Wednesday, December 20, 2017
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 10.0 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 7.3 ft @ 12.3 secs from 354 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.5 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 14.1 secs from 256 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north at 6-10 kts. Water temperature 61.9 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.0 ft @ 11.1 secs from 264 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.0 ft @ 14.8 secs from 247 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.0 ft @ 13.1 secs from 221 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.5 ft @ 15.5 secs from 284 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 9.5 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 4.3 ft @ 13.4 secs from 302 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 20-22 kts. Water temp 56.8 degs.
See Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (bottom of the page)
Swell Classification Guidelines
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
Summer - 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).
Summer - 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.
Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.
On Wednesday (12/20) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing waves in the 1-2 ft overhead range and trashed by northwest winds with whitecaps in effect early. Protected breaks were head high and a mess with whitecaps and hard onshore wind. At Santa Cruz surf was chest high and clean and lined up but soft. Comparatively not too bad. In Southern California up north surf was flat to thigh high and lightly textured. In North Orange Co surf was flat to thigh high and breaking on the beach with no wind and clean conditions. South Orange Country's best breaks were waist high and clean with some rare chest high peaks with no wind blowing but a north lump running through it. In San Diego surf was thigh to waist high and clean and weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting new swell from a gale north of the Islands at 3-4 ft overhead at top breaks but pretty raw and jumbled. The South Shore was thigh high or so and clean. The East Shore was getting north swell at 2-3 ft overhead and chopped from north wind.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
On Wednesday (12/20) swell from a gale that formed just north of Hawaii on Tues-Wed (12/20) producing up to 24 ft seas aimed south was hitting Hawaii. Also swell from a gale that tracked through the Northwestern Gulf Sat-Sun (12/17) with 27 ft seas aimed east was hitting California with windswell intermixed. A poorly organized system tracked from off Kamchatka to the North Dateline region on Mon-Tues (12/19) with up to 26 ft seas aimed east. Little is expected from it. Another more substantial gale is forecast developing in the Northwestern Gulf Thurs-Sat (12/23) producing 28-32 ft seas aimed east. And another is forecast 1,200 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii Sun-Mon (12/25) producing 39 ft seas aimed southeast. And possibly a much stronger system is to push off the Southern Kurils Mon-Tues (12/26) with 43 ft seas aimed east but not making much easterly headway. There's some hope on the charts.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Wednesday AM (12/20) the jetstream was pushing east off Japan ridging some as it approached the dateline with winds strong to 210 kts and starting to fall into a developing trough in the Western Gulf but not quite there yet. The jet remained split at 155W with an extremely fragmented flow east of that point. Within that a weak backdoor trough was over the Oregon-Washington border making only weather for inland locations. Over the next 72 hours the trough in the Western Gulf is to try and develop but generally is to be pinched not offering great support for gale development into Thurs (12/21) while winds fade in the jet over the dateline but the trough is to slowly fade into Sat (12/23) while lifting north to the Northwestern Gulf offering only minimal support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours starting Sun (12/24) the West Gulf trough is to redevelop and this time broader with wind energy starting to rebuild over and pushing east off Japan to 170 kts starting to feed into the Gulf trough on Mon-Tues (12/26) perhaps offering decent odds for gale development north of Hawaii. Wind energy is to again start surging pushing east off Japan Tues-Wed (12/27) with winds to 200 kts pushing to the dateline with a broad trough forming north of there just off the Kuril Islands offering good support for gale development there. Still the big split in the east is to hold at 150W. This pattern is well entrenched (Gulf trough and then a split flow east of there).
On Wednesday (12/20) swell from a gale that developed in the Northwestern Gulf was hitting Canada and the US West Coast (see Northwest Gulf Gale below). Also swell from a gale that developed north-northeast of Hawaii was impacting the Islands (see Hawaii Gale below). And swell from a gale that developed of Kamchatka earlier is pushing east behind the previous 2 swells (See Kamchatka Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours a gale is to start developing in an upper trough in the Western Gulf in Thurs AM (12/21) with a broad fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds building and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. In the evening a broad fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds are to be getting traction targeting just east of Hawaii with 23 ft seas building at 44N 164W targeting Central CA down into Hawaii. On Fri AM (12/22) fetch is to be wrapping into the gales south quadrant at 40-45 kts over a small area aimed east with 30 ft seas at 45N 157W targeting North CA up into Oregon well. The gale is to lift north in the evening with 40 kt northwest winds still streaming off the Eastern Aleutians with 28-30 ft seas over modest sized area at 50N 162W targeting mainly California and the Pacific Northwest. Fetch fading from 35 kts Sat AM (12/23) just south of the Eastern Aleutians with 28 ft seas fading at 51N 159W. This system is to be gone after that. Something to monitor.
