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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: May 3, 2005 11:08 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 = 4.0 - California & 5.0 - Hawaii
Using the 'Summer' 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 5/2 thru Sun 5/8
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   

Swell #1S Pushing North
Another Storm Forecast Down South


On Tuesday (5/3) Northern CA surf was waist to chest high and lumpy with southwest wind. South facing breaks were waist to chest high. Central California was waist high with bigger sets at the best spots. Southern CA breaks from Santa Barbara to just north of LA were waist high with some bigger sets. The LA area southward into Orange County was waist to chest high and a little bigger at the best spots. Southward to San Diego waves were waist to chest high with maybe some bigger sets. The North Shore of Oahu was waist high or less. The South Shore was waist high and fading. The East Shore was flat.

Small south swell originating under New Zealand continued today in Hawaii and California, with California actually getting the upper hand, but not for long. A much stronger swell from a low that tracked under Tahiti last weekend has crossed the equator and scheduled to push what is likely to be solid surf into Hawaii late in the workweek and then into California by the weekend. Summer is here. But the north hemisphere is not complete gone, with small energy schedule for Hawaii's northern shores by the weekend too. See details below...


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

North Pacific

On Tuesday (5/3) the jetstream was still trying to show signs of life with two weak troughs present, one over the dateline and a second off the Pacific Northwest coast (animation here). Over the next 72 hours through Friday (5/6) the first one is to push east into the Gulf of Alaska and fade while the second one pushes inland over North California. Given the time of year, this is pretty amazing that anything is left out there.

At the surface today two very weak low pressure systems were strung across the North Pacific, one off Oregon at 1004 mbs with no swell producing wind, and the stronger one over the dateline with 30 kt northwest winds developing and aimed towards Hawaii. This one is to drop to 988 mb on Wednesday (5/4) with 25-30 kts winds and 16-18 ft seas aimed well at Hawaii, but fading by Thursday (5/5) as it lifts up and over the Aleutians in the western Gulf of Alaska. This system remains capable of producing some small relatively short period windswell for Hawaii (animation here). This is actually a downgrade from previous model runs which suggested stronger winds and slightly higher seas.

Another low is expected behind (See Long-Term forecast).

More model data here

South Pacific

On Tuesday (5/3) in the South Pacific a .cgiit jet pattern continued to dominate the upper levels of the atmosphere, hampering storm development. A small pocket of energy was traveling in the northern branch trying to support low pressure at the surface under Tahiti but rapidly fading. A zonal pattern was developing. The southern branch was following a parallel track to the northern branch with no troughs or ridges present (animation here). Over the next 72 hours through Friday (5/6) a strong ridge is forecast in the southern branch east of New Zealand with 140 kt winds suggested there. A trough is suggested to develop ahead of that ridge with some potential. See the Long Term forecast.

At the surface today the remnants of the storm that has generated Swell #1S was still circulating south of Tahiti, but was all but gone. No seas of interest were being generated. No other swell producing systems were present (animation here). Over the next 72 hours no swell producing systems are forecast.

More model data here


First New Zealand Pulse
On Thursday (4/21) a 956 mb low was tracking east in the deep South Pacific under New Zealand while high pressure at 1028 mbs held over the Tasman Sea. This was generating a gradient between the two with 40-45 kt west winds centered near 60S 160E. Even on Wednesday night (4/20) the QuikSCAT satellite confirmed winds of 50-55 kts over a tiny area positioned well southwest of New Zealand at 60S 148E. These winds were aimed well at California up the 213-215 degree great circle paths and moving into the Hawaiian swell window from behind the New Zealand shadow at 210 degrees. The fetch bloomed Thursday evening as pressure in the low dropped to 952 mbs while the high over the Tasman Sea increased to 1032 mbs. Winds were confirmed at 45-50 kt blowing from the west over a broad area centered at 60S 165E. They were aimed about 25 degree east of the 211 degree path to South CA and 45 degrees east of the 197 degree path to Hawaii. Seas were modeled at 29 ft centered at 60S 162E.

