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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Monday, December 18, 2017 3:07 PM
Buoys: Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Buoy Forecast:
Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Pacific Links:  Atmospheric Models - Buoy Data - Current Weather - Wave Models
Forecast Archives: Enter Here
A chronology of recent Mavericks Underground forecasts. Once you enter, just click on the HTML file forecast you want to review (e.g. 073199.html equals July 31, 1999). To view the maps that correspond to that forecast date, select the html file labeled 073199 maps.html
2.1 - California & 3.0 - 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 12/18 thru Sun 12/24

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   

Series of Gales Forecast for W. Gulf
Jetstream Solid for Now

BUOY ROUNDUP

On Monday, December 18, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.5 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 3.6 ft @ 12.9 secs from 320 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.9 ft @ 11.4 secs with swell 1.8 ft @ 10.5 secs from 261 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north at 1-2 kts. Water temperature 60.4 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.4 ft @ 12.2 secs from 257 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.3 ft @ 12.5 secs from 270 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 0.8 ft @ 12.7 secs from 240 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.3 ft @ 12.8 secs from 271 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.8 ft @ 10.5 secs with swell 3.8 ft @ 10.0 secs from 310 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northeast at 8-10 kts. Water temp 56.8 degs.

See Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (bottom of the page)

Swell Classification Guidelines

Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
Summer
- Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate/Utility Class: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft).
Summer
- Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
Summer
- up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

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

 

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
Current Conditions
On Monday (12/18) in North and Central CA generic residual background swell from gales from last week were still hitting producing waves in the shoulder high range and clean with light offshore wind in effect. Protected breaks were waist high or so and clean and soft and weak. At Santa Cruz surf was flat and clean and swamped by tide. In Southern California up north surf was waist high on the sets and lined up and clean early with light northeast winds. In North Orange Co surf was near flat and breaking on the beach with no wind and clean conditions. South Orange Country's best breaks were maybe waist high and clean with no wind blowing. In San Diego surf was thigh to waist high and clean and lined up but weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting leftover North Pacific swell with intermixed windswell with waves 1-2 ft overhead and clean with good form making for well rideable surf for a change. The South Shore was flat to thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at chest high early and clean with with no wind and clean conditions.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Monday (12/18) the last fading remnants of swell from a broad system that tracked across the North Pacific last week was fading in California and Hawaii. A gale tracked through the Northwestern Gulf Sat-Sun (12/17) with 27 ft seas aimed east. Another poorly organized system followed tracking from off Kamchatka to the North Dateline region on Mon-Tues (12/19) with up to 26 ft seas aimed east. And another is forecast for the North Dateline same region Wed (12/20) but not doing much, but it's remnants to possibly reorganize Thurs-Fri (12/22) in the Western Gulf producing 32-34 ft seas aimed east. And another is forecast 1,000 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii for the same area Sun-Mon (12/25). So there's some hope, but nothing remarkable.

 

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

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Monday AM (12/18) the jetstream was pushing east off Japan with winds 180 kts reaching to the dateline then splitting with most energy pushing north up into the Central Bering Sea then falling southeast and forming a backdoor trough pushing just off the North Canadian Coast while the southern branch dropped southeast over Hawaii and splitting again and of no interest. A trough was trying to develop off Kamchatka but the West Aleutians were running right through the middle of it limiting support for meaningful gale development. In all a pretty languid pattern was in effect. Over the next 72 hours
wind energy is to be building off of Japan to 210 kts on Thurs (12/21) ridging slightly while reaching over the dateline with a good portion of that energy then falling southeast forming a trough with it's apex over Hawaii but very pinched and not offering particularly good support for gale development. The jet is to split heavily east of there at 150W. Beyond 72 hours the energetic ridge in the West Pacific is to slowly loose energy into later Fri (12/22) with winds down to 160 kts over the dateline and the trough holding in the Western Gulf and still pinched offering only limited support for gale development. Interestingly starting Sun (12/24) the West Gulf trough is to redevelop and this time broader with wind energy starting to rebuild over and pushing east off Japan to 170 kts starting to feed into the Gulf trough perhaps offering better odds for gale development. Still the big split in the east is to hold at 150W. This pattern is well entrenched (Gulf trough and then a split flow east of there).

