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.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
- Buoy 165 (Barbers Point): Seas were 3.3 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 13.8 secs from 178 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.0 ft @ 7.0 secs with swell 1.0 ft @ 14.6 secs. Wind southeast 8-10 kts early. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.2 ft @ 7.1 secs from 262 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.2 ft @ 15.9 secs from 208 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.3 ft @ 15.3 secs from 202 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 3.9 ft @ 7.0 secs with swell 1.0 ft @ 16.5 secs. Wind northwest 12-16 kts. Water temp 54.5 degs.
On Saturday (6/20) in North and Central CA locally generated north windswell was producing surf at thigh to waist high and textured early. Down in Santa Cruz minimal background southern hemi swell was producing rare sets in the waist high range and clean but weak. In Southern California up north windswell was knee to thigh high and clean but weak. Down south waves were thigh high and clean but crumbled. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and textured with sideshore lump. The South Shore was getting nice New Zealand swell with waves 2-4 ft overhead on the sets and clean and reeling. The East Shore was getting some east windswell with waves knee high or so and chopped from trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
For the North Pacific no swell producing weather systems were in.cgiay or forecast. Regarding windswell, trades were directly over Hawaii but not east of there, offering no real support to generate east windswell with no change forecast through early Monday, and if anything, receding from there. Relative to California, high pressure generated north winds were blowing but only close to shore in North and Central CA producing bare minimal short period north windswell, and even that is to die by Sunday (6/21). A better gradient and north winds to return on Tues (6/23) lifting north through the workweek. For the southern hemisphere, a small gale developed Fri-Sun (6/14) positioned just southeast of New Zealand generating seas at 30-34 ft aimed well to the north. That swell is hitting Hawaii now and forecast moving into California early next week. Another small gale developed further southeast of New Zealand on Tues (6/16) producing 26 ft seas at best aimed mainly east, faded, then started redeveloping Thurs-Fri (6/19) with 26-30 ft seas again aimed east. Minimal background swell possible. Two more small gales are forecast, one south of New Zealand on Mon (6/22) with 28 ft seas but aimed southeast and another in the Southeast Pacific on Tues (6/23) producing a small area of 32 ft sea aimed northeast. Small swell possible from the later system. Beyond another gale is forecast southeast of New Zealand on Wed-Thurs (6/250 producing 30 kts seas aimed northeast. And maybe something to develop in both the Southeast and Southwest Pacific 180 hours out.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday (6/20) no swell producing fetch was occurring over the greater North Pacific. Interestingly 3 low pressure systems were tracking east, one off Japan, one on the dateline and another off North CA. The jetstream so far has held together amazing well for the time of year. But it's not till mid-July that one would take this as any indication of what's to come for the Fall Season. Otherwise weak high pressure at 1020 mbs was located along the immediate North and Central CA coast producing a weak and shallow area of 15 kt north winds resulting in bare minimal north angled short period windswell at exposed breaks. Relative to Hawaii, the same high pressure system was generating trades at 15 kts over the Islands but only 100 nmiles east of there, offering minimal support for windswell production.
Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to get undercut by low pressure moving to within 700 nmiles of the Central Coast by Sun (6/21) with north winds fading to 10 kts and any odds for windswell generation fading out. But by Tuesday (6/23) very weak high pressure is to return setting up north winds along the immediate coast at 15-20 kts, perhaps setting up more short period north windswell production and on the increase (see Long Term Forecast below). Relative to Hawaii trades are to hold at 15 kts just over the Islands through Mon AM (6/22) producing bare minimal short period east windswell at exposed breaks, then gone Tuesday (6/23).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (6/20) high pressure was in the Gulf of Alaska ridging south off the North CA coast at 1020 mbs was generating a weak version of the usual summer time pressure gradient and north winds at 15 kts over North and Central CA. Weak low pressure was further off the coast expected to shut the gradient down on Sunday with north winds 10 kts, then fading with high pressure trying to build back in some Monday AM with north winds 15 kts for all of North and Central CA, building to near 20 kts on Tuesday (6/23) and 25 kts over Cape Mendocino Wednesday pushing near 30 kts on Thurs (6/25) but with an eddy flow setting up over Central CA. North winds to continue up north with the eddy flow south of it Friday and into the weekend while north winds fade over Cape Mendocino, down to 20 kts late Saturday (6/27).
