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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 2:21 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
2.0 - California & 2.3 - 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 2/19 thru Sun 2/25

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   

Last Swell Tracking Towards HI
Gale Production to Go Dormant

BUOY ROUNDUP

On Tuesday, February 20, 2018 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 6.1 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 3.3 ft @ 14.6 secs from 313 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 12.8 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 13.0 secs from 222 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 8-12 kts. Water temperature 59.9 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.3 ft @ 9.1 secs from 275 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.4 ft @ 9.2 secs from 284 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 2.5 ft @ 7.9 secs from 273 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 3.7 ft @ 8.8 secs from 281 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 10.3 ft @ 11.4 secs with swell 7.6 ft @ 10.3 secs from 322 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 20-22 kts. Water temp 52.5 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 Tuesday (2/20) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing waves at chest to head high and weak but at least cleaner than days past but still not good. Protected breaks were chest to maybe head high and clean. At Santa Cruz surf was waist high and weak with short period but clean. In Southern California up north surf was shoulder high on the sets and clean and lined up with no wind. In North Orange Co surf was waist high with some peaks to chest high and clean. South Orange Country's best breaks were up to waist high and clean and weak. In North San Diego surf was waist to maybe chest high at best breaks and clean and lined up but weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting small swell from Japan with waves 1-2 ft overhead at best breaks and clean with light winds early. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell at chest high and clean with no real trades in effect.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Tuesday (2/20) modest swell from a gale that developed off the Kuril Islands on Thurs-Fri (2/16) with 37 ft seas was still hitting the Hawaiian Islands. Another gale developed on Sun (2/18) off Japan with 39 ft seas aimed east then faded quickly later in the day before ever reaching the dateline. Small swell is pushing east. But after that nothing else is on the charts other than possible windswell. La Nina in combination with a fading Active Phase of the MJO and the arrival of what appears to be a Spring like pattern is taking over, not conducive to storm or gale formation.

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

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Tuesday AM (2/20) the jetstream was pushing east off Japan consolidated with winds to 150 kts reaching almost to the dateline then splitting with the northern branch pushing northeast up into the East Bering Sea and over Alaska then turning and falling south down the coast of British Columbia, the Pacific Northwest before moving inland over Central California while the southern branch continued east over Hawaii and southeast from there. A weak trough was off the Kuril Islands offering some support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hours the pattern is to remain mostly unchanged but with winds weakening off Japan to 140 kts and the split point moving west to 170E while the split pattern holds over the entirety of the East Pacific with the jet pushing down over the BC, Pacific Northwest and California coast through Fri (2/23). No clear troughs are forecast offering no real support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours more of the same is forecast with no real change expected. The jet is to be pushing off Japan reaching to about 170E then splitting with a large ridge in control of the East Pacific through Tues (2/27). Of note: The flow previously pushing down the US West Coast is to retrograde some, now pushing just off the coast down the 135W latitude line. This could open the door more to backdoor front and low pressure pushing down coastal waters possibly incrementally improving odds for local windswell development. Either way, it appears a very Spring-like pattern appears to be taking hold relative to California (i.e. high pressure, north wind, and upwelling).

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (2/20) modest swell from a gale previously off the Kuril Islands Thurs-Fri (2/16) was hitting Hawaii (see Kuril Island Gale below). And another swell was right behind it from a gale that pushed off Japan on Sat-Sun (2/18) (see Japan Gale below).

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

 

Kuril Island Gale
On Thurs AM (2/15) a small gale developed off North Japan producing 50 kt west winds and 30 ft seas at 42N 159E aimed east. In the evening winds held at 50 kt from the west while the gale lifted northeast towards the Northern Dateline producing seas to 37 ft over a small area at 47N 166E. By Fri AM (2/16) the gale was fading with winds down to 40 kts and seas fading from 33 ft at 50N 171E starting to impact the Central Aleutian Islands. This system faded after that. Small swell is likely for Hawaii.

Hawaii: Swell slowly fading overnight and on Tues (2/20) swell is to be fading from 2.8 ft @ 13-14 secs early (3.5-4.0 ft).

North CA: Small inconsistent swell to arrive early Wed (2/21) pushing 3.2 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft). Dribbles on Thurs (2/22) fading from 3.1 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.0) and buried in local windswell. Swell Direction: 300 degrees

 

