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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, February 25, 2021 4:15 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
2.2 - California & 2.2 - 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 2/22 thru Sun 2/28

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   

Gale to Traverse Far North Pacific
High Pressure Builds to 1046 mbs in Gulf

On Thursday, February 25, 2021 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 4.6 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 3.6 ft @ 6.5 secs from 157 degrees. Water temp 76.6 degs.
  • Buoy 187 (Pauwela): Seas were 11.9 ft @ 10.5 secs with swell 9.6 ft @ 9.8 secs from 76 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 5.0 ft @ 5.3 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 12.8 secs from 234 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northeast at 16-20 kts. Water temperature NA degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 5.5 ft @ 13.0 secs from 305 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.0 ft @ 14.2 secs from 216 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.5 ft @ 14.0 secs from 218 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 2.1 ft @ 13.3 secs from 247 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 11.0 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 5.2 ft @ 13.1 secs from 299 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was north at 10-14 kts. Water temp 50.4 (029), 51.6 degs (SF Bar) and 52.0 degs (Santa Cruz).

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 (2/25) North and Central CA had waves pushing maybe head high on the sets with light offshore winds but warbled from north winds offshore. Protected breaks were chest high and lined up and clean with a little warble intermixed and very soft. At Santa Cruz surf was waist high on the sets and clean and real weak. In Southern California/Ventura waves were flat to thigh high and textured and mushed with southerly wind. Central Orange County had set waves at waist to chest high and clean but soft and weak. South Orange County's best summertime breaks were waist high or so and clean and weak. North San Diego had sets at waist high and clean and lined up but weak. Hawaii's North Shore had a few sets at chest high or so and fairly clean at top spots but soft and weak. The South Shore was flat to thigh high and clean with with easterly textured in control. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves 3 ft overhead and chopped from strong east wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (2/25) California was getting a little bit of very north angled swell mixed with local north windswell originating from a weak gale that tracked over the the Northwestern Gulf Fri-Sun (2/21) producing seas of 23 ft. A small gale developed off the Kuril Islands on Sun-Mon (2/22) producing barely 30 ft seas over a tiny area but not making it to even the dateline. That swell is to hit Hawaii today. Another gale developed in the same area on Wed (2/24) with 32 ft seas and again not making it to the dateline. A gale is forecast developing in the far Northwest Pacific Sun-Mon (3/1) producing 40 ft seas aimed east with luck then redeveloping in the Northwestern Gulf on Tues-Wed (3/3) producing 27-28 ft seas aimed southeast and fading while moving over the Central Gulf on Thurs (3/4). Down south a gale tracked under New Zealand supposedly producing small swell radiating towards HI. And a small gale is again tracking over the Southeast Pacific Wed-Thurs (2/25) producing 36 ft seas aimed northeast, but small in coverage. Nothing else is to follow.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Thursday (2/25) the jet was weakly consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds to 140 kts in 2 small pockets making it just barely to the dateline then splitting, with the northern branch ridging northeast over the Eastern Aleutians then falling southeast over the Northern Gulf of Alaska poised to push into Washington. A weak trough was off the Kuril Islands offering some limited support for gale development. The southern branch was drifting southeast south of Hawaii and pushing to the equator and of no interest. Over the next 72 hours the Kuril trough is to lift northeast and be gone early Sat (2/27) possibly supporting some degree of gale development. Another steep trough is to follow right behind on Sun (2/28) but also gone in 24 hours offering nothing. Beyond 72 hours starting Mon (3/1) a steep trough is to fall through the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska stalling off the US West Coast on Tues (3/2) but weak and likely offering nothing before moving inland over Central CA early Thurs (3/4). Back to the west the jet is to be well split on Mon (3/1) with the northern branch tracking over the Aleutians across the width of the North Pacific into Wed (4/3) and if anything ridging well north over the Western Bering Sea but then falling hard southeast into the Northern Gulf forming a nice trough there and deepening into Thurs (3/4) being fed by 140 kts winds offering some hope for gale development there. But overall it looks like a transition to Spring is developing.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (2/23) swell from from a broad pool of low pressure previously over the North Pacific was fading in CA with minimal size (see North Pacific Low Pressure below).