On Friday AM (4/22) the low pushed southeast away from the high some, and as a result the fetch started to fade down to 40-45 kts in the AM (at 59S 168E) and even less in the evening. Stronger winds at 50 kts were blowing right off the Ross Ice Shelf aimed towards California, but this was essentially and new fetch and no seas were associated with it yet. Seas in the original fetch were 35 ft (at 59S 171E) but down to 31 ft by evening (at 57S 180E).

On Saturday (4/23) the low was diving southeast over Antarctica and the fetch dissipated. No fresh seas were generated.

This was a rather small system that was short lived and positioned a long ways from California (6645 nmiles). A small 16-17 sec period swell hit California late Monday (5/2) as expected from this storm, but the long travel distance produced much swell decay and poor induced inconsistency. See QuikCAST's for details.


Storm #1S - New Zealand/Tahiti Storm
On Tuesday PM (4/26) a new low pushed under New Zealand with pressure at 972 mbs while high pressure at 1028 mbs held over the Tasman Sea. The difference in pressure produced fetch of 40-50 kt southwest winds confirmed near 56S 162E. Seas were modeled at 29-30 ft centered near 58S 153E.

By Wednesday AM (4/27) the low continued east turning the fetch angle to the northeast. But the fetch stretched and lost momentum, with winds confirmed down to 35-40 kts aimed northeast up the great circle tracks to Hawaii and California. Seas remained in the 29 ft range at 56S 165E. By evening things started to consolidate better on the east side of New Zealand. A solid fetch of 40 to near 50 kts was confirmed at 44S 173W aimed northeast up the 217 degree path to California and 190 degree path to Hawaii. Seas had faded but then started to rebound.

On Thursday AM (4/28) the low held near 970 mbs with 40-50 kts southwest winds aimed like before, just a bit more to the east. Seas were modeled in the 27 ft range near 43S 168W. In the evening the system backed off some with winds confirmed at 40-45 kts centered at 45S 165W aimed northeast. Seas were modeled at 28-29 ft near 40S 170W. The gale was sitting in a hole between the two branches of the jetstream with not enough energy aloft to enable it to do much.

On Friday (4/29) AM winds were confirmed at 35-40 kts over a small area centered at 41S 163 aimed northeast with seas down to 26 ft at 35S 165W. This same scenario continued through Saturday night (4/30) as the gale drifted slowly east-northeast traveling on the 40S line with 30-40 kt fetch and 28 ft seas aimed continuously northeast. This system was starting to fade on Sunday (5/1) AM with winds confirmed down to 30 kts with no seas of interest to be left by Monday AM (5/2).

Of most interest was not this systems strength, but it's position very far to the north (40S) and it's long life. It was essentially a cut-off low, not know for being great swell producers. But it's position cut alot of travel distance out of the swell moving towards Tahiti, California and Hawaii, reducing swell decay. We projected that Tahiti would likely be too close to the fetch, meaning the swell would be raw, which for the most part it appeared to be. Generally poor local winds were reported consistent with what the models projected, but a break did occur on Monday (5/3) with solid size and clean conditions. Lighter southeast winds expected Wednesday (5/4) with trades returning on Thursday (5/5).

California and Hawaii to see some solid size from this system with Hawaii doing especially well.This system is the first significant class storm of the summer 2005 season mainly because of it's projected impact on Tahiti and Hawaii.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival starting Wednesday (5/4) before sunrise with period at 17-18 secs and swell building to 3.6 ft @ 16 secs by sunset (5-6 ft faces with sets to 7 ft). On Thursday AM (5/5) swell to peak at 5 ft @ 15 secs (7-8 ft faces with sets near double overhead). Biggest early. On Friday (5/6) swell expected at 4.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (5-6 ft faces), dropping slowly through the day. Continued but fading swell expected on Saturday (5/7) with swell initially 3 ft @ 12-13 secs and fading (3-4 ft faces, bigger at best breaks). Swell Direction: 188-192 degrees

