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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: January 24, 2010 2:14 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
Swell Potential Rating = 4.0 - California & 3.8 - 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 1/25 thru Sun 1/31
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   

Storm #18 Forms off North CA
Another Smaller Storm (#19) Expected for the Western Gulf - Then Quieter

 

New Swell Classification Guidelines (Winter)

Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead). Summer - 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: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft). Summer - 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. Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
On Sunday (1/24) North and Central California were in between storms and swells, with surf in the 2-4 ft overhead range coming from the west, just leftover swell really, and clean though still pretty lurpy at select breaks with much short period energy in the water from a week of wind. Southern California was doing quite nice with the same west swell at 2-3 ft overhead sets up north and lined up with east winds and good conditions. Waves were up to head high down south and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting another pulse of more northerly angled windswell from a local gale that was north of the Islands on Friday (1/22) with waves 2-3 ft overhead at select breaks and clean with no wind at all early. The East Shore report was not available. The South Shore was asleep for the winter.

The forecast for North and Central CA is for another front with south wind and rain to move in later Sunday continuing Monday and Tuesday (1/26) while Swell #18 arrives at 20-23 ft on Monday from the west-northwest then quickly fading on Tuesday. Small scale surf forecast for Wed/Thurs (7 ft faces). Southern California is to see the same thing with Swell #18 hitting late Monday afternoon at more exposed north facing breaks up north with waves at 9-10 ft on the face and a bit more north than previous events, but west winds in control turning south with the front moving in Tuesday and pretty much blowing it out. Waist to chest high leftovers expected on Wednesday and fading into Thursday with improving conditions. The North Shore of Hawaii is to be pretty small on Monday with leftover northwest windswell at head high holding with a bit more period on Tuesday. Then Swell #19 is expected in Wednesday with waves at pushing 18 ft Hawaiian at top spots near noon then dropping from 14-15 ft on Thursday and 4 ft overhead Friday. The East Shore is to have no easterly windswell. The South Shore is in hibernation for the winter.

Longterm the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is now fully in the Active Phase with El Nino controlling the storm track, meaning more weather and storms are expected to take the southerly route into the US West coast. The jetstream energy levels are down some from weeks earlier but still solid. Curiously a weak gale track is forecast for the North Pacific focused on the Western Gulf with no real strong systems expected a week out. Looks like a bit of a slowdown for a week, but by all indications things should be picking up thereafter.

 

SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours

North Pacific

Overview
On Sunday (1/24) the North Pacific jetstream continued flowing flat east on the 32N latitude with 140-150 kt winds tracking off Southern Japan pushing over the dateline to a point north of Hawaii, with lesser energy pushing on east into Baja north to Oregon. A small bit of energy was being bled off to the north from Japan, pushing the overall wind levels down a bit from weeks previous bit not particularly bad. Over the next 72 hrs a weak trough is to build off Central CA on Monday pushing into the coast Tuesday supporting gale development there, while another weak trough sets up on the dateline pushing east. More 150 kts winds to be tacking off Japan. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to sink even further south, dropping down to near 25N from Hawaii eastward while a generalized weak trough continues on the dateline pushing east to a point north of Hawaii over the weekend likely support gale development there. The jet is to drop down to Southern Baja by the late weekend in the east but continuing at near 33N in the West. Winds speeds are to remain at 150 kts in the west, but be only 130 kts in the east. In all, more of the same just weaker.

