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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Monday, September 19, 2016 4:18 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
2.8 - California & 1.5 - Hawaii
Using the 'Winter/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 9/19 thru Sun 9/25

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 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   

Dateline Swell Peaks in CA
Southern Hemi Swell Continues Pushing North

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 Monday, September 19, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.03 ft @ 11.8 secs with North Dateline swell 2.4 ft @ 12.1 secs from 326 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 1.8 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.1 ft @ 14.9 secs from 188 degrees. Wind northwest 2-4 kts. Water temperature 68.7 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.0 ft @ 13.9 secs from 258 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.2 ft @ 14.7 secs from 224 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.0 ft @ 15.6 secs from 245 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.0 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 4.8 ft @ 12.9 secs from 304 degrees. Wind northwest 6-8 kts. Water temp 56.7 degs.

    46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Monday (9/19) in North and Central CA North dateline swell was hitting producing waves in the head high to 2 ft overhead range and a bit wonky from northwest winds off the coast though calm nearshore. At Santa Cruz North Dateline swell was wrapping in producing waves in the chest to head high range and clean but weak. In Southern California up north surf was waist high wrapping in from the northwest and clean. Down in North Orange Co sets waves were maybe waist high and clean but weak. Further down south top spots had set waves in the shoulder to head high range on the bigger sets and pretty warbled from onshore winds early. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the last of the North Dateline swell with waves in the waist to chest high range early and clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around northwest swell at waist high and chopped from east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
Swell from the second North Dateline gale of the NPac season was peaking in Central CA. This system developed early last week with 26-28 ft seas west of the dateline then tracked into the Western Gulf mid-week (9/15) with seas fading from 22-24 ft. Looking at the forecast charts, nothing of interest is forecast for the next week. But for the Southern Hemisphere a broad gale developed under New Zealand on Mon-Tues (9/13) with 28 ft seas aimed east, faded, then redeveloped Wed-Thurs (9/15) with up to 39 ft seas aimed east-northeast from the Central South Pacific. A modest pulse of swell is tracking northeast. And another small gale to follow in the Southeast Pacific on Thurs (9/22) producing 30-32 ft seas aimed northeast.


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

North Pacific

On Monday AM (9/19) the jetstream was running in zonal pattern flat across the North Pacific on the 44N latitude line with winds up to 150 kts in the west then .cgiitting weakly over the Western Gulf the reconsolidating in the Eastern Gulf moving inland over Washington at 120 kts. There was a bit of a trough associated with jet winds in the West Pacific but it was located over the Bering Sea offering no support for gale development of interest in the Pacific. Over the next 72 hours the .cgiit is to track east over the Pacific Northwest on Wed (9/21) while winds build more over Northwestern Pacific and the Dateline to 180 kts late Tues (9/21) then fading Wednesday to 160 kts setting up a trough in the Eastern Bering Sea trying to fall into the Gulf of Alaska and support gale development mainly in the Bering Sea. But By Thurs 99/22) winds to fade to 140 kts with the jet still running zonaly on the 44N latitude line from the Kurils to almost British Columbia with no troughs in.cgiay. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to continue to weaken into Sat (9/24) and start sagging south over the Western Gulf starting to form a trough but weakening at the same time, with the sag finally starting to look like a trough on Mon (9/26) in the Gulf but winds down to 90 kts offering no support for gale development. And back to the west the jet is to totally fall apart with not winds greater than 90 kts only in a few pockets and no cohesive organization, offering no support for gale development.

Surface Analysis
On Monday (9/19) swell from a gale previously over the North Dateline region was peaking in California (see 2nd North Dateline Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a broad low pressure system is to develop off Kamchatka in the Bering Sea with winds 30 kts, then tracking east to the dateline while fading with fetch falling to 25 kts with a front ahead of it producing 35-40 kt south winds targeting only the Aleutians and into Alaska on Wed (9/21). No seas of interest are forecast to result targeting anywhere but Alaska.