On Saturday AM (6/20) a .cgiit flow continued in control with the southern branch of the jet tracking flat west to east on the 60S latitude line and the northern branch doing the same up at roughly 25S. A weak trough was south of New Zealand with winds barely 100 kts pushing up into it offering minimal support for gale development there. But east of there no troughs were indicated with the jet falling south some and no support for gale development suggested. Over the next 72 hours the New Zealand trough is to weaken and fall southeast and gone by Sun AM (6/21), instead being r.cgiaced by a ridge pushing over the Ross Ice Shelf under New Zealand, slowly moderating early in the work week. Beyond 72 hours a new weak trough is to develop south of New Zealand on Wed (6/24) with 110 kt winds pushing up into it, just barely north of the Ross Ice Shelf offering a small opportunity for gale development there pushing east and fading into Thurs (6/25). Also a trough is to develop on in the Southeast Pacific on Tues (6/23) with 110 kt winds pushing up into it offering some hope for gale development there. Beyond a zonal flow is to start developing under New Zealand on Sat (6/27) with 120 kt winds pushing flat to the east offering little odds to support gale development and with a ridge in control of the Southeast Pacific.
On Saturday AM (6/20) a mixed an nonproductive wind pattern was in control of the South Pacific with high pressure at 1024 mbs east of Northern New Zealand pushing wind vectors southeast towards Antarctica. Minimal swell originating from a gale that fell southeast under New Zealand with 39 ft seas on Tues AM (6/9) was hitting California at 1 ft @ 15-16 secs (previously labeled 1st New Zealand Gale). Swell from a stronger gale previously in the New Zealand area was hitting Hawaii nicely and bound for California (see 2nd New Zealand below). And a third gale tracked east, previously in close proximity to New Zealand, and marginally productive (see 3rd New Zealand Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours a small gale is to start pushing under New Zealand on Mon (6/22) producing 45-50 kt winds and 30 ft seas at 60S 164E blowing southeast into the Ross Ice Shelf. 40 kt northwest winds to track east in the evening with 27 ft seas at 61S 175E again tracking into the Ross Ice Shelf. This system is to be gone after that. Given the wind direction, no swell is expected radiating northeast towards our forecast area.
Another small gale to form in the Southeast Pacific Mon PM (6/22) with a small area of 45 kt south winds pushing northeast. Seas on the increase. By Tues AM (6/23) 50 kt south winds to continue pushing northeast generating a tiny area of 30 ft seas at 52S 135W. Fetch to be shrinking and fading from 40 kts in the evening with seas 27 ft at 47S 130W. If all goes as.cgianned swell likely to result for California.
2nd New Zealand Gale
A gale developed south of New Zealand on Thurs PM (6/11) generating 50-55 kt south winds over a small area with seas on the increase. By Fri AM (6/12) a decent sized fetch of 45-50 kt south winds were holding while easing east generating 32 ft seas at 60S 169E (195 degs HI, 210 degs SCal and shadowed by Tahiti and 210 degs NCal and barely unshadowed). In the evening 40 kt southwest winds were lifting northeast and loosing coverage generating 32 ft seas over a small area at 56S 170E (198 degs HI, 213 degs SCal and shadowed, but unshadowed for NCal). 40-45 kt southwest winds were pushing hard northeast Sat AM (6/13) with 32 ft seas at 52S 175E (195 degs HI, 214 degs SCal and shadowed but unshadowed for NCal). 40-45 kt southwest winds were holding in pockets in the evening with 32 ft seas at 48S 174W aimed mainly east (190 degs HI, 212 degs Scal and shadowed, 212 degs NCal and barely not shadowed). Residual 40 kt west fetch was holding Sun AM (6/14) with 31 ft seas at 50S 173W (190 degs HI, 210 degs SCal and Ncal and shadowed for both). This system is to be gone after that. Some modest swell should result for Hawaii and less so for the US West Coast, better in NCal than SCal doe to shadowing.
