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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, April 16, 2016 1:24 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
3.0- California & 3.0 - 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 4/18 thru Sun 4/24

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   

New Dateline Swell Hitting Hawaii
Moving Towards CA - One More Behind That

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.

BUOY ROUNDUP
On Monday, April 18, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea Bay): Seas were 8.8 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 7.7 ft @ 15.5 secs from 318 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.2 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 13.0 secs from 298 degrees. Wind northwest 12-14 kts. Water temperature 59.7. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.9 ft @ 12.2 secs from 264 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 3.3 ft @ 12.3 secs from 265 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 3.6 ft @ 13.0 secs from 280 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 8.2 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 4.9 ft @ 11.6 secs from 290 degrees. Wind northwest 8-12 kts. Water temp 54.0 degs.

    Notes

    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
Current Conditions
On Saturday (4/16) in North and Central CA surf was 1-2 ft overhead on the sets but with no form and mushy and breaking at random. Pure windswell but with textured conditions. At Santa Cruz surf was head high on the bigger sets and clean but again, mushy and gutless. In Southern California up north waves were chest high and clean and lined up and looking quite rideable. Down south waves were chest to head high and reasonably lined up but soft with some textured on it. Hawaii's North Shore was still pretty solid especially given the time of year with waves double overhead and clean and lined up with good form. The South Shore was near flat with rare thigh high sets and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around northwest swell with waves head high early and chopped with modest trades in effect.

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

Meteorological Overview
Solid swell was still hitting Hawaii from a gale that developed Tues (4/12) west of the dateline pushing east with seas to 39 ft targeting mainly the Islands but also the US West Coast tracking east and fading Thurs (4/14) in the far Western Gulf with seas 25 ft. Swell from this system is tracking towards California. Residual windswell from a previous gale off Cape Mendocino earlier in the week was hitting California. And yet another gale was tracking east from the far Northwest Pacific Fri-Mon (4/18) with seas to 34 ft pushing over the dateline then forecast to push east through the Gulf of Alaska Tues-Thurs (4/21) with seas in the 18-20 ft range. More swell for Hawaii and the US West Coast if this materializes. Nothing else to follow through. Down south a small but strong storm is projected for the Southwest Pacific on Wed (4/20) producing up to 46 ft seas aimed east. So there's hope there too.

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

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Saturday AM (4/16) the jet was .cgiit weakly off Japan with the northern branch exhibiting a high a.cgiitude pattern forming a trough off the North Kurils being fed by a thing stream of 150 kts winds then ridging hard north pushing up into the Bering Sea before falling hard south into the Gulf of Alaska with winds to 160 kts forming a steep trough there then pushing hard northeast again and tracking into North British Columbia. There was decent support for gale development in both troughs. The southern branch was running flat east down on the 20N latitude line eventually pushing into Southern Baja. Over the next 72 hours the Kuril Island trough is to reach the dateline on Sunday (4/17) then quickly loose definition while the Gulf trough pinches off at the same time. Support for gale development fading out then. By Tues AM (4/19) the northern branch of the jet is to return to a zonal (flat west to east flow ) on the 43N latitude line with an elongated pocket of 160 kts winds stretching from Japan to the Western Gulf. Beyond 72 hours that pocket is to track east into the Gulf on Thurs (4/21) forming a weak trough on it's leading edge and pushing into and over North CA early Friday perhaps offering some weather there. The jet back to the west is to remain reasonably well consolidated tracking off Japan on Sat (4/23) and pushing east on the 40N latitude line with winds generally 100 kts with 3 imbedded pockets to 120 kts one of which is to be feeding a weak trough on the dateline. Some support for low pressure development there.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (4/16) residual windswell from a gale that was off CA mid-week (4/13) was still hitting the coast, but mainly just windswell.