At the surface on Sunday (1/24) Swell #17 was fading fast in Central CA but was still decent in Southern CA. Swell from a local that was north of Hawaii on Friday (1/22) was hitting the Islands as expected. Storm #18 was peaking off the North CA coast (See details below). More fragmented low pressure (3 small separate systems) were hanging near the dateline/Western Gulf, forecast to congeal in the coming days. Over the next 72 hours a new storm is forecast forming northwest of Hawaii on Monday. This will be Storm #19. On Monday AM (1/25) the storm is to have a small area of 40-45 kt northwest winds at 35N 175W pushing towards Hawaii down the 319 degree path with 23 ft seas at 35N 180W and on the increase. Nothing is to be aimed at the US West Coast yet.  In the evening 50 kt west winds are forecast building in the storms south quadrant at 37N 170W aimed well down the 320 degree path to Hawaii with seas up to 30 ft at 35N 170W and aimed at Central CA up the 287 degree path.  Tuesday AM (1/26) 45 kt west winds are to hold at 38N 165W with 37 ft seas building at 38N 163W pushing towards Central CA up the 285 degree path. Winds to be fading from 40 kts at 40N 158W in the evening with seas at 37 ft at 38N 159W pushing directly towards Central CA up the 285 degree path. 35-40 kt west winds to hold Wednesday AM (1/27) at 41N 155W with more 35 ft seas forecast at 41N 152W pushing towards the Pacific Northwest. This system is to dissipate after that. If all goes as forecast another small significant class swell could results for the US West Coast and Hawaii. Rough data suggest swell arrival in Hawaii on Wednesday (1/27) at noon at 10.8 ft @ 17 secs (18 ft Hawaiian at top spots) from 325 degrees. Swell pushing towards California for late in the week if not early in the weekend. 

Storm #18
Remnants of a local gale that tracked just north of Hawaii on Friday (1/22) regrouped off Northern CA on Sat PM (1/23) with 45 kts west and northwest winds forecast at 40N 145W and seas on the increase. By Sunday AM (1/24) the gale made it to storm status with 50 kts west winds at 42N 140W aimed directly an Central CA down the 292 degree great circle path and seas quickly jumped to 35 ft at the same locale pushing 38 ft at 43N 136W 6 hrs later. In the evening 40-45 kt west winds to be fading at 43N 135W (308 degrees relative to Central CA) with seas peaking at 38 ft at 43N 135W. Larger raw swell is to be pushing towards North and Central CA with the storm only 600-800 nmiles offshore with lesser energy into Southern CA.

Expect swell arrival in Central CA at 9 AM Monday (1/25) peaking near noon at 11.5-13.5 ft @ 17 secs (20-24 ft faces) and raw. Swell Direction: 292-298 degrees with lesser energy north of that.

Expect swell arrival in Southern CA at 5 PM Monday (1/25) with swell peaking near 11 PM at 5.5-6.0 ft @ 17 secs (9-10 ft faces at exposed north facing breaks), then heading down after that. Swell Direction 302-310+ degrees

 

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

 

California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (1/24) a new storm was building just 700 nmiles was of North CA with the front from it already impacting the extreme North CA coast with south winds and rain expected to build down to Monterey Bay late and continuing over the entire Central Coast by Monday.  Reinforcing secondary low pressure is to push into the Central Coast on Tuesday possibly setting up east winds and a clearing pattern up north late but driving south winds and rain into Southern CA early. Weak high pressure is to settle over the area Wednesday with clearing skies and light northwest winds, fading on Thursday as more low pressure queues up off the coast. By Friday (1/29) the remnants of a gale are to push into the Central Coast with south winds taking hold a and light rain late holding into early Saturday, then high pressure and light winds trying to take hold for the weekend.

 

South Pacific

Overview
At the surface no swell producing fetch was occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.


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

 

QuikCAST's

 

LONG-TERM FORECAST
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hrs the models suggest another small gale is to be pushing east off the Kuril Islands Wed/Thurs (1/28) with 30-35 kts west winds generating up to 40-45 kts winds over a small area on Friday (1/29) at 40N 170W aimed exclusively at the US West coast and down the 287 degree path to NCal. Seas to peak at 30 ft over a tiny area at that time.  Maybe some smaller non-significant class swell to result mostly for the US West Coast. Another gale is forecast starting to wrap up in the same region on Sunday (1/31) but it's a bit early to speculate about details yet. In all a weaker gale pattern looks likely, but not out entirely. .    

MJO/ENSO Update (reference): As of Sunday (1/23) the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) was in the Active Phase. The ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) index was negative with the Daily SOI at -5.65 (19 days in a row negative). The 30 day average was up to -3.27 with the 90 average up to -7.89.  

