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.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
- Buoy 106 (Waimea Bay): Seas were 6.5 ft @ 10.5 secs with swell 5.0 ft @ 9.4 secs from 9 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.0 ft @ 15.0 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 16.2 secs. Wind northeast 4-8 kts. Water temperature 73.0 degrees. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.8 ft @ 16.9 secs from 226 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.8 ft @ 15.8 secs from 204 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.6 ft @ 14.5 secs from 186 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 3.6 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 2.1 ft @ 14.1 secs from 206 degrees. Wind north 7-10 kts. Water temp 63.3 degs.
Buoy 46059 is scheduled to come back on-line in October.
Pt Reyes buoy 029 scheduled for reactivation.
On Thursday (10/8) in North and Central CA local north windswell and background southern hemi swell combo was producing surf in the waist to chest high range and clean. It was a beautiful morning. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high on the sets pushing chest high on the sets at top breaks and clean but weak. In Southern California up north southern hemi background swell was producing was in the thigh to waist high range and clean. Down south surf was chest to head high on the sets and lined up and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting north windswell with head high range and reasonably clean with some warble intermixed. The South Shore was getting nice southern hemi swell with waves shoulder high on the sets and clean and lined up but kinda weak. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell with waves head high or more and chopped from trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
For the North Pacific the Gulf of Alaska was starting to move a little with a broad low pressure system trying to develop there. Wind was light along the California coast offering no real windswell potential. But local northeast windswell from previous fetch was hitting Hawaii's north shores. A solid Westerly Wind Burst was still in control of the equatorial West and Central Pacific and has spawning two tropical systems: Tropical Storm Choi-Wan poised to move over the Kuril Islands in the west and Tropical Storm Oho racing north positioned well off the California coast. Oho is still expected to generate some swell for California, but Choi-Wan is of no interest to anyone but Siberia. And two more small southern hemi swells were tracking northeast, one starting to hit California from a small but solid gale previously southeast of New Zealand, and the third from a solid storm under New Zealand last weekend that produced 53 ft seas.
Looking at the forecast charts Typhoon Oho is to continue racing north-northeast putting 26 ft seas in the California swell window into Thurs (10/8) afternoon, then moving inland over Vancouver Island on Friday. Also on Thurs-Fri (10/9) the low pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska is to organize better generating 24-26 ft seas targeting the US West Coast north of Pt Conception. Long term the models keep hinting at a gale organizing over the northern dateline region later-next week with more tropical activity forecast southeast of Hawaii lifting north. But overall we continue waiting for the North Pacific to really come online. Down south another gale is forecast tracking under New Zealand Thurs-Fri (10/9) generating 40 ft seas aimed east with another right behind that on Sun-Mon (10/12) with maybe 46 ft seas over a tiny area. And maybe more behind that. It looks more like September than October. And El Nino remains front-and-center in our focus with a WWB in-flight, a slowly erupting Kelvin Wave #3 mainly west of the Galapagos, and projections for a stronger WWB a week out.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thurs AM (10/6) the jet was looking great. It was a bit .cgiit over Siberia then regrouped and consolidated just east of the Kurils falling southeast with winds to 180 kts tracking into the Central Gulf of Alaska forming a broad trough bottoming out at 37N 900 nmiles north of Hawaii. There was good support for low pressure development in the Gulf. From there it lifted northeast pushing up into British Columbia. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to slowly fade and flatten out easing into the Pacific Northwest by Sat (10/10) with support for gale development fading. The .cgiit point in the jet previously over Kamchatka is to fall southeast reaching a bit east of the dateline by Sun (10/11) with winds building to 140 kts in the southern branch. Beyond 72 hours the southern branch is to try and form a cutoff trough in the Western Gulf on Mon (10/12) but is to quickly pinch off. Another mini-trough is to try and organize in the Eastern Gulf on Wed (10/14) but never become solid while racing east fast. By late Thurs 910/15) the jet is to be consolidated running east on the 45N latitude line poised to push into North CA. Overall, not a bad configuration, but not yet ready to support significant gale development.
On Thursday AM (10/8) no real swell energy was in the water originating from the North Pacific. A broad area of low pressure was trying to develop in the Gulf of Alaska. A small fetch of 35 kt northwest winds was building in the morning 1200 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii and forecast building to 40 kts in the evening aimed due east 1400 nmiles off the Central CA coast generating a small area of 20 ft seas at 38N 158W. By Fri AM (10/9) 40-45 kt west to southwest winds are forecast off the North CA coast with 26 ft seas at 40N 147W targeting all of California (287 degs NCal, 296 degs SCal). Fetch is to start fading in coverage and turning more to the northeast in the evening down to 35 kts with seas to 27 ft at 43N 138W targeting mainly Vancouver Island though sideband energy to still be targeting Central California (down the 300 degree path) northward. Decent odds for swell to result late in the weekend. Regardless, this system is to be moving into British Columbia Saturday afternoon (10/10).
Two tropical systems were in-flight (see Tropical Update below). High pressure was not in.cgiay relative to California or Hawaii with a light wind pattern in.cgiay offering no windswell generation potential. And given the situation in the Gulf and the jetstream flow aloft, local windswell is falling off our radar.
