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.
On Saturday (8/9) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the chest high.cgius range and clean at protected spots with south winds still in control. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high on the sets and fairly clean, but with small whitecaps outside the kelp. In Southern California up north windswell was knee to thigh high on the sets and textured later in the day. Down south waves were waist to near chest high on the sets and pretty warbled later. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was waist high and clean. Julio swell was starting to hit at shoulder high on the East Shore and chopped.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Swell producing fetch for the North Pacific was limited to local windswell for Central California and hurricane swell from Julio for the East Shores of the Hawaiian Islands. The Central Pacific tropics remain active. Typhoon Genevieve was 450 nmiles southwest of Midway Island tracking north with 105 kt winds. Hurricane Julio was 430 nmiles east-northeast of the Big Island churning west-northwest and trying to hold on with 85 kts winds. And Tropical Storm Halong was impacting Southern Japan with 60 kts winds and tracking north-northeast. Small south angled swell is hitting Southern CA from a gale in the Southeast Pacific a week ago. And down in the southern hemisphere swell is pushing northeast from a small storm that tracked under Southern New Zealand with 52 ft seas barely in the CA swell window, then faded 12 hrs later with 40 ft seas targeting California and Hawaii. Tiny swell possible. The model are teasing about a gale under New Zealand a week out, but that is far from certain.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (8/9) east winds associated with the fading remnants of Iselle were holding in the 20 kt range over the Islands producing windswell. But of more interest was swell arriving from Julio (detail below in Tropics section). Tropical low pressure was forming a pressure gradient in conjunction with weak high pressure at 1024 mbs northeast of the Islands providing support for generation of more easterly windswell along east facing shores there too. That same weak high pressure system was producing a weak version of the usual summer time pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino CA resulting in small and weak short period north windswell relative to North and Central CA. No other swell producing fetch of interest was in.cgiay.
Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to start pushing inland over the Pacific Northwest with the Cape Mendocino pressure gradient fading and winds dropping below 20 kts by Monday AM (8/11) with windswell fading completely. No return expected immediately.
Also low pressure is in the eastern Bering Sea (the remnants of TS Nakri) falling southeast on Sat (8/9) generating a broad fetch of 20-25 kts northwest winds and 12 ft seas perhaps producing limited windswell pushing southeast towards the Pacific Northwest and California. But the fetch is to be rapidly fading late Saturday evening into Sunday AM. Maybe some small windswell to result for the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA.
Additional tropical energy from the far West Pacific to move into the Gulf reinforcing the low pressure pattern there some on Mon-Tues (8/12) with 25-30 kt northwest winds and 17-18 ft seas forecast over exposed waters in Northern Dateline region. More small windswell is possible for HI, the Pacific Northwest and southward to Central CA.
Easterly trades relative to Hawaii to be nonexistent for the next 72 hours. But hurricane swell will be in the water (see Tropics below).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
As of Sat 18Z (8/9):
Typhoon Genevieve was positioned 450 nmiles southwest of Midway Island tracking north with 105 kt winds. Genevieve is to turn slowly to the north-northwest and slowly fade, with winds down to 70 kts on Mon AM (8/11) then stalling near 35N 168E and dissipating. There is to be no jetstream flow there, meaning no recurvature is expected.
Hurricane Julio was 430 nmiles east-northeast of the Big Island churning west-northwest and trying to hold on with 85 kts winds. Julio is forecast to be positioned 300 nmiles north of Hilo Hawaii Sunday night (8/10) with 70 kts winds then tracking west-northwest from there missing the Islands by a big margin but generating swell. Julio is to continue its west-northwest track fading into Thurs (8/14), though the GFS model suggests a turn to the north and then northeast with it's remnants getting absorbed into Low pressure in the Gulf and positioned just off Washington State Friday evening (8/15). Something to monitor.
Oahu: On Sunday (8/10) swell to reach 6 ft @ 14 secs late (8.5 ft) from 80 degrees, then fading from there. Residuals Mon AM fading fast from 4.5 ft @ 10-11 secs (4.5 ft) from 45 degrees.
