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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Sunday, December 3, 2017 1:03 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
3.2 - California & 3.2 - 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 12/4 thru Sun 12/10

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   

Multiple Small Gales Forecast
Jetstream Consolidated and Pushing East

BUOY ROUNDUP

On Sunday, December 3, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 8.8 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 6.0 ft @ 9.3 secs from 65 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.6 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 2.6 ft @ 15.3 secs from 284 degrees. Wind at the buoy was southeast at 4-6 kts. Water temperature 63.9 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.7 ft @ 15.2 secs from 257 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.0 ft @ 15.7 secs from 269 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 0.9 ft @ 17.3 secs from 246 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 3.1 ft @ 15.0 secs from 284 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 11.9 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 7.4 ft @ 14.5 secs from 308 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north at 18-230 kts. Water temp 58.6 degs.


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 Sunday (12/03) in North and Central CA swell from the Gulf of Alaska was still hitting producing waves at double overhead but destroyed by northwest winds and whitecaps. Protected breaks were 1-2 ft overhead and chopped and jumbled but not quite whitecapped. At Santa Cruz surf was head high and clean and lined up but soft from too much tide early. At least it was clean. In Southern California up north surf was waist to chest high and clean but inconsistent. In North Orange Co surf was chest high with some bigger peaks on the sets pushing out of the north and clean and lined up. South Orange Country best breaks were waist to maybe chest high and clean and lined up. In San Diego surf was waist to maybe chest high and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more sideband northerly swell from the Gulf of Alaska with waves 2 ft overhead on the face on sets and pretty ragged from stiff northeast trades. The South Shore had some thigh high sets and clean. The East Shore was getting north swell at 2 ft overhead and chopped from east-northeast wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Sunday (12/3) swell from a gale that formed over the North Dateline region and pushed into the Gulf in the Gulf Mon-Thurs (11/30) with seas in the 32-35 ft range over the duration was still hitting Hawaii and exposed break in California making for rideable surf where the wind was not affecting it. Another small gale followed in the Northwestern Pacific Thurs (11/30) with 33 ft seas pushing to the North Dateline region and fading Friday with seas dropping from 28 ft. Another small system was forming in the Northern Gulf on Sun (12/3) with 32 ft seas aimed east. Yet another is to be developing north of Hawaii on Tues (12/5) easing east slowly with seas in spurts to 32 ft aimed east. Another is to follow behind on a similar track on Sat (12/9) with 26 ft seas targeting Hawaii decently. And more is possible behind that on the dateline. So a steady flow of rideable swell is possible though not remarkable in size.

 

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

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Monday AM (11/27) the jetstream was pushing solidly east off Japan wit winds to 180 kts mid-way to the dateline and holding cohesively over the dateline and into the Western Gulf of Alaska almost forming a trough there before splitting just north of Hawaii at 160W. From there the northern branch pushed northeast into the Northern Gulf then fell southeast along the US West coast. The Southern branch fell southeast over Hawaii then pushed northeast joining the northern branch pushing inland over Central CA. The was a dramatically improved support for gale formation given the consolidated jet over the West Pacific though no clear cut solid troughs were in play. Obviously the Active Phase of the MJO was having a positive impact on on consolidation and energy levels in the jet. Over the next 72 hours
more of the same is forecast but with winds building occasionally to 190 kts feeding into a developing real trough north of Hawaii starting Mon (12/4) though getting a little bit pinched by Wed (12/6) offering good support for gale development there. The split point is to push east reaching 145W by Wed (12/6) with a huge ridge over the US and Canadian West Coast. Beyond 72 hours more of the same is forecast with the jet consolidated and winds building again, this time to 200 kts later Fri (12/8) feeding a broad trough in the Western Gulf and holding into Sat (12/9) before fading again supporting gale formation. At that time the jet is to be consolidated with winds 180-190 kts over almost the entire length from Japan to the Western Gulf with another trough trying to develop in the Western Gulf and the split point at 140W with the ridge holding strong over the West Coast of Canada and the US. Clearly the Active Phase of the MJO is to in control of most of the Pacific feeding energy to the jet and dramatically improving support for gale and storm production in lower levels of the atmosphere.

