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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Sunday, February 7, 2016 10:55 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
4.0- California & 4.3 - 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 2/8 thru Sun 2/14

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   

Possible Storm #9 Developing
Weaker System To Follow - Jetstream to .cgiit Temporarily

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 Sunday, February 7, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea Bay): Seas were 9.2 ft @ 7.7 secs with swell 6.7 ft @ 8.4 secs from 326 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 12.8 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 13.1 secs from 265 degrees. Wind north 4-6 kts. Water temperature 58.6 degrees. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.8 ft @ 12.7 secs from 260 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.9 ft @ 13.5 secs from 258 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 3.6 ft @ 12.8 secs from 269 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.8 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 4.7 ft @ 12.9 secs from 278 degrees. Wind northwest 8-10 kts. Water temp 55.2 degs.

    Notes

    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
Current Conditions
On Sunday (2/7) in North and Central CA residual dateline swell was producing surf in the head high range at top breaks with light offshore winds and clean but wonky from tide. Down in Santa Cruz surf was head high to 1 ft overhead at top breaks and clean but a little warbled from too much tide. In Southern California up north residual dateline swell was producing waves in the thigh high range and clean. Down south waves were chest high on the sets and clean and lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northwest windswell with waves 2-3 ft overhead and chopped with north winds. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting the same wraparound windswell with waves shoulder high and chopped from north winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
Swell from a storm that developed in the Gulf of Alaska on Sat (2/6) with seas to 39 ft was pushing towards Central CA northward up into the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Another stronger and broader system remains forecast for the Dateline region moving into the Western Gulf Mon-Wed (2/10) with 50-52 ft seas aimed east and falling somewhat southeast. A weaker but still decent system is forecast behind tracking from off Japan to the dateline Wed-Fri (2/12) targeting Hawaii well with up to 36 ft seas. All this while the Inactive Phase of the MJO is in control but not having much negative impact on the storm track, at least not immediately. But beyond it is forecast to start taking it's toll.

SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Sunday AM (2/7) the jet was consolidated ridging gently northeast off Japan up to the 40N latitude line with winds to 190 kts then falling southeast over the dateline into a steep trough with it's apex 300 nmiles north of Hawaii with winds still 140 kts, the ridging northeast again and .cgiitting near 140W with the northern branch tracking up into Central Canada and the southern branch tracking over Central Baja. There was good support for gale development in the trough. Over the next 72 hours the jet is to build more with winds over the dateline building to 200 kts on Mon (2/8) and the ridge flattening with a new trough building in the Western Gulf and easing east into Thurs (2/11). Good support for gale if not storm development expected. Beyond 72 hours yet another trough is to develop west of the dateline late Thursday moving into the far Western Gulf by Sun (2/14) offering support for yet more gale development. But beyond a .cgiit in the jet is forecast just off Japan on Sunday with winds fading over the North Pacific. Still over Asia the jet is to be consolidated with winds to 160 kts pushing over Japan, just not remaining consolidated any further east of there. It looks like the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to start having an effect.

Surface Analysis
On Sunday swell from a small gale that developed in the Gulf of Alaska was heading towards California and the Pacific Northwest (see Gulf Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours another storm (Possible Storm #9) is to start developing just west of the dateline and positioned further north than previous systems, presumably due to the Inactive Phase of the MJO. On Sun AM (2/7) winds were 45 kts and seas building from 22 ft at 40N 167E. By evening 70 kt northwest winds are forecast generating 42 ft seas over a tiny area at 43.5N 175E. On Mon AM (2/8) a broader area of 55 kt northwest winds is to start falling southeast from the dateline with 53 ft seas at 43N 177.5W targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. In the evening 55 kt northwest winds to ease southeast with seas fading some from 50 ft at 43N 172W. On Tues AM (2/9) a broad area of 45 kt northwest winds to be dropping slightly southeast with 44 ft seas solid at 40N 168W. The storm is to hold position in the evening with 45 kts winds targeting just east of Hawaii and 38 ft seas at 42N 167W with 28 ft seas 600 nmiles northwest of Hawaii. Fetch is to be fading from 40 kts Wed AM (2/10) tracking due east with seas fading from 35 ft at 41N 163W. In the evening fetch is to be fading from 35-40 kts in the Gulf with seas fading from 33 ft at 41N 159.5W. Thurs AM (2/11) fetch is to be dissipating from 35 kts with seas 30 ft at 40N 153W. This system to be gone from there.