Over the next 72 hours a secondary low pressure system is to form in the Northeast Gulf of Alaska on Sun AM (10/11) generating 40 kt west winds and seas to 20 ft at 45N 140W (306 degs NCal) and quickly racing northeast with no energy aimed at California proper. at 18Z Sunday 26 ft seas are forecast at 52N 139W. Maybe sideband swell to result for Oregon northward with luck.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
A solid Westerly Wind Burst continued over the equatorial West Pacific supporting tropical storm formation. The WWB started in earnest on Thurs (10/1). The following systems are a result of it's influence:
Tropical Storm Choi-Wan: On Thurs AM (10/8) Choi-Wan was just shy of impacting the Southern Kuril Islands with winds 60 kts (tropical storm force). The GFS model has this system becoming land locked west of the Kurils Friday (10/9). High pressure west of the dateline is to prevent it from recurving northeast. This system is to die west of the Kurils. No swell production forecast for our forecast area.
Tropical Storm Oho: On Thurs AM (10/8) Oho was at 33N 143W or 1,000 nmiles southwest of San Francisco on the 264 degree track there with winds 60 kts with seas 28 ft at that location. 6 hours later it is to be at 34N 139W or barely on the 265 degree track to SF with seas 25 ft and getting absorbed into low pressure in the Gulf while racing north. It is to be impacting Vancouver Island Fri AM (10/9). Maybe some 13-14 sea period swell is to be reaching California on Sat AM (10/10) from 260 degrees if all goes as forecast.
SCal: Swell expected arriving at sunset Fri (10/9) with swell 2 ft @ 17 secs (3 ft faces). Swell to build some overnight peaking at 3 ft @ 14 secs Sat AM (4 ft) from 255-260 degrees. Swell fading through the day with residuals Sun AM 2.3 ft @ 11 secs (2.5 ft)
North CA: Swell expected arriving at sunset Fri (10/9) with swell 4 ft @ 16 secs (6 ft faces). Swell to build some overnight peaking at 6 ft @ 13-14 secs Sat AM (8 ft) from 250-260 degrees. Swell fading through the day with residuals Sun AM 3 ft @ 10-11 secs (3 ft)
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thurs (10/8) high pressure was barely ridging along the immediate CA coast with low pressure filling the Gulf of Alaska and hold it at bay. A light flow was in effect everywhere but Pt Conception where winds were north at 15 kts. A pressure gradient and north winds is to build over Pt Conception on Fri (10/9) at 20 kts slowly lifting north while fading, over the SF Bay Area Sunday (15 kts) and finally Cape mendocino later Monday at barely 20 kts as low pressure in the Gulf fades out. Light winds to be in control everywhere else and this pattern holding through Wed (10/14). Then Thurs a calm pattern to set up as low pressure starts rebuilding into the Gulf. A Fall pattern is forecast starting to build.
On Thurs AM (10/8) small swell from a New Zealand Gale was starting to hit California (see Small New Zealand Gale - First Swell below). A second stronger storm tracked across the deep Southwest Pacific generating seas of interest (see Southwest Pacific Gale - Second Swell below). And yet a third stronger system tracked under New Zealand on Sat AM (10/3) but much further away (see New Zealand Storm - Third Swell below).
Over the next 72 hours a series of weak low pressure systems are forecast flowing under New Zealand to the east. One system on Fri AM (10/9) is to generate a small area of 50 kt west winds and seas to 40 ft at 56S 162E (214 degs and not shadowed in NCal, but shadowed in SCal, barely in the 201 deg window for HI). Fetch to fade from 45 kts in the evening with seas dropping from 38 ft at 55S 175E (193 degs HI, 213 degs and not shadowed in NCal, but shadowed in SCal). 35 kt west winds to hold on into Sat AM (10/10) producing 32 ft seas at 56S 174W (190 degs HI, 208 degs SCal and unshadowed by shadowed in NCal). This system is to be gone after that. Yet one more small swell might result but at a very oblique angle relative to HI.
Small New Zealand Gale (First Swell)
A gale formed while tracking under New Zealand Mon PM (9/28) producing 45 kt west-southwest winds and seas building from 32 ft at 60S 170E. On Tues AM (9/29) the fetch was covering a solid area at 40 kts all from the west with seas building to 33 ft at 59S 180W. By evening fetch was fading fast with seas dropping from 29 ft at 58S 165W. Sideband swell is likely for Tahiti and maybe minimal energy for Hawaii but the extreme east to almost southeast fetch heading is not favorable for solid swell propagation to the northeast.
California: Swell holding Fri (10/9) at 2.2 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5 ft). Swell fading Sat (10/10) from 2.3 ft @ 15 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction 205 degrees
Southwest Pacific Gale (Second Swell)
Another small but stronger system developed in the deep Southwest Pacific on Wed AM (9/30) producing a tiny area of 55 kt west winds and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By Wed PM 50 kt west winds were tracking flat east generating 40 ft seas over a tiny area at 61S 174W on the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf (189 degs HI, 205 degs NCal and shadowed by Tahiti, 206 degs SCal and not shadowed). This system tracked east Thurs AM (10/1) with 40-45 kt southwest winds starting to fade resulting in 39 ft seas at 59S 162W (182 degs HI, 201 degs NCal, 202 degs SCal). Winds to be fading from 40 kts in the evening with seas fading from 31 ft at 57S 150W. Better odds for swell from this one targeting mainly Chile and Peru with sideband energy up into California and far less size for Hawaii.
South California: Expect swell arrival on Fri AM (10/9) with period 20 secs and size building, pushing 2.3 ft @ 19 secs late (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell building Sat AM (10/10) with period 18 secs and peaking at 2.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (4.5 ft) holding into late Saturday afternoon as period hits 17 secs. Swell fading Sun AM (10/11) from 2.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.5 ft). Residuals Monday (10/12) fading from 2.3 ft @ 14 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 201-206 degrees.