Tropical Storm Halong was moving into Southern Japan with 60 kt winds and tracking north. A turn to the north-northeast is forecast Sunday (8/10) with Halong in the China Sea and winds down to 45-50 kts. Halong is forecast to track into North China late Sunday with no recurvature to the northeast.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday AM (8/9) high pressure at 1024 mbs was off Central CA with the usual pressure gradient in.cgiay over Cape Mendocino, with north winds 20-25 kts there. An eddy flow was in.cgiay over limited areas of Central and all of South CA. On Sun (8/10) the gradient to fade some with only 20 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino with a nearshore eddy flow again setting up from Pt Arena southward. The gradient to fade from 15 kts on Monday then dissipating totally 24 hours later. A weak wind pattern to hold till Friday when weak high pressure and north winds redevelop over Cape Mendocino at 20 kts holding into the weekend (8/17) with a nearshore eddy (south winds) in control. All this suggests that the usual Northeast Pacific High pressure system is weaker than normal, suppressing northerly trades, and cold upwelling, resulting in local warmer than normal water temps. This is right on cue.
Jetstream - On Saturday (8/9) a zonal flow (flat west to east winds) was in control of the southern branch of the jetstream with winds very weak. No support for gale development was indicated. But a trough was indicated building south of Tasmania. Over the next 72 hours the zonal flow is to hold for the greater South Pacific while a solid but somewhat pinched trough builds and pushes east under New Zealand Sunday with 110 kt winds feeding up into it, offering limited support for gale development. But that trough to pinch off and collapse south later Monday (8/11) with support for gale development gone and a ridge developing in it's.cgiace pushing into the Ross Ice Shelf. Beyond 72 hours a yet another trough is forecast to build under New Zealand looking respectable by later Wednesday with 160 kts winds feeding it and getting reinforced on Friday covering a good sized area into Saturday with winds still 130 pushing up into it. Perhaps decent support for gale development is possible.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (8/9) swell from a small gale that developed in the far Southeast Pacific was tracking north and starting to impact Southern CA (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). Small swell from a small but strong storm under New Zealand on Mon PM (8/4) was pushing towards Fiji, Hawaii and the US West Coast (see Tiny New Zealand Storm below). Another swell from a gale in the Tasman Sea Wed-Thurs (8/7) was hitting Fiji (see Fiji Gale below). And one more small pulse is pushing towards Southern CA from the Southeast Pacific (see Tiny Southeast Pacific Gale below). Otherwise a gale was in the Southeast Pacific with 45-50 kt west winds producing 32 ft seas aimed more towards Antarctica than even Chile at 58S 127W and tracking flat east. No swell to result for US interests (or even Central America for that matter).
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast. A cutoff gale was east of North New Zealand on Sat (8/9) producing a infinitesimal sized area of 26-28 ft seas targeting Tahiti at 40S 174W, then forecast to fade but not dissipate with more 22 ft seas continuing in that area (40S 162W) into Monday AM (8/11), then dissipating. Small swell for Tahiti peaking on Tues (8/12) at 6.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (9 ft) from 217-220 degrees, pulsing again on Wed (8/13) to 8.1 ft @ 14 secs (11 ft) then slowly fading.
Southeast Pacific Gale
On Sat (8/2) a weak gale developed in the far Southeast Pacific generating 35-40 kt south winds aimed due north with a tiny area of 26 ft seas developing in the evening at 42S 128W targeting California. 35-40 kt south wind held into Sun AM (8/3) with 26-28 ft seas at 38S 120W targeting Southern CA down into South America. 26 ft seas continued pushing north into the evening at 38S 112W then faded. A small pulse of 14-15 secs period swell to result for Southern CA.
