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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: December 20, 2006 8:36 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
Click Here to Visit Killer Dana!
Swell Potential Rating = 4.0 - California & 4.5 - 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 12/18 thru Sun 12/24
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   

Building Storm Pattern
Better Luck for Hawaii This Go-Around Too


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
We want to take a minute to thank all of you for your support, comments and well wishes over the past year and extend to you our warmest Holiday Wishes. It has been a great year here at Stormsurf thanks to you. We hope you enjoy a Happy and Safe Holiday and catch some great surf. Forecasts will be updated more or less regularly as conditions warrant (and when we're not out trying to catch a few waves ourselves).

On Tuesday (12/19) Northern CA surf was head high to 1-3 ft overhead and reasonably clean though a little mixed up still. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were waist to chest high. Central California surf was up to head high and clean. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were waist to chest to head high at the better spots. The LA Area southward to Orange County was up to waist high at the better breaks. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were about waist high. The North Shore of Oahu was flat. The South Shore was head high to a foot overhead with best spots bigger. The East Shore was head high.cgius windswell.

Things have really settled down in California with just moderate surf north of Pt Conception and far less down at the south end of the state. Hawaii had nothing to speak of at the usual winter spots but the South Shore was getting a dose of unusual swell from the southern hemi. A better picture is in store for all locations after just a few more days of comparative calmness. Hawaii to start seeing consistent solid swell (though not significant class) by late-mid-week holding for days as a series of gales push over the dateline tracking towards the Gulf of Alaska. California to see some moderate surf as theses system push into the Gulf, with some energy already in-route from the first of several gales to come. But the real story starts over the weekend when solid storm is forecast to form north of Hawaii tracking east to northeast into the Gulf with large seas targeting North CA into the Pacific Northwest. At the same time another storm is to be forming over the dateline tracking east with more long period energy forecast pushing towards both Hawaii and California. So for now make the most of the moderate stuff, but save your energy for the big stuff to follow. See details below...


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

North Pacific

Tuesdays jetstream charts (12/19) depicted a single strong flow pushing flat east off Japan across the dateline on the 40N parallel to a point 1000 nmiles north of Hawaii. Winds were pushing 200 kts in the core of this flow over the dateline. A .cgiit flow persisted over the far eastern Pacific with the northern branch pushing over British Columbia and the southern branch pushing over Baja and offering protection for locations in between the two flows with high pressure at the oceans surface. But that appears to be short lived with so much energy pushing east behind it. No troughs or dips of interest were evident in the jet yet, meaning there was no good support in the upper levels of the atmosphere for development of low pressure at the surface. Over the next 72 hours through Friday (12/22) things to change in a big way as the jet continues to drive hard to the east reaching San Francisco Thursday AM. winds to 190 kts to continue over the dateline with a nice trough developing just east of there while 160 kt winds push from the trough into the US West coast. The trough to slide east through the day Friday while a bit of a ridge pushes north along the Pacific Northwest coast, likely directing most storm energy towards British Columbia. A solid storm expected to form in this trough pushing northeast. Beyond 72 hours what was a strong jet is to quickly relax Sunday, only to start regrouping Monday (12/25) with 170 kt winds developing west of the dateline feeding into a developing trough over the dateline and a bit further north than others this season. Winds to build on the west side of this trough to 190 kts Tuesday pushing over the dateline and likely supporting some form of storm on the dateline at the oceans surface. This is starting to look like a good productive pattern.

At the surface today high pressure at 1024 mbs was sitting off the Central California coast providing a modicum of protection from British Columbia southward while a moderately stormy pattern builds in the Gulf of Alaska. This pattern has already produced a small gale that passed through the northeastern Gulf of Alaska Sat/Sun (12/16) generating 29 ft seas. Swell from that system is hitting the outer California buoys today and is to push into the coast late peaking overnight Tuesday with moderate swell in the 6-7 ft @ 13-14 secs range by Wednesday AM (8-9 ft faces) in North CA with lesser energy pushing south (See QuikCAST's for details). Another similar system was developing Tuesday (12/19) with pressure 960 mbs and 45 kts winds pushing mainly northeast towards North Canada generating 29 ft seas in the north Gulf again.