Very solid size is expected for Hawaii on the front end of this swell with less size for the US West Coast but a longer duration of swell. Something to monitor.

 

Gulf Gale
Yet another small but potent gale started forming in the Southwestern Gulf on Fri AM (2/5) producing a tiny area of 30-35 kt west winds getting traction on previously existing 9 ft seas under it. Fetch tracked northeast in the evening with winds to 50 kts over a tiny area aimed east and seas building fast from 22 ft over a tiny area at 39N 160W (345 degs HI). 55 kt west winds were fading while lifting northeast on Sat AM (2/6) with seas building to 37 ft at 42N 154W (287 degs NCal). Fetch to be fading from 45 kts in the evening with seas peaking at 39 ft at 45.5N 150W (298 degs NCal). This system was fading Sun AM (2/7) with 40 kt west winds targeting only North Canada and seas dropping from 34 ft at 49N 148W mostly aimed northeast towards Alaska. Another nice but small pulse of swell is expected to result aimed mainly from Central CA up into the Pacific Northwest and Canada.

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon AM (2/8) with swell 3 ft @ 18 secs (5.5 ft) and building through the day pushing 5.2 ft @ 16 secs late (8.5 ft). Swell and period fading overnight. Residuals on Tues (2/9) fading from 5.2 ft @ 14 secs early (7.0-7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290-294 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 Sun AM (2/7) weak high pressure was centered inland over the Great Basin ridging off the coast generating a generally light offshore flow for all locations. No change is forecast through Monday. Tuesday a weak low is to start setting up in the Gulf with a front moving into outer waters and south winds taking over from Monterey Bay northward at 10 kts or so but steadily weakening through the day as the front dissolves. A weak wind flow is expected through Thursday as much low pressure holds in the Gulf, but does not have the momentum to push into nearshore waters of CA except for perhaps Cape Mendocino. Light rain for Cape Mendocino on Thurs PM through the day Friday. Saturday (2/13) new high pressure is to start taking shape off Central CA with north winds building over the North and Central Coast at 15 kts holding Sunday.

South Pacific

Overview
Surface Analysis  
No swell producing weather systems were occurring in the South Pacific.

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

 

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

 

QuikCAST's

 

LONG-TERM FORECAST
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours another solid gale is to be developing Wed AM (2/10) off Japan pushing east generating 40 kt west winds and seas building from 23 ft over a moderate area at 38N 155E. In the evening 45 kt northwest winds are forecast pushing east generating seas to 32 ft 38N 159E. On Thurs AM (2/11) fetch is to be fading from 40 kts over a solid area targeting Hawaii well with 34 ft seas at 37N 165E. Fetch is to be barely 40 kts falling southeast in the evening with seas 33 ft at 35N 169E. On Fri AM (2/12) 35-40 kts northwest wind is to be moving over the dateline with over the dateline with 31 ft seas fading at 35.5N 176E. In the evening fetch is to rebuild some at 40 kts over the dateline aimed east with seas at 31 ft at 37N 176W. fetch is to be fading from 30-35 kts Sat AM (2/13) with seas fading from 30 ft at 36N 170W. This system to dissipate from there. Possible decent swell to result for Hawaii.

  

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours noswell producing fetch of interest is forecast.  

More details to follow...

MJO/ENSO Update

Inactive MJO To Fade - Better Times Ahead
January ONI and Monthly Nino3.4 Temps Just Shy of '97, MEI Inches Up But Doesn't Beat '82 or '97

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).E.cgianation of data layout below: Major sections are organized in cause-and-effect sequence starting with wind conditions/forecasts for the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA - equatorial West Pacific) followed by subsurface ocean temperature conditions (i.e. monitoring for Kelvin Waves), then ocean surface temperature conditions (i.e Nino 1.2 and 3.4) followed by atmospheric co.cgiing analysis. The 1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data and is typically updated with each new forecast. The 2nd paragraph, where present, provides analysis and context and is updated as required.

