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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, January 25, 2018 3:57 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
2.5 - California & 2.2 - 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 1/22 thru Sun 1/28

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   

Weak Swell Pattern for Now
Solid Active MJO a Week Out


On Thursday, January 25, 2018 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.3 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 2.2 ft @ 12.4 secs from 308 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.6 ft @ 5.3 secs with swell 1.1 ft @ 16.6 secs from 196 degrees. Wind at the buoy was west at 10-14 kts. Water temperature 59.9 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.3 ft @ 10.2 secs from 274 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.2 ft @ 17.8 secs from 269 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 0.8 ft @ 18.4 secs from 231 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.0 ft @ 17.3 secs from 279 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 10.6 ft @ 12.0 secs with swell 8.8 ft @ 10.5 secs from 298 degrees. Wind at the buoy was west at 16-21 kts. Water temp 56.1 degs.

See Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (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 Thursday (1/25) in North and Central CA jumbled Gulf swell was producing surf in the 1 ft overhead range and warbled and lumpy with onshore winds but not chopped and not very good. Protected breaks were chest high or so and a bit cleaner and soft. At Santa Cruz surf was waist to chest high on the sets and clean and lined up but weak and inconsistent. In Southern California up north surf was maybe waist high and weak and inconsistent with rare lined coming through but clean. In North Orange Co surf was waist to maybe chest high and a little warbled coming out of the north and soft. South Orange Country's best breaks were up to waist high and clean and unremarkable. In North San Diego surf was maybe waist high and clean and lined up but soft. Hawaii's North Shore was getting no real swell with waves waist to maybe chest high and clean but weak. The South Shore was thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at waist to maybe chest high and heavily textured from modest southeast wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (1/25) swell from a gale that developed off Japan Thurs-Sat (1/20) with up to 43 ft seas aimed east was past Hawaii and limping into California. Beyond a weaker swell pattern is forecast. A storm tracked off Japan on Tues (1/23) with 49 ft seas over a tiny area aimed east targeting Hawaii. Also a gale tracked through the Eastern Gulf Wed-Thurs (1/25) with up to 27 ft seas aimed east at Oregon and CA. And a weak gale formed over the dateline on Tues-Wed (1/24) with maybe 17 ft seas aimed at Hawaii. But after that things really get quiet. Maybe a gale is to form off the Pacific Northwest on Sun-Mon (1/29) with 23 ft seas and another over the dateline on Wed-Thurs (1/1) with 27 ft seas aimed at Hawaii offering a bit better potential for swell production, but that's it.

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


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

North Pacific

On Thursday AM (1/23) the jetstream was pushing east off Japan with winds 170 kts over Japan, but weakening while pushing half way to the dateline forming a trough over the Kuril Islands offering some support for gale development. But half way to the dateline the jet split with the northern branch tracking north up into the Bering Sea with the remaining energy tracking east and splitting again, with some of that tracking east through the Gulf and being joined by the return flow from the Bering Sea pushing over North California while the remaining energy fell southeast and split jet again. In all no troughs (other than the Kuril Island trough) were indicated offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold but with the Kuril trough getting pinched by Sun (1/28) but with a new weak trough trying to form in the Gulf being fed by 90 kt winds falling out of the Bering Sea offering only the weakest of support for low pressure development and fading out 24 hours later. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to build a little more off Japan with winds to 190 kts by Thurs (2/1) pushing over the dateline and then falling southeast into the Western Gulf with the split point moving well east to 150W (north of Hawaii) and some sort of a trough continuing to develop there offering some decent indication of support for gale development. The jet is just waiting for the Active Phase of the MJO to take control and pump energy into it. Theoretically the storm track will improve then.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (1/25) small swell from a gale that tracked off Japan was pushing into California. And swell from a gale previously off the Pacific Northwest is pushing towards CA (See Pacific Northwest Gale). And maybe tiny swell from a storm off Japan was pushing towards Hawaii (See Second Japan Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast.


Japan Gale
A small storm formed off Japan on Thurs AM (1/18) producing a small area of 50-55 kt northwest winds and seas building from 39 ft at 37N 153E. In the evening 50-55 kt northwest winds were pushing east-northeast with 43 ft seas at 38N 159E targeting Hawaii decently. Fri AM (1/19) fetch was fading from 50 kts from the west while the core lifted northeast with 42 ft seas lifting northeast at 41N 162E. In the evening fetch was fading from 40-45 kts from the west with seas fading from 37 ft at 42N 166E. This system was fading from there Sat AM (1/20) with 35 kt northwest winds and the core lifting north with seas fading from 29 ft at 42N 170E. This system was gone after that. Reasonable odds of modest swell resulting for Hawaii.

