Saturday, May 16, 2015
- Buoy 51201 (Waimea): Seas were 5.5 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 3.1 ft @ 12.4 secs.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.6 ft @ 15 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 15.7 secs. Wind northeast 4-8 kts. In Santa Barbara swell was 2.3 ft @ 9.3 secs from 261 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.2 ft @ 15.4 secs from 189 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.5 ft @ 15.4 secs from 189 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 6.7 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 2.7 ft @ 15.7 secs. Wind west 8 kts nearshore. Water temp 54.5 degs.
Farallon Island Swell Shadow Data (password protected).
Swell Classification Guidelines
8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours
(greater than double overhead)
and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead
to double overhead (7-10 ft)
and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead
and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything
with a period less than 11 secs.
On Saturday (5/16) in North and Central CA windswell/southern hemi combo swell was producing surf at chest to maybe head high, crumbled and lumpy with west winds, but not chopped. Down in Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was producing surf at head high on the sets at top spots and heavily textured with whitecaps outside the kelp. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves at waist high and weak and heavily textured but not chopped. Down south southern hemi swell was producing waves at head high to 1 ft overhead and heavily textured to nearly chopped, but no whitecaps. Hawaii's North Shore was getting leftover dateline swell with waves to head high with sideshore texture. The South Shore was getting leftover New Zealand swell with waves waist high on the sets and clean at top breaks. The East Shore was getting east windswell at waist to maybe chest high and chopped from easterly trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
For the North Pacific relative to Hawaii residual swell from a gale that formed near the dateline on Tues (5/12) with 22 ft seas was fading out, with no real life left in it by Sun (5/17). Perhaps some swell to result from Super Typhoon Dolphin, scheduled to recurve northeast but not even make it to the dateline mid-week. Otherwise generic tradewind generated east windswell is expected to continue into Tuesday (5/19), then dissipate. Relative to the US West Coast, no real windswell is in the forecast for the next 7 days. From the southern hemisphere a small gale passed under New Zealand on Fri (5/16) generating 34 ft seas aimed east. Maybe small swell top result 10 days out. On the charts another gale is forecast pushing under New Zealand on Mon (5/18) with seas to 42-43 ft, but quickly fading. Maybe tiny residuals to redevelop east of North New Zealand on Wed (5/20) with 32 ft seas aimed east. Small swell is possible.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday (5/16) weak swell from a gale previously in the West Pacific was fading out in Hawaii. Very weak pressure was off the California coast holding down the production of north winds relative to California at least in terms of windswell production. Otherwise high pressure at 1028 mbs was north of Hawaii reaching up into the Gulf of Alaska generating trades relative to Hawaii and weak east windswell there. Low pressure as over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians but with no winds strong enough to produce windswell. Another low was queued up off Japan but just organizing. And Typhoon Dolphin was in the far tropical West Pacific (see Tropical Update below). In all no swell production was occurring.
Over the next 72 hours the dateline low is to dissipate producing nothing. The low off Japan is to follow a similar route moving to a point just south of the intersection of the Aleutians and the dateline on Tues (5/19) producing a short lived fetch of 30 kts west winds but with seas not getting up to even 18 ft, then gone by Wed (5/20). No swell to result. A weak pressure pattern is to hold off California with no windswell expected to result. Trades to hold at 15+ kts relative to Hawaii with small easterly windswell continuing for Hawaii, but then collapsing late Tuesday (5/19) with windswell dropping out.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Super Typhoon Dolphin had sustained winds up to 140 kts on Sat AM (5/16) tracking northwest positioned 900 nmiles south of Tokyo Japan. Dolphin is to build into the evening with winds to 145 kts (167 mph) turning north and then northeast by Mon AM (5/18) with winds fading from 120 kts. Dolphin is the to accelerate while racing northeast slowly becoming absorbed by a broad low pressure system tracking off the Kuril Islands and North Japan on Wed (5/20) with Dolphin loosing identity 24 hours later about half way to the dateline. There is some odds of small swell pushing towards Hawaii from a very westerly direction. but beyond that, this storms eventual track might offer a solid clue as to what is occurring in the global weather pattern. Something to monitor.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (5/16) weak low pressure was off the North CA/Oregon coast holding high pressure west of it at bay. North winds at 10-15 kts were pushing down the North and Central CA coast. The low to move a little close, but weaken some at the same time with north winds 10 kts along the North and Central CA coasts holding into Monday AM. High pressure tries to build back late Monday into Tuesday with north winds 15 kts near the coast, pushing 20 kts over North CA on Wed (5/20) and only 10 kts for Central CA. More of the same on Thursday the high pressure gets a better footprint on Fri (5/22) with north winds 15-20 kts for all of North and Central CA only to fade on Saturday as another low builds well off the California coast.