Overview: A strong El Nino has developed. It began its lifecycle in late 2013 as a primer WWB and Kelvin Wave developed. Then in early 2014 a historically strong push by the Active Phase of the MJO resulted in a large Kelvin Wave, and anomalies continued in the Spring into early Summer transporting more warm water eastward. But the cycle faltered in July due to a protracted bout of the Inactive Phase of the MJO which enabled the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle to manifest driving cooler water east, muting warm water buildup along the Ecuador coast. Still the warm water pipe remained open, but surface temperatures near the Galapagos never recovered and any atmospheric momentum was lost. Then in early 2015, another historically strong push from the MJO occurred, effectively a repeat of the early 2014 event, invigorating the warm water transport process and, adding more heat to an already anomalously warm surface pool off Ecuador. That pool built steadily in spurts, peaking in the Oct-Nov, timeframe, then began a slow decline. But even in Jan 2016, the strongest Westerly Wind Burst of the enter event occur, with another Kelvin Wave currently in development. The paragraphs below describe the current status of various El Nino indicators, followed by a few paragraphs that tie all the pieces together and provide our analysis of what is to come.    

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis from TAO Buoys: As of Sat (2/6) down at the surface, the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated mostly calm winds over a large area south of the equator from 140E to 160W south of 2S with one patch of solid embedded west winds. Otherwise east winds prevailed and strong over the entire zone from 2S northward. Inspecting the 00hr frame from the GFS model, Northwest winds at 18-20 kts were near 175E near 4S and again near new Guinea. Anomalies per the TAO array were modest from the west from 160E to 160W on and south of the equator and neutral everywhere else. El Nino continued expressing itself, weakly but stronger than last week.
1 Week Forecast: Fairly weak west anomalies are forecast over a small area on the dateline for the coming week and not particularly impressive. Actual winds per the GFS model are to generally be from the north in the southern KWGA through Sun (2/14) with one spurt of northwest winds near New Guinea Fri-Sun (2/14 at up to 20 kts. A muted El Nino pattern is still in effect, though better than last week. The only east anomalies that occurred this year in the KWGA were from 12/7-12/17 during an Inactive Phase of the MJO. Fortunately that ended quickly. Currently the Inactive Phase of the MJO is back in effect now.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Comparison of 2 Strong Westerly Wind Bursts (WWB)

On left the massive WWB in late June/July that created large Kelvin Wave #3. On right the current WWB that is generating Kelvin Wave #4.
Scales are a little different but notice anomalies in the July event at 12-14 m/s est (24-28 kts) and now in Oct at 13-14 m/s (26-28 kts)
(Click to Enlarge Images)

June/July WWB October WWB

 

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of Sat (2/6) a building Active Phase of the MJO signal was over Indonesia and a modest and weakening Inactive Phase was easing east from the dateline. The Statistic model forecasts the Inactive MJO dissipating 2 week out with the Active Phase moving into the West Pacific. The dynamic model depicts a similar initial setup, but with both the Active Phase remaining strong and moving almost to the dateline 2 weeks out as the Inactive Phase dissipates. This is a significant improvement.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): The ECMF model indicates a moderately Active MJO signal over the Maritime Continent (Indonesia). It is to slowly steadily ease east and move to the West Pacific 2 weeks out. The GEFS depicts the same ting, but with the MJO strengthening some as it tracks east. This all suggests any west winds currently in the KWGA are purely attributable to El Nino with no MJO influence. But, if anything, those west winds are to start being enhanced as the ACtive Phase moves to the dateline.
40 Day Upper Level Model: We are ignoring this model because it has consistently failed to be accurate.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): The Inactive Phase of the MJO is weakly in control of the KWGA today (2/7) and past it's peak. West wind anomalies are non-existent due to destructive interference by the Inactive MJO. The Inactive Phase is to start fading in the next few days, with west anomalies slowly regenerating starting 2/12. The Active Phase is to return 2/20 with west anomalies again in control and solid holding through 3/15 but di.cgiaced east near 165W having minimal Kelvin Wave generation potential, typical of the mature phase of El Nino. That is, westerly anomalies slow track east until they migrate to the East Equatorial Pacific and the El Nino collapses. Still they will help fueled the jetstream. The model depicts west anomalies fading to almost nothing 3/28 with no coherent MJO signal expected beyond.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (2/7) Actual temperatures remain decent (all sensors on-line). A large pocket of 29 deg temps were at depth between 140E to 139W easing east with the 28 deg isotherm line moving east to 121W. Anomaly wise things continue to improve. +2 deg anomalies are steady at 174W and points eastward. +4 deg anomalies are easing east from 138W and delineate the core of the rebuilding subsurface reservoir. +5 deg anomalies are easing east from 133W eastward with +6 degs anomalies now depicted east from 126W. Cool subsurface waters previously down 150m at 120W retreated (0.0 deg line), but are now again flowing east, reaching 137W. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 2/2 the reservoir is rebuilding significantly with warm water still flowing into it from near the dateline and a +5 deg core attributable solely to WWB #5 at 100W-140W. +4 deg anomalies reach west to 155W. This remains a huge improvement. No +4 deg anomalies were pushing towards the surface just yet. This newly developing Kelvin Wave has put the end of this ENSO event on hold for now.
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA):  (2/2) The picture remains positive here too. 0-+5 cm anomalies have rebuilt west covering the entire equatorial Pacific starting at 160W (shrinking some). Peak anomalies at +15 are between 138W to 110W easing east. +10 cm anomalies have rebuilt between 100W-150W and steady. The subsurface warm pool is recharging.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: (2/2) Temps are rebuilding. +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are fading slightly from 160W, an early effect of the WWB #5 and extending east to the Galapagos. +1.0-1.5 degs anomalies are retracting some from 157W. +1.5 deg anomalies are retracting some from 153W.+2.0 deg anomalies are present between 112-143W, easing east. And a few pixels of +2.5 deg anomalies remain showing near 130W. The Downwelling Phase of Kelvin Wave #5 is beginning. Temps have dropped from Ecuador to the Galapagos at 1.0-1.5 degs, hopefully the extent of the Upwelling Phase of Kelvin Wave #4. This El Nino remains westward di.cgiaced. The Downwelling Phase should not reach the reservoir for 2 months or about March 1. This might only extend the life of El Nino, or slow it's demise, but not add substantially to it. The peak of El Nino from a subsurface warming perspective has already passed.

