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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, February 18, 2021 4:02 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 & 3.6 - 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 2/15 thru Sun 2/21

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   

Modest Swell Hitting CA & HI
Weak Gale Forecast for Northern Gulf

On Thursday, February 18, 2021 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 238 (Barbers Point): Seas were 4.4 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 2.9 ft @ 12.3 secs from 307 degrees. Water temp 76.6 degs.
  • Buoy 187 (Pauwela): Seas were 7.1 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 3.8 ft @ 11.9 secs from 300 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.6 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 3.4 ft @ 13.5 secs from 246 degrees. Wind at the buoy was east at 8-10 kts. Water temperature NA degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 4.4 ft @ 12.9 secs from 274 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.8 ft @ 15.7 secs from 221 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.6 ft @ 16.7 secs from 203 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 3.2 ft @ 13.4 secs from 251 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.9 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 3.9 ft @ 12.7 secs from 263 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was northwest at 8-10 kts. Water temp 51.4 (029), 52.3 degs (SF Bar) and 54.0 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 (2/18) North and Central CA had waves at head high to 1 ft overhead on the sets and clean and lined up but the bars were destroyed up north. Protected breaks were chest high and clean and lined up. At Santa Cruz surf was chest high or more on the sets and clean and lined up but weak. In Southern California/Ventura waves were waist high plus and lined up and clean with east winds but soft. Central Orange County had set waves at head high to 1 ft overhead and lined up and clean with moderate southeast winds. South Orange County's best summertime breaks were head high and lined up and peeling on the sets and clean with modest offshore winds. North San Diego had sets at waist to chest high and clean and lined up with light offshore winds but weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting fading swell with waves 1 ft overhead on the sets and clean and lined up . The South Shore was flat to thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves chest high and chopped from modest northeast wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (2/18) Hawaii was seeing secondary swell from a weak system that developed while tracking over the dateline and into the Western Gulf Fri-Sat (2/13) with up to 33 ft seas aimed east then lifted northeast fast. Some swell from this was also hitting CA. After that a pair of weak gales are forecast developing over the North Pacific Fri-Sun (2/21) producing 26 ft seas in over the North Dateline region and the other over the Northwestern Gulf possibly supporting minimal swell development. Nothing significant is to follow. Down south two small gales in the far Southeast Pacific have produced swell radiating north towards the usual targets along the South and North American Continents, with the first swell hitting California now.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Thursday (2/18) the jet was consolidated pushing northeast off Japan with winds to 200 kts making it to the dateline then splitting with the northern branch ridging slightly over the dateline then falling slightly and tracking east through the Northern Gulf but with weak winds speeds forming no trough nor offering any support for gale development pushing inland over Washington. The southern branch was falling south on the dateline pushing to the equator and of no interest. Over the next 72 hours the jet is to push east with decent velocity and by Sat (2/20) 160 kt winds are to be reaching into the Northern Gulf of Alaska originating off Japan where winds are to still be 180+ kts but no clearly defined troughs are forecast. A bit of a split is still projected near 170W pushing south but not stealing much energy from the main flow in the northern branch. And by Sun (2/21) decent winds are to be pushing into British Columbia from the northern branch of the jet, but signs of weakness in the main flow are forecast developing over and off Japan. Beyond 72 hours on Mon (2/22) the jet is to start splitting at 165E just off Japan and remaining split until both stream push over the Gulf of Alaska, where they rejoin and push into Washington. No troughs are forecast. By late Wed (2/24) a semi consolidated flow is to be pushing off Japan at 130 kts forming a trough off the Kuril Islands possibly offering some support for gale development there. But west of there the jet is to be splitting hard before reaching the dateline at 170E with the northern branch pushing hard up into the Bering Sea and the southern branch falling towards the equator west of Hawaii. More of the same is forecast on Thurs (2/25) but with winds speeds even weaker over the entirety of the jet. Not good.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (2/18) swell from from a secondary gale that developed while lifting northeast towards the Gulf of Alaska was hitting Hawaii and the US West Coast (see Secondary Dateline Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a broad pool of low pressure is to start developing over the Northwest Pacific on Fri AM (2/19) with 2 pockets of winds at 30-35 kts, one off the North Kuril Islands and the other near the dateline. By the evening those 2 fetch areas are to shift east some, with with the east most one building to 35-40 kts from the southwest. Seas to be 26 ft at 43N 171W aimed northeast and a secondary area of 23 ft seas is forecast off the Kurils at 47N 165E aimed east. On Sat AM (2/20) these fetch areas are to continue east both at 35 kts with the westmost one over the North Dateline region producing 25 ft seas at 48N 170E and the eastern one at 26 ft at 46.5N 161W both aimed east. In the evening the dateline low is to fade with 30-35 kts west winds and 26 ft seas at 48.5N 177E aimed east and the other is to move into the Northern Gulf with 35 kt southwest winds and 25 ft seas at 48N 150W aimed east. On Sun AM (2/21) the dateline gale is to move into the Northwestern Gulf and fade with 30 kt west winds and 25 ft seas at 48N 175W while the other has winds of 40 kts producing 35 ft seas at 54.5N 148.5W and barely in the NCal swell window (319 degrees). These systems are to no longer be of interest after that. Decent odds for small weak swell for HI and CA. Will monitor.