Surface Analysis
On Sunday (12/3) swell from a broad gale the was in the Northwestern Gulf all of last week wa still hitting Hawaii from a rather oblique angle and more directly into exposed breaks in California. Another swell was on its heels relative to Hawaii (see Northwestern Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours starting Sun AM (12/3) 30 kt west winds were nearly filling the entire North Pacific from the Northern Kuril Islands into the Western Gulf of Alaska aimed east. A small area of 40-45 kt northwest winds were also present in the Northwestern Gulf associated with a building gale there. Seas were building from 27 ft at 47N 160W (300 degs NCal). In the evening fetch is to build to nearly 50 kts aimed east while the gale lifts northeast with seas 33 ft at 51N 152W (310 degs NCal) aimed aimed mainly at the Pacific Northwest and point north with sideband energy down into Central CA. By Mon AM (12/4) the gale is to be lifting northeast up into Alaska with 40 kts west winds and 35 ft seas over a small area at 55N 148W aimed east targeting only the Canadian coast. Small swell possible for North and Central CA.

North CA: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Tues PM (12/5) pushing 4.2 ft @ 16 secs (6.7 ft). Swell peaking early Wed AM (12/6) at 5.5 ft @ 15 secs (8.0 ft). but swell will be shadowed in the SF Bay area, so size will be smaller there. Swell Direction: 300-319 degrees

Also on Sun AM (12/3) a persistent fetch of 30-35 kts west winds are to be over a large are filling the area from the Kuril's to the dateline generating a broad area of 23 ft seas at 45N 175E targeting Hawaii well (323 degs HI). Fetch and seas to hold into the evening pushing 24 ft at 45N 180W (328 degrees). Fetch is to fade in coverage and velocity and move east Mon AM (12/4) with seas fading from 24 ft over a small area at 42N 173W (331 degs HI).

Hawaii: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Wed (12/6) building to 8.4 ft @ 13-14 secs (11.0 ft) early and holding most of the day.

On Mon PM (12/4) a legitimate gale is develop in the extreme Western Gulf being fed by a good upper level jetstream flow aloft resulting in a tiny area of 50 kt northwest winds falling southeast targeting Hawaii with seas 27 ft over a tiny area at 46N 172W (340 degs HI). On Tues AM (12/5) the gale is to fall hard southeast with 45 kts winds over a tiny area and 34 ft seas at 45N 165W (350 degs HI, 295 degs NCal). In the evening the gale is to stall with 40 kt northwest winds and 29 ft seas holding at 44N 160W (357 degs HI, 296 degs NCal). The prime gale is to fade but a secondary fetch is to develop south of there at 35 kts with 24 ft seas at 34N 160W (353 degs HI, 275 degs NCal). The gale is to push east and fade in the evening with 24 ft seas at 35N 152W targeting Southern CA (283 degs). The gale is dissipate from there. Something to monitor relative to Hawaii and Southern CA.

 

Northwest Pacific Gale
On Thurs AM (11/30) another small gale developed while pushing east off the Northern Kuril Islands with 45 kt west winds and 33 ft seas at 48N 161E. A solid area of 40 kt west winds continued east into the evening just south of the Western Aleutians with 32 ft seas at 49N 168E. On Fri AM (12/1) fetch was fading from 40 kt just south of the Aleutians west of the dateline with seas fading from 31 ft at 50N 172E. In the evening 35 kt west winds were over the North Dateline region and fading with 28 ft seas fading at 50N 175E aimed east. Swell is radiating towards Hawaii.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Mon (12/4) 4.2 ft @ 15-16 secs at sunset (6.5 ft). Swell continues on Tues (12/5) at 5.0 ft @ 14 secs (7.0 ft). Swell being overtaken by newer swell after that.

 

  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 Sunday AM (12/3) high pressure was 600 nmiles off the NCal Coast at 1029 mbs with a weak front pushing inland generating a gradient and north winds at 20 kts over all of North and Central CA waters. By Mon (12/4) the high is to move north ridging into Washington with northeast winds 10-15 kts for the entire state. On Tues (12/5) the high is to hold with a light northeast flow forecast for the entire state. No change is forecast for through Sun (12/10). No precipitation is forecast either. Classic La Nina high pressure blocking ridge with local offshore's for the Golden State.

