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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, September 21, 2017 1:18 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 & 1.0 - 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 9/18 thru Sun 9/24

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   

No Swell Producing Fetch Now or Later
Windswell Continues the Best Hope

BUOY ROUNDUP

On Thursday, September 21, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 14.3 secs with Gulf sideband swell 2.0 ft @ 14.3 secs from 307 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.1 ft @ 6.2 secs with south swell 1.2 ft @ 11.4 secs from 198 degrees. Wind at the buoy was west at 12-14 kts. Water temperature 68.2 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.3 ft @ 5.8 secs from 271 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.0 ft @ 11.8 secs from 243 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 0.8 ft @ 11.7 secs from 207 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.7 ft @ 12.4 secs from 236 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.0 ft @ 10.0 secs with Gulf windswell 4.7 @ 10.3 secs from 312 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest 18-20 kts. Water temp 61.3 degs.
    Notes

    46006, 46059, 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 Thursday (9/21) in North and Central CA Gulf windswell was hitting exposed breaks producing surf at head high or so but torn apart by northwest wind with whitecaps in control early. Protected breaks were chest high or so and pretty ugly from excessive northwest wind. At Santa Cruz surf was maybe waist high and clean and gutless. In Southern California up north waves were thigh high and clean. In North Orange Co northwest windswell was producing waves thigh to waist high and not rideable due to local south bump. In South Orange Co waves were thigh to waist high and weak and not rideable due to onshore flow. In San Diego surf was thigh high and heavily textured from southerly wind. Hawaii's North Shore was waist high early and a little warbled from trades wrapping in from the north. The South Shore had waist high sets and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell at thigh high and chopped from easterly trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (9/21) residual swell from the Gulf of Alaska was still hitting California but far smaller than the day before and tattered by high pressure induced northwest winds. For Hawaii limited sideband swell from the Gulf of Alaska was hitting the North Shore. The models suggest no obvious groundswell producing weather systems are to develop for the next 7 days either in the North or South Pacific. Windswell remains the best option for now.

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

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Thursday AM (9/21) the jetstream was tracking east off North Japan on the 35N latitude line with winds 120 kts in two small pockets pushing over the dateline then splitting with most energy ridging north up over the Alaskan Coast then falling south forming a backdoor trough just off the Central CA coast before pushing inland over Santa Barbara County CA. There was weak limited support for gale development in the Northwest Pacific associated with the jet there. Over the next 72 hours
the same general pattern is to hold into Sun (9/24) with the jet tracking east off Japan with winds 120-130 kts in pockets pushing to the far Western Gulf of Alaska then ridging north up into the Northern Gulf and pushing inland over Vancouver Island. Again there was limited support for gale development along the jet in the West. Beyond 72 hours there's some indication of a trough starting to build in the Southwestern Gulf on Tues (9/26) being fed by 150 kt winds offering decent support for gale development and tracking east to a point just off the Washington Coast on Thurs (2/28). Something to monitor. But back to the west the jet is to become incoherent off the Kuril's suppressing support for gale development there.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (9/21) no groundswell was hitting either Hawaii or California. residual swell from a gale previously in the Gulf of Alaska was fading along the Pacific Northwest and California Coast.

Over the next 72 hours no swell production of interest is forecast.

For windswell relative to California: High pressure at 1030 mbs is centered in the Gulf of Alaska and is trying to ridge into the California coast generating 15 kt north winds and local chop. That fetch is to fade some Friday AM (9/22) allowing residual swell previously generated in the Gulf to become exposed, making for something rideable but nothing more. Saturday (9/23) the high is to start forming a weak gradient over North CA with winds there 20+ kts continuing into early Sun (9/24) making for small short period northerly windswell.

For windswell relative to Hawaii: Trades associated with the above high pressure system were blowing from the east at 15 kts in pockets east of the Islands but not covering enough ground to support meaningful windswell production. After that the coverage is to get even less, offering no support for windswell production.

 

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

 

Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest were occurring and none were forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (9/21) high pressure at 1032 mbs was trying to ridge into the North and Central CA coast generating north winds at 15-20 kts over the entire area except Cape Mendocino. More of the same is forecast Friday but mostly well off the coast except for Pt Conception and starting to become focused over North CA late at 20 kts. Sat (9/23) the gradient is to lift north over North CA at 20+ kts but light northwest over Central CA. Sunday north winds to build to 25 kts over Cape Mendocino down to Pt Arena but light elsewhere. The gradient is to build more over North CA on Mon (9/25) with north winds near 30 kts then fading Tues (9/26) from 25 kts early limited to Cape Mendocino down to 20 kts late while drifting north with calm to northwest 5-10 kts elsewhere over the entire state. Light winds everywhere on Wed-Thurs (9/28) 10 kts or less.