Relative to North CA on Mon (9/19) high pressure at 1032 mbs was in the Gulf of Alaska tracking east generating a weak version of the usual pressure gradient over North California resulting in 20-25 ks north winds there and minimal north windswell pushing south. The gradient is to build some on Tuesday with 25 kt north winds increasing coverage but still limited to waters from Pt Arena northward then falling south on Wednesday (9/21) to Pt Conception coverage all of North and Central CA with 20-25 kt north winds. Windswell to result through Tuesday then just turning to junk on Wednesday and holding that way into Thursday (9/22).

Relative to Hawaii on Mon (9/19) the same high (above) is to feed production of northeast trades at 10-15 kts east of and over Hawaii continuing into Thurs (9/22) but not strong enough to produce meaningful windswell.


2nd North Dateline Gale
On Sun PM (9/11) a low pressure system developed while tracking east off Southern Kamchatka generating 30 kts northwest winds with seas building. On Mon AM (9/12) northwest winds built in coverage building to 30-35 kts with seas trying to build just off the Northern Kuril's. In the evening a small patch of 40-45 kt west winds built while tracking east with seas building to 24 ft at 47N 164E targeting the US West Coast and Hawaii. On Tues AM (9/13) 35-40 kt west-northwest winds held while building in coverage and tracking east with seas building to 28 ft at 48N 172E approaching the dateline. In the evening a broad fetch of 35 kt northwest winds with one pocket to 40 kts reached the dateline with seas 26 ft seas on the dateline and up to 28 ft back at 48N 174E. Fetch faded to 30-35 kts Wed AM (9/14) on the dateline with 24 ft seas at 46N 176W targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast. Fetch faded in coverage from 30 kts in the evening with 23 ft seas at 46N 170W in the Western Gulf. This system faded in coverage Thurs AM (9/15) but winds building to 35 kts in one pocket over the Western Gulf with seas still 23 ft at 48N 167W. Residual fetch to dissipate in the Western Gulf from 30 kts in the evening with seas fading from 21 ft at 48N 162W. This system is to dissipate from there. A more substantial early season swell could result for Hawaii and California signaling the start of the Fall season.

North CA: Swell continues on Mon (9/19) at 4.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (6.0 ft) then fades on Tues (9/20) from 3.8 ft @ 11-12 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 302 degrees


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


Tropical Update
Hurricane Paine was peaking Mon AM (9/19) with winds 75 kts positioned 250 nmiles west-southwest of Cabo San Lucas tracking north-northwest 16 kts producing 26 ft seas aimed north. It was 750 nmiles south-southeast of Dana Point producing seas tracking north up the 168 degree track to Dana Point. Swell arrival expected at 4 PM on Tues (9/20) at Dana Point. Paine is to continue north-northwest in the evening with winds fading to 70 kts, then quickly fading as it moves over cooler waters eventually pushing into Northern Baja Wed AM (9/21) at depression status (winds 30 kts or less). Swell is pushing towards exposed breaks in Southern CA.

Dana Point: Swell arrival expected on Tues (9/20) at 5 PM building to 3.6 ft @ 13 secs at sunset (4.5 ft). Swell peaking overnight near 4 ft @ 12-13 secs (5 ft) then fading fast by sunrise Wed (9/21) from 3.4 ft @ 10-11 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction 168-172 degrees.


Typhoon Malakas on Mon AM (9/19) was 50 nmiles southwest of South Japan with winds 100 kts tracking northeast. This system is forecast to continue on a northeast track while slowly weakening moving over the eastern coast of Southeast Japan through Tues (9/20) getting sheared by the mountains there and falling to depression status on Tues PM over North Japan and eventually loosing identity. No energy of interest is be left when this system after it eventually moves over open waters of the Northwest Pacific on Wed (9/21).

California Nearshore Forecast
On Monday AM (9/19) high pressure at 1032 mbs was in the Gulf of Alaska ridging east to Oregon setting up the usual pressure gradient over North CA with north winds there 20-25 kts but light winds from Pt Reyes southward. This same pattern to hold on Tuesday then creeping south to San Francisco on Wed (9/21) with north winds 20 kts there . early pushing south to Pt Conception later in the day. On Thurs (9/22) north winds to be 20-25 kts from Cape Mendocino to Pt Conception holding Friday then fading to 15-20 kts Saturday but still covering the same area while lifting north. On Sunday (9/25) the gradient and north winds are to again be limited to North CA with an eddy flow (south winds) for Central CA continuing Monday (9/26).


