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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 3:17 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
2.5 - California & 2.5 - 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 12/5 thru Sun 12/11

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   

Weak Swell Pattern Setting Up
Far West Pacific to be Marginally Productive

On Tuesday, December 6, 2016 :

  • Buoy 202 (Hanalei): Seas were 7.7 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 6.0 ft @ 10.4 secs from 74 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.4 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 13.4 secs from 285 degrees. Wind northeast 2-4 kts. Water temperature 60.4 degs. At Ventura swell was 2.4 ft @ 9.3 secs from 275 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.6 ft @ 13.4 secs from 256 degrees. At Camp Pendleton swell was 1.5 ft @ 13.2 secs from 234 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma swell was 2.5 ft @ 13.7 secs from 271 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 9.8 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 7.3 ft @ 12.1 secs from 310 degrees. Wind northwest 18-21 kts at the buoy. Water temp 55.2 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 (12/6) in North and Central CA swell the originated from the Northern Gulf was was hitting with waves about 1 ft overhead on the face at exposed breaks and reasonably clean early. At Santa Cruz this swell was wrapping in producing waves to head high on sets and clean and lined up. In Southern California up north surf was waist high on the sets and clean but generally weak. Down in North Orange Co set waves were chest high and clean. In San Diego surf was waist to chest high with calm winds but a little bit of warble in the water. Hawaii's North Shore was getting wrap around windswell with waves 2 ft overhead at top breaks and clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves head high to 1 ft overhead and heavily textured from northeast trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
Residual swell from a gale that tracked through the Northern Gulf over the weekend was still hitting California but on it's way down. And a small system developed off the North Kuril's on Sat-Sun (12/4) with seas briefly to 32 ft but fading as it tracked to the dateline. Small swell is pushing towards Hawaii. Another similar system is forecast off the Northern Kuril's on Wed (12/7) with 36 ft seas aimed east. And maybe another on Sun (12/11) with 30 ft seas is forecast. But otherwise a slack storm pattern is forecast over the balance of the North Pacific for the next week.

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

North Pacific

On Tuesday AM (12/6) the jetstream was trying to remain consolidated tracking off Japan with winds to 160 kts in one pocket forming a trough landlocked over the Kuril Islands, but quickly .cgiitting half way to the dateline. The northern branch tracked up into the Bering Sea with the southern branch falling south down to 15N, then trying to reconsolidate as both streams pushed east finally doing it just 600 nmiles off the Oregon-California border and moving inland form there. In all there was no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast with winds building to 200 kts in that pocket off Japan on Fri (12/9) and the Kuril trough pushing east some but not even making it to the dateline offering little support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the .cgiit point is to be making slow eastward progress reaching 170W at the 180 hr mark on Tues (12/13). Another trough is to be tracking off Japan Mon-Tues (12/13) being fed by that same wind pocket at 180 kts. To the east the reconsolidated jet is to continue pushing into the US West Coast near North CA-Southern Oregon at 140+ kts offering support for local weather, but no gale production over exposed water. The Inactive Phase of the MJO appears to remain problematic and is to continue for a bit longer.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (12/6) swell from a gale that developed in the far West Pacific was tracking east targeting Hawaii (see Kuril Island Gale below). Also residual swell from a gale that developed in the North Gulf Thurs-Sun (12/3) was hitting California (see North Gulf Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours another gale is to start developing over the Kuril Islands on Tues PM (12/6) producing 45-50 kt northwest winds but mostly encased west of the Islands. On Wed AM (12/7) 45-50 kt west winds are to start pulling east of the North Kuril Islands lifting northeast with seas building to 36 ft at 50N 159E. In the evening southwest fetch is to lift north and fade from 40 kts just off Kamchatka with seas fading from 32 ft at 53N 163E. Very limited swell is possible targeting Hawaii if all goes as forecast.

On Thurs AM (12/8) another gale is to try and organize just off North Japan with a small area of 45 kt north winds developing. In the evening the gale is to be lifting northeast while building with 45 kt northwest winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface with seas building to 26 ft over a tiny area at 43N 160E. On Fri AM (12/9) 45 kt northwest winds to continue lifting northeast with 26 ft seas at 45N 166E. Fetch is to fade from 40 kts in the evening with seas fading from 26 ft over a small area at 48N 169E. This system is to dissipate thereafter. Very limited swell for Hawaii is possible.


