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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: December 24, 2005 2:32 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
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Swell Potential Rating = 5.5 - California & 5.5 - 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 12/19 thru Sun 12/25
Swell Potential Rating Categories
5 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Significant swell
4 = Good probability for 1-2 days of Significant swell
3 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Utility swell
2 = Good probability for  1-2 days of Utility swell
1 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Impulse or Windswell
0 = Low probability for 1-2 days of Impulse or Windswell   

Storm Train in High Gear
Swell #6 In the Water, Storm #7 On-Track, Storm #8 Forecast

 

Stormsurf wishes you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Hope you catch lot's of waves and have a great (and safe) Holiday.

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
On Saturday (12/24) Northern CA surf was 1-3 ft overhead and finally clean. South facing breaks were head high to 2 ft overhead. Central California surf was 1-2 ft overhead and clean. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were up to 1 ft overhead though most were chest high. The LA area southward to Orange County was chest to head high. Southward from Orange County into San Diego waves were head high to 1 ft overhead, maybe a little more at the best breaks. The North Shore of Oahu was triple overhead. The South Shore was flat. The East Shore was head high to 1 ft overhead.

The big story today is the development of Monster Storm #7 over the dateline. This beast has been on the charts for a week and appears to be living up to all the hype the models gave it. Extra large surf looks likely for North facing Hawaiian Shores (as if it isn't big enough already). And California is posed to receive Swell #6 which is just starting to move into the outer buoys, followed by big Swell #7 (parts 1 and 2) with more on the charts behind that. It is the season for giving, and the North Pacific is giving all it's got. Make the most of it. See details below...

 

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

North Pacific

Overview
Saturdays (12/24) jetstream continued very solid pumping 190 kt winds over a slight ridge just east of the dateline dropping into a steep trough just off the California coast, then pushing north into British Columbia. This pattern remains impressive and supportive of storm development from Japan the whole way to a point north of Hawaii. Over the next 72 hours the ridge over the dateline is to flatten out while solid but not quite as strong energy continues tracking off Japan making it the whole way across the North Pacific unabated in the 180 kt range. A bit of a trough is forecast east next week in the Gulf of Alaska , but not overly pronounced. This is actually a bit of a concern, because a flat/zonal jet is not particularly great at generating surface level storms regardless of the windspeeds. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to start re-energizing Monday (12/26) with 200 kt winds rebuilding off Japan pushing east to the dateline mid-week with only the faintest hint of a trough developing there. The main pocket of energy is to reach a point north of Hawaii late Thursday (12/29) with winds still 190 kts, then simmering down. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of the big storm cycle, but it's too early to tell for sure.

At the surface today a small area of high pressure continued hanging down over South Central California at 1020 mbs providing the faintest hint of protection while an otherwise stormy pattern continued unabated across the balance of the North Pacific. Storm #6 is long gone but the swell from it was radiating towards California. Storm #7 was over the dateline (see details below) with Storm #8 expected off Japan early Monday (see long-term forecast).

 

Storm #6 (Hawaii)
Storm History/Forecast
On Monday (12/19) Storm #6 was starting to take shape off Japan with pressure 976 mbs. This was a large system with good areal coverage but was nowhere near as strong as was originally forecast. Winds confirmed at 40-50 kt over a broad area terminating at 35N 165E aimed due east or 30 degree south of the 292 degree path to NCal and right up the 300 degree path to Hawaii. Seas built to 30 ft at 37N 155E. In the evening pressure held at 976 mbs with a more modest 40 kt fetch positioned at 38N 170E aimed 30 degrees south of the 292 degree path to NCal and right up the 304 degree path to Hawaii. Seas built to 32 ft centered at 35N 160E.

On Tuesday AM (12/20) this system continued about like before with pressure 972 mbs just east of the dateline with 40-45 kt winds centered at 35N 175E aimed 25 degrees east of the 315 degree path to Hawaii and 20 degrees south of the 287 degree path to North CA. Seas dropped to 30 ft at 36N 169E. In the evening pressure held at 972 mbs over the dateline with a broad area of 40-45 kt winds confirmed centered near 37N 176W aimed 20 degrees south of the 285 degree path to CA and just east of right down the 312 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled at 32 ft centered at 37N 175E. A Jason-1 satellite pass tracked over the eastern edge of the fetch confirming seas in the 32-33 ft range, consistent with the models.

