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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Sunday, February 14, 2016 2:29 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 & 4.0 - Hawaii
Using the 'Winter' Scale
(See Swell Category Table link at bottom of page)
Probability for presence of largest swells in near-shore waters of NCal, SCal or Hawaii.    

Issued for Week of Monday 2/15 thru Sun 2/21

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   

Jetstream .cgiits - But Not for Long
Possible Storm Later In the Week

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 Monday, February 15, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea Bay): Seas were 3.9 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 11.4 secs from 341 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 5.4 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 3.9 ft @ 14.0 secs from 267 degrees. Wind north 2-4 kts. Water temperature 59.9 degrees. At Santa Barbara swell was 4.4 ft @ 15.8 secs from 263 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 3.8 ft @ 15.7 secs from 268 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 3.5 ft @ 16.5 secs from 267 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 11.3 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 5.2 ft @ 14.4 secs from 282 degrees. Wind northwest 23-29 kts. Water temp 55.4 degs.

    Notes

    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
Current Conditions
On Sunday (2/11) in North and Central CA residual energy from Swell #9 was still pushing into the coast producing waves in the 3 ft overhead range with calm winds but much underlying lump due to onshore winds off the coast. Down in Santa Cruz surf was chest high at top breaks and clean. In Southern California up north this same swell was hitting producing waves in the head high to 1 ft overhead range and clean and lined up. A good surf day. Down south waves were head high and clean but encased in fog early. Hawaii's North Shore was small with waves chest to head high and clean. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting minimal wraparound energy with waves in the thigh high wave range and chopped from trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
Residual swell from Storm #9 was fading in along the California coast. A weaker gale developed off Japan Wed (2/10) and tracked to the dateline Fri (2/12) targeting Hawaii well with seas peaking in the 28-30 ft range. Swell from that system is hitting the outer Hawaiian buoy at the time of this writing. A bit of a break to follow while the Inactive Phase of the MJO dissipates and the Active Phase takes control. Then a solid storm is to develop in the north dateline region on Fri (2/19) falling southeast with seas in the 46 ft range then fading some into Sun (2/21) and moving to within 600 nmiles northwest of the Islands. Good potential if all goes as forecast.

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

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Sunday AM (2/14) the jet was .cgiit just off Japan through consolidated inland over Asia. The .cgiit held to the dateline then consolidated forming a weak trough at the consolidation point, then started ridging northeast with winds building to 170 kts eventually pushing over the Pacific Northwest. Limited support for gale development was possible in the trough near the dateline. Over the next 72 hours the .cgiit in the jet is to move east reaching a point north of Hawaii by Tues (2/16) while back to the west the jet reconsolidates well off Japan tracking east-northeast and reaching the dateline with winds to 190 kts. No troughs are forecast but the pattern suggests an improving storm track longer term. Beyond 72 hours on Thurs (2/18) the improving pattern is to continue with the consolidated jet streaming off Japan falling south to 38N with winds at 190 kts reaching a point 1,000 nmiles north of Hawaii, with the .cgiit off and easing into California. This pattern is to build by Sat (2/20) with a broad flow of 165 kts winds ridging slightly northeast off Japan then falling southeast over the dateline and into a building trough north of Hawaii offering good support for gale development. From there the jet is to push to within 900 nmiles of the Central CA coast, with the last vestiges of the previous .cgiit moving onshore there and fully onshore by Sunday as the consolidated jet takes over the North Pacific. Gale production is to move back into high gear then.

Surface Analysis
On Sunday (2/14) the remnants of Swell #9 were fading in North CA and still holding decently in Southern CA, but expected to be slowly tapering off.

Over the next 72 hours a small gale is forecast developing in the Western Gulf of Alaska on Mon AM (2/15) with a small area of 35 kt west winds generating 21 ft seas at 44N 165W. Those winds to fall southeast in the evening and hold with seas building some to 22 ft at 42N 156W. Tues AM (2/16) the gale is to start developing more with winds 35-40 kts over a small area with seas 22 ft at 41N 149W. 35 kt northwest winds to hold in the evening while tracking east with seas still 22 ft at 41N 143W. Fetch is to hold while falling southeast on Wed AM (2/17) with seas 24 ft at 37N 140W. In the evening fetch is to fade from 30 kts but covering a larger area and just off Central CA with seas 23 ft at 35N 135W targeting Southern CA well (280 degs SCal). The gale is to hold Thurs AM (2/18) poised to move onshore over North CA with fetch building to 40 kts from the northwest with seas 20 ft at 36N 129W targeting Central CA and down to Southern CA (285 degs SCal). This system to move onshore from there. A good bit of smallish swell to result from this system but also likely accompanied by weather relative to North and Central CA. Southern CA might do better.