Wind anomalies at the 850 mb level (approx 5000 ft up) as defined by models indicating a moderate area of westerly anomalies covering from Indonesia east over the dateline to a point south of Hawaii. We are no reaching into the core of a new Active Phase of the MJO. The storm pattern in the North Pacific is likely to be helped slightly by this phase, but with El Nino of and by itself driving most of the storm track now.  The Active Phase and it's weak westerly wind anomalies is expected to seep east holding over the dateline and parts east of there through 2/2, then fading on the dateline by 2/7 and gone by 2/12 while a new Inactive Phase starts to limp east into the Pacific. This Active Phase should gently push the storm track into even more of a favorable mode.

Sea Surface Temp anomaly data (1/21) indicates that warmer than normal waters were consolidated on the equator more towards the dateline and less in the vicinity of the Galapagos Islands.  Interestingly a strong Kelvin Wave (see below) that had erupted along the Ecuador coast in Dec and early Jan was expected to build surface temperatures there, but it appears trades are blowing that warm water quickly west. This is looking more like a Midoki El Nino than one of the classic variety.  Overall the warm water signature remains non-exceptional from a historical El Nino perspective, but clearly in the moderate category and holding, not building.  Suspect we are at or near the peak of this ENSO event.   

Below the surface on the equator things are starting to back off from weeks previous. A steady flow of warmer than normal subsurface water continues tracking from the West Pacific (150 m below the surface) under the dateline and breaking the surface near Central America as it has for months now.  But the Kelvin Wave which has been impacting the the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador coast has peaked out with only 3-4 degree warm anomalies still present from 145W into the coast there and slowly loosing it's warm advantage. Still, it continues fueling the warm surface anomalies associated with El Nino in the East equatorial Pacific as it continues impacting the coast there.  We're looking for one more Kelvin Wave with luck before this El Nino producing event is over.

Over the Equatorial Pacific solid trades were blowing in the East, but only in the normal range.  And a building area of fully blowing western winds which started to appear pushing from the far west to almost the dateline on 1/20 were covering a larger area on 1/23, looking much like a real Westerly Wind Bust event. This is what is needed to generate yet one more Kelvin Wave. Regardless at some point in the next month or so we expect the pattern of anomalously west winds to break down completely and a normal trade pattern to take over. But that will likely not happen until sometime after this Active Phase of the MJO completes it's cycle, in maybe mid-February (at the earliest). Previously Westerly Wind Bursts produced Kelvin Waves that resulted in the subsurface warm pool currently present in the tropical East Pacific that have formed El Nino.  

El Nino is affecting the global atmospheric weather pattern at this point in time and is expected to continue having an impact into the Summer of 2010. This suggest that not only will the winter and spring storm pattern be enhanced in the North Pacific, but also the early summer storm track in the South Pacific too.  All data suggests this will not be a strong El Nino, more likely a solid moderate one. A solid accumulation of warm surface water in the equatorial East Pacific and a solid pool of warn subsurface water remains in place, but seems to be eroding some suggesting El Nino has maxed out. But as long as there continues to be WWB's, then warm water will be migrating east, and the warm water pattern will hold, and the atmosphere above it will respond in-kind to the change (towards El Nino). We expect this one last shot at another Kelvin Wave from the current Active Phase in-play now (Jan 2010) and then the slow degradation will begin in the ocean. But the atmosphere is already be strongly influenced by the warm water buildup over the past 6 months, and it will not return to a normal state for quite some time. This El Nino it is already larger and strong than any other in the past 12 years. 

Strong El Nino's bring lot's of bad weather to the US West Coast along with the benefit of increased potential for storm and swell enhancement. A moderate El Nino provides that storm and swell enhancement, but more of a gentle but steady push/momentum in-favor of storm development rather than the manic frenzy of a strong El Nino, without all the weather associated with a strong event. So in many ways a moderate El Nino is more favorable from a surf perspective. As of right now things are looking to be in the middle to high-end of a moderate event.  Since anomalous water temps on the equator have not exceeded 3 degrees (nor are they forecast to) and the SOI remains unremarkable, this all suggests a modest El Nino is all we're going to see. This is clearly already enough to provide storm enhancement, and a better than average winter surf season for the North Pacific (that is already in evidence with 13 significant class storms on the record) , and still likely better than anything in the past 10 years. Better yet, if it's not too strong (as this event appears to be) perhaps it will not degrade into La Nina the year after (which typically happens after stronger El Nino's), but hold in some mild El Nino-like state for several years in a row. This would be an even better outcome.   

