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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Friday, December 22, 2017 12:53 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
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 12/25 thru Sun 12/31

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   

Gale Pattern To Build
MJO Continues Feeding the Jetstream


On Friday, December 22, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 7.0 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 4.3 ft @ 10.2 secs from 10 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.5 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 14.1 secs from 256 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north at 2-4 kts. Water temperature 60.6 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.6 ft @ 11.9 secs from 273 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.0 ft @ 11.3 secs from 248 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 0.8 ft @ 12.3 secs from 228 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.6 ft @ 12.3 secs from 262 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.2 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 2.7 ft @ 15.3 secs from 311 degrees. Wind at the buoy was southeast at 8-10 kts. Water temp 56.7 degs.

See Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (bottom of the page)

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 Friday (12/22) in North and Central CA swell from Kamchatka was trying to hit occasionally producing set waves in the head high range and clean with light offshore's but very inconsistent. Protected breaks were waist to chest high and clean but slow and weak when they do arrive. At Santa Cruz surf was waist high and slow and swamped by tide and a little warbled but generally clean. In Southern California up north surf was waist high and lined up and clean and rideable. In North Orange Co surf was waist high nearly breaking on the beach with no wind and clean conditions. South Orange Country's best breaks were pushing waist high and clean with no wind blowing and glassy conditions. In San Diego surf was knee to thigh high and clean and weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting north windswell with waves up to head high and warbled with alot of junk in the water with some breaks fully chopped and not really rideable. The South Shore was thigh to waist high and clean and lined up and almost rideable. The East Shore was getting north windswell at head high and chopped from north-northeast wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Friday (12/22) swell from a gale that tracked off Kamchatka to the North Dateline region on Mon-Tues (12/19) with up to 26 ft seas aimed east was weakly hitting California. A more substantial gale is developing in the Northwestern Gulf Thurs-Sat (12/23) producing up to 30 ft seas aimed east. Another is forecast 900 nmiles north-northeast of Hawaii Sun-Mon (12/25) producing 28 ft seas aimed east. And possibly a much larger but poorly defined system is to push off the Southern Kurils Tues-Wed (12/27) with 23 ft seas aimed east but not making much easterly headway. A rather weak pattern is developing.


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

North Pacific

On Friday AM (12/22) the jetstream was pushing east off Japan and weak but building as it moved over the dateline with winds to 160 kts falling into a tight trough in the Western Gulf offering some support for gale development. The jet split east of there at 150W with an extremely fragmented and convoluted flow east of that point. Over the next 72 hours
winds to significantly weaken over the dateline with the weak trough is the Western Gulf dissipating early Sunday (12/24) with support for gale development fading out. But another even weaker trough is to try and develop well north of Hawaii later Sunday into Mon (12/25) but winds to never exceed 110 kts offering little to support gale formation in lower levels of the atmosphere. Beyond 72 hours starting Tues (12/26) another very pinched trough is to develop on the dateline and push steadily east while being fed initially by 140 kts winds but fading while tracking east into the Central Gulf of Alaska Fri (12/29). At the same time wind energy is to be building over Japan at 190 kts on Tues (12/26) and pushing east over the dateline Thurs (12/28) forming a bit of a trough in the Western Pacific and pushing east into the Gulf Fri (12/29) offering some support for gale development, but nothing pronounced. This push of wind energy is to move the split point in the jet from 150W to 135W. Hopefully a pattern change will result.

Surface Analysis
On Friday (12/22) swell from a gale that developed of Kamchatka earlier is starting to hit California (See Kamchatka Gale below). Otherwise windswell from a cutoff low previously north of Hawaii was fading (see Hawaii Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a gale started to develop in an upper trough in the Western Gulf in Thurs AM (12/21) with a broad fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds building and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. In the evening the broad fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds with a core to 45 kts were getting traction targeting just east of Hawaii with 25 ft seas building at 43N 163W targeting the US West Coast well with sideband energy down into Hawaii. On Fri AM (12/22) fetch was wrapping into the gales south quadrant at 40 kts over a small area aimed east with 32 ft seas at 43N 157W targeting North CA up into Oregon well. The gale is to lift north in the evening producing a small area of 45 kt west winds with 32 ft seas over modest sized area at 46N 156W targeting mainly Central California up into the Pacific Northwest. Fetch is to be fading from 35 kts Sat AM (12/23) just south of the Eastern Aleutians with 26 ft seas fading at 49N 154W. This system is to be gone after that.

