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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, November 29, 2016 2:59 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
3.0 - California & 3.0 - 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 11/28 thru Sun 12/4

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   

North Gulf Swell Hitting California
West Pacific Storm Developing

On Tuesday, November 29, 2016 :

  • Buoy 187 (Pauwela): Seas were 9.2 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 6.0 ft @ 10.3 secs from 84 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.8 ft @ 10.8 secs with swell 2.4 ft @ 10.3 secs from 270 degrees. Wind northeast 6-10 kts. Water temperature 62.8 degs. At Ventura swell was 3.0 ft @ 10.1 secs. At Santa Monica swell was 2.1 ft @ 9.6 secs from 272 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.3 ft @ 17.6 secs from 226 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 5.4 ft @ 10.1 secs from 288 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 17.8 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 12.3 ft @ 16.2 secs from 319 degrees. Wind north 16-20 kts at the buoy. Water temp 55.4 degs.

    46006, 46059, Hi-res Buoys

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 (11/29) in North and Central CA North Gulf swell was just starting to move into the region with waves about 8 ft on the face and mostly pretty lumped up from northwest winds over outer waters. At Santa Cruz residual Gulf swell was fading producing waves in the chest to head high range and pretty lumpy even though local wind was calm early. In Southern California up north surf was waist high and clean but with residual lump in the water. Down in North Orange Co set waves were waist high on the sets and clean with brisk offshores in control. Hawaii's North Shore was getting north wrap-around windswell with waves to head high with some sideshore lump intermixed. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves head high and chopped from east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
New very north angled swell originating from the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Sun-Mon (11/27) with seas to 38 ft was starting to hit North and Central California. Also a new storm was developing Mon-Wed (11/30) tracking east from a point a bit west of the dateline with seas forecast to 45 ft aimed east, but fading after passing over the dateline. remnants of this system are to redevelop in the extreme North Gulf late Thurs (12/1) with seas aging up to 45 ft. And a smaller system is to follow off the Kurils on Sat-Sun (12/4) with seas to 32 ft but fading before reaching the dateline. It appears the pattern is shifting west, at least for the time being.

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

North Pacific

On Tuesday AM (11/29) the jetstream was consolidated tracking east off Japan with winds to 160 kts then lifted gently east-northeast over the dateline and into the Western Gulf with winds to 140 kts. A small fragment of energy peeled south off it there, but most continued moving into North Canada. A bit of a trough was trying to organize over the West Pacific. Over the next 72 hours the trough off Japan is to deepen and move east while winds in the jet slowly moderate with the apex of the trough moving to the dateline on Thurs (12/1) still offering some support for gale development. A .cgiit flow id to develop over the Central Gulf on Wed (11/30) with the .cgiit point moving east and over the US West Coast on Friday. At that time the trough is to loose identity over the Western Gulf. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to get pretty fragmented. On Friday (12/2) a new pocket of 170 kts winds are to build in the Northern Gulf perhaps supporting gale development. And another pocket is to start building off Japan also at 170 kts forming a bit of a trough there. But a new .cgiit is to develop just east of the dateline drawing some wind energy south off the main flow, and that .cgiit is to only get more pronounced moving into Mon (12/5) and beyond. By Tues (12/6) a core flow of 140 kt winds is to be tracking flat east off South Japan but the .cgiit on the dateline is to hold with winds .cgiitting north tracking up into the and north of the Bering Sea and other winds energy tracking south from the .cgiit point. All of it is to try and regroup converging in the extreme Eastern Gulf over Vancouver Island. But in all, there is to be little support for gale development a week out. It looks like the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to start taking it's toll.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (11/29) new swell from a gale that tracked through the Northern Gulf of Alaska was arriving in North and Central CA (see North Gulf Gale below). Also a storm was starting to develop in the far West Pacific (see West Pacific Storm below).

Over the next 72 hours remnants of the West Pacific Gale (below) are to start redeveloping in the Northern Gulf on Thurs AM (12/1) with northwest winds building from 30-35 kts and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. In the evening those winds are to rapidly develop building to 55 kts from the west and tracking northeast with seas building to 37 ft at 51.5N 148.5W (316 degs NCal). On Fri AM (12/2) 45-50 kt west winds are to be starting to move into North Canada with 40 ft seas at 54.5N 140W and well outside the NCal swell window targeting only Oregon northward. Something to monitor.