Over the next 72 hours starting Wednesday a broad but diffuse fetch of 30-35 kt winds are to develop along the front from this gale extending from the dateline east feeding into the Gulf with a closed isobar low forming Thursday (12/21) north of Hawaii and wrapping up while tracking northeast much like the systems that preceded it. Then net effect is that a series of two pulses of seas in the 25-28 ft range are to be generated pushing 14 sec period energy well towards Hawaii on Tuesday and then again stronger on Thursday/Friday (12/22) with solid swell expected in the Islands Thursday (12/21) continuing through Sunday with average peak swell 10 ft @ 13-14 secs (12-14 ft faces) from 330-340 degrees during the period.

Updated Wed AM: Also a secondary low started forming along the front from the first gale just off the Pacific Northwest Tuesday PM (12/19) with winds confirmed at 40-45 kts over a tiny area at 38N 153W. By Wednesday AM winds were confirmed up to 50 to near 60 kts over a tiny area at 40N 141W with seas 27 ft at 39N 144W and on the increase. By evening 55 kt winds to continue at 45N 135W aimed right at Oregon and reasonably well down the 310 degree path to NCal with seas forecast to 30 ft at 42N 137W. This low to be just northeast and nearly impacting Vancouver Island Thursday AM with 55 kt winds aimed at that location generating more 30 ft seas at 45N 130W out of the NCal swell window but still targeting Oregon. Swell expected for North CA (centered on San Francisco) over a broad swath coming from west to northwest starting near sunset Thursday (12/21) peaking at 8 PM through 3 AM Friday with pure swell 10.5-11.0 ft @ 16 secs (15-17 ft faces) with swell down to 10 ft @ 14 secs early Friday (13-15 ft and fading fast). Swell Direction: 285-315 degrees


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


California Offshore Forecast
On Tuesday (12/19) high pressure is holding off the coast providing cold but clear and near windless conditions, and nice break from the soupy mix that was experienced in the north last week. no change forecast through Wednesday as the high tries to hand on, but a building storm pattern is evident in the Gulf of Alaska and theoretically a little front associated with the leading edge of that weather is to make it to the San Francisco area Thursday AM (12/21) bringing the chance of rain and south winds pushing to Point Conception by nightfall. A reinforcing high pressure center to quickly develop right behind it bringing brisk north winds through the day Friday all the way into South California and beyond, so it looks like a blow out then. Fortunately it's to be short lived with light northeast winds expected all locations Saturday and beyond into Monday (12/25).


South Pacific

t the surface and through the next 72 hours there were no indications of any swell producing fetch in the South Pacific.


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 real action is to begin assuming the models are right. A little low to push off Japan Thursday (12/21) pushing over the dateline and starting to build late Friday. By Saturday AM pressure to be 964 mbs with 60-65 kt winds in the storms west quadrant targeting Hawaii from 1500 nmiles to the northwest for 12-18 hours. That fetch to quickly shift to the storms south quadrant in the evening targeting California from the 40N latitude while streaming on a heading just north of east. Seas rapidly building to 37 ft due north of Hawaii. Sunday AM winds to drop to 55 kts still targeting North CA well down an unobstructed swell window while the storm starts shifting north. 42 ft seas modeled well west of Cape Mendocino. In the evening a broad fetch of 45-50 kts winds to be off Oregon pushing much energy towards North CA and the Pacific Northwest with 44 ft seas suggested. This system to then fade out on Monday in the northeast Gulf (not moving onshore) while 45 ft seas push into British Columbia. The result is very powerful long period swell pushing into California but a hair on the raw side, not having much time to unwrap. This swell, if it materializes could be much like those of last week making it Storm #5. Much weaker sideband energy expected for Hawaii.

At the same time on Christmas Eve Sunday (12/24) a new storm to be pushing off the Kamchatka Peninsula with pressure 976 mbs and a tiny fetch of 50 kts winds developing just south of the Western Aleutians. This one to slowly push east over the next 48 hours with peak winds near 50 kts embedded in a broader area of 40-45 kts fetch targeting areas mid-way between Hawaii and California but from a long way away for both. Seas supposedly pushing near 40 ft early Tuesday as this fetch gets a.cgie time to act on the oceans surface, before fading. The result to be a well groomed long period swell of moderate size for both locales perhaps hitting the minimum significant swell requirement, making this Swell #6.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is indicated.

