Swell Classification Guidelines
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
Summer - Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate/Utility Class: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft).
Summer - Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
- Buoy 106 (Waimea Bay): Seas were 8.2 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 6.3 ft @ 15.0 secs from 307 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.6 ft @ 14.0 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 14.0 secs. Wind northwest 4 kts. Water temperature 70.0 degrees. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.7 ft @ 11.3 secs from 261 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.4 ft @ 14.8 secs from 243 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.4 ft @ 14.5 secs from 257 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 8.7 ft @ 17.2 secs with swell 4.6 ft @ 17.1 secs from 295 degrees. Wind northwest 10-12 kts. Water temp 62.4 degs.
Buoy 46059 has been reactivated.
Pt Reyes buoy 029 scheduled for reactivation.
Hi-res Buoys New!
On Saturday (10/31) in North and Central CA Dateline Swell #2 was producing waves in the 2 ft overhead range at exposed breaks and clean but very inconsistent and totally fogged in. Down in Santa Cruz the same swell was producing waves in the waist to chest high range and clean but weak. No fog. In Southern California up north leftovers from Swell #1 were producing waves in the chest high range and reasonably lined up and clean. Down south the same swell was in the chest to shoulder high range and clean and lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was down from the day before but really clean with waves double overhead on the face and lined up. The South Shore was getting some wrap around swell from the west at exposed breaks at chest high and clean with light trades in effect. The East Shore was also getting wrap around northwest swell with waves shoulder high but heavily textured from light trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
For the North Pacific swell from a gale that was west of the dateline (Gale #2) and produced up to 42 ft seas is fading in Hawaii and building in California on Saturday (10/31).
Looking at the forecast charts a low pressure system was developing off the Pacific Northwest on Sat-Sun (11/1) is to produce 24 ft seas targeting down into Central CA. Moderate local north angled swell to result for CA early in the workweek. And another small storm is forecast for the north dateline region on Wed-Thurs (11/5) with up to 45 ft seas aimed and tracking east eventually pushing into the Gulf early next weekend. Some swell to result for all if this does as forecast. But overall the pattern is not as strong as one would hope for, mainly attributable by weak destructive interference of the El Nino base state by the Inactive Phase of the MJO. Better things are to come long term.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Sat AM (10/31) the jet was ridging slightly while pushing off Japan with winds 160 kts but then .cgiitting before reaching the dateline with the northern branch tracking hard north up into the North Bering Sea while the southern branch fell southeast over the dateline. Both streams consolidated over the Gulf of Alaska with winds building back to 120 kts forming a bit of a trough and pushed into British Columbia. There was limited support for gale development in the Northeastern Gulf. Over the next 72 hours the .cgiit flow is to ease east and into the Gulf of Alaska with the trough there moving over the immediate coast of the Pacific Northwest on Mon (11/2) forming a backdoor trough and offering limited support for gale development while falling south down the US West Coast. That trough to continue falling south reaching North Baja late Wed (11/4) only offering support for perhaps rain down south. Back to the west another .cgiit in the flow is forecast pushing off Japan with the .cgiit point reaching nearly the dateline on Wed (11/4) offering no support for gale development. But a small trough is forecast developing ahead of the .cgiit over the North Dateline region offering potential longer term. Beyond 72 hours the North Dateline trough is to track east over the Aleutians reaching the North Gulf of Alaska on Fri (11/6) with 110 kt winds feeding it modestly all the way offering some modest support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere, and pushing into Western Canada on Saturday. after that the entire jet is to be consolidated but running well to the north up at 50N basically tracking over the Aleutians. The real issue here is that the supposed Inactive Phase of the MJO is in effect, restricting energy to the jet, resulting in a weaker, .cgiit and northward di.cgiaced flow. During strong El Ninos the MJO is supposed to be dormant at least as far a theory goes, but a shadow of it's signature is clearly evident in the upper atmosphere and on the forecast charts.