North California: Expect swell arrival on Fri AM (10/9) with period 20 secs and size building, pushing 2.0 ft @ 19 secs late (4.0 ft). Swell building Sat AM (10/10) with period 18 secs and peaking at 2.1 ft @ 17-18 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) holding into late Saturday afternoon as period hits 17 secs. Swell fading Sun AM (10/11) with swell 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5 ft). Residuals Monday (10/12) fading from 1.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 200-205 degrees.
New Zealand Storm (Third Swell)
A stronger but small storm developed south of Tasmania on Fri AM (10/2) producing 55 kt west winds and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. This system moved southwest of New Zealand on Fri PM (10/2) with 60-65 kt west winds over a small area generating a tiny area of 55 ft seas at 54.5S 154E (221 degs CA, shadowed by NZ relative to HI). By Sat AM (10/3) 50 kt southwest winds were positioned directly south of New Zealand generating 49 ft seas at 54.5S 166E (200 degs HI, 217 degs CA - shadowed by Tahiti in SCal). Fetch was fading from 40 kts over a decent sized area Sat PM with seas fading from 43 ft at 56S 177E (192 degs HI, 211 degs CA and shadowed by Tahiti for SCal). This system to be gone by Sun AM (10/4) with seas fading from 35 ft at 57S 172W. Some decent long period swell should result for Tahiti, Hawaii and the US West Coast.
California: Expect swell arrival on Mon (10/12) before sunrise with period 20 secs and size tiny but building. Swell pushing 1.3-1.6 ft @ 20 secs late (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell continuing sunrise on Tues (10/13) with period 18 secs. Swell 1.4-1.8 ft @ 18 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell starting to fade Wed AM at sunrise (10/14) with swell dropping from 1.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 220 degrees SCal to see the larger end of the above size range and NCal the smaller.
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 residual low pressure is to continue over the Northern Gulf of Alaska into Tues (10/13) but offering no fetch of interest.
Also a gale is forecast developing east of Kamchatka Tues (10/13) generating 40 kt west winds and almost 26 ft seas at 50N 163E pushing east but fading. The models are unstable regarding any specific outcome though. Something to monitor.
Beyond 72 hours another gale is forecast forming under New Zealand on Sun AM (10/11) producing 60 kt west winds over a tiny area aimed east. 60 kt west winds to hold into the evening with seas building to 46 ft at 56S 176W. 50-55 kt west fetch to hold into Mon AM (10/12) with 43 ft seas at 56S 163W. 50 kt west winds to hold into the evening over a small area with seas fading 40 ft at 60S 154W and moving over Antarctic Ice. Another pulse of swell is possible for California and Hawaii.
And yet one more system is forecast under New Zealand on Thurs (10/15) with a tiny area of 46 ft seas.
Details to follow...
SubSurface Warm Pool Expanding
Solid WWB Continues Near Dateline
The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the.cgianet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).E.cgianation of data layout below: Major sections are organized in cause-and-effect sequence starting with wind conditions/forecasts for the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA - equatorial West Pacific) followed by subsurface ocean temperature conditions (i.e. monitoring for Kelvin Waves), then ocean surface temperature conditions (i.e Nino 1.2 and 3.4) followed by atmospheric co.cgiing analysis. The 1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data and is typically updated with each new forecast. The 2nd paragraph, where present, provides analysis and context and is updated as required.
Overview: A strong El Nino is developing. It began its lifecycle in late 2013 as a primer WWB and Kelvin Wave developed. Then in early 2014 a historically strong push by the Active Phase of the MJO resulted in a large Kelvin Wave, and anomalies continued in the Spring into early Summer transporting more warm water eastward. But the cycle faltered in July due to a protracted bout of the Inactive Phase of the MJO which enabled the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle to manifest driving cooler water east, muting warm water buildup along the Ecuador coast. Still the warm water pipe remained open, but surface temperatures near the Galapagos never recovered and any atmospheric momentum was lost. Then in early 2015, another historically strong push from the MJO occurred, effectively a repeat of the early 2014 event, invigorating the warm water transport process and, adding more heat to an already anomalously warm surface pool off Ecuador. That pool has been building steadily in spurts ever since. The paragraphs below describe the current status of various El Nino indicators, followed by a few paragraphs that tie all the pieces together and provide our analysis of what is to come.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis from TAO Buoys: As of Thurs (10/8) down at the surface, the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated moderate to strong west winds (not anomalies) from 165E-155W mostly well north of the equator but with limited modest west winds on the equator from 180W to 160W. West winds at 13 kts were at 5 N over the entire KWGA and up to 18 kts in the eastern portion of that area. Anomalies continued strong from the west from 170E to 150W on and north of the equator with some anomalies just south of it between 160-180W and more north of the equator also extending east to 120W. This Westerly Wind Burst started on Thurs (10/1) and continues today in full effect. This pattern has been in control in some form since 9/2, intensified some 9/17 and holding, and then intensified again on 10/1 (to WWB status). This pattern has been locked over the eastern half of the KWGA, which is a normal configuration as El Nino matures. Previously, west anomalies were steady for a 29 day window (7/19-8/19) and followed directly behind a very strong WWB burst (third of the year) that was associated with a robust Active Phase of the MJO (historically strong) 6/24-7/17 (nearly 2 months of west anomalies or stronger). Starting 9/2 a steady Westerly Wind anomaly pattern set up from 160E over the dateline intensifying some 9/17 and is holding through today. Most impressive.
