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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, January 3, 2019 4:19 PM
Buoys: Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Buoy Forecast:
Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Pacific Links:  Atmospheric Models - Buoy Data - Current Weather - Wave Models
Forecast Archives: Enter Here
A chronology of recent Mavericks Underground forecasts. Once you enter, just click on the HTML file forecast you want to review (e.g. 073199.html equals July 31, 1999). To view the maps that correspond to that forecast date, select the html file labeled 073199 maps.html
3.1 - California & 3.8 - Hawaii
Using the 'Winter' Scale
(See Swell Category Table link at bottom of page)

Probability for presence of largest swells in near-shore waters of NCal, SCal or Hawaii.    

Issued for Week of Monday 12/31 thru Sun 1/6

Swell Potential Rating Categories
5 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Significant swell
4 = Good probability for 1-2 days of Significant swell
3 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Intermediate/Advanced swell
2 = Good probability for  1-2 days of
Intermediate/Advanced swell
1 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Impulse or Windswell
0 = Low probability for 1-2 days of Impulse or Windswell   

Multiple Gales Forecast Off CA
Full Pacific Storm Track To Waken Longterm

On Thursday, January 3, 2019 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/ Buoy 239 (Lanai): At Barbers Point (238) seas were 6.0 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 4.3 ft @ 13.7 secs from 304 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 7.0 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 4.4 ft @ 12.7 secs from 319 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.1 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 13.9 secs from 245 degrees. Wind at the buoy was east-southeast at 6-8 kts. Water temperature 60.1 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.3 ft @ 13.8 secs from 265 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.0 ft @ 14.7 secs from 259 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 0.8 ft @ 13.2 secs from 224 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.6 ft @ 13.5 secs from 258 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.3 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 4.9 ft @ 13.4 secs from 293 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was east at 14-18 kts. Water temp 56.3 degs (042).

See Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (bottom of the page)

Swell Classification Guidelines

Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
- 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).
- 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.
- up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.

Current Conditions
On Thursday (1/3) in North and Central CA surf was 1 ft overhead on the sets and clean with light offshore's and groomed. Protected breaks were chest to maybe head high on the sets and clean and lined up. At Santa Cruz surf was head high to 1 ft overhead and clean and lined up but a little on the slow side. In Southern California/Ventura surf was thigh high or so and lined up and very clean. In North Orange Co surf was thigh to waist high and clean but breaking on the beach. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks had sets to thigh to maybe waist high and very clean and lined up when they came. In North San Diego surf was thigh high on the sets and clean and soft. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more West Pacific swell with waves double overhead at top spots and clean but with a touch of northerly texture running through it and lined up and well organized. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves shoulder high and chopped with easterly trades blowing.

See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (1/3) swell was hitting Hawaii and California from a large but ill formed gale that developed in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean on Sat-Mon (12/31) producing a broad but unfocused area of 26-27 ft seas pushing east. On Thurs (1/3) a gale is to start developing 1000 nmiles west of the CA-OR border tracking east with seas building to 32 ft then fading as it approaches the Oregon coast on Fri (1/4). Another gale is to form north of Hawaii on Thurs (1/3) pushing east producing 26 ft seas then fading, only to redevelop off Central CA on Sat (1/5) lifting north fast with 28 ft seas just off San Francisco and impacting the coast there late evening. After that another gale is to form 900 nmiles off North CA on Mon (1/8) with up to 37 ft seas aimed east and impacting Oregon on Tues (1/8). And yet another is to form on the North Dateline on Sat-Sun (1/6) with 34-36 ft seas aimed east. And yet another is to form off North Japan Sun-Mon (1/7) with 32-36 ft seas aimed east. And perhaps a far stronger one to follow on Wed-Thurs (1/10). So a solid gale cycle is forecast aided by the Active Phase of the MJO.

See all the details below...


Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours

North Pacific

On Thursday AM (1/3) the jetstream was consolidated pushing east off Japan down to the 33N latitude line with winds building to 170 kts pushing over the dateline and reaching east to 145W (900 nmiles west of San Francisco) before splitting with most energy in the northern branch tracking northeast and up into British Columbia with the southern branch pushing into Central Baja. A bit of a trough was developing in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska offering limited support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold with the jet consolidated and tracking hard east on the 35N latitude line but with the trough off California building and being fed by increasing winds to 210 kts on Sat (1/5) offering great support for gale development there. Also another trough is to start forming mid-way between Japan and the dateline being fed by 190 kts winds. Both troughs to push east with the california trough moving inland over North and Central CA early Sun (1/6) while the Japan trough washes out. Beyond 72 hours starting Sun (1/6) more of the same is forecast with the jet tracking east on the 35N latitude line with winds 180 kts over the dateline and a new trough building east of there in the Central Gulf pushing east then holding stationary just off Central and North CA Tues-Thurs (1/10) being fed by 130 kts winds offering good support for gale development there. A new trough is forecast developing mid-way between Japan and the dateline late Wed (1/9) with 180 kts winds in it's apex and tracking slowly east offering good support for gale development. Overall a very positive jetstream forecast is indicated offering good support for steady gale development for the foreseeable future.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (1/3) swell from a broad ill formed gale that developed filling the Western North Pacific was hitting Hawaii and the US West Coast (see West Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours more gale development is forecast (see below).

On Wed PM (1/2) a small gale started building 1300 nmiles west of the OR-CA border producing 40-45 kt northwest winds and seas building from 27 ft at 42N 151W. On Thurs AM (1/3) the gale was tracking east producing a small area of 45 kt west wind with seas 32 ft at 43N 143W aimed east (296 degs NCal). The gale is to continue east in the evening with winds down to 40 kts from the northwest off Oregon with seas 33 ft at 44N 136.5W (309 degs NCal). On Fri AM (1/4) fetch is to be fading from 30 kts from the northwest off north Oregon with seas 27 ft at 46N 129W and poised to impact Oregon and Washington aimed southeast. The gale is to dissipate after that.

North CA: For planning purposes swell is to arrive on Fri (1/4) at 4 PM with period 17 secs and size building fast to 9.6 ft @ 16-17 secs at sunset (15.8 ft). Swell fading by Sat AM (91/5) dropping from 7.0 ft @ 14 secs early (9.5 ft). Swell Direction: 294-297 degrees

A small gale is developing 900 nmiles north of Hawaii on Thurs AM (1/3) producing a small area of 40 kt northwest winds and tracking east with seas 27 ft over a small area at 38N 164W aimed east. The gale is to dissipate quickly in the evening with no fetch left and seas fading from 20 ft at 37N 156W. Remnants of this gale are to push east fast and redevelop 400 nmiles off Central CA Fri PM (1/4) generating a area of 40-45 kt north winds with seas building from 22 ft at 36N 133W aimed south and mostly bypassing any major landmass. On Sat AM (1/5) the gale is to track northeast with 40+ kt northwest winds just off San Francisco with seas building to 26-28 ft at 37N 128W aimed southeast. The gale is to track north and be over Cape Mendocino in the evening with fading 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas fading from 24 ft at 37N 123W pushing inland. Raw ragged proto-swell to result.

North CA: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Sat afternoon (1/5) building to 18 ft @ 14 secs (22 ft) and extremely raw. Swell fading slowly overnight. Raw energy to be fading Sun AM (1/6) from 9.6 ft @ 11-12 secs (11 ft). Swell fading fast. Swell Direction: 250 turning to 285 degrees


West Pacific Gale
A broad area of low pressure started building over and just east of Japan on Fri PM (12/28) with west winds 30-35 kts in pockets pushing well off Japan with seas to 20+ ft over a large area from Japan to the dateline aimed east with the leading edge at 40N 180W and peak seas to 30 ft at 42N 158E. Fetch held into Sat AM (12/29) with 35-40 kt west winds off Japan and seas 27 ft at 37N 161E. More of the same occurred in the evening with 27 ft seas at 36N 168E aimed east. Fetch was fading Sun AM (12/30) with 35 kt northwest winds mid-way between Japan and the Dateline with 26 ft seas at 35N 170E aimed southeast. In the evening fetch was fading from 30-35 kts just west of the dateline with seas 27 ft at 37N 161E aimed southeast. On Mon AM (12/31) northwest winds were fading from 35 kts over a modest area with 27 ft seas at 34N 169E targeting Hawaii well. In the evening west winds to be fading from 30 kts with seas fading from 24 ft at 33N 176E aimed east. Possible moderate swell to result for Hawaii eventually reaching the US West Coast but smaller and less consistent.