On Saturday AM (10/31) swell from a gale that developed over the Kuril Islands tracking east to the dateline and reasonably far south (see Dateline Gale #2 below) was fading in Hawaii and starting to show on the buoys along the US West Coast.
On Sat AM (10/31) a fetch was building in the Gulf of Alaska on Sat AM (10/31) associated with low pressure just off North British Columbia, generating 30-35 kts northwest winds arching from the Eastern Aleutians into Washington with seas on the increase from 18 ft. That fetch is to become more consolidated off the Pacific Northwest in the evening at 35 kts reaching gale status targeting mainly Washington and Oregon with seas building to 22 ft at roughly 46N 137W (315 degs NCal). The gale is forecast pushing east Sun AM (11/1) just off Washington still producing a small patch of 35 kt west winds and 25 ft seas at 46N 131W (319+ degs NCal) targeting mainly the Pacific Northwest with sideband energy tracking towards Central CA. In the evening the fetch is to be inland with 20 ft seas pushing into North Oregon, Possible north angled 13 sec period swell to result for exposed breaks in CA on Mon (11/2).
NCal: For.cgianning purposes north angled energy to start building late Sunday afternoon and continuing up over night. Swell to peak on Mon AM (11/2) at 9 ft @ 13-14 secs (12 ft) but very shadowed in the SF Bay area, with size smaller than what one would expect based on the buoys. This swell to be getting overridden by local north windswell and north winds early. Swell direction 315+ degs.
Dateline Gale (#2 - Hawaii)
On Sun (10/25) a cold core low developed over the Kuril Islands starting to absorb Typhoon Champi positioned a bit southeast of it in the far West Pacific. On Sun AM winds in the cold core system built to 55 kts but locked over the Kuril Islands with limited 50 kt fetch extending east of there with seas to 30 ft over a small area just east of the Central Kurils. In the evening more of the same occurred wind wise but with those winds were getting better traction on the small area of ocean east of the Kurils with seas building to 39 ft at 45N 153E targeting Hawaii. By Mon AM (10/26) the gale had 50 kt northwest winds becoming decently exposed east of the Kuril Islands generating 41 ft seas up at 44N 155E targeting Hawaii (313 degs HI, 303 degs NCal) and continuing east into the evening with northwest winds fading in coverage from 40-45 kts generating 37 ft seas at 43N 162E (312 degs HI, 301 degs NCal). By Tues AM (10/27) fetch was holding while tracking east at 40 kts half way to the dateline producing 34 ft seas at 41N 171E (313 degs HI, 296 degs NCal, 298 degs SCal) all aimed east. Winds were fading from 30 kts over a modest sized area in the evening with seas 32 ft at 39N 174E (312 degs HI, 292 degs NCal, 295 degs SCal) targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. This system faded from there while moving to the dateline Wed AM (10/28) with seas fading from 29 ft at 38N 177W (318 degs HI, 289 degs NCal, 294 degs SCal). A nice pulse of longer period swell is expected for Hawaii with smaller energy for the US West Coast.