Also another small gale is to wind up off Vancouver Island on Mon PM (2/15) generating 27 ft seas at 48N 141W. The gale is to move close to the coast just north of Vancouver Island Tues AM (2/16) with seas 24 ft at 50N 134W targeting Vancouver Island. Swell expected there later Tuesday.

Japan-Dateline Gale
A gale developed Wed AM (2/10) off Japan pushing east generating 35-40 kt west winds and seas building from 21 ft over a small area at 39N 158E. In the evening 40-45 kt northwest winds were pushing east generating seas to 27 ft 38N 160E targeting mainly Hawaii. On Thurs AM (2/11) fetch was getting more organized at 40 kts over a modest sized area targeting Hawaii well with 29 ft seas at 37N 165E. Fetch was fading from 35 kts falling southeast in the evening with seas 29 ft at 35N 171E. On Fri AM (2/12) a broad area of 30-35 kts northwest wind were moving to the dateline with 27 ft seas fading at 37N 178E. In the evening northwest fetch as fading from 30 kts with seas fading from 24 ft at 37N 175W. This system dissipated from there. Possible decent swell to result mainly for Hawaii.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Sun (2/14) with period 17 secs and size small building to 6.4 ft @ 15-16 secs late (9.5 ft). Swell fading Mon (2/15) from 6 ft @ 14-15 secs (8.5 ft). Residuals on Tues (2/16) fading from 4.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (6 ft). Swell Direction: 310-315 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues (2/16) with swell building slowly to 3 ft @ 17 secs late (5 ft). Swell building over night as period drops reaching 5 ft @ 14-15 secs (7 ft) early Wed AM (2/17) pushing 5.6 ft @ 14 secs late (7.5 ft). Swell fading Thurs AM (2/18) from 5 ft @ 13-14 secs (6.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290 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 Sunday AM (2/14) high pressure at 1032 mbs was just off the Central CA coast ridging onshore generating 20 kt north winds along the southern portion of the North Coast and all of the Central Coast. A light flow to take hold later Monday for North and Central CA as the high ridges north and fades, with calm winds expected Tues (1/16). Low pressure is to be building well offshore. By Wednesday south winds to be the norm from San Diego northward with rain developing for the same area late afternoon as the front moves in. Rain turning to snow at Tahoe near 10 PM and then dumping overnight well to sunrise. Southwest winds to be 20-25 kts early Thursday (2/18) from Pt Conception northward slowly turning more westerly and fading through the day. rain fading through the day from the entire state. Heavy snow for the Sierras tapering by sunset and fading out overnight. Winds turning northwest in Southern CA. Light winds Friday and Saturday (2/20).

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 a storm is forecast developing just south of the Western Aleutians generating 50 kt northwest winds and seas building from 37 ft at 49N 166E. 50 kt northwest winds to hold into Fri AM (2/19) with seas building to 43 ft at 46N 176E. 50 kt northwest winds to hold into the evening falling southeast over the dateline with seas building to 46 ft at 44N 177W. Fetch to be fading Sat AM (2/20) from 45 kts with seas 43 ft at 40.5N 170W aimed well at Hawaii. 40-45 kt northwest winds to continue falling southeast in the evening generating 39 ft seas at 34N 170W aimed directly at Hawaii. The gale is to start fading Sun AM (2/21) at 30-35 kts but covering a large are aimed directly at Hawaii with 33 ft seas at 32N 165W with 30 ft seas just 350 nmiles northwest of Hawaii. This is certainly one to monitor.

  

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours noswell producing fetch of interest is forecast.  

More details to follow...