Hawaii: Swell to start fading Sun AM (6/21) but still decent holding at 2.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (4 ft). Residuals on Mon (6/22) fading from 2.3 ft @ 14 secs (3 ft). Swell Direction: 190-195 degrees
SCal: Expect swell arrival on Sun (6/21) at sunset with period 18 secs and size hardly noticeable but building. Swell building some Mon AM (6/22) as period hits 17 secs at pushing 1.6 ft @ 16-17 secs late (2.5 ft). Swell peaking Tues AM (6/23) at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft). Residuals on Wed (6/24) fading from 1.5 ft @ 15 secs early (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 210-215 degrees
NCal: Expect swell arrival on Mon first light (6/22) with period 18 secs and size small but building pushing 1.6 ft @ 17-18 secs late (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell peaking Tues AM (6/23) at 1.9 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading Wed AM (6/24) with swell dropping from 1.7 ft @ 15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 210-214 degrees
3rd New Zealand Gale
A gale developed under New Zealand on Tues AM (6/16) producing 35 kt southwest winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface resulting in 24 ft seas at 58S 170E. In the evening a small area of 40 kt southwest winds generating 26 ft seas over a tiny area at 58S 176E. Fetch was fading while holding stationary from the southwest at 35 kts Wed AM (6/17) with seas fading from 25 ft at 59S 178E. Fetch was building in coverage at 35 kt in the evening aimed well to the northeast with no seas of interest resulting (24 ft at 58S 178E). Secondary fetch started pushing northeast at 35-40 kts Thurs AM (6/18) generating 26 ft seas at 56S 174W. In the evening 35 kts southwest fetch held while pushing northeast generating 25 ft seas at 50S 162W while a tiny area of 55 kt south fetch built southeast of there. By Fri AM (6/19) the new fetch was fading from 40 kts from the southwest with seas fading 30 ft at 55S 147W. No additional fetch or sea production occurred. Perhaps some small generic 14-15 sec period swell to result, but it's to be shadowed for the most part relative to CA. Maybe slightly better odds for Hawaii and more so for Tahiti. Something to monitor.
Hawaii: Swell Direction: Swell from the first part of the gale to arrive Thurs mid-day (6/25) with swell 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft). Swell fading Fri (6/26) from 1.6 ft @ 15 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 194-198 degrees
SCal: Swell from the first part of this gale to arrive early Sun AM (6/28) with period 15 secs. Swell Direction: 211 degrees
NCal: Swell from the first part of this gale to arrive Sun AM (6/28) with period 15 secs. Swell Direction: 209 degrees
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours high pressure is to hold off Central CA with the Cape Mendocino pressure gradient trying to come back on-line later Wed (6/24) with north winds 20-25 kts along the North and Central coasts lifting north focused more on Cape Mendocino by Thursday (at 25 kts) pushing near 30 kts Friday with increased odds for windswell production, before fading later Saturday. A local eddy flow is to set up too starting later Thurs (6/25) offering some hope for warmer water to develop.
Relative to Hawaii trades to start rebuilding Wed (6/24) when patchy 15 kt east winds are forecast developing east of the Islands offering limited odds for small short period east windswell resulting at exposed breaks through Sat (6/27).
