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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, January 14, 2021 6:41 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
5.2 - California & 4.8 - 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 1/11 thru Sun 1/17

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   

Swell #9 Hitting Hawaii
Strong Swell #10 Moving Towards HI

On Thursday, January 14, 2021 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 238 (Barbers Point): Seas were 5.1 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 3.0 ft @ 15.9 secs from 297 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 16.3 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 12.3 ft @ 15.6 secs from 327 degrees. Water temp 77.9 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.4 ft @ 12.0 secs with swell 2.9 ft @ 12.7 secs from 257 degrees. Wind at the buoy was west at 4-6 kts. Water temperature NA degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 7.9 ft @ 15.7 secs from 296 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.4 ft @ 12.4 secs from 274 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 2.3 ft @ 14.6 secs from 251 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 4.1 ft @ 15.9 secs from 279 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 9.3 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 4.9 ft @ 14.7 ft from 300 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was north at 12-16 kts. Water temp 53.4 degs (013), 52.3 degs (SF Bar) and 54.3 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 (1/14) in North and Central CA waves were 3-5 ft overhead and clean with light offshore winds and lined up but washing around some. Protected breaks were 1 ft overhead on the sets and lined up and clean with light offshore wind. At Santa Cruz surf was chest to maybe head high on the sets and lined up and clean but wonky from high tide. In Southern California/Ventura waves were chest to shoulder high on the sets and clean and lined up abut inconsistent. Central Orange County had sets at chest high and clean and lined up with good form but soft. South Orange County's best summertime breaks were waist to maybe chest high on the sets and clean with no wind and soft. North San Diego had sets at chest high with top spots to 1 ft overhead and clean and lined up with decent form. Hawaii's North Shore had waves at 15 ft on the sets and clean at select breaks but with underlying lump and pretty raw and wonky with north-northeast trades. The South Shore was waist to chest high and clean with good form. The East Shore was getting wrap around north swell with waves 2 ft overhead and pretty warbled from modest onshore/east-northeast trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (1/14) Swell #8 was fading in California being generated by a storm that previously tracked from Japan to the North Dateline and then into the Northern Gulf Fri-Sun (1/10) with seas to 46 ft. Swell #9 was hitting Hawaii from a storm that developed north of Hawaii on Wed (1/13) pushing east for 24 hours with seas 30 ft targeting the Islands directly and with secondary fetch producing 41 ft seas now traveling east towards at the US West Coast. And strong Storm #10 was right behind developing just west of the dateline falling east-southeast Wed-Sat (1/16) with seas to 56 ft targeting Hawaii well (Storm #10). After that a weak system is forecast tracking southeast from off the Kuril Islands Fri-Sun (1/17) with 37 ft seas targeting Hawaii well. Solid swell is still forecast!

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Thursday (1/14) the jet was well consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds building to 190 kts pushing flat over the dateline then into the Central Gulf of Alaska forming a trough there offering support for gale development. From there the jet was lifting hard north and was pushing inland over North Canada. A second trough was developing in the jet over the dateline. Over the next 72 hours the trough on the dateline is to track east-southeast being fed by 170 kts winds offering great support for gale development with that trough starting to lift northeast again in the Central Gulf of Alaska on Sat (1/16). And yet a third trough is to be developing embedded in the jet on Fri (1/15) tracking southeast and pinching off northwest of HAwaii on Sun (1/17) also offering support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the pinched trough is to dig very deep with it's apex pushing over Kauai late on Mon (1/18) offering only weather for the Islands. But winds are to be 170 kts off Japan pushing east and a huge ridge is to be over the US West Coast pushing the east side of the pinched trough over Hawaii up into North Canada. The jet is to turn into a fragmented mess over the Gulf of Alaska Tues (1/19) but the jet is to be consolidated and pushing due east off Japan with winds 180 kts reaching to the dateline with a new developing trough imbedded in it pushing to the dateline on Thurs (1/21) offering support for gale development. But to the east the huge ridge is to hold solidly if not retrograde west on Thurs (1/21) over the Gulf of Alaska completely locking down the space from Hawaii to just off California driving the storm track well into the Bering Sea. The east side of the ridge is to be falling down the US West Coast perhaps opening the door to some backdoor fronts and precipitation. A new pattern is to be developing. It looks like we'll be saying goodbye to huge surf and clean condition in CA.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (1/14) swell from Storm #8 was fading in CA (see Storm #8 below). Swell # 9 was hitting Hawaii and bound for the US West Coast (see Storm #9 below)