South California: Expect swell arrival starting Friday (5/6) with period 18 secs. Swell building to 1 ft @ 17 secs near dark (2 ft faces). Swell to become much more noticeable on Saturday (5/7) with swell building through the day to 2.6 ft @ 15-16 secs by sunset (3-4 ft faces with 5 ft sets). Swell to peak on Sunday (5/8) with swell 3.3-3.6 ft @ 15 secs early (5-6 ft faces with occasional 7 ft sets). Solid size continuing on Monday early (5/9) with swell 3.3 ft @ 14 secs holding through the day (4-5 ft faces, with some bigger sets). Swell dropping on Tuesday (5/10) with swell 3 ft @ 13-14 secs and fading steady through the day (3-4 ft faces). Swell Direction: 213-217 degrees

North California: Expect swell arrival starting Friday (5/6) with period 18-19 secs. Swell building to 1 ft @ 18 secs near dark (2 ft faces). Swell to become much more noticeable on Saturday (5/7) with swell building through the day to 2.6 ft @ 16 secs by sunset (3-4 ft faces with 5 ft sets). Swell to peak on Sunday (5/8) with swell 3.3-3.6 ft @ 15 secs mid-day (5-6 ft faces with occasional 7 ft sets). Solid size to continue on Monday (5/9) with swell 3.3-3.6 ft @ 14 secs, maybe dropping late in the afternoon (4-5 ft faces). On Tuesday swell fading to 3 ft @ 13-14 secs (3-4 ft faces) and continuing down from there. Swell Direction: 210-213 degrees


California Offshore Forecast
Tuesday mornings local charts (5/3) depicted weak high pressure at 1022 mbs just southwest of San Diego while low pressure at 1004 mbs was almost due north of it off Oregon with a front sagging south to well off Pt Conception. The front is expected to reach San Francisco Wednesday AM (5/4) pushing into Southern CA (can you believe it) 24 hours later. Remnants of the low are to hand over California through Thursday with moisture projected in the models through the evening (south to San Diego). This all seems a bit far fetched. A weak pressure pattern is to follow with perhaps a weak front pushing up to North and Central CA on Sunday, but not making it any further south.

Today's infrared satellite imagery depicted a solid area of clouds associated with the low off the coast starting to push inland from Pt Reyes northward. The signature coma was also north of Hawaii in association with low pressure there. QuikSCAT imagery indicated northwest winds 10 kts along the North CA coast increasing to 15 kts off Central CA. Southern CA also had a light northwest flow at 10 kts or less. Buoy and nearshore reports indicated northwest winds 10 kts but stronger near Pt Conception (to 20 kts) with seas 5 ft @ 15 secs. In Southern CA winds were west at 4 kts with seas 3 ft @ 16 secs.

The 5 Day local overview looks like this:

  • On Wednesday (5/4) west to southwest winds 5-10 kts Monterey Bay northward otherwise northwest winds early 5-10 kts building to 10-15 kts in the afternoon but up to 20 kts near Pt Conception and over the Channel Islands.
  • On Thursday (5/5) northwest winds early 5-10 kts building to 10-15 kts in the afternoon all locations.
  • On Friday (5/6) light winds all locations all day expect northwest 10-15 kts in the afternoon Southern CA.
  • On Saturday (5/7) light northwest winds all locations early building to 10-15 kts in the afternoon and perhaps stronger Southern CA .
  • On Sunday (5/8) southwest winds 10 kts all day north of Pt Conception early as a new front possibly pushes in. Light winds early in Southern CA building northwest 10-15 kts late.

See QuikCAST's for swell details.



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

North Pacific

Tuesdays upper level models (5/3) indicate that beyond 72 hours a new trough is to form off the Kuril Islands tracking northeast, across the dateline on Sunday (5/8) and then fading as it moves over the eastern Aleutian Islands. The entire jet is to then move a bit more to the north after that and go zonal (flat) with no gale producing signs indicated.