NCal: Expect swell arrival on Sat (10/31) with period 18 secs early and size building to 3.5 ft @ 16 secs late (5.5 ft). Swell holding on Sun AM (1/11) at 5.7 ft @ 15-16 secs (8.5 ft). Swell starting to become overrun by local north swell late. Swell Direction: 289-296 degrees
SCal: Expect swell arrival on Sat (10/31) with period 18-19 secs later and size small and not rideable. Swell building through the day Sun AM (11/1) pushing 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading and starting to become overrun by more local north swell on Mon (11/2). Swell Direction: 294-298 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sat AM (10/31) high pressure was just off the California coast with low pressure building in the Eastern Gulf resulting in a light northerly flow down the Central CA coast but light up north if not turning southerly. The pattern is to get weaker on Sunday with yet a lighter wind flow over all of CA other than 20 kt north winds isolated to Pt Conception. Also on Sunday a front from the Gulf low is to bring rain, starting in North CA on Sunday AM reaching the Golden Gate late evening but mostly just showers then pushing south to Pt Conception on Monday fading there mid-morning. Also snow for Tahoe Monday AM. A cooler pulse to be right behind moving south Monday with more snow for Tahoe late morning holding overnight, then fading. Total accumulation 12-18 inches. On Monday strong high pressure is to be building in the Gulf at 1038 mbs generating brisk north winds along the entire US West Coast at 20 kts building even into Southern CA holding into Tuesday at 25 kts over the entire state. Cold rain is forecast starting over Central CA Monday AM pushing south to San Diego late. Northwest winds to start fading Wed dropping to 15 kts late then finally relaxing Thurs (11/5) to 10 kts from the north and holding Friday and Saturday.
On Sat AM (10/31) no swell of interest was in the water.
Over the next 72 hours a nice little gale is to be generating 40 kt southwest winds lifting northeast just east of New Zealand Sat AM (10/31) generating a solid area of 27 ft seas at 48S 174W. In the evening 40 kt southwest winds to be fading tracking northeast with seas building to 29 ft at 46S 168W targeting Tahiti well. This gale to fade after that.
Tahiti: For.cgianning purposes expect swell arrival on Tues PM (11/30 with swell building to 8.5 ft @ 14-15 secs late (12 ft). Residuals on Wed AM (11/4) fading from 6.6 ft @ 14 secs(9.5 ft). Swell Direction: 208 degrees
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours a small but reasonably strong storm is to start building west of the dateline and a bit south of the Western Aleutians Tues PM (11/3) with winds building from 45 kts over a small area lifting northeast. By Wed AM (11/4) this system is to be developing more over the North Dateline region with winds to 55+ kts from the northwest just south of the Aleutians and seas building to 39 ft at 48N 179E. In the evening 50 kt west winds to hold just south of the Central Aleutians aimed east with 43 ft seas at 49N 173W. On Thurs AM (11/5) fetch is to be pushing into the Western Gulf at 50 kts over a small area and partially obscured over the Eastern Aleutians with seas 39 ft at 51N 168W targeting mainly the US West Coast with sideband energy down into Hawaii. In the evening 45 kt northwest fetch is to move into the Gulf of Alaska generating 38 ft seas at 52N 161W targeting mainly the Pacific Northwest and points north of there. Fetch is to fade from 40 kt Fri AM (11/6) in the North Gulf with seas fading from 32 ft at 53N 155W targeting only North Canada. Something to monitor but it's still a ways from forming. Nothing is certain till winds actually start blowing on the oceans surface.
Beyond 72 hours no solid swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
Kelvin Wave #3 Re-Eruption Solid in Nino3.4
Subsurface Reservoir Growing Due to Kelvin Wave #4
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 Sat (10/31) down at the surface, the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated light west winds on the equator from the dateline to 165W. Inspecting the 00hr frame from the GFS model, light winds were over the entire KWGA with no west winds in.cgiay (see New! East Kelvin Wave Generation Area Wind Model here). Anomalies were moderate from the west from the dateline to 150W and modest to weak eastward to 130W. Nice anomalies still, but not over the top as has been the norm for months. Previously a very strong WWB burst (third of the year) associated with a robust Active Phase of the MJO (historically strong) occurred 6/24-7/17 and was followed by solid west anomalies for a 29 day window (7/19-8/19), or nearly 2 months of west anomalies or stronger. Then starting 9/2, strong west anomalies redeveloped with patches of westerly winds embedded holding to 9/17, then intensified again on 10/1 (to WWB status) holding to 10/18 and was comparable to the previous one in late June-early July, but lasting 6 weeks instead of 8.