North CA: Swell continues on Thurs (1/25) at 3.8 ft @ 15 secs (5.5 ft) then fading out. Swell Direction: 294 degrees


Pacific Northwest Gale
A local gale developed off the Pacific Northwest coast Wed AM (1/24) in the Eastern Gulf producing 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas building from 24 ft at 48N 144W aimed at Oregon and CA. In the evening the fetch fell southeast at 30-35 kts from the northwest just off the NCal-Oregon border with 26 ft seas at 43N 138W targeting Oregon down into Central CA. The fetch faded Thurs AM (1/25) just off Cape Mendocino CA with northwest winds 30 kts and 21 ft seas at 43N 133W targeting Oregon and North CA. The gale is to be fading in the evening while moving onshore over Cape Mendocino and Southern Oregon with 25 kt west winds and seas 17 ft at 41N 129 impacting Oregon and extreme North CA. Raw swell the likely result later on Thurs (1/25) in North CA

North CA: Expect swell building through the day Thurs (10/25) pushing 10.8 ft @ 14 secs just after sunset (15.0 ft). Swell fading fast on Fri AM (10/26) from 9.7 ft @ 14 secs (13.5 ft). Residuals on Sat (10/27) fading from 6 ft @ 12 secs (7.0 ft). Swell Direction: 295-300 degrees


Second Japan Gale
On Mon PM (1/22) a small storm developed just a few hundred nmiles west of North Japan producing northwest winds at 55 kts with seas building from 27 ft at 39N 146E. On Tues AM (1/23) the storm was lifting north fast with winds 60 kts from the west and seas 49 ft over a tiny area at 40N 153E aimed east-northeast somewhat at Hawaii. By evening the storm is to be moving inland over the Southern Kuril Islands with west winds fading from 50 kts and seas 44 ft at 47N 156E and no longer really aimed at Hawaii but more north towards the Aleutians. This system is to be gone after that. Maybe small swell to result for Hawaii.

Hawaii: Tiny swell expected starting Sat AM (1/27) building to 2.0 ft @ 16-17 secs late (3.5 ft). Swell fading Sunday (1/28) from 1.7 ft @ 14 (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 308 degrees

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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (1/25) a low pressure was just off the Pacific Northwest Coast with west winds 15 kts mainly north of the Golden Gate and forecast to fade some later. Another pulse of light rain is forecast mid-day from morro Bay northward fading late. 16 inches of snow were predicted for Tahoe and and 12-14 inches were confirmed having fell through 5 AM. Light snow to continue for Tahoe down into the Central Sierra with another 7 inches of accumulation possible at resorts on the crest at Tahoe. Friday weak high pressure is to be in control just off the Central Coast with north winds 5-10 kts for North and Central CA and up to 20+ kts for Pt Conception holding through the day. No rain or snow forecast. Saturday (1/27) high pressure ridges into Central CA with light winds there but north winds 15-20 kts for Big Sur southward. A weak low is to push into extreme North CA with south winds 20-25 kts for Cape Mendocino with rain for Pt Arena northward through the day. Sunday light offshore winds set up for the state as high pressure lifts north along the coast centered over Cape Mendocino continuing Mon (1/29). Tuesday (1/30) high pressure builds in from the Gulf with north winds 10-15 kts early building to 20+ kts later from Monterey Bay northward. Wednesday (1/31) high pressure builds more with north winds 20 kts over Central CA and up to 25 kts for North CA. Thursday (2/1) the gradient is to lift north with offshore winds possible for the state.

South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell producing winds of interest were occurring.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are 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

Beyond 72 hours no other swell producing weather systems are forecast.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather system nor fetch is forecast.

More details to follow...


Beyond 72 hours no other well formed swell producing weather systems are forecast.

An ill formed low is forecast developing off the Pacific Northwest on Sun AM (1/26) generating 25-30 kt northwest winds and building seas. In the evening northwest fetch is to build to 35-40 kts in pockets with 20 ft seas at 45N 140W. The gale is to lift northeast fast from there with seas building to 26 ft but all aimed north at Central Canada and nothing aimed at the US West Coast. Something to monitor.

