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 Tuesday (9/2) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the waist to maybe chest high range and a warbled mess with south wind tearing it up except at protected breaks. Surf was cleaner but a bit smaller at protected breaks. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high on the sets pretty clean with sets to head high at top breaks, with just a little texture intermixed but mostly clean and lined up, but slow. In Southern California up north locally produced windswell was generating surf in the waist high range and clean but weak. Down south waves were waist high with perhaps a few chest high sets but warbled with southwest winds starting to get on it. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean with no real sideshore lump. The South Shore was getting residual southern hemi background swell with waves thigh to waist high and clean.Tiny energy from a new southern hemi swell was starting to show on the buoys. On the East Shore no swell of interest was indicated with waves 2 ft or less and lightly chopped.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Swell production for the North Pacific was limited to locally produced windswell for California. Trades were suppressed for Hawaii with not even windswell in the picture. Longer term the model suggest a gale forming on the dateline region on Fri-Sat (9/6), but that seems a bit far fetched. From the southern hemisphere a primer gale developed southeast of New Zealand on Tues (8/27) tracking northeast with 32 ft seas, but swell from that one will be quickly overtaken by a stronger swell that was produced by a gale that tracked through the South Central Pacific on Wed-Thurs (8/28) with up to 48 ft seas pushing northeast (Swell #3S). And one small secondary fetch developed from that storm in the Southeast Pacific Fri-Sat (8/30) with 32 ft seas over a tiny area aimed north, but minimal in terms of it's swell production capacity. After that the charts suggest a small gale tracking under New Zealand on Sat (9/6) with 40 ft seas over a tiny area aimed east. Something to monitor.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (9/2) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was centered in the Southeastern Gulf of Alaska ridging east into the Pacific Northwest generating a pressure gradient and 20-25 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino CA producing small north windswell pushing down the Central CA coast. Trades were below the 15 kt threshold relative to Hawaii with no easterly windswell resulting there. The remnants of what used to be Marie were still circulating mid-way between Hawaii and Central CA, but producing no fetch of interest.
Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to hold if not make better inroads along the California coast enhancing the usual pressure gradient and north winds over Cape Mendocino with north winds to 30 kts there on Wed (9/3) then fading to 25 kts Thursday before dissipating. Windswell increasing in Central CA then fading accordingly. trades to remain suppressed relative to Hawaii with no windswell expected on east facing shores. Of some interest is a broad low pressure system that is to start building just west of the dateline on Thurs (9/5) generating 25 kt northwest winds late in the day. Additional development projected (see Longterm forecast below). 0making for minimal northerly windswell at exposed breaks. Trades relative to Hawaii are to remain suppressed with no meaningful windswell resulting along east facing shores.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Norbert - A tropical depression was 550 nmiles south-southeast of Cabo San Lucas Mexico falling southwest. No development of interest is expected with this system dissipating in 48 hours. No other systems were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (9/2) weak high pressure at 1026 mbs was trying to ridge into the North CA coast but was still being held at bay by the faint remnants of what was Hurricane Marie still circulating midway between Hawaii and Central CA. Still northwest winds at 20-25 kts were over Cape Mendocino with 15-20 kt north winds pushing down outer waters midway off Central CA. An eddy flow (south winds) was in control nearshore for Central CA. The gradient is to build to 30 kts on Wednesday holding into early Thursday with an eddy flow in control of Central CA. The gradient to fade to 20 kts on Friday and moving off the Cape Mendocino coast, weakening more over the weekend. But 20 kt north winds to rebuild over Cape Mendocino on Mon (9/8) holding into Tuesday, but very limited in coverage. The hope is the gradient stays to the north with an eddy flow continuing nearshore preventing upwelling and keeping water temps at near record levels.
