Toxic algal events are an annual burden on aquaculture and coastal ecosystems of California. The threat of domoic acid (DA) toxicity to human and wildlife health is the dominant harmful algal bloom (HAB) concern for the region, leading to a strong focus on prediction and mitigation of these blooms and their toxic effects. This paper describes the initial development of the California Harmful Algae Risk Mapping (C-HARM) system that predicts the spatial likelihood of blooms and dangerous levels of DA using a unique blend of numerical models, ecological forecast models of the target group, Pseudo-nitzschia, and satellite ocean color imagery. Data interpolating empirical orthogonal functions (DINEOF) are applied to ocean color imagery to fill in missing data and then used in a multivariate mode with other modeled variables to forecast biogeochemical parameters. Daily predictions (nowcast and forecast maps) are run routinely at the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS) and posted on its public website. Skill assessment of model output for the nowcast data is restricted to nearshore pixels that overlap with routine pier monitoring of HABs in California from 2014 to 2015. Model lead times are best correlated with DA measured with solid phase adsorption toxin tracking (SPATT) and marine mammal strandings from DA toxicosis, suggesting long-term benefits of the HAB predictions to decision-making. Over the next three years, the C-HARM application system will be incorporated into the NOAA operational HAB forecasting system and HAB Bulletin.