Kuril Island Gale
A gale started developing over the Kuril Islands on Fri (12/2) with limited 35-40 kt west fetch pushing over the open Northwest Pacific with 25 ft seas at 46N 156E in the evening. By Sat AM (12/3) 40 kt west fetch was finally becoming exposed over a small area off the Northern Kuril's with seas 32 ft at 48N 158E. In the evening 30-35 kt west fetch was tracking northeast with 27 ft seas at 47N 165E targeting Hawaii obliquely. Fetch faded out Sun AM (12/4) with seas from previous fetch fading from 22 ft at 48N 173E. Limited swell possible for Hawaii.

Hawaii: Swell arrival expected on Wed (12/7) building to 3.2 ft @ 15 secs later (4.5-5.0 ft). Residuals fading on Thurs AM (12/8) from 2.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 315 degrees


North Gulf Gale
A small gale developed in the extreme North Gulf on Sat AM (12/3) producing 40-45 kt northwest winds over a small area with seas 26 ft at 54N 142W (326 degs NCal and outside the swell window). Fetch faded in the evening from 40 kts with seas 22 ft over a small area at 53N 142W targeting mainly Vancouver Island northward (328 degs NCal and east of the swell window). On Sun AM (12/4) 35 kt northwest fetch was holding with seas 20 ft at 53N 147W (321 degs NCal and barely unshadowed). It fell southeast in the evening with fetch 30 kts from the northwest and seas fading from 18-20 ft at 52N 140W (323 degs and still barely shadowed). This system was gone after that. This system is to be mainly a swell producer for the Pacific Northwest and points north of there.

North California: Swell was holding on Tues AM (12/6) at 4.6 ft @ 12-13 secs (6 ft). Swell to continue fading on Wed AM (12/7) at 4.7 ft @ 12 secs early (5.5 ft) and then dissipating after sunset. Swell Direction: 315+ 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 (12/6) weak high pressure was off the coast driving north winds at up to 20 kts early mainly over Central CA but forecast fading to 15 kts by evening as low pressure develops 700 nmiles off Cape mendocino and tracking east. Finally on Wed (12/7) that low is to move close enough to di.cgiace the high with a light offshore wind flow taking root and a front from the low moving into North CA in the evening with south winds 25+ kts late (Bodega Bay northward). Rain moving onshore from Monterey Bay northward at sunset. Snow developing by 8 PM for Tahoe down into the Southern Sierra. Thursday (12/8) the low is to move onshore over North Oregon with the front reaching south to Big Sur and southwest winds 15 kts from there northward. Rain continues from Pismo Beach northward fading after sunset. Snow continues for Tahoe till 10 AM with accumulations of 4-8 inches possible, then turning to rain. On Fri (12/9) winds to turn from 10 kts out of the southwest to northwest for Central and North CA and up to 20 kts for Cape Mendocino. Scattered light rain expected from Pt Conception northward but heavier for the Big Sur area. Snow redeveloping at 8 AM for Tahoe with 15+ inches of accumulation possible. A light flow is expected for the remainder of Central CA. Generally light winds are forecast for North and Central CA on Sat-Sun (12/11) with another cutoff low building well off California. Clearing skies forecast. Monday high pressure is to be off Southern CA but the leading edge of the the next low is to start touching North CA with south winds 10-15 kts. Light winds elsewhere. Rain expected for San Francisco northward building down into Monterey Bay later. Snow through the day for Tahoe. Tuesday more of the same is forecast with south winds 15-20 kts from Monterey Bay northward with rain from Pt Reyes northward and possible snow for Tahoe.


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

Another gale is forecast developing just off the Kuril Islands on Sat PM (12/10) producing 45 kt west winds and 28 ft seas over a tiny area at 46N 155E. a tiny area of 45 kt west winds to continue northeast on Sun AM (12/11) producing 30 ft seas at 47N 160E targeting Hawaii. The gale is to fade in the evening from 35 kts with seas fading from 28 ft at 50N 165E. This system is to fade after that. Maybe more small swell from Hawaii to result.

