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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: December 20, 2005 8:18 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
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Swell Potential Rating = 5.0 - California & 5.0 - 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 12/12 thru Sun 12/18
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 Utility swell
2 = Good probability for  1-2 days of Utility swell
1 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Impulse or Windswell
0 = Low probability for 1-2 days of Impulse or Windswell   

Swell #5 On the Way to CA
Storms #6 & 7 Right Behind


On Tuesday (12/20) Northern CA surf was double to tr.cgie overhead and still awash in south wind. South facing breaks were 2-3 ft overhead and a bit lumpy. Central California surf was 3-5 ft overhead and not too hacked up. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were up to head high to 2 ft overhead though most were chest to head high. The LA area southward to Orange County was chest to head high with best breaks 1 ft overhead. Southward from Orange County into San Diego waves were 1-2 ft overhead at the better breaks. The North Shore of Oahu was double to tr.cgie overhead and blown out. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was head high.

Conditions continued bad in North California and gradually improved as one went south, with well rideable surf into Southern California. Hawaii had much size too but with onshore conditions. Diminishing size but improving conditions expected in the Islands over the next 2 days while surf jumps up in a California along with bad winds everywhere except protected spots in Southern California. Beyond that the swell machine is to remain in high gear with a least two solid systems on the charts in the next 5 days with possibly another behind that. And on of these is modeled to be in the extra-large category presently with 65 kt winds and 53 ft seas forecast as it pushes over the dateline this weekend. Will see what actually develops, but the trend is impressive. See details below...


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

North Pacific

Tuesdays (12/20) jetstream continued in the 'most solid' category with 190 kt winds tracking off Japan ridging slightly at the dateline then dipping south north of Hawaii .cgiitting midway between the Islands and California with most energy pushing up into Alaska and a little pushing south of Baja. This pattern looks supportive of storm development from Japan the whole way to a point north of Hawaii. Over the next 72 hours the ridge over the dateline is to build through late Thursday (12/22) while the trough (dip) north of Hawaii a.cgiifies with up to 220 kt winds feeding into it then lifting north pushing into the Pacific Northwest. The trough is to pinch off Saturday AM (12/24) with the jet to the west settling down just slightly. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to start re-energizing early next week with another batch of 200 kt winds building off Japan pushing east. Looks like another pulse surface level storm energy could be in.cgiay by Tuesday (12/27).

At the surface today the only area of high pressure in the North Pacific was hanging down over South Central California at 1020 mbs providing the faintest hint of protection from an otherwise stormy pattern out at sea. Elsewhere across the North Pacific low pressure was in control. The remnants of Storm #5 (details below) were pushing into Southern Canada with anther much lesser strength low behind that and north of Hawaii. Storm #6 was pushing to the dateline with massive Storm #7 forecast forming off Japan on Thursday (12/22). Storms #6 and #7 to be the dominant weather features for the coming week.


Storm #5 (California)
On Sunday PM (12/18) the first signs of this storm started developing with pressure dropping to 972 mbs and winds confirmed at 50-55 kts over a small area northwest of Hawaii at 29N 150W aimed well up the 270 degree path to South CA.

On Monday AM (12/19) pressure dropped to 968 mbs with 50-55 kt winds over a small area centered at 33N 141W aimed well up the 275 degree great circle path to South CA. Seas modeled at 30 ft over a tiny area centered at 30N 148W. By the evening 40 to barely 50 kt winds were confirmed over a tiny area centered at 37N 135W aimed a bit north of the 280 degree path to SCal. 34 ft seas were modeled at 32N 141W.

By Tuesday AM (12/20) this system was pushing up into British Columbia with no real swell producing fetch left. Residual seas just barely 30 ft were indicated at 35N 135W and fading fast. The swell from this system moved into buoy 46059 at 5 AM with pure swell 19-22 ft @ 17 secs holding till 2 PM. But some of this energy was generated by south winds preceding the storm center and is not necessarily representative of the energy moving towards California. The issue is that the core of the fetch moved within 860 nmiles of the South CA coast, not providing much room for the lesser period chop to settle out of the swell. Expect a raw jumbled ungroomed 17 sec period significant class swell to reach the coast as indicated below.

We're not mentioning NCal because the storm center is to move within 450 nmiles of the coast making for miserable conditions.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Wednesday (12/21) at 8 AM with swell building fast peaking near 11 AM with swell 5- 7 ft @ 15-17 secs at many breaks (9-11 ft faces) and 7.5-8.5 ft @ 15-17 secs at exposed breaks in San Diego and Santa Barbara (11-13 ft faces). Swell Direction: 270-275 degrees

Northern CA to be a blown out mess with large stormsurf conditions expected. Swell to be pushing in near 4 AM Wednesday (12/21) with pure swell 10-14 ft @ 15-17 secs (16-21 ft faces). Swell Direction: 257-265 degrees
Residents of beachside communities should have completed precautions to secure property.


Possible Storm #6
On Monday (12/19) Storm #6 was starting to take shape off Japan with pressure 976 mbs. This was a large system with good areal coverage but was nowhere near as strong as was originally forecast. Winds confirmed at 40-50 kt over a broad area terminating at 35N 165E aimed due east or 30 degree south of the 292 degree path to NCal and right up the 300 degree path to Hawaii. Seas built to 30 ft at 37N 155E. In the evening pressure held at 976 mbs with a more modest 40 kt fetch positioned at 38N 170E aimed 30 degrees south of the 292 degree path to NCal and right up the 304 degree path to Hawaii. Seas built to 32 ft centered at 35N 160E.