Hawaii: Swell holding stable early Thurs (1/3) at 5.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (8.0 ft) then starting to fade late afternoon. Swell fading Fri AM (1/4) from 3.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 310 degrees

North CA: Swell continues on Thurs (1/3) 5.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (9.0 ft). Swell continues on Fri (1/4) 6.1 ft @ 14-15 secs (8.5 ft). After that new swell is expected to override this swell. Swell Direction: 294 degrees


  North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height


Tropical Update
No tropical weather systems of interest are forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (1/3) weak high pressure was just off Pt Conception at 1024 mbs generating a weak wind flow over coastal waters of the entire state. Friday (1/4) low pressure is to be building off the Central Coast pushing east with south winds 5 kts over all of North and Central CA early building to 20 kts for Cape Mendocino and 10 kts down to Pt Conception. No rain is forecast through 10 PM. Sat (1/5) the low is to hold centered 250 nmiles off San Francisco producing south winds 30-35 kts from Big Sur northward and 15 kts down to Pt Conception ad holding through the day. Rain building just before sunrise from Monterey Bay northward and solid through the day while pushing south to San Diego late evening. Solid snow for the entire Sierra starting late afternoon and continuing through the night. Sunday (1/6) a new gale is to be building just off the coast with south winds building over North CA early to 35-45 kts and down to Pt Conception late at 15 kts. Rain developing for Cape Mendocino early building south to Morro Bay late evening with heavy rain to San Francisco at that time. Snow for the Sierra starting at sunset and heavy near 10 PM continuing solid through the night. Monday (1/7) another broad gale is to be well off the Central and North Coast with southwest winds 15-20 kts for all of Central CA dropping to 10 kts late afternoon south of Monterey Bay. Light rain for all of North and Central CA all day. Solid snow continues early tapering off at sunset. Tuesday (1/8) the front from the new gale is to be starting to impact the Cape Mendocino coast with south winds 20 kts from San Francisco northward pushing 30 kts up north building more later with south winds to 10 kts into Southern Ca at sunset. Light rain limited to Cape Mendocino. No snow forecast. Wednesday (1/9) south winds to be 25-35 kts for all of North and Central CA and building to 20 kts for Southern CA mid-day. Heavy rain for North CA early building to Central CA late AM and moderate rain for Southern CA at sunset. Snow for the Sierra late AM building to very heavy status in the afternoon moderate through the evening. Thurs (1/10) west to southwest winds 10-15 kts for all of North and Central CA early but light northwest 5 kts early for Southern CA. Winds turning from west to northwest 10-15 kts for the entire state by late afternoon. Patchy showers through the day for the entire state. Snow tapering off for the Sierra through the day, but not stopping by sunset.

Total snow accumulation for for the week for North Lake Tahoe: 70 inches and 34 inches for Mammoth. It appears the Inactive Phase of the MJO supporting high pressure is all but moved east of California and the Active/Wet Phase is to be moving in.

Snow Models: (Scroll down for resort specific forecasts).


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell of interest was in the water.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.


South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height




Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours starting Sat AM (1/5) a gale is to be developing over the Northern Dateline Fri AM (1/4) with 45 kt west winds over a small area aimed east and seas building. In the evening 45 kt west wind are to be just south of the Central Aleutians with 30 ft seas over a tiny area at 49N 177.5E aimed east. On Sat AM (1/5) 40-45 kt west winds to continue just south of the Central Aleutians with 36 ft seas at 50.5N 177W aimed east. Winds to fade in the evening from 30 kts with seas fading from 30 ft at 51N 177W aimed east. Doubtful any meaningful swell to result.