Over the next 72 hours another storm was developing while pushing over the dateline and towards Hawaii (see Strong Storm # 10 below).

And a weaker and smaller system is forecast developing off the Kuril Islands Thurs PM (1/14) with 45 kt northwest winds ands seas building from 30 ft at 44.5N 155E aimed southeast.On Fri AM (1/15) 45 kt northwest winds are to continue falling southeast with seas building to 37 ft over a small area at 43N 162E aimed southeast. In the evening fetch is to fall southeast fast at 40-45 kts with seas 37 ft at 40N 170E aimed southeast at Hawaii. On Sat AM (1/16) northwest winds to be 35-40 kts on the dateline with 34 ft seas at 37N 176E aimed southeast. Fetch is to fade in the evening from 35 kts with seas 29 ft at 34.5N 178W aimed southeast. 30-35 kts north winds to continue falling southeast into Mon AM (1/18) with 26 ft seas at 33N 160W and impacting Kauai at about that time. Something to monitor.


Storm #8
And yet another system formed off Japan on Thurs PM (1/7) producing 45-50 kt west winds over a tiny area and seas on the increase. This system pushed east-northeast gaining strength on Fri AM (1/8) with 50 kt west winds and seas building from 34 ft over a tiny area at 43.5N 162E aimed east at Hawaii. In the evening 50 kt west winds are to be approaching the dateline with 40 ft seas at 44.5N 172E aimed east. On Sat AM (1/9) 50 kt west-northwest winds were over the Dateline and seas building to 45 ft at 46.5N 179W aimed east. Fetch faded some in the evening while holding position in the Northwestern Gulf at 45+ kts solid drifting southeast with 45 ft seas at 46N 170.5W aimed east. The gale faded in coverage while drifting east-southeast in the Western Gulf Sun AM (1/10) with 40-45 kt northwest winds and seas 45 ft at 46N 163.5W aimed east-southeast. The gale was dissipating in the evening with 35-40 kt west winds and seas fading from 40 ft at 46N 155.5W aimed east. Seas from previous fetch were fading Mon AM (1/11) from 31 ft at 47.5N 146.5W aimed east.

North CA: Swell fading Thurs (1/14) from 7.8 ft @ 14-15 secs early (11 ft). Dribbles on Fri (1/15) at 5.9 ft @ 13-14 secs (8.0 ft). 295-302 degrees with most energy from 298 degrees

Southern CA: Swell fading Thurs (1/14) from 4.2 ft @ 16 secs early (6.5 ft). Dribbles on Fri (1/15) at 2.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.5 ft). 301-305 degrees with most energy from 303 degrees


Storm #9
A new gale developed on Tues AM (1/12) over the dateline producing 35 kt northwest winds with seas building to 23 ft at 41N 176E aimed southeast at Hawaii. In the evening the gale built with 40 kt northwest winds with seas 27 ft at 37.5N 175.5W aimed southeast at Hawaii. On Wed AM (1/13) the gale built with the existing fetch holding at 40 kts from the northwest targeting Hawaii and a secondary fetch build north of it with 50-55 kt northwest winds in a redeveloping core with seas building to 39 ft at 40.5N 160W aimed southeast with secondary seas at 30 ft at 32.5N 165W targeting Hawaii directly. In the evening only the new fetch is to remain tracking east and growing in coverage producing 50 kt northwest and west wind and seas 40 ft at 40.5N 153W aimed east at the US West Coast and sideband energy at Hawaii. On Thurs AM (1/14) winds to fade from 40-45 kts from the west with seas 37 ft at 42.5N 150W aimed east. Fetch is to be fading in the evening from 40 kts lifting northeast with seas 34 ft at 46N 144W aimed east. The gale is to race north and fade from there.