South Pacific

Overview
Surface Analysis  
On Thursday (9/21) no swell from the South Pacific was hitting California or Hawaii and none was in the water tracking north.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.

 

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

 

Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest were occurring and none were forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (9/21) high pressure at 1032 mbs was trying to ridge into the North and Central CA coast generating north winds at 15-20 kts over the entire area except Cape Mendocino. More of the same is forecast Friday but mostly well off the coast except for Pt Conception and starting to become focused over North CA late at 20 kts. Sat (9/23) the gradient is to lift north over North CA at 20+ kts but light northwest over Central CA. Sunday north winds to build to 25 kts over Cape Mendocino down to Pt Arena but light elsewhere. The gradient is to build more over North CA on Mon (9/25) with north winds near 30 kts then fading Tues (9/26) from 25 kts early limited to Cape Mendocino down to 20 kts late while drifting north with calm to northwest 5-10 kts elsewhere over the entire state. Light winds everywhere on Wed-Thurs (9/28) 10 kts or less.

South Pacific

Overview
Surface Analysis  
On Thursday (9/21) no swell from the South Pacific was hitting California or Hawaii and none was in the water tracking north.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is 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 weak pressure and wind pattern is to take over the North Pacific. There's suggestions that two small low pressure systems might start developing on Tues (9/26), one just west of the dateline and the other in the Gulf of Alaska. By Thurs (9/28) the dateline low is to be pulled apart and incoherent while the Gulf low tracks north fast not producing any fetch of interest.

A local pressure gradient over North CA is to continue producing a solid area of 25 kt north winds on Mon (9/25) producing north windswell for North and Central CA. That fetch is to be lifting north on Tues (9/26) producing 20 kt north winds and fading late, gone by Wed (9/27). Windswell diminishing over the period. A light pressure and wind pattern is to follow.

For Hawaii trades are to be light, below the 15 kt threshold, with no rideable east windswell projected.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.

More details to follow...

 

Strong Upwelling Occurring West of Galapagos

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 and is holding.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wed (9/20) the 5 day average indicated east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific and moderate over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were weak easterly in pockets over the East Pacific and modest easterly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (9/21) Moderate east anomalies were modeled over the core of the KWGA. Moderate east anomalies are to hold through 9/22 then building back to strong status 9/23 holding through the end of the model run on 9/28. This is not the Inactive Phase of the MJO, but is a full pulse of La Nina completely squashing the MJO. This is not conducive to storm development in the greater Pacific Basin.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 9/20 a neutral MJO pattern was in control of the KWGA. The statistical model depicts a weak version of the Active Phase of the MJO developing in the far West Pacific 5 days out and building some through the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts a weak Active Pattern trying to develop too, then fading out at day 15.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (9/21) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO weak and incoherent and is forecast to stay that way, perhaps becoming weakly defined in the West Pacific 7 days out, only to collapse a few days later. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (9/21) This model depicts the Inactive/Dry Phase fading over Central America through 9/25. A weak Active Phase is over the West Pacific tracking east reaching Central America into 10/26. A modest Inactive Phase is to follow in the West Pacific 10/11 easing east over the Central and to the East Pacific into the end of the model run on 10/31. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (9/21) This model is having technical difficulties. It depicts a strong version of the Inactive/Dry Phase of the MJO building over the KWGA with the Active Phase moving east and out of the KWGA with modest east wind anomalies over the far West Pacific. Those anomalies are to fade even as the Inactive Phase tracks east over the West Pacific through 10/8. After that a very weak version of the Active Phase of the MJO is to return starting 10/8 with a neutral wind pattern in play. After that the Inactive MJO signal is depicted 10/23-11/8 with a neutral wind pattern in play. Supposedly the Active Phase build after that on 11/10 with west anomalies in control. None of this is believable. The low pass filter indicates a very weak La Nina signal is in control of the KWGA and is to hold till 10/12, then building in coverage while drifting east and out of the KWGA by the end of November. There's some sense the pattern is to start shifting east early November entirely east of the dateline. Best guess is a very weak directionless and low energy weather pattern biased towards La Nina redeveloping in Fall of 2017. It will take 5 years for the Pacific to recharge from the 2014-16 El Nino.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (9/21) A pattern change set up in August, with warm water retreating to the west and cooler water building in the east. Today in the far West Pacific water temps were depicted at barely 30 degs centered at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line continues moving west to 174W. The 24 deg isotherm is stable at 125W today but shallow at 60 meters deep at 140W. Anomaly wise a clear change is present in the East Pacific with warm water gone and turning neutral to weakly negative +0.0 to -1.0 degs at the surface and to -3.0 degs at depth at 140W indicative of La Nina. Warm anomalies are isolated to the West Pacific at +1.0 degrees down to 100 meters deep with the dividing line between cool and warm at 170W. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 9/15 depicts the same thing, but with more cool water east and less warm water in the west. It looks like the cool water pocket at depth in the East Pacific is poised to erupt to the surface while east winds push all warm surface waters of the equatorial Pacific to the West Pacific. The GODAS image appears to be about 1 week behind the TAO data.
Sea Level Anomalies: (9/15) Negative anomalies are in control at -5 cms from 170W to Ecuador with a large pocket of -10 cm anomalies now present between 110W-160W suggesting a building cool pool at depth. This is not good.