Surface Analysis
On Monday (12/18) residual swell from a gale that previously traversed the North Pacific was fading in California and Hawaii. Swell from a gale that developed in the Northwestern Gulf was pushing towards the Canadian and US West Coast (see Northwest Gulf Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours another gale started to develop east of the Northern Kuril Islands on Sun PM (12/17) with 45-50 kt south winds pushing up into the Central Aleutians and 30-35 kts west winds behind that front and seas building. On Mon AM (12/18) 35-40 kt west winds were pushing off the Northern Kuril's and Kamchatka with a front on the dateline generating 26 ft seas at 51N 171E mainly targeting the Central Aleutians with limited energy pushing east of there. In the evening west winds to fade from 35+ kts from Kamchatka to the dateline and mostly over the Western Aleutians with 28 ft seas at 50N 174E aimed somewhat east at North CA (308 degrees) and also targeting the Pacific Northwest. Low odds of sideband energy radiating towards Hawaii. This system is to be gone by Tues AM (12/19).

A cutoff low is to possibly develop Tues AM (12/20) 800 nmiles north-northeast of Hawaii with 30-35 kt northeast winds and seas building from 20 ft at 35N 154W targeting the Islands decently. In the evening 35 kt north winds are to be wrapping around the gales west quadrant aimed south with 22 ft seas developing at 33N 155W targeting the Islands directly and 700 nmiles off. That low is to be fading some Wed AM (12/20) with 30-35 kt north winds and 20 ft seas starting to lift north from 35N 155W. The low is to be lifting north in the evening with residual wind energy fading from 25 kts and seas fading from 18 ft at 40N 155W. Possible small swell for Hawaii to result.

Hawaii: For planning purposes expect swell to possibly arrive on Tues PM (12/19) at 6.5 ft @ 12 secs (7.5 ft) and holding from a very northerly direction. Swell to hold overnight into Wed AM (12/20) then build some mid-afternoon to 7.1 ft @ 12 secs (8.5 ft). Swell slowly fading Thurs AM (12/21) from 6.9 ft @ 12 secs (8.0 ft). Swell Direction: 000-005 degrees

Yet another gale is to try and develop over the North Dateline region on Tues-Wed (12/20) but lifting north quickly with no winds or sea energy developing aimed anywhere but the Central Aleutians.

 

Northwest Gulf Gale
Energy associated with a weak system that pushed off the the Southern Kuril Islands late Tues (12/12) and tracked slowly east finally started to organize over the dateline into the Western Gulf Fri AM (12/15) with a building area of 30-35 kt northwest winds getting traction on the oceans surface and seas building from 18 ft. The gale plodded east in the evening with winds 35-40 kts from the west and seas building to 23 ft at 49N 175W aimed east. The fetch tracked east just south of the Eastern Aleutians Sat AM (12/16) at 35 kts over a solid area with 27 ft seas at 50N 169W aimed east targeting California and the Pacific Northwest. Fetch tracked east in the evening into the Northern Gulf fading in coverage from 30-35 kts with 26 ft seas at 50N 164W aimed east. Sun AM (12/17) fetch was limited to the extreme Northern Gulf at 30 kts from the west with 21 ft seas fading at 50N 153W targeting only British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. This system dissipated after that. Swell is expected for Canada and the Pacific Northwest with less energy down into Central CA.