More large swell likely.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (1/14) building to 12.8 ft @ 15 secs early (19.0 ft). Swell fading Fri (1/15) from 6.4 ft @ 14 secs early (9.0 ft) with secondary swell intermixed at 4.9 ft @ 15 secs (7.0 ft) early. Swell Direction: 330 degrees with secondary swell from 350 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival at sunset on Fri (1/15) building to 3.8 ft @ 19 secs (7 ft). Swell peaking on Sat (1/16) at 10.2 ft @ 16-17 secs early (16.5 ft) fading some later. Residuals on Sun (1/17) fading from 5.9 ft @ 13-14 secs early (7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290-294 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (1/16) building to 4.2 ft @ 17 secs (7.0 ft) early afternoon at exposed breaks and holding. Swell fading Sun (1/17) fading rom 4.3 ft @ 14-15 secs early (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 295-302 degrees


Strong Storm #10 - Target Hawaii
And yet another storm started developing off North Japan on Wed AM (1/13) producing a small area of 40-45 kt northwest winds with seas building. In the evening a decent fetch of northwest winds were falling southeast at 50 kts with seas building from 44 ft at 40.5N 168E aimed southeast. On Thurs AM (1/14) the storm was pushing over the dateline falling southeast with 55 kt northwest winds and seas 52 ft at 39.5N 177E aimed southeast. In the evening the storm is to fall southeast with 55 kt northwest winds and sea 56 ft at 38N 174.5W aimed southeast. On Fri AM (1/15) the storm is to track east with 50 kt west winds and seas 54 ft at 37N 167.5W aimed east. In the evening the gale is to push east to almost northeast with 40 kt west winds and seas 45 ft at 37.5N 159.5W aimed east. The gale is to fade Sat AM (1/16) while lifting northeast with 35-40 kt west winds and seas fading from 38 ft at 40.5N 151.5W aimed east. The gale to dissipate from there.

Very large and powerful swell for Hawaii and more moderate size for the US West Coast.

Hawaii (Oahu): For planning purposes expect swell arrival before sunrise Sat (1/16) building to 14.0 ft @ 20 secs (28 ft Hawaiian) by 9 AM holding through the day as period drops to 19 secs late afternoon. Swell moderating on Sun (1/17) from 9.0 ft @ 15-16 secs early (13.5 ft) and fading steadily. Swell continuing down on Mon from 5.4 ft @ 13 secs (7.0 ft). Swell Direction: 311-333 degrees focused on 322-325 degrees

North CA: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Sun (1/17) building to 5.6 ft @ 22 secs late (12 ft). Swell building over night peaking early Mon (1/18) at 9.8 ft @ 18 secs (17.5 ft). Swell Direction: 281-292 degrees focused on 287 degrees


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


Tropical Update
No tropical weather system of interest were being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (1/14) northwest winds were 5 kts early for North CA and 10-15 kts for Central CA early and holding all day. A front and light south winds at 5 kts are forecast for Cape Mendocino holding all day. Friday (1/15) high pressure is to start setting up with north winds 10-15 kts from Pt Arena south to Pt Conception building to 15-20 kts for North and Central CA. The window of clean conditions is to close. Sat (1/16) northwest winds to be 20 kts for all of North and Central CA early building to 25 kts for North CA later. Sun (1/17) northwest winds are to be 20-25 kts off the coast and 10 kts from the north building to 30+ kts for all of North CA later and 10-15 kts for Central CA nearshore later. Monday north winds are forecast at 25 kts for all of North CA early and 20+ kts for Central CA holding all day. Tues (1/19) north winds are to be 20-25 kts for all of North and Central CA all day. Wed (1/20) north winds are forecast at 20-25 kts for North CA early and northeast 10 kts for Central CA early building to 30 kts for North CA later and 10 kts from the north for Central CA. Thurs (1/21) North winds to be 30-35 kts for North CA and 20 kts for Central CA early and fading for Central CA at 10-15 kts later while holding for North CA later. No precip forecast. Massive and bulletproof high pressure at 1038 mbs is to fill the Gulf of Alaska by Wed (1/20) with no immediate change forecast.

Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 3 inches, 3 inches, 4 inches, and 3 inches all on 1/22.

Freezing level 12,000 ft today holding then falling to 5,500 ft on 1/19 before then rising back to 12,000 ft 1/20 and then falling hard to 2,000 ft on 1/22 and holding.

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis
No swell was in the water.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems 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 a stronger gale is forecast developing off North Japan Tues PM (1/19) with 50 kt northwest winds and seas building from 44 ft at 42.5N 157.5E aimed southeast. Fetch fading Wed AM (1/20) from 40-45 kts over a moderate sized area half way to the dateline with 39 ft seas at 39N 165.5E aimed southeast. Fetch is to lift hard north in the evening with 50 kt north winds over the North Dateline Region with 32 ft seas fading at 36N 172E and new seas building to 34 ft up at 45N 173E aimed southeast. Northwest winds are to be fading Thurs AM (1/21) from 45 kts with seas fading from 35 ft at 46.5N 179.5W aimed southeast. Fetch fading from there. Maybe some swell for Hawaii and the US West Coast.

Clearly the storm pattern is to fade out compared to weeks past.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast.



MJO/ENSO Forecast


High Pressure Bias and East Anomalies Holding Firm

MJO/ENSO Discussion
The Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) 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.
And the El Nino/La Nino cycle (collectively know as ENSO - El Nino Southern Oscillation) is a less frequent (about once every 7 years) but more impactful cycle that affects world wide weather. Specifically, strong El Nino events promote storm production in the Pacific while La Nina events suppress storm production. These therefore have a significant impact on the production of swell and surf. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO and ENSO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for upcoming activity (or inactivity depending on the state and interaction of these two oscillations).

Overview: A double dip La Nina was in control 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 to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere. In January 2019, those warm waters were fading, but then rebuilt late in Feb associated with Kelvin Wave (#3). But as of early June 2019 warm water was fading and by August a tongue of cool water was tracking west on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos reaching to a point nearly south of Hawaii. El Nino was dead. A bit of a recovery occurred during Fall of 2019, with weak warm water building in the Nino 1.2 region, but cool water held in a pool off Peru and had not changed until March 2020. By April the cool pool pushed east and by May subsurface cool waters erupted off Ecuador, forming a well defined cool tongue that looked like the start of La Nina, holding into July 2020.