Northwest Gulf Gale
Energy associated with a weak system that pushed off the the Southern Kuril Islands late Tues (12/12) and tracked slowly east finally started to organize over the dateline into the Western Gulf Fri AM (12/15) with a building area of 30-35 kt northwest winds getting traction on the oceans surface and seas building from 18 ft. The gale plodded east in the evening with winds 35-40 kts from the west and seas building to 23 ft at 49N 175W aimed east. The fetch tracked east just south of the Eastern Aleutians Sat AM (12/16) at 35 kts over a solid area with 27 ft seas at 50N 169W aimed east targeting California and the Pacific Northwest. Fetch tracked east in the evening into the Northern Gulf fading in coverage from 30-35 kts with 26 ft seas at 50N 164W aimed east. Sun AM (12/17) fetch was limited to the extreme Northern Gulf at 30 kts from the west with 21 ft seas fading at 50N 153W targeting only British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. This system dissipated after that. Swell is expected for Canada and the Pacific Northwest with less energy down into Central CA.
North CA: Swell holds overnight and continues Wed (12/20) at 5.2 ft @ 14 secs (7.0-7.5 ft) but with local windswell in the mix too. Swell fading Thurs (12/21) from 6.3 ft @ 12 secs (7.5 ft). Residuals on Fri (12/22) fading from 3.5 ft @ 10 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 302-308 degrees
A cutoff low developed Tues AM (12/20) 700 nmiles north-northeast of Hawaii with 30-35 kt northeast winds and seas building from 22 ft at 33N 154W targeting the Islands decently. In the evening 40 kt north winds were wrapping into the gales west quadrant aimed south with 22 ft seas at 33N 155W targeting the Islands directly and 700 nmiles off. That low was fading some Wed AM (12/20) with 30-35 kt north winds and 21 ft seas starting to lift north from 34N 155W. The low is to be lifting north in the evening with residual wind energy fading from 30 kts and seas fading from 18 ft at 38N 155W. Possible small swell for Hawaii to result.
Hawaii: Swell build some Wed AM (12/20) to 7.1 ft @ 12 secs (8.5 ft). Swell slowly fading Thurs AM (12/21) from 7.4 ft @ 12-13 secs (9.0 ft). Residuals on Fri (12/22) fading from 5.2 ft @ 11 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 000-010 degrees
Another gale started to develop east of the Northern Kuril Islands on Sun PM (12/17) with 45-50 kt south winds pushing up into the Central Aleutians and 30-35 kts west winds behind that front and seas building. On Mon AM (12/18) 35-40 kt west winds were pushing off the Northern Kuril's and Kamchatka with a front on the dateline generating 26 ft seas at 51N 171E mainly targeting the Central Aleutians with limited energy pushing east of there. In the evening west winds faded from 35+ kts from Kamchatka to the dateline and mostly over the Western Aleutians with 28 ft seas at 50N 174E aimed somewhat east at North CA (308 degrees) and also targeting the Pacific Northwest. Low odds of sideband energy radiating towards Hawaii. This system was up in the Bering Sea Tues AM (12/19) with sass from previous fetch fading from 25 ft at 50N 178E aimed east.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on on Fri (12/22) building to 2.6 ft @ 15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell peaking on Sat (12/23) at 4.5 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.5 ft) later with local windswell intermixed. Swell holding on Sun (12/24) at 5.4 ft @ 12-13 secs (6.5 ft). Residuals on Mon (12/25) fading from 3.7 ft @ 12 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 320 moving to 340 degrees (local windswell).
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri (12/22) building to 2.8 ft @ 15-16 secs mid-AM (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell fading Sat (12/23) from 2.7 ft @ 14 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 305-308 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Wednesday AM (12/20) high pressure at 1036 mbs was in the Northeastern Gulf ridging southeast into California with low pressure moving inland over Washington generating a front that swept south over Central CA and a pressure gradient over North CA waters generating north winds at 20 kts and that is to be building south to Pt Conception and Southern CA in the late afternoon. the front produced 2-4 inches of snow for Tahoe early Wed AM (12/20). North winds are to still be in control on Thurs AM (12/21) at 15-20 kts for all of California early and fading later to 10-15 kts and turning north-northeast and northeast into Southern CA. A light offshore flow returns Fridays. Light offshore winds or calm winds continue for the state on Sat-Sun (12/24) into early Monday then turning northwest 10 kts for North and Central CA late afternoon Mon (12/25). Rain is forecast for North CA Mon AM reaching south to Monterey Bay late with light snow for Tahoe in the evening dissipating early Tuesday before sunrise. A cutoff low is to be 500 nmiles off Pt Conception on Tues (12/26) generating a northeast flow at 20 kts for NCal and 10-15 kts for Central CA. More of the same on Wed (12/27) but up to 30 kts from the north-northeast for North CA early fading to 15 kts late.