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues (12/19) pushing 4.2 ft @ 14-15 secs later (6.0 ft). Swell holds overnight and continues Wed (12/20) at 5.5 ft @ 14 secs (7.0 ft) but with local windswell in the mix too. Swell fading Thurs (12/21) from 6.0 ft @ 12 secs (7.0 ft). Swell Direction: 302-308 degrees

 

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

 

Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Monday AM (12/18) high pressure at 1024 mbs was 600 nmiles off North CA ridging northeast into Oregon with a light offshore flow in effect over all of California. A weak offshore flow is expected on Tues (12/19) but a new high pressure system is to be building in the Gulf and low pressure over the Pacific Northwest with rain into North CA in the evening. A front is to be pushing south Wed AM (12/20) with north winds 20 kts for North CA early and 10-15 kts for Central CA building to 25 kts by late afternoon for the whole region and down into Southern CA. Maybe some light rain starting Wed AM before sunrise for North CA down to Monterey Bay fading by noon with 7-9 inches of snow for Tahoe by mid-day. North winds still in control on Thurs (12/21) fading from 15 kts later and turning north-northeast. A light offshore flow returns Fridays. Light offshore winds continue for the state on Sat-Sun (12/24) turning southeast 5-10 kts for North and Central CA Mon (12/25).

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 gale is to start developing in an upper trough in the Western Gulf in Thurs AM (12/21) with a fetch of 35-40 kt northwest winds building and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. In the evening a fairly broad fetch of 35-40 kt northwest winds are to be getting traction targeting just east of Hawaii with 28 ft seas building at 44N 165W targeting Central CA. On Fri AM (12/22) fetch is to be wrapping into the gales south quadrant at 35-40 kts with seas 35 ft at 43.5N 158W targeting North CA well. the gale is to lift north in the evening with 40 kt northwest winds still streaming off the Eastern Aleutians with 24 ft seas over a broad area at 43N 160W targeting Hawaii and California with 28 ft seas up at 50N 167W. Fetch fading from 35 kts Sat AM (12/23) just south of the Eastern Aleutians with 26 ft seas fading at 50N 160W. This system is to be gone after that. Something to monitor.

And yet another gale is to develop 900 nmiles north of Hawaii on Sun (12/24) with up to 45 kt northwest winds building to near 50 kt Mon AM (12/25) with 34 ft seas at 38N 166W targeting HAwaii directly. Something to monitor.


South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

 

Active MJO to Hold for 5 More Days

The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).