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
On Saturday (9/17) swell from a gale that previously traversed the South Pacific is pushing north (see South Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.


South Pacific Gale
A fetch of 35-40 kt west winds developed south of New Zealand on Mon PM (9/12) with seas 26 ft at 56S 170E. 35-40 kt west fetch continued southeast of New Zealand Tues AM (9/13) with 28 ft seas at 59S 178E. Fetch tried to build and consolidate in the evening from the west at 40 kts with 28 ft seas rebuilding up at 54S 173E. A new fetch of 40 kt southwest winds developed in this area southeast of New Zealand Wed AM (9/14) generating 29-30 ft seas at 56S 175W. In the evening things finally got organized with 45-50 kt southwest winds building while tracking east well southeast of New Zealand with 37 ft seas at 59S 160W. On Thurs AM (9/15) 45 kt southwest fetch tracked east over the Southeast Pacific with seas still 37 ft at 56S 145W. In the evening fetch was fading from 40-45 kts from the west-southwest with 38 ft seas fading at 55W 128W. A new small fetch of 45 kt southwest fetch is develop Fri AM (9/16) with seas 33 ft at 54S 126W. The gale is to fade and move east out of the California swell window in the evening. Some southern hemi swell could result for Hawaii and more so for California but really targeting Central America down into Chile.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tues AM (9/20) building to 1.4 ft @ 17 secs late (2.5 ft). Swell building Wed (9/21) to 1.8 ft @ 16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading Thurs (9/22) from 1.6 ft @ 15 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Residuals on Fri AM (9/23) fading from 1.3 ft @ 14 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction 195-200 degrees

South CA: Swell arrival on Thurs (9/22) building to 2.6 ft @ 20 secs late (5.0 ft). On Fri (9/23) swell building to 3.1 ft @ 18 secs (5.5 ft). Sat AM (9/24) swell continues at 3.1 ft @ 16 secs (5.0 ft). then fading Sunday (9/25) from 2.6 ft @ 15 secs early (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 185-202 degrees

North CA: Swell arrival on Thurs (9/22) building to 2.0 ft @ 20 secs late (4.0 ft). On Fri (9/23) swell building to 2.5 ft @ 18 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Sat AM (9/24) swell continues at 2.5 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading Sunday (9/25) from 2.0 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 185-202 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 a small gale is forecast starting to develop in the Eastern Gulf on Fri PM (9/23) generating a small fetch of 40 kt west winds near 48N 142W (1100 nmiles northwest of San Francisco) and starting to get traction on the oceans surface while racing northeast. By Sat AM (9/24) the gale is to rapidly build with 45 kt west winds but positioned just off the Central Canadian coast with seas to 24 ft aimed east at 51N 134W and north of the Central CA swell window. The gael is to move onshore over Central Canada in the evening. No swell to result except maybe for the Pacific Northwest.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a broad gale is forecast developing in the Central Pacific on Wed AM (9/21) with 40-45 kt southwest winds tracking east and mainly over Antarctic Ice. In the evening the gail is to lift northeast some with winds to 45 kts and starting to get exposure on ice free waters with seas to 30 ft at 60S 153W. The gale is to move to the Southeast Pacific on Thurs AM (9/22) with 40-45 kt south winds and seas building to 31 ft over a broad area at 54S 140W aimed north-northeast. In the evening fetch is to be lifting northeast with south winds still 40-45 kts with seas 30 ft over a broad area at 50S 130W. On Friday AM (9/23) southwest winds to fade from 35 kts with seas fading from barely 30 ft at 52S 125W. Something to monitor.

More details to follow...

