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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, January 26, 2021 5:39 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
3.8 - California & 3.3 - 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 1/25 thru Sun 1/31

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   

Weaker Raw Swell Pattern for CA
Major Rain/Slow Event Expected Too

On Tuesday, January 26, 2021 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 238 (Barbers Point): Seas were 4.8 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 1.8 ft @ 16.9 secs from 209 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): This buoy is down.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 7.7 ft @ 7.1 secs with swell 6.2 ft @ 6.4 secs from 277 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 20-23 kts. Water temperature 57.2 degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 5.7 ft @ 15.6 secs from 299 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 5.1 ft @ 7.9 secs from 267 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 6.4 ft @ 9.1 secs from 276 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 8.7 ft @ 9.8 secs from 285 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 13.2 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 9.3 ft @ 12.6 ft from 315 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was west at 6-10 kts. Water temp 51.8 degs (013), 51.6 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 Tuesday (1/26) in North and Central CA waves were double overhead give or take a foot or so and very lumpy and raw and unorganized though local winds were light and conditions bordering on clean. Protected breaks were 2 ft overhead and lined up and raw and closed out though wind was light and surface conditions nearly clean. At Santa Cruz surf was 1-2 ft overhead at top spots and fairly clean and lined up but still a bit on the raw side. In Southern California/Ventura waves were waist high on the sets and pretty warbled and soft with whitecaps from the west just outside the surf line. Central Orange County had sets at waist to chest high and lined up and somewhat clean but weak and not well organized with light northwest wind. South Orange County's best summertime breaks had waves at waist high and warbled and piled on top each other and somewhat warbled but with no winds and glassy surface conditions. North San Diego had sets at waist high and clean coming from the north and and soft. Hawaii's North Shore was small with sets waist to maybe chest high at top spots and clean with a little north warble running through it. The South Shore was thigh high and clean and weak. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves 1-2 ft overhead and chopped from strong east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Tuesday (1/24) California was getting a mix of locally generated swell and windswell with mostly poor conditions while Hawaii was getting no swell of interest. A weak gale tracked off Japan Sun-Mon (1/25) producing 33 ft seas aimed somewhat at Hawaii then is to shift hard north and redevelop south of the Western Aleutians on Tues-Wed (1/27) producing 45-50 ft seas aimed east but not making it to even the dateline. Another gale is forecast falling southeast through the Northeastern Gulf Tues-Wed (1/27) producing 35 ft seas targeting California. And another is to be falling southeast through the Gulf on Sat (1/30) with 27 ft seas aimed southeast. And Sat-Sun (1/31) another gale is forecast trying to develop just off the Kuril Islands producing 28-30 ft seas aimed east but again not making it to the dateline. Currently the Central North Pacific is locked down by strong high pressure but long term there's some sense the jetstream may try to reorganize and at least push to the dateline.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Tuesday (1/26) the jet was weakly consolidated pushing east off Japan then lifting hard north and splitting with winds 120 kts forming a trough just off Kamchatka offering some support for gale development there. The northern branch continued north from there pushing into the Bering Sea then reversing direction and falling southeast over the Eastern Aleutians and down through the Eastern Gulf of Alaska at 130 kts forming a weak trough off the Pacific Northwest starting to support gale development and then pushing inland over Southern CA. At the split point the southern branch of the jet was was falling southeast and well west of Hawaii to the equator. Over the next 72 hours the trough over the Northwest Pacific Ocean is to track north and dissipate while the split point retrogrades west to 165E and wind energy starts building to 190 kts over Japan on Thurs (1/28) and starting to build eastward. The trough off the Pacific Northwest is to build and steeper offering more support for gale development before pinching off and moving inland over Southern CA on Fri (1/29). Beyond 72 hours a broad trough is to build in the Northern Gulf falling southeast Fri-Mon (2/1) to a point off Central CA while steepening offering support for gale development there. And by Mon (2/1) the jet is to be consolidated with winds 180 kts pushing off Japan to the dateline if no further east looking better and feeding a trough off Kamchatka supporting gale development. By Tues (2/1) the split point is to move to 165W with winds still 180 kts in the jet pushing off Japan but with the Kamchatka trough fading and the trough in the Gulf moving east and over North CA. The good news is the split is to be less pronounced and the ridge in the east also less dominant. And copious weather remains forecast for California.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (1/26) swell from a storm that previously tracked east over the West Pacific was fading in California and mostly buried in more locally generated swell (see Dateline Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a local system is forecast falling southeast of the US West Coast producing raw swell for California (see Local California Gale below). Also a storm was evolving off Kamchatka offering something for Hawaii and the US West Coast (see Kamchatka Gale below).