More important was swell the was produced by a third gale on the dateline mid-week that hit Hawaii on Fri (4/15) larger than expected. That swell was still hitting Hawaii and pushing towards California (see Third Dateline Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours another gale is developing. It started building off Japan on Fri AM (4/15) producing 40 kt northwest winds getting traction on the oceans surface. Those winds pushed off Japan in the evening at 45 kts generating 28 ft seas at 41N 153E. Sat AM (4/16) a broad fetch of 40 kt northwest winds was extending off the Kuril Islands with 31 ft seas at 42N 159E. 40 kt northwest winds to continue east in the evening generating 31 ft seas at 44N 165E. On Sun AM (4/17) a broad fetch of 35-40 kt northwest winds to continue pushing east resulting in 30 ft seas at 44N 171E. The fetch to fade from 35 kts in the evening over the dateline with seas 28 ft at 45N 178E. On Monday AM (4/18) fetch is to fade from 30 kts on the dateline with seas fading from 25 ft 45N 175W. Additional 30-35 kt west fetch to move into the area in the evening with seas fading from 21 ft at 43N 168W. Swell possible for Hawaii and the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Swell arrival possible late on Tues (4/19) with swell to 3 ft @ 18 secs (5 ft). Swell peaking Wed AM (4/20) at 6 ft @ 15-16 secs (9 ft). Swell Direction: 315 degrees

 

Third Dateline Gale
On Mon PM (4/11) a new gale developed off the Southern Kurils generating a small fetch of 45 kt northwest winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By Tues AM (4/12) a broader fetch of 50-55 kt west winds were taking hold with seas 36 ft at 42N 165E. 45 kt west winds started tracking east in the evening with seas building to 39 ft at 41N 171E aimed east. Fetch built in coverage Wed AM (4/13) but loose velocity at 35 kts from the west with seas 33 ft at 42N 178E. Fetch faded in the evening from 30 kts with seas 27 ft at 42N 176W. Fetch faded from 30 kts just east of the dateline Thurs AM (4/14) with seas fading from 25 ft at 43N 170W. The gale dissipated from there. Swell for Hawaii and then eventually reaching the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Swell fading from 3.4 ft @ 13 secs (4.5 ft) early Sun (4/17). Swell Direction: 315 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (4/17) building to 4.2 ft @ 16-17 secs (7 ft) late. Swell to start fading Mon AM (4/18) from 5.9 ft @ 15 secs (8.5 ft). Residuals on Tues AM (4/19) from 4.5 ft @ 13 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 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 Saturday AM (4/16) high pressure was fading off the immediate California coast ridging northeast into Washington with north winds 10-15 kts off the coast early and expected to fade through the day. Sunday weak low pressure to start building well off the CA coast with winds near calm nothing. Monday (4/18) the low to move closer with perhaps light south winds 5-10 kts from Pt Conception northward. The low to track north on Tuesday and dissipate with light south winds fading. maybe a hint of rain early Wed AM before sunrise from SF northward. A weak pressure and winds pattern is expected Wed (4/20) with more low pressure building in the Gulf. Thursday the low is to move into North CA and Oregon with south winds 20 kts late from San Francisco northward. Rain for North CA during the day moving south to Monterey Bay overnight. Maybe some snow for Tahoe starting late in the evening. Friday high pressure and northwest winds take over a 15 kts for the entire state. Snow continuing for Tahoe through the day, fading late. High pressure and northwest winds building to 25 kts on Saturday focused near Pt Conception but lighter up north near Cape Mendocino at only 15 kts. Clear skies.

South Pacific

Overview
Surface Analysis  
On Sunday AM (4/3) no swell producing fetch was occurring.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch 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 yet more fetch is to develop in the Western Gulf on Tues AM (4/19) at 30 kts from the west with seas 22 ft at 42N 168W. More of the same in the evening with 20 ft seas at 40N 159W. Additional 30 kts west fetch is forecast in the Gulf Wed AM (4/20) with 18 ft seas over a modest area at 38N 156W. 30 kt west winds to ease east in the evening with 19 ft seas at 39N 145W. More of the same on Thurs (4/21) with 19-20 ft seas moving to 44N 133W. Something to monitor.

 
South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the models suggest a storm developing southeast of New Zealand on Wed AM (4/20) tracking east producing 55kt west winds and seas to 46 ft at 59S 167W. A quick fade to follow.

More details to follow...

 

PDO Spikes Positive in March - Long Term Trend Appears Good
MJO Continues to Trying and Turn Active

The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the.cgianet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).