No swell producing winds of interest were occurring.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours yet another gale is to develop 1,000 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii on Sun PM (12/24) with up to 45+ kt north winds building and seas to 26 ft over a tiny area at 37N 167W aimed south. On Mon AM (12/25) 50 kt north winds to be building while the gale lifts northeast with 31 ft seas at 38N 162W targeting Hawaii directly. In the evening the storm is to lift north with 50 kt north winds still blowing with 31 ft seas aimed south at 43N 160W with sideband energy possibly radiating towards the US West Coast. Tues AM (12/26) north winds to fade from 40 kts as the gale starts impacting the Eastern Aleutians with seas fading from 26 ft at 47N 160W targeting Hawaii and sideband energy towards the US West Coast. Something to monitor.
On Mon AM (12/25) a new gale is to be developing over the Southern Kurils with 45 kt west winds barely pushing into open waters of the Northwest Pacific. In the evening fetch is to build to 55 kt from the west and barely clear of the Southern Kuril Islands with seas building from 39 ft at 44.5N 151E. On Tues AM (12/26) fetch is to be fading from 45 kts over a solid area aimed east with 41 ft seas at 44N 157E. In the evening fetch is to be fading from 35-40 kts over a broad area aimed east with seas fading from 35 ft at 44N 162E. This system is to fade from there.
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather system nor fetch is forecast.
More details to follow...
Active MJO Scheduled to be Fading 5 Days Out
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 equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing 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 planet, 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 in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.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: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. So it appears now a double dip La Nina is setting up and is to continue through the Winter and Spring of 2017-2018.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Tues (12/19) 5 day average winds were from the east over the entire equatorial Pacific but west in the Central Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were neutral over the East Pacific but moderate westerly over the Central and Western KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (12/20) Moderate to strong west anomalies were modeled over the Eastern KWGA on the dateline continuing west over the core of the KWGA. This situation is to hold through Dec 23, then modest east anomalies are to start building from 150E and points east of there. The Active Phase of the MJO appears to be holding in the West Pacific over the KWGA and is to continue for a few more days, then fade.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 12/19 a moderate Active/Wet signal was over the dateline. The statistical model depicts the Active/Wet Phase slowly easing east and fading from the dateline over the 15 day run. At the same time the Inactive Phase is to be moving into the far West Pacific. The dynamic model depicts the same thing, but with the Inactive Phase a bit weaker.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/20) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO modest in strength over the dateline and is to be fading starting today and steadily weakening while pushing east over the Atlantic and back in the Indian Ocean 15 days out. The GEFS model suggests the Active Phase is to hold position for the next 7 days while weakening then tracking east.
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/20) This model depicts a weak Active/Wet MJO pattern over the West Pacific and its to slowly easing east pushing into Central America 12/30. A modest Inactive/Dry MJO signal is to follow starting in the West Pacific 12/30 and tracking east to the East Pacific through 1/24/18. Another Active/Wet Phase is to follow in the West Pacific on 1/19 moving east. This model runs about 1 week ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (12/20) This model depicts a Wet/Active MJO pattern peaking over the Western KWGA with west anomalies reaching the whole way to the East Pacific. The Active Phase of the MJO is to push east through 12/28 with decent west anomalies in the KWGA through the period. After that the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to redevelop 12/30 building over the dateline holding through 2/7/18 with east anomalies developing from the dateline eastward while west anomalies hold and west of there through 1/30. Beyond the Active Phase is to take control in the West Pacific 1/30 holding through 3/6/18 with weak west anomalies strengthening some in the core of the KWGA and east anomalies fading in coverage and gone by 3/2. A weak Inactive Phase is to follow in the West KWGA at the end of the model run on 3/19. The low pass filter indicates a modest low pressure bias over the west KWGA to 165E and is hold till 3/2, then start moving east reaching the dateline at the end of the model run with a high pressure bias over the East KWGA at 175E and is to move east and out of the KWGA by the end of the run. Even so, no significant oceanic change is expected as a result of this until at least May 2018.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (12/20) A pattern change set up in August, with warm water retreating to the west and cooler water building in the east. Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 29-30 degs in the far West Pacific at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line is tracking west at 179E and steep (meaning there is a headwind of cooler water pushing into it from the east). The 24 deg isotherm was weak and steady at 130W and shallow at 50 meters deep at 140W. Anomaly wise it is clear that in the East Pacific warm water gone and instead neutral to modestly negative temperatures are at the surface and down to -3 degs C down 150 meters filling the area between Central America to 170W indicative of La Nina. Warm anomalies are isolated to the West Pacific at now up to +3.0 degrees down to 100 meters deep with the dividing line between cool temps retrograded west to 170W. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/14 depicts a large area of cool water filling the subsurface East Pacific (-4.0 degs) and erupting to the surface in broad pockets between Ecuador to 170W with warm anomalies at +2-3 degs in the west.