Jetstream - On Tuesday (9/2) the jetstream was tracking under New Zealand falling southwest some then lifting up into a weak trough over the Central South Pacific with 120 kts feeding it, then falling southeast and pushing into Antarctica over the far Southeast Pacific. Limited support for gale development in the trough. Over the next 72 hours the trough is to moderate and flatten out turning into a zonal flow by Wed PM 99/3) tracking flat west to east on the 55S latitude line offering no real support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere, but not suppressing it either. Winds to weaken through the period with support fading even more. Beyond 72 hours more of the same is forecast as a zonal flow becomes more established until Sun (9/7) when a decent trough is forecast developing under New Zealand with 150 kt winds feeding up into it. But that trough is to quickly into Tues 99/9) with winds fading to 120 kts as the trough eases east. Some decent support for gale development is expected early, then fading fast.
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (9/2) swell from a primer gale is in the water pushing towards Hawaii and California (see Primer Gale below). And stronger swell is in the water and overrunning the Primer swell being generated by a small but strong storm that pushed through the South Central Pacific Wed-Thurs (8/28) (see Strong Small Tahitian Storm - Swell #3S below). And secondary swell that evolved from remnants of the Tahitian Storm are in the water (see Secondary Gale below).
Currently weak high pressure was centered just east of New Zealand at 1020 mbs with a broad but weak fetch of 25-30 kt southwest winds in the Central Pacific. A second fetch of 35 kt west winds was under New Zealand. But neither was producing seas nor swell of interest.
Over the next 72 hours the fetch south of New Zealand is to build some and track flat east with high pressure at 1032 mbs directly north of it, generating a gradient and 30-35 kt west winds crossing the South Pacific through Fri (9/5). No seas of interest to result (20-22 ft).
On Monday PM (8/25) a new gale formed and tracked northeast from a point south of New Zealand producing 40 kt southwest winds over a modest sized area with seas on the increase. By Tuesday AM (8/26) 40-45 kt southwest winds continued in.cgiay over a reasonably broad area aimed better to the northeast generating a small area of 30 ft seas at 59S 171W (187 degs HI, 205 degs SCal and 204 degs NCal and barely shadowed by Tahiti) pushing well to the northeast. 40 kt southwest winds were over a broad area Tues PM with 32 ft seas lifting northeast at 57S 160W (181 degs HI, 202 degs SCal and 200 degs NCal and east of the shadow). Fetch was fading fast from 30-35 kts Wed AM (8/27) with seas fading from 26 ft at 53S 145W aimed decently to the north (199 degs SCal and 198 degs NCal and unshadowed by Tahiti).
A modest pulse of swell to result for Tahiti, Hawaii, and California.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (9/4) with period 18 secs building to 1.9 ft @ 17-18 secs (3.0 ft) at sunset and getting overrun by stronger swell (below).
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (9/4) with period 18 secs building to 1.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) at sunset and getting overrun by stronger swell (below). Swell Direction: 200-204 degrees
Strong Small Tahitian Storm (Storm #3S)
A storm developed directly on the same path as the previous system under New Zealand getting traction on already roughed up sea surface tracking to the northeast starting Wed AM (8/27) with 55 kt west-southwest winds and 34 ft seas building at 61S 173E just off the Ross Ice Shelf (198 degs HI, 209 degs SCal, 208 degs NCal and shadowed by Tahiti). By Wed PM (8/27) a solid area of 50-55 kt southwest winds were blowing while lifting northeast with seas building to 48 ft at 58.5S 174W (188 degs HI, 207 degrees SCal and 205 degs NCal and shadowed by Tahiti). Winds were fading from 45 kts Thurs AM (8/28) with a solid area of 41 ft seas at 55S 162W (182 degs HI, 203 degs SCal and 202 degs NCal and east of the Tahiti swell shadow). The Jason-2 satellite made a clean pass over the core of the fetch at 18Z and reported average seas 41.2 ft with a peak reading of 48.5 ft, exceeding what the model projected. A rapid fade followed with winds down to 35 kts in the evening and seas fading fast from 34 ft at 50S 153W (201 degs SCal, 199 degs NCal and unshadowed). This system was gone by Fri AM (8/29).
Solid swell to result for all locations though less than expected size for Hawaii given the fact the fetch was tracking well east of the great circle paths up into the Islands. Conversely the fetch was aimed almost right up the great circle paths to California (though shadowed at the peak of the storm by Tahiti).