1 Week Forecast: West anomalies if not west winds started building on 10/1 at 175W and points east of there and are forecast to hold at least to 10/15. The GFS model depicts that by Fri (10/9) 18 kt west wind to be over the north KWGA from 155E-175W and building with a nice core of 22 kt west winds near 160E Sat (10/11) with follow-on 15-18 kt west winds there into early Tues (10/13). And then 14-16 kt west winds are to build in the western KWGA and holding Tues-Thurs (10/15). In short this situation looks like a full-on WWB though limited some in terms of coverage to the northern KWGA. But it is to be clearly in the required area if all goes as forecast. Elsewhere in the KWGA a slack wind pattern is to continue (which is effectively west anomalies). This remains a great and improving situation. No east anomalies have occurred this year in the KWGA, not one day, and none are forecast. The thought is these anomalies are continuing to push warm water from the West Pacific to depth and though not generating a distinct Kelvin Wave, are filling the semi permanent reservoir already present west of the Galapagos.
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 after that through 6/10. Anomalies faded to neutral for 8 days through 6/18 as the Inactive Phase of the MJO interfered with the pattern (the first such event of the year), then weak westerlies started again on 6/18. A significant WWB, the strongest of the year so far, starting on 6/26 peaking near 7/4 then held nicely through 7/17 (22 days), the result of a historically strong Active Phase of the MJO which produced a strong and large Kelvin Wave, the third this year and the strongest by far. Moderate westerly anomalies redeveloped 7/29 when a Rossby Wave started interacting with the building El Nino base state, enhancing the westerly flow, developing a mini-WWB at 175E through 8/5. And westerly anomalies continued through 8/19. That is nearly 2 months of non-stop anomalies if not out and out west winds (6/26-8/19). From 8/19-8/25 lesser westerly anomalies occurred and those were mainly east of the KWGA, with dead neutral anomalies in the West KWGA. West anomalies started rebuilding on 8/26 and turned to legit west winds up at 9N on 9/3 and held in some fashion up there into 9/29 while calm winds held in the KWGA proper. And now strong west winds redeveloped in the Northeast KWGA on 10/1. West wind anomalies at the surface are the hallmark of the Active Phase of the MJO and El Nino and drive Kelvin Wave production. We certainly have had a lot of that so far this year.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections: As of 10/8:
OLR Models: Indicate an dead neutral signal over the equatorial dateline region typical of a maturing El Nino. Both the Statistic and Dynamic model suggests an Inactive pattern over the far West Pacific with no MJO pattern over the dateline and east of there and that is to hold for for the next 15 days. This is typical of the pattern when an El Nino base state strengthens.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): Both models indicate some form of weak 'MJO-like' signal building over Africa with the GEFS the stronger of the pair of models. In reality, this is likely not the MJO, but likely an enhanced El Nino base state westerly wind burst starting now.
40 Day Upper Level Model: It depicts a weak Inactive Phase in the far West Pacific tracking east. In reality, this pattern has been on the charts for weeks now and consistently fails to materialize. It is suspected the stronger El Nino base state is in control, but exhibits an Inactive-like MJO pattern over the far West Pacific, with an Active-like pattern over the dateline and points east of there, but not moving. The model thinks it's a real Inactive Phase in a normal year in the West Pacific and tries to move it east. Clearly that is not the case. We are ignoring this model.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): A push of the supposed Active Phase of the MJO is occurring now and is to ease east into 10/20. A Rossby Wave is currently building west and enhancing the El Nino base state resulting in the WWB currently in.cgiay. That Rossby Wave and its positive reinforcement for westerly winds is to hold through through 10/17 over and just west of the dateline, then fade. This WWB is to rival the strong WWB of late June/early July that made massive Kelvin Wave #3. Beyond solid westerly anomalies are forecast after the WWB till Jan 6 but never reaching WWB status while slowly easing east centered near 165W by 12/30, suggesting the coming end of El Nino generation. The El Nino base state is now the primary driver of Westerly Anomalies from here forward. No easterly anomalies are forecast. We are entering the core of the El Nino cycle (Oct-Dec) It is assumed this current WWB will produce one more defined Kelvin Wave with anomalies behind that continuing to fuel the subsurface warm reservoir into Dec. Is it possible this El Nino might last longer than previously expected? Too early to tell but we think not. The core westerly anomalies to start collapsing east of the KWGA by Jan 1, meaning the warm water conveyor will shut down at that time, with the warm pool in the east starting to decay. At a minimum, 3-4 more months of west anomalies are forecast (per the model). Tropical systems have the best chance of constructively interfering (enhancing) westerly anomalies from here forward. We're on autopilot now. It doesn't get any better than this unless you're back in 1997.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (10/8) Actual temperatures remain impressive. A tongue of 29 deg temps are pushing east from 140E to 138W making some limited head way. The 28 deg Isotherm reaches east to 126W (easing east). Anomaly wise +2.0 degs anomalies are fully bulging from 175E eastward (expanding west) and +4 deg anomalies cover from 160W eastward (massively expanding this report), the direct effect of the massive June-July WWB and non-stop westerly anomalies ever since. A large warm reservoir at +5-7 deg above normal temps is starting to erupt into the Galapagos. That reservoir is holding coverage with peak +7 degs anomalies centered at 108W (steady) with +5 deg anomalies extending east from 150W to Ecuador (building hard west - impressive). This pocket is a mixture of warm water from a WWB in early May (Kelvin Wave #2) merging with water from a strong WWB in late June-July (Kelvin Wave #3) and more warm water moving in from the dateline (Kelvin Wave #4). The pipe is wide open. And warm warm water continues falling to depth near the dateline and into this reservoir. Warm waters appears to be erupting west of the Galapagos per the hi-res subsurface animation (9/30) at primarily 105W at +4C with +3 deg C surface movement of the warm pool 145W-->90W (expanding).
