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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, December 31, 2016 10:46 AM
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
2.0 - California & 2.8 - 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 1/2 thru Sun 1/8

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 Projected
Storm Pattern To Be Generally Weak

On Saturday, December 31, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 7.8 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 5.9 ft @ 10.3 secs from 51 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 13.7 secs from 234 degrees. Wind west 6-8 kts. Water temperature 57.9 degs. At Ventura swell was 1.6 ft @ 14.2 secs from 272 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.3 ft @ 14.4 secs from 252 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.0 ft @ 14.6 secs from 233 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 3.0 ft @ 13.5 secs from 269 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 13.3 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 9.1 ft @ 12.0 secs from 315 degrees. Wind south 12-18 kts at the buoy. Water temp 53.6 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.


Current Conditions
On Saturday (12/31) in North and Central CA a mixture of residual Gulf swell and local wind swell was producing waves in the 8 ft range on the face and a bit raw though winds were light offshore. It was head high to 1 ft overhead at protected breaks and clean but with underlying warble. At Santa Cruz surf was shoulder high and clean and lined up but not too powerful. In Southern California up north Gulf swell was producing surf at waist high on the sets and textured with light onshore wind early. Down in North Orange Co surf was flat and buried in tide with light northwest winds making for heavy texture. In San Diego surf was flat to 1 ft with heavy texture and unrideable. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northeast windswell chest to head high at top breaks and clean but not very organized. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell with waves head high to 1 ft overhead and chopped with moderate northeast wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
After a long run of stellar swell, California was fading back into a weaker swell pattern and poor local wind conditions. Hawaii was also in a bad swell situation. No swell of interest was in the water in the North Pacific. The models suggest a cutoff low might generate 21 ft seas north of Hawaii briefly on Tues (1/3) somewhat targeting Hawaii. Beyond a small gale might develop just west of the dateline on Fri-Sat (1/7) producing a small area of 34 ft seas aimed east. But other wise a weak jetstream and swell pattern is in control.

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

North Pacific

On Saturday AM (12/31) the jetstream was consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds to 160 kts forming a weak trough just east of the North Kuril Islands offering some support for gale development there. But the jet .cgiit strongly on the dateline with the northern branch pushing north through the Bering Sea up into the Arctic Circle and then moving southeast over Alaska and into interior Canada while the southern branch tracked southeast over Hawaii and then east into Baja offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours a somewhat more cohesive jet is to eventually develop later Mon (1/2) with the northern branch flowing from Japan gently east over the dateline down at 30N passing north of Hawaii and then into Central California. But winds energy is to be weak with strongest winds over Japan and Central CA at 150 kts each but only in the 100-110 kts range in between over the balance of the North Pacific offering no real support for gale development. During that time the .cgiit is to dissipate. Beyond 72 hours on Wed (1/4) the .cgiit is to start redeveloping a bit west of the dateline near 170E with the northern branch again sucking energy off to the north up into the Bering Sea NCH 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 never to return to the main flow over open waters of the North Pacific and holding that way out into Sat (12/7). But a consistent trough is to hold off Japan west of the .cgiit point offering some support for gale development there.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (12/31) no swell of interest was in the water over the North Pacific. But a cutoff low was circulating north of Hawaii. Also a local low was over Central CA generating north winds at 35 kts from Cape Mendocino south to San Francisco over outer waters producing 18 ft seas and local windswell impacting the North and Central CA coasts.

Over the next 72 hours the cutoff low north of Hawaii theoretically is to develop Mon PM (1/2) producing a small area of 35 kt northwest winds 900 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii with seas building to 21 ft at 37N 160W targeting a point mostly east of the Islands. Fetch is to fall south Tues AM (1/3) at 30-35 kts with seas holding at 21 ft at 34N 157W. Fetch is to fade thereafter.

Hawaii: Possible windswell arriving on Wed (1/4) peaking at sunset at 5.6 ft @ 13 secs (7 ft). Residuals fading fast on Thurs (1/5) from 3.6 ft @ 10-11 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 350 degrees

Also a cutoff low is to develop Sun AM (1/1) along the coast of Washington falling south producing 40 kt north winds and 26 ft seas at 48N 130W outside the CA swell window. fetch is to be fading in the evening from 35 kt along the Pacific Northwest with seas 24 ft at 45N 129W still well outside the CA swell window. Fetch is to fade from 30 kts not making much southward progress on Mon AM (1/2) with seas 18 ft just off Cape Mendocino and dissipating. Windswell and weather is possible for North and Central CA.