Overview: The 2014-2016 El Nino is fading out. The last of the ocean subsurface warm water reservoir is dissipating and surface temperatures are rapidly fading. La Nina is poised to emerge.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Fri (4/15) no west winds were occurring in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) but anomalies were from the west from 180W to 155W mainly from 5S and points southward. A very weak expression of El Nino was occurring.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Extremely light west anomalies started developing in the KWGA on (4/10) and held through 4/16, then are forecast to be a little weaker continuing through 4/23. A very weak El Nino pattern to hold.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 4/15 a neutral MJO signal was over the dateline with a weak Active Phase over the Maritime Continent. The Statistic model projects the exact same pattern holding for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts a variation of the same theme but with the Active Phase getting weaker and dying with a dead neutral MJO pattern in control. This suggests El Nino to continue to slightly enhance the jetstream and the MJO is to have no influence either enhancing or suppressing it.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (4/16) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was over the Maritime Continent and very weak. It is to ease east some then crash. The GEFS depicts the same basic pattern.
40 Day Upper Level Model: (4/16) A modest Active Phase was over the dateline and is expected to move east and out of the picture through 5/1. An Inactive Phase is to develop in the West Pacific 4/26 tracking east through 5/16. A weak Active pulse to follow 5/11 tracking east through 5/26. But with the change of season in.cgiay, it is likely to have any real positive impact. This marks of beginning of the end of El Ninos support for the jetstream in the North Pacific for the Winter 2015-16 season.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): This model suggests a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO was moving east over the dateline. This is contrary to what the above models indicate. No west anomalies of interest are in.cgiay. There is no fuel to support enhancing the jetstream and therefore storm production was minimal. The model depicts the weak Inactive Phase holding through 4/24 but west anomalies are forecast developing starting 4/21 getting decently strong by 4/25. A weak Active pulse of the MJO is to start 4/29. Weak west anomalies are to continue through 5/21. A weak Inactive Phase of the MJO is to develop at that time with west anomalies dissipating.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (4/16) Actual temperatures continue to retreat daily. A pocket of 29 deg temps were retreating west fast from 179W. The 28 deg isotherm line was shallow stretching east only to 124W and retreating west. Anomaly wise things are collapsing fast. +1 deg anomalies extend from 165W eastward and no more than 40 meters deep near 140W and then dissipating at 110W. This is the last of the El Nino subsurface warm reservoir. Cool subsurface waters are at depth racing east reaching the Ecuador Coast with -2 deg anomalies reaching east to 105W and lesser cool waters nearly reaching the surface near Ecuador. Instead of warm Kelvin Waves pushing east at depth, we now have cold Kelvin Waves pushing east. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 4/8 the reservoir is fading and very shallow from 170E eastward. Anomalies were +1-2 deg over the area and only extending down 25 meters with one tiny pocket of +2-3 degs anomalies under the Galapagos. The subsurface reservoir is shrinking steadily. The onset of La Nina is imminent.
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA):  (4/8) The image depicts the warm pool is gone with no positive anomalies remaining over the entire equatorial region from the dateline to Ecuador. Instead negative anomalies are easing east at -5 cms reaching to 100W. La Nina is quickly developing.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: (4/8 - but updated daily) Warm temps are gone. +0.0-0.5 deg anomalies are from 100W and points east. -1.0 deg anomalies are racing east reaching 120W. La Nina is coming closer every day and is likely only 2-3 weeks from materializing at the surface.

Surface Water Temps: The more warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). Cold water in that area has a dampening effect. Regardless of what the atmospheric models and surface winds suggest, actual water temperatures are a ground-truth indicator of what is occurring in the ocean. All data is from blended infrared and microwave sensors.
Satellite Imagery
Hi-res Nino1.2 & 3.4 : (4/14) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates temps are in total collapse. A diffuse pattern of 1.5-2.0 deg anomalies is present straddling the equator from the Galapagos west to 160W. Temps are crashing along the coast of Peru streaming northwest to the Galapagos at -0.5 degs with pockets at -2.0 or lower. The warm pool is collapsing and La Nina is setting up.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (4/14): Massive cooling is setting up from Peru, Columbia and Ecuador over the Galapagos out to 100W. It looks like strong east trades are in effect in this area.
Hi-res Overview:
(4/10) The El Nino signal is quickly collapsing. A generalized pattern of +1-2 deg above normal temps are present from a bit west of the Galapagos to 155W over the equator. Warmer water is also present south and north of the equator, but quickly becoming less relevant with negative temps building off Ecuador and advecting west, now pushing just west of the Galapagos.