 

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 yet another gale is to form on the dateline Fri AM (12/8) with 35 kt northwest winds taking aim on Hawaii and seas building from 22 ft at 40N 177W. In the evening northwest winds to build to 40 kts aimed directly at Hawaii with 28 ft seas at 37N 170W (331 degs HI). Fetch is to fall southeast and fade from 35 kts Sat AM (12/9) just 600 nmiles north of Hawaii with 24 ft seas at 32N 160W (347 degs HI). Fetch is to move rapidly east from there possibly setting up 40 kt west fetch over a tiny area with 30 ft seas at 35N 148W (272 degs NCal, 280 degs SCal).

On Sat PM (12/9) a storm is forecast developing west of the dateline and much further south than has been the trend so far this year with 55 kt west winds and seas building from 37 ft at 44N 169E. On Sun AM (12/10) 55 kt west winds to push east with 50 kt west winds over a large area and seas 48 ft at 43N 175E. In the evening 50 kt west winds to be still over a solid area aimed east on the dateline with 52 ft seas at 40N 178W. Something to monitor but hardly believable at this early date.


South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

 

MJO Turning Active and Having the Desired Effect

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 Sat (12/2) 5 day average winds were from the east over the entire equatorial Pacific but west in the Central Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were neutral over the East Pacific and strong easterly over the Central Pacific then weakly west over the Western KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (12/3) Strong east anomalies were modeled over the core of the Eastern KWGA but moderate westerly anomalies were over the core of the KWGA. This situation to hold for the next week. The dividing line between east and west anomalies is to be 165E. The Inactive Phase of the MJO appears to be moving east and the Active Phase of the MJO appears to be holding in the west.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 12/2 a strong Inactive/Dry MJO pattern was in control of the equatorial East Pacific with a building moderate Active/Wet signal west of the dateline. The statistical model depicts the Active/Wet Phase holding while the Inactive/Dry Phase slowly dissipates while holding position and gone by the end of the run 15 days out. The dynamic model depicts the exact same thing.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/3) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO moderately strong over the West Maritime Continent and is to push slowly east into the West Pacific 2 weeks out. The GEFS model suggests much the same but a bit stronger than the ECMF.
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/3) This model depicts a moderate Active/Wet MJO pattern over the far West Pacific and slowly ease east pushing into the far East Pacific 12/23. A slightly stronger Inactive/Dry MJO signal is to follow starting in the West Pacific 12/18 and tracking east to the East Pacific through the end of the model run on 1/12/18 (40 days out). This model runs about 1 week ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (12/3) This model depicts a very weak Inactive Phase of the MJO was migrating east while weakening over the KWGA with west anomalies west of the dateline and east anomalies east of there. The Inactive Phase is to hold till 12/7 then fade with West anomalies moving east some. A weak Active Phase of the MJO is to develop in the far West Pacific 12/10 and easing east through on 12/27 with decent west anomalies in the KWGA through the period. After that the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to reappear 12/23 building pretty strong over the dateline holding through 1/15/18 with east anomalies in control. Beyond and the Active Phase is to take control from 1/16 through the the end of the model run on 3/2/18 with weak west anomalies holding in the KWGA. But west anomalies to never make it further east than the dateline. The low pass filter indicates a modest low pressure bias over the extreme west KWGA and it is to ease east filling 75% of the KWGA by 1/28 and holding there. A high pressure bias is over the East KWGA at 170E and is to move east into the East Pacific and only 15% remaining in the KWGA by Feb 1 and tracking east from there. If this verifies, the underpinnings of La Nina are to be fading and then gone by late December. This suggest that as winter builds (typically the peak of La Nina in the jan timeframe), support for La Nina is to be fading. But it takes 3 months for the ocean to respond to whatever happens in the atmosphere, so this winter is lost to La Nina regardless of what the low pass filter indicates. No significant oceanic change is expected until likely early April 2018. Even at that it will take about 5 years for the Pacific to recharge from the 2014-16 El Nino before another El Nino develops. So a neutral ENSO pattern is likely to develop.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (12/3) 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 are 30 degs in the far West Pacific at 165E. The 28 deg isotherm line is holding at 177W. The 24 deg isotherm was weak and has retrograded to 135W and shallow at 60 meters deep at 140W. Anomaly wise a clear change is present in the East Pacific with warm water gone and instead neutral to modestly negative temperatures are at the surface and down to -2 degs C down 100 meters at between 95-180W indicative of La Nina. Warm anomalies are isolated to the West Pacific at +2.0 degrees down to 100 meters deep with the dividing line between cool temps retrograded west to 180W. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 11/29 depicts a large area of subsurface cool water filling the East Pacific (-4.0 degs) and erupting to the surface in broad pockets between 90W to 170W with a near neutral temperature pattern in the west.
Sea Level Anomalies: (11/29) Negative anomalies are in control at -5 cms over the entire equatorial East Pacific with a core of -10 cm anomalies present between Ecuador to 155W. But a little break is at 125W.