  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 Saturday AM (12/31) low pressure was over North CA generating up to 40 kt north winds off Cape Mendocino with north winds at 20 kts reaching south to San Francisco over outer waters. Theoretically an offshore flow is to develop as the core of the low pushes south from North to Central California in the afternoon. Maybe some scattered light precipitation to move down the coast producing rain but mostly focused on Southern CA in the evening. Light snow for the extreme Southern Sierras possible in the evening. On Sunday northwest winds at 20 kts are forecast for the entire coast including Southern CA later with a low inland pushing south bring light snow to Lake Tahoe near sunset. Maybe 1 inch of accumulation overnight. On Monday northwest winds are to be fading from 20 kts early for North CA and 15 kts for Central CA to near calm later. Light rain expected for Monterey Bay northward through the day. 6-7 inches of snow possible for North Lake Tahoe resorts through the evening. Tuesday another local low is to develop off Central CA pushing inland in the evening with south winds building to 20 kts at sunset and 30 kts overnight with rain building from Monterey Bay northward. Solid snow building for the entire Sierra later in the evening. Wednesday the low is to be moving inland with north winds fading from 20 kts for the North and Central Coast. Rain fading along the coast. Heavy snow possible for the Sierra early and slowly dissipating late afternoon into the evening. light winds Thursday and Friday. but a new stronger low is to be building off the Central Coast by Sat (1/7) with south winds 20+ kts later in the day.


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

A tiny storm is to develop well off North Japan nearly on the dateline on Thurs PM (1/5) with a small area of 55 kt northwest winds and 30 ft seas building at 36N 167E. Winds to be fading from 45 kt Fri AM (1/6) with seas building to 34 ft at 39N 170E. The gale is to be lifting north in the evening with a broader area of 35-40 kt west winds developing with one patch to 45 kt embedded and seas building in coverage at 29 ft at 41N 177E. Fetch is to hold Sat AM (1/7) with seas 35 ft at 46N 173E aimed east. Something to monitor.


South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

La Nina Continues Slowly Fading

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: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward di.cgiaced and generally weak. And by early 2017, it appears to be fading.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Saturday (12/31) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but lighter 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 light easterly over the KWGA. East anomalies over the KWGA were attributable to La Nina and are being modulated by the MJO (a.cgiified during the Inactive Phase, weakened during the Active Phase).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Weak west anomalies were modeled over the KWGA. The forecast suggests east anomalies developing near the dateline 1/2 and building in strength a week out (1/7) but nearly neutral in the West KWGA. The first real easterly wind burst from this La Nina started on 9/23 and continued into 12/13, then started oscillating beyond. 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 12/30 a neutral MJO signal was present. The statistic model projects a weak active signal developing a week out over the dateline holding to 2 weeks out with the Inactive phase building solidly over the far West Pacific. The dynamic model depicts the Inactive Phase of the MJO weak over the dateline 3 days out and building some 2 weeks from now with the Active Phase developing in the Indian Ocean. The 2 models are contradicting each other.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/31) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO is weak and barely discernible in the Indian Ocean and slow moving and building into the West Pacific 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts it remaining weak and contained in the Indian Ocean.
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/31) This model depicts a neutral MJO in.cgiay. A weak Inactive Phase is to develop on the dateline 1/15 moving east into Central America while weakening into 2/9. A neutral MJO signal is to follow in the West Pacific 1/30. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (12/31) This model depicts a weak Active MJO signal was building from the west to the dateline with modest east anomalies from a previous Inactive Phase holding on the dateline but not west of there. The Active Phase is to hold on the dateline through 1/24 with weak east anomalies continuing over the dateline but west anomalies building in the west KWGA and easing east. The Active Phase is to become more pronounced on 2/1 over the dateline with east anomalies dissipating and west anomalies taking hold over the entire KWGA for the foreseeable future (3/29). This is doubtful. 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: (12/31) 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 175W 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 neutral to warmer anomalies in control from 150 meters down and pushing east daily. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/24 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: (12/24) Negative anomalies at -5.0 cm with a few small pockets to -10 cm rule the equatorial Pacific from the Galapagos to the 160W 5 degs north and south. And within that, neutral anomalies are developing. Slowly sea levels are rising as La Nina looses 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: (12/30) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a very thin cool pool of water along the immediate coast of Peru streaming to the equator and then turning west off Ecuador and migrating over the Galapagos. Very warm water has solid coverage just off the coast of Peru reaching up to and point just over the southern Galapagos Islands. A cool bubble between Costa Rica to the Galapagos is oscillating, gaining some coverage as of today. Cool water was gained a little footing between the Galapagos out to 100W, but warm temps are taking control from 100W out to 140W. A broad area of cool temperatures remains from 140W westward to 160W but appears to be fading. La Nina is pulsing weakly 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 (12/29): A warming trend continues along Chile and Peru. A weak cooling trend has developed between the Galapagos out to 120W. It's neutral west of there with pockets of warming and cooling waters present much like it has been all Fall. The cool pattern in the Central Pacific is not as prominent as weeks and months previous and is weakening 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: (12/31) Today's temps were rising +0.754.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (12/31) temps were rising at -0.086 coming off a recent low at -0.75 on 12/24. 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 (12/30) 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 neutral on Jan 1, then slowly rising from there to +0.5 degs in April and 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 (12/31): The daily index was rising some today at 9.76. The 30 day average was corrupt by bad reading on 12/23. The 90 day average was also corrupted.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (12/31) Today's value was steady 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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