Also on Sat PM (1/5) a broader gale is to start building off north Japan with 45 kt northwest winds and seas building from 30 ft at 41N 157E. The gale is to race east on Sun AM (1/6) with 45 kts west winds and seas building to 35 ft over a modest sized area at 41N 165E aimed east. In the evening the gale is to lift northeast fast with seas fading from 32 ft at 44.5N 170E. On Mon AM (1/7) the gael is to move mostly in to the Bering Sea with resiudal30-35 kt westerly fetch over a solid portion of the Northwest Pacific Ocean with 32 ft seas at 48N 174E aimed east. In the evening 30-35 kt westerly fetch is to hold with seas 32 ft at 49N 175E aimed east. Fetch and seas to fade from there. Something to monitor.

On Monday AM (1/7) a broad gale is to start building in the upper level trough off the US West Coast with 30-35 kts west winds building and seas 28 ft at 40N 141W aimed east. The gael is to push east with 35-40 kt southwest winds building off California and northeast winds to 45 kts targeting Hawaii. 32 ft seas forecast at 37N 135W aimed east. On Tues AM (1/8) the gael is to be stationary off Central and North CA with 40+ kt northeast winds and 35 kt south winds targeting Hawaii and California. In the evening the leading edge of the gale is to be impacting Central and North CA with 35-45 kt south winds and north winds behind the front at 45 kts. From there the gale is to slowly push into the Pacific Northwest.

On Wed (1/9) another gale is to develop just east of the dateline pushing east with 40-45 kts west winds, slowly fading in the Central Gulf on Thurs (1/10).

On Wed AM (1/9) a broad storm is to start building off Japan pushing east with 55 kt northwest winds pushing towards the dateline and holding if not growing in size in the evening. On Thurs AM (1/10) the storm is to be moving over the dateline with 50 kts northwest winds, stalling there in the evening with fetch fading in coverage at 50 kts from the northwest. Possible larger longer period swell to result.

Clearly an active gale cycle is forecast.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.


MJO/ENSO Forecast


Sea Surface Temps Stable Just Above Neutral - No Sign of El Nino

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 equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing 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 planet, 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 in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.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).

Overview: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. A double dip La Nina was in control and continued through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018 associated with two upwelling Kelvin Waves, and continued trying to build over equatorial waters over the Summer and Fall, but not enough yet to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere.

Fall/Winter 2018 = 6.0 (California & Hawaii)
Rating based on a 1-10 scale: 1 being the lowest (small and infrequent surf conditions), 5 being normal/average, and 10 being extraordinary (frequent events of large, long period swells)