Over the next 72 hours a massive and very solid 1046 mb high pressure system was filling the Gulf of Alaska on Thurs (2/25) and still 1040 mbs on Sat (2/27) while falling gently southeast off the North CA coast. Much local north wind for North and Central CA is expected. More of the same is forecast to follow providing a clear sign that the beginning of a La Nina induced Springtime wind regime is setting up. Otherwise small swell from the first of 2 Small Kuril Island gales is to be hitting Hawaii on Thurs (2/25) with another right behind (see Kuril Island Gale and 2nd Kuril Gale below). Also tiny swell is radiating towards the Pacific Northwest and NCal from a tiny gale previously in the extreme Northeastern Gulf (see Northeast Gulf Gale below).


North Pacific Low Pressure
A broad pool of low pressure started 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 shifted east some, with with the east-most one building to 35-40 kts from the southwest. Seas were 26 ft at 41N 175W aimed northeast and the secondary area off the Kurils had 21 ft seas at 47N 162E aimed east. On Sat AM (2/20) these fetch areas continued east with the west-most one approaching the North Dateline region with 30-35 kts west winds producing 23 ft seas at 47N 170E and the eastern one producing 40 kt southwest winds with seas at 28 ft at 46.5N 162.5W both aimed more or less to the east. In the evening the dateline low faded with 30 kts west winds and 23 ft seas at 47.5N 178E aimed east and the other moved into the Northern Gulf with 35 kt southwest winds and 27 ft seas at 48.5N 152W aimed east. On Sun AM (2/21) the dateline gale moved into the Northwestern Gulf and faded in coverage with 30-35 kt west winds and 23 ft seas at 49N 172W while the other had winds of 35 kts producing 25 ft seas at 50N 140W and barely in the NCal swell window (319 degrees). In the evening the east-most system was out of the CA swell window moving into Canada while the west-most one pushed into the Northwestern Gulf 35 kt west winds and seas 24 ft at 50N 162W aimed east. On Mon AM (2/22) fetch was fading with 30 kts from the west over the far Northeastern Gulf with 21 ft seas fading at 50N 151W. This system was no longer of interest after that. Decent odds for small weak swell for both HI and CA.

North CA: Swell to peak Tues AM (2/23) at 5.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (7.0 ft) but buried in local north windswell. Swell fading on Wed (2/24) from 5.0 ft @ 13-14 secs (6.5 ft) with copious local windswell intermixed and more of the same swell building during the day. Swell fading on Thurs (2/25) from 4.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 300+ degrees


Kuril Island Gale
Another small gale developed off the Kuril Islands on Sun PM (2/21) producing west winds at 40-45 kts over a tiny area and seas 29 ft at 45N 161.5E aimed east. On Mon AM (2/22) fetch was fading from 35 kt lifting northeast with seas fading from 28 ft at 44N 168E aimed east. Fetch dissipated in the evening from 30 kt over the North Dateline region with seas fading from 23 ft at 45N 175E aimed east. This system to be gone after that. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (2/25) building to 2.0 ft @ 16-17 secs later (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell fading on Fri (2/26) from 2.5 ft @ 14 secs early (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 315 degrees


2nd Kuril Gale
Another small gale started developing just off the Kuril Islands Wed AM (2/24) producing 45 kt west winds over a small area and 31 ft seas at 44N 160E aimed east. In the evening the gale was fading producing 40 kt west winds over a shrinking area with seas building to 32 ft at 44.5N 165.5E aimed east. On Thurs AM (2/25) 35 kt southwest winds were pushing northeast with 25 ft seas up at 48N 173E aimed east-northeast. The gale is to be gone after that. Perhaps some small swell to result for Hawaii.

