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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Friday, December 23, 2016 12:29 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
3.8 - 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 12/26 thru Sun 1/1

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   

Small Dateline Gale Developing
Pattern To Be Confined to Northern Gulf Beyond

On Friday, December 23, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.3 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 3.1 ft @ 12.7 secs from 333 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.3 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 2.4 ft @ 14.1 secs from 267 degrees. Wind south 6-8 kts. Water temperature 59.7 degs. At Ventura swell was 2.6 ft @ 13.1 secs from 273 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.8 ft @ 15.2 secs from 244 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.1 ft @ 15.3 secs from 230 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 4.3 ft @ 15.0 secs from 265 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 11.5 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 7.1 ft @ 14.9 secs from 293 degrees. Wind southeast 18-24 kts at the buoy. Water temp 54.0 degs.

    46006, 46059, New! Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (at the 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.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holidays!
We hope you have a great and safe holiday. We're taking a much needed break till Jan 2 and the manual forecast will not be updated until then. Thanks for all your use of Stormsurf over the past year and we're looking forward to many more to come. Hope you get some surf or snow or just enjoy the time off to be with friends and family.

Current Conditions
On Friday (12/23) in North and Central CA the second of two North Dateline swells was fading with surf in the 8-10 ft range on the face and pretty lumped up from south winds and rain intermixed. It was head high to 2 ft overhead at protected breaks and clean. At Santa Cruz surf was 1-2 ft overhead and clean but lumpy and a bit raw, but rideable. In Southern California up north Dateline swell was producing surf at chest high on the sets and clean and lined up at top breaks. Down in North Orange Co was were head high and textured but well rideable. In San Diego the same swell was shoulder to head high and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting leftover Dateline sideband swell with waves 1-2 ft overhead at top breaks and clean and fun looking early. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves shoulder high and chopped with moderate east winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
California was still getting solid northwest swell originating from the 2nd of two storms that tracked over the North Dateline region with minimal sideband energy from it also radiating south into Hawaii. Secondary energy from the Northern Gulf was also in the mix for California. Another gale started developing on the Dateline Fri (12/23) with 32 ft seas aimed east then is to fade Sat-Sun (12/25) with seas in the 26 ft range aimed east from the Northern Gulf. And more fetch is forecast for the Northwestern Gulf Mon-Tues (12/27) with 24-26 ft seas aimed east. Longer term a cutoff gale is to produce 28 ft seas in the Central Gulf on Fri (12/30) targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. And maybe something off the Kurils is to develop too. Longer term the jet is to remain active and offering hope, attributable to a weak Active Phase of the MJO.

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

North Pacific

On Friday AM (12/23) the jetstream was consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds at 150 kts, but started .cgiitting weakly half way to the dateline with 150 kts winds holding in the northern branch that was ridging northeast to the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians, then falling into a small and very steep trough just east of there. From there the northern branch ridging into the Eastern Bering Sea before falling hard southeast forming a legitimate trough in the Eastern Gulf with 140 kts winds feeding it, and pushing into North CA. There was very limited support for gale development in the pinched trough near the dateline and no odds for gale development in the Gulf trough as it will move onshore quickly. Over the next 72 hours a more cohesive jet is to develop with the northern branch flowing from Japan gently east-northeast over the dateline and into the Northern Gulf of Alaska at 130-140 kts then falling southeast and pushing into North California into Mon (12/16). Decent support for gale development is possible in the Northern Gulf though no defined troughs are forecast. A weak .cgiit is to be occurring on the dateline but not pulling much energy into it tracking over Hawaii and eventually into Baja Mexico. Beyond 72 hours on Wed (12/28) winds are to build over Japan to 180 kts but the .cgiit on the dateline is to become exasperated with the northern branch ridging hard north up into the Bering Sea then falling just as quickly hard south into the Gulf before turning east and pushing into Oregon with winds to 130 kts. limited support for gale development in the Gulf. The southern branch is to remain weak tracking over Hawaii and into Baja. By Friday the ridge is to push east over the Gulf of Alaska with a cutoff low in the Central Gulf and the .cgiit point moving east to 170W. The consolidated flow pushing off Japan is to still be at 170 kts reaching east to a point just east of the dateline. No real obvious signs of support for gale development is expected.