This system continued east through the day Wednesday (12/21), reorganizing with pressure briefly down to 964 mbs early. Seas modeled at 36 ft centered at 39N 178W. In the evening winds covered a reasonably long consolidated fetch of 45 kts stretching from the dateline east to 37N 168W aimed 20 degrees east of the 318 degree path to Hawaii and 20 degrees south of the 289 degree path to North CA (293 SCal). Seas were modeled at 35 ft centered at 39N 172W. The Jason-1 satellite passed dead over the fetch confirming seas 32 ft with one stray reading to 37 ft, on track with expectations.

The storm continued Thursday AM (12/22) diving south towards Hawaii with pressure 972 mbs and 40-45 kt winds terminating at 33N 165W aimed 30 degrees south of the 281 degree path to NCal (285 SCal) and 20 degrees east of the 322 degree path to Hawaii. 33 ft seas were modeled at 36N 165W. By the evening this system is to be gone. 31 ft residual seas forecast at 33N 162W a mere 700 nmiles from Oahu.

The system faded out on Friday AM (12/23) with residual 34 ft seas modeled at 29N 157W tracking east of the Islands and not towards CA.

Swell Generation Potential
This was initially to be a stronger storm with much energy forecast aimed well at both California and Hawaii, but has since evolved into something not really optimal for either location. But aside from the technicalities, it still produced 30 ft+ seas for over 96 hours and blowing over an already agitated sea surface, making for solid swell pushing south and east. Also virtual fetch was in-play, such that seas the storm generated were not able to escape the fetch and as a result more energy was piled on top. This should improve the number of waves per set and set consistency early in the swell.

For California the issue is that the main swell vector was aimed well south of the state, and the fetch remained a good distance away (1930-3633 nmiles), and not particularly strong. Certainly some swell to result, perhaps best for Southern CA given it's southerly track, but nothing overwhelming. At least it will have some distance to clean itself up over.

Surf Forecast
North CA:
Expect swell arrival starting Saturday (12/24) at 7 AM with period at 19 secs and size small but building steadily. Swell to peak starting at 11 PM and holding steady through about 10 AM Sunday (12/25) with swell 7 ft @ 17 secs (11-12 ft faces) with piles of local chop on top pushing seas to 11.5 ft. Swell to be trickling down late in the day, but not much. Continued solid energy expected Monday (12/26) with swell 7 ft @ 14 secs (9-10 ft faces). Swell Direction: 280-290 degrees

South CA: Expect swell arrival starting Saturday (12/24) at noon with period near 20 secs secs and size small but building steadily. Swell to peak starting Sunday (12/25) at 4 AM and holding steady through 3 PM with swell 3.0-3.5 ft @ 17 secs (5-6 ft faces) at most breaks and up to 4.0-4.5 ft @ 17 secs (7-8 ft faces) at best breaks in Santa Barbara and San Diego with seas to 6.5 ft. Swell to be trickling down late in the day, and overnight, but not too much. Continued solid energy expected Monday (12/26) early with swell 3.0-3.5 ft ft @ 15 secs (4-5 ft faces) at most breaks and 4.0-4.5 ft @ 15 secs (6-7 ft faces) at best breaks and fading from there. Swell Direction: 285-295 degrees

 

Monster Storm #7
Storm History/Forecast
This is the closest thing to a full on El Nino-like winter storm we've seen in quite a while.

This large storm tracked off Japan on Thursday (12/22) heading due east with winds confirmed at 50-60 kts winds centered near 32N 164E. In the evening pressure dropped to 956 mbs with 60-70 kt hurricane force winds confirmed over a small area at 40N 172E aimed just north of due east or right up the 294 degree path to North CA (298 SCal) and 20 degrees east of the 310 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled at 32 ft at 33N 154E.. The Jason-1 satellite made a pass right over the fetch a few hours later but had difficulty resolving seas in it's core, but picked up multiple readings in the 36-38 ft range on it's south edge, better than what the models suggested.

