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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, December 10, 2016 3:47 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
1.8 - California & 2.8 - 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 12/12 thru Sun 12/18

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   

Pattern Starting To Favor Hawaii
.cgiit Jet to Lock CA Out of the Action

BUOY ROUNDUP
On Saturday, December 10, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.7 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 3.7 ft @ 10.4 secs from 348 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.0 ft @ 8.3 secs with swell 1.8 ft @ 9.6 secs from 253 degrees. Wind east 2-4 kts. Water temperature 61.0 degs. At Ventura swell was 2.2 ft @ 9.3 secs from 273 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.2 ft @ 14.7 secs from 261 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 0.6 ft @ 15.4 secs from 229 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 1.0 ft @ 15.1 secs from 264 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 8.2 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 5.0 ft @ 12.6 secs from 298 degrees. Wind south 14-16 kts at the buoy. Water temp 54.5 degs.
    Notes

    46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys

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 Saturday (12/10) in North and Central CA raw local northwest swell was producing waves in the 1 ft overhead range and pretty blown out from southeast winds except at protected breaks. At Santa Cruz the same swell was producing waves in the waist to chest high range but chopped and blown out from south winds. In Southern California up north surf was knee to thigh high and clean and weak. Down in North Orange Co set waves were waist to maybe chest high and very clean. In San Diego surf was waist high or so and clean but unremarkable. Hawaii's North Shore was getting limited background northwest windswell at chest to head high on the sets at top breaks and clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting the same swell with waves waist high and lightly textured from light south winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
Tiny swell from a gale that developed off the North Kuril's on Wed-Thurs (12/8) with seas briefly to 32 ft was pushing towards Hawaii. A slightly stronger system developed off the Central Kuril's on Fri (12/9) with 31 ft seas aimed east. And a larger one is forecast pushing off the Southern Kurils on Sun-Tues (12/13) with 22-26 ft seas aimed east and reaching the dateline favoring Hawaii. A weak system (not even a gale) developed off the Pacific Northwest on Fri (12/9) with 18-19 ft seas aimed east with that swell starting to hit Central CA. And now there some suggestions the storm pattern might improve slightly a week out still favoring the West Pacific. The Inactive Phase of the MJO a.cgiified by La Nina continues to extract its toll, but the end might be in sight.

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

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Saturday AM (12/10) the jetstream remained consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds to 160 kts in one broad pocket trying to form a trough though mostly landlocked over the Kuril Islands, then .cgiitting on the dateline. The northern branch tracked north into the North Bering Sea with the southern branch falling south over Hawaii, forming a large hole from the dateline to 150W with virtually no jetstream level winds present there. East of there the two streams merged in the Central Gulf with winds to 130 kts tracking east and pushing inland over the Oregon-CA border. In all there was no 'real' support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours generally more of the same is forecast but with winds building off Japan to near 200 kts briefly early Mon (12/12) and making a little eastward progress generating a trough off Kamchatka with some support for gale development there pushing east and pushing the .cgiit point east to 165W by Tues AM (12/13). On the east side of the .cgiit up 120 kt winds are to be pushing into North CA and Oregon with a bit of a trough developing in the Eastern Gulf. Beyond 72 hours winds energy is to start building in earnest off Japan with the jet looking much more consolidated and a steady flow of 150-160 kts winds pushing northeast off Japan reaching the dateline on Wed (12/14) then .cgiitting again at 170W and remaining .cgiit into the mainland. Some support for a trough forming off the Kurils is suggested. The southern branch of the jet is to remain tracking over Hawaii then pushing into California offering support for precipitation. Still the .cgiit point is to remain roughly near 155W. It will take the Active Phase of the MJO to fully reinvigorate the jet and heal the .cgiit (by adding more wind energy to it).

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (12/10) a small swell from another gale over the Kuril Islands was tracking towards Hawaii (see Small Kuril Gale below). A somewhat larger swell is to be right behind generated by a tiny storm that pushed off the Kuril Islands (See Small Kuril Storm below). And small swell was hitting California from a fetch that developed off the Oregon Coast (see California Weekend Swell below).

Over the next 72 hours another gale is forecast developing just off the Southern Kuril Islands on Saturday PM (12/10) with 40 kt northwest winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface there with seas building from 26 ft at 44N 153E. On Sun AM (12/11) 40 kt west winds are to continue and making some slightly eastward progress with seas building in coverage at 27 ft at 44N 157E. In the evening fetch is to fade from 35-40 kts with seas 23 ft at 43N 162E aimed east well at Hawaii. On Mon AM (12/12) 30- 35 kt northwest winds are to continue with seas building to 26 ft back at 43N 158E. 30-35 kt northwest winds to track east in the evening over a broad area with seas still 25 ft at 41N 167E. Fetch is to hold while lifting northeast at 35 kts Tues AM (12/13) with seas holding at 25 ft at 44N 172E targeting Hawaii well. Fetch is to lift north in the evening with the core of the gale in the Bering Sea and 35 kt northwest winds south of the Western Aleutians with seas fading from 22 ft over a broad area at 45N 180W. Small but long lasting swell possible for Hawaii.