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 Saturday (6/20) the daily SOI was falling hard at -34.40. The 30 day average was falling from 1.77 and the 90 day average was falling from -5.88. The near term trend based on the daily and 30 day average was indicative of a building Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a modest Active Phase of the MJO if not a weak El Nino. High pressure at 1028 mbs was over Southeast Australia while low pressure was trying to build south of Tahiti. Beyond the same pattern is to hold with some form of low pressure south of Tahiti and high pressure over Southeast Australia, building to 1032 mbs a week out. Negative daily SOI's indicated with the longer term average falling too. This is exactly what is needed. High pressure over Australia could help the Southern Hemi Booster Index (a possible component of strong El Ninos) and supportive of storm development in the New Zealand area. That is, anomalous high pressure locks down the area roughly over Tasmania/Southeast Australia driving south surface winds up the East Australia coast then redirected to the east in the Kelvin Wave generation Area feeding continuous Westerly Wind Bursts. The theory suggests it is high pressure over this area that 'boosts' a regular El Nino into Super El Nino status. This high pressure boost occurs 3-5 months ahead of the the peak of a super El Nino (June-Aug) and has been evidenced in the 72, '82 and '97 Super El Ninos. Anecdotally this would be the connection between Super El Ninos and wildfires/drought in Eastern Australia and also the link to increased storm production under New Zealand typical of the N Hemi summer after said El Ninos.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis per 850 mb charts (~4,500 ft up) indicated light west anomalies were over the Maritime Continent reaching to the dateline, with neutral anomalies from there extending south of Hawaii into the Galapagos Islands. But down at the surface the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated a slightly better picture with weak west winds (not just anomalies) between 135E-155E with modest west anomalies starting at 130E in the east Kelvin Wave Generation Area extending over the dateline to 170W. Neutral anomalies were east of there to the Galapagos. The Active Phase of the MJO was trying to get a toehold (good news). A week from now (6/28) building westerly anomalies are forecast at modest strength again over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area building over the dateline reaching a point south of Hawaii. Neutral anomalies are forecast east of there into the Galapagos. Westerly winds, not just anomalies are to start building to 18 kts this evening (6/20) per the GFS model. This is exactly as hoped for to again reinforce warm water movement to the east. A huge WWB occurred in March followed by a second smaller one (9 day duration) in early May with weaker but still solid west anomalies continuing into late May while easing east out of the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. West anomalies held through 6/10 (per TAO data) with zero easterly anomalies reported so far this year. But more westerly anomalies are needed if a moderate to strong El Nino is to develop, as is projected by the long term models and based on evolving atmospheric signals.
See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here.
The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 6/19 suggest a modest Active MJO signal was building over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model suggests the Active Phase is to push steadily east over the next 15 days approaching the dateline at the end of that window and not loosing much strength. The Dynamic model now has come on-line with this projection, depicting almost exactly the same thing. This is great news. The presence of regular pulses of the MJO is not an indication of El Nino. Rather a steady state Weak Active Phase would be more in line with what is believed to be a building El Nino. Something to monitor for. The ultra long range upper level model run on 6/20 depicts a modest Active pattern over the West Pacific and is expected to track east over the equatorial Pacific through 7/15. A moderate Inactive Phase is to develop in the west starting 7/15 making it to the East Pacific by 7/30. As of right now, there are no any signs of a developing upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave lifecycle. An upwelling Phase about this time last year at this time is what squashed development of last years El Nino. Instead it looks like westerly anomalies are on track for a return. And if that happens robustly, it adds fuel to the speculation that a strong El Nino might be in development. A well entrenched westerly wind anomaly pattern is required during the June/July timeframe if something that wants to rival the '97 El Nino is to develop. 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 (6/18) first impressions continue indicating a moderate and well defined warm water/El Nino-like regime in.cgiace and building over the entire equatorial Pacific. It depicts a slowly building broader coverage near the Galapagos over the last 15 days, and warmer too. But that coverage may be stalling some as of the latest image. Warm water is building steadily west of there into the Nino 3.4 region from south of California to the dateline 2-3 degree north and south of the equator, presumably advecting west from the Galapagos area. Warm water continues in.cgiace along the Peruvian coast. Cool water continues holding if not building it's coverage along and west of West Africa. In the past we've used this as a sign of impending Inactive Phase upwelling in the Galapagos area. But that does not appear to be the case now. Compared to the '97 Super El Nino, today's image indicates the warm water temps pattern is very similar, though slightly stronger over the Nino 3.4 region (impressive). The cold water African signature is also present in the '97 image, though stronger, though 2015 appears to be rapidly catching up. We believe this reverse signal in the Atlantic this year is a good sign, suggesting a global scale atmospheric component to this years event, something not present last year. It is the permanent set up of a Inactive like Phase over West Africa and a semi permanent Active State over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area tracking slowly east, and high pressure locked over Southeast Australia that we are looking for.