1 Week Forecast: The CFS model indicates modest west anomalies between the dateline and 135W today and expected to hold for the next week through Sat (11/7). Actual winds per the GFS model are to be calm in the KWGA for the next week with light east winds in the north most portion of the region for a few days mid-week. No east anomalies have occurred this year in the KWGA, not one day, and none are forecast. The thought is the anomalies are continuing to push warm water from the West Pacific to depth and the last 6 weeks worth of west winds/anomalies has set up a new distinct Kelvin Wave (#4), moving into 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 (#3), the strongest of the year, started 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 #3, 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 then strong west winds redeveloped in the Northeast KWGA on 10/1 and held through 10/18, resulting in a yet another defined WWB event (#4) rivaling WWB #3 in June-July. And another small WWB started further east on 10/22 through 10/30. 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 wind monitoring model: West and East New!
Comparison of 2 Strong Westerly Wind Bursts (WWB)
On left the massive WWB in late June/July that created large Kelvin Wave #3. On right the current WWB that is generating Kelvin Wave #4.
Scales are a little different but notice anomalies in the July event at 12-14 m/s est (24-28 kts) and now in Oct at 13-14 m/s (26-28 kts)
(Click to Enlarge Images)
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections: As of 10/24:
OLR Models: Indicate a neutral signal over the equatorial dateline region typical of a maturing El Nino. But the Inactive Phase is currently building from the west and north. Both the Statistic and Dynamic models depict this pattern holding for the next 5 days, with the statistic model having it dissolving while the dynamic model has it hold on, but weaker. In essence a mini-Inactive pattern is in.cgiay over the far West Pacific, but that pattern is to collapse 7 days out. Also an solid Active MJO Pattern is over the Central Indian Ocean and is to hold it's position if not easing east over the next 2 weeks. The Statistic model has it moving into the West Pacific 10 days out. That is not believable, at least not in a pure sense. but seeing how some form of weak Inactive Phase is being manifest in the jetstream today, perhaps it is not unrealistic to have some mild enhancement from an Active Phase 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): Both models indicate some form of building 'MJO-like' active signal building over the West Indian Ocean and easing east over the next 2 weeks, consistent with the OLR models above, but not making it to the Maritime Continent.
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): An Inactive MJO is supposedly taking control over the dateline region and is to track east through 12/5, consistent with the models above. West anomalies are to reach peak weakness 11/2-12/5, perhaps being enhanced by a Rossby Wave somewhere in the middle of that time span, but not much. But by 12/10 the Active Phase of the MJO is to move into the picture from the west with westerly anomalies strengthening at that time and building, with a nice pulse by Christmas and another in mid-January. That seems a bit far fetched, but given what's occurring in the KWGA area now (inactive Phase influence) and what is forecast the next few weeks, it seems.cgiausible that a mild MJO-like influence (both Inactive and then later Active) is possible and reasonable. Still, the El Nino base state is the primary driver of Westerly Anomalies from here forward. No easterly anomalies are forecast. We are now in the core of the El Nino cycle (Oct-Dec). WWB #4 has produced Kelvin Wave #4 (10/1-10/19) with anomalies behind that continuing to fuel the subsurface warm reservoir into Dec. As of this run of the model, core westerly anomalies are to remain strong, but start easing east in the early Jan timeframe, pushing to 165W. This would shut down the warm water conveyor once anomalies start becoming centered at 170W, with the warm pool in the east starting to decay. At a minimum, 2.5 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. This even clearly exceeds the '82 event.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (10/31) Actual temperatures remain impressive. A tongue of 29 deg temps are pushing east from 140E to 132W and continuing to make limited daily east headway. The 28 deg Isotherm is steady at 125W. Anomaly wise +2.0 degs anomalies are bulging from 178W eastward and drifting east. +4 deg anomalies cover from 156W eastward (building west), the result of WWB #4. A large warm reservoir at +5-7 deg above normal temps continue erupting into the Galapagos. That reservoir is holding coverage with peak +6-7 degs anomalies building fast to 135W and with +5 deg anomalies extending east from 145W to Ecuador (building west). This pocket is a combination of water from strong Kelvin Wave #3 and the slow addition of Kelvin Wave #4. The pipe is wide open and warm water continues falling to depth near the dateline and into this reservoir. This is a great scenario. Warm water appears to continue erupting west of the Galapagos per the hi-res subsurface animation (10/25) primarily at +3 degs from 140W to 100W (steady). But no +4 degs tentacles of warm water extend to the surface.