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: (12/2) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a cool pattern remains is in control. Upwelling continues along Peru and Ecuador but not nearly as strong as days past then tracking west on the equator out to 160W with a well defined cool pool evidenced mainly now between 100W to 150W. The cool pool continues west from there but not as strong. No warm anomalies are indicated within 3+ degs north or south of the equator over the entire region.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/1): A warming trend was still in place along Peru and now in pockets on the equator out to 120W. A modest cooling trend was indicated in pockets also along the equatorial Pacific from the Galapagos west to 140W. .
Hi-res Overview: (12/1) Regardless of the short term warming trend indicated above, a clear La Nina cool stream is present starting off Southern Chile pushing north up Peru and building in coverage, then turning northwest off Ecuador tracking west over the Galapagos and building out to 160W and stable. Weak cool anomalies continued west from there out to 180W. Cool water at depth is erupting to the surface with the breach point near the Galapagos. There is no sign of warm anomalies in the Nino 1.2 or Nino3.4 regions. A mature La Nina was evolved.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/3) Today's temps were rising some to -0.762. 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: Today (12/3) temps were steady at -0.997, just above the coldest peak so far this La Nina on 11/22 at -1.156. A previous low peak was reached at -1.1 on 11/23. The long arc suggests a steadying pattern. La Nina is in control.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (12/3) The forecast has temps holding steadily at -0.85 in early Nov and forecast to stay there there through mid-Jan. Then a weak upward trend is suggested with temps reaching -0.6 in April and -0.5 degs in July 2018 and holding there. This suggests a legit La Nina is expected for the Winter of 2017-2018. The CFS SST images (11/05) continues to suggest a moderate La Nina cool pattern building on the equator off the Galapagos into Dec-Jan 2018, then fading but still very present into May 2018. A full on La Nina is setting up.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Oct Plume updated (11/7) depicts temps forecast to fade -0.7 degs in Oct and holding through Dec, then slowly rising from there turning neutral in April 2018. See chart here - link  The NMME consensus for Oct average indicates temps -0.85 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 now in the middle of that pack.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (11/30): The daily index was rising at 21.57. The 30 day average was rising from 10.40. The 90 day average was rising steadily at +9.20. This suggests a turn towards La Nina.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (12/3) The index was falling again at -1.60 (up from -2.20 on 6/28/17). The trend is generally stable for now. Last years La Nina reached -1.94 on 11/2/16 so we've bested that already. But the recent upward trend is offering some hope. Still 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 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 = +0.10, Feb = +0.04, March = +0.12, April=+0.52, May=+0.30, June=+0.19, July= -0.50, Aug= -0.68, Sept = -0.28, Oct=-0.60. 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 . 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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POWERLINES Night at the OPL - Surf Footage Featuring Mavericks from Powerlines Productions plus live music from 6 to 8 PM- Nov 17, 2017. Video starts at 8:15 PM at the Old Princeton Landing (OPL) in Half Moon Bay/Princeton CA.

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table

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