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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 2:47 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
3.3 - California & 3.9 - 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 1/30 thru Sun 2/5

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   

Swell Pattern to Focus on Hawaii
Local Weather for California

On Tuesday, January 31, 2017 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 11.5 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 8.4 ft @ 12.5 secs from 339 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.9 ft @ 12.8 secs with swell 2.2 ft @ 13.6 secs from 262 degrees. Wind east 6-8 kts. Water temperature 57.2 degs. At Ventura swell was 1.6 ft @ 13.2 secs from 270 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.5 ft @ 14.5 secs from 270 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.2 ft @ 12.1 secs from 244 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 1.9 ft @ 15.3 secs from 272 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.7 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 3.2 ft @ 13.1 secs from 282 degrees. Wind northeast 4-6 kts at the buoy. Water temp 54.1 degs.

    46006, 46059, New! Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (at the 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

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


Current Conditions
On Tuesday (1/31) in North and Central CA generic Gulf swell was still producing waves in the head high to 1 ft overhead range and clean with light offshores in.cgiay and reeling at select breaks. Most spots were smaller. At Santa Cruz surf was maybe chest high and mostly waist high and clean and weak. In Southern California up north the same Gulf swell was producing surf at waist high and very clean. In North Orange Co surf was flat though lines were coming through that should be waist high or so, but were swamped by tide. Conditions were clean with no wind. In San Diego surf was near head high on the sets a top breaks and waist to chest high at most and clean and lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was getting swell from a gale north of the Islands with waves at 10+ ft and raw with northeast winds adding bump to it. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting north swell at 8 ft and fully chopped from northeast winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
A gale built just east of the dateline Sat-Sun (1/29) falling southeast towards and in close proximity to Hawaii with up to 32 ft seas. That swell is hitting there now. Remnants of that system lifted northeast and redeveloped Mon-Tues (1/31) targeting Hawaii from a very northeast angle with 28-30 ft seas with 22 ft seas also targeting Southern CA. A broader system is also developing off the Kurils on Tues (1/31) with 35 ft seas forecast pushing east, then fading fast Wed (2/1) never making it to even the dateline. Another small system to follow Thurs-Fri (2/3) in the exact same area with 30-34 ft aimed eat and also not making it to the dateline. By Mon (2/6) another gale is to develop northwest of and in close proximity to Hawaii with 38 ft seas falling southeast into Tuesday. And more energy is to be building off Japan. A very southward di.cgiaced storm track is forecast focused over the Central Pacific.

Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours

North Pacific

On Tuesday AM (1/31) the jetstream was consolidated tracking east off Japan with winds to 190 kts reaching almost to the dateline then .cgiitting heavily with the northern branch lifting north into the Bering Sea then falling southeast and .cgiitting again with most energy falling into a cutoff trough mid-way between Hawaii and California being fed by 110 kt winds, then riding north and pushing into Washington. The southern branch was falling southeast to the equator. In short, anywhere east of the dateline the jet was a fragmented mess but it was looking good west of the dateline. Over the next 72 hours winds in the jet are to continue at 190+ kts pushing off Japan and reaching further east, to a point 600 nmiles northwest of Hawaii by Fri (2/3) with a trough building off the Kurils then offering good support for gale development. East of there the semi-cutoff trough off California is to slowly lift northeast pushing over North CA late on Thurs (2/2) with a secondary weaker trough moving over the same region 24 hours later. These troughs to support gale development but mainly be weather producers for the US West Coast. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to continue pushing east and still consolidated with winds to 190-200 kts and falling southeast forming a trough and nearly impacting Hawaii Mon-Tues (2/7) offering great support for gale development. From there the consolidated just is is top lift northeast fully flowing into North CA on Tues (2/7) with winds still 180 kts. Good overall support for gale development possible.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (1/31) swell from a gale that fell southeast from the dateline Sat-Sun (1/29) with up to 32 ft seas targeting Hawaii was impacting the Islands while a new swell from the reformed remnants of Saturdays system was pushing south also targeting Hawaii (see Second Hawaiian Gale below). Also a small storm formed off north Japan on Monday (1/30) (see Kuril Gale below)