Secondary Dateline Gale
A gale started developing well south and west of the dateline on Thurs PM (2/11) producing 45 kt west winds and seas building from 30 ft over a tiny area at 33N 168E aimed east. On Fri AM (2/12) west winds were holding while lifting east-northeast at 45 kts with seas 31 ft over a small area at 32.5N 177.5E aimed east. The gale is to start racing northeast in the evening with 35-40 kt west winds pushing east over the Western Gulf with seas 32 ft over a small area at 39.5N 167W aimed east. On Sat AM (2/13) the gale was lifting northeast with 45 kt west winds in the far Northwestern Gulf with seas 33 ft at 45N 162W aimed east. The gale was fading in the far Northwest Gulf in the evening with 30-35 kt west winds and seas 29 ft at 50N 157W aimed east. Secondary fetch was south of there at 35 kts from the west and seas 24 ft at 44N 155W aimed east. On Sunday AM (2/14) secondary fetch continued at 40 kts from the northwest in the Gulf producing 25 ft seas at 44.5N 155W aimed east. Fetch was fading and racing east in the evening at 30-35 kts from the west with seas 23 ft at 46.5N 148W aimed east. This system dissipated while pushing east off Vancouver Island on Mon AM (2/15) with 30 kt west winds and seas 23 ft at 46N 135W aimed east. The gale faded out from there while pushing into the Pacific Northwest.

Oahu: Swell fading on Thurs (2/18) from 3.8 ft @ 12 secs (4.5 ft). Swell dissipating overnight. Swell Direction: 320 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (2/18) building to 4.7 ft @ 13 secs later (6.0 ft). Swell holding on Fri (2/19) at 5.2 ft @ 12 secs later (6.0 ft). Swell fading on Sat (2/20) from 3.8 ft @ 11-12 secs early (4.0 ft) with local windswell building. Swell Direction: 292 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

  • Friday (2/19) a light northwest flow is forecast at 5-10 kts for North and Central CA building to 10-15 kts later. Low pressure is to be building off Cape Mendocino later. Light rain for all of North CA early then back building over most of North CA late afternoon into the evening. Light snow isolated to Tahoe during the day then building in the evening an starting to push south.
  • Sat (2/20) high pressure and northwest winds to be 20-25 kts early for all of North and Central CA though lighter at 15 kts for Cape Mendocino and holding all day. Rain for all of North CA a sunrise down to Santa Cruz and rapidly dissipating. Snow isolated to Tahoe early and quickly fading.
  • Sun (2/21) north-northwest winds are forecast at 20 kts for all of North and Central CA early fading to 10-15 kts later but still 20 kts for Cape Mendocino later. No precipitation forecast with high pressure in control.
  • Mon (2/22) north-northeast winds are forecast at 10-15 kts early for North and Central CA all day but 20-25 kts for Cape Mendocino.
  • Tues (2/23) north winds are forecast at 30 kts for all of North CA early but 10 kts south of the Golden Gate early with 30 kt north winds building in coverage down to Monterey bay later and 15 kts southward to Pt Conception.
  • Wed (2/24) north winds are forecast at 20-25 kts for all of North and Central CA early holding all day.
  • Thurs (2/25) north winds are forecast at 10-15 kts nearshore early for all of North and Central CA early but 20 kts just off the coast fading to 10-15 kts for all of North and Central CA later.

Total snow accumulation for the next 10 days for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 3 inches, 3 inches, 2 inches, and 1 inch through 2/27.

Freezing level 8,000 ft 2/18 falling to 4,000 ft briefly on 2/20 before building quickly to 10,500 ft on 2/22. Snow level falling to 3,500 ft on 2/24 and holding there into 2/27.

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis
Swell was hitting California from a gale previously in the deep Southeast Pacific (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). Swell from another gale that followed right behind in the far Southeast Pacific is in the water tracking northeast too.

Over the next 72 hours starting Wed PM (2/17) a small gale was tracking northeast under New Zealand producing 35-40 kt southwest winds with seas 29 ft at 62S 170E aimed northeast. On Thurs AM (2/18) the gale was lifting northeast with southwest winds fading from 35+ kts with seas 32 ft at 58.5S 179.5W aimed northeast. The gale is to dissipate from there. Low odds of small background swell for Hawaii and Tahiti.