TAO data indicates +1.5 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial Pacific, the warmest in years, presumably advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to the dateline. There is an embedded area of +2 deg anomalies from 125W into Ecuador and building to the west in coverage. A key component of the later phases of El Nino is the migration east not only subsurface waters, but also surface waters forced by continued anomalous westerly winds pushing across the dateline. that is not occurring yet.
The most recent hi-res data (6/19) indicates peak temps between the Galapagos and Ecuador are holding while advecting west. A peak station reading at the Galapagos occurred on 5/23 at +4.59 degs suggesting the first Kelvin Wave generated in Jan-Mar had maxed out. But since then, 4.6 deg above normal readings were reported 6/9, besting the previous peak, and then stair stepped up from there, to +4.95 degs 6/10 peaking at 5.45 degs on 6/14. Temps were holding at +5.0 degs above normal on 6/19. Something far larger is at.cgiay. And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg with much more warm water pushing east at depth (see below). The hi-res satellite data tells the broader story, specifically the coverage of those waters. See the coverage on May 24 versus June 3 and June 11. That coverage increasing through (6/15) and not limited to the Galapagos area but building down into Peru. No additional core coverage was indicated on 6/19 but wasn't giving up any ground either. The CDAS Nino 1+2 index spiked at +2.3 degs on 5/23, the fell bottoming out at +0.55 degs June 1, and then quickly climbed back to +2.45 degs on 6/14, then down slightly at +2.1 degs on 6/20. The Nino 1.2 area is not of prime concern, and is very volatile and noisy. Though it is the source of much warm water (erupting Kelvin Waves), it is the Nino 3.4 region that is the hallmark indicator of El Nino, covering far more area and therefore having a greater impact on the atmosphere. As warm water from a stronger Kelvin Wave lurking just under the surface impacts the Galapagos shortly, temps should spike again. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggest water temps peaked at +1.3 degs 6/9 dipping to 1.1 degs on 6/14 and appear to be inching up from there to +1.15 degs on 6/20. One would expect this area to start warming as warming water from Nino 1.2 starts advecting west into the Nino3.4 area.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator under the dateline (160-180W) continue to cool but are still 1-2 degs above normal. Warmer water previously there is tracking east. Still, warm water continues downwelling from the surface, the result of ongoing westerly anomalies on the surface on the dateline and west of there. So the pipe is open. The big story remains very warm anomalies under the equator in the East Pacific, pushing east into the Galapagos and Ecuador. As of 6/13 a significant reorganization started. As of 6/16 +5 deg anomalies were impacting the Galapagos Islands.This is the source of the high temps being reported at the surface there. And a large pool of +6 degs anomalies is building centered at 110W with +5 deg anomalies reaching from 133W to Ecuador and 4+ deg anomalies reaching east from 142W. This pocket is a mixture of warm water driven by an extended WWB that occurred Jan-March.cgius water from an additional WWB in early May. This suggests there are not weeks but perhaps 2 months of warm water still in the pipe (into 7/28). And more warm water continues downwelling on the dateline, the result of westerly anomalies that have been in.cgiay since the May WWB in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area to 6/5. A bit of a stall occurred 6/5-6/18, but has now restarted. This second Kelvin Wave should peak on Aug 1.