Hawaii: For planning purposes based mostly on forecast data expect swell arrival on Sat (12/23) building to 5.6 ft @ 13 secs late afternoon (7.0 ft). Swell to peak overnight and be fading Sun AM (12/24) from 6.7 ft @ 13 secs early (8.5 ft). Residuals on Mon (12/25) fading from 5.1 ft @ 12 secs (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 340 degrees

North CA: For planning purposes based mostly on forecast data expect swell arrival on Sun (12/24) evening well after dark and building, peaking Mon AM (12/25) at 6.8 ft @ 15 secs (10.0 ft) holding well through the day. Residuals expected on Tues AM (12/26) fading from 4.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (6.5 ft). Residuals on Wed AM (12/27) fading from 3.2 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 295-300 degrees

Also a gale is forecast developing 900 nmiles north of Hawaii on Sat PM (12/230 producing a small area of 40 kt northwest winds and tracking due east. On Sun AM (12/24) winds to build to 45 kt from the northwest with seas building to 22 ft over a small area at 35N 156W aimed east at Central CA and point south of there and mostly bypassing Hawaii. The gale is to east east-northeast in the evening with winds fading from 40 kts from the west but over a slightly broader area with 26 ft seas at 36N 151W aimed east. Mon AM (12/25) the gale is to build some with 40-45 kts northwest winds and 25 ft seas at 38N 150W. The gale is to continue lifting northeast in the evening with 40 kt west winds ands seas to 27 ft at 40N 149W aimed west at California and Oregon. The gale is to be fading Tues AM (12/26) with 30-35 kt west winds and seas fading from 24 ft at 41N 143W aimed at the US West Coast. This system is to dissipate from there. Something to monitor.


Hawaii Gale
A cutoff low developed Tues AM (12/20) 700 nmiles north-northeast of Hawaii with 30-35 kt northeast winds and seas building from 22 ft at 33N 154W targeting the Islands decently. In the evening 40 kt north winds were wrapping into the gales west quadrant aimed south with 22 ft seas at 33N 155W targeting the Islands directly and 700 nmiles off. That low was fading some Wed AM (12/20) with 30-35 kt north winds and 21 ft seas starting to lift north from 34N 155W. The low is to be lifting north in the evening with residual wind energy fading from 30 kts and seas fading from 18 ft at 38N 155W. Possible small swell for Hawaii to result.

Hawaii: Residuals on Fri (12/22) fading from 5.2 ft @ 11 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 000-010 degrees


Kamchatka Gale
Another gale started to develop east of the Northern Kuril Islands on Sun PM (12/17) with 45-50 kt south winds pushing up into the Central Aleutians and 30-35 kts west winds behind that front and seas building. On Mon AM (12/18) 35-40 kt west winds were pushing off the Northern Kuril's and Kamchatka with a front on the dateline generating 26 ft seas at 51N 171E mainly targeting the Central Aleutians with limited energy pushing east of there. In the evening west winds faded from 35+ kts from Kamchatka to the dateline and mostly over the Western Aleutians with 28 ft seas at 50N 174E aimed somewhat east at North CA (308 degrees) and also targeting the Pacific Northwest. Low odds of sideband energy radiating towards Hawaii. This system was up in the Bering Sea Tues AM (12/19) with sass from previous fetch fading from 25 ft at 50N 178E aimed east.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on on Fri (12/22) building to 2.6 ft @ 15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell peaking on Sat (12/23) at 4.5 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.5 ft) later with local windswell intermixed. Swell holding on Sun (12/24) at 5.4 ft @ 12-13 secs (6.5 ft). Residuals on Mon (12/25) fading from 3.7 ft @ 12 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 320 moving to 340 degrees (local windswell).