A strong Kelvin Wave impacted the Ecuador Coast in May-June with a second somewhat weaker one impacting it in June. A third erupted in the Sept timeframe, but westward di.cgiaced just west of the Galapagos and not as overtly strong as one would expect, being rather a steady bleed rather than a gully washer. A pause in warming near Ecuador occurred starting mid August, attributable to the Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave Cycle, ending on 9/20. Another equally strong WWB occurred peaking in 10/10 resulting in Kelvin Wave #4, which started erupting west of the Galapagos on 10/28 (much earlier than expected - due to it's westward di.cgiacement) peaking 11/17. Typical of the character of this El Nino event, it is maddeningly slow and under whelming if viewed on a daily basis. With WWB/Kelvin Wave #4, a more aggressive face of this El Nino appeared during the Oct-Nov timeframe. Then the Inactive Phase of the MJO took over on 10/31 holding into mid Dec, and with it the subsurface warm pool started discharging. Amazingly in sync with a building Active Phase of the MJO on 12/27 -1/15 another solid WWB occurred and Kelvin Wave #5 started building 1/20, likely extending the life of this El Nino.

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: (2/6) The latest image indicates +2.25 temps were all but gone east of 100W except in a few random small patches but steady in coverage. Average temps were more in the +1.25-+1.5 deg category. This continues to indicate the Kelvin Wave eruption area is westward di.cgiaced, with occasional pockets of warmer water sneaking in, but not steadily. Warming in this area peaked on 7/14 then crashed and has been trying to rebuild ever since.
Hi-res Nino 3.4: (2/6) The latest image depicts a solid area of +2.25 anomalies between 105W to 160W, and positioned mostly 2-3 degs north and south of the equator. Overall the pattern remains solidly impressive, but is starting to show signs of declining. All this warm water is attributable to Kelvin Wave #4. Temps between 160W-180W are holding coverage. +2.25 deg anomalies reach west to 170W and are steady over the past week. No +4 deg anomalies are present. This warm pool is advection west of warm water resulting from eruption of Kelvin Wave and #4. 
Hi-res 7 day Trend (2/6): A steady state pattern was depicted other than from 90-120W where temps are warming.
Hi-res Overview:
(2/6) The El Nino signal is unmistakable but is no longer building. The main focal point has been eruption ports west of the Galapagos, but they are gone now with no +4.0 degree anomalies depicted. Those ports peaked first on 9/19, then more broadly on 11/19, then faded with no +4 deg anomalies remaining on 1/4, only to continue reappear 1/15, then dissipated 4 days later. The mid-zoomed image depicts the vent port area contains only +3 deg anomalies, and then only in patches.
Most anomalies are 2-3 degs.