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tues late afternoon (9/2) with period 22 secs. Swell building to 2 ft @ 21-22 secs late (4.0-4.5 ft with bigger sets). Swell peaking on Wed (9/3) at 2.6 ft @ 19 secs mid-day (5.0 ft with sets to 6.2 ft). Period down to 18 secs at sunset. Inconsistent. Swell holding on Thurs (9/4) at 2.8 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.6 ft with sets to near 6 ft). Swell fading from 15 secs on Fri (9/5). Swell Direction: 182-188 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (9/4) near 5 AM with period 22 secs and size tiny but building pushing 1.7 ft @ 20-21 secs late (3.5 ft with sets to 4.5 ft). Period turning to 19 secs Fri AM (9/5) and swell getting solid near mid-day with swell 2.8 ft @ 18-19 secs (5 ft with sets to 6.4 ft). Solid swell expected Sat (9/6) at 3.8 ft @ 17-18 secs (6.6 ft with sets to 8.3 ft). Swell fading Sun (9/7) with swell 3.7 ft at 16-17 secs early (6.1 ft with sets to 7.6 ft). Swell Direction: 204-207 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (9/4) near 8 AM with period 22 secs and size tiny but building pushing 1.3 ft @ 21-22 secs late (2.5-3.0 ft). Period turning to 19 secs mid Fri AM (9/5) with swell getting solid mid-day at 2.8 ft @ 19 secs (5 ft within sets to 6.5 ft). Solid swell expected Sat (9/6) at 3.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (5.8 ft with sets to 7.3 ft). Swell fading Sun (9/7) with swell 3.3 ft at 17 secs early (5.6 ft with sets to 7.0 ft). Swell Direction: 201-205 degrees
Secondary Southeast Pacific Swell
A new gale started developing from the remnants of the Tahitian Storm (above) on Fri AM (8/29) with a small area of 35-40 kt south winds taking shape in the Central South Pacific. By Fri PM a decent sized fetch of 40-45 kt southerly winds were in.cgiay 1800 nmiles south of Tahiti aimed well to the north-northeast with a small area of 30 ft seas at 49S 150W targeting Tahiti with sideband energy and mainly targeting the Southwest US Coast (198-199 degs CA and unshadowed by Tahiti). This fetch held while lifting northeast Sat AM (8/30) with 32 ft seas at 45S 142W (195-196 degs CA) with a tiny core of embedded 36 ft seas within it. The fetch was fading fast in the evening with wind dropping from 40 kts over a small area and seas fading from 32 ft over a small area at 41S 134W (188 degs CA), positioned well north of normal.
A small pulse of secondary swell to result for CA merging with bigger swell expected for the area from the Tahitian Storm (above).
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 a reasonably sized early season gale is forecast developing on the dateline on Fri (9/5) producing 35 kt northwest winds building to near 40 kts late in the evening. On Sat AM (9/6) seas are to peak at 25 ft at 41N 179E targeting Hawaii well with decent energy also pushing up the great circle paths to California. In the evening winds to be fading from barely 30 kts with seas barely 20 ft at 40N 175W. A quick fade is forecast to follow with winds below 30 kts by Sun AM (9/7). Maybe some 14 sec period swell to result if one is to believe the models. But it's kind of a reach at this early date.
There's also suggestions of a tropical system developing near Japan on Sun (9/7) tracking northeast.
Otherwise north winds to regenerate over Cape Mendocino later Sun (9/7) at 20 kts holding through Tues (9/9) resulting in minimal north windswell for exposed breaks in North and Central CA. Trades to remain suppressed relative to Hawaii.
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).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) On Tuesday (9/2) the daily SOI was up to -4.51. The 30 day average was down to -10.73 and the 90 day average was down some at -5.91. The near term trend based on the 30 day average was indicative of a Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO. High pressure is forecast developing south of Tahiti Wed (9/3) holding into Mon (9/8) likely causing the SOI to rise some. Then it looks like more low pressure is to follow.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated light east anomalies were over the Maritime Continent fading to lighter east anomalies on the dateline. Neutral anomalies extended from there to a point south of Hawaii then continuing neutral on to the Galapagos. A week from now (9/9) light west anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent fading some on dateline, then turning neutral on the dateline continuing to the Galapagos. This suggests a neutral MJO pattern over the coming week.