This is exactly how the '97 El Nino.cgiayed out, with not individual Kelvin Waves impacting the coast, but a huge pool of warm water developing at this time of year in the East Pacific creating a continuous upwelling of warm water off Ecuador, with continuous westerly anomalies in the KWGA feeding yet more warm water into that subsurface pool for 6+months. This is a significant development.
Satellite data from 6/12 has upgraded again slightly. It depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific east of 170E with a core now to +15 cm expanding between 110-145W. All this is indicative of a wide open pipe with embedded and merging Kelvin Waves forming into a large subsurface reservoir. This is a classic major El Nino setup, not a standard El Nino.
The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (6/12) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 180W and the Ecuador coast (easing east) with +1.0-1.5 degs from 170W eastward (loosing a little ground by moving east). +1.5 deg anomalies are doing the same easing east from 157W. And +2 deg anomalies are holding between the coast and 150W. The first Kelvin Wave has impacted the Ecuador Coast and the next wave of warming is building behind looking every bit as strong. This is a very good sign. See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here.
Pacific Counter Current data as of 6/7 continues to improve. The current is pushing moderately west to east over the entire equatorial Pacific with strongest velocity filling the Kelvin Wave Generation Area over the dateline to a point south of Hawaii. Weaker velocities extended from Hawaii to the Galapagos. This is an expansion from the last update. No easterly current of interest is present. Anomaly wise - moderate west anomalies were in control on the equator over the far West Pacific, reaching over the dateline and south of Hawaii to a point just east of the Galapagos both north and south of the equator. This continues to look like a significant El Nino is setting up but does not compare to west velocities and anomalies that were raging near 170W in the '97 El Nino at this time. In '97 the anomalies and current were more concentrated, suggesting stronger westerly wind anomalies. Looking 30 days ahead (7/5), if any similarities to '97 are to be maintained, strong to massive west to east velocities and anomalies will need to start developing in the next 2 weeks. We're starting to think that is actually possible. This data suggests a defined west to east bias in the current suggesting warm water transport to the east.
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model (PDF Corrected) run 6/20 for the Nino 3.4 region have stepped up some. It suggests water temps are at +1.2 deg C (confirmed) and are to steadily warm into July reaching +1.3 degs C, and continuing to +1.7 degs by Oct peaking at+1.95 degs by late Nov, then dropping off. Peak temps have continued to toggle between +1.85-1.95 degs. This suggests we are moving from a multi-year steady state Modoki event to a full blown moderate.cgius El Nino, maybe bordering on the strong side. But it is too early to believe just yet. The model overhyped it last year, then the atmospheric picture collapsed in June. That does not appear likely this year, but July is still an unknown. Much more warm water would need to be transported east over the coming 5 months for a strong El Nino to develop (including surface warm water currently locked over the dateline), especially of the magnitude projected by the model. The mid-May consensus Plume suggests development of a moderate El Nino with peak temps 1.2-1.5 degs above normal. See the chart based version here - link.
Analysis: In late 2013 into 2014 mult.cgie downwelling Kelvin Waves generated by suppressed trades and occasional Westerly Wind Bursts 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. Those were in effect primers to help move the atmosphere out of a perpetual La Nina biased pattern that had been in.cgiay for the past 15 years. Still some degree of teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere was in.cgiay with some greater force dictating the pattern (likely the PDO). The focus now becomes whether this warming and teleconnection will persist if not strengthen in 2015. We are now out of the Spring Unpredictability Barrier (March-May). June will reveal what is to come, be it a weak El Nino or something stronger. Water temps in the Nino 1.2 region warming solidly and advecting warmer waters west over the entire equatorial Pacific due to the arrival of the first of two Kelvin Wave (see details above). If that warming is sufficient to start the classic El Nino feedback loop, which we suspect is already the case given cooling temps off Africa, 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 creating another Kelvin Wave, much different than what occurred last year. And westerly anomalies, though stalled the past few days, are forecast to resume date. The latest subsurface anomaly charts have pretty much confirmed that too as of 6/2 data with a large reservoir of warm water now lodged just west of the Galapagos and continuously erupting. Per the models the Inactive Phase of the MJO is all but gone over the West Pacific, and surface data from TAO does not indicate any significant impact wind-wise (no east anomalies). And the models are now suggesting a building area of no trades if not light west winds in the equatorial West Pacific in the next 5 days. All this is very positive. But we will remain cautious.