Kevin Wave #3 peaked on 9/19 with mult.cgie pockets of +5 degs anomalies occurring. The number and intensity of those vent ports faded, then redeveloped and increased significantly starting 10/28 and peaked on 11/23 attributable to Kelvin Wave #4. A slow fade is occurring now as Kelvin Wave #4 dissipates.

Historical Comparison of Strong El Nino's
Images built using 2 data sets - Monthly OISSTv.2 (left) & ERSSTv4 (right) This years data valid through November.
Both images/datasets suggest this is the warmest the NINO3.4 region has ever been. Now the question becomes: Will that translate in weather and swell? If the theory that temps in this area translate in stormier weather, then the answer is obvious.
Requisite Disclaimer - Current performance is no indication of future performance.
(Click to enlarge)


OISSTv2 data ERSSTv4 image

 

Kelvin Wave #3 Eruption Evolution
(click to enlarge)

 

Other Sources
TAO Data: +1.0 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial East Pacific, the warmest in years, advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to the dateline and beyond (retracting to 172E). We're monitoring the +0.0 anomaly line on the equator to see if it's moving east. Today its gone but was previously at 140E. +1.5 deg anomalies are steady reaching unbroken to 180W. There is also a solid area of +2.0-2.5 deg anomalies extending from the Galapagos to 173W. A pocket of +3.0 deg anomalies is between 143W-160W (shrinking slightly). No +3.5 anomalies are present. Overall the warm water signature is steady and impressive but on the decline.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (2/7) Temps continue on the decline fading from +1.089. Previously they were rising some at +1.691 (2/1), up from +1.421 (1/28), up from +1.001 on 1/23, down from +1.835, down from +2.001 (1/7), up from +1.314 on 1/5, down hard from +1.836 on 12/27, down from +1.950 (12/22). Previously temps peaked for 5 days at +2.581 near 10/8 and previously spiked at +3.0 degs on 7/3, faded, then spiked again on 7/13 at +3.0 degs and yet again at +3.0 degs on 7/22.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (2/7) temps are rising at +2.694 and only 0.3 degs from the all time peak, up from +2.347 (2/3), up to +2.738 (1/23) up some at +2.438 on 1/14, up from +2.248 (1/11), down from +2.397 on 1/7. The all time peak was reached at +3.041 on 12z 11/19. This temp beat the previous all time high of +3.028 degs (12Z 11/17), up from + 2.986 as of (12Z 11/15) Nov 15. Overall temps have not been below +2.0 degs since 8/21. and are right at +2.9 or greater since 11/13. Very Impressive.
Nino3.0 CDAS Index Temps: (2/7) Today's value was steady at +2.418, down from +2.686 on (1/23), down from +2.913 (1/19), up some from 1/14 when it was +2.894, up from +2.609 (1/11), down from +2.858 (1/2), down from +2.732 (12/31), compared to +2.697 on 12/27, down from +2.753 (12/22), up from +2.671 (12/19), up barely from +2.655 (12/15), down from +2.882 (12/12), steady since (12/10) when it was +2.942, down some from (12/8) when it was +2.988 and stead compared to the 12/6 value of +2.989, up slightly form +2.919 (12/3), up from +2.905 (12/1), down slightly from +2.990 (11/28) up from +2.855 (11/23), up some from + 2.799 on 11/21, and down from +2.957 on 11/19. So we have some distance to go to be comparable to '97 in this region.
Nino3.4 Weekly Temps (OISSTv2 - 1981-2010 base period - centered in Jan 3 1990): On 1/27 anomalies were +1.5 (Nino4), +2.5 (Nino3.4), +2.3 (Nino3). We're on a steady slow decline though Nino 4 is actually increasing some. On 1/20 temps were as follows: +1.5, +2.5, +2.3. On 1/13 temps were falling as follows: Nino4: +1.3, Nino34: +2.6, Nino3 +2.8. On 1/6 temps were falling as follows: Nino4: +1.4, Nino34: +2.6, Nino3 +2.7. On 12/30 temps were falling in Nino4: +1.5, Nino34: +2.7 (steady), and falling in Nino3: +2.6. On 12/23 temps were falling in all regions: Nino4: +1.6, Nino3.4: +2.7 and Nino3: +2.7 degs. On 12/16, temps were steady at +2.9 degs in both Nino3 and 3.4 and +1.7 in Nino 4. 12/9 was down slightly at +2.8 (Nino3.4) and +2.9 (Nino3). On 12/2 they were +2.9 (in both Nino3.0 and 3.4), down from 11/25 when they were +3.0 (in both Nino3.0 and 3.4), and down from the peak of +3.1 on 11/18, up from 11/11 when temps in Nino3 and 3.4 were both +3.0 degs. On 11/4 they were both +2.8. In '97 (11/26) peak temps in Nino3.4 reached +2.8. So we have beat that mark. But Nino3 temps in '97 reached +3.6-3.7 degs. We still have +0.6 degs to go.