MJO/ENSO Update

Active MJO Moving into West Pacific
Kelvin Wave #5 Has Peaked

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 event occurred, with another Kelvin Wave developing. 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 (2/13) down at the surface, the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated mostly calm winds winds over a large area south of the equator from 140E to 165W south of 2S with one patch of embedded west winds at 170E. Otherwise east winds prevailed and strong over the entire zone from 2S northward. Inspecting the 00hr frame from the GFS model, northwest winds were 15 kts near 147E (north of New Guinea) near 5S but otherwise winds were either north or calm. Anomalies per the TAO array were modest from the west at 170E south of the equator and neutral everywhere else. El Nino continued expressing itself weakly.
1 Week Forecast: West anomalies are forecast developing in the KWGA on 2/16, and then building to moderate levels 2/18 through at least 2/21. Actual winds per the GFS model are to start building from the northwest in the southern KWGA Sun (2/14) through Tues (2/16) then expanding east at 18-20 kts filling the Southern KWGA by late Thursday holding till Sat (2/20) then fading some. A muted El Nino pattern is still in effect today, though forecast to improve continuously through the coming 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 Wed (2/13) a building Active Phase of the MJO signal was over New Guinea reaching to the dateline while a weakening Inactive Phase was easing east from a point just south of Hawaii. The Statistic model forecasts the Inactive MJO dissipating in 4 days (2/17) with the Active Phase moving steadily to towards the dateline while fading slightly, reaching the dateline 2 weeks out at moderate strength. The dynamic model depicts a similar initial setup, but with the Active Phase slowly strengthening while moving to the dateline 2 weeks out. This remains a significant improvement and suggest the Active Phase is to start enhancing El Nino 7 days from now (2/18).
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): The ECMF model indicates a moderately Active MJO signal over the Eastern Maritime Continent (Indonesia). It is to slowly ease east and move to the West Pacific 4 days out while holding it's energy along the way if not building some. The GEFS depicts the same generally pattern, but with the MJO strengthening steadily as it tracks east getting strong in the West Pacific 2 weeks out. This all suggests that we have moved past the Inactive Phase, and that the pattern is only going to get better from here forward. That is, west winds in the KWGA are to start being enhanced as the Active Phase moves to the dateline, fueling the jetstream.
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 loosing control of the KWGA today (2/14) but not completely gone yet. West wind anomalies are non-existent due to destructive interference by the Inactive MJO. The Inactive Phase is to start loosing influence next week (2/19), with west anomalies slowly regenerating. The Active Phase is to return fully by 2/26 with west anomalies again in control and solid if not a WWB status near 3/2, holding solidly through 3/19 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 fuel the jetstream and therefore storm production. The model depicts west anomalies fading to almost nothing 3/26 with no coherent MJO signal expected beyond.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (2/14) Actual temperatures remain decent and all sensors are on-line. A large pocket of 29 deg temps were at depth between 140E to 139W and holding with the 28 deg isotherm line retracting west slightly at 122W. Anomaly wise things are fading. +2 deg anomalies are steady at 175W and points eastward. +4 deg anomalies are easing east from 134W and delineate the core of the rebuilding subsurface reservoir. +5 deg anomalies are easing east from 117W eastward with +6 degs anomalies no longer present. Cool subsurface waters previously down 150m at 120W retreated (0.0 deg line), but are now again flowing east, reaching east to 128W. The warm pool is loosing ground. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 2/7 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 moving east from 95W-137W. +4 deg anomalies reach west to 152W. This remains a huge improvement. No +4 deg anomalies were pushing to the surface just yet but were close near 105W. This newly developing Kelvin Wave #5 has put the end of this ENSO event on hold for now.
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA):  (2/7) The picture remains positive here too. 0-+5 cm anomalies have rebuilt west covering the entire equatorial Pacific starting at 162W (steady for the moment). Peak anomalies at +15 are between 135W to 105W easing east. +10 cm anomalies have rebuilt between 95W-150W and steady. The subsurface warm pool is recharging.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: (2/7) Temps are rebuilding. +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are steady at 158W, an early effect of the WWB #5 and extending east to the Galapagos. +1.0-1.5 degs anomalies are retracting some from 151W. +1.5 deg anomalies are retracting some from 146W.+2.0 deg anomalies are present between 104W-138W, easing east. No +2.5 deg anomalies were present. The Downwelling Phase of Kelvin Wave #5 is underway. Temps have dropped from Ecuador to the Galapagos to 0.5-1.0 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.