Other Sources
TAO Data: (4/2) +1.0 anomalies were over the equatorial East Pacific advecting west from the Galapagos covering out to 150W. Overall the warm water signature was in steep decline.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (4/16) Today temps were in a freefall fading from +0.896 degs on 4/12 to -0.500 today.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (4/16) temps have been steadily fading but ticked up a little starting 4/7 but have stabilized today at +1.361 degs.
Centered Nino3.4 Monthly Temps The centered Nino3.4 temps for the month of March were +1.63 degs (beating '98 at +1.32 degs and '83 at +1.44 degs). For more history see updated graphs below. This make this year El Nino the strongest ever. That is not reasonable looking at other evidence.
ONI For 2015 for the 3 month period centered on Sept, Oct, Nov , Jan and Feb the values are: +1.8, +2.1. +2.2 +2.3, +2.2 and +2.0. For the same period in '97 the values were: +2.0, +2.2, +2.3, +2.3, +2.1 and +1.8. And for '82 the values were: +1.5, +1.9, +2.1, +2.1, +2.1 and +1.8. This make this years El Nino the second strongest on record since 1950. The ONI uses a 3 month running average.

Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data


Pacific Counter Current:  As of 4/1 the current was strong from the east on the equator from 90W to 150E. Anomaly wise - they were strong from the east over the same area. There were no pockets of west anomalies indicated. El Nino is in solid decline and La Nina is on the rise based on this data, which is normal for this point in the El Nino lifecycle.

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data depicts peak temps reached +2.95 degs on Nov 5, then faded slightly in early December to +2.8 holding to Feb 1. Then a sharp decline started with temps down to +2.5 degs mid-Feb and falling from +2.0 degs in early March and +1.5 degs April 1.
The forecast indicates temps fading from here forward into Oct at -1.5 degs and down to -1.95 degs Dec. This would be in solid La Nina territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-March Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.5 by December. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Co.cgiing Index's (lagging indicators rather than driving oceanic change):   
Southern Oscillation Index (4/14): Has not updated wince 4/14. The daily average was down some today -19.70. The 30 day average was falling from -9.86. The 90 day average was rising from -13.28. El Nino was still quite evident in this index and the daily and 30 day averages suggested some form of Active MJO was in.cgiay.
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): On 4/16 weak low pressure was over Tahiti and is forecast to hold if not build into Tues (4/20) then falling southeast from Tahiti into the Thurs (4/21). The SOI is expected to hold if not fade some based on the Tahiti contribution perhaps providing some support to enhance El Nino and fuel the jetstream. But after that high pressure is to build in with the index starting to rise.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (4/16) Today's value was building some +0.93. It peaked recently on 3/12 at +1.57 but has generally fallen ever since until 4/14, when it started rising again.
Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (March) These numbers were released April 6th and indicate the index decreased slightly to +1.96. The Feb reading was +2.12. In Jan the reading 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 Dec reading was +2.12. 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. This years El Nino was the third strongest since 1950 per this index.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been mostly above +1.5 all of 2015. In Jan 2016 it was +1.53 and up to +1.75 in Feb. Then in March it spiked to +2.40. Impressive. Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data suggests that could be a real possibility. We've been in the negative phase since 1998 through at least 2013 (15 years). By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

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 strongest. Based on California precipitation, this one does not compared to any major El Nino in recent memory. Based on surf, El Nino has had the expected effect producing 13 significant class swells in the North Pacific (16 expected). From a pure El Nino perspective, this event is over and transitioning towards La Nina. But from a teleconnection standpoint, the warm pool in Nino3.4 is still imparting solid energy to the atmosphere and momentum will affect the upper atmosphere into the late Fall of 2016. The MJO is not constructively interacting with the jet stream and therefore not enhancing storm production. With the season moving towards Spring, and SST anomalies fading in the Ninos zones, the MJOs influence, even if it does turn active, will do little to enhance storm production.

The focus now turns to how quick and how much will the jet be affected for the Fall and Winter of 2016-2017. It's too early to know anything definitive yet, but with the PDO still positive, it is possible the transition to La Nina may not be a strong as in past events.

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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