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA): (9/30) It is holding depicting 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific starting at 170E (expanding). Peak anomalies were +15 cm extending from 115W to 140W (shrinking). +5 cm anomalies are pushing into Ecuador. All this is indicative of a wide open pipe with a large Kelvin Wave in flight. This is a classic major El Nino setup.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: As of (9/30) it indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 178E and the Galapagos (expanding west). +1.0-1.5 degs are easing east from 175W eastward (a major expansion west). +1.5 deg anomalies are holding at 148W. A large pocket of +2.0 degs anomalies are at 140W-->92W (expanding west slightly). The previous large pocket of +2.5 deg anomalies that covered 20 degrees of distance shrunk to 10 degrees on the 9/25 update and now are no longer in the picture. 1.5-2.0 anomalies are pushing cleanly into Ecuador. The Downwelling Phase of Kelvin Wave #3 is underway in earnest now. A previous little pocket of 1.0-1.5 deg anomalies depicted out at 170W is now looking more merged with the main pool east of there, indicating the possible start of Kelvin Wave #4. This is very good news.
A strong Kelvin Wave impacted the Ecuador Coast in May-June with a second somewhat weaker one impacting it in June. And now a third is erupting, but somewhat westward di.cgiaced just west of the Galapagos and not as overtly strong as one would expect. A previous pause in warming near Ecuador occurred starting mid August, attributable to the Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave Cycle, but ended on 9/20. Still the volume and temps of warm water east of the Galapagos is not as strong as one would expect. The subsurface configuration suggests there are 2.5+ months of warm water in this reservoir (till Dec 15) and some of that water is extremely warm (7 degs above normal). The peak was forecast to occur roughly on 10/4 in the Nino 1.2 region but we are revising that to 11/4 now given stalling effect the Upwelling Phase had. And westerly anomalies continue in the KWGA pushing more warm water to depth. Still, the fact that this massive Kelvin Wave is not having a more marked impact on surface temps is pe.cgiexing. Is this third Kelvin Wave the final one, or will another follow? Or maybe just a continued r.cgienishment of the warm pool will continue for the next month or more driven by El Nino fueled westerly anomalies. We all hope the answer is more is on the way. But that is entirely dependent upon how strong the El Nino base state really is. All data suggests this is a good setup, but not manifesting itself in a robust or aggressive manner. Typical of the character of this El Nino event, it is maddeningly slow and under whelming if viewed on a daily basis. But the overall impact, though slow, is marked and historically strong. But if a WWB develops as forecast, then the situation will change for the better.
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.
Low-res: (10/8) Overall the picture is solid and unchanged in the past week or so. Warmer waters are building up into Central America and south into Peru and filling the Nino3.4 region nicely. The warm water signal covers the entire equatorial Pacific from the dateline eastward with embedded pulses of warmer water now depicted from Ecuador to 130W (wave-like pulses). And the pattern is getting better defined and is exhibiting more concentration compared to previous days data. The overall signature is the strongest of any point so far this year and of any time since mid-July 1997. Compared to '97, 2015 anomalies are warmer in the Nino3.4 region, but have less concentration and coverage in Nino1.2. Surprisingly coverage south of the equator is growing and trying to build south down the Peruvian coast, not quite on par with '97 but favorably building. Overall, the current expansion of water temps is impressive. Along the West African Coast, cool water continues there but continues to loose some ground in the past month. This is not a worry at this point in the cycle. Very warm water continues off the US West Coast and is holding and extending west the whole way to Japan but unrelated to this years El Nino, attributable to the building warm phase of the PDO. Slightly cool water is over North Australia extending north of New Guinea to the dateline (Maritime Continent), typical of a strong El Nino. The cool wake of previous tropical systems have all but faded off Japan and the Philippines. Warming water continues near Madagascar suggestive of a building Indian Ocean Dipole.
Hi-res Nino1.2: Per the latest image (10/8) Temps have not built in coverage the past 2 days, but have not faded any either. +2.5 anomalies fill the Ecuador-Galapagos region with a small stream of +4.0 anomalies between Ecuador and the Galapagos. A tiny cool pocket north of the Galapagos is all but gone. We're starting to see warming here similar to the area west of the Galapagos, a good sign and suggests that the Kelvin Wave eruption area, though westward di.cgiaced, is starting to backfill to the east. Warming in this area peaked on 7/14 then crashed and has been trying to rebuild ever since. Given its been 2.5 months, and warming has not redeveloped to previous levels, di.cgiacement still remains the operative e.cgianation.
Galapagos Virtual Station: (10/8) Anomalies are on the increase the past 4 days, rebounding from a low of +3.1 degrees on 10/1 to 3.9 degrees today (10/8). A recent crash in temps here was attributable to the tiny cool pocket just east of the Galapagos. But that is fading fast. Previously a solid reading occurred on 5/23 at +4.59 degs suggesting the first Kelvin Wave generated in Jan-Mar had arrived, then built to +5.45 degs on 6/14. Temps faded from that high peak down to +4.1 degs in late June then rebuilt up to +4.94 on 7/17. Then a fade set in, down to +3.1 degs as of 7/31 and bouncing from +3.1-3.5 through 8/7, then falling dramatically to +2.0 on 8/10 and held at +2.1-2.3 degrees 8/14-8/19. Temps built to +2.7-3.2 8/22-8/27 and up to +3.5 on 9/5 then down to +3.2 degs on 9/9. A dramatic rise started 9/12 pushing up to +5.3 on 9/16 flirting with peak temps received back in 6/14 (+5.5). But a bit of a fade occurred 9/17 down to +4.5 falling to 3.8 degs on 9/23 then anomalies stabilized at +4.0 degs. A quick look at the Nino1.2 hi-res imagery e.cgiains the situation, with the last little pocket of the upwelling phase cooler waters moving into the East Galapagos.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/8): Warming is the name of the game now with only one small cool pocket west of the Galapagos. Modest warming was occurring over the entire stretch from Ecuador to the dateline in pockets.