At the surface a second large low is forecast to develop west of North Japan on Thursday (5/5) but be very weak. By Saturday (5/7) it is to be pushing to the dateline with pressure dropping to 988 mbs with winds 35-40 kts aimed well at Hawaii. But it is to quickly fade on Sunday (5/8) as it tacks fast to the north over the Aleutians. Seas building to 20-21 ft but then fading. Nothing left by Monday (5/9). Looks like another northwest 13 sec period swell could be generated focused on Hawaii.

Another small slow is to be pushing off Japan a week out.


South Pacific

Tuesdays upper level models (5/3) indicated that beyond 72 hours out a new trough is to develop in the deep south Pacific mid-way between New Zealand and Chile. Is is actually to be strong enough to force the two branches of the jet to come closer, but not consolidate off South America next weekend. After that near-consolidation is to build over much of the South Pacific late mid-next week. This is good.

At the surface late Thursday (5/5) a 952 mb low is to push across the dateline in the deep South Pacific tracking east. Strong high pressure at 1032 mbs is to be sitting just east of New Zealand forming a tight gradient between the two systems. West winds of 55 kts are forecast developing over a small area near 65S 179W.

On Friday (5/6) pressure is to drop to 944 mbs with the gradient holding producing more 55 kt west winds at 65S 158W. 30 ft seas developing right off the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. By evening the low is to push far enough east to start getting out from under the big high off New Zealand, and the gradient is to ease some, but more importantly, the fetch is to start taking a more northerly aim. Winds forecast at 50-55 kts centered near 65S 145W. This is outside the Hawaii and Tahitian swell windows though. Seas building to 39 ft centered at 65S 147W.

On Saturday AM (5/7) the low is to hold while tracking east fast. 50-55 kt northeast winds forecast centered near 65S 135W, approaching the eastern edge of the California swell window and outside the Hawaiian swell window. Seas modeled to build to 43 ft centered at 64S 135W. In the evening the low is to get too far away from the New Zealand high with pressure up to 952 mbs, and the gradient is to fade. 40-45 kts southwest winds forecast at 63S 125W. Seas forecast at 43 ft centered at 62S 125W.

Beyond that this system is to push out of the California swell window and fade fast.

Of course this is all just modeled data and nothing has even started to form yet, so any surf forecast would be completely bogus. But at a high level this looks like a good setup for South America with Central America possibly getting a solid shot of swell energy too. This is to be a strong storm with solid winds, large seas and virtual fetch pushing east-northeast. Some energy is likely to push up the great circle tracks to California, but the wind will be more than 30 degrees off path to California, and it will not get to act upon previously generated seas, so swell size and consistency will be limited. Will monitor.

Details to follow...


Local Interest

El Nino Forecast Updated: Check out all the latest indicators to get a handle on how the Summer and Fall seasons could unfold.

Big Florida Swell: A strong gale pushed off Cape Hatteras on 4/15 generating solid seas and a 70 ft rogue wave that hit a cruise ship before proceeded south to make solid waves for the Southeast US coast. Matt Kechele was there to catch it. Take a look here:

Stormsurf Weather Models Updated Again: Yes, we've been at it again this weekend getting another batch of weather models running. Global coverage is now provided for jetstream forecasts and surface pressure and winds. Zoomed in data is also available for such locations as the Mentawai Islands to Western Australia corridor, Tahiti, South America, Europe and Norwegian Sea. So now you can get local wind forecasts for these and more locations with one click. Take a look here: - New Surf Forecast Website: Read this teaser about something new on the scene.

Ghost Tree 3/9/05: Check out the pics of Don Curry and others on Monster Swell #16 in Monterey.

SURFRIDER Web Site:  The San Mateo County Chapter of SURFRIDER can be found at:  Take a minute to visit and find out what's happening to your coast.

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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