 

Small Kuril Gale
Another gale started developing over the Kuril Islands on Tues PM (12/6) producing 40 kt northwest winds but mostly encased west of the Islands getting only limited traction east of the island chain. On Wed AM (12/7) 45-50 kt west winds were starting to pulling east of the North Kuril Islands lifting northeast with seas building to 29 ft at 49N 158E. In the evening the fetch raced north and dissipated with seas fading from 30 ft tracking northeast at 54N 163E. Very limited swell is possible targeting Hawaii.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival late afternoon on Sun (12/11) building to 1.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0 ft). Swell fading Mon AM (12/12) from 1.9 ft @ 13 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 315 degrees

 

Small Kuril Storm
On Thursday AM (12/8) another gale organized just off North Japan with a small area of 35 kt north winds developing. In the evening the gale lifted northeast while building to storm status with a tiny area of 55 kt northwest winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface with seas building to 26 ft over a tiny area at 42N 163E. On Fri AM (12/9) fetch was fading fast from 40 kts from the northwest while lifting northeast with 33 ft seas at 42N 169E (313 degs HI). Fetch faded from 40 kts in the evening with seas fading from 27 ft over a small area at 44N 174E (320 degs HI). This system dissipated Sat AM (12/10). Limited swell for Hawaii is possible.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Mon (12/12) building to 2.7 ft @ 15-16 secs late (4.0 ft). Swell fading Tues AM (12/13) from 2.8 ft @ 13-14 secs early (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 313 degrees

 

California Weekend Swell
On Thurs AM (12/8) a small fetch of 30 kt northwest winds were developing 700 nmiles west of Oregon. In the evening that fetch built to 30-35 kts and over a broader area targeting mainly Oregon with 19 ft seas building at 47.5N 139W. On Fri AM (12/9) 30-35 kt northwest winds held over the same area with 16-18 ft seas at 47N 135-145W. In the evening 30 kt west winds were just off Washington with 17 ft seas at 46N 140W targeting Oregon and Washington. This system moved inland after that. Small swell is possible for North CA.

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (12/10) with swell building to 5 ft @ 12-13 secs (6.5 ft) in the afternoon. Swell holding Sunday (12/11) at 5.0 ft @ 11-12 secs (5.5-6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 311-316 degrees and shadowed in the SF Bay area.

 

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

 

Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday AM (12/10) low pressure was moving into Washington with high pressure moving into Southern CA coast driving a tropical moisture.cgiume from Hawaii into North and Central CA. Snow levels were at about 8,200 ft in Tahoe and barely snowing at the base of Kirkwood (7,800 ft). 5 inches of accumulation for Kirkwood but nowhere else. Winds southwest 15 kts under the.cgiume turning northwest 10 kts for Pt Conception. Precip fading late evening. Sunday northwest winds are forecast at 15 kts for North and Central CA. Monday high pressure is to be off Southern CA with north winds 15 kts for the North and Central coasts early but fading through the day. Tuesday the tropical connection becomes reestablished with low pressure and south winds 20 kts for Monterey Bay northward and rain building for the same area. Heavy snow for Tahoe and the Northern Sierra. On Wednesday more of the same is forecast with south winds from Pt Conception northward. Rain from Monterey Bay northward. Snow for higher elevations of Tahoe. Low pressure is to be moving onshore on Thurs (12/15) focused on San Francisco with south winds 25 kts south of the low and northeast 25 kts north of there. Heavy snow for the entire Sierra. Friday (12/16) high pressure moves in with north winds 20 kts down into even Southern CA. Snow fading for the Southern Sierra. North winds continue on Saturday (12/17)

 

South Pacific

Overview
Surface Analysis  
No swell of interest was in the water and no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest 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

Another gale is to follow off the Kurils on Wed (12/14) but tracking northeast steadily with seas building to 32 ft Thurs AM (12/15) up at 51N 169E all targeting only the Western Aleutians.

Also a cutoff low continues to be forecast developing 700 nmiles north of Hawaii on Thurs-Fri (12/16) producing 30 kt north winds somewhat targeting the Islands with seas building to 20-22 ft at 32N 165W. Low odds of sideband windswell resulting for Kauai.

 
South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.

More details to follow...