Hi-res NINO 3.4: (10/8) The latest image remains very impressive but has backtracked some. We are back to where we were weeks ago with a solid pool of warm surface water unbroken, advecting west from from the Galapagos with +2.25 degs anomalies from a previous Kelvin Wave reaching west to at least 160W. Within that, 2 pockets of +4 deg anomalies are present west of the Galapagos at 98W and 106W but loosing some coverage. This is attributable to the normal ebb and flow of Kelvin Wave eruption. These pockets are the leading edge/breach point of Kelvin Wave #3. (see previous image here 9/28 and 9/30), and now a similar to the peak when Kevin Wave #3 first started breaching on 9/19 especially in the western portion of this area. Impressive. Previously +2.25 anomalies reached west to 133W on 7/16 and then 138W (7/31) pushing to 149W on 8/10 and 158W on 8/15 and filling the area to 160W on 8/30 solidly. But a breakup started on 9/5 at 155W, regrouped 9/15 and held to 9/23, faded some, but has now rebuilt and exceeded the original peak as of 10/2. This is advection west of warm water resulting from eruption of the 1st and 2nd Kelvin Waves earlier this year. And the third one is now underway having already refilled the area west of 150W, with much more to come.
Hi-res Overview: (10/8) Like the low-res image, the El Nino signal is unmistakable and the strongest since 1997, and stronger than anything in the satellite age prior to that. The intensity of warm anomalies in the eruption site west of the Galapagos has stabilized since 9/28 and is building east of the Galapagos. A total of 6 pockets at 4+ degrees are now strung from Ecuador to the west (up from 5 last report), the vent ports for Kelvin Wave #3. Temps between 160W-180W have regained a little ground in the past few days. Nothing significant though. So we're still trying to regain the peak levels from 9/16. They are more concentrated (at +2.25 C) but extend only to 170W where before they were to 178W. Nino3.4 temps should be near steady per visual inspection of the satellite imagery. With building westerly anomalies and a WWB in the West Pacific, that seems to be helping the situation. Given the subsurface situation, surface water temps should be raging. They were in a holding pattern if not backsliding from 9/20-9/28, but are finally improving. This is good.
Historical Comparison of Strong El Nino's
(Based on Nino3.4 Sea Surface Temp Anomalies)
Images built using 2 data sets - Monthly OISSTv.2 top & OISSTv4 bottom. This years data valid through Sept.
Top image suggests 2015 is already the third strongest El Nino in recorded history (beat only by '82 and '97). The bottom image suggests it's the 5th strongest.
In both images this years event is either the strongest or 2nd strongest for this time of year.
Requisite Disclaimer - Current performance is no indication of future performance.
TAO Data: +1.0 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial East Pacific, the warmest in years, advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to the dateline and beyond (holding at 175E). We're monitoring the +0.0 anomaly line on the equator to see if it's moving east. Today its at 155E (steady). +1.5 deg anomalies are steady in the west with the core unbroken temps at 180W rebuilding west. There is also a massive embedded area of +2.0-2.5 deg anomalies extending from the Galapagos to 170W with a previous pocket to +3.0 deg redeveloping at 115W. Overall the warm water signature is rebuilding and moving west and impressive.
Nino1.2 Daily Index Temps: (10/8) Temps are steady, at +2.581. They bottomed out at +1.265 degs on 9/15, and have been slowly rebuilding since. This is consistent with what is being indicated in the hi-res Nino1.2 imagery. Previously temps hovered at +2.1 degrees early June then spiked reaching +3.0 degs on 7/3, faded, then spiked again on 7/13 at +3.0 degs and yet again at +3.0 degs on 7/22. Temps fell to +1.9 degrees on 7/27 and bottomed out at +1.0 degs on 8/20 at the height of the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave Cycle. Then temps started building to +1.3 on 8/26 and +1.7 by 8/29 and to +2.0 by 9/8 before falling, down to +1.265 degs on 9/15. They started rising after that as Kelvin Wave #3 started arriving, and are solid today.
Nino 3.4 Daily Index Temps: Temps are falling hard today at +1.824, down from +2.074 on 10/6, and down from an all time peak of +2.44 on Sat (10/3). Previously temps were up from +2.037 on 10/1 and +2.077 on 9/17. The previous all time peak for this event was +2.24 degs on 8/23 (one day). We have crushed that level. By any standard we are at a Strong El Nino levels. We expect these temps to continue upward for the foreseeable future. (Note: These temps are ERSSTv.4 - biased low compared to OISSTv.2).
SST Anomalies on 9/14/2015 and what is driving them from below.
working theory is this years event is westward di.cgiaced somewhat
the '82/83 super El Nino event. The main evidence for this is the
eruption of Kelvin Wave #3 west of the Galapagos. Though that eruption is fading some now, and with no evidence to suggest peak eruption is occurring in the Nino1.2 region proper (yet), we will continue with this theory. This suggests the Walker circulation is not di.cgiaced as far east as in '97 but more like '82/83. Best analysis from upper level charts suggests it's core is at 120W. At this time we're unsure what the effects on rainfall would be. Total rainfall in San Francisco in '82/83 was 38.17" (+16.38") versus 47.22" in '97/98 (+25.43"). The long term average is 21.79". In LA in '82/83 it was 31.28" (+16.47) versus 31.01" in '97 (+16.2"). Long term average 14.81". Regardless, both events were well above average. This also suggests the core of storm production will be north of the most warming. So rather than the Eastern to Central Gulf of Alaska being the focus, it might be more in the Western Gulf. This is actually a good thing relative to California by perhaps giving resulting swells more room to groom themselves before hitting the coast. This might bode not so well for Hawaii, with large stormy conditions the result. Of course, this is just speculation at this time.
