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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: December 29, 2006 12:02 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 = 5.0 - California & 4.8 - 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 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 #8 for Hawaii
Storm #9 Organizing off the Kurils


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 Wednesday (12/27) Northern CA surf was 25 ft give or take 5 feet, and a absolutely blown-out mess. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were double overhead and a bit ragged. Central California surf was a few feet overhead and on the way up but stormy. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were waist to chest high at the better spots but winds was on it. The LA Area southward to Orange County was chest to head high at the better breaks and windblown. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were head high to a few feet overhead with junky conditions moving in. The North Shore of Oahu was head high to 2 ft overhead. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore had surf head high to 1 ft overhead.

Gale conditions were in effect for North and Central California this morning with strong northwest winds trying to wrap into Southern CA, expected to push into San Diego mid-day. Huge unruly stormsurf was in control north of Point Conception with some of that energy pushing into the South end of the state late. Hawaii was suffering the opposite fate with small surf temporarily, but larger longer period energy is in the water pushing southeast towards the Islands. This to be the first real significant class swell of the season for the Islands, with more to follow. By this weekend the models are suggesting a broad a relatively strong storm setting up just off Japan lumbering slowly towards the dateline generating a large fetch of near storm force winds targeting Hawaii and California from west of the dateline then pushing over it and fading early next week. If this materializes then large long period swell could be expected for all winter breaks in the Islands and along the US West Coast. But this is all very preliminary data and the storm itself has yet to even form, so in reality it's just idle speculation by the models with any particular outcome far from certain. See details below...


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

North Pacific

Wednesdays jetstream charts (12/27) depicted a strong energetic flow pushing off the kuril Islands dipping into a large trough just east of the dateline with 180 kt winds flowing into it then lifting just as firm to the north into the eastern Gulf of Alaska at 150 kts, then dipping again into a trough directly over California, pushing inland over Northern Baja. The trough in the mid-Pacific looks entirely supportive of surface level storm development. Over the next 72 hours through Saturday (12/30) an active pattern to continue. The big trough to push east and decay rapidly through Thursday ending up as just a nub of it's former self in the Gulf of Alaska feeding into a strong steep ridge over the immediate US and Canadian West Coast. No real support for storm development. Back to the west a new energetic flow of 170 kt winds to start pushing flat east off Japan reaching the dateline looking to be the start of a new storm cycle off into the future. Beyond 72 hours winds over the East Pacific to decay to near nothing while the West Pacific jet takes center stage. Winds there to continue flowing flat off Japan at 170-180 kts reaching a point 900 nmiles north of Hawaii early Sunday (12/31) steadily making more progress into the East Pacific. No well defined trough suggested but.cgienty of energy is to be present to support storm development. This pattern to continue through Wednesday (1/3) when the jet to be running flat from Japan to south Oregon with wind levels slowly simmering down to the 150 kts range focused mainly near the dateline. Storm generation potential fading.

At the surface today the remnants of Storm #7 were pushing into Northern CA with high pressure at 1024 mbs just off the US West coast making for a pressure gradient driving brisk 35 kt north winds down the entirety of the coast while raw local swell generated the day before was hitting the coast. Hawaii was basking in the southwestern tip of the high with light winds. Another broad and unorganized low pressure system was situated in the northwestern Gulf of Alaska sitting in the upper level trough there discussed above. All fetch of interest associated with this system was aimed north towards Alaska as it was interacting with high pressure off the US West Coast. Also the remnants of Storm #8 which is to affect Hawaii [see below] were getting absorbed into this low. Also of interest was a small but robust low pressure system trying to develop over Japan with 45-50 kt winds raking it's eastern coast. This is the start of what could become Storm #9.

Over the next 72 hours the tail end of the Gulf low pressure system to generate some 35-40 kt fetch northeast of Hawaii pushing towards the California coast on Thursday (12/28) generating some 22-26 ft seas in the vicinity of 40N 148-155W making for a small pulse of potential 13 sec period swell Saturday (12/30). But most energy from this system to be pushing north towards northern Canada with 45-50 kt winds expected to impact the coast there late Thursday night.

Also far to the west a new low over Japan to slip northeast and not make much headway with pressure 972 mbs generating a small area of 55 kt west winds just off the coast aimed generally towards Hawaii and the US West Coast, but a very long ways away. This low to decay on Friday (12/29) while more low pressure gets absorbed into this system. Pressure to drop to 964 mbs late Friday (12/29) with a broad fetch of 40 kt winds expected in it's west quadrant aimed mostly south of even Hawaii but setting the stage for better development to come.


Storm #8
A low started organizing over the dateline late Monday (12/25) pushing towards the Western Gulf of Alaska with 40-45 kts winds confirmed at 40N 174E. Seas were modeled at 30 ft @ 43N 172E.