Rationale: Assuming the PDO has moved to the warm phase and that El Nino does not develop as strong as previously forecast, and assuming and an ocean-atmospheric coupling becomes weakly established in the January timeframe and ocean temperature anomalies in Nino3.4 build to the +0.6 deg range, there is good probability for slightly enhanced storm production in the North Pacific starting in the late Nov timeframe (specifically the Gulf of Alaska and Dateline regions) with slightly increased intensity in number of storm days and storm intensity, resulting in slightly increased odds for larger than normal swell, with increased duration and higher than normal period. This should be significantly better than the past 2 winter seasons.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (12/23) No update due to partial government shutdown. 5 day average winds were strong from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, then pushing moderately from the east over the whole of the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the East equatorial Pacific turning moderately easterly near the dateline and continuing into the core of the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (1/3) solid west anomalies were over the entirety of the KWGA. The forecast is for west anomalies to build in coverage and strength filling the KWGA 1/4-1/8 and still in control and expanding coverage into the Eastern Pacific at the end of the model run on 1/9. Support for storm development appears to be building in the West Pacific and expanding towards the East Pacific as the Active Phase builds there.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (1/2) The Active/Wet Phase of the MJO was nearly centered in the KWGA. The statistical model indicates the Active Phase is to ease east still filling the KWGA through day 10 of the mode run then starting to ease east of the KWGA at the end of the model run on day 15. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with the Active Phase stalled in the KWGA at day 15. The 2 models are generally in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (1/3) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was moderate over the far West Pacific. It is to track quickly east reaching the East Pacific 3 days out, then racing to the Indian Ocean 2 weeks out and very weak. The GEFS model is contrary suggesting the Active MJO is to be moving slowly west and moderately strong stalling over the East Pacific 8 days out then retrograding back to the west and still in the Central Pacific 15 days out. There is an interesting divergence between the 2 models.
40 day Upper Level Model: (1/3) This model depicts a moderate Active Phase of the MJO in the West Pacific today moving east slowly east and reaching Central America on 1/13. A solid Inactive signal is to set up over the far West Pacific 1/13 tracking east and is to move over the East Pacific and into Central America on 2/9. A modest Active Phase of the MJO is to build in the West Pacific 2/2 tracking east to the dateline at the end of the model run on 2/12.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (1/2) This model depicts west anomalies were moderate over the Central KWGA reaching east to the dateline. West anomalies are to hold over the Central KWGA while also building east to California on 1/9 and holding through 1/14, then fading. Even at that, west anomalies are to hold in the Central KWGA through the end of the model run at modest strength through the end of the model run on 1/30.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (1/2) This model depicts a strong Active Phase of the MJO was peaking over the core of the KWGA with moderate west anomalies filling the KWGA. The Active MJO pattern is to build east still filling the KWGA through 1/15 with west anomalies filling the KWGA and reaching east to California through 1/18. After that the Active Phase of the MJO is to fade. A weak Inactive Phase is to follow starting 1/18 in the far West Pacific holding and weak through the end of the model run on 4/1. But modest west anomalies are to continue through that entire duration, possibly to WWB status 1/26-2/13. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is fully in control of the KWGA centered on the dateline reaching east over California and forecast holding through the end of the model run. A third contour line faded 12/17 and to remain suppressed from until 2/8, returning and holding through the end of the model run. It appears from this model that a tendency towards El Nino is in control, but that El Nino itself is not in control. The atmosphere and ocean are trying to become coupled towards El Nino in the Pacific Ocean, but there's no objective evidence of it occurring or any suggestion that it will. Still this pattern is to slowly become more favorable to support storm production in the Pacific regardless of whether El Nino develops, because the atmosphere is still turning from a La Nina pattern (that has been entrenched for the past 2 years) at a minimum towards a neutral one. Our assumption is a normal Winter pattern will result, or perhaps slightly enhanced, but nothing more.

CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc - Alternate link

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (12/24) Not updated due to partial government shutdown.Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs and steady (after previously reaching east to 175W on 12/11) reaching east today to 180W. The 28 deg isotherm line had retrograded west to 160W mid-Nov, then moved east and walled up to 153W, but retrograded and is steady today back at 160W. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing into Ecuador 25 meters down. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies are filling the entire subsurface Pacific with temps rebuilding in the Central Pacific at +3 degs at 140W (Possible Kelvin Wave #3). Temps are stable at 3 degs east of there the whole way into Ecuador. It appears Kelvin Wave #2 is gone and fully erupted off Ecuador. We were thinking the peak of the Kelvin Wave cycle for this supposed El Nino has already occurred associated with Kelvin Wave #2, but upwelling over Ecuador looks poised to continue nonstop for the next 2-3 months with the development and merging of Kelvin Wave #3 with Kelvin Wave #2. So there's good surface oceanic warming potential to feed jetstream core energy through the entirety of the 2018/2019 winter cycle. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/29 paints the same picture with the Kelvin Wave #2 fading in the East Pacific pockets of +3 degs from 125W into Ecuador with +1-2 deg anomalies from New Guinea to the East Pacific. Interesting, but warm anomalies are building in the far West Pacific, perhaps attributable to a new Active Phase of the MJO and westerly anomalies building there. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (12/29) Positive anomalies were steady from the interior Maritime Continent tracking east at 0 to +5 cms over the equator north of New Guinea then over the dateline and extending steady into Ecuador still generally at 0-+5 cms, but with one +5 cm pocket embedded near 120W, suggesting a potentially fading Kelvin Wave pattern in the future.