Nothing else of interest is forecast. A quiet pattern is to be setting up driven mainly by a .cgiit jetstream flow aloft over the dateline caused by the Inactive Phase of the MJO.


South Pacific

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

More details to follow...

Inactive MJO Holding, But Not Building

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 (12/5) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific including the Kelvin Wave Generation Area but near calm on the dateline. 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 westerly over the dateline and moderate 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 far West KWGA and west anomalies fading over the dateline/East KWGA today. The forecast suggests this pattern fading 2 days out with mostly east anomalies in control of the KWGA into 12/13 but moderate west anomalies in the far West Pacific. 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 12/5 a dead neutral MJO signal was over the West Pacific. The statistic model projects no change until 15 days out when a weak Active Phase of the MJO is to be moving into the far West Pacific. The dynamic model depicts a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO moving from the West Pacific over the dateline then dissipating 2 weeks out. So the two models are contradicting each other.  
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/5) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was weak and indiscernible and is to slowly build and becoming exposed in the West Pacific 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing initially but forecast to build some over the Maritime Continent tracking to the West Pacific. 
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/6) This model depicts a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO tracking from a point south of Hawaii moving into Central America on 12/20. A weak Active pattern to follow in the West Pacific on 12/11 moving east into Central America on 1/10. A stronger Inactive Phase is to develop behind that in the West Pacific on 12/28 tracking east to the Central Pacific 1/15. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (12/5) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO signal over the KWGA with modest east anomalies in control. It and the east wind is to hold through 12/25. Supposedly the Active Phase of the MJO is to develop and move into the west KWGA starting 12/25 with neutral to weak west anomalies developing and holding into 1/28. A neutral pattern and no MJO signal to follow into late 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 bias towards the 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: (12/6) Actual temperatures remain stratified with warm water in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 161E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching to 175W 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, 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 static at depth. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 11/29 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.
Sea Level Anomalies: (11/29) Negative anomalies at -5.0 cm (but no stronger) rule the equatorial Pacific from Ecuador to the dateline and 5 degs north and south. This is an upgrade from months past where anomalies were up to -10 cm and suggest La Nina is 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: (12/5) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a thin cool pool of water along the immediate coast of Peru building up along Ecuador and expanding in coverage dramatically reaching up to Costa Rica and filling the basin from there to the Galapagos. An invigorated cool stream then develops from the Galapagos west continuously along the equator out to 120W with temps moderating to -1.5 degs in pockets. A weaker and less cool footprint is present west of there out to 155W and appears to be fading. La Nina is loosing some control of surface waters of the Central Pacific, but is starting to make inroads into the East Pacific. La Nina is moving into it's mature phase.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/4): A warming trend is rebuilding along Chile and Peru. A cooling trend is holding from Ecuador to the Galapagos, and then in sparse pockets out to 120W. West of there a neutral trend was exhibited with pockets of warming and cooling waters present but much weaker than in months past. The pattern in the Central Pacific is nowhere near as prominent as weeks and months past but is building some in the East.  
Hi-res Overview:
(12/5) 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 but loosing coverage in the west, likely in it's mature phase.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/6) Today's temps are falling slightly moving negative to -0.106. We're 10 days coming off a warm peak.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (12/6) temps were steady at +0.060. 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 (12/6) This model suggests La Nina held from July thru Nov 1 in the -0.55 deg range rising to -0.5 on Nov 1. The forecast has temps slowly warming from here forward with temps at -0.3 in early Dec and Jan rising slowly from there to -0.2 degs in March 2017 and turning neutral in June. This is a weak downgrade from previous runs but still indicates the peak of La Nina is over and returning to normal 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 (12/6): The daily index was rising some at 3.84 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 before returning to neutral. The 30 day average was rising slightly at -1.28. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO is in control now driving the SOI upwards. The 90 day average was rising slightly +2.57. La Nina is trying to hang on, but not strongly.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (12/6) Today's value was falling some at  -0.94. 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, with it moving generally upwards (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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