Looking at the trend over the past few months there has not been a extended period of enhanced trades so far this year, and we're over 245 days into the year. The trend is clearly towards westerly anomalies which suggests a bias towards El Nino. Big westerly wind bursts occurred Jan-April, followed by a neutral period May into early June. The TOA array surface sensors (the ground truth) indicated moderate westerly anomalies re-developed west of the dateline 6/25 holding through 7/6, then turning neutral. But by 7/11 light west anomalies redeveloped holding through 7/20. A legitimate Westerly Wind Burst formed and held through 8/10, then weakened with neutral anomalies through 8/18, turning light westerly 8/20-8/22. Latest data from the TAO array indicates light west anomalies were trying to get established on 8/29-9/2 west of the dateline. 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. It would be hard to make a case stating some flavor of weak El Nino was not in.cgiay at this point.
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 9/1 are generally in sync. They both suggest a neutral pattern biased Active was in control southeast of the Philippines. 5 days out it is to be holding then building 8 days out per the Statistic model with a modest Active Phase in control over the far West Pacific 15 days out while building. The Dynamic model depicts the same thing initially, then has the inactive Phase mysteriously returning and building in strong 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model run 9/2 suggests a moderate Active Phase was building in the West Pacific and is to track east through through 10/2. A modest Inactive Phase is to build behind it starting 10/1 in the far West Pacific. Recent experience this year suggests this model overhypes any Inactive Phase. The suspicion is this model does not work well in an El Nino situation. 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. And that is what happened in August. 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 (9/1), a moderately warm water regime remains in control of the equatorial East Pacific, and looking nearly identical to the peak of the Kelvin Wave eruptions in late June, just a little more ragged. It's actually held up way better than expected since the big Kelvin Wave peaked out. No extensive areas of cool water is depicted in any of the Nino regions, which is very good news. TOA data suggest neutral water temps are from 110W to 160W 5 degs south of the equator , but the satellite data and hi res data do not depict it. +1.0 deg C anomalies remain over the dateline, the start of a new Kelvin Wave. Even though the bulk of the massive Kelvin Wave earlier this year has dispersed, at least at this moment, 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 preferred, 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 entrenched along the California coast and building in coverage, the exact opposite of the trend of the past 3+ years. Waters temps in San Francisco are 62 degrees and holding solid. 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. But even the areal coverage of that pocket is in decline, suggesting a warm regime is getting the upper hand over the entire Pacific Basin. Overall the total amount of warmer than normal water in the North Pacific remains most impressive, while the South Pacific is starting to trend in the same direction.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator are on the rebound. Residual warm subsurface water from the previous Kelvin Wave dissipated on 7/31. Temps from it peaked at +6 degs C above normal on 6/21. As of 9/2 a +1.0 C anomaly flow was arching from the dateline down then pushing up towards the Galapagos. This is great news indicating the pipe is open and modest warm waters are pushing east - the next Kelvin Wave. And imbedded in that are two sizeable pockets of +2.0 deg C anomalies tracking east, with the first near 110W per the TOA model. This is the leading edge of the new Kelvin Wave. Satellite data from 8/26 depicts a solid and building area of +5 cm anomalies are covering the dateline region and tracking east reaching to 115W, suggestive of a Kelvin Wave in flight. Some models depict peak temps there at +3 degs. Regardless, they all suggest the Kelvin wave is pushing east, as is the satellite height anomaly data. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (8/26) indicates a new Kelvin Wave is developing in the west reaching east to 120W, with the cool upwelling Phase of the previous Kelvin Wave all but gone except east of 115W. As the last of the cool water anomalies are squeezed out of the 'pipe' over the Galapagos, and light westerly anomalies continue, they will feed more warm water into the building Kelvin Wave. One more solid Kelvin Wave is required to warm waters to the El Nino threshold. But even without that, it appears some other process is in.cgiay favoring warm water accumulation in the Galapagos region. At this time we are over the proverbial 'hump'. And when the developing Kelvin Wave arrives at the Galapagos 2-3 months later (~Sept 30), more warm water will reinforce the existing warm pool theoretically pushing things well into El Nino territory. That cannot be declared until it happens, but everything is lining up.