Inactive MJO Giving Up Ground

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 equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced 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.cgianet, 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 help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. 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: The 2014-2016 El Nino is gone. La Nina has developing but generally weak.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Friday (12/9) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but dead calm over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south. Anomalies were weak over the equatorial East Pacific but neutral to weak westerly over the KWGA. This is a very good step forward. Previously east anomalies were attributable to La Nina and are modulated by the MJO.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Modest east anomalies were modeled over the dateline and neutral in the KWGA. The forecast suggests a continuation of this pattern for the next 3-4 days, but then fading to neutral if not light westerly by 12/15 holding through 12/17. The first real easterly wind burst from this La Nina started on 9/23 and is to continue holding for the foreseeable future, though it does looks to be weakening some. Still, to be conservative we are thinking it will not end anytime soon but rather will just pulse, stronger at times, then weaker, attributable to La Nina, and modulated by the MJO.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 12/9 a modest Inactive MJO signal was over the dateline with the Active State moving over the Maritime Continent (Bali). The statistic model projects both the Inactive and Active Phases moving east, with the Active Phase moving into the West Pacific 15 days from now. The dynamic model depicts much the same but not quite as strong.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/10) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak and indiscernible and is to hold that way for the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/10) This model depicts a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO moving into Central America. A weak Active pattern to follow in the West Pacific on 12/14 moving east into Central America while weakening on 1/4. A stronger Inactive Phase is to develop behind that in the West Pacific on 12/30 tracking east to the East Pacific 1/19. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (12/10) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO signal over the KWGA with neutral anomalies in control. By 12/18 the MJO is to fade to neutral. A mixed pattern is forecast to follow but with east anomalies over the dateline and points east of there from 12/18-1/19, but neutral anomalies in the KWGA. Supposedly the Active Phase of the MJO develops and moves into the west KWGA starting 1/25. Still no real west anomalies seem likely. Overall the MJO signal is projected to be very weak and this pattern is to hold as we move deeper into Winter. We suspect La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, and producing weak east anomalies in the KWGA but not producing an outright bias towards the Inactive Phase of the MJO. Likewise the MJO is serving to dampen the effects of La Nina when in the Active Phase.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (12/10) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 164E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 175W and steep, suggesting a hard break between warm water in the west and cool water in the east at depth. This is expected with La Nina in.cgiay. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies at +1-2 degs rule from the West Pacific to 170W.  Neutral to weak negative anomalies are east of there to Ecuador at no more than -1.0 degs, and static at depth. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/4 depicts this pocket of of cooler water -1-2 degs below normal in the East Pacific. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so and weakening.
Sea Level Anomalies: (12/4) Negative anomalies at -5.0 cm with a few small pockets to -10 cm rule the equatorial Pacific from Ecuador to the dateline and 5 degs north and south. This is an upgrade from months past where anomalies were up to -10 cm and suggest La Nina is loosing it's grip at depth.

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: (12/9) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a thin cool pool of water along the immediate coast of Peru but it is fading fast with warm water developing solidly just off the coast there and reaching up into Ecuador. A cool bubble that reached up to Costa Rica and out to the Galapagos is retreating fast with warmer pockets developing all through it. The previously invigorated cool stream that developed from the Galapagos west continuously along the equator out to 120W was retreating with warmer temps pushing in from the north, south and east. A weak cool footprint remains west of there out to 155W and appears to be fading. La Nina is loosing some control of surface waters of the Central Pacific and now also the East Pacific.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/9): A warming trend continues along Chile and Peru and is reaching up to Ecuador strongly. Warming holds out to 120W with almost no cool pockets remaining. West of there a neutral trend was exhibited with pockets of warming and cooling waters present but much weaker than in months past. The cool pattern in the Central Pacific is nowhere near as prominent as weeks and months previous and is weakening strongly in the East.  
Hi-res Overview:
(12/9) A La Nina cool pool is present over the equator from the Galapagos west to 170E and a bit broader south of Hawaii but pretty prominent now in the East Pacific too. La Nina is holding coverage in the west and loosing coverage in the east.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/10) Today's temps are building to +0.316.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (12/10) temps were falling at -0.473 coming off a recent peak. Temps are oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.3 to -1.0 degs.

 

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies



SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (12/10) This model suggests La Nina held from July thru Oct in the -0.55 deg range rising to -0.5 on Nov 1 and up to 0.25 degs on Dec 1. The forecast has temps steady from here forward with temps at -0.25 in mid-Dec and Jan holding steady till May, then slowly rising from there to neutral in July. This indicates the peak of La Nina is over and a return to normal temps is expected in the summer.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Nov Plume depicts temps have reached their peak minimum at -0.6. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to -0.4 in Jan 2017 and neutral in April, starting to turn weakly positive after that to +0.1 in June. This is consistent with last months forecast and barely in La Nina territory. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (12/10): The daily index was falling some at -1.45 today. It was well negative for most of October, then turned weakly positive for most of Nov other than a deep negative dive near 11/17 before returning to neutral. The 30 day average was rising slightly at -0.88. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is in control now driving the SOI upwards. The 90 day average was steady at +2.24. La Nina is trying to hang on, but not strongly.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (12/10) Today's value was falling more at  -1.10. A peak low was reached on 11/2 at -1.94 the deepest it had been so far in this event suggesting La Nina was getting better established. But that is changing, with it moving generally upwards (a better direction) and suggesting La Nina is fading.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker lately (as expected with La Nina setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Oct) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.42, +0.76, +0.12 then falling to -0.90, -1.09 and -0.88 in Oct.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Oct) are: +1.53, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03, +1.25 +0.52, +0.45 and +0.56 in Oct.
The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive until Aug 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 suggests that could be a real possibility. We've been in the negative phase since 1998 through at least 2013 (15 years). 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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