Fall/Winter 2020/2021 = 3.0/3.5 (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: It is assumed the PDO has moved to the warm phase in 2014 and that a weak borderline El Nino from 2018 faded out in the Fall of 2019. A La Nina like ocean temperature pattern developed in the equatorial East Pacific in the summer of 2019, then faded and returned to a neutral if not weak warm status during the Winter of 2019-2020 only to return stronger in the Summer of 2020. We have been suspecting a turn towards a La Nina like atmospheric pattern to develop in the late Winter/early Spring of 2020. Our best hope is that moderation from the warm phase of the PDO might tamp down development of a full blown La Nina as we move into 2020. But at this time that does not appear likely. Given all that, for the 2020 there is decent probability for development of La Nina meaning a reduced number of storm days and storm intensity during the summer season, resulting in a below normal level of swell, with swell being below normal duration and period. And by the Fall and early Winter of 2020/21, the number of storm days, intensity and duration of those storms should fade even more, resulting in depressed swell production. This pattern is expected to hold through the Spring of 2021.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast (KWGA - Kelvin Wave Generation Area - The area 5 degrees north and south of the equator from 170W to 135E)
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (1/13) 5 day average winds were strong from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and stronger still from the east over the KWGA. Anomalies were moderate easterly over the East equatorial Pacific turning neutral over the Central Pacific and exceedingly strong easterly over the KWGA. (Note: These are 5 day average winds, so they lag what is happening today by about 2 days).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (1/14) exceedingly strong east anomalies were filling the KWGA and reaching east to a point south of Hawaii. The forecast calls for more of the same through the end of the model run on 1/21 with strong east anomalies in control reaching east only to a point south of Hawaii. Moderate west anomalies are currently south of California to Ecuador and forecast building in coverage and strength through the end of the model run.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (1/13) A moderate Inactive MJO pattern was in control of the KWGA today. The statistic model projects it holding through day 15 of the model run while easing east and almost east of the KWGA at day 15. The dynamic model suggests the same thing but with the Inactive Phase fading some on days 10 and 15.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (1/14) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was weak over the East Indian Ocean today and is to track to the Maritime Continent and exceedingly weak on day 15. The GEFS model suggests a variant of the same with the Active Phase making it only to the West Maritime Continent at day 15 and very weak.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (1/14) This model depicts a weak MJO pattern (moist air) over the far West Pacific and is to track east while fading moving over Central America on 2/18. A moderate Inactive Phase is to push into the West Pacific on 2/5 pushing east to the Central Pacific at the end of the model run on 2/23 while building in strength.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (1/13) This model depicts no MJO signal today with strong east anomalies over the core of the KWGA. The forecast indicates east anomalies are to hold strong through 1/21 then weakening to moderate plus status and holding through the end of the run on 2/10. The low pass filter indicates perhaps some weakening in strength of high pressure over the KWGA at the end of the model run but still solidly present with 2 contour lines. A third contour line is to fade on 1/23.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (1/14 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO signal over the KWGA today with moderate to strong east anomalies in control focused over the dateline. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is to track east and fade through 1/27 while a weak Active Phase starts building in from the west on 1/16 building modestly over the KWGA till 2/23 but with east anomalies holding over the KWGA but maybe fading in coverage. A weak Inactive MJO is to return 2/10 tracking through the KWGA 3/5 with a mix of weak east and west anomalies forecast over the KWGA. A weak Active Phase is to follow on 2/25-3/19 with weak west anomalies taking over the KWGA. A weak Active Phase is follow 3/18 through the end of the model run on 4/13. The low pass filter indicates a high pressure bias is firmly in control over the dateline today with 4 contour lines reaching east to a point south of California. The fourth contour line is to fade on 3/26. A double contour low pressure bias is over the Indian Ocean today and is to build in coverage with the second contour line holding through 2/21. No realistic change in the coverage or position of either is forecast though the model suggest a shift in the border between the two to 150E at the end of the model run. East anomalies that were previously solid in the Indian Ocean for over a year migrated east through the West Pacific to the East Pacific on 10/1 and have stabilized there.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (1/14) Today in the far West Pacific the 30 and 29 deg isotherms were gone. The 28 deg isotherm line was retrograding from 167E today. The 24 deg isotherm was easing east to 115W today. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies +3 deg C were locked steady in the West Pacific pushing east to 170W at depth and moving no further east. A broad cooling pattern was controlling the entire equatorial Pacific with anomalies -1 degs C in the far East, weaker than weeks past but building to -3C at 152W and west from there. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 1/8 indicates the same thing. Negative anomalies in the East Pacific were the least negative at any time in months. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (1/8) Negative anomalies were forming a wave pushing west from the Galapagos to the dateline on the equator at -5 to -10 cms continuous over that area with 1 small pocket to -15 cms at 140W and fading. Negative anomalies were -5 to -10 cms along the coast of Peru up into Ecuador and reaching north up to Baja and -5 to -10 cms into South and North CA. Looking at the big picture, negative anomalies were forming a massive triangle from Cape Mendocino to the intersection of the dateline and equator then into Southern Chile. No positive anomalies were over the equatorial Pacific, except from the dateline and points west of there. But the triangle was not as strong as weeks past but not substantially weakening either.