Local California Gale
Starting Mon PM (1/25) a gale developed in the Northern Gulf producing a small area of 45 kt northwest winds aimed southeast with seas building from 31 ft at 52N 152W aimed southeast. On Tues AM (1/26) the gale was falling southeast with 40-45 kt northwest winds covering a solid area off British Columbia with seas 35 ft at 47.5N 148W aimed southeast. In the evening fetch is to be falling hard south off Oregon and North CA at 35-40 kts with seas 29 ft at 42.5N 140W aimed southeast. On Wed AM (1/27) fetch is to be fading from 30-35 kts over a broad area off North and Central California from the northwest with seas 27 ft at 41N 135W aimed southeast. Fetch is to be gone in the evening with seas fading from 23 ft at 37N 135W aimed southeast. Raw swell likely for all of California with copious rain and wind. Something to monitor.

North CA: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Wed afternoon (1/27) building from 11.2 ft @ 13 secs (15 ft). Swell arriving in earnest on Thurs AM (1/28) pushing 11.0 ft @ 15 secs (16 ft). Swell fading on Fri (1/29) from 7.3 ft @ 12-13 secs early (9.0 ft). Swell Direction: 280 degrees turning to 295 degrees

Southern CA: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Thurs AM (1/28) pushing 4.4 ft @ 15-16 secs (6.5 ft) and holding steady. Swell fading on Fri (1/29) from 4.4 ft @ 13-14 secs early (5.5 ft). Residuals on Sat (1/30) fading from 2.9 ft @ 11-12 secs early (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 300 degrees turning to 295 degrees


Kamchatka Storm
On Sun PM (1/24) a small gale developed off Southern Japan producing 45 kt east winds with seas building from 25 ft at 34N 158E aimed only southwest. Fetch pushed east Mon AM (1/25) at 55 kt aimed south with 32 ft seas at 35.5N 163E aimed south and of no immediate interest. In the evening fetch was building in coverage at 45-50 kts while lifting hard north with seas 32 ft at 36.5N 169E aimed south. The storm started reorganizing off Kamchatka Tues AM (1/26) with 55 kt west winds and seas regrouping at 46 ft at 47.5N 174.E aimed east. In the evening the gale is to be lifting north with west winds 40-50 kts and seas building to 53 ft but all aimed north with 42 ft seas at 48N 175E aimed east. Fetch is to be fading Wed AM (1/27) from 40-45 kts from the west just south of the Aleutians as the gale lifts north with it's core in the Bering Sea with 33 ft seas at 49N 177.5W aimed east. In the evening the gale is to be dissipating over the North Dateline region with 35 kt west winds just south of the Central Aleutians with seas fading from 31 ft at 50N 180W aimed east. The gale is to be gone after that. Small swell possible for Hawaii with more energy targeting the US West Coast but further away. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: For planning purposes expect swell arrival late on Fri (1/29) pushing 4.0 ft @ 16 secs (6.0 ft). Swell to continue on Sat (1/30) at 4.2 ft @ 15 secs early (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 318 degrees


West Pacific Storm
A stronger gale developed off North Japan Tues PM (1/19) with 55 kt northwest winds and seas building from 36 ft at 41N 159E aimed southeast. Fetch held Wed AM (1/20) at 55 kts over a modest sized area half way to the dateline with 48 ft seas at 41.5N 166.5E aimed southeast. Fetch pushed east in the evening at 55 kts from the northwest approaching the Dateline with 52 ft seas at 42N 172.5E. Northwest winds were fading in strength and coverage Thurs AM (1/21) from 45 kts pushing to the dateline with seas 42 ft at 41.5N 177.5E aimed east. Fetch was fading from 40 kts in the evening on the dateline with seas fading from 33 ft at 44.5N 176.5W aimed east. This system was gone after that. Maybe some swell for Hawaii and lesser size for the US West Coast.