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri (12/22) building to 2.8 ft @ 15-16 secs mid-AM (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell fading Sat (12/23) from 2.7 ft @ 14 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 305-308 degrees

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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Friday AM (12/22) high pressure at 1026 mbs was centered over California and Oregon producing a weak offshore flow for all of California. Light offshore winds or calm winds continue for the state on Sat-Sun (12/24). Then early Monday winds to turn north 10-15 kts for North and Central CA but up to 25 kt for Cape Mendocino. Maybe a few sprinkles for Cape Mendocino well before sunrise. A weak pressure pattern is to continue Tues (12/26) generating light winds early turning northwest 10-15 kts later for North and Central CA. Wednesday (12/27) high pressure is to set up inland over California and Nevada with an offshore flow for the state expected and continuing through Thursday. Then perhaps north winds to 10 kts on Fri (12/29). No rain in the forecast regardless.

South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell producing winds of interest were occurring.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are 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

Beyond 72 hours starting Mon AM (12/25) a new gale is to be developing over the Kuril Islands with 40 kt west winds barely pushing into open waters of the Northwest Pacific. In the evening fetch is to build some in coverage at 40 kt from the west and barely clear of the Southern Kuril Islands with seas building from 28 ft at 43N 150E. On Tues AM (12/26) fetch is to be fading from 40 kts barely extending east of North Japan with 25 ft seas at 41N 150E. In the evening fetch is to be fading from 35-40 kts over the same area aimed east with seas fading. Some degree of 30 kt west fetch is to continue into Thurs (12/28) mainly just off Japan. This system is to fade from there. Something to monitor but not much is expected to result.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather system nor fetch is forecast.

More details to follow...


3 Days of Active MJO Remain

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 equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing 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 planet, 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 in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.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: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. So it appears now a double dip La Nina is setting up and is to continue through the Winter and Spring of 2017-2018.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Thurs (12/21) 5 day average winds were from the east over the entire equatorial Pacific but west in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were neutral over the East Pacific but moderate to strong westerly over the Central and Western KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (12/22) Moderate to strong west anomalies were modeled over the entire KWGA and east to a point south of Hawaii. This is the first real Westerly wind event in a very long time. This situation is to hold through Dec 23 or 24th, then modest east anomalies are to start building over the entirety of the KWGA and building from there through the end of the model run on 12/29. The Active Phase of the MJO appears to be holding in the KWGA and is to continue for two more days, then fade.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 12/21 a modest Active/Wet signal was over the dateline. The statistical model depicts the Active/Wet Phase slowly easing east and fading from the dateline over the 15 day run. At the same time the Inactive Phase is to be steadily building it's footprint in the far West Pacific. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially, but with the Active Phase dissipating 10 days into the run and the Inactive Phase weak in the West Pacific at day 15.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/22) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO modest in strength on the dateline and is to be fading steadily while pushing east over the Atlantic and back in the Indian Ocean 15 days out. The GEFS model suggests the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/22) This model depicts a weak Active/Wet MJO pattern over the West Pacific and its to slowly easing east pushing into Central America 1/26. A modest Inactive/Dry MJO signal is to follow starting in the West Pacific 1/11 and tracking east to the East Pacific through 1/31. Another Active/Wet Phase is to follow in the West Pacific on 1/26 moving east. This model runs about 1 week ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (12/22) This model depicts a Wet/Active MJO pattern peaking over the Western KWGA with west anomalies reaching the whole way to the East Pacific. The Active Phase of the MJO is to push east through 12/28 with decent west anomalies in the KWGA through the period. After that the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to redevelop 12/30 building over the dateline holding through 1/17/18 with east anomalies developing from the dateline eastward while neutral anomalies hold and west of there. On 1/25 the Active Phase is to take control in the West Pacific holding through 2/24 with weak west anomalies strengthening some in the core of the KWGA and pushing east with east anomalies fading in coverage and moving progressively further east and gone by 2/24. A weak Inactive Phase is to follow in the West KWGA at the end of the model run on 3/21. The low pass filter indicates a modest low pressure bias over the west KWGA to 165E and is hold till 2/16, then start moving east reaching the dateline at the end of the model run with a high pressure bias over the East KWGA at 175E and is to move east and out of the KWGA by the end of the run. Even so, no significant oceanic change is expected as a result of this until at least May 2018.

CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (12/22) A pattern change set up in August, with warm water retreating to the west and cooler water building in the east. Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 29-30 degs in the far West Pacific at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line is steady at 180W and steep (meaning there is a headwind of cooler water pushing into it from the east). The 24 deg isotherm was weak and steady at 125W and shallow at 50 meters deep at 140W. Anomaly wise it is clear that in the East Pacific warm water gone and instead modestly negative temperatures are at the surface and down to -3 degs C down 150 meters filling the area between Central America to 170W indicative of La Nina. Warm anomalies are isolated to the West Pacific at now up to +3.0 degrees down to 100 meters deep with the dividing line between cool temps retrograded west to 170W. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/14 depicts a large area of cool water filling the subsurface East Pacific (-4.0 degs) and erupting to the surface in broad pockets between Ecuador to 170W with warm anomalies at +2-3 degs in the west.
Sea Level Anomalies: (12/14) Negative anomalies are in control at -5 cms over the entire equatorial East Pacific with a core of -10 cm anomalies present between Ecuador to 155W with no breaks.

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: (12/21) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a cool pattern remains is in control. Upwelling is fading some along Peru and Ecuador but stronger tracking west on the equator from the Galapagos out to 140W with a well defined cool pool evidenced over the entire region. No warm anomalies are indicated within 3+ degs north or south of the equator over the entire region.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/21): A warming trend was building along Chile and Peru and off Ecuador, then in some pockets on the equator from the Galapagos out to 140W. But there was also a greater number of pockets of cooling water interspersed along the equatorial Pacific from the Galapagos west to 140W.
Hi-res Overview: (12/21) Regardless of the short term warming trend indicated above, a clear La Nina cool stream is present starting off Southern Chile and up the coast of Peru and Ecuador then building in coverage and intensity pushing west over the Galapagos and peaking, then slowly fading out to 180W. Cool water at depth is erupting to the surface with the breach point near the Galapagos. There is no sign of warm anomalies in the Nino 1.2 or Nino 3.4 regions. A mature La Nina has evolved.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/22) Today's temps were falling steadily at -1.933. The lowest point so far in this La Nina was -2.248 degs reached on 11/5. And that low point was lower than the previous coldest point reached on 10/11 at -1.9 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/22) Today temps were steady at -0.839 degs. On (12/7) temps hit a new record low at -1.219, just below the previous coldest peak so far this La Nina on 11/22 at -1.156. And the third previous low peak was reached at -1.1 on 11/23. The long arc suggests a solidifying cold pattern. La Nina is in control.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (12/22) The forecast depicts temps bottoming out at -0.95 in early Dec then slowly rising to -0.7 degs in early Feb. The weak upward trend is to continue with temps reaching -0.5 in April and -0.1 degs in July 2018 and holding there. This suggests a legit La Nina is expected for the Winter of 2017-2018 then fading into the summer of 2018.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Nov Plume updated (12/8) depicts temps bottomed out at -0.7 in early Nov and are to hold into Dec then slowly rising, to +0.0 in May and +0.3 in July2018. See chart here - link  The NMME consensus for Nov average indicates temps -0.9 degrees below normal Nov-Jan 2018 then rebounding to normal in April. It looks like La Nina is peaking out now. The CFSv2 is now in the middle of that pack.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (12/22): The daily index was falling at -9.65 today. The 30 day average was falling to +2.81. The 90 day average was falling at +7.80. This suggests La Nina is in control.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (12/22) The index was falling slightly at -1.50 (up from -2.20 on 6/28/17). The trend is generally stable for now but clearly indicative of La Nina. Last years La Nina reached -1.94 on 11/2/16 so we've bested that already. But the recent upward trend is offering some hope. Still it looks like La Nina is returning for a double dip/2 year La Nina (not unusual). This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina events.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly negative, but not as much as one would expect with La Nina in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.10, Feb = +0.04, March = +0.12, April=+0.52, May=+0.30, June=+0.19, July= -0.50, Aug= -0.68, Sept = -0.28, Oct=-0.60, Nov = -0.52. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.77, Feb = +0.70, Mar = +0.74, April=+1.12, May=+0.88, June=+0.79, July=+0.10, Aug=0.09, Sept = 0.32, Oct=0.05 . No negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 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 strongly suggests that could be a possibility. 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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