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: (1/13) The latest images indicate cold anomalies were on the equator from Ecuador west to the dateline and solid in density along a line from Chile to the dateline with less colder over the remainder of that area. But no markedly cooler imbedded pockets were present in the east and only 2 weak ones were in the west at 160W, 170W and 180W losing intensity even there. And the overall cool pool does not look as cold as weeks and months past. Cool anomalies were losing strength along the coasts of Chile and Peru with stray pockets of warming building in coverage. This clearly indicates a well developed version of La Nina filling the entire equatorial Pacific and down into Chile. But the overall cool intensity of that pool appears to be waning. We are past the peak of this event.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (1/13): Temps continue weakly warming along Chile and Peru reaching west to 125W. And pockets of warming are occurring on the equator from Ecuador to 135W. The balance again looks like warming is taking the upper hand.
Hi-res Overview: (1/13) A stream of consistent cool water is well entrenched from Chile up to Peru and Ecuador tracking west on the equator out to the dateline and west to New Guinea. But the trail of markedly cool anomalies previously imbedded in that flow is gone. The peak of La Nina is past.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (1/14) Today's temps were rising markedly from -1.4171 on 12/30 to -0.482 on (1/11) falling to -0.514 today. A previous peak of -0.595 occurred on 12/11. This area has been on a seesaw rising trend since early October. Temps were previously down to -2.138 on 8/13. The longterm trend has been steady but quite cold since June.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(1/14) Temps were mostly steady after rising to -0.969 on 1/4 and -1.014 today after bottoming out at -1.654 on 11/3, beating the previous low of -0.945 on 9/22. The previous low before that was -0.733 on 9/10. Temps have been on a steady decline since 7/25. Overall the trend appears to be in a steep decline.

Click for Full Sized Image Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 Sea Surface Temp (SST) Anomalies & Current SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (1/14) Today the model indicates temps rising to -0.75 degs after bottoming out in early Nov at -1.25 degs. The forecast depicts temps slowly rising moving forward to -0.15 degs in May then starting a slow fade to -0.30 degs in Sept. This is likely becoming a 2 year event in that even if temps were to return to normal in July it would take 3-5 months for the upper level circulation to respond in kind. But we suspect a strong El Nino might be building right behind the current La Nina.
IRI Consensus Plume: The Oct 21, 2020 Plume depicts temps are at -1.10 degs today, and are to hold into Dec, then moderating and starting to rise some to -0.89 by Jan 2021 and then neutral by June. Most models are suggesting a moderate to La Nina returning to Neutral in the late Spring. See chart here - link.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad - this is a lagging indicator) (1/14): The daily index was rising to +20.26. The 30 day average was rising to +19.51. The 90 day average was rising to 11.48, clearly in La Nina territory. This index is a lagging indicator.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): June -0.67, May -0.46, April 2020 -0.69, March -0.09, Feb +0.65, Jan +0.42, This index was steady positive Aug 2018 through Feb 2020, and now is steady negative, but only weakly so.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation
Per NOAAs index recent values: Jan 2018 +0.29, Feb -0.19, Mar -0.61, April -0.89, May -0.69, June -0.85, July -0.09, Aug -0.43, Sept -0.46, Oct -0.75, Nov -0.78, Dec -0.12, Jan 2019 -0.18, Feb -0.50 Mar -0.23, April +0.10, May +0.14, June -0.11, July +0.44, Aug -0.14, Sept +0.05, Oct -0.96, Nov -0.28, Dec +0.01, Jan 2020 -1.17, This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2018 +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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