North Gulf Gale
A new gale started to develop in the Northwestern Gulf on Sat AM (11/26) with 40 kt west winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface with seas building from 25 ft at 50N 170.5W aimed east. By evening 50 kt west winds were on the increase tracking east with seas building to 32 ft at 53.5N 161W (131 degs NCal). On Sun AM (11/27) a solid fetch of 45-50 kt west winds were over the North Gulf aimed at Vancouver Island northward with 38 ft seas tracking east from 53.5N 151W (318 degs NCal). Fetch was fading from 40 kts from the northwest in the evening just off Central Canada with seas fading from 35 ft at 52.5N 141W and outside the North CA swell window. The gale was moving inland over Central Canada Mon AM (11/28) with seas fading from 27 ft at 51N 133W and effectively gone. Large raw swell is possible for Canada with decent sideband swell pushing into the Pacific Northwest and smaller north angled sideband swell for North CA.

North CA: Expect swell arrival near noon on Tues (11/29) with period 17+ secs and size building fast. Swell peaking at sunset at 8.0 ft @ 16 secs (12.8 ft) but well shadowed in the San Francisco Bay area. Swell fading Wed AM (11/30) from 6.4 ft @ 14 secs (9.0 ft) and still shadowed. Swell Direction: 313-318 degrees


West Pacific Storm
A new system was developing over the Southern Kuril Islands on Mon AM (11/28) with west winds building from 40-45 kts and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By evening 50 kt west winds were blowing with 35 ft seas building at 45N 164E targeting Hawaii decently (316 degs HI, 303 degs NCal). Fetch faded in coverage some Tues AM (11/29) at 45-50 kts with seas building to 43 ft at 45N 171E aimed east and targeting both Hawaii and the US West Coast (319 degs HI, 301 degs NCal). In the evening fetch is to be fading from 45 kt from the west with seas fading from 40 ft at 45N 178E (315 degs HI, 300 degs NCal). On Wed AM (11/30) residual fetch from the gale is to be holding at 40 kts from the west with seas dropping from 34 ft at 47N 173W (333 degs HI, 300 degs NCal). This system is to be gone after that. If all goes as forecast a decent pulse of swell could result for Hawaii with small and decayed energy from the US West Coast. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Rough data suggests swell arrival on Thurs PM (12/1) building to 2.8 ft @ 10 secs late (5.5 ft). Swell peaking at sunrise on Fri (12/2) at 5.3 ft @ 17 secs (8.5 ft) holding decently through the day. Swell Direction: 316-319 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
Tuesday high pressure and north winds were in control at 20 kts early from Pt Conception northward but mainly over outer waters, with nearshore winds 10 kts or less and expected to fade some more later. Wednesday generally light winds are forecast early, but another pulse of high pressure and north winds are to take control later at 20+ kts from Pt Conception northward. Light rain is to precede that high reaching south to Monterey bay at noon. Maybe some snow flurries for Tahoe. Thursday the high is to try and start ridging into the Pacific Northwest with a summer like gradient setting up over Cape Mendocino at 25-30 kts with 20 kt north winds down to Pt Conception. More of the same on Friday but with winds weakening to 15 kts later. Finally Saturday a lighter wind pattern is to take hold with north winds 10 kt or less but up to 20 kts for Cape Mendocino. On Sunday (12/4) high pressure is to build in more with north winds 15 kts early building to 20+ kts in the afternoon from Pt Conception northward building to 25 kts on Monday and 20 kts Tuesday (12/6). Light rain Monday pushing south from North CA reaching San Francisco late, mainly near the coast. Water temps to be.cgiummeted caused by the north winds and resulting upwelling.


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell of interest was in the water and no swell producing fetch of interest was occurring.

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

And another gale is forecast developing over the Kuril Islands on on Fri (12/2) with perhaps limited 35-40 kt west fetch pushing over the open Northwest Pacific with 28 ft seas at 46N 155E in the evening. By Sat AM (12/3) 35 kt west fetch is to finally become exposed off the Northern Kurils with seas 30 ft at 47N 161E. In the evening 35 kt west fetch is to be tracking northeast with 28 ft seas at 49N 166E targeting Hawaii obliquely. Fetch is to fade Sun AM (12/4) from 30 kt with seas fading from 25 ft at 50N 173E. Something to monitor.

A small gale is to develop in the North Gulf on Sun (12/4) with 35 kt northwest winds and seas 23 ft at 51N 143W (319 degs NCal). It is to fall southeast and fade into Mon AM (12/5) with 21 ft seas at 47N 133W mostly outside the NCal swell window.

Nothing else of interest is forecast. Sure looks like a quiet pattern is to be setting up.

South Pacific

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

More details to follow...