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: (2/13) The latest image indicates temps continuing to cool here east of 100W except for a few random pockets to +2.25 degs. Average temps were more in the +1.25-+1.5 deg range with one pocket of negative anomalies now present off Columbia starting to reach west to the Galapagos. 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: (2/13) The latest image depicts a solid area of +2.25 anomalies between 120W to 160W, and positioned mostly 2-3 degs north and south of the equator. Overall the pattern remains solidly impressive, but is steadily moving west and shrinking slowly with temps east of 120W on the decline. All this warm water is attributable to Kelvin Wave #4 advecting west. Temps between 160W-180W are building in coverage. +2.25 deg anomalies reach west to 172W. No +4 deg anomalies are indicated. This warm pool is advection west of warm water resulting from eruption of Kelvin Wave #4. 
Hi-res 7 day Trend (2/12): A steady state pattern was depicted other than from 80W-100W where temps are cooling dramatically and quickly.
Hi-res Overview:
(2/12) The El Nino signal is unmistakable but is no longer building and westward di.cgiaced. 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 and concentrated from 120W to 170W (in the core of Nino3.4).

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 173E). 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 178W. There is also a solid area of +2.0-2.5 deg anomalies extending from the Galapagos to 172W. A pocket of +3.0 deg anomalies is between 147W-159W (shrinking). No +3.5 anomalies are present. Overall the warm water signature is impressive but on the decline.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (2/14) Temps are steady now at +0.814. We're about ready to stop reporting this area. Previously they peaked here for 5 days at +2.581 near 10/8 and previously 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 (2/14) temps were falling slightly at +2.387, but have been holding in this range for weeks. 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), Temps have not been below +2.0 degs since 8/21.
Nino3.0 CDAS Index Temps: (2/14) Today's value was fading some at +1.900, and has been doing that since 1/16. Temp have been fading steadily since 12/6 when they peaked at +2.989, and +2.990 (11/28).

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

SST Image

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). Oct temps were +2.03 degs. See updated graphs above. The ONI uses a 3 month running average.
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.

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 then peaked again Feb 1 at +2.9 degs. The forecast indicates temps fading fast to +1.7 by 3/1, then steadily declining from there before stabilizing at +0.7 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-Jan Plume depicts temps peaked in Jan, at +2.8 degs. The consensus suggests temps to fall steadily from here forward, down to -0.7 by October.
See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Co.cgiing Index's (lagging indicators rather than driving oceanic change):   
Daily Southern Oscillation Index (2/14): It was falling from -19.10. 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 -9.64. 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 falling some from -11.67. 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. The peak low occurred on 9/16 at -18.56 and again at -19.28 on 10/16. 
SOI Trend - Darwin (looking for high pressure here): A neutral pressure pattern was near Darwin on 2/14 and is to hold for the next week or slightly turn towards stronger high pressure. 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 2/14 weak low pressure was starting to show south of Tahiti and is to steadily build into Sat (2/20). More low pressure is to be west of there pushing towards Tahiti beyond. The SOI is expected to be fading based on the Tahiti contribution.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (2/14) Today's value was +1.21, down some over the past weeks. The most recent peak was +2.33 on 1/14. It also peaked at +2.40 on Sat (10/17) and was steady in the +2.5 range through 8/10, then began falling. 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.
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 (2/14) 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: This El Nino is the 3rd strongest El Nino since 1950 based primarily on the MEI. Centered Monthly Nino3.4 data suggests it is the 2nd strongest. Based on California precipitation, this one does not compared to any major El Nino in recent memory, but there are still 2 months to go in the main Winter/Spring precipitation season. Based on surf, El Nino is having the expected affects producing 9 significant class swells in the North Pacific so far this season with more expected.

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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MAVFILM Jeff Clark Inside Mavericks

Local Interest

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http://www.bloomberg.com/video/how-to-predict-the-best-surfing-waves-EsNiR~0xR5yXGOlOq2MqfA.html
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/surfs-up-for-mavericks-invitational-in-calif/

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table

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