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA): (10/25) Heights have upgraded again. 0-+5 cm anomalies are over the entire equatorial Pacific starting at 175E (fading some). Peak anomalies have reappeared at +20 cm near 125W and 135W. +15 cm anomalies extending from 105W to 157W and reaching from 5N to 5S (steady). +5 cm anomalies are now again pushing to Ecuador and reach the coast. +10 cm anomalies were isolated from the Galapagos westward (evidence of the westward di.cgiacement of this El Nino event). 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: (10/25) has upgraded with the 10/25 update. It indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are steady between 178W and the Galapagos. +1.0-1.5 degs anomalies are holding easing east from 172W eastward attributable to WWB #4 and the formation of Kelvin Wave #4. +1.5 deg anomalies are tracking east from 158W. A large pocket of +2.0 degs anomalies are at 151W-->109W (easing east). And now +2.5 deg anomalies are again present between 126W->118W. 1.5-2.0 anomalies are no longer pushing into Ecuador (only 1.0-1.5 degs anomalies). The Downwelling Phase of Kelvin Wave #4 is underway in the west while di.cgiacement to the west is preventing extreme heating between the Galapagos and Ecuador. The focus remains slightly westward di.cgiaced (but nowhere near as much as '82).
A strong Kelvin Wave impacted the Ecuador Coast in May-June with a second somewhat weaker one impacting it in June. The third and strongest so far is erupting, but somewhat westward di.cgiaced just west of the Galapagos and not as overtly strong as one would expect, being rather a steady bleed rather than a gully washer. In fact, a careful analysis indicates it has peaked. 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. The subsurface configuration suggested there were 2.5+ months of warm water in the reservoir (till Dec 15) and some of that water is extremely warm (7 degs above normal). And now Kelvin Wave #4 is developing, expected to extend the life of the reservoir. The peak of Kelvin Wave #3 was forecast to occur roughly on 10/4. We revised it a few times since then, but looked back we've determined it was correct if not a little late (more below). But another equally strong WWB occurred peaking in 10/10 resulting in Kelvin Wave #4, which should peak 2.5 months later, or near 12/25 (nice Christmas present) and advecting west a month after that into Nino3.4 on 1/25. 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, is marked and historically strong. And with the current WWB/Kelvin Wave in development, a more aggressive face of this El Nino is now appearing.
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. All data is from blended infrared and microwave sensors.
Low-res: (10/29) Overall the picture remains solid and now is getting more defined. Warmer waters are building up into Central America but retracting from the coast down into Peru while advecting west. The big change over the past 2-3 weeks remains a solid increase in volume/concentration of warm water flowing into the Nino3.4 area. The warm water signal covers the entire equatorial Pacific from the dateline eastward with embedded pulses of warmer water from the Galapagos west. 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. Coverage south of the equator is not growing any down the Peruvian coast, and cannot complete with '97 in that regard, but is still very solid. Along the West African Coast, cool water is all but fading out there, being r.cgiaced by neutral temp water. This is not a worry as the same thing happened during the '97 event. Very warm water continues off the US West Coast 'the blob' 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. Cool water is building its strength and coverage over North Australia extending north of New Guinea and up into the Philippines and east almost to the dateline (Maritime Continent), typical of a strong El Nino. Warming water continues near Madagascar suggestive of a building Indian Ocean Dipole.