Pacific Counter Current data is again available. Data as of 9/1 suggests a mixed pattern. The current is pushing west to east over the entire West and Central Pacific north of the equator on the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) reaching into Central America. But the current itself is pushing east to west on the equator, the exact opposite of the direction it should be pushing. East anomalies are on the equator between 140E-180W in the heart of the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Westerly anomalies were on the equator from 110-150W. This data suggests a very mixed picture. As of right now it appears the easterly current is overtaking the westerly component. Not a good sign.
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 9/2 have stabilized but downward some more, suggesting water temps building to +0.5 deg C by early Oct peaking at +1.0 deg C in Dec (down from the +1.75 deg C predicted in May and then revised down to +1.55 deg C predicted in early July) holding into May 2015, then presumably fading, but not drastically per the model. 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-Feb 2015 link.
Analysis: A massive Kelvin Wave was generated by successive Westerly Wind Bursts in Jan-April and erupted in the Galapagos region late June and is now dispersed. The WWB ended on 5/1 with the last of the warm water from it arriving 3 months later over the Galapagos on 8/1. At one point it looked like neutral water temps would be taking over the Galapagos-Ecuador-Peru triangle with no immediate Kelvin Wave reinforcements projected. But instead a persistent warm water temp regime stabilized there, and not much different temperature-wise from what it was at the peak of Kelvin Wave impact. And renewed weak WWB and west anomalies developed in the West Pacific (starting 6/28) with a new Kelvin wave at +2 degs C in flight now. But that Kelvin Wave is not expected to reach the Galapagos till 9/28. So there's still at 4 week 'hole' with no significant warm water to resu.cgiy the Ecuador triangle between 9/1 and 9/28. We had been thinking this would cause water temps to decease in the Nino1+2 regions, likely to near neutral. But that has not happened. Instead water temps are holding in the Galapagos triangle in the +1.5 degree range. Some other process is at work keeping water temp stable in the Galapagos region (as of 8/28). This is good news.
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 8 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. All data suggests we're at the end of the 'upwelling' Phase of the Kelvin Wave. 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 pulse of tropical activity near Hawaii on the week of 8/4 and those systems continued evolution in the West Pacific is most telling. And then that pulse was followed by another pulse off Mexico (818-8/28) resulting in Lowell and Super Hurricane Marie. The last time this happened was during the '97 El Nino. The only argument against the feedback loop now is the development of a west moving Pacific Counter Current. Previous negative arguments concerning a dissipating Kelvin Wave, degradation of peak water temps in the Ecuador triangle and only a neutral 90 day SOI (rather than a negative one) have all turned in favor of an El Nino like pattern. For the most part they were just 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 passed that threshold. As of 9/2, all the arguments against a feedback loop being in.cgiace were fading out except the Pacific Counter Current. Assuming the arguments against co.cgiing were all 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 at least some Pacific Basin wide 'change' was not already well entrenched even early this year, and had 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 is now starting to looks much better as of 8/19) and Atlantic hurricane activity (which is nonexistent) is key. But at this time odds continue stacking in favor of a global teleconnection 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 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 the models suggest a small storm forming south of the Tasman Sea generating 50 kt southwest winds on Sat AM (9/6) building to 55 kt over a broader area in the evening with 36 ft seas at 55S 168E pushing east. Fetch is to be fading from 50 kt on Sun AM (9/7) with the storm tracking east and seas 40 ft at 45S 177E. Fetch is to start fading fast in the evening (below 45 kts) with seas 36 ft at 46S 172W and fading fast. Something to monitor.
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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