Japan Gale
Another small gale started developing well off Japan on Sat PM (2/17) producing a decent sized area of 45+ kt west winds and positioned further south than previous gales mid-way to the dateline with seas building to 33 ft over a small area at 37N 156E. On Sun AM (2/18) the gale started lifting northeast with winds 45 kts from the west and seas 39 ft over a small area aimed east at 37N 168E. By evening the original fetch was gone lifting hard northeast with seas from previous fetch fading from 30 ft at 38N 175E targeting Hawaii. This system dissipated and lifted north after that.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Wed (2/21) building to 4.0 ft @ 16 secs mid-day (6.0 ft) and holding through the afternoon. Swell is to be fading on Thurs AM (2/22) fading from 3.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.0 ft). Residual swell fading Fri AM (2/23) from 3.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.0 ft) and gone after that. Swell Direction: 305-307 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri (2/23) pushing 3.6 ft @ 16-17 secs later (6.0 ft). Swell to continue on Sat (2/24) at 3.9 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.5 ft) and again on Sun (2/25) fading from 3.5 ft @ 15 secs (5.0 ft) and then fading on Mon (2/26) from 2.9 ft @ 13 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 295 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 Tuesday AM (2/20) high pressure is to be holding 800 nmiles off the North California coast with low pressure falling down the coast off Washington producing a pressure gradient producing north winds at 20 kts early over North and Central CA fading to 15 kts later and Southern CA less than 10 kts. No precipitation forecast. On Wed (2/21) the low is to move down and just west of the CA coast with light south to southeast winds for North CA early and light winds south of there and dissipating with light winds everywhere by afternoon. Light rain is to be along the North Coast falling south with snow flurries along the Sierra. Maybe 3.5 inches of accumulation possible for Tahoe. Thursday (2/22) high pressure is to be building in the Gulf at 1042 mbs ridging into the coast through the day with weak low pressure falling south over Nevada producing north winds at 20-25 kts for North CA early and 10-15 kts for Central CA building to 25-30 kts for North CA later and 20-25 kts from Monterey Bay southward late afternoon and 20-25 kts building into SCal in the afternoon. Light rain for the North and Central Coast falling south through the day. Snow continuing for the Sierra continuing till 10 PM with another 2.2 inches of accumulation possible at Tahoe but far less south of there. Friday (2/23) north winds to continue at 20+ kts for the entire coast including Southern CA early but fading there to near calm in the afternoon. Sat (2/24) high pressure and north winds continue at 15-20 kts for North and Central CA and continuing on Sun (2/25). Monday (2/26) high pressure northeast of Hawaii is to continue driving a north wind flow at 15 kts down the North and Central Coast building to 20+ kts on Tues (2/27). Low pressure is to be falling south inland again Monday evening setting up light rain for the state reaching south to Morro Bay later and snow for Tahoe starting late afternoon through the evening and continuing into Tuesday afternoon. Total accumulation at Tahoe possibly 10-12 inches.

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 gale is forecast developing in the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Sat PM (2/24) producing 40 kt northwest winds with seas building from 20 ft at 53N 151W. The gale is to fall southeast with a broad area of 35-40 kt northwest winds with seas building to 29 ft at 52N 145W (319 degrees NCal). In the evening fetch is to fade from 30-35 kts from the northwest with 26 ft at 50N 142W (317 degs NCal). Mon AM (2/26) fetch is to be fading from 30-35 kts with seas fading from 25 ft at 49N 137W (319 degrees). Possible north angled swell to result for the Pacific Northwest down ito Central CA.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather system nor fetch is forecast. The models suggest some sort of gale developing in the Central Pacific on Mon (2/26) peaking in the afternoon with seas to 44 ft seas at 53S 147W and traversing east into the eastern edge of the California swell window late Tues (2/27). Something to monitor.

More details to follow...

 