On Saturday AM (5/16) the jet was .cgiit with the southern branch ridging south but tracking west under New Zealand then pushing hard south over Antarctica over the far West Pacific with the northern branch tracking east and positioned north of New Zealand on the 25S latitude line. The two streams merged somewhat over the far Southeast Pacific but with all energy tracking east-southeast (zonal flow) pushing into southern South America. No troughs of interest were present offering no real support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere. Over the next 72 hours much the same pattern is to persist but with a trough opening up south of the Tasman Sea on Sun (5/17) and 130 kt winds pushing up into it offering good support for gale development down in lower levels of the atmosphere for a short window. But by Monday (5/18) that trough is to collapse with the entire southern branch of the jet ridging hard south pushing at least over the Ross Ice Shelf in the far West Pacific then tracking east from there the whole way across the South Pacific through Wed (5/20). No support for gale development forecast and in reality the pattern is to actively suppress gale formation. Beyond 72 hours no change is forecast with a totally .cgiit flow projected with the southern branch continuing to strafe the Ross Ice Shelf and Antarctica across the width of the South Pacific.
On Saturday (5/16) sw ell from a storm that developed in the Southeast Pacific was fading in California. Also swell from a previous gale in the Tasman Sea was hitting Fiji (see Tasman Sea Gale below) Otherwise strong high pressure at 1036 mbs was still east of New Zealand over the Central Pacific pushing the storm track south there over the Ross Ice Shelf. No swell producing fetch of interest was occurring.
Over the next 72 hours a gale is to start developing south of the Tasman Sea Sun AM (5/17) producing 45 kt west winds and 35 ft seas at 54S 154E (shadowed relative to HI by New Zealand, 221 degs CA). In the evening winds to be up to 50 kts out of the southwest aimed northeast with seas building to 43 ft at 54S 166E (201 degs HI, 217 degs CA and unshadowed by Tahiti). By Mon AM (5/18) winds are to be fading fast but aimed well north-northeast at 40 kts with 40 ft seas at 52S 176E (196 degs HI, 217 degs NCal/SCal and unshadowed). Fetch is to be gone in the evening with seas from previous fetch fading from 33 ft at 50S 176W. Something to monitor.
Theoretically residual fetch from this system to reorganize east of Northern New Zealand on Tues PM (5/19) aimed due north covering a tiny area. 32 ft seas forecast at 43S 166W. 40 kt southwest winds to hold into Wed AM (5/20) producing 36 ft seas over a tiny area at 38S 161W primarily targeting Tahiti and secondarily Hawaii. this system to dissipate quickly after that.
Otherwise high pressure is to hold control over the Central and Southeast Pacific actively suppressing storm formation.
Tasman Sea Gale
In the Tasman Sea on Wed AM (5/13) a modest sized gale developed with 40 kt south-southwest winds aimed northeast generating 30 ft seas at 45S 151E targeting Fiji. Winds held at 40 kts aimed north-northeast in the evening with 28 ft seas over a tiny area at 46S 158E. Thurs AM (5/14) 40 kt south winds were pushing due north with seas 30 ft at 42S 159E. And yet more 40 kt south winds to hold into the evening pushing north with 32 ft seas fading at 37S 163E. Fetch to fade fro 40 kts Fri AM (5/15) with seas fading from 26 ft at 32S 169E targeting Fiji well and only 750 nmiles away. Assuming all goes as forecast, a nice pulse of swell should result for Fiji.
Fiji: Swell fading Sun (5/17) from 8.7 ft @ 14-15 secs 912 ft Hawaiian). Swell Direction: 210 degrees
Small New Zealand Gale
On Fri AM (5/15) a small gale developed southwest of New Zealand producing 50 kt west winds with seas building from 32 ft at 58S 151E (218 degs CA but shadowed by New Zealand relative to HI). In the evening the gale was fading fast with winds down to 45 kts from the west-southwest winds seas peaking at 35 ft at 58S 164E (215 degs CA and unshadowed, 200 degs HI). Very small and inconsistent swell to result from HI and CA. Hawaii on Sat PM (5/23) with period 17 secs and CA on Tues AM (5/26) with period 17 secs.
Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface
Pressure/Wind - Sea
Height - Surf
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours no swell generation is forecast. North winds relative to California to remain below 15 kts with no north windswell expected. And trades to remain below 15 kts relative to Hawaii with no east windswell forecast.
Otherwise all eyes are to be on Typhoon Dolphin (see Tropical Update above).
Note: 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. 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. 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).