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.
Satellite Imagery
Hi-res Nino1.2 & 3.4: (1/2) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were weakly warm in a Kelvin Wave pattern straddling 5 degrees north and south of the equator from Ecuador west to the dateline, but still fading compared to days and weeks past. Warm water that was previously steady along the coast of Chile and Peru up into Ecuador then faded, and now is starting to rebuild some. Generic warming was off Central America and Mexico and steady. There is no indications that El Nino is building. A concerning pocket of cool waters elongated east to west off Peru to 130W has lost a little ground. Overall the pattern looks more like El Nino than La Nina, but not strongly like El Nino. In all this supposed El Nino is weak and becoming more fragile by the day.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (1/2): A broad area of weak warm water was off Peru. Otherwise no clear indications of warming or cooling was on the equator or in any Nino region.
Hi-res Overview: (1/2) Weak warm water was along the immediate coast of Chile and Peru. But more important, moderate warm water was on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos continuing out to the dateline. We have turned the corner from a cool regime a year ago to a warm regime now. And one could kinda think we are moving towards a El Nino pattern just looking at the surface temps. But that would be a false conclusion because the warm signal on the surface should be much stronger at this time of the year if El Nino were truly developing. We are in an ENSO neutral pattern biased warm and likely only going to move to a minimal warm regime, likely not reaching full El Nino status this winter.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (1/3) Today's temps were stable after falling hard, now at -0.082, after having risen to +1.265 on 12/20. Previously temps fell to +0.212 on 12/3, after having previously built to +1.534 on 11/27. That peak on 11/27 was the all time high for this event in this region.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(1/3) Today temps were falling steadily at +0.367 after having previously risen to +1.050 degs on 12/6 and previously in the +0.5-+0.6 range since 11/12. The all time high for this event was +1.45 on 11/5, beating the previous peak temps of +0.795 on 10/9, and +0.649 on 9/27, and that beating the previous peak at +0.490 on 7/2.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (1/3) The model indicates temps are to be +0.95 degs on Jan 1 (which wasn't even close to reality - they were actually about +0.6) and forecast holding through March, then falling some to +0.90 degs by April 1 fading to +0.75 in later June and holding into early August 2019. If one is to believe the model then one would assume that El Nino is to build in the Winter of 18/19. But given all the data we've seen, we believe there no odds of El Nino developing.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Nov Plume depicts temps are to slowly rise from here, to +1.00 degs in November and +1.0-+1.1 degs through Feb 2019, then slowly fading to 0.71 in July. See chart here - link. There's a 90% chance of a weak El Nino developing through January.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (1/3): The daily index was falling some at -13.00. The 30 day average was falling some at +7.42 suggesting a Inactive MJO. The 90 day average was falling some at +4.31, rising the past 3 weeks and no longer negative and the highest its been in months. There is no indication that El Nino is present in the atmosphere.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (1/3) The index has fallen slightly from +0.28 on 12/15 down today to -0.24 and not positive or anywhere near as strongly positive as it should be if El Nino were developing.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly positive, even though La Nina is in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values: June 2017 +0.21, July -0.50, Aug -0.62, Sept -0.25, Oct -0.61, Nov -0.45, Dec -0.13, Jan 2018 +0.29, Feb -0.19, Mar -0.61, April -0.89, May -0.69, June -0.85, July -0.09, Aug -0.42, Sept -0.42. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): June 2017 +0.79, July +0.10, Aug +0.09, Sept +0.32, Oct +0.05, Nov +0.15, Dec +0.50, Jan +0.70. Feb +0.37, Mar -0.05, April +0.11, May +0.11, June -0.04, July +0.11, Aug +0.18, Sept +0.09. No real negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina). Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data strongly suggests that could be a possibility. By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

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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