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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Monday, January 29, 2018 1:51 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
2.1 - California & 2.9 - 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 1/29 thru Sun 2/4

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 Gale off Pacific Northwest
Broad Gale to Develop NW of Hawaii

BUOY ROUNDUP

On Monday, January 29, 2018 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 6.8 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 5.8 ft @ 10.4 secs from 352 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.1 ft @ 4.3 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 10.4 secs from 215 degrees. Wind at the buoy was east at 10-12 kts. Water temperature 59.7 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.0 ft @ 9.2 secs from 273 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.1 ft @ 10.0 secs from 261 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.0 ft @ 13.3 secs from 219 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.9 ft @ 10.3 secs from 272 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.6 ft @ 12.0 secs with swell 3.1 ft @ 10.2 secs from 309 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north-northeast at 16-20 kts. Water temp 55.8 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).
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/Utility Class: 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.

Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.

 

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
Current Conditions
On Monday (1/29) in North and Central CA minimal generic background swell was producing waves in the waist high range and clean but weak with light offshore winds. Protected breaks were thigh to waist high with luck and clean and nearly breaking on the beach. At Santa Cruz surf was near flat and unrideable and clean. In Southern California up north surf was flat and clean and unrideable. In North Orange Co surf was waist to chest high and clean coming out of the north and nearly breaking on the beach. South Orange Country's best breaks were flat with rare waist high peaks. In North San Diego surf was waist high and clean and lined up but soft on the sets. Hawaii's North Shore was getting north windswell with waves shoulder to maybe head high and clean and fairly lined up on occasion. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at chest to shoulder high and clean early with weak northeast winds 1-5 kts.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Monday (1/29) swell from a gale that is developing off the Pacific Northwest on Sun-Mon (1/29) with 26 ft seas aimed east was pushing east towards the Pacific Northwest and southeast towards North and Central CA but unremarkable. Of more interest is a gale forecast to develop on the dateline Thurs-Fri (2/2) with 32-35 ft seas aimed southeast at Hawaii and in close proximity to the Islands. A stronger system is to form off North Japan on Mon (2/5) tracking east and producing 39 ft seas aimed east. A improving storm pattern is expected with the Active Phase of the MJO forecast to build.

 

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

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Monday AM (1/29) the jetstream was pushing east off Japan with winds 180 kts pushing off Japan but splitting half way to the dateline with the northern branch weak and pushing up into Russia while the remaining energy fell southeast forming a small trough on the dateline being fed by 160 kt winds and offering some support for gale development. From there the jet split multiple times with most energy tracking east and into Washington at 130 kts producing weather there while the remaining energy fell southeast generally towards the equator. The weak beginnings of the Active Phase of the MJO were positively influencing the jet off Japan, but east of there the Inactive Phase was causing the jet to be weak and fragmented. Over the next 72 hours wind energy is to continue building from Japan eastward with the split off Japan fading and a cohesive flow pushing to a point just north of Japan with winds to 170 kts from Japan to the dateline. The trough previously over the dateline is to push east and fade late Wed (1/31) 700 nmiles north of Hawaii. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to continue building off Japan with winds to 190 kts by Thurs (2/1) pushing over the dateline and then falling into a developing but gentle trough locked 600 nmiles northwest of Hawaii offering good support for gale development. East of there the jet is to split at 150W with the northeast branch pushing northeast and up into Central Canada with the southern branch heading towards the equator. A variant of this pattern is to hold into Mon (1/5) with the split point near 150W and a trough north of Hawaii winds building to 200 kts half way to the Dateline indicative of the building Active Phase of the MJO. The storm track should theoretically improve as the MJO pushes east.

Surface Analysis
On Monday (1/29) swell from a gale circulating in the Eastern Gulf was pushing southeast towards the US West Coast (see East Gulf Gale below). Otherwise no swell production was occurring.

Over the next 72 hours a small gale is to start building on the dateline Mon PM (1/29) with 40 kt northwest winds over a pinpoint sized area falling southeast. More of the same is forecast Tues AM (1/30) with 27 ft seas at 37N 177E falling southeast targeting Hawaii. Fetch is to fade in the evening from 35 kts positioned 1000 nmiles northwest of Hawaii with 26 ft seas at 32N 178W. The gale is to fade more while approaching Hawaii Wed AM (1/31) with northwest winds 35 kts and seas 23 ft at 28N 171W. All this is really primer activity. In the evening the real event is to start developing with a broad fetch of 40 kt northwest winds building on the dateline with 26 ft seas building at 35N 178E targeting Hawaii directly. On Thurs AM (2/1) 45 kt northwest winds are to be 1000 nmiles northwest of Hawaii with 34 ft seas at 33N 177W. In the evening a broad but less defined fetch of 35-40 kt northwest winds are to be 600 nmiles northwest of Hawaii with 30 ft seas over a broad area at 30N 170W targeting the Islands directly. Fri AM (2/2) 35-40 kt northwest fetch is to be fading in the same location with 31 ft seas at 29N 175W. In the evening 30-35 kt northwest winds to be over a broad area with 28 ft seas at 28N 165W or 500 nmiles north west of Hawaii. Sat AM (3/3) the gael is to be fading with 30 kt northwest winds still on the dateline with 20-23 ft seas north of the Islands at 30N 160W. This system is to dissipate from there. A long run of larger raw swell is possible for Hawaii starting Fri (2/2).

 

East Gulf Gale
An ill formed low started developing off the Pacific Northwest on Sun AM (1/26) generating 25-30 kt northwest to west winds and building seas. In the evening northwest fetch built to 40-45 kts in the gale west quadrant with 20 ft seas at developing at 45N 145W. On Mon AM (1/29) the gale tracked east 40 kts winds in it's south quadrant with seas building to 26 ft at 47N 142W aimed mainly at the Pacific Northwest and points north of there but with sideband energy targeting North and Central CA (310 degs NCal). In the evening the gale is to continue tracking east with 35-40 kt west winds just off British Columbia and Washington with 29-30 ft seas at 50N 138W barely in the NCal swell window at 319 degrees. This system is to fade and move inland from there. Small swell is possible for California.