Southern CA: Swell to peak on Sun (8/10) at 2.3 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5 ft). Swell holding Mon (8/11) at 2.5 ft @ 14 secs 93.5 ft) then fading late afternoon. Swell Direction: 180-185 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (8/10) only at exposed breaks pushing 2.3 ft @ 16 secs late (3.5 ft). Swell to continue Tues (8/11) at 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell fading out fast thereafter. Swell Direction: 175-180 degrees
Tiny New Zealand Storm
A storm with 55 kt southwest winds developed southwest of New Zealand on Mon PM (8/4) producing 52 ft seas at 51S 155E mostly shadowed by New Zealand relative to California. The Jason-2 satellite passed near the core of the storm and reported average seas 43 ft with a peak reading to 52.3 ft where the model suggested 43 ft seas. The model was on track. Perhaps a sliver of 48 ft seas on the south side of the fetch was not shadowed relative to CA. 50-55 kt southwest fetch pushed east into Tues AM (8/5) generating more 40 ft seas at 52S 167E unshadowed and on the 220 degree path to CA and barely on the 201 degree path to Hawaii. Winds were fading from 45 kts in the evening with seas fading from 33 ft at 54S 177E (212 degs NCal and not shadowed by Tahiti, 214 degs SCal and shadowed, 195 degs HI) and gone after that. Perhaps a small pulse of background swell to result for all.
Hawaii: Tiny sideband swell coming up through the Tasman Sea window to arrive starting Mon (8/11) at 2 ft @ 19 secs late (3.5 ft). Swell building Tuesday (8/12) to 2.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (4 ft). Swell fading some Wed (8/13) from 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3 ft). Swell to continue on Thurs (8/14) at 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3 ft) then dropping out fast. Swell Direction: 212 degrees.
South CA: Swell arrival expected on Thurs (8/14) at 1.6 ft @ 19 secs (3 ft). Swell to peak on Fri (8/15) at 2.0 ft @ 17 secs later (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell still present on Sat (8/16) at 2.0 ft @ 16 secs (3.0 ft) then fading from there. Swell Direction: 221 degrees
North CA: Swell arrival expected on Thurs (8/14) at 1.5 ft @ 19 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell to peak on Fri (8/15) at 1.7 ft @ 17 secs later (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell still present on Sat (8/16) at 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft) then fading from there. Swell Direction: 222 degrees
A broad gale developed in the South Tasman Sea Wed PM (8/6) with 45 kt winds aimed northeast producing 35 ft seas at 50S 154E targeting East New Zealand up into Fiji. The gale started to hit New Zealand directly Thurs AM (8/7) with 34 ft seas just off the southeast coast of New Zealand proper at 47S 163E. Swell possible for Fiji. But all swell energy is to be shadowed relative to the US West Coast.
Fiji: Swell to continue on Sun (8/10) 7.8 ft @ 16 secs (12.5 ft) fading fast Monday AM. Swell Direction: 206 degrees.
Tiny Southeast Pacific Gale
A small gale was building in the far Southeast Pacific on Tues (8/5) with 45 kt south winds mostly encased in Antarctic Ice. By evening 40 kt southwest winds were lifting northeast with seas building to 30 ft at 59S 120W targeting Southern CA. Fetch turned more towards Chile on Wed AM (8/6) with seas 30 ft at 57S 109W and outside the SCal swell window.
Maybe a pulse of background swell to result for Southern CA late on Thurs (8/14) at 1.3 ft @ 16 secs (2 ft) from 175-180 degrees. Swell peaking on Fri (8/15) at 1.5 ft @ 15 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) then fading Sat from 2 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.5 ft).
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 remain weak off off Northern CA with no significant north windswell being generated. No other fetch of interest is forecast. It's back to summer-time mode for another few weeks.
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).