Over the next 72 hours starting Thurs AM (2/2) another small gale is to develop off the Kuril's producing 45 kt west winds and seas building from 30 ft at 43N 158E. The gale is to lift north some in the evening making no eastward progress with 45 kt northwest winds and seas 30 ft over a modest area at 43N 162E targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. West fetch is to be fading Fri AM (2/3) from 35 kts off Kamchatka with seas 30 ft at 48N 168E aimed mainly at the Aleutians. The gale to dissipate from there. Small swell for Hawaii possible.


Kuril Gale
Also on Mon PM (1/30) a small storm started brewing off North Japan with 50 kt northwest winds and seas building from 28 ft over a small area at 39N 156E. On Tues AM (1/31) a broader area of 45 kt northwest winds were lifting northeast generating 35 ft seas at 40N 165E targeting Hawaii well. In the evening fetch is to be lifting north fast getting less traction on the oceans surface and fading from 45 kts with seas fading from 30 ft at 42N 168E. This system is to fade from there while moving into the Bering Sea with residual 26 ft seas up at 47N 170E aimed east. After that no additional sea production of interest is forecast.

Hawaii: Small swell is expected to arrive starting later Fri (2/3) building to 3.9 ft @ 16 secs at sunset (6.0 ft). Swell to peak on Sat (2/4) at 5.2 ft @ 15 secs (7.5 ft). Residuals fading on Sun (2/5) from 3.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (5.0 ft). Swell DIrection: 310 degrees


Second Hawaiian Gale
Remnants from a previous gale just north of Hawaii started redeveloping while lifting northeast on Mon AM (1/30) with 45 kt north and northeast winds producing 25 ft seas at 36N 151W targeting Hawaii but also swinging towards the US West Coast. In the evening 45 kt north-northeast winds built in the Central Gulf with 29 ft seas at 35N 151W targeting Hawaii and 24 ft seas building in the gales south quadrant at 33N 148W somewhat targeting Southern California. Fetch was fading Tues AM (1/31) from 35 kts from the north with 27 ft seas at 34N 150W still aimed at Hawaii with 24 ft seas at 31N 147W targeting South CA. This system to start fading from there while tracking northeast with 30 kt north winds in the evening and 23 ft seas fading at 32N 150W mainly targeting Hawaii. Nothing is to be left after Tuesday evening.

Oahu: Swell arrival possible starting late Tues (1/31) at sunset pushing 7.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (10.0 ft) and building a little more overnight. Swell continuing on Wed (2/1) AM holding at 8.8 ft @ 14-15 secs (12.5 ft). Residuals on Thurs (2/2) fading from 7.0 ft @ 13-14 secs (9.5 ft). Dribbles on Fri (2/3) fading from 4.8 ft @ 12 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 20-25 degrees