Details to follow...


Local Interest

El Nino Forecast Updated: El Nino is making it's mark on the Pacific Ocean, though yet to have a major impact on the atmosphere above. Read when the storm machine might fire up, and what evidence is stacking up in favor of El Nino here:

New Precipitation Models: Over the holidays we focused on expanding our coverage of precipitation models, and now provide high resolution coverage of all US coastal locations. You can now tell whether it will be raining when the surf is pumping, or better yet, know whether it will be snowing in the higher elevations (West Coast). Take a look here:

Weather Model Problem: The past few days the 12Z run of the GFS model has been corrupted when posted on government servers, resulting in our graphic output looking like psychedelic gibberish. This is not a Stormsurf problem and we are switching over to backup servers that are operating normally to capture the data. We have reported the problem to NOAA. This problem has been confirmed by other server users as well. We apologize for the inconvenience. Update: The problem has been fixed. Service has returned to normal as of 11/25/06.

Jason-1 Satellite Problem: On Oct 31 the Jason-1 satellite automatically went into safe-hold mode. This is triggered when sensors on the satellite detect an anomaly that suggests the satellite is in danger. It goes into a type of hibernation to protect it's sensitive instruments. JPL has been working on the issue and was able to restore the satellite to normal operations at 8:30 PM on Friday 11/17. No new data is available yet, but as soon as it is we'll be publishing it over the wave models images as usual here:
Note: The first bit of fresh data was posted on 11/29/06 and we're processing it right now.

New Book: Inside Mavericks - Portrait of a Monster Wave: Ace photographer Doug Acton, cinematographer Grant Washburn and San Francisco Chronicle writer Bruce Jenkins have teamed up to present an insiders view of Mavericks. Read all the first hand accounts from Peter Mel, Ken 'Skin Dog' Collins, Grant Washburn, Mark Renniker and the rest of the gang as they describe the game of surfing one of the largest waves in the world, fully illustrated with the hauntingly artistic images from Doug Acton, long-time Mavericks lensman. There's even a section featuring Stormsurf! Get your autographed copy here:

Towsurfers & Paddle-in Surfers - Participate in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement: The draft EIR for the new Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary management.cgian has been released. Public comment will be accepted until January 7, 2007. The link provided has all of the information that is pertinent to anyone wishing to participate in the crafting of the new regulations. It cannot emphasize enough the importance of making your comments part of the public record as such comments will be used to re evaluate the proposed regulations before inclusion into the final EIR. This will be the public's last and best chance to shape regulations in our Monterey Bay. If you are passionate about what you do, direct that passion into active participation in this process.

Stormsurf Iceberg Breakup Analysis/Decide for Yourself: There been some debate concerning the facts around the breakup of Iceberg B15A. Here's a short exercise that helps to drive out the facts around the research:

Stormsurf Supports Antarctic Iceberg Breakup Study: CNN is reporting the story of a storm in the Gulf of Alaska in Fall of 2005 that contributed to the breakup of Antarctic Iceberg B15A. We all know that South Pacific storms produce swells that provide surf for California in the summer, but has anyone considered the i.cgiications of what monster winter storms in the North Pacific do to the South Pacific? That is the subject of a research paper by professor Doug MacAyeal from the University of Chicago. He and his team traveled to Antarctica and instrumented a series of icebergs with seismometers to see if they could understand what causes icebergs to break up, and their findings are insightful. And best of all, Stormsurf contributed data in support of their research (and received authorship credits to boot). This is a great exa.cgie of how the science of surfing interacts with other pure science disc.cgiines. All the details are available in this months edition of 'Geophysical Research Letters' and the synopsis is available here:

New Stormsurf Local Wave Models: Nine months in development and testing, Stormsurf is proud to announce the release of our upgraded local wave models. More locations, more fidelity, more variables imaged including sea height, swell period, wind speed & direction, and wave height.cgius the older style composite images of surf height and wind all updated 4 times daily. Check them out here:

Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's si.cgie and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet E.cgiorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way! .xml

Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here

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

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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