On Tuesday AM (12/20) this system continued about like before with pressure 972 mbs just east of the dateline with 40-45 kt winds centered at 35N 175E aimed 25 degrees east of the 315 degree path to Hawaii and 20 degrees south of the 287 degree path to North CA. Seas dropped to 30 ft at 36N 169E. In the evening pressure to hold at 972 mbs over the dateline with a broad area of 40-45 kt winds centered near 37N 179W aimed 20 degrees south of the 285 degree path to CA and just east of right down the 312 degree path to Hawaii. Seas forecast at 32 ft centered at 37N 175E.

This system to continue east through the day into Wednesday (12/21), reorganizing in the evening with a consolidated fetch of 45 kt west winds expected over the dateline at 37N 176W aimed 20 degrees east of the 318 degree path to Hawaii and 20 degrees south of the 289 degree path to North CA (293 SCal). Seas 31 ft centered at 37N 175W.

The storm to continue into Thursday AM (12/22) with 40-45 kt winds reorganizing at 34N 168W aimed 30 degrees south of the 281 degree path to NCal (285 Scal) and 20 degrees east of the 322 degree path to Hawaii. 34 ft seas forecast at 36N 176W. 45 kt winds building in the evening at 30N 160W aimed 45 degrees east of the 347 degree path to Hawaii and 45 degrees east of the 266 degree path to CA. 36 ft seas at 32N 165W really close to Hawaii.

The models suggest this system to fade out on Friday AM (12/23) with residual 34 ft seas forecast at 29N 157W tracking east of the Islands and south of CA.

Thus was initially to be a strong storm with much energy forecast aimed well at both California and Hawaii, but has since evolved into something not optimal for either location. For Hawaii, certainly large swell looks likely, but the fetch center is to pass very close to the Islands resulting in raw, unruly and lumpy surf, even if local winds are favorable. For California the issue is that the main swell vector is to be aimed well south of the state, and the fetch is to remain a good distance away's, and not particularly strong. Certainly some swell to result, perhaps best for Southern CA given it's southerly track, but nothing overwhelming. At least it will have some distance to clean itself up over. This one to possibly reach Hawaii late Thursday (12/22) maxing Friday into Saturday. Swell to also radiate towards California impacting the coast Christmas Day and the day beyond.


Possible Monster Storm #7
This to be the closest thing to a full on El Nino-like winter storm we've seen in quite a while, assuming it develops as the models depict. This large storm is to track off Japan on Thursday (12/22) heading due east with 55-60 kt winds. Pressure to drop to a whopping 944 mbs with 50-60 kt winds aimed due east into early Saturday (12/24) as it reaches the dateline. 53 ft seas forecast aimed due east right up the great circle paths to California with solid energy pushing to Hawaii too, al on or below the 45N latitude. This storm to slowly fade into Sunday AM (12/25) as it moves into the Gulf of Alaska with seas fading fast from 40 ft. Some resurgence possible in the Gulf early next week. Most impressive for a modeled projection.


North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height


California Offshore Forecast
On Tuesday (12/20) low pressure remained was in control of the waters off California other than a tiny patch of high pressure centered over Central California at 1022 mbs. The next in the series of storms is to beat it back to Pt Conception though, indicating that anything that is to resemble clean conditions is likely to be isolated south of Pt Conception through Thursday (12/22). High pressure to try and redevelop off Pt Conception on Friday providing protection up into North California through the weekend, but then the models suggest low pressure to again get the upper hand by Monday with south winds returning to the northern region. Make the most of the little window in the north. Southern CA generally has the best odds of continuous clean surf through.

The 5 Day wind forecast is now included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.


South Pacific

No swell producing fetch forecast over the next 72 hours.

South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height




Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the weather scenario is to remain most impressive. Of interest is the forecasted development of another storm off Japan on Monday (12/26). Pressure to drop to 964 mbs with 50-55 kt west winds reaching the dateline Wednesday (12/28). Seas to 43 ft then aimed well at California with decent and more local energy aimed at Hawaii.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.

Details to follow...


Local Interest

More Local Wind Models: Stormsurf is proud to announce the expansion of our local wind models, now providing global coverage. Get the latest local wind forecast updated 4 times daily with coverage out 7.5 days. See them here:

Sharks, Sharks and more Sharks: Want to know all the details of every shark encounter over the past few months in California? You can read all about it in the fascinating chronology produced be the Shark Research Committee. There's alot more going on in our waters than you could ever have imagined (or ever wanted to know).

Stormsurf Weather Model Update: Over the weekend (10/30) we moved new new code into production that should dramatically improve the efficiency and reliability of our weather models. We've had problems with them not keeping in-sync with the wave models. Hopefully that problem is now resolved though we're still dependent on NOAA data servers just like everyone else. What this fix does do is provide the infrastructure now to rapidly expand our offering of weather models, enabling more detailed global coverage. We will be working on that as time permits.

Rob Gilley Photgraphy: Please take amoment to check out the selection of limited print images availabe at Rob Gilleys webite. All images in the 2005 line were taken by Rob Gilley, an 19 year Surfer Magazine staff photographer, and are personally signed and numbered by him:

Tutorial on the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) Presented by Dr. Roland Madden: If you're interested in El Nino and the MJO, have a basic understanding of El Nino, and you have broadband connection, audio and Macromedia Flash installed, then the following presentation is a must see. Dr Madden present a great overview of how the MJO works. And there's nothing like hearing it straight from the founders mouth. Link here:

Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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