Hi-res Nino1.2: Per the latest image (10/30) things are steady but not impressive from a Super El Nino perspective. Over the past 5 days temps have retreated off the Peruvian coast but are holding nearshore and off Ecuador. A pocket of +4 deg anomalies is depicted approaching and impacting the Galapagos. This suggests the Kelvin Wave eruption area is westward di.cgiaced, with occasional pockets of warmer water sneaking in, but not steadily. Warming in this area peaked on 7/14 then crashed and has been trying to rebuild ever since. Given its been 3.0 months, and warming has not redeveloped to previous levels, di.cgiacement still remains the operative e.cgianation.
Galapagos Virtual Station: (10/30) Anomalies have been steady since 10/2, running between +3.4-3.8 degree above normal. Today's reading was +4.5 degs, above that norm and likely being driven by the aforementioned hot pocket impacting the area. But for the most part this data is irrelevant since the main Kelvin Wave Eruption Area is focused west of the Galapagos.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/30): Modest warming is occurring off the Peruvian Coast and over the Galapagos, but with a broad area of warming between 110W and 150W west, with more on the dateline.
Hi-res NINO 3.4: (10/28) The latest image has upgraded, and remains impressive if not getting more that way from a Super El Nino perspective. It appears Kelvin Wave #3 is reenergized in it eruption. Girth of the area continues increasing over the past 7 days with 3 pockets of nearly +4 degs water embedded. This is great news, and we are exceeding peaks coverage at any time previous, including 9/19. Temps between 160W-180W continue building in girth too and are on par with peak levels from 9/19 if not beating it. This warm pool is advection west of warm water resulting from eruption of Kelvin Waves #1, #2 and #3, though mostly attributable to #3.
Hi-res Overview: (10/30) 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. And it beats anything so far in this event too, especially considering the new eruptions ports that have developed in the past 4 days. The intensity of warm anomalies in the eruption site west of the Galapagos is not as intense as the peak at 9/19, but is rebuilding fast the past 4 days and covering far more area. 7 large +4 deg vent ports are strung between the Galapagos and 140W, erupting in Nino3.4 Very impressive. And this warm water is advected west. A careful analysis of archived images indicates Kelvin Wave #3 peaked on 9/19 with mult.cgie pockets of +5 degs anomalies occurring at that time. The number and intensity of those vent ports has since faded, but are on the upswing now. There were none on 10/19 but as of 10/30, the picture has significantly upgraded. We can't stress enough the importance of this upgrade and the effect this will have a few weeks out as it advects west into Nino 3.4 proper. Still, we are saying Kelvin Wave #3 peaked on 9/19 (we estimated 10/4). As those waters advect west, peak warming should therefore occur in Nino3.4 one month later, or 10/19 (right now). Still, a steady flow of +3 deg anomalies is venting and advecting (with mult.cgie +4 deg pockets in.cgiay). Looking at all the satellite imagery, that seems about right.
Historical Comparison of Strong El Nino's
(Based on Nino3.4 Sea Surface Temp Anomalies)
Images built using 2 data sets - Monthly OISSTv.2 (left) & OISSTv4 (right) This years data valid through Sept.
Left image suggests 2015 is already the third strongest El Nino in recorded history (beat only by '82 and '97). The right image suggests it's the 6th 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.