Active 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. A double dip La Nina is in control 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 Tues (2/20) 5 day average winds were solidly from the east over the bulk of the equatorial Pacific but strongly from the west over the Central Kelvin Wave Generation Area east to 165E. Anomalies were lightly from the east over the East and Central Pacific and moderately to strongly from the west over the Central KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (2/20) This model suggests moderate to strong west anomalies were over the entirety of the KWGA extending east to 150W on the equator. This pattern is to hold through 2/22 then starting to fade with east anomalies building in the KWGA on 2/23 and be in control moderately mainly on the dateline by the end of the model run on 2/27. The Active Phase of the MJO is filling the KWGA but expected to fade with the Inactive Phase taking control by the end of the model run likely causing the jetstream to split even more but possibly allowing high pressure in the east to retrograde west.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (2/19) The Active/Wet Phase of the MJO is moderately entrenched over the Western Pacific and filling the KWGA to a point south of Hawaii centered just west of the dateline. The statistical model depicts the Active Phase moving east centered over the dateline 3 days out then slowly easing east and out of the KWGA at day 15 with a modest Inactive/Dry Phase moving to the West Pacific with its leading edge reaching 160E. The dynamic model depicts effectively the same thing.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (20/18) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO weak moving into the Atlantic. The ECMF model depicts it to fade more and while tracking east across the Atlantic and over Africa reaching the Central Indian Ocean on day 15 of the model run and incoherent. The GEFS model suggests the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (2/20) This model depicts a modest pulse of the Inactive Phase is developing in the West Pacific with no sign of the Active Phase any longer in the Pacific Basin. The Inactive Phase is to push east to the East Pacific and into Central America through 3/17. The Active Phase to follow in the far West Pacific weakly starting 3/20 and pushing east to the dateline on 4/1. This model runs about 1-2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (2/20) This model depicts a strong Active/Wet pattern is fading fast over the East KWGA with west anomalies still in control. The Active Phase is to start fading fast in the next few days with west anomalies in the core of the KWGA steadily loosing their footprint while a modest but broad Inactive Phase follows in the West KWGA building east and taking control 2/25 holding through 4/7 with mostly neutral or light west anomalies forecast in the KWGA. No east anomalies are forecast. A weak Active Phase to follow starting 4/7 in the West Pacific and in control through 5/11 with moderate west anomalies building the heart of the KWGA. A weak Inactive Phase is to follow in the west at the end of the model run 5/8-5/20. The low pass filter indicates a modest low pressure bias over the western half of the KWGA at 165E and is to push east steadily from here forward reaching the dateline 4/9 with a high pressure bias over the East KWGA at 175E and is to steadily move east and out of the KWGA on 3/24. No significant oceanic change is expected until 3 months after the change has taken place in the atmosphere.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (2/20) The overview pattern depicts that warm water is sequestered to the west and cooler water is in control in the east but loosing ground quickly. Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 29-30 degs at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line is easing east today at 176E and steep (meaning there is a headwind of cooler water pushing into it from the east). The 24 deg isotherm was shallow but has made significant eastward progress migrating across the Pacific to Ecuador now and 25 meters deep or more the whole way east and 75 meters deep at 140W. Anomaly wise in the East Pacific negative temperatures have gotten reestablished after a weak Kelvin Wave pushed through the area in late Jan. Today negative anomalies to -2.0 degs were broad in coverage from the East Pacific near 130W and 110 meters deep with the dividing line between warm and cool anomalies at 155W down 125 meters. Warm anomalies were building in the West at +3.5 degs at 180W down 150 meters and appear to be building east. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 2/12 depicts the remnants of the Kelvin Wave dissipating at 120W down 80 meters. But cool water filling the subsurface East Pacific has significantly lost is density and intensity with no core and a diffuse pattern of -1.0 deg anomalies from 160W and points east of there. Still cool anomalies continue erupting to the surface almost continuously between Ecuador to 170W. The cool pool appears to be slowly discharging to the surface. Warm anomalies at +3.5 degs are building on the dateline down 150 meters. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data.
Sea Level Anomalies: (2/12) Negative anomalies at -5 cms were over the equatorial East Pacific out to 155W with a small concentration of cooler water south of the equator at -10 cm at 120W and 5S.

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: (2/19) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a generic and diffuse cool pattern in the Southeast Pacific. Warm anomalies are fading some off the coast of Chile and Peru up to Ecuador and into Central America while a cool upwelling pattern is indicated along the immediate coast of Peru. Weak cool anomalies extend along the equator from the Galapagos out to 160W in pockets and generally weak and diffuse with a far smaller footprint than months past.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (2/17): A warming trend continues weakly off Chile and Peru and up to Central America advecting west on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos and out to 120W. There were no significant pockets of cooling water over the same area. A very weak but steady warming trend is ongoing.
Hi-res Overview: (2/19) Regardless of the short term warming trend indicated above, a weak La Nina cool stream is still present well off Chile and Peru. But warm anomalies are nearshore from Chile extending north to a off Peru and Central America. The core of cool waters are running on the equator from the Galapagos pushing west and peaking near 140W (meaning the core of La Nina is advecting west), then slowly fading out to 175E. Cool water at depth is still erupting to the surface with the breach point now south of Hawaii. Overall the cooling pattern is steadily loosing density and drifting west. It appears La Nina is in steady decline.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (2/20) Today's temps are falling slightly at -0.528 degrees. Over all the trend is upwards since late December. 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: (2/20) Today temps were steady at -0.917. A dramatic rise occurred 1/12-1/28 reaching up to -0.600 deg range. Since then temps have eased off some. Previously a peak low was observed on 1/10-1/12 to -1.577. 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 (2/20) The forecast depicts temps bottomed out at -0.75 in Nov and have been slowly rebounding up to -0.50 in early Feb. The model indicates temps rising slowly to -0.25 in early April, then falling slowly to -0.5 in July then holding, only to rise slightly into the Fall to -0.4 degs in Oct. This suggests the peak of this years La Nina has occurred but it is to possibly hold weakly through Summer then fading more in the Fall. 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 (2/20): The daily index was holding negative at -12.68 today. The 30 day average was falling to -5.66 suggesting the Active Phase of the MJO having a significant effect. The 90 day average was falling at -0.25 suggesting La Nina is dead.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (2/20 The index was stuck at -1.04 (suspect there is a technical problem with the data collection)(up from -1.11 on 1/29). 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, Jan=0.24. 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 solid 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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