On Friday (12/23) pressure was down to 948 mbs with a 646 nmile long fetch of 50-65 kt winds confirmed terminating at 42N 176E aimed just north of due east or right up the 297 degree path to NCal (300 SCal) and 30 degrees east of the 314 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled at 42 ft centered at 42N 164E. The Jason-1 satellite again passed right over the storms core and experienced the same problems. Still 39 ft seas were confirmed on it's edges, better than what the wave model suggested. In the evening pressure held at 948 mbs with a solid fetch of 50-60 kt winds still aimed due east in the storms south quadrant terminating at 42N 175W aimed right up the 294 degree path to NCal (298 SCal) and 45 degrees east of the 320 degree path to Hawaii. Seas modeled up to 51 ft centered at 43N 174E.

On Saturday AM (12/24) the storm crossed the dateline with pressure still an impressive 952 mbs. A 896 nmile long fetch of 45-50 kt winds were aimed due east terminating at 42N 168W right up the 292 degree path to NCal (296 SCal) and 50 degrees east of the 331 degree path to Hawaii. Seas modeled still at an impressive 50 ft at 43N 178W. In the evening this system to be pushing into the Gulf of Alaska with pressure up to 960 mbs and a broad fetch of 40-50 kt west winds centered at 43N 165W aimed right at NCal up the 295 degree path (298 SCal) but nothing at Hawaii. Seas forecast at 49 ft at 44N 173W.

On Sunday (12/25) the core storm is to falter and fade with 43 ft residual seas forecast at 45N 164W. But by evening the new second phase of this storm (actually a new system) is to take up the slack developing with pressure 966 mbs with 55-60 kt winds over a small area centered at 39N 170W aimed right at Hawaii down the 331 degree path but too far south of any path to California. Seas rebuilding.

On Monday AM (12/26) pressure to drop to 954 mbs with 60 kt winds again at 42N 156W taking aim east of Hawaii but right up the 290 degree path to North CA (297 SCal). Seas forecast at 39 ft centered at 44N 161W, relatively close to the California coast. In the evening pressure to be down to 946 mbs with 45-50 kt winds centered at 47N 147W aimed right at NCal up the 299 degree path (306 SCal). Seas forecast at 44 ft centered at 45N 153W with a much broader area of 35 ft seas at 40N 160W, close again to California.

This storm to fade out Tuesday (12/27). Residual 35 ft seas forecast at 40N 147W and fading fast.

Swell Generation Potential
This storm is developing amazing close to what the models projected almost a week out. It's a most impressive system so far with intense wind aimed directly towards California with solid sideband energy aimed towards Hawaii. Already this insures a large, very long period and long lasting swell (especially for California), and the second phase of this storm is not even developing yet. Hawaii likely get slammed by the most size by virtue of their relative proximity to the storm center (1370-2622 nmiles) though it might be a little less refined (more geared towards tow surfing), where California will see the groomed longer period energy ideal for paddle in surfing (being 1897-3952 nmiles away from the core of the storm). Local winds to have a major impact north of Pt Conception though. Hawaii to see pristine conditions. Monitor this situation closely.

Surf Forecast
Hawaii
(North Shore of Oahu): Expect the first signs of this swell washing into the North Shore starting about 4 PM Sunday (12/25) with period 25 secs and size tiny but building. Swell to start peaking Monday (12/26) at 6 AM holding solid through the day with swell 11.7-13.0 ft @ 17-20 secs (20-26 ft Hawaiian - 40-50 ft faces). Dangerous surf - Proceed with caution. Period to drop overnight with size moderating some as period moves to 14-15 secs Tuesday AM (12/27) Swell 9-10 ft @ 14-15 secs (14-15 ft). Swell Direction: 315-331 degrees

North CA (San Francisco): Expect swell to arrive late Monday afternoon (12/26) with period 25 secs and size small but building. Large number of waves per set, though a long wait between sets. Swell to start peaking Tuesday (12/27) at mid-day with period 20 secs solid and holding through the night till sunrise Wednesday (12/28) when period drops to the low 17 sec range. Swell size 10.5-12.6 ft @ 17-20 secs (21-25 ft down to 18-21 ft Wed AM). Most solid 16 sec energy to hold through the day till sunset with no obvious drop in size, just a little less energy. Sizeable 14 sec residuals expected through the day Thursday (12/29) with more energy from phase 2 of this storm possibly building in. Swell Direction: 292-296 degrees