Inactive MJO In Control

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 Monday (11/28) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south. Anomalies were weak over the equatorial East Pacific but strong easterly over the KWGA. These easterly anomalies are attributable to La Nina and are modulated by the MJO.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Modest east anomalies were modeled over the dateline/East KWGA today and are forecast to slowly fade out into 12/4. Another pulse of east anomalies as forecast developing just east of the dateline on 12/6. The first real easterly wind burst from this La Nina started on 9/23 and is to continue holding for the foreseeable future. We are thinking it will not end anytime soon but rather will just pulse, stronger at times, then weaker, attributable to La Nina, and modulated by the MJO.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 11/28 a bare minimal Inactive Phase of the MJO was tracking over the dateline/KWGA. The Statistic model projects it slowly fading there over the next 8 days while the Active Phase of the MJO moves from the Indian Ocean east to the far West Pacific 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Inactive Phase of the MJO holding on the dateline very weak through day 15 blocking the Active Phase from making much eastward progress out of the Indian Ocean.  
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (11/29) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak over the East Indian Ocean. It is forecast to dissipate there over the next 2 weeks and remain indiscernible. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.  
40 day Upper Level Model: (11/29) This model depicts a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO tracking over the East Pacific moving into Central America on 12/12. A weak Active Phase is to build in the West Pacific on 12/2 but dissipating by 12/14 in the far West Pacific. Another pulse of the Inactive Phase to follow in the West Pacific starting 12/19 pushing east to the Central Pacific on 1/8 and dissipating there. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (11/29) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO signal over the KWGA with weak east anomalies in.cgiay. It is to hold through 12/31 with weak east anomalies holding. Supposedly the Active Phase of the MJO is to develop in Jan but east anomalies are to hold into Feb. Overall the MJO signal is projected to be very weak and this pattern is to hold as we move deeper into Winter. We suspect La Nina is having the effect of dampening the MJO, and producing weak east anomalies in the KWGA but not producing an outright Inactive Phase of the MJO. Likewise the MJO is serving to dampen the effects of La Nina when in the Active Phase.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (11/29) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 160E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 178W 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 developing. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies at +1-2 degs rule from the West Pacific to 170W.  Neutral to weak negative anomalies are east of there to Ecuador at no more than -1.0 degs, and continue to slowly warm at depth. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 11/24 depicts this pocket of of cooler water -1-2 degs below normal in the East Pacific. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so and weakening.

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: (11/28) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a thin cool pool of water along the immediate coast of Peru reaching up to Ecuador. A thin cool stream of water extends continuously from the Galapagos west along the equator out to 120W, then develops a slightly larger footprint west of there out to at least 160W. La Nina is loosing some control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, but is starting to make some inroads into the East Pacific. La Nina is moving into it's mature phase.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (11/28): A warming trend continues along Chile and Peru. A cooling trend is developing from Ecuador to the Galapagos out to 120W. West of there a neutral trend was exhibited with pockets of warming and cooling waters present as they have been for months along the equator from the Galapagos to 160W but nowhere near as prominent as weeks and months past. Interesting. 
Hi-res Overview:
(11/28) A La Nina cool pool is present over the equator from the Galapagos west to 170E a bit broader south of Hawaii but pretty prominent now in the East Pacific too. La Nina is building in coverage to the east, likely in it's mature phase.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (11/29) Today's temps are falling slightly at +0.169. We're 3 days into coming off a warm peak.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (11/29) temps were falling slightly at -0.808. We're pretty much steady and have been since 11/5. Temps are oscillating warm to cool and back in 2-3 week cycles within a range from -0.3 to -1.0 degs.


Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (11/29) This model suggests La Nina held from July thru Oct 1 in the -0.55 deg range. The forecast has temps slowly warming from here forward with temps at -0.45 in early Dec and -0.3 degs Jan 1 rising steadily from there reaching neutral in March 2017 and holding there into July. This is very interesting with the model holding the strength of La Nina at minimal ' La Nina' territory and then returning to neutral next summer.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Nov Plume depicts temps have reached their peak minimum at -0.6. A slow increase in temps is forecast thereafter to -0.4 in Jan 2017 and neutral in April, starting to turn weakly positive after that to +0.1 in June. This is consistent with last months forecast 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 (11/27): The daily index is rising some up to +8.08 today. It was well negative for most of October, then turned weakly positive for most of Nov other than a deep negative dive near 11/17. The 30 day average was rising at -1.61. This strongly suggests the Active Phase of the MJO or some other mode of variability was having the same effect as the Active Phase of the MJO in early Nov. The 90 day average falling slightly +3.47. La Nina is trying to hang on, but not strongly.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (11/29) Today's value was rising slightly at  -1.00. 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 is changing now, moving in a better direction and suggesting La Nina is fading.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker lately (as expected with La Nina setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Oct) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.59, +1.42, +0.76, +0.12 then falling to -0.90, -1.09 and -0.88 in Oct.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Oct) are: +1.53, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03, +1.25 +0.52, +0.45 and +0.56 in Oct.
The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive until Aug 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 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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