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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, August 4, 2016 3:48 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
2.3- California & 1.5 - 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 8/1 thru Sun 8/7

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   

Small Central Pac Swell Hitting CA
Some Hope on the Charts Longterm

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.

On Thursday, August 4, 2016 :

  • Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.1 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 12.0 secs from 178 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.2 ft @ 17.2 secs with swell 2.1 ft @ 16.8 secs from 205 degrees. Wind south 4 kts. Water temperature 73.6 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.7 ft @ 16.2 secs from 218 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.3 ft @ 17.2 secs from 211 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.3 ft @ 17.3 secs from 201 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.1 ft @ 8.3 secs with windswell 4.5 ft @ 8.1 secs and southern hemi swell 2.3 ft @ 17.4 secs from 193 degrees. Wind northwest 10-12 kts. Water temp 56.3 degs.

    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Thursday (8/4) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell was producing waves at up to chest high and relatively clean with some westerly texture on it at exposed breaks. At Santa Cruz new southern hemi swell was producing sets waves in the shoulder to almost head high range and clean. In Southern California up north surf was waist high with some bigger sets and clean. Down south southern hemi swell was producing waves in the head high range and clean and lined up but mostly closed out. Further down south top spots had set waves 1-2 ft overhead and clean and lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting small southern hemi swell at thigh to maybe waist high on the sets and clean. The East Shore was getting easterly windswell at chest high and chopped and trending up.

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

Meteorological Overview
A small cut off gale developed in the upper reaches of the Central Pacific on Wed-Fri (7/29) with seas peaking at 38 ft over a tiny area. Small swell is starting to hit California and targets south of there. The remnants of what was Tropical Storm Howard were 900 nmiles east-northeast of the Big Island of Hawaii and it as quickly loosing identity. Tropical Storm Ivette was 1,200 nmiles south of Pt Conception and 1800 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii with winds 40 kts tracking west. Slow strengthening is forecast. A tiny gale is forecast in the Southeast Pacific on Fri (8/5) but is to be falling southeast and of no interest. The models suggest some sort of gale activity in the Southeast Pacific Wed-Thurs (8/11) but any firm details are murky at this early date. And tropical system Omais is in the far Northwest Pacific with seas forecast building into the 30-32 ft range Fri-Sat (8/6) aimed somewhat up the great circle paths to California and points north of there. Maybe something to watch.


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday AM (8/2) no swell producing fetch is occurring.

Over the next 72 hours what is Tropical Storm Omais is to start developing in the far tropical West Pacific on Thurs PM (8/4) with 45 kt southwest winds developing and seas building from 27 ft at 20N 150E. On Fri AM (8/5) winds to fade to 40 kts aimed north with 29 ft seas at 23N 152E. Winds to rebuild in the evening to near 50 kts with seas 34 ft at 24N 152E tracking north (288 degs NCal, bypassing HI). On Sat AM (8/6) fetch to fade from 45 kts from the south with seas 32 ft at 26N 152E. Fetch is to turn more southeast after that while Omais tracks north, offering no additional swell generation potential. Something to monitor.

The California coastal pressure gradient remained in effect on Thursday (8/4) with high pressure at 1036 mbs centered in the Gulf of Alaska ridging east into Oregon generating north winds at 25 kts along the North CA coast with 20 kt north winds down to a point well off San Francisco offering windswell production potential. No eddy flow was in.cgiay. Over the next 72 hours the gradient is to be weakening and loosing coverage while falling south on Fri (8/5) with winds 20-25 kts over North CA and then moving over Central CA later Sat into Sun (8/7). Diminishing windswell size expected with conditions deteriorating.

For Hawaii on Thurs (8/4) trades were steady from the east at 15+ kts driven by the same high pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska making for some easterly windswell along exposed easterly shores. More of the same is forecast on Fri (8/6) with 15 kt east-northeast winds stretching from the remnants of what was Tropical Storm Howard 400 nmiles east of the Big Island over the Hawaiian Islands. On Sat (8/6) east winds to turn northeast at 20 kts generating more east to northeasterly windswell with the remnants of Howard passing north of the Big Island late and then moving over Oahu on Sun (8/7). Windswell starting to fade.


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


Tropical Update
Remnants of Tropical Storm Howard were 900 nmiles east-northeast of the Big Island of Hawaii tracking west. See details in the North Pacific Forecast. Swell from Howard to reach the east shore of the Big Island on Sat AM (8/6) pushing 5 ft @ 10-11 secs (5.0 ft faces) from 60 degrees then fading Sun (8/7) from 4.5 ft @ 8-9 secs (3.5 ft). Swell to reach the East Shore of Oahu Sun (8/7) building in the afternoon to 6 ft @ 9 secs (5 ft). Swell fading Mon (8/8) from 4 ft @ 8 secs (3 ft) from 60 degrees. Something to monitor.