Beyond no swell producing fetch is forecast.


Southeast Pacific Gale
A small gale started developing in the far Southeast Pacific Sun PM (2/7) producing 35-40 kt southwest winds with seas building from 26 ft at 53S 127 W aimed northeast. On Mon AM (2/8) southwest fetch was holding at 35 kts with seas 28 ft at 50.5S 129W aimed northeast. And a secondary fetch was forming south of there at 45 kts aimed north with seas building from 28 ft at 64S 119W aimed north. In the evening the secondary fetch is to be fading from 40 kts from the south with seas 30 ft at 61S 118W aimed north. A tertiary fetch of 40 kt southwest winds was building on Tues AM (2/9) with 33 ft seas at 62.5S 143.5W aimed northeast. In the evening that fetch lifted hard northeast at 35 kts with seas fading from 30 ft at 55S 120W aimed northeast. This system dissipated after that. Possibly small southerly angled swell for Southern CA to result.

Southern CA: Swell stable on Thurs (2/18) at 2.2 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5 ft). Swell fading on Fri (2/19) from 2.0 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft). Residuals fading on Sat (2/20) from 1.7 ft @ 14 secs early (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 190 degrees moving to 185 degrees

North CA: Swell holding on Thurs (2/18) at 1.8 ft @ 17-18 secs early (3.0 ft). Swell fading on Fri (2/19) from 1.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft). Dribbles on Sat (2/20) fading from 1.3 ft @ 14 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 185 degrees moving to 180 degrees


Another Southeast Pacific Gale
A small gale was tracked east over the Central South Pacific building on Sat AM (2/13) with 40 kt southwest winds and seas 33 ft at 60.5S 152.2W aimed northeast. In the evening fetch was building in coverage at 35-40 kts from the southwest with 30 ft seas at 60S 142W aimed northeast. Fetch moved over the far Southeast Pacific on Sun AM (2/14) at 35-40 kts from the southwest with seas 29 ft at 59S 131.5S aimed northeast. In the evening fetch was fading from 30-35 kts while tracking east with seas 28 ft at 58S 122W aimed northeast. After that the gale faded and moved out of the Southern CA swell window. Something to monitor.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (1/22) building to 1.5 ft @ 17 secs later (2.5 ft). Swell peaking on Tues (1/23) at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft) and holding. Swell DIrection: 193 degrees

North CA: Swell arriving on Tues (1/23) building to 1.4 ft @ 16 secs early (2.0 ft) a and likely buried in North Pacific swell. Swell Direction: 190 degrees


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 gale is forecast developing off North Japan on Tues PM (2/23) producing 45-50 kt west winds with seas building. On Wed AM (2/24) 45 kt west winds are to be pushing east with 37 ft seas at 43.5N 157E aimed east. Fetch is to fade from 35-40 kts in the evening with seas 35 ft at 44N 164E aimed east. This system is to be gone after that.

Also on Wed AM (2/24) a gale is to develop in the Northern Gulf with 40 kt west winds and seas building from 24 ft at 51N 147W aimed east. Fetch is to build in the evening to 50 kts with seas 36 ft at 54N 142.5W aimed east but east of the North CA swell window but with 28 ft seas ain the swell window at 50N 143W aimed east. ON Thurs AM (2/25) the gale is to fall southeast with 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas 30 ft at 49N 141W on the 319 degree track to NCal. In the evening the gale is to start fading but still producing 25 ft seas at 45N 135W and barely in the NCal swell window (319 degs). Something to monitor.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.