Also on Wed PM (1/31) a gale is to be developing over the Central Dateline region with 35+ kt northwest winds and seas building. On Thurs AM (2/1) northwest winds to be falling southeast at 30-35 kts with seas to 26 ft at 34N 175W targeting Hawaii well. Fetch and seas fading from there. Something to watch.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather system nor fetch is forecast.

More details to follow...


Inactive MJO 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 equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing 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 planet, 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 in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.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 displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. So it appears now a double dip La Nina is setting up and is to continue through the Winter and Spring of 2017-2018.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wed (1/24) 5 day average winds were from the east over the entire equatorial Pacific including the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were light easterly over the East Pacific but building over the Central Pacific and moderately strong easterly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (1/25) Moderate east anomalies were modeled over the eastern half of the KWGA with west anomalies moderately strong over the western half. This pattern is to hold through 1/30 then westerly anomalies are to build east filling the KWGA by 2/1. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is past it's peak with the Active Phase building in the from the west.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (1/24) The Inactive/Dry Phase of the MJO is moderately strong south of Hawaii at 155W with the Active/Wet Phase moving into the Western Pacific. The statistical model depicts the Inactive/Dry Phase slowly easing east and out of the KWGA 7 days out while the Active Phase moves east fully into the West Pacific 8 days out and nearly to the dateline by day 15 and pretty solid. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Active Phase stronger than the statistical model.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (1/25) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO moderately strong over the Eastern Maritime Continent and is to track east into the West Pacific 10 days and moderately strong. The GEFS model suggests the same thing but with the Active Phase as strong as possible and off the charts.
40 day Upper Level Model: (1/25) This model depicts a moderate Active/Wet MJO pattern over the West Pacific pushing east and fading some then moving into Central America on 2/19. Another moderate pulse of the Inactive Phase is to follow in the west on 2/9 pushing east to the East Pacific through the end of the model run on 3/6. The Active Phase to follow in the far West Pacific at that time. This model runs about 1 week ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (1/25) This model depicts the Inactive/Dry pattern is fading over the KWGA with east anomalies moving east out of the KWGA and gone by 1/31. The Active/Wet Phase is starting to build over the far West Pacific but not getting decent positioning until 1/29 with west anomalies over the Western KWGA building east and then filling the KWGA by 1/31. The Active Phase is to hold through 2/17 with weak west anomalies in the core of the KWGA. A weak Inactive Phase is to follow in the West KWGA on 2/12 building east and holding through 3/30 with mostly neutral anomalies forecast in the KWGA. A weak Active Phase to follow starting 3/23 and in control through the end of the model run on 4/24 with light west wind anomalies indicated. The low pass filter indicates a modest low pressure bias over the western half of the KWGA to 165E and is hold till 2/18, then start moving east reaching the dateline 4/15 with a high pressure bias over the East KWGA at 175E and is to move east and out of the KWGA by 3/10. No significant oceanic change is expected this winter as there is a 3 month delay for the ocean to respond to whatever occurs in the atmosphere, providing that change is consistent and long lasting (months in duration).

CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (1/25) The overview pattern depicts that warm water has retreated to the west and cooler water is in control in the east but losing ground quickly. Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 29-30 degs in the far West Pacific at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line is steady at 177E and steep (meaning there is a headwind of cooler water pushing into it from the east). The 24 deg isotherm was weak but has migrated east to 115W and deepening to 100 meters deep at 140W. Anomaly wise in the East Pacific it appears modest negative temperatures are quickly fading limited to the top 50 meters of the ocean in a few pockets to -1 degs C from Ecuador to the dateline but far less dense than months and weeks past. Warm anomalies are in the West Pacific at +1.5 degrees down 150 meters and were previously making steady easterly headway, but have not stalled with the leading finger of +1.0 degs anomalies in the East Pacific backtracking to 133W down 100 meters. A Kelvin Wave previously appeared to be pushing east but that has now stalled (no big surprise). The hi-res GODAS animation posted 1/18 depicts a shrinking area of cool water filling the subsurface East Pacific (-2.5 degs) but not as cool and not as broad or deep as the past months and erupting to the surface almost continuously between Ecuador to 170W with warm anomalies at +2.5 degs in the west. The cool pool appears to be slowly discharging to the surface and loosing density and depth while warm water appears to be pushing east under it with the leading edge at 120W.
Sea Level Anomalies: (1/18) Negative anomalies at -5 cms were over the equatorial East Pacific in pockets out to 160W mainly south of the equator with a shrinking core of -10 cm anomalies present between the Galapagos to 145W all 5 degs south of the equator and 1 small pocket to -15 cms at 118W and 5S . This area is steadily loosing coverage while drifting south. This is encouraging.