See more details in the new  El Nino update.

 

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the models suggest no swell producing fetch is to develop.   

Details to follow...

****

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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MAVERICKSSURF MAVFILM MAVSURFER SURFPULSE Inside Mavericks Randy Cone Surfboards

Local Interest

Stormsurf Weather Models have all been upgraded! Over the New Years break we installed all new and upgraded weather models. Also new are experimental snow models for the Southwest US. Take a look here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wx.html

Read about Eric Nelson and Curt Myers, the makers of Ride-On and other Big Wave Surf Movies here: http://coastviewsmag.com/powerlines-productions-filming-the-art-of-big-wave-surfing

Ride On! Powerlines new big wave epic is now available on DVD. Get the entire big wave story of the 2008-2009 season here: http://www.mavz.com/

Click here to learn more about Casa Noble Tequila! Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here: http://www.casanoble.com/

Interview With Stormsurf:  The crew at SurfScience.com worked with Stormsurf on a feature about why surfers should be able to read wave charts themselves. They are firm believers that a little learning can go a long way to help your surfing.  This is a great article to help convince your friends that they can benefit from being able to read the data themsleves rather than just relying on the forecasts of others.  See the full thing here:  Create Your Own Surf Forecast with Stormsurf

North California Surf Report Works Again: After an extended downtime we finally got the North California Surf Report working again. Thanks for your patience. See it here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/report/ncal.html

Shark Video: Our friend Curt Myers of Powerlines productions shot this footage of 2 great whites munching on a whale carcass off Devils Slide (south of San Francisco) on Thursday. Kind of interesting to watch. Check it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I4rZYEZMWQ (Fixed link)

Wave Model Upgrade Status Report: At this point we believe the installation of the new wave models is complete, with no problems being reported, the server stabilizing and the much requested return of the old style hemispheric Surf Height models now operational (again) and running side-by-side along the new ones. We thank you for your patience and input as we went though this process.  Your feedback helps guide our efforts and ultimately results in a better product for everyone.  Now we're off to start providing better menus to some wave model products most of you probably haven't uncovered yet (site specific graph and text forecasts), updateing the wave model FAQs and then upgrading the Weather Models.  

New Wave Model Facts: Click HERE to read more about the new wave models. Important info.

Stormsurf Wave Models Updated: On Friday (2/6) we installed the latest upgrade to our wavemodels. A year in the works, this upgrade essentially is a total re-write of every wave model product we produce. They now take advantage of the new Version 3 of the Wavewatch wavemodel. This version runs at a much higher resolution, specifically 0.0 X 0.5 degrees for the global grib with local products at 0.1667 X 0.1667 degrees, and it uses the hi-res GFS model for wind speeds. And of even more interest, the model now identifies primary swell and windwave variables. As such we now have new model images which displays this data. Also we've included out special 3D topographic land masks into all models. In all it makes for a radical step forward in wave model technology. We'll be upgrading minor components (FAQ, new menu pages etc) for a few weeks to come, but all the basics are available for your use now. Check it out here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_wam.html

Story About Stormsurf: The folks at SurfPulse (and specifically author Mike Wallace) have written up a really nice article about Stormsurf, complete with some good pics. Learn about how we came to be and a little of where we are going. Check it out here: http://www.surfpulse.com/2009/01/visceral-surf-forecasting-with-mark-sponsler/

Stormsurf Video: Just for fun - here's a clip about Stormsurf that ran on Bay Area TV a while back. Thought you might enjoy it: http://vimeo.com/2319455

Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.

Need Chiropractic Help? Visit our friends at Darrow Chiropractic. Not only will Dr. Darrow fix you up, he might give you some big wave surfing tips too! See more here: http://www.darrowchiropractic.com/

Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's simple and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet Explorer 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!
http://www.google.com/ig/add?moduleurl=http://www.stormsurf.com/gadget/stormsurf .xml

Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table

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