(Click to enlarge)
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 (expanding west to 165E). We're monitoring the +0.0 anomaly line on the equator to see if it's moving east. Today its at 140E (steady and well west). +1.5 deg anomalies are steady in the west reaching unbroken to 180W. There is also a fragmented area of +2.0-2.5 deg anomalies extending from the Galapagos to 175W but most concentrated from 145W to 100W (shrinking dramatically - but we suspect that will be short lived). A previous pocket of +3.0 deg anomalies has reappeared at 117W (Kelvin Wave #3 vent port). Overall the warm water signature is steady and moving west and impressive.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (10/31) Temps are on the rise after falling hard, down to +0.866 on 10/28 but up to +1.16 today. Previously temps peaked for 5 days at +2.581 near 10/8 and previously spiked at +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.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Temps are building to +2.316 degs today (10/31) but still down from the all time peak for this event at +2.512 (10/24 06z) besting the previous record of +2.468 (10/20), up from +1.824 on 10/8, and beating the previous peak of +2.44 on 10/3. The 30 day running average is at 2.0 degs with the Oct average at 2.1 degs. If those Oct readings were to hold they would be on par with '97 and '82. The new peak today is likely just coincidence, but roughly.cgiays well into the theory that Kelvin Wave #3 peaked on about 9/19. The thought is Nino 3.4 temps are about peaked out now (until Kelvin Wave #4 starts to erupt and advect west). 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). That was crushed on 10/3 at +2.44, and now bested on 10/20 at +2.4678. By any standard we are at a Strong El Nino levels. We expect these temps to continue upward for the foreseeable future.
SST Anomalies on 9/14/2015 and what is driving them from below
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This years event is westward di.cgiaced somewhat like the '82/83 super El Nino event, but not as strongly so. The main evidence for this is the continued eruption of Kelvin Wave #3 west of the Galapagos with weakened warming east of there. 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 10/27 the current was moderate from the west but not overtly impressive. The current is pushing modestly west to east mostly north of the equator from 125E to 120W, with a large pocket of solid westerly velocity from 165E to 140W. There were 2 pockets of east current at 90W and 120W but tiny in coverage. 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 165E to 120W but a little fragmented, then fading. One pocket of east anomalies was indicated south of the equator at 125W and another at 140E. This is reasonably impressive as long as one does not compare it to '97, because if you do, there is no comparison. In '97 the current was raging east from 150E to 130W on and north of the equator.
SST Anomaly projections
CFSv2 model - PDF Corrected: We are disregarding this charts from here forward. The last run we reviewed run on 10/24 for the Nino 3.4 region, peak temperatures for this event have supposedly already occurred on 10/1 at +2.2 degrees. +1.95 degs anomalies are to hold till Dec 1, then a big crash is to occur. Considering temps in Nino3.4 now and the size of the Kelvin Wave #3 below and developing Kelvin Wave #4, we suspect this projection is well on the low side.
Uncorrected Data we continue monitoring. It looks more realistic suggesting a peak to +2.55 degs on Nov 8, then starting a fast fall. We'll venture a guess of somewhere around +2.3 degs for a one month average peaking in Dec, later than what the model suggests.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Oct Plume has upgraded again, suggesting peak temps between +2.3 degs (Statistical models), +2.5 degs (Dynamic) with the CPC consensus at +2.45 occurring during Dec. The mid-July consensus was spread between +1.5-2.0 degs, the mid-Aug between +2.0-2.5 degs and the mid-Sept between +2.1-2.5 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 (10/31): Was rising from -9.00. Of note: The 97 El Nino had daily values at -40 to -50 in early Nov with one spurt to -76 Jan 30-31st. A peak reading so far in this 2015 event was -49.70/-46.60 on Oct 3 & 4 and then -42.20 on 10/14.
30 Day Average: Was rising some at -21.01. The peak low was recorded on 10/9 at -22.72, beating the previous peak low of -20.95 on 8/21, with the previous lowest at -20.49 on 7/18/15. This is exactly where we want to be (at -20 or lower).
90 Day Average: Was rising from -18.86. A record low of -19.28 occurred on 10/16 and was matched on 10/20. The previous record low was -18.56 on 9/16. 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, beating that on 9/16 at -18.56 and now -19.28 on 10/16.
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 low pressure was over Southeast Aust on Sat (10/31) but high pressure is forecast to weakly rebuild by Mon (11/2) then fading some by Wed (11/4) and meandering but not particularly strong through Sat (11/7). It looks like the Inactive Phase of the MJO really is in.cgiay in some very weak form.