Surface Analysis
On Friday (12/23) swell from a series of storms previously over the North Dateline region was still hitting California with remnant sideband energy fading in Hawaii. Also a small gale was developing over the Dateline (See New Dateline Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a secondary fetch of 40 kt southwest winds was pushing off Japan Fri AM (12/23) racing towards the dateline directly behind the New Dateline Gale starting to get traction on the oceans surface generating 22 ft seas off North Japan. In the evening that fetch is o get better established with 40-45 kt southwest and west winds almost reaching the dateline with 25 ft seas at 44N 170E aimed east if not northeast mainly targeting the Aleutians. That fetch is to race east Sat AM (12/24) at 40 kts from the west with a small area of seas at 30 ft at 46N 177E targeting the US West Coast some. The two systems are to merge in the Northwestern Gulf in the evening with 35-40 kt west winds and seas 26 ft in pockets near 48N 168W targeting only the US West Coast from Pt Conception northward. Fetch is to fade from 30-35 kts on Sun AM (12/25) in the Northern Gulf with seas 26 ft up at 50N 158W (308 degs NCal). This system is to fade thereafter. Swell possibly to arrive in NCal 24 hrs behind the New Dateline Gale swell below. nothing real to result for Hawaii.


New Dateline Gale
A gale started developing on the dateline Thurs AM (12/22) with a small area of 45 kt northwest winds and seas building from 23 ft at 38N 171E. In the evening winds built in coverage at 40-45 kts from the northwest with seas building to 28 ft at 39N 178EW aimed well at Hawaii (315 degs) but starting to swing to the east. Fetch held Fri AM (12/23) at 40-45 kts from the northwest with seas building to 30 ft at 42N 178W targeting Hawaii (325 degs) and the US West Coast (293 degs NCal). In the evening fetch is to start fading from 35 kts from the west with seas pushing east at 30 ft at 43N 170W 9293 degs NCal). Sat AM (12/24) fetch is to fade from 30 kts with seas fading from 26 ft at 44N 163W (295 degs NCal) aimed at the US West Coast. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Sun (12/25) building to 6 ft @ 14-15 secs later (8.5 ft). Swell fading overnight with residuals on Mon (12/26) fading from 4.0 ft @ 13 secs (5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 315-325 degrees

North CA: Rough estimates suggest swell arrival on Tues (12/27) at 6.0 ft @ 16 secs (9.0 ft). Swell Direction: 294 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 Friday AM (12/23) weak low pressure was over Oregon with a front pushing through North and Central California producing south winds at 15 kts and rain. The front is to be inland late afternoon with high pressure and north winds building in quickly resulting in north winds at 20+ kts. Rain fading from north to south over California. 10-13 inches of snow for Tahoe and 11-12 inches for Mammoth. North winds to continue on Sat (12/24) at 20 kts for the entire state including Southern CA, but lighter for Cape Mendocino late. Snow fading for Tahoe with 1-2 inches of additional accumulation possible on Saturday but nothing south of there. A bit of a break is possible on Sunday with south winds building through the day at 15-20 kts later as low pressure moves up to the Central Coast falling southeast but not moving onshore. No rain forecast. Monday winds to be offshore for the state at 15 kts early fading as the low fades off Southern CA. high pressure is to try and nose into North CA on Tues (12/27) with north-northeast winds 10-15 kts for Central CA and less north and south of there. On Wed (12/28) high pressure is to be ridging into Oregon with north-northeast winds 15 kts for all of North and Central CA getting weaker on Thurs (12/29) and near clam on Fri (12/30). No precipitation is imminent.


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

On Mon AM AM (12/26) a fetch of 35 kt west winds is to develop just south of the Eastern Aleutians getting good traction on an already roughed up ocean surface generating 23-24 ft seas at 50N 168W targeting mainly the Pacific Northwest. In the evening a small fetch of 45 kt wes winds is to develop in this area generating up to 30 ft seas back at 49N 178W but 25 ft seas holding in the original area at 50N 162W. 30-35 kt west winds to ease east Tues AM (12/27) with 22-26 ft seas at 50N 150W-170W. This system to fade out thereafter. More north angled swell is possible for North Ca northward up into the Pacific Northwest.

A cutoff low is forecast developing in the Gulf on Fri AM (12/30) with 45 kt north winds targeting Hawaii and seas building from 28 ft at 40N 151W (13 degs HI).

And maybe another system is to develop off the Kuril Islands on Fri (12/30) with a small area of 32 ft seas aimed east.