SST Anomalies on 9/14/2015 and what is driving them from below
(Click to enlarge)

SST Image

This years event is westward di.cgiaced somewhat like the '82/83 super El Nino event, but not as strongly so. The main evidence for this is the continued eruption of Kelvin Wave #3 west of the Galapagos with weakened warming east of there.  This suggests the Walker circulation is not di.cgiaced as far east as in '97 but more like '82/83. Best analysis from upper level charts suggests it's core is at 110W. At this time we're unsure what the effects on rainfall would be. Total rainfall in San Francisco in '82/83 was 38.17" (+16.38") versus 47.22" in '97/98 (+25.43"). The long term average is 21.79". In LA in '82/83 it was 31.28" (+16.47) versus 31.01" in '97 (+16.2"). Long term average 14.81". Regardless, both events were well above average. This also suggests the core of storm production will be north of the most warming. So rather than the Eastern to Central Gulf of Alaska being the focus, it might be more in the Western Gulf. This is actually a good thing relative to California by perhaps giving resulting swells more room to groom themselves before hitting the coast. This might bode not so well for Hawaii, with large stormy conditions the result. Of course, this is just speculation at this time. 
Nino3.4 Monthly Temps (January) The centered Nino3.4 temps for the month of Jan are +2.27 (beating '98 which was +2.21 and '83 which was +2.13). December was +2.31 (beating 97 which was +2.23 and 82 at +2.21). November was adjusted up to +2.36 degs (beating the highest temp recorded in '97 Nov - +2.32 degs and beating '82 +2.03 degs). This years Oct temps were adjusted upwards to +2.03 degs. See updated graphs above. As of right now for a one month average, this put this years El Nino stronger than '97 and therefore the strongest ever (based on a one month SST reading). The ONI uses a 3 month running average. That is the final determiner. Very interesting.
ONI For 2015 for the 3 month period centered on Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec the values are: +1.8, +2.1. +2.2 +2.3. For the same period in '97 the values were: +2.0, +2.2, +2.3 and +2.3. And for '82 the values were: +1.5, +1.9, +2.1 and +2.1. This make this years El Nino the second strongest on record since 1950.

Given the westward di.cgiacement in this years El Nino, we are interested in the relative effect on the jetstream as compared to previous strong ENSO events.  That's is, how does one compare eastward versus westward di.cgiaced El Nino events. This years El Nino has relatively weak Nino1.2 anomalies compared to '82 and '97, but much warmer in Nino4.  Do Nino3.4 temps accurately take that difference into account? We decided to find out. First we made an assumption: It is the total volume of warm water in the equatorial East Pacific, not just in Nino3.4 that defines the magnitude of the resulting El Nino atmospheric response. Whether that water is eastward or westward di.cgiaced, it makes no difference, as long as one can measure the total heating footprint, the bulk atmospheric response should be the same, just the center of core storm production would be either more east or west di.cgiaced.Next we needed to determine how to measure total heating footprint. There is a good historical record for anomalies in Nino1.2 (spanning 10 degrees longitude - 80W-90W), Nino3 (spanning 60 degrees - 90W-150W) and Nino4 (50 degrees - 150W to 150E).  If one performs a weighted average of the SST anomalies for the 3 zones, a composite anomaly can be obtained. So we did that for recent strong El Nino events. The results indicate a pattern very similar to si.cgie Nino3.4 analysis, that this years event is in the top 2 for this time of year and the top 3 of all time (discounting the more historically correct 'centered' data). Here's the data:

Note: ERSSTv4 'centered' data is not available for Nino1, 3 and 4 regions, only Nino3.4.