  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 Tuesday AM (1/31) high pressure was loosing it's grip over California but still producing a weak easterly flow over all coastal regions while low pressure was building well west of the coast. Wind is to start turning south late afternoon from Pt Conception northward. On Wednesday the front from the low off the coast starts driving south winds at 15 kts early from Monterey Bay northward building to 25 kts early evening and 10 kt south into Santa Barbara. Rain developing from Morro Bay northward by 10 PM. On Thursday rain and south winds continue at 15-20 kts from Santa Barbara northward. Snow developing for Tahoe near 7 AM peaking near 7 PM then fading some overnight. Accumulations of 16 inches forecast for most resorts at Tahoe into sunrise Friday. Friday south winds continue from Pt Conception northward at 15-20 kts as the low lifts north and fades. Rain fading late afternoon into the evening for all of North and Central CA. Snow continues Friday pulsing mid-day with decent snow levels. Another 14-16 inches of accumulation possible at Tahoe through 4 PM. Mammoth to receive only 6 inches through the period. More snow is forecast to all locations overnight Friday to Sat AM with 10 inches of accumulation possible. Saturday AM a weak southwest flow at 10 kts is forecast from Morro Bay northward. Low odds of light rain from Monterey Bay northward but good odds north of Pt Reyes. Snow showers for the Sierra with 1-4 inches of accumulation possible at Tahoe. Now a new local low is forecast developing off the CA coast on Sunday (2/5) with south winds 10 kts early from Morro Bay northward building to 25 kts late evening. Rain from Monterey Bay northward through the day. Light snow for Tahoe and points north of there though the day (2-5 inches of accumulation). Total accumulation of 50-55 inches at Tahoe through 4 PM Sunday. The core of the low is to push over San Francisco Mon AM (2/6) with south winds 20+ kts from Southern CA northward and building down to San Diego mid- AM turning north at 15-20 kts at sunset. Early rain for the state reaching down to San Diego. Solid snow for all the Sierra fading overnight. Tuesday (2/7) weak high pressure is to be over the state with north winds 15 kts everywhere and up to 20 kts for Southern CA. No rain forecast. Snow showers for the Sierra. 62 inches of snow accumulation for Tahoe possible. Another low is to be well off the coast.


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell producing fetch of interest is occurring or forecast.


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




Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a broad gale is forecast developing Sun PM (2/5) just 600 nmiles west-northwest of Hawaii generating 30-35 kt northwest winds while the front from it pushes over Kauai producing 30 kt southwest winds. Seas on the increase. This system is to not be moving much at all. By Mon AM (2/6) the gale is to be more organized with 35 kt northwest fetch and the leading edge of it impacting Kauai and seas building from 23 ft at 28N 166W or 500 nmiles from Oahu. In the evening more of the same is forecast with a fetch of 30-35 kts from the northwest impacting the Islands and effectively stationary with 24 ft seas building back at 29N 167W. More of the same is forecast on Tues AM (2/7) with 22 ft seas at 25N 158W. Finally in the evening the gale is to be weakening and lifting northeast with limited 30 kt northwest fetch still targeting the Islands but local winds fading. Seas fading from 20 ft at 24N 155W.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...


Active Phase of the MJO Forecast to Return

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: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward di.cgiaced and generally weak. And by early 2017, it appears to be fading.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Monday (1/30) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but lighter over the southern Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south. Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific and neutral to light easterly into the KWGA. This suggest La Nina was loosing if not completely lost it's grip.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Modest east anomalies were modeled over the dateline but neutral to light westerly from 155E into the Maritime Continent. The forecast suggests east anomalies building while tracking east slightly while west anomalies build in strength and ease slowly east reaching 160E a week out. This suggests a battle between the remnants of La Nina on the dateline and a normal wind pattern trying to build in from the west. La Nina is loosing it's grip and the Active Phase of the MJO might finally appear for real in the West Pacific with west anomalies associated with it (the first time this Winter season).