Overview: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. So it appears now a double dip La Nina is setting up and is to continue through the Winter and Spring of 2017-2018.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Sun (12/17) 5 day average winds were from the east over the entire equatorial Pacific but west in the Central Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were light east over the East Pacific and neutral over the Central Pacific then modest westerly over the Western KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (12/18) Moderate west anomalies were modeled over the Eastern KWGA on the dateline continuing west over the core of the KWGA. This situation is to basically hold through Dec 23rd, then modest east anomalies start building on 12/24 from 150E and points east of there. The Active Phase of the MJO appears to be holding in the West Pacific over the KWGA and is to continue for 5 more days, then fade.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 12/17 a moderate Active/Wet signal was in the West Pacific reaching east to the dateline. The statistical model depicts the Active/Wet Phase easing east making it to the dateline 5 days out and slowly fading there but still present 15 days out. At the same time the Inactive Phase is to be moving into the far West Pacific. The dynamic model depicts the same thing, but with the Active Phase all but gone 15 days out and the Inactive Phase weak and holding in the Indian Ocean.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/18) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO modest in strength over the West Pacific and is to be fading starting 5 days out and then steadily weakening while pushing east over the Atlantic and back in the Indian Ocean 15 days out. The GEFS model suggests the Active Phase is to hold dead steady for the next 5 days then dissipate and gone at the end of the model run.
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/18) This model depicts a moderate Active/Wet MJO pattern over the West Pacific and its to slowly easing east pushing into Central America 1/12 becoming incoherent. A modest Inactive/Dry MJO signal is to follow starting in the West Pacific 12/31 and tracking east to the East Pacific through the end of the model run on 1/27/18 (40 days out). Another Active/Wet Phase is to follow in the West Pacific on 1/17 moving east. This model runs about 1 week ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (12/18) This model depicts a building Wet/Active MJO pattern over the Western KWGA with west anomalies west of the dateline and neutral to weak west anomalies east of there. The Active Phase of the MJO is to push east through 12/28 with decent west anomalies in the KWGA through the period. After that a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO is to reappear 12/28 building over the dateline holding through 1/27/18 with east anomalies developing over the entirety of the KWGA starting 1/9 and holding through 1/25. Beyond the Active Phase is to take control in the West Pacific 1/22 holding through 3/6/18 with weak west anomalies redeveloping in the KWGA and east anomalies fading in coverage 2/4 and migrating east. A weak Inactive Phase is to follow in the West KWGA at the end of the model run on 3/17. The low pass filter indicates a modest low pressure bias over the west KWGA to 165E and is hold till 2/20, then start moving east reaching the dateline at the end of the model run with a high pressure bias over the East KWGA at 175E and is to move east and out of the KWGA by the end of the run. Even so, no significant oceanic change is expected as a result of this until at least May 2018.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (12/17) 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 29 degs in the far West Pacific at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line is tracking west at 179E and steep (meaning there is a headwind of cooler water pushing into it from the east). The 24 deg isotherm was weak and steady at 131W and shallow at 50 meters deep at 140W. Anomaly wise it is clear that in the East Pacific warm water gone and instead neutral to modestly negative temperatures are at the surface and down to -2 degs C down 150 meters filling the area between Central America to 170W indicative of La Nina. Warm anomalies are isolated to the West Pacific at now up to +3.0 degrees down to 100 meters deep with the dividing line between cool temps retrograded west to 170W. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/9 depicts a large area of cool water filling the subsurface East Pacific (-4.0 degs) and erupting to the surface in broad pockets between Ecuador to 170W with warm anomalies at +2-3 degs in the west.
Sea Level Anomalies: (12/14) 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 with no breaks.

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: (12/17) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a cool pattern remains is in control. Upwelling is rebuilding some along Peru and Ecuador but stronger tracking west on the equator out to 140W with a well defined cool pool evidenced over the entire region. No warm anomalies are indicated within 3+ degs north or south of the equator over the entire region.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/17): A warming trend was still in place along Peru and in some pockets on the equator out to 140W. But there were also and equal number of pockets of cooling water interspersed along the equatorial Pacific from the Galapagos west to 140W.
Hi-res Overview: (12/17) Regardless of the short term warming trend indicated above, a clear La Nina cool stream is present starting off Southern Chile and up the coast of Peru and Ecuador then building in coverage pushing west over the Galapagos and building out to 180W and stable. 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 Nino 3.4 regions. A mature La Nina has evolved.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/18) Today's temps were rising slightly to -1.088. 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: (12/18) Today temps were steady at -0.948 degs. On (12/7) temps hit a new 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 a solidifying cold pattern. La Nina is in control.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (12/18) The forecast depicts temps at -0.95 in early Dec and slowly rising to -0.75 degs in early Feb. The weak upward trend is to continue with temps reaching -0.60 in April and -0.2 degs in July 2018 and holding there. This suggests a legit La Nina is expected for the Winter of 2017-2018.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Nov Plume updated (12/8) depicts temps bottomed out at -0.7 in early Nov and are to hold into Dec then slowly rising, to +0.0 in May and +0.3 in July2018. See chart here - link  The NMME consensus for Nov average indicates temps -0.9 degrees below normal Nov-Jan 2018 then rebounding to normal in April. It looks like La Nina is peaking out now. 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 (12/18): The daily index was rising but still negative today at -9.45 today. The 30 day average was rising at +5.00. The 90 day average was rising at +8.04. This suggests La Nina is in control.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (12/18) The index was effectively steady at -1.59 (up from -2.20 on 6/28/17). The trend is generally stable for now but clearly indicative of La Nina. 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, Nov = -0.52. 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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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table

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