(1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data. 2nd paragraph where present is analysis data and is updated only as required).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) As of Sat (5/16) the daily SOI was still well negative at -30.30. The 30 day average was falling at -14.36 and the 90 day average was falling from -8.08. The near term trend based on the daily and 30 day average was indicative of steady Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a steady state Active Phase of the MJO. Weak low pressure was over Tahiti with strong high pressure holding over Southeastern Australia. Low pressure is to continue south of Tahiti building into Sun (5/17) while the 1032 mb high fades some and tracks east over Southeast Australia with the SOI at least holding if not falling some. Long term (5/23) higher pressure is to start building over Tahiti, but not strongly while a new strong high builds over Southeast Australia.This is starting to looks like the typical El Nino setup relative to Australia (drought and wild fires) as high pressure digs in there. This also forecast a gradient and steady west winds under New Zealand making for steady swell production relative to the US West Coast from the southwest Pacific. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated modest westerly anomalies continued in.cgiay over the Maritime Continent reaching to 160E then fading to the light category pushing over the dateline continuing south of Hawaii reaching half way to the Galapagos then turning neutral on into South America. But local westerly anomalies were over the Galapagos pushing into Peru. Unusual and the exact opposite of normal. Down at the surface the TOA array indicated strong westerly winds (not just anomalies but a reversal of trades) over the central Kelvin Wave Generation Area, but the GFS model did not indicate it. Anomalies held south of Hawaii 1/2 way to the Galapagos. A week from now (5/24) a neutral pattern is to be over the Maritime Continent reaching over dateline and continuing into the Galapagos. This suggests the Active Phase (or at least a solid WWB pattern) is to slowly fade a week out. To have a second WWB in early May after the big one in March is a good sign. But more is needed.
A moderate Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) developed from 1/15-2/20 then regenerated 2/25 building steadily into the strong category by 3/7, before peaking 3/10 holding to 3/17. A more modest version of it continued into 3/27 then slowly faded into 3/30 but not out even to the end of April. Light westerly anomalies continued to 5/5, then rebuilt again starting 5/7 peaking in the strong category 5/9-5/13 then fading some but not forecast out till 5/17. This was already a decent event attributable to the Jan-Feb anomalies, before it raged in mid-March faded some, then redeveloped and raged for 7 days in early May. Not a hint of easterly anomalies all year so far. See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here.
The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 5/15 suggests a dead MJO signal was in.cgiay. No anomalies were occurring over the Pacific (or just minimal indications of an Active Phase pattern over the dateline). The Statistic model suggests a continuation of the same for the next 15 days with a modest Inactive Phase bottled up in the Indian Ocean trying to ease east, but not making any real headway. The Dynamic model suggests the exact same thing except the Inactive Phase in the Indian Ocean is to ease east and dissipate 15 days out. For now the models are generally in sync. The ultra long range upper level model run on 5/16 depicts a weak Active MJO pattern fading over the extreme East Pacific nearly over Central America. A modest Inactive Phase to build in the far West Pacific 5/18 pushing steadily east and fading as if hits Central America on 6/8. A dead neutral pattern biased towards the Active Phase is to take over the entire equatorial Pacific thereafter into 6/25. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.
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.
As of the most recent low-res imagery (5/14) a modest warm water/El Nino-like regime continues in control of the entire equatorial Pacific definitely getting a better grasp. Warmer water is building over Ecuador and the Galapagos, steadily per the last 3 updates. This is the likely result of a new strong Kelvin Wave impacting the coast there. But it's development is not striking. Warm water is also holding along the Chilean and Peruvian coasts pushing north up to the equator but nothing remarkable. Warmer water extends west from the Galapagos along the equator but only reaching 2-3 degrees south of the equator until it reaches the dateline, then expanding in areal coverage. In reviewing last years data at this same time, the warming is looking stronger, but not over the top. In comparison to '97, it is similar if not slightly warner near the Galapagos. TAO data indicates +1.0 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial Pacific, the warmest in years. +2.0 deg anomalies are depicted advecting west from the Galapagos. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggest water temps are warming again, currently up to +1.25 degs. One would expect this area to start warming markedly as the big Spring Kelvin Wave starts erupting and advecting west, starting about 5/28. Will be monitoring for this.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator are starting to show some signs of warming again under the dateline, but most anomalies are under the equatorial East Pacific pushing east into Ecuador. As of 5/16 a +1.0 C anomaly flow was in control under the equatorial Pacific from 150 meters up. And a large pocket of +5-6 deg anomalies was impacting the Galapagos Islands driven by the extended WWB that occurred 1/15-2/20 and additional strong westerly anomalies in March, feeding even more warm water into that Kelvin Wave. This Kelvin Wave was expected to start erupting over the Galapagos on roughly 5/1 peaking on 6/10. Actual data suggests it hit on 4/28 and started to erupt on the surface (5/7). Peak water temps still extend westward to 137W, meaning there is 3-4 weeks of peak warm water still in the pipe. Also of interest is the apparent downwelling of more warm water on the dateline , the result of non-stop westerly anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Satellite data from 5/8 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific east of 170E (expanding west some) with a core to +10 cm from 145W to the Galapagos indicative of an open pipe with an embedded solid Kelvin Wave. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (5/8) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 175E and the Ecuador coast with +1.0-1.5 degs from 170W eastward and +1.5 deg anomalies from 151W eastward. And a core of 2 deg anomalies are indicated between 130W eastward with a small pocket of 2.5 degs anomalies at 90W. This also suggests the peak of the Kelvin Wave is still offshore a bit. In short, a strong Kelvin Wave is in flight and starting to impact the Galapagos. See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here.