Tropical Storm Ivette was 1,800 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii with winds 40 kts tracking west. This same heading is to generally continue with max winds steadily building into Sun AM (8/7) peaking at minimal hurricane force (65 kts) 1200 nmiles from the Big Island. Fetch steadily fading from there while tracking west-northwest down to minimal tropical storm force (35 kts) on Tues (8/9) 700 nmiles west of the Big Island. The GFS model has this system poised 300 nmiles northeast of the Big Island on Thurs (8/11) with winds barely 25 kts. Some windswell generation potential is possible.


California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (8/4) high pressure was ridging into the extreme North CA coast from the Gulf of Alaska producing the usual pressure gradient over North CA with north winds there 25 kts but only 15 kts pushing into Central CA. More of the same is forecast on Friday then winds build to 20 kts on Saturday in Central CA as the gradient collapses and falls south holding into Sunday and Monday. The gradient is to reorganize over North CA on Tues (8/9) with north winds 30 kts there and barely 15 kts for Central CA. But on Wed-Thurs (8/11) the gradient is to fall south again with 20 kts north winds over all of North and Central CA.

South Pacific

On Thursday AM (8/4) the northern branch of the jet was dominant running west to east on the 30N latitude line at 130-140 kts. The southern branch was exceedingly weak and only present over the far Southwestern Pacific running from Antarctica north but only at 80-90 kts, not forming any real trough of interest. Over the next 72 hours that pattern is to hold it's strength and position with no positive results. Beyond 72 hours a little more wind energy is forecast developing in the southern branch early Mon (8/8) with southwest winds to 100 kts building under New Zealand joining the main flow near 155W forming a bit of a trough there. This pattern is to hold with a weak trough in.cgiay moving east to 135W on Wed (8/10) with reinforcements at 120 kts developing Thurs (8/11). Some support for gale development possible.

Surface Analysis  
On Thursday (8/4) swell from a tiny gale that developed in the Central Pacific was starting to impact California (see Central Pacific Gale below). No other swell as in the water behind it.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast.


Central Pacific Gale
A cutoff gale developed in the Southeast Pacific on Wed PM (7/27) producing a small area of 50 kt south winds. Seas built to 30 ft over a tiny area at 38S 147W. 50 kt south winds held Thurs AM (7/28) with seas to 37 ft over a tiny area at 38S 144W. In the evening fetch was fading from 45 kts over a broader area aimed north with seas 35 ft at 36S 140W. Fetch is to be fading and falling southeast Fri AM (7/29) with 29 ft seas at 38S 136W. This system faded out after that. A small to modest pulse of south angled swell is expected to result for California. The very northward position of this system somewhat makes up for it's lack of areal coverage.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival On Wed (8/3) building to 1.8 ft @ 19 secs late (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell continues on Thurs (8/4) building to 2.1 ft @ 17 secs (3.5 ft) mid-day and holding. Swell continue on Fri (8/5) at 2.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5 ft). Residuals fading early Sat (8/6) from 2.0 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 202 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (8/4) building to 2 ft @ 17-18 secs (3.0-3.5 ft) mid-day and holding. Swell continue on Fri (8/5) fading from 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft). Residuals fading early Sat (8/6) from 1.6 ft @ 14 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 200 degrees


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 high pressure is to hold while moving into the Eastern Gulf of Alaska with the pressure gradient stable but not particularly broad over waters of North and Central CA on Mon (8/8) generating north winds at 20-25 kts producing small, weak and raw windswell relative to North and Central CA. But by Tues (8/9) the high is to regenerate in the Gulf at 1030 mbs with the gradient blooming over North CA with north winds 30 kts offering increased windswell generation potential but also somewhat hugging the Central coast. The gradient is to fall south some on Wed (8/10) with 20-25 kt north winds covering the entire Central and North Coasts. Then Thurs the high is to retreat tot he west and gradient is to start rapidly dissipating with windswell fading with it.

For Hawaii trades to turn easterly on Mon (8/8) and be limited to nearshore locations while Ivette moves to within 900 nmiles of the Big Island offering swell generation potential longer term. Trades to fade on Tues (8/9) below 15 kts holding Wed (8/10) with no windswell potential expected. But the remnants of Ivette are to move 300 nmiles northeast of the Big Island on Thurs (8/11) with northeast winds 20-25 kts targeting northeast shores of all the Islands. Some support for windswell development possible.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours general low pressure is to start building in the central South Pacific on Sat (8/6) but fetch is to be fragmented and not exceeding 30 kts from the southwest. On Tues AM (8/9) that fetch is to consolidate some generating a broad area of 30-35 kts southwest winds with seas on the increase. Winds 35 kts in the evening with seas building from 27 ft at 43S 145W. On Wed AM (8/10) southwest fetch is to be 40 kts with 30 ft seas over a broad area at 42S 142W aimed northeast and continuing in the evening with 30 ft seas at 38S 130W. On Thurs AM (8/11) a new fetch of 50-55 kts southwest fetch is to be building in the same area with 36 ft seas building at 48S 141W. Something to monitor.