Tuesday AM (12/26) winds continued at 40-45 kts confirmed at 36N 180W generating seas of 32 ft at 40N 175E. In the evening a small area of 40-45 kts winds were confirmed at 33N 172W generating seas of 32 ft seas at 36N 178W.

Wednesday AM (12/27) brought the last of this one with 35 kts winds fading at 32N 168W per the models with seas 29-30 ft at 33N 172W and only 993 nmiles north of the Islands. All this energy was pushing towards Hawaii down the 314-317 degree paths.

This was not an impressive storm by any means, being small in size and not very strong. But in it's favor all it's energy was aimed right towards Hawaii moving directly on the great circle track towards the Islands producing consistent virtual fetch. And it moved reasonably close to impart a fair amount of local energy pushing right towards the Islands. It lasted 36 hours generating 40-45 kt winds and 30-32 ft seas, making this the first significant class swell of the season for the Islands.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival Thursday (12/28) near 11 AM with period 18 secs peaking near 4 PM with pure swell 7.3-8.6 ft @ 17 secs (12-15 ft faces) mixed with a fair amount of locally generated windswell thanks to Kona winds. A good number of waves per set. Size to hold reasonably well through the night then start fading as period drops to 14 secs 5 AM Friday (12/29). Swell down to 7-8 ft @ 13-14 secs by sunrise (9-11 ft faces) and fading from there. Swell Direction 314-317 degrees

North California: Non-significant class residuals of this swell to push into North CA late Saturday (12/30) with period 17 secs. Swell peaking near 3 AM Sunday (12/31) with swell 5.6-6.3 ft @ 15 secs (8.4-9.5 ft faces) dropping to 14 secs with a little lesser size around noon then fading out late. Swell Direction: 285-293 degrees


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


California Offshore Forecast
On Wednesday (12/27) hard north wes winds were in control over the entire state in association with a pressure gradient between low pressure moving onshore and high pressure just off the coast. That to finish it's onshore push on Thursday with mild high pressure gaining total control and a light offshore to calm pattern expected all locations through Wednesday 12/3. It doesn't get any better.


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 West Pacific to really heat up with the formation and development of Potential Storm #9.

Potential Storm #9 (updated Fri AM)
On Friday (12/29) a broad 980 mb low was organizing off the Kuril Islands with a developing fetch of 35 kt winds setting up to it's south.

By Saturday AM (12/30) pressure to be down to 964 mbs as it approaches the dateline generating broad fetch of 40-45 kt winds filling the Western Pacific roughly terminating at 37N 170E aimed right down the 305 degree path to Hawaii and 30 degrees south of the 291 degree path to North CA. Seas building to 33 ft at 37N 167E. In the evening winds to continue at 40 to near 45 kts swinging more to the east at 38N 178E aimed 10 degrees east of the 312 degree path to Hawaii and 20 degrees south of the 289 path to NCal. Seas building to 37 ft at 38N 175E.

The core of the low to be over the dateline Sunday AM (12/31) with pressure 960 mbs producing a large fetch of 40 kt west winds near stationary at 40N 175W aimed 35-40 degree east of the 319 degree path to Hawaii and right up the 291 degree path to NCal. Seas building to 39 ft 39N 180W. More of the same forecast in the evening with the fetch near stationary through shrinking from the west just a bit aiming even more east to northeast. Seas holding at 39 ft at 39N 173W.

On Monday AM (1/1) things to be fading fast with a moderate area of 35 kts winds left at 40N 165W aimed east at Ncal up the 290 degree path with the same wind vectors as before. Seas fading from 38 ft at 40N 170W. In the evening the last residual 30-35 kt winds are to be almost north of Hawaii at 38N 170W and fading. Seas declining from 35 ft at 44N 164W.

Seas fading on Tuesday (1/2) from 30 ft in the morning at 43N 160W and 29 ft in the evening from 43N 152W.

This looks to be a solid storm (actually a gale since winds are not forecast to exceed 50 kts) generating 60 hours of swell producing fetch and 96 hours of seas in excess of 30 ft. Definitely the best of the season so far from a pure meteorological perspective. If all this comes to pass a solid moderate sized.cgius long period swell could impact the Hawaiian Islands from a somewhat oblique angle while California would see less size (due to swell decay and the long travel distance to the coast) but groomed long period energy for several days duration. This to not be a big over-the-top swell by any means, but rather a clean long-period classic early Winter type of swell. But bear in mind that not any fetch or seas have been produced yet, so this is all pure model voodoo at this time. Consider it with a large grain of salt. Will monitor.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is indicated.

Details to follow...

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Local Interest

High Noon and Low Tide: Eric Nelson has remastered this epic Mavericks documentary covering a week of giant surf leading up to that fateful day of 12/23/94 when we lost Mark Foo. See all the footage with archived and recent interviews of all the best riders including Grant Washburn, Doc Renneker, Evan Slater, Peter Mel and more. This is a must-have piece for any serious Maverick collection. Available at local surfshops. Will be coming to an on-line store shortly.

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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