North CA: Swell fading Tues (1/27) from 5.6 ft @ 15 secs (8.0 ft). Swell Direction: 296-299 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 Tuesday (1/26) the next storm was queuing up off Oregon with southwest winds building to 30-35 kts for all of North CA by late afternoon pushing south over San Francisco and Monterey Bay to Morro Bay in the evening still at 35 kts with south winds 20 kts reaching Pt Conception. Rain pushing south from Cape Mendocino to the Golden Gate in the afternoon pushing south to near Pt Conception in the evening. Heavy snow along the coast at higher elevations of Cape Mendocino to Pt Reyes in the evening A major snow event possible for Tahoe developing late evening and stronger into the early morning hours.
  • Wed (1/27) southwest winds are forecast at 30 kts for Pt Conception early but otherwise 15-20 kts for all of North CA pushing south to Pt Conception stalling while fading there. Still southwest winds at 30 kts are forecast for Pt Conception at sunset then fading overnight. South winds for Southern CA 15-20 kts through the day. Heavy rain for all of North and Central CA down to Big Sur early continuing through the day and focused on Big Sur late Afternoon. Light rain building into the northern half of Southern CA through the day and evening. Heavy snow is expected for the entire Sierra through the day and building some in the evening.
  • Thurs (1/28) southwest winds are forecast at 10-15 kts for all of North and Central CA early and 20 kts for the northern half of Southern CA early and fading while turning westerly for North and Central CA later afternoon at 10 kts while holding at 15 kts from the southwest for the southern portion of South California. Moderate rain for all of North and Central CA all day and heavy rain for Pt Conception into inland Santa Barbara Co in the afternoon. Moderate rain for the remainder of Southern CA. Heavy snow all day for the Sierra continuing into the evening.
  • Fri (1/29) northwest winds are forecast 10 kts for North CA down to Monterey Bay early and 15 kts for Big Sur southward into all of Southern CA and holding all day. But south winds and a new front to be building for Cape Mendocino late afternoon at 20-30 kts and south winds 10 kts down to Bodega Bay. Light rain for all of CA early mainly along the coast and more concentrated for Southern CA early fading late afternoon and clearing overnight. Moderate snow for the Sierra early and fading through the day dissipating in the evening over the South and Central Sierra. Light snow building for Tahoe overnight.
  • Sat (1/30) the front is to be gone with light winds early everywhere but a new front building over Cape Mendocino at sunset with south winds 20 kts there. Light rain for all of North and Central CA fading steadily through the day. Moderate snow for the Tahoe area all day fading after sunset.
  • Sunday (1/31) south winds are forecast at 15-20 kts for North CA down to the Golden Gate early holding all day. South winds 5-10 kts for all of Central CA. Moderate rain for all of North CA north of the Golden Gate all day. Maybe some snow showers for north Lake Tahoe.
  • Monday (2/1) south winds are forecast at 15-20 kts for all of North CA building to 20-25 kts later. south winds 10 kts for Central CA all day. Rain all day from the Golden Gate northward. Snow showers for tahoe and points north of there.
  • Tues (2/2) southwest winds are forecast at 15-20 kts turning northwest 15-20 kts early for all of North and Central CA. Rain for all of North and Central CA early pushing into all of Southern CA late morning. Heavy snow building for the entire Sierra late morning.

Total snow accumulation for the next 10 days for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 108 inches, 120 inches, 124 inches, and 99 inches through 2/4.

Freezing level 2,000 ft today rising to 4,000 in the afternoon and holding there, rising to 5,000 ft and holding on 1/30. Snow level falling to 2,000 ft on 2/3 rising some after that.

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 remnants of the Kamchatka Storm (above) are to redevelop in the Northern Gulf on Fri PM (1/29) producing 30-35 kt northwest winds over a broad area with seas building from 27 ft at 47N 151W aimed east. On Sat AM (1/3) fetch is to be falling southeast and fading at 30-35 kts over a solid area off Oregon to British Columbia with 25 ft seas at 43N 145W aimed southeast. In the evening fetch is to be fading from 25-30 kts well off North CA with 21-22 ft seas over a broad area with it's leading edge at 40N 140W aimed southeast. On Sun AM (1/31) fetch is to be gone with seas from previous fetch at 19 ft at 40N 142W aimed southeast. The gale is to dissipate from there.

Also another gale is to be developing just off Japan on Sat AM (1/30) with 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas building from 31 ft at 36.5N 155.5E aimed east. In the evening the gale is to inch east but mostly lift north off the Kuril Islands with 35 kt northwest winds and seas 29 ft at 39N 163E aimed east. On Sun AM (1/31) fetch is to be fading while lifting north at 30-35 kts with seas fading from 28 ft at 45N 165E aimed east. The gale is to fade in the evening with 30 kts west winds and seas fading from 24 ft at 46N 170E aimed east. The gale to dissipate from there. Maybe some energy is to result for Hawaii.

Perhaps another gale is to form Tues (2/2) pushing off the Kuril Islands with 50 kts west winds and seas building from 30 ft at 44.5N 170E aimed east.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast.