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): On 10/31 weak high pressure was south of Tahiti and is forecast slowly fading Mon (11/2) with weak low pressure south of Tahiti into Fri (11/6). Weak high pressure to follow. This will push the SOI initially higher then lower. If a Super El Nino is in development one would want to see continuous local lows near or over Tahiti.
SOI 1 week Forecast: The net result is to be a trend of SOI values moving to neutral. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is having some impact.
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 5 day 850 mbs anomaly charts there was no evidence of a south flow in.cgiay. Per the GFS model no real south flow is projected. It is high pressure over Southeast Australia that sets up the required southerly surface flow in the Tasman Sea. 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 through 10/25, then fading. 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): (10/31) today's value is steady at +1.82, and has been trending down since a reading of +2.40 on Sat (10/17), but still well within the average of late (which is well above normal). It has been holding in the +1.95-2.20 range for weeks (thru 10/13) with only minor fluctuation. 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. Monthly ESPI values are as follows: July 3.76, Aug 2.34, Sept 2.1. We need to see values +3.0 or higher for the next 2 months to complete with '97.
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 (10/31) Detailed analysis is in the NPac Short Term Forecast above. In short, the jet has started the Fall transition influenced by El Nino, looking decent but not exceptional yet. But it appears the Inactive Phase of the MJO, no matter how slight, is having a dampening effect and will continue for the next 2 weeks.
Comparing the 2015 El Nino to '82 and '97
(Click to enlarge)
Conclusion (Updated 10/20): WWB #3 peaked on July 4, with the resulting Kelvin Wave peaking on Sept 19 west of the Galapagos, or a roughly 2.5 month travel time. Likewise those warm waters advected into Nino3.4, peaking about one month later, or 10/20 (all evidenced by hi-res SST anomaly data and Nino3.4 indices). Theoretically this would be the peak of our El Nino event from an ocean perspective (and as projected by PDF corrected CFS model), with peak atmospheric influence occurring approximately 2 months later or 12/20. But yet another WWB has occurred (WWB #4) of near equal strength peaking on 10/17, which has resulted in formation of Kelvin Wave #4.
Using the same te.cgiate, peak eruption of Kelvin Wave #4 is expected on 1/2/2016 (westward di.cgiaced) with eruption port temps at +4-5 degs, and advecting into Nino3.4 and peaking roughly 2/2/2016 with peak atmospheric influence on approx 4/2/2016. This suggests peak atmospheric perturbation will occur in the window from 12/2/2015-4/2/2016, or well di.cgiaced later in the Winter as compared to the '97/98 event, and somewhat like the '82/83 event.
In terms of comparative strength based on Nino3.4 temps, '97 peaked at +2.32 degs with 4 months of +2.0 degs anomalies and '82 at +2.21 degs with 2 months temps greater than +2.0 degs. 2015 is looking to produce a +2.1 degree one month average based on very rough data today, with a huge reservoir of +3-4 deg anomalies still venting to the surface and likely continuing for the next month of more, with yet another burst of warm water (Kelvin Wave #4) moving into position.
The real question is: How much (if any) cooling will occur in Nino3.4 between the downslide up of Kevin Wave #3 and the ramp-up and peak of Kelvin Wave #4? Assuming steady state anomalies in Nino3.4 not falling below +2.0 degs in in that window, there could be 4 months of +2.0 anomalies in Nino3.4 (with higher peaks), providing a strong and long su.cgiy of energy to fuel jetstream enhancement and similar to '97 and besting '82. It's not just magnitude of the peak temps that make a difference atmospherically, but also the duration of those anomalies. The longer and stronger the anomalies, the greater the atmospheric response. At this time the expected atmospheric affects should be significant, though di.cgiaced somewhat later in the season. The above analysis is not a definitive statement, just informed speculation based on previous similar events.
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
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