Pacific Counter Current: As of 9/16 the current was moderate but not overly impressive. The current is pushing strongly west to east over the west equatorial Pacific north of the equator from 130E to 155W, and still solid but fading while pushing west to 130W before fading out at 90W. A stream of weak to modest east current was just south of the equator from 110W to the dateline. Anomaly wise - modest west anomalies were spread mostly north of the equator over the West Pacific, with a strong pocket north of the equator from 170E to 150W, then fading with another pocket at 100W. One pocket of east anomalies was indicated south of the equator from 140W to the dateline. This is not impressive but not unimpressive either. Compared to the '97 El Nino at this time, there is no comparison. In '97 the current was raging east from 130E to 130W mainly north of the equator.
SST Anomaly projections
CFSv2 model - PDF Corrected: For the model run 10/8 for the Nino 3.4 region, peak temperatures for this event have upgraded slightly. Water temps per the model are at +1.85 deg C (verified at 1.8 degs today) and are now to peak at +1.95 degs in the late Nov timeframe, then dropping off. Considering temps in Nino3.4 now and the size of the new Kelvin Wave below, we suspect this projection is well on the low side. Uncorrected data has upgraded too suggesting a peak to +2.55 degs in Nov. We'll venture a guess of somewhere around +2.3 degs for a one month peak in Oct-Nov but suspect that might be on the low side.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Sept Plume has upgraded again, suggesting peak temps between +2.1 degs (Statistical models), +2.5 degs (Dynamic) with the CPC consensus at +2.45. The mid-July consensus was spread between +1.5-2.0 degs and the mid-Aug between +2.0-2.5 degs. See chart here - link.
If one is to make a direct comparison of the 2015 event to '97 at this time of year based on the areal coverage of water temps, there is no comparison. '97 imagery leaves this years event in the dust. The '97 event built non-stop from this point forward (in terms of areal coverage). Instead, the 2015 event, though warming nicely with comparable to stronger anomalies in Nino3.4 and Nino4, is weak in Nino1.2 and the coverage of warm waters is a worm in this area compared to '97s mammoth coverage. A clear and significant downgrade occurred in the Galapagos area 8/12-8/20 the result of a pause in upwelling of warm water in that region, a break between the first and second Kelvin wave eruptions and the third poised just off Ecuador. It finally looks like Kelvin Wave #3 is having a good impact in this area now (10/3) but it has hurt the overall coverage compared to '97. but compared to the other super El Nino in '82, this years event crushes it. We continue solidly.cgiaced between '97 and '82. There could be no better.cgiace to be.
Atmospheric Co.cgiing Index's (lagging indicators rather than driving oceanic change):
Daily Southern Oscillation Index (10/8): Was rising some at -16.40. Of note: The 97 El Nino had daily values at -40 to -50 in early Nov with one spurt to -76 Jan 30-31st. The peak reading in the 2015 event was -49.70/-46.60 on Oct 3/4.
30 Day Average: Was falling from -22.59. This is a new peak. The lowest point in years was achieved -20.95 on 8/21, with the previous lowest at -20.49 on 7/18/15. both were beat on 10/6 at -22.37.
90 Day Average: Was falling from -18.32. We are on the very of a new record low. The peak low was obtained on 9/16 at -18.56. This is the critical threshold we've been anticipating (values -18 or lower), providing yet more evidence of strong atmospheric co.cgiing. We want to see it hold there, and that goal is looking more possible. It has been at or below -10.0 since early July and -15.0 since 9/4 and on a steady fall ever since. The 90 day SOI bottomed out at a low reading on 8/5 at -14.17, then beat it on 9/2 at -15.23, peaking 9/16 at -18.56.
Trend (looking for negative SOI numbers, indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO or El Nino): The near term trend based on the daily average was indicative of a building El Nino base state. The longer term pattern was indicative of a steadily building El Nino base state.
SOI Trend - Darwin (looking for high pressure here): High pressure was exiting the area on Thurs (10/8) but is to hold though fading into Sun (10/11). A new high pressure system building over Southeast Aust on Mon-Thurs (10/15).
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): A new local low is developing on Thurs (10/8) southwest of Tahiti and is to be tracking east through Wed (10/14) likely helping to push the SOI negative. This is exactly the pattern one wants to see if a Super El Nino is in development. Continuous local lows near or over Tahiti.
SOI 1 week Forecast: The net result is to be a trend of negative to falling SOI values through the coming week.
SOI Analysis: During El Nino, the SOI functions as a measure of how well the ocean and atmosphere are co.cgied. Current numbers suggest good co.cgiing though not great, but getting better footing slowly but steadily (notice the 90 day average trend). This pattern is to only change for the better as the El Nino base state builds as we move into Fall. A consistent 90 day average of -18 is our target, indicative of a strong El Nino.