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues (1/30) pushing 3.8 ft @ 13-14 secs late (5.0 ft) and mostly shadowed in the SF Bay Area. Swell building over night and peaking Wed AM (1/31) at 7.1 ft @ 13 secs (9.0 ft) and still shadowed in SF. Swell fading Thurs (2/1) from 5.4 ft @ 11 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 308-319 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 Monday AM (1/29) modest high pressure at 1024 mbs was just off the Central CA coast ridging inland over North CA producing a light northeasterly flow at 10 kts forming a bubble of storm protection from Southern Oregon southward. Tuesday (1/30) high pressure builds offshore with north winds 10-15 kts early building to 15+ kts later from Monterey Bay northward to Cape Mendocino. Wednesday (1/31) high pressure lift north some off Cape Mendocino with north winds 15-20 kts over North and Central CA. Thursday (2/1) the high fades and moves inland some with north winds 15 kts from Pt Arena south to Pt Conception. More of the same is forecast Friday with the high surging again and lifting north some ridging into Southern Oregon with north winds 15 kts for the bulk of North and Central CA. Saturday (3/3) the high lifts north over the Pacific Northwest with north winds 20 kts for Cape Mendocino but calm winds south of there for the rest of North and Central CA. A light pressure and wind regime to hold into Mon (2/5).

South Pacific

Overview
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

 

QuikCAST's

 

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

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a small but well organized gale is to develop off Japan on Sun (1/4) with 45 kts west winds over a modest sized area and seas building to 38 ft at 40N 155E tracking east. On Mon AM (2/5) the gale is to be pushing east with 45 kt west winds and seas 39 ft at 40N 162E. Something to monitor.


South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

 

Active MJO is Building

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 Sun (1/28) 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 moderate easterly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (1/29) Moderate east anomalies were modeled over the eastern quarter of the KWGA with west anomalies moderately strong over the western half. This pattern is to hold through 1/31 then westerly anomalies are to build east filling the KWGA by 2/2 and building through 2/5. The Active Phase of the MJO is building in the from the west and is to fill the KWGA by the end of the model run.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (1/28) The Inactive/Dry Phase of the MJO is moderately strong south of Hawaii at 150W with the Active/Wet Phase moving through the Western Pacific and starting to fill the KWGA. The statistical model depicts the Active Phase moving east fully into the West Pacific 5 days out and centered on 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): (1/29) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO strong over the far Eastern Maritime Continent and is to track east into the West Pacific 4 days and to the dateline 8 days out then fading. The GEFS model suggests the same thing initially but with the Active Phase building as strong as possible then fading some on the dateline 15 day out.
40 day Upper Level Model: (1/29) This model depicts a moderate Active/Wet MJO pattern over the West Pacific pushing east and fading some then moving into Central America on 2/18. Another moderate pulse of the Inactive Phase is to follow in the west on 2/13 pushing east to the East Pacific through the end of the model run on 3/10. The Active Phase to follow weakly 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): (1/29) This model depicts an Active/Wet pattern is building over the KWGA but with east anomalies from the previous Inactive Phase still holding over the dateline and points east of there. The Active Phase is to get good positioning on 1/31 with west anomalies over the the bulk of the KWGA. The Active Phase is to hold through 2/17 with most west anomalies in the core of the KWGA. A weak Inactive Phase is to follow in the West KWGA starting 2/12 building east and taking control 2/20 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 4/19. A neutral pattern to set up afterwards through the end of the model run on 4/28 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 3/10 with a high pressure bias over the East KWGA at 175E and is to move east and out of the KWGA at the same time. 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: (1/29) 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 retreating at 176E 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 107W and retreating some at only 75 meters deep at 140W. Anomaly wise in the East Pacific it appears modest negative temperatures are quickly fading but broad in coverage from the East Pacific to 165E but with only one pocket to -1 degs C at 125W down 125 meters. Warm anomalies are in the West Pacific at +1.5 degrees down 150 meters and were previously making steady easterly headway, but have now retreated with the leading edge at 145W down 100 meters. A Kelvin Wave previously appeared to be pushing east but that has now dissipated. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 1/23 depicts a shrinking area of cool water filling the subsurface East Pacific (-3.5 degs limited to the extreme East Pacific) but overall 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 undercutting it at at +1.5 degs reaching east to 110W. 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.
Sea Level Anomalies: (1/23) 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 140W all 5 degs south of the equator and 1 small pocket to -15-20 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: (1/28) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a cool pattern in the Southeast Pacific. Upwelling is holding nearshore along the immediate coast of Peru and Ecuador and previous warm anomalies out beyond the coast of Chile and Peru had dissipated. The nearshore cool water is tracking off Ecuador then turning west on the equator from the Galapagos out to 120W then fading west of there and with a far smaller footprint than months and even weeks and days past.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (1/28): 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 no pockets of cooling water over the same area. A warming trend is ongoing.
Hi-res Overview: (1/28) Regardless of the short term warming trend indicated above, a La Nina cool stream is still present 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. But over all the cooling pattern is loosing density. It appears La Nina may have peaked out.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (1/29) Today's temps were steady at -0.760 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: (1/29) Today temps were steady at -0.603 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 (1/29): The daily index was steady at +14.94 today. The 30 day average was rising to +9.11 suggesting the Inactive Phase of the MJO was having a effect. The 90 day average was rising at +5.54 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): (1/29) The index was falling barely at -1.11 (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

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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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