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 1/30 a modest Inactive Phase was present over the dateline with the Active Phase in the East Indian Ocean. The statistic model projects the Inactive Phase fading on the dateline 8 days out and gone beyond with a very weak version of the Active Phase limping into the West Pacific. The dynamic model depicts the Inactive Phase tracking east from the dateline and fading with the Active Phase moving into the West Pacific strongly 10 days out migrating to the dateline 2 weeks out. In either case, some form of the Active Phase is projected 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (1/31) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO is weak over the Maritime Continent and is to track east and build moving to the West Pacific and beyond 2 weeks out at modest strength. The GEFS model depicts about the same thing but the Active Phase stronger peaking in the West Pacific 8 days out.
40 day Upper Level Model: (1/31) This model depicts a strong Active Phase of the MJO was over the West Pacific tracking east while slowly fading, reaching the dateline 2/15 and into Central America into 2/27. The Inactive Phase is to follow tracking over the West Pacific 2/25-3/12. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (1/31) This model depicts the Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the KWGA with east wind anomalies in.cgiay on the dateline and points east of there (but not west of there). This is to hold into 2/8. Then the Active Phase returns 2/9-2/21 with moderate west anomalies in the far West Pacific and east anomalies gone over the dateline. A weak Inactive Phase is to follow 2/22-3/12 but with west anomalies slowly getting more traction over the dateline region in March onwards. A weak Active Phase is to follow. The MJO is forecast to start building in strength from here forward having more influence on wind anomalies in the KWGA as La Nina dies.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (1/31) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 165E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 179W 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 there's no signs of La Nina. Warm anomalies at +1-2 degs rule from the West Pacific pushing east to 155W (possible mini-Kelvin Wave). Neutral anomalies are east of there to Ecuador with a pocket of less than -1.0 deg anomalies over a shallow area between 110W and the dateline and the aforementioned Kelvin Wave pushing under it. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 1/23 depicts 2 pocket of of cooler water to -1.0 degs, one along Ecuador and the other at 160W and fading in coverage. And warm water is building east forming a nearly continuous path from the West Pacific to nearly Ecuador at +0.5-1.0 degs. La Nina has lost control of the ocean at depth with remaining negative anomalies weakening and getting shallower.
Sea Level Anomalies: (1/23) Negative anomalies at -5.0-10 cm's control 2 pockets stranding the equator from 105W to 135W and 5 degs north and south. Sea levels are slowly rising with La Nina 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: (1/30) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate warm water dominating the region extending from Southern Chile north to Panama and then extending west over the Galapagos at +2 degs above normal reaching to 110W solid and building with neutral to weak cool temps west of there to 160W. La Nina is gone and it looks like an El Nino like pattern is returning, though that seems not possible.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (1/29): Significant warming continues along Chile, Peru Ecuador out over the Galapagos extending west to 110W. A small pocket of cooling is out at 120W and loosing ground with neutral anomalies west of there. In any other year one would wonder if El Nino was developing. Most interesting.
Hi-res Overview:
(1/29) There is no sign of La Nina cool waters from Ecuador west to at least 120W. The only real remnants are from 140W-170E and even those appear to be in collapse and heading west. La Nina is loosing coverage quickly. This is good news.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (1/31) Today's temps were rising at +0.963, but still down some from a peak of +1.635 on 1/25.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (1/31) temps were falling some at -0.489. Temps have been oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.0 to -0.5 degs but a re trending steadily warmer.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (1/31) This model indicates La Nina developed from June thru Oct in the -0.55 deg range then started fading with temps rising to neutral by Jan 1. La Nina is dead. The forecast has temps gently rising abruptly to +0.5 degs in March building to +0.75 degs in April and holding if not rising to +0.9 degs in Oct, bordering on minimal El Nino. This indicates that La Nina is over and a return to normal temps is expected in Spring. The change in the atmosphere will be slower.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Jan Plume depicts temps are warming and are now at -0.2 degs. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to neutral 0.0 in March 2017 warming to +0.2 degs in May and holding into the Fall. This is no different than the Dec forecast and suggests La Nina is over. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (1/31): The daily index was positive today at +12.02 but has been nearly continuous negative for 19 previous readings. The 30 day average was falling slightly at -0.31, the first time it's been negative since November. The 90 day average was falling some at +0.24. All this suggests the Active Phase of the MJO was trying to get a foot in the door and La Nina is all but gone.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (1/31) Today's value was rising slightly at -1.19. 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 backed off some, only to return to a more negative trend since 1/20. Of all the indicators, this is the only one that suggests La Nina is not loosing it's grip. That is to be expected though as this measures atmospheric response, not oceanic. The atmosphere lags changes in the ocean driven by the ENSO cycle. The expectation is this index will start rising shortly.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker lately (as expected with La Nina setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Dec) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.42, +0.76, +0.12 then falling to -0.87, -1.06 and -0.70 in Oct. But in Nov, it was up to +0.80 and +0.45 in Dec. This looks much like the warm phase of the PDO.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Dec) are: +1.53, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03, +1.25 +0.52, +0.45, +0.56, +1.88 and +1.17 in Dec.
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive 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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