Sea Level Anomalies: (12/14) Negative anomalies are in control at -5 cms over the entire equatorial East Pacific with a core of -10 cm anomalies present between Ecuador to 155W with no breaks.
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.
Hi-res Nino1.2 & 3.4: (12/19) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a cool pattern remains is in control. Upwelling is rebuilding some along Peru and Ecuador and stronger tracking west on the equator from the Galapagos out to 140W with a well defined cool pool evidenced over the entire region. No warm anomalies are indicated within 3+ degs north or south of the equator over the entire region.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/19): A warming trend was still in place solidly along Chile and Peru and off Ecuador, then in some pockets on the equator from the Galapagos out to 140W. But there was also a greater number of pockets of cooling water interspersed along the equatorial Pacific from the Galapagos west to 140W.
Hi-res Overview: (12/19) Regardless of the short term warming trend indicated above, a clear La Nina cool stream is present starting off Southern Chile and up the coast of Peru and Ecuador then building in coverage and intensity pushing west over the Galapagos and peaking, then slowly fading out to 180W. Cool water at depth is erupting to the surface with the breach point near the Galapagos. There is no sign of warm anomalies in the Nino 1.2 or Nino 3.4 regions. A mature La Nina has evolved.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/20) Today's temps were falling some -1.562. The lowest point so far in this La Nina was -2.248 degs reached on 11/5. And that low point was lower than the previous coldest point reached on 10/11 at -1.9 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/20) Today temps were steady at -0.932 degs. On (12/7) temps hit a new record low at -1.219, just below the previous coldest peak so far this La Nina on 11/22 at -1.156. And the third previous low peak was reached at -1.1 on 11/23. The long arc suggests a solidifying cold pattern. La Nina is in control.
CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (12/20) The forecast depicts temps at -0.95 in early Dec and slowly rising to -0.75 degs in early Feb. The weak upward trend is to continue with temps reaching -0.55 in April and -0.2 degs in July 2018 and holding there. This suggests a legit La Nina is expected for the Winter of 2017-2018.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Nov Plume updated (12/8) depicts temps bottomed out at -0.7 in early Nov and are to hold into Dec then slowly rising, to +0.0 in May and +0.3 in July2018. See chart here - link The NMME consensus for Nov average indicates temps -0.9 degrees below normal Nov-Jan 2018 then rebounding to normal in April. It looks like La Nina is peaking out now. The CFSv2 is now in the middle of that pack.
Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (12/20): The daily index was rising but still negative today at -1.87 today. The 30 day average was falling to +3.97. The 90 day average was steady at +8.05. This suggests La Nina is in control.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (12/20) The index was effectively steady at -1.58 (up from -2.20 on 6/28/17). The trend is generally stable for now but clearly indicative of La Nina. Last years La Nina reached -1.94 on 11/2/16 so we've bested that already. But the recent upward trend is offering some hope. Still it looks like La Nina is returning for a double dip/2 year La Nina (not unusual). This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina events.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly negative, but not as much as one would expect with La Nina in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.10, Feb = +0.04, March = +0.12, April=+0.52, May=+0.30, June=+0.19, July= -0.50, Aug= -0.68, Sept = -0.28, Oct=-0.60, Nov = -0.52. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.77, Feb = +0.70, Mar = +0.74, April=+1.12, May=+0.88, June=+0.79, July=+0.10, Aug=0.09, Sept = 0.32, Oct=0.05 . No negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 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 strongly suggests that could be a possibility. 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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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table