Southern Hemi Booster Index (SHBI) Analysis (which is theorized to supercharge a developing El Nino): Per the past 4 day 850 mbs anomaly charts, the south flow was strong into 10/4, but is fading some now, but still supporting the SHBI. Per the GFS model a southerly flow is to hold into Sat (10/10) then be suppressed into Tues (10/13), rebuilding Wed (10/14). It is high pressure over Southeast Australia that sets up the southerly surface flow. South and southeast wind anomalies have been in this region off and on for weeks now (previous run 7/29-8/10, this run 8/13-8/18), then returning consistently 9/18 and in.cgiay up to today. The SHBI appears to only be slightly influencing El Nino development, but we have no hard numbers to confirm.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed cloud cover): (10/8) today's value strengthen some to +2.17. It has been holding in this range for weeks now with only minor fluctuation (+1.95-2.20). The ESPI was steady in the +2.5 range through 8/10, then began falling, to +2.42 on 8/18 and bottoming out at +1.78 on 8/26. It started rebuilding on 8/29 at +1.89 holding at +1.87 on 9/18 and up to +2.2 on 9/24 reaching +2.3 on 9/26, then down to 2.02 on 9/29. Historically the peak of the '82 El Nino was +2.2 and the '97 event +2.85. This suggests the '15 El Nino is reasonably well co.cgied with the atmosphere, more so than some of the other indices indicate.
Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (Sept) The current ranking is up again, rising from +2.37 (Aug) to +2.53 (Sept) or up 0.16 standard deviations (65). The July MEI was 1.97 SD (65). At this same time in '97 the ranking was 3.00 SD (66) and in '82 it was 1.85 SD (62). So we continue between the '82 and '97 events but closer to '97, in strong El Nino territory presumably moving towards the Super El Nino range. The top 5 events since 1950 in order are: '97, '82, '91, '86, and '72 with '97 and '82 classified as 'Super El Nino's' because they reached 3 standard deviations (SD) above normal. '91 and '86 were at about 2.2 and 2.1 respectively with '72 peaking at 1.8 SD's above the norm. We've already beat all those. Suffice it to say we are somewhere between '82 and '97 in term of of atmospheric co.cgiing per this index. Most impressive.
North Pacific Jetstream (10/8) Detailed analysis is in the NPac Short Term Forecast above. In short, the jet has started the Fall transition influenced by El Nino, but nothing remarkable yet. Previously the jet has not at all looked like it is influenced by El Nino, so this is an upgrade. Given the slow nature of this El Nino, the slow response by the jetstream should not be unexpected.
Comparing the 2015 El Nino to '82 and '97
(Click to enlarge)
Conclusion: In late 2013 into 2014 the Active Phase of the MJO and successive Kelvin Waves warmed waters over the Eastern equatorial Pacific and primed the atmosphere out of a 15 year La Nina biased pattern that had been in.cgiay since the demise of the '97-98 Super El Nino. It is assumed the PDO was dictating the change from a cool regime to warmer pattern. This warming and teleconnection continued building in 2015 with two Kelvin Waves arriving in Ecuador warming surface waters well into El Nino territory and a third, the strongest so far, starting to erupt in the Galapagos region. At this time the classic El Nino feedback loop is in effect, with the atmosphere and the ocean well co.cgied and reinforcing and feeding the El Nino pattern at a global scale.
The 2015 El Nino pattern continues to build in fits and starts, most recently hampered by 'The Pause/Upwelling Phase of the Kevin Wave cycle ' that occurred in August and continued in Nino1.2 through Sept. Even in spite of that, El Nino continued to evolve. Temps in the Nino 3.4 region today have surpassed their previous peak and expected to only build as massive Kelvin Wave #3 continues erupting focused mainly west of the Galapagos but showing signs of building east of there. The big question remains concerning how strong will this El Nino become. That is a function of anomalies in the Nino3.4 region. The warmer the core temps and the larger their areal coverage, the more influence on the jetstream. Obtaining high Nino3.4 temps is a function of the strength and duration of westerly anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. And the frequency of those events is dictated by the 'character' of the El Nino. The '97 event was a bulldozer, developing out of a previous cold La Nina water state, and never looked back. Contrasting that was the '82-83 event, which didn't even start presenting until the Fall. The 2015 event has taken it's sweet time getting organized, in fit's and starts, but is on a roll recently. We expect peak warming in Nino1.2 to occur on 11/4 with peak warmth reaching Nino3.4 a month later. That would.cgiace this event as a late bloomer, more in line with the '82 than '97. Either way, they were both Super El Ninos, and we're well on track to reach that status.
The longer El Nino threshold temperatures persist, the longer it will take proportionally to dissipate. The atmosphere responds very slowly to change. but once changed, it doesn't turn back to it's previous configuration quickly. An official El Nino was declared in late 2014 and has only gotten stronger since then. If westerly anomalies continue as predicted by the CFS model with a peak in mid-Oct, and another Kelvin Wave results, it would not arrive in Ecuador till mid-Jan, 2016, and not reach NIno 3.4 till mid-Feb that would mean a total duration of El Nino temps in the Nino3.4 region of 16 months. The character of this even is slow and steady but persistent. That is a good thing, in that it could slow the inevitable transition to La Nina until later in the winter of 2016-2107. And all data suggest this one is in the same league as both '97 and '82, just different in it's evolution. There no guarantee of this outcome, but all data suggests this is the trajectory we are on.
With the jetstream starting to come online, the final transition in the atmosphere appears to be underway. Still any direct influence from El Nino will probably occur later in the Fall rather than earlier. Continue preparations. Once the storm cycle starts, we expect it to only build in momentum, consistency, and intensity, peaking in the Feb timeframe.
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool
External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
Updated - Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (10/4): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkF98oYBm2w&feature=youtu.be&hd=1
For automatic notification of forecast updates, subscribe to the Stormsurf001 YouTube channel - just click the 'Subscribe' button below the video. - - -
- - -
||Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here: http://www.casanoble.com/
Mavericks Invitational Pieces Featuring Stormsurf:
Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.
Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's si.cgie and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet E.cgiorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way!
Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here
Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here
Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table