South California: Expect swell arrival starting Tuesday (12/27) at 2 AM with period at 25 secs and size on the increase. Swell to start peaking near 11 PM as period settles to 20 secs and holding solid through sunset Wednesday (12/28) as period turns to a pure 17 secs. Swell 4.7-5.3 ft @ 17-20 secs at most breaks (8-11 ft faces) with best spots in Santa Barbara and especially San Diego at 5.4-6.6 ft @ 17-20 secs (9.0-13 ft faces). Solid 14-15 sec residuals expected through the day Thursday (12/29) with more energy from phase 2 of this storm possibly building in. Swell Direction 296-303 degrees

 

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

 

California Offshore Forecast
On Saturday (12/24) a short break in the storm pattern was occurring in the north part of the state with the sun actually visible. But this respite is to be short-lived with the dividing line between the good and the bad being Point Conception. More storminess was lining up offshore with the first wave expected to push onshore Sunday and another scheduled Monday continuing through Wednesday (12/28). High pressure and calmer winds forecast for Thursday but the north is only to get clobbered again on Friday and into the New Years weekend by more storminess. Southern California to remain protected with a light wind regime until Thursday, when the north wind scenario washes them out, but only for 24-36 hours, then pristine conditions returning.

The 5 Day wind forecast is now included with the surf & swell overview in the QuikCAST's.

 

South Pacific

Overview
No swell producing fetch forecast over the next 72 hours.

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 the weather scenario is to remain solid. Of interest is the forecasted development of yet another storm (Storm #8 possibly) off Japan on Monday (12/26) tracking east and slowly fading as it reaches the dateline. Pressure to drop to 960 mbs with 50-55 kt west winds initially down to 35 kts as it reaches the dateline Thursday (12/29). Seas to 41 ft Tuesday evening into Wednesday AM aimed mid-way between Hawaii and California then up to 44 ft late Wednesday as it hit's the dateline fading slowly to 30 ft while tracking into the Gulf of Alaska through Saturday (12/31). Solid swell for Hawaii and California possible.

Yet another smaller system forecast behind that over the dateline for the New Years weekend.

 

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.

Details to follow...


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Local Interest

More Local Wind Models: Stormsurf is proud to announce the expansion of our local wind models, now providing global coverage. Get the latest local wind forecast updated 4 times daily with coverage out 7.5 days. See them here: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu.html

Sharks, Sharks and more Sharks: Want to know all the details of every shark encounter over the past few months in California? You can read all about it in the fascinating chronology produced be the Shark Research Committee. There's alot more going on in our waters than you could ever have imagined (or ever wanted to know). http://www.sharkresearchcommittee.com/pacific_coast_shark_news.htm

Stormsurf Weather Model Update: Over the weekend (10/30) we moved new new code into production that should dramatically improve the efficiency and reliability of our weather models. We've had problems with them not keeping in-sync with the wave models. Hopefully that problem is now resolved though we're still dependent on NOAA data servers just like everyone else. What this fix does do is provide the infrastructure now to rapidly expand our offering of weather models, enabling more detailed global coverage. We will be working on that as time permits.

Rob Gilley Photgraphy: Please take amoment to check out the selection of limited print images availabe at Rob Gilleys webite. All images in the 2005 line were taken by Rob Gilley, an 19 year Surfer Magazine staff photographer, and are personally signed and numbered by him: http://www.pacificsurfgallery.com

Tutorial on the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) Presented by Dr. Roland Madden: If you're interested in El Nino and the MJO, have a basic understanding of El Nino, and you have broadband connection, audio and Macromedia Flash installed, then the following presentation is a must see. Dr Madden present a great overview of how the MJO works. And there's nothing like hearing it straight from the founders mouth. Link here: http://meted.ucar.edu/climate/mjo/mjonav0.htm

Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table

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