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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: December 30, 2006 12:22 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 California
Storm #9 Building Towards Dateline


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). No updates scheduled 1/1-1/4

On Saturday (12/30) Northern CA surf was waist to chest high and clean. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were flat. Central California surf was waist high. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were thigh high at best. The LA Area southward to Orange County was thigh high at the better breaks. Southward from Orange County into San Diego best breaks were thigh high. The North Shore of Oahu was 1-3 ft overhead. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore had surf chest to head high.

Calm and clean conditions were in effect for California with no swell of interest registering over the length of the coast. Hawaii was seeing slowly declining swell from Storm #8, though still in the fun sized range. California is gearing up for the arrival of Swell #8, expected to be biggest north of Point Conception and getting reinforced by energy from a local gale. This to make for solid surf for the late weekend. Hawaii is to be in a declining mode for a few days. The next best swell source is from Storm #9, currently organizing west of the dateline and expected to make the long eastward trek into the Gulf of Alaska before fading out. 40-45 kt winds and seas in the 36-38 ft range are forecast targeting areas due east of it's track along the 40th parallel with most energy pushing towards the US mainland but Hawaii, being closer to the fetch, will get solid size. The biggest macro level weather feature going on is the onset of the inactive phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation, which is helping to dampen storm development. Fortunately that is to be short lived with the active phase already brewing in the Indian Ocean and expected to push in the to West Pacific about 10 days into January. See details below...


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

North Pacific

Saturdays jetstream charts (12/30) depicted a strong consolidated flow pushing off Japan dipping into a weak trough with winds peaking at 190 kts there, then ridging over the dateline and fading significantly. The last little vestiges of it then dove south over Hawaii before totally disintegrating, leaving the East Pacific in the doldrums and with no upper energy to support storm development. But the West Pacific had a good flow to support storm activity at the surface. Over the next 72 hours through Tuesday (1/2) an energetic jet to continue pushing east into British Columbia by early Tuesday with the core of it's energy pushing north of Hawaii at near 180 kts with up to 140 kt winds spanning almost the entire North Pacific. No major troughs or ridges were depicted but the wind speeds alone were likely to support some form of storm development at the surface. Beyond 72 hours things to decay a bit with lesser energy pushing off Japan and a bit of a .cgiit developing starting at the dateline Thursday (1/4) with a weak flow pushing over Hawaii while the bulk of the energy ridged slightly while pushing through the Central Gulf of Alaska. Fortunately by the weekend another pocket of 170 kt winds to start pushing east off Japan looking to make the long trek across the North Pacific, likely providing another cycle of storm development below it.

At the surface today Storm #9 was in control of the weather picture [see details below], pretty much filling the West Pacific while a moderate 1024 mb high pressure system was in control of waters just off the US West Coast and ridging southwest over Hawaii. So it was calm in the East and stormy in the West. Remnants of Storm #8 did push into the Gulf of Alaska late Thursday (12/28) generating some 35 kt fetch and 23 ft seas northeast of Hawaii pushing towards the California coast in the vicinity of 40N 148-155W. This made for a small pulse of 13 sec energy expected to mix with Swell #8 [details below]. Over the next 72 hours Storm #9 to track east and fade eventually seeping into British Columbia on Tuesday (1/2) while high pressure holds down the fort off California and Hawaii. Signs of another storm try to eke out an existence off Japan late in the period.


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.

Friday (12/29) this swell hit buoy 46006 AM at 3 PM with period 15-16 secs with pure swell quickly ramping up to 13 ft @ 15 secs by 7 PM and holding there with period slowly trickling off to 13-14 secs through 8 AM Saturday

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.

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. 13 sec energy from a gale off the coast to be intermixed possibly adding to buoy heights, but not necessarily doing anything for surf heights, just adding more short period small consistency. Swell Direction: 285-293 degrees



Potential Storm #9
On Friday (12/29) a broad 980 mb low was organizing off the Kuril Islands with a developing fetch of 40-45 kt winds confirmed setting up to it's south near 35N 165E aimed towards Hawaii down the 305 degree great circle path.

By Saturday AM (12/30) pressure was down to 964 mbs as it approached 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 30 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 (294 SCal). Seas building to 37 ft at 38N 173E.

The core of the low to be over the dateline Sunday AM (12/31) with pressure 962 mbs producing a moderate 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 38 ft 39N 180W. More of the same forecast in the evening with the fetch near stationary though shrinking from the west just a bit aiming even more east to northeast. Seas holding at 37 ft at 39N 175W.

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 36 ft at 40N 172W. In the evening the last residual 30-35 kt winds are to be almost north of Hawaii at 38N 165W and fading. Seas declining from 35 ft at 40N 167W.

Seas fading on Tuesday (1/2) from 30 ft in the morning at 40N 163W and 27 ft in the evening from 43N 152W.

This looks to be a reasonably 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 a more ideal setup than the storm of the past but not as strong as really required for an optimal setup. If all this comes to pass a solid small to moderate sized 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 swell by any means, but rather a clean long-period classic early Winter type of swell. But still only the first fetch and seas from this one have been produced, so any outcome remains far from certain. Will monitor.


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


California Offshore Forecast
On Saturday (12/30) a calm pattern was in effect over the entire California coast with high pressure at 1026 mbs sitting 600 nmiles west of San Diego. No real change into Sunday but then the high to get a little too strong setting up northwest winds at 20 kts from San Francisco south over the Channel Islands confined to a small area off Pt Conception Monday. Fortunately that to die off by Tuesday with pristine conditions holding through Wednesday. A vigorous front is forecast ahead of a strong 1040 mb high pressure system Thursday (1/4) possibly generating south winds into North CA with strong north winds following directly in the evening working their way into even Southern CA by Friday. A turn to the northeast is possible Saturday but not guaranteed.


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 try and produce another storm, this time taking a more northerly route. On Wednesday (1/3) it to be approaching the dateline and winding up with pressure 968 mbs and 45 kt winds in it's southwest sector aimed well mid-way between California and Hawaii. The core of the storm to sit right over the Aleutians with a moderate fetch of 45-50 kts winds tracking east towards the US mainland by Thursday generating 38 ft seas then shrinking in size Friday as it enters the Western Gulf of Alaska, again with seas fading from the 38-40 ft range tucked just south of the Aleutians. Residuals to push through the northern Gulf Saturday into North Canada.

Yet another system to try and start organizing late next weekend off Japan.


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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