MJO/ENSO Forecast


Warming Trend Developing over East Equatorial 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 (2/17) 5 day average winds were moderate from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and moderate over the KWGA. Anomalies were light west over the East equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific then light 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 (2/18) solid west anomalies were over the extreme west KWGA. Otherwise modest east anomalies were filling the bulk of the KWGA. The forecast calls for light east anomalies continuing through the end of the model run on 2/25, with strong east anomalies developing just east of the dateline on 2/21 holding through the end of the model run.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (2/17) A moderate Active MJO pattern was over the KWGA today. The statistic model projects it easing slowly east while losing strength and out of the KWGA at day 15 of the model run with the Inactive Phase trying to build over the West KWGA at day 15 of the model run. The dynamic model suggests the same thing initially but with the Active Phase weakening quickly on day 5 and backtracking west on day 10 of the model run and weak over the core of the KWGA at day 15 of the model run.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (2/18) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was moderate over the West Pacific today and is to collapse while tracking east fading over the far West Indian Ocean at very weak status on day 15 of the model run. The GEFS model suggests the Active Phase is to hold position in the West Pacific and slowly weakening to very weak status at day 15, not moving east at all and if anything retrograding west some.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (2/17) This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern (moist air) over the East Pacific and is to track east while fading moving over Central America on 3/4. A weak Inactive Phase was starting to build in the West Pacific today and is to track east and to Central America on 3/19 while losing strength. A weak Active Phase is to develop over the KWGA on 3/22 moving to the Central Equatorial Pacific at the end of the model run on 3/27. A very mixed pattern is to flow behind that.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (2/17) This model depicts a weak Active MJO signal fading out over the KWGA with west anomalies fading over the core of the KWGA. The forecast indicates the Active Phase is to be gone in 24 hours. Weak east anomalies are to return 2/18 holding in the KWGA and building some on 2/22 at moderate strength as the Inactive Phase of the MJO moves east and tries to move over the KWGA but not making it. Moderate east anomalies are to continue through the end of the model run on 3/17. The low pass filter indicates no change from here forward in the coverage of the high pressure bias over the KWGA. West anomalies are currently south of California and are to hold coverage and strength through the end of the model run.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (2/18 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO is building in the west KWGA today and is to be tracking east through the KWGA through 3/7 with weak west anomalies in the far West KWGA but mostly weak east anomalies in control. A weak Active MJO signal is forecast to follow 3/7 tracking east through 3/22 producing modest west anomalies in the far West KWGA. A weak Inactive MJO is to follow 3/23 holding through 4/24 with a mix of weak east and west anomalies in control. A stronger Active MJO is to track east 4/24 through the end of the model run on 5/18. 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 3/30. The 3rd contour line is to fade on 5/1. The third contour line is to fade near the end of the model run. The remaining 1 is to hold indefinitely. A single contour low pressure bias is over the Indian Ocean today. The remaining contour line is to theoretically start shrinking in coverage from the west on 4/7 and starting to ease east to 175E at the end of the run. Perhaps a second contour line is to redevelop on 5/5. East anomalies that were previously solid in the Indian Ocean for over a year migrated east into the West Pacific on 10/1/20 and stabilized there and are theoretically starting a slow fade, or at least and eastward migration.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (2/18) Today in the far West Pacific the 29 deg isotherm has again dissipated. The 28 deg isotherm line was steady at 165E today. The 24 deg isotherm was building east and pushing the whole way across the equatorial Pacific but getting thinner than last week. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies +3 deg C were locked steady in the West Pacific pushing east to maybe 165W at depth but moving no further east. A broad cooling pattern was controlling the entire equatorial Pacific with anomalies in a broad pocket at -3C at 130W and west from there. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 2/12 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: (2/12) 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 but with a pocket at -15 cms at 140W and all but gone now. A thin flow of neutral anomalies was trying to push west off Ecuador but was not even reaching to the Galapagos. Negative anomalies at mostly -10 cms were along the coast of Peru up into Ecuador and reaching north up to Baja at -5 to -10 cms then weaker 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 substantially weakening.

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: (2/17) The latest images indicate a stream of cool waters tracking west from the Galapagos joining the main pocket on the equator from 145W to the dateline. But this flow looks weaker than days past. Solid cool anomalies were streaming from Chile west-northwest to the dateline also feeding the main cool pool. The cool pool looks like it is trying to regenerate in the East after having previously faded. Overall this indicates a late phase 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 (2/17): Temps are warming solidly along the equator from Ecuador west to 140W. Weaker warming was off South Chile and up to Southern Mexico . Only one small pocket of cooling was at 160W. A marked warming trend is developing.
Hi-res Overview: (2/17) A stream of consistent cool water is well entrenched from Chile tracking northwest to the equator out to the dateline and west to New Guinea. A fragile pattern of warm anomalies was trying to develop on the equator from Ecuador to 110W. A broader and cooler core of La Nina cold waters are pushing west from 140W towards the dateline.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (2/18) Today's temps were rising slightly at -0.161 after a recent high of +0.100 on 2/1. Temps previously were -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 on a slow but steady increase.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(2/18) Temps were starting to rise again to -0.688. Temps bottomed out at -1.654 on 11/3, rising to to -0.982 on 1/21 to -0.639 on 2/7. The previous low before that was -0.733 on 9/10. Temps were on a steady decline since 7/25 then bottomed out in late October and have been on a slow increase since.

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 (2/17) Actuals per the model indicates temps bottomed out in early Nov at -1.25 degs then rose to -0.65 degs mid-Jan and -0.45 degs in Feb. The forecast depicts temps holding steady from today into mid-April at -0.45 then starting a steep decline falling to -1.40 degs in Oct and -1.50 degs in Nov. This seems unbelievable but suggests another year of La Nina possible.
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) (2/18): The daily index was rising to +29.40. The 30 day average was rising to +12.74 after peaking at +19.51 on 1/14. The 90 day average was rising at + 14.70 after peaking on 2/11 at +14.91, clearly indicative of La Nina. 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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