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: (1/24) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate the cool pattern in the Southeast Pacific. Upwelling is holding nearshore along the immediate coast of Peru and Ecuador but with a steady pool of warm anomalies out beyond the coast of Chile and Peru. the nearshore cool water is tracking off Ecuador then turning west on the equator from the Galapagos out to 120W but with a far smaller footprint than months and even weeks and days past. Pockets of weak warm anomalies are indicated just north and south of that route.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (1/24): A warming trend continues solidly just off Chile and Peru advecting west on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos and out to 140W. There were 2 small pockets of cooling water over the same area. A warming trend is ongoing.
Hi-res Overview: (1/24) Regardless of the short term warming trend indicated above, a La Nina cool stream is still present weak well off Southern Chile and Peru. But warm anomalies are nearshore from Chile extending north to a point a bit off Peru. The core of cool waters are running on the equator from the Galapagos pushing west and peaking near 120W, then slowly fading out to 170E. Cool water at depth is still erupting to the surface with the breach point just west of the Galapagos. It appears La Nina may have peaked out.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (1/25) Today's temps were steady at -0.744 degrees. Temps in this area bottomed out on 12/23 at -2.1 degs, a third near peak negative reading. The lowest point so far in this La Nina was -2.248 degs reached on 11/5. And that low point was lower than the previous coldest point reached on 10/11 at -1.9 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (1/25) Today temps were steady at -0.771 after rising fast 1/12-1/15, and that after falling hard on 1/10-1/12 to -1.577 setting a peak low temp. On (12/7) temps hit a previous record low at -1.219, just below the previous coldest peak so far this La Nina on 11/22 at -1.156. And the third previous low peak was reached at -1.1 on 11/23. The long arc suggests perhaps a rising pattern. La Nina is in control, but it's taking a hit.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (1/23) The forecast depicts temps bottomed out at -0.75 on Jan 1 and are rebounding forecast up to -0.45 early Feb then falling again to -0.75 in April and holding through the summer and fall through Oct. This suggests the peak of this years La Nina has occurred but it is to possibly hold through Summer into next Winter (2018-2019). This model is the outlier with others suggesting La Nina is to die this Spring.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Dec Plume updated (1/4) depicts temps bottomed out at -0.8 in early Dec and are to slowly rise, to +0.0 in May and +0.3 in August. See chart here - link  The NMME consensus for Jan indicates temps -0.8 degrees below normal Nov-Dec 2018 then rebounding to neutral -0.0 in May and +0.4 degs by July. It looks like La Nina is peaking out now. The CFSv2 is in the low end of that pack.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (1/25): The daily index was steady at +22.48 today. The 30 day average was rising to +6.48 suggesting the Inactive Phase of the MJO was having a effect. The 90 day average was rising at +4.93 suggesting La Nina was weakly in control.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (1/25) The index was falling barely at -1.09 (down from -1.08 on 1/21). The trend suggests La Nina is stable (was -0.96 on 1/6). Last years La Nina reached -1.94 on 11/2/16 and then fell to -2.20 on 6/28/17. It held pretty negative after that but has been rising some as of late. This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina events. The goal is to have it rise to at least -0.5 before a significant change could be suggested.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly negative, but not as much as one would expect with La Nina in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.12, Feb = +0.05, March = +0.14, April=+0.53, May=+0.29, June=+0.21, July= -0.50, Aug= -0.62, Sept = -0.25, Oct= -0.61, Nov = -0.46, Dec= -0.18. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.77, Feb = +0.70, Mar = +0.74, April=+1.12, May=+0.88, June=+0.79, July=+0.10, Aug=+0.09, Sept = +0.32, Oct=+0.05, Nov = +0.15, Dec = +0.50. No negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 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 strongly suggests that could be a possibility. 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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