MJO/ENSO Forecast


Water Temps Continue Rising over Equatorial East Pacific

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 (1/25) 5 day average winds were strong from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and similar from the east over the KWGA. Anomalies were light westerly over the East equatorial Pacific turning neutral over the Central Pacific then building to modest 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 (1/26) weak west anomalies were in control of the KWGA and have been for 1-2 days. The forecast calls for west anomalies fading 1/28 with east anomalies forecast rebuilding on 1/29 and weakly filling the KWGA by 1/30 and building to moderate strength at the end of the model run on 2/2. West anomalies are currently south of California to Ecuador on the equator at moderate strength and are forecast slowly fading and all but gone at the end of the model run.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (1/25) A moderate Active MJO pattern was over the KWGA today. The statistic model projects it holding strength while easing slowly east and over the dateline and barely filling the KWGA by day 15 of the model run with the Inactive Phase building over the Maritime Continent. The dynamic model suggests a variation of the same thing with the Active building steadily to moderate status on day 15 of the model run and not moving east at all and still filling the KWGA at the end of the model run.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (1/26) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was moderate over the West Pacific today and is to ease east to the East Pacific and fade to weak status on day 15 over the far East Atlantic. The GEFS model suggests the Active Phase is to hold position in the West Pacific at moderate strength through day 15, not moving east at all.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (1/25) This model depicts a moderate Active MJO pattern (moist air) over the Central and East Pacific and is to track east while fading moving over Central America on 2/14. A moderate and cohesive Inactive Phase is to push into the West Pacific on 1/30 tracking east to the East Pacific at the end of the model run on 3/6 while holding strength. A weak Active Phase is to b building over the KWGA at that time.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (1/25) This model depicts a weak Active MJO signal today over the far West Pacific with weak west anomalies over the core of the KWGA. The forecast indicates the Active Phase is to track east through the KWGA and east of it on 2/12 with west anomalies holding a weak to modest strength but with one pocket of east anomalies in the mix as well. Weak to modest east anomalies are to return 2/10 holding through the end of the model run on 2/22 but nothing compared to what we've previously seen. The low pass filter indicates weakening in strength of high pressure bias over the KWGA currently with 1 contour line and even that is to lose 60% of it's current coverage at the end of the model run. And weak west anomalies are to be building in the far east and west KWGA at that time. A dramatic fall of La Nina is forecast in the next 4 days per this model.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (1/26 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weak Active Phase in control of the KWGA and holding till 2/27 with weak west anomalies developing and holding weakly over the KWGA mixed one pocket of weak east anomalies. A weak but broad Inactive MJO is to return 2/11 tracking through the KWGA through 3/31 with pockets of weak east anomalies filling the KWGA 3/7-3/31. A moderate Active MJO signal is forecast in the KWGA 3/25 filling it through the end of the model run on 4/25. 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 forth contour line is to fade on 2/27 and the third gone on 4/18. The remaining 2 are to hold indefinitely. A double contour low pressure bias is over the Indian Ocean today and is to hold in coverage with the second contour line fading on 2/11 with the remaining contour line theoretically shrinking in coverage from the west on 3/6 and starting to ease east to 160E. 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 10/1/20 and have stabilized there.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (1/26) Today in the far West Pacific the 30 and 29 deg isotherms were gone. The 28 deg isotherm line was easing east to 165E today. The 24 deg isotherm was building east and pushing the whole way across the equatorial Pacific. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies +2 deg C were locked steady in the West Pacific pushing east to 175W at depth but moving no further east. A broad but weakening cooling pattern was controlling the entire equatorial Pacific with anomalies focused at -3C at 150W and west from there. A pocket of +1 deg anomalies were building from 120W eastward. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 1/18 indicates the same thing but with no warm anomalies in the east. 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: (1/18) 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 at -15 cms at 145W. 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 170E 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: (1/25) The latest images indicate warm anomalies were building on the equator from Ecuador west to 135W and then cooler from there west out to the dateline. Solid cool anomalies were south of there from along Chile extending west-northwest to the dateline. But no markedly cooler imbedded pockets were present in the east but several were in the west between 160-180W. And the overall cool pool does not look as cold as weeks and months past. Cool anomalies were also losing strength along the coast of Peru with stray pockets of warming fading in coverage along the South Peruvian Coast. 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 (1/25): Temps continue warming off Chile and Peru reaching west to 140W. And a stream of strong warming was occurring on the equator from Ecuador to 120W. The balance looks like warming is taking the upper hand.
Hi-res Overview: (1/25) A stream of consistent cool water is well entrenched from Chile up well off Peru tracking west on the equator out to the dateline and west to New Guinea. But warm anomalies are on the equator from Ecuador to 120W. The last of the core of La Nina cold waters are pushing west from 160W towards the dateline. The peak of La Nina is past.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (1/26) Today's temps were rising solidly today up to -0.168 compared to -0.482 on (1/11) and -0.604 on 1/24. 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:
(1/26) Temps have been steady but today were up some from -0.982 on 1/21 to -0.802 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 (1/26) Actuals per the model indicates temps rose to -0.75 degs mid-Jan after bottoming out in early Nov at -1.25 degs. The forecast depicts temps fading but mostly steady into April at -0.85 then starting a steep decline pushing -2.1 degs in Oct. This is completely unbelievable. This model is having some serious issues.
IRI Consensus Plume: The Jan 21, 2021 Plume depicts temps are at -0.80 degs today, and are to rise to -0,25 in April and neutral by August. Most models are suggesting a moderate 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) (1/26): The daily index was rising at +25.16. The 30 day average was rising to +17.18. The 90 day average was rising to 13.58, 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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Local Interest

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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