Pacific Counter Current:  As of 1/11 the current was strong from the west on the equator in one small pocket on the dateline with generalized west current from there to 135E. East current was from the Galapagos to 160W. Anomaly wise - One pocket of solid west anomalies was between 170E to 160W on the equator. Otherwise everything was effectively normal. There were no pockets of solid east anomalies indicated.  This is somewhat impressive event compared to '97, because in '97, a massive La Nina signal was developing with hard east current over the entire equatorial Pacific with strong east anomalies in the east and on the dateline. Maybe we're setting ourselves up for a soft landing. That would be too good to be true.

SST Anomaly projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data depicts peak temps were reached at +2.95 degs on Nov 5, then faded slightly in early December to +2.8 holding to Jan1. The forecast indicates temp steadily fading from there to +2.5 on Feb 1, dropping to +2.0 by 2/15, then steadily declining from there falling before stabilizing at +0.5 degs in July and starting to rebuild in Oct. This would still be El Nino threshold temps. Hard to believe.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Dec Plume depicts temps peaked in early Nov, at +2.9 degs. the consensus suggests temps to fall steadily from here forward, down to 0.0 by August and then going slightly negative from there.
See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Co.cgiing Index's (lagging indicators rather than driving oceanic change):   
Daily Southern Oscillation Index (2/7): It was falling some at 3.30. Of note: The 97 El Nino had daily values at -40 to -50 in early Nov with one spurt to -76 Jan 30-31st. A peak reading so far in this 2015 event was -49.70/-46.60 on Oct 3 & 4 and then -42.20 on 10/14 and -47.50 on 12/3. Another peak of -38.50 occurred on 1/2.
30 Day Average: Was rising from -13.46. The peak low was recorded on 10/9 at -22.72, beating the previous peak low of -20.95 on 8/21, with the previous lowest at -20.49 on 7/18/15. This is exactly where we want to be (at -20 or lower).  
90 Day Average: Was rising some at -11.14. A record low of -19.28 occurred on 10/16 and was matched on 10/20. The previous record low was -18.56 on 9/16. This is the critical threshold we've been anticipating (values -18 or lower), providing yet more evidence of strong atmospheric co.cgiing. We want to see it hold there, and that goal is looking more possible. It has been at or below -10.0 since early July and -15.0 since 9/4 and on a steady fall ever since. The 90 day SOI bottomed out at a low reading on 8/5 at -14.17, then beat it on 9/2 at -15.23, beating that on 9/16 at -18.56 and now -19.28 on 10/16. 
SOI Trend - Darwin (looking for high pressure here): A neutral pressure pattern was near Darwin on 2/7 and is to hold for the next week. It is relative high pressure over Australia in NHemi winter months that is the preferred pattern for El Nino development in the Pacific.
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): On 2/7 weak high pressure was just south of Tahiti and is to hold for the foreseeable future. The SOI is expected to rise based on the Tahiti contribution. If a Super El Nino is in development one would want to see continuous local lows near or over Tahiti.
SOI 1 week Forecast: The net result is to be a steady SOI attributable mainly to higher pressure building south of Tahiti and the Inactive Phase of the MJO.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (2/7) Today's value was +1.50 down from +1.80 (2/3), down from +1.98 (1/28), down from +2.15 (1/23), down from +2.24 (1/21), and down from it's recent peak at +2.33 on 1/14. Previously it was up from +2.07 on 1/7 up from +1.67 12/27, and has been on a steady rise for 4 weeks now. This is a good sign. On 12/15 it was at +1.17, down from +1.25 (12/10), after rising through 12/8 to +1.37, up from +0.89 (12/1), up from +0.57 (11/23), down from +0.97 (11/15). This is a good trend suggesting that perhaps we're recouping from the lowest we've seen it on 12/1. Maybe the Inactive MJO in the Pacific is fading. But it is also typical for the ESPI to start falling as we move into Winter. This is primarily a summer and early Fall index during El Nino years. The most recent high value was +2.40 on Sat (10/17). It had been holding in the +1.95-2.20 range for weeks (thru 10/13) with only minor fluctuation. The ESPI was steady in the +2.5 range through 8/10, then began falling, to +2.42 on 8/18 and bottoming out at +1.78 on 8/26. It started rebuilding on 8/29 at +1.89 holding at +1.87 on 9/18 and up to +2.2 on 9/24 reaching +2.3 on 9/26, then down to 2.02 on 9/29. Historically the peak of the '82 El Nino was +2.2 and the '97 event +2.85. This suggests the '15 El Nino is reasonably well co.cgied with the atmosphere, more so than some of the other indices indicate. Monthly ESPI values are as follows: July 3.76, Aug 2.34, Sept 2.1, Oct 2.3. '97 had two peak values at +2.99 in Aug and +3.06 in Sept.  2015 had +3.7 in July followed by +2.33 and +2.20 in Aug and Sept and 2.3 in Oct. to complete with '97.
Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (Jan) These numbers were released Feb 5th and indicate the index increased slightly by 0.08 to +2.20, holding it in the third highest since 1950 behind the '82/83 and '97/98 El Ninos. Since it has not reached the +3.0 standard deviation level, it is NOT considered a Super El Nino, nor is it expected to reach that status. The Nov ranking was +2.31, up barely from +2.23 (Oct), down from it's peak of +2.53 in Sept, and from +2.37 in Aug. The top 6 events since 1950 in order are: '97, '82, '15, '91, '86, and '72 with '97 and '82 classified as 'Super El Nino's' because they reached 3 standard deviations (SD) above normal. '91 and '86 were at about 2.2 and 2.1 respectively with '72 peaking at 1.8 SD's above the norm.