On Saturday (8/9) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up to -4.37. The 30 day average was down some to -6.11 and the 90 day average was down some at -0.31. The near term trend based on the 30 day average was indicative of a weak Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a neutral Phase of the MJO.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated neutral anomalies over the eastern Maritime Continent turning to modest westerly anomalies approaching the dateline. Neutral anomalies extended from there east of a point south of Hawaii and continued on to the Galapagos. A week from now (8/17) moderate east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent fading to light east anomalies on the dateline turning neutral south of Hawaii. Neutral anomalies are projected east of there to the Galapagos. There has not been a extended period of trades so far this year, and we're over 222 days into the year. If anything the trend is clearly towards westerly anomalies. Since the big westerly winds bursts of Jan-April, there was a neutral period in May to early June. Then the TOA array (surface sensors - the ground truth) indicated westerly anomalies started re-developing on 6/25 west of the dateline holding moderate through 7/6, turning neutral on 7/7. But by 7/11 they were back trending light westerly and holding through 7/20. A legitimate Westerly Wind Burst then formed on 7/23 and held through 7/30, moderating but still westerly into 8/5 then rebuilding on 8/6 and solid westerly as of 8/9. Another Kelvin Wave (weak at this point) is developing. Compared to La Nina where enhanced trades (20+ kts) would be blowing non-stop, we're in great shape and have been all year.
See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here.
Previously a series of WWBs occurred 1/8-4/20 creating a large Kelvin Wave that impacted Ecuador, the Galapagos and Peru, May and June. This was very similar situation that led up to the big El Nino's of '82/32 and '97/98. But in those instances the WWBs and Kelvin Wave generation progressed non-stop through the Summer and Fall months. An article presenting a Comparison between the genesis of the 1997 El Nino and this 2014 WWB event has been posted here. A second analysis from 5/28 is posted here.
The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 8/8 are generally in sync. They both suggest a moderate Inactive MJO signal is in effect in the far West Pacific reaching to the dateline. 5 days out it is to hold. Then 8 days out it is to be gone per the Statistic model, while the Dynamic model has it continuing unchanged then starting to fade 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model has backed off again suggesting only the weakest hints of a weak Inactive Phase over the West Pacific, but really just neutral biased slightly Inactive. This small Inactive Area is to ease east and fade in the Central Pacific 8/27. A dead neutral pattern to follow through 9/16. This model has tended to overhype Inactive Phases so far this year. As such, we suspect further weaken to express itself as we move into August. We're looking for a very weak MJO pattern biased Active if an El Nino were developing. This is what happened during July, even though the model suggested an Inactive Phase was to develop. This suggests that warming water in the equatorial East Pacific is starting to have some impact on the atmosphere above. 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 (8/7), a warm water regime remains in control of the equatorial East Pacific, but is in decline compared to the peak of the Kelvin Wave eruptions in late June, but not much. And it's actually holding up better than we expected. Cool water that was depicted along the immediate Peruvian Coast has backfilled with warm anomalies, in the 2.25-4 degs range off the entire coast to the Galapagos and tracking west from there. Cool pockets still exist in the heart of the Nino 3.4 region between 120W-160W, but not as bad as even 3 or 6 days ago. +0.5 degs C anomalies remain over the dateline, likely the start of a new Kelvin Wave. Hi-res SST data depicts nothing different, showing the backfilling of warmer water noted above. Even though the bulk of the massive Kelvin Wave generated by Westerly Wind Bursts in Jan-April has erupted at the surface near Ecuador in late May peaking late June is now dispersing, at least at this monet, another source of warm water is in.cgiay. Perhaps trades are dying there, like most everywhere else in the North Pacific, enabling the sun to provide warming to the top most layer. Still, reinforcements are needed, but are not coming immediately. Water temps off Peru are the proverbial tail of the dog, while Westerly Wind Bursts are the nose. The issue remains getting more warm water into the pipe to eventually erupt near the Galapagos.