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: (9/20) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a clear cold pattern has developed on the equator. Upwelling is strong nearshore along Peru and Ecuador tracking solidly northwest then building in density over the Galapagos and flowing steadily west from there on the equator and well defined out to 160W. There is no breaks in the cool stream over this entire area. This looks very much like a classic La Nina signature. Cooling in the heart of the Nino3.4 region is building.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (9/20): A neutral temperature trend is along Peru then neutral off Ecuador and the Galapagos becoming markedly cool out at 120W and fragmented cool pockets out to 140W. There are limited interspersed warmer pockets from the Galapagos westward to 120W. La Nina is pulsing making solid headway.
Hi-res Overview:
(9/20) A clear La Nina cool stream is present starting off Southern Chile pushing north up Peru then turning northwest off Ecuador building strongly while tracking west from the Galapagos to 140W and moderate out to the dateline. This pattern outlines the South Pacific high pressure system well which is assumed to be stronger than normal. There is no sign of warm anomalies in the Nino 1.2 or Nino3.4 regions. Otherwise waters of all oceans of the planet are warmer than normal other than the aforementioned stream. We now assert that climatology needs to be updated to reflect the new reality of warming ocean temperatures over the entire planet.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (9/21) Today's temps were steady at -1.50, down 1.5 degree in 5 days.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (9/21) temps have bottomed out and are rising some to -0.625. The long arc suggests a clear downward trend.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (9/21) The forecast has temps falling steadily from -0.5 degs early Sept to -0.75 in early Oct and down from there to -1.5 in Dec. Then the trend is to turn upwards rebounding to -0.35 in April and neutral in June 2018. This suggests a legit La Nina now expected for the Winter of 2017-2018. The CFS SST images (9/11) continues to suggest a modest La Nina cool pattern building on the equator off the Galapagos in Sept and building steadily into Jan/Feb 2018. A full on La Nina is setting up.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Sept Plume updated (9/19) depicts temps forecast to fade -0.4 degs in Sept, and fading to -0.6 degs in Nov, slowly rising from there turning neutral in April 2018. See chart here - link.  The NMME consensus for Sept average indicates temps -0.75 degrees below normal Nov-Jan 2018 then rebounding to normal in April. It sure looks like La Nina is on the way. The CFSv2 is the outlier, colder than all other models. Still, given all the oceanic signals, we a tending to side with it more than the other models.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (9/21): The daily index was negative at -2.14, the 6th day in a row negative in an otherwise unbroken positive streak that has been ongoing for months now. The 30 day average was falling at 3.79. The 90 day average was rising at +4.20. This suggests a turn towards La Nina.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (9/21) The index was falling again at -1.24 (up from -2.20 on 6/28/17 but still suggesting a turn towards La Nina). Last Years La Nina reached -1.94 on 11/2/16. We're deeper than that now. So the index is about as negative as it was at the peak of last years (2016) La Nina. At this time it looks like La Nina is returning for a double dip/2 year La Nina (not unusual). This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina events.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker lately (as expected with La Nina setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.10, Feb = +0.04, March = +0.12, April=+0.52, May=+0.30, June=+0.19, July= -0.50, Aug= -0.68. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO discounting the recent La Nina dip. 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. 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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