was off the Oregon coast with the front reaching south to Big Sur and south winds 15 kts from there northward. Rain was indicated from Pt Conception northward and is to continue through sunset. 3-4 inches of snow fell at Tahoe overnight but that is to be turning to rain through the day. On Fri (12/9) winds to turn from 10 kts out of the southwest to northwest for Central and North CA. Light rain expected from Pt Conception northward but slightly heavier for North CA. Snow redeveloping at 9 PM for Tahoe with 2-4 inches of accumulation overnight possible. Generally light winds are forecast for North and Central CA on Sat (12/10) but southwest at 15 for San Francisco and Monterey Bay with rain building from North CA down to Morro Bay through the day. Heavy snow for Tahoe through the day and into the evening with 16-20 inches of accumulation possible. Sunday light winds are forecast everywhere. Precipitation fading and limited to San Francisco to Big Sur. Snow fading at sunrise for Tahoe. Monday high pressure is to be off Southern CA with north winds building to 15 kts for the entire coast by early afternoon. Light rain possible for extreme North CA. Tuesday more of the same is forecast with north winds 15 kts for North and Central CA. A light flow to set up for Wed (12/14) and then a new low and front are to push into North CA on Thurs AM (12/15) with south winds 20+ kts from Pt Conception northward. Heavy rain for the same area.


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 gale is forecast developing just off the Southern Kuril Islands on Mon AM (12/12) producing 35 kt northwest winds over a broader area with seas building to 23 ft at 42N 156E. 30-35 kt northwest winds to track east in the evening with seas still 23 ft at 41N 162E. Fetch is to fade from 25 kts Tues AM (12/13) with seas fading from 20 ft at 40N 170E. Small swell possible for Hawaii.

Also a cutoff low is to develop 900 nmiles north of Hawaii on Mon (12/12) producing 35 kt east-northeast winds somewhat targeting the Islands with seas building to 23 ft at 36N 153W. Fetch is to hold into Tues AM (12/13) at 35 kts aimed a little more from the northeast with seas fading from 20 ft at 35N 156W. Low odds of sideband windswell resulting for Kauai. .

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

Inactive Phase of MJO Holding

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 gone. La Nina has developing but generally weak.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wednesday (12/7) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weak over 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 weak westerly over the dateline and modest 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 dateline and neutral in the KWGA. The forecast suggests a continuation of this pattern for the next week but with east anomalies on the dateline also fading to neutral. The first real easterly wind burst from this La Nina started on 9/23 and is to continue holding for the foreseeable future, though it does looks to be weakening some. Still, to be conservative 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 12/7 a weak Inactive MJO signal was over the West Pacific. The statistic model projects it migrating east and fading and all but gone south of Hawaii 15 days from now. The dynamic model depicts much the same but with a weak Active signal developing on the dateline 10 days out. The two models contradict each other some.  
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/8) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak and indiscernible and is to slowly build and becoming exposed in the West Pacific 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing initially but the Active Phase is to remain weak and indiscernible.
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/8) This model depicts a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO tracking from a point south of Hawaii moving into Central America on 12/20. A weak Active pattern to follow in the West Pacific on 12/11 moving east into Central America while weakening on 1/7. A stronger Inactive Phase is to develop behind that in the West Pacific on 12/28 tracking east to the Central Pacific 1/17. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (12/8) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO signal over the KWGA with weak east anomalies in control. It and the east wind is to move east and be gone by 12/23. A neutral pattern is to follow with weak east anomalies in control until supposedly the Active Phase of the MJO develops and moves into the west KWGA starting 1/25. Still not real west anomalies seem likely. 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: (12/8) 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 174W 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 12/4 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: (12/4) Negative anomalies at -5.0 cm with a few small pockets to -10 cm 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: (12/7) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a thin cool pool of water along the immediate coast of Peru is fading some with warm water starting to develop along the coast of Ecuador. A cool bubble that reached up to Costa Rica and out to the Galapagos is retreating with warmer pockets developing in it. The previously invigorated cool stream that developed from the Galapagos west continuously along the equator out to 120W was retreating with warmer temps pushing in from the north and south. A weaker and less cool footprint remains west of there out to 155W and appears to be fading. La Nina is loosing some control of surface waters of the Central Pacific and now also the East Pacific. La Nina is moving into it's mature phase.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/7): A warming trend continues along Chile and Peru and is reaching up to Ecuador. Warming holds the balance in pockets out to 120W. West of there a neutral trend was exhibited with pockets of warming and cooling waters present but much weaker than in months past. The cool pattern in the Central Pacific is nowhere near as prominent as weeks and months previous and is weakening some in the East.  
Hi-res Overview:
(12/6) A La Nina cool pool is present over the equator from the Galapagos west to 170E and a bit broader south of Hawaii but pretty prominent now in the East Pacific too. La Nina is holding coverage to the east but loosing coverage in the west, likely in it's mature phase.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/8) Today's temps are building to +0.286.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (12/8) temps were falling at -0.214 coming off a recent peak. 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 (12/8) This model suggests La Nina held from July thru Nov 1 in the -0.55 deg range rising to -0.5 on Nov 1. The forecast has temps slowly warming from here forward with temps at -0.25 in early Dec and Jan holding steady till May, then slowly rising from there to neutral in July. This indicates the peak of La Nina is over and a return to normal temps is expected in the 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 (12/8): The daily index was rising some at 7.58 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 before returning to neutral. The 30 day average was rising slightly at -1.12. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is in control now driving the SOI upwards. The 90 day average was steady at +2.47. La Nina is trying to hang on, but not strongly.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (12/8) Today's value was falling some at  -1.02. 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 generally 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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