Elsewhere, the entire North Pacific Ocean is full of warmer than normal water. There are virtually no signs of high pressure induced upwelling streaming southwest off California as would be expected this time of year. And serious warm water is building along the California coast, the exact opposite of the trend of the past 3+ years. Waters temps in San Francisco are 62 degrees. Very rare. But this is expected if El Nino were in.cgiay. This is significant in that is suggests the Gulf of Alaska High pressure system is much weakened relative to normal years, with north winds and upwelling much suppressed. The South Pacific is mostly normal/neutral except for cool water streaming off Southern Chile pushing west reaching up to the equator just south of Hawaii feeding the cool pool developing on the equator there. Overall the total amount of warmer than normal water in the North Pacific remains impressive, while the South Pacific presents cooler than normal.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator are no longer in decline in the east. Residual warm subsurface water from the previous Kelvin Wave dissipated on 7/31. And -1 degs C anomalies that were in.cgiace just west of the Galapagos at depth last week have vanished. Temps previously peaked at +6 degs C above normal on 6/21 from the aforementioned Kelvin Wave. Now a generic +0.5 C anomaly patch is in.cgiace from the West Pacific to the East at depth. This is great news indicating the pipe is open and light warm waters are pushing east. Satellite data from 8/1 depicts one small pocket of elevated surface water heights +5 cm just northwest of the Galapagos region, a recent addition and confirming the warm flow from other sources. Otherwise +5 cm anomalies are building over the dateline. Subsurface models depict a building pocket of +2.0 deg anomalies is theoretically in.cgiace under the dateline and building in coverage while easing east suggestive of a new Kelvin Wave trying to take shape, driven by non-stop weak westerly anomalies if not an out and out WWB on the dateline. At this point it's what can be classified a weak Kelvin Wave, but would not warm waters above what they already are in the Galapagos region. If westerly anomalies continue, they will feed more warm water into the building Kelvin Wave and into the open pipe. A solid Kelvin Wave is required to warm waters more, but it appears some other process is in.cgiay at this point in time favoring warm water accumulation in the Galapagos region. If this unknown process holds, along with the developing Kelvin Wave who's leading edge will arrive at the Galapagos 2-3 months later (~Sept 30), we theoretically could be over the hump. But we will not declare that until late August.
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 8/9 are unchanged suggest water temps building to +1.0 deg C by early Oct peaking at +1.45 deg C in Dec (down from the +1.55 deg C predicted in early July and +1.75 in May) holding into Jan 2015, then fading. Interestingly this model actually depicts warm waters dissipating in the Nino1+2 regions in August then redeveloping in the Nino 3.4 regions in Sept and gaining momentum and areal coverage while building back into Nino1.2 into Jan 2015 link.
Analysis: The massive Kelvin Wave that was generated by successive Westerly Wind Bursts in Jan-April has erupted in the Galapagos region and is now all but dispersed. The WWB ended on 5/1 with all warm water from it arriving 3 months later over the Galapagos, or by 8/1. The immediate future looked like neutral water temps would be taking over the Galapagos-Ecuador-Peru triangle in the next few weeks with no immediate reinforcements projected. But previous evidence that clearly suggested the warm pool was in rapid decline, have reversed themselves. And a new weak WWB and west anomalies appear to be developing in the West Pacific (starting 6/28). But even if it were to continue, it would not reach the Galapagos till 9/28. So there's a 8 week 'hole' with no significant warm water to resu.cgiy the Ecuador triangle between 8/1 and 9/28. We had been thinking this would cause water temps to decease in the Nino1+2 regions, likely to near neutral. And that means that even if another weak Kelvin Wave were to arrive in the Galapagos, it will have to warm water temps from dead neutral, rather than acting as reinforcements to already warmed waters. And if no additional Westerly Wind Bursts occur, warm water in all Nino regions will dissipate completely. The good news is that does not appear to be the case, with westerly winds and a new Kelvin Wave currently in development (strength TBD). And at least for the moment, some other process is at work keeping water temp stable in the Galapagos region (as of 8/7).
Assuming westerly anomalies continue in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (west of the dateline), more warm water will migrate east. This is a reasonable assumption seeing how there has been virtually no easterly anomalies for the first 7 months of this year. And trades tend to weaken during Fall months in the northern hemi, meaning we're just now starting to reach the point in time where Westerly Wind Bursts should have the best support for development. Current thinking is that we just coming out of the 'upwelling' Phase of the Kelvin Wave relative to wind anomalies, and the resulting cooler water is in the pipe pushing east. It's normal after a downwelling Kevin Wave impacts the Ecuador coast, especially a massive one like just experienced, that some period of upwelling (cooling) occurs. And for that to be true, the upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle would be facilitated by a lack of westerly winds in the West Pacific (as what occurred during May and June). Most El Nino's do not develop till the Fall, including the Super El Nino of '83/83. Only a few (namely the '97 Super El Nino) developed and survived strong through the summer and over the span of an entire year. A more 'normal' development life cycle would favor the alternating 'downwelling/upwelling' Kelvin Wave cycle. See currently Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here. Notice the alternating eastward migrating 'cool' and 'warm' cycles (upwelling/downwelling Kelvin Waves).