North Pacific Jetstream (2/7) Detailed analysis is in the NPac Short Term Forecast above. The jet looks very good and is forecast to hold.

Comparing the 2015 El Nino to '82 and '97
Full Sized Chart
(Click to enlarge)

Conclusion: WWB #3 peaked on July 4, with the resulting Kelvin Wave peaking on Sept 19 west of the Galapagos, or a roughly 2.5 month travel time.  Likewise those warm waters advected into Nino3.4, peaking about one month later, or 10/19. Peak atmospheric influence should occur approximately 2 months later or 12/20. Then WWB #4 developed of near equal strength, peaking on 10/15, which resulted in formation of Kelvin Wave #4. Using the same te.cgiate, peak eruption of Kelvin Wave #4 is expected on 12/30/2015 (westward di.cgiaced), and advecting into Nino3.4 and peaking roughly 1/30/2016 with peak atmospheric influence on approx 3/30/2016. This suggests peak atmospheric perturbation will occur in the window from 12/2/2015-4/2/2016, or well di.cgiaced later in the Winter as compared to the '97/98 event, and somewhat like the '82/83 event. The Inactive Phase of the MJO took control 10/31, and is expected to usher in the Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin wave Cycle starting 1/31/16. The resultant slackening of peak water temps won't reach Nino3.4 till 3/1, and won't hit the atmosphere till 5/1.  By then, the effective lifecycle of El Nino for the Winter of 2015-2016 will be over. And any westerly anomalies projected for the KWGA in the Dec-Jan 2016 timeframe will contribute nothing to Kelvin Wave production and jetstream a.cgiification just due to the time it will take for a resulting Kelvin Wave to migrate east. But those anomalies could help the atmosphere like the Active Phase of the MJO does, fueling jetstream energy. That is the primary contribution of westerly anomalies from here forward. 

In terms of comparative strength based on Nino3.4 temps, 2015 is in the same ballpark based on OISSTv2 weekly data. Based on ERSSTv4 data (a more conservative data source) '97 peaked at +2.32 degs with 4 months of +2.0 degs anomalies and '82 at +2.21 degs with 2 months temps greater than +2.0 degs. 2015 is looking to produce a +2.1 degree one month average based on very rough data today, with a huge reservoir of anomalies still venting to the surface and Kevin Wave #4 still migrating east.  But, coverage of warmer than normal water and it's affect on the atmosphere is not limited to just the Nino3.4 area. Nino3 and Nino1.2.cgiay a role. It's is the total areal coverage of the warm water footprint that defines the impact on the atmosphere. Temps in Nino3 in this years event are at +3.0 degs, but peaked at +3.7 degs in '97. Conversely temps in Nino 4 in this years event beats temps in '97. All graphed out, one gets the sense that '97 and 2015 are very different events, but similar in total atmospheric effect. It's not just magnitude of the peak temps that make a difference atmospherically, but also the duration of those anomalies. The longer and stronger the anomalies, the greater the atmospheric response. At this time the expected atmospheric affects should be significant, though di.cgiaced somewhat later in the season. 

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool

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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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