South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

SST's Warming in the Equatorial East Pacific

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 Thursday (12/22) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but calm to light northwest 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 and weak over the KWGA. This is a good turn of events. Previous east anomalies over the KWGA were attributable to La Nina and are now being muted/modulated by an Active MJO.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Strong east anomalies were modeled developing today over the dateline but weak west anomalies over the extreme western KWGA. The forecast suggests east anomalies weakening over the next 5 days and gone by 12/28 with neutral anomalies in.cgiay through 12/30. The first real easterly wind burst from this La Nina started on 9/23 and continued into 12/13, fading some, but returning 12/23. Easterly anomalies have been consistent, pulsing 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 12/22 a modest Active MJO signal was present in the West Equatorial Pacific. The statistic model projects it moving east and weakening slightly positioned over the dateline 15 days out and moderate in strength. The dynamic model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO fading while moving east and gone 10 days out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/23) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO is weak and barely discernible in the West Pacific and is to slowly fade over the next 2 weeks. GEFS model depicts mostly the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/23) This model depicts a weak Active Phase of the MJO moving over the West Pacific and it is to move east into Central America while weakening on 1/7. A very weak Inactive Phase is to develop behind that in the West Pacific on 1/7 tracking east to the East Pacific 2/1. Another weak Active MJO is to develop over the West Pacific 1/27. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (12/20) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO signal was all but gone over the dateline with modest east anomalies there while the Active Phase of the MJO was building in the far West KWGA and weak west anomalies there also. The Inactive Phase is to be gone on 12/29 with the Active Phase building in the West Pacific moving to the dateline through 2/1 with weak east anomalies in.cgiay over the dateline into 1/16 but west anomalies building in the west and easing east reaching the dateline on 1/20. The Inactive Phase is to build in the West Pacific 1/24 moving easing east into 3/12. 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: (12/23) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 165E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 177W 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 180W.  Neutral to weak negative anomalies are east of there to Ecuador at no more than -1.0 degs and only over a very shallow area, with warmer anomalies building 100 meters down and pushing east daily reaching 130W as of today. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/19 depicts this pocket of of cooler water at -1.0 degs below normal in the East Pacific getting weaker and breaking up in.cgiaces. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so and weakening and getting shallower.
Sea Level Anomalies: (12/19) 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. And within that, neutral anomalies are developing. 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: (12/22) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a very thin cool pool of water along the immediate coast of Peru a little stronger than day past but contained there migrating nowhere. Warm water has solid coverage just off the coast there and reaching up into Ecuador and the Galapagos. A cool bubble previously between Costa Rica to the Galapagos is oscillating, loosing coverage as of today. Amazingly, no cool water remains between Galapagos out to 110W, with warm temps taking control. A broad area of cool temperatures remains from 120W westward to 160W but appears to be fading. La Nina is fading in the East Pacific and holding in the Central Pacific suggesting the a westward di.cgiaced La Nina is remains in control.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/21): A warming trend continues along Chile and Peru but is fading just off Ecuador with a cooling trend between there and the Galapagos. Warming holds from the Galapagos out to 110W. West of there a neutral trend was exhibited with pockets of warming and cooling waters present much like it has been all Fall. The cool pattern in the Central Pacific is nowhere near as prominent as weeks and months previous and is weakening strongly in the East.  
Hi-res Overview:
(12/21) A La Nina cool pool is present over the equator from the Galapagos west to 170E and broadest south of Hawaii. La Nina is holding coverage in the west and loosing coverage in the east.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/23) Today's temps were falling slightly at +0.206.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (12/23) temps were steady down at -0.742 coming off a recent peak at +0.15 on 12/6. 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 (12/23) This model suggests La Nina developed from June thru Oct in the -0.55 deg range then started rising to -0.5 on Nov 1 and up to -0.2 degs on Dec 1. The forecast has temps gently rising to -0.1 degs on Jan 1, neutral mid-Jan, then slowly rising from there to +0.2 degs in March, steady out till Sept. This indicates that La Nina is effectively over and a return to normal temps is expected in Spring.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Dec Plume depicts temps are warming and are now at -0.3 degs. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to neutral 0.0 in March 2017 warming to +0.2 degs in May and holding into the Fall. This is warmer than last months forecast and suggests La Nina is over. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (12/22): The daily index was falling some today at -0.36. The 30 day average was rising to +2.95. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO has been in control recently driving the SOI upwards. The 90 day average was steady at +0.49. La Nina is trying to hang on, but loosing ground.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (12/23) Today's value was rising slightly at  -1.20. 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 trending 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. But in Nov, it was up to +0.53
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, +0.56 and up to +1.88 in Nov.
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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