The CFSv2 model depicts exactly this scenario.cgiaying out, with water temps in Nino1.2 fading in August then redeveloping in September, exactly filling the 'hole' scenario described above. The redevelopment of westerly winds started in July and is hoped to continue into at least August if not beyond, resulting in a new Kelvin Wave. All evidence at this time suggests this is the case. Monitoring surface wind anomalies in the West Pacific remains critical to determining the future of this years potential El Nino pattern.
And finally, there's the 'feedback loop' consideration. We suspect it might already be in.cgiay. The largest argument in favor of that is the total breakdown of the Gulf of Alaska high pressure system, resulting in very high water temps off California. Also the early season recurving of mult.cgie tropical low pressure systems tracking northeast off Japan bound for the dateline. And the sudden pulse of tropical activity near Hawaii on the week of 8/4 and continued evolution in the West Pacific, is most telling. The only argument against the feedback loop is the development of a west moving Pacific Counter Current, a dissipating Kelvin Wave and the degradation of peak water temps in the Ecuador triangle and only a neutral 90 day SOI (rather than a negative one). But all these could easily just be symptoms of the upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle. Only once the ocean and atmosphere are co.cgied on a global level (that is, the ocean has imparted enough heat into the atmosphere to start changing the global jetstream pattern) can one begin to have confidence that a feedback loop is developing and a fully matured El Nino can result. About 3 months of undisturbed heating is required for the atmosphere to start responding on a global level where the point of 'no return' could be achieved. The warm pool starting forming in earnest on 5/1, and so the atmosphere would not trip over the 'no-return' point till 8/1. We have reach that threshold. Assuming current cooling of the equatorial Pacific is temporary and associated with the upwelling Kelvin Wave phase, then one can conclude the ocean and atmosphere are now linked/teleconnected. Considering the size and duration of the westerly wind bursts in Jan-April, it seem hard to believe that some global level 'change' is not already well entrenched, and has been developing since perhaps as early and Oct of 2013 (when the first Kelvin Wave of the series started taking shape). Monitoring the number, location and track of tropical systems in the North Pacific over the next few weeks will help to sort things out, as will monitoring westerly wind anomalies and warm subsurface water buildup in and under the Kelvin Wave Generation area. Also monitoring of the NPac jetstream (which remain unimpressive at this time) and Atlantic hurricane activity. But at this time odds are stacking in favor of a global telconnection now being established. If that's true, deepening of the ENSO cycle could begin in the next month or so, and perhaps rapidly once it starts.
But for now we'll remain cautious. Overall the immediate outlook remains unchanged, but potentially trending towards something that would be considered warm by Aug-Sept 2014. At a minimum the ocean is well past recharge mode, with cold water from the 2010-2011 La Nina dispersed and temperatures on the rise. Regardless of the WWBs etc, we are still in a neutral ENSO atmospheric pattern at this time with neither any form of El Nino in.cgiay. But given all current signs, atmospheric transition appears to be underway, and hopefully intensifying into Fall. Still this is a far better.cgiace than previous years (2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013) under the direct influence of La Nina. And it seems apparent we've recovered from the 2009-2010 El Nino. We've turned the corner, but we'll remain cautious and not say to much yet, especially in light of what appears to be a decadal bias towards a cooler regime (since 1998).
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13
Beyond 72 hours a decent gale is forecast building under New Zealand just north of the Ross Ice Shelf on Wed (8/13) with 45 kts winds peaking Thurs AM (8/14) with another gale right behind it on Fri (8/15) with 40-45 kts winds. The model have been very erratic concerning any particular result. Still, this is a situation worth monitoring.
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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