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. But as of right now the scales are tipped much in favor of El Nino. A si.cgie glance a the SST Anomaly charts can tell that. Peak warming from the first big Kelvin Wave generated in Jan-March has hit. Westerly anomalies are holding over the dateline at the surface (regardless what the 850 mb charts and OLR models suggest), complete with previous 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 east anomalies previously forecast at 850 mbs this week have not developed. Two tropical system in the West Pacific (Noul and Dolphin) have recurved northeast, and early in the season. And two early season hurricanes formed in the East Pacific with Andres topping out at 125 kts (145 mph) and Blanca at 115 kts (133 mph). And Carlos developed behind but weak, not supported by the Active Phase of the MJO. But these are symptoms of previous warm water in that area co.cgied with westerly anomalies over the equator in that area, and not a signal of anything new developing. All the other signals (recurving early forming tropical systems, warm water along the US West Coast, falling SOI etc) all mean nothing unless there are solid WWBs to continuously build sub surface temp anomalies over the Galapagos feeding the Nino3.4 region into November. In other words, the WWB are what drive El Nino. Everything else is symptoms. The focus continues to be the Kelvin Wave Generation Area and the presence of surface westerly anomalies and whether the 1st and 2nd Kelvin Waves targeting Ecuador actual manifest themselves by expanding the area and magnitude of warming surface waters in the Nino 3.4 Area. The real good news the second Kelvin Wave is expanding and organizing better than hoped for, not only starting to fill the East Pacific subsurface reservoir again, but expanding it significantly. The bigger, and warmer the better. This is required for a major El Nino to develop. and we will continue monitoring pressure over East Australia, to assess it's connection to the larger picture.
We are out of the Spring Unpredictability Barrier and the Nino regions have emerged stronger and with much warm water in the subsurface pipe. We are supposedly past the peak of an Inactive MJO phase, and so far there is no surface data to suggest a cessation of westerly anomalies, or at least the development of easterly anomalies. It seems we should be able to make a reasonably confident call by June 15 for the coming Fall, assuming the Inactive Phase of the MJO does not come to fruition. But if it does, and the cool water off Africa is really a signal of something more ominous rather than a symptom of atmospheric co.cgiing, then much of the ground gained so far this year will be lost and we'll be back where we were last year, in Modoki territory. But, given all the data, the odds of that are looking more and more remote. And at this time we're not just thinking about this being a El Nino event, but an upgrade to a major El Nino.
We continue monitoring Westerly Wind Bursts and Kelvin Wave development, suggestive of continued warming of East Pacific equatorial waters for Sept-Dec 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 broad but weak gale is to be pushing under Southern New Zealand on Wed AM (6/24) with 40 kt southwest winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface generating 25 ft seas over a small area at 58S 176E lifting northeast. In the evening fetch is to build to 40-45 kts tracking east generating 30 ft seas at 60S 175W. Fetch is to be fading Thurs AM (6/25) from 40 kts with 28 ft seas at 56S 163W. this system to fade and track east after that. Something to monitor.
Remants of the above system to theoretically rebuild in the far Southeast Pacific on Fri (6/26) with 50 kt east winds and seas building to 34 ft at 60S 125W. Something to monitor.
And yet another pair of gales are to track under New Zealand on Fri-Sat (6/27) with 45-50 kt west winds and seas 30 ft.cgius. Would be nice.
Details to follow...
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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