More details to follow...

La Nina Continues

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 all but gone except for remnants in the upper atmosphere. La Nina is developing.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wed (8/3) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific and solid over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south of there). Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific but modest easterly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Moderate easterly anomalies were over the KWGA on 8/4 and reaching to a point south of California are are forecast to hold unchanged through 8/8 suggestive of a moderate Inactive Phase of the MJO. But then they are to start fading by 8/9 with only a small footprint at 170W by 8/11 with some hints of weak west anomalies in the KPWA at that time.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 8/3 a weak Active Phase of the MJO was trying to set up in the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects it continuing to try and build into the West Pacific over the next 2 weeks but making little progress eastward or in terms of strength. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with a stronger version of the Active Phase building in the West Pacific 2 weeks out. This pattern, if it materializes would help to support storm development.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (8/4) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak and positioned over the Maritime Continent. The forecast projects it moving east and building, getting solid if not strong over the dateline 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (8/4) A strong Inactive Phase was over the far East Pacific and tracking east, inland by 8/15. A weak Active Phase to follow in the west starting on 8/12 easing slowly east and into Central America on 9/2 with a weak Inactive Phase building in the West Pacific on 9/3 and tracking east.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO pattern over the KWGA with weak east anomalies in.cgiay and forecast holding to 8/8. The Active Phase to follow weakly with west anomalies redeveloping in the KWGA on 8/8-8/20. Then the Inactive Phase returns with east anomalies 8/22-9/20. A broad but weak Active MJO signal to follow 9/21 to 10/14 with weak west anomalies over the far West Pacific to 170E and stationary with east anomalies from 175W and points east to Central America. The low pass filter suggests the remnants of El Nino are shifting east and are now south of Hawaii (rather than in the KWGA) and offering nothing to enhance the jetstream and are to dissipate (gone) south of California by 8/28. At the same time low pass anomalies are over the Indian Ocean and forecast to build into Oct, typical of La Nina.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (8/4) Actual temperatures are building in the West Pacific on the surface at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 172E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 170W. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 165W with weak negative anomalies east of there towards Ecuador. Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting between 145W-155W but building to the east now. At depth -3 degs anomalies reaching east down 100 meters at 150W (building east). The Kelvin Wave pipeline is chocked with cold water rushing east through it. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 7/27 depicts a pocket of +1.0 deg anomalies building in the West Pacific to 170W. Cool water 2-3 degs below normal was under the entire width of the equator, undercutting any residual warm water above it and forming a bubble near 150W and upwelling from 120-150W but also reaching east to Ecuador. La Nina is in control of the ocean.

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: (8/3) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates warmer than normal water is building along the coast of Peru and Ecuador, at least for the moment. Cool water still extends west from the Galapagos tracking solidly out to at least 160W with with peak temps down to -1.5 degs (mostly south of Hawaii) and building north and south to 8 deg (N/S). La Nina is firmly in control of surface waters, with remnant El Nino warm water quickly dissipating in a few small pockets 3 degs north and south of the equator. Almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino regions on the equator.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (8/2): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru. But cooling is fading the Galapagos out to 145W. A weak cooling trend is off Africa.
Hi-res Overview:
(8/2) A clear La Nina cool pool is tracking from Ecuador and building south of Hawaii. A generalized pattern of +1-2 deg above normal temps remains 3 degs north and south of the equator and west of 180W. Cooler water is over the north dateline region in the North Pacific with warm water off the Pacific Northwest streaming over Hawaii looking very much like the classic Active PDO pattern.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (8/4) Today's temps were rising slightly to +0.719 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/4) temps had rebounded slightly recently but are starting to fall again today from -0.469 degs.

Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (8/4) indicates temps are to be steady from here forward at -0.5 degs maybe dipping to -0.6 degs in Dec, then slowly rising in Jan 2017 and neutral by March. This is a major upgrade from previous projections. This is barely in La Nina territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-July Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.6 by Nov and holding there to Feb, then rising. This is up from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):   
Southern Oscillation Index (8/4): The daily index was down some at -8.32. The 30 day average was steady at +4.65. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was steady in the positive range at +3.51, transitioning from negative to positive the first time in years on 7/20. El Nino is gone in all dimensions of the SOI Index now.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (8/4) Today's value was down to -1.24. It peaked on 3/12 at +1.57 then fell until 4/14, when it started rising again peaking 4/23 at +1.12. But it has been falling steadily ever since.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker in July than June (as expected with La NIna setting in). Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-July) have been +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.60, +1.43, +0.75 and +0.18. The Washington EDU index for the Jan-June period indicates +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35 and +2.03 . The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive since then. 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


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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