It is do or die time. Either the ocean temps will warm significantly enough to kick off some degree of real El Nino, or it's more Modoki El Nino. We'll know more by June 1. The good news is more westerly anomalies are building over the dateline, complete with associated tropical development north of the equator, suggestive perhaps of developing co.cgiing between the ocean and the atmosphere (in the classic El Nino sense). And 1 tropical system in the West Pacific (Noul) has recurved northeast with another forecast to follow that path behind.
Pacific Counter Current data as of 5/7 is steadily improving. The current is pushing modestly west to east over the entire equatorial Pacific and with a strong pulse just west of the Galapagos on the equator and again in the far West Pacific. . A very weak easterly current was positioned 2-3 degrees south of the equator. Anomaly wise - modest west anomalies were in control on the equator over the West Pacific north of the equator and building to the strong category in a pocket just west of the Galapagos directly over the equator in the east (120W to Ecuador) and strong over the far West Pacific centered near 130E. Sure looks like El Nino is setting up.
This data suggests a general west to east bias in the current suggesting warm water transport to the east.
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 5/16 for the Nino 3.4 region remain off the chart but have settled down slightly. It suggests water temps are at +1.1 deg C and are to steadily warm into July reaching +2.0 degs C, and continuing to +2.75 degs by Oct and +3.0 degs by late Nov, then dropping off. This suggests that perhaps we are moving from a multi-year steady state Modoki event to perhaps a full blown El Nino, and strong at that. But it is too early to believe just yet. The same thing happened last year. The model is likely just picking up on the Kelvin Wave in flight, and will settle back down after it erupts over the Galapagos. Much more warm water would need to be transported east over the coming 6 months for a legit El Nino to develop (including surface warm water currently locked over the dateline), especially of the magnitude projected by the model (rivaling the all time great '97 El Nino). The mid-March consensus Plume suggests a continuation of Modoki ENSO, though some models are now suggesting something more. See the chart based version here - link.
Analysis: Mult.cgie downwelling Kelvin Waves generated by suppressed trades and occasional Westerly Wind Bursts occurring late 2013 though 2014 in the West Pacific. Those Kelvin Waves warmed waters over the Eastern equatorial Pacific, but not sufficiently to declare an official El Nino until Feb 2015, and then very weak at that. Still some degree of teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere was in.cgiay with some greater force dictating the pattern (possibly the PDO). The focus now becomes whether this warming and resulting teleconnection will persist if not strengthen in 2015. We are in the Spring Unpredictability Barrier (March-May). The real teller will be during the month of June. Water temps in the Nino 1.2 region are expected to be quite warm due to the arrival of a large Kelvin Wave currently in flight (see details above). If that warming is sufficient to start the classic El Nino feedback loop, then continued westerly anomalies and WWBs should continue through July-Sept and beyond, with a full scale El Nino developing. But if the cool upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle develops in mid-June, then it will likely be another year of the Modoki El Nino cycle. The real interesting thing is westerly anomalies and a certified WWB developed in early to mid May over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area indicating another Kelvin Wave is in development, much different than what occurred last year. The June to early July timeframe will either make or break development of a legit El Nino. Perhaps a true El Nino teleconnection is developing. But again, the real indicator will occur in June (see above).
We continue monitoring Westerly Wind Bursts and Kelvin Wave development, suggestive of continued warming East Pacific equatorial waters for the 2015 (meaning enhanced support for the jetstream and storm development in Fall/Winter 2015-2016).
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13
Beyond 72 hours a gale is forecast tracking east under New Zealand on Sat (5/23), generating 37 ft seas aimed east over a modest sized area, but making little eastward headway once entering the far Southwest Pacific.
Details to follow...
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table