First La Nina Easterly Wind Burst Still Ongoing

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 but weaker than expected.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Sunday (9/18) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including over the 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 moderate from the east over KWGA. This is the first easterly wind burst of this La Nina cycle.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): East anomalies were fading to modest strength over the KWGA (previously strong 9/12-9/18). But forecast suggests those easterly anomalies are to hold till 9/24 then start building again into 9/26 at moderate strength. This indicates the Inactive Phase of the MJO was in control. This is in contrast to what the models below suggest.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 9/18 a modest Active MJO signal was over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model projects that pattern to continue for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts much the same but with this Active Phase a bit weaker 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (9/19) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak near Papua New Guinea. The forecast projects it holding while easing east to the dateline 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing initially but with the signal collapsing 5 days out. No real affect from the Active Phase of the MJO is forecast.
40 day Upper Level Model: (9/19) This model depicts a moderate Active MJO pattern over the West Pacific. The Active Phase is to track east while slowly fading moving over Central America by 10/12. A modest Inactive Phase to follow in the West starting 10/12 moving to Central America 10/29.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (9/19) This model depicts a very weak Inactive MJO pattern over the KWGA with a small pocket of east anomalies all but gone today. No coherent MJO signal or at worst a weak Inactive Phase is forecast continuing into 9/26 with no anomalies expected. After that a neutral MJO signal is forecast through 12/14 through imbedded in that a pulse of the Active Phase is forecast 9/29-10/29 with weak west anomalies in the KWGA. The Inactive Phase is to follow 10/25-11/20. But overall the MJO signal is very weak and is to hold as we move into Fall. La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, but not biasing it towards the Inactive Phase. There's no suggestion of a major pulse of east anomalies developing in the KWGA. This is good news and very unexpected.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (9/19) Actual temperatures are stratifying with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 166E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 173W but getting steeper, suggesting a hard break between warm water in the west and cool water in the east at depth. This is expected with La Nina. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 170W with weak negative anomalies east of there towards Ecuador (-1 degs or warmer). The cool subsurface flow looks less defined at depth to -2 degs in the far West Pacific reaching east to 175W and -1.0 degs near 140W, but neutral in between. The Kelvin Wave pipeline is a mixed bag of slightly cooler and neutral water. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 9/15 depicts a pocket of +1-2 deg anomalies building in the West Pacific to 170W. Cool water -2 degs below normal was under the the equator forming a bubble in a pocket at 130W upwelling at 160W. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so.

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: (9/18) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a very weak cool flow along the immediate coast of North Peru tracking in pockets towards the Galapagos. But strong warmer pockets exist further off the Peruvian coast to almost Ecuador too. The cooler waters flow west from the Galapagos out to 110W but not continuously, then become more established from 115W out to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. La Nina is in control of surface waters, but weak, with remnant El Nino warm water holding well in the East (Nino1.2 region) mainly between 80W-115W. Almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino 3.4 region, but warm water still is having an influence in the Nino 1.2 region.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (9/17): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru extending west to the Galapagos. A mix of warmer and cooler pockets are in control from the Galapagos westward out to 160W. A warming trend is developing off Africa.
Hi-res Overview:
(9/17) A La Nina cool pool is present in the Central Equatorial Pacific from 115W to 180W. But neutral to slightly warmer temps are from Peru to 115W. No cool waters exist along Ecuador and Peru suggestive of westward dis
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (9/19) Today's temps were steady near +0.942 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (9/19) temps are falling some at -0.792 degs. Temp are oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.3 to -1.0 degs. Temps bottomed out at -1.0 degs near 7/21-7/26.

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

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (9/19) This model suggests La Nina peaked in Aug at -0.65 degs. Temps are to rise to -0.5 degs in Oct, dipping back to -0.6 degs in early Dec before starting to rise steadily reaching neutral in Feb 2017 and up to +0.5 by June. This is very interesting with the model holding the strength of La Nina at not even real La Nina territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Sept Plume depicts temps have reached their peak minimum and are to hold there at -0.5 to -0.6 through Nov. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to -0.3 in Feb 2017 and to -0.2 in March holding into May. This is up again from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs and barely in La Nina territory. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):   
Southern Oscillation Index (9/19): The daily index was down some at +12.54 but had been hovering in the +15-20 range for the last 7 days. The 30 day average was up some at +13.05. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was up some at +6.29, 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. Positive is good, negative bad): (9/19) Today's value was down slightly at -1.07 suggesting La Nina is getting a little better toe hold. During El Nino this year 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 after that La Nina took over with it falling steadily dropping as low as -1.50 in early Aug. It has been retreating from the peak recently.
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-Aug) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.41, +0.76, +0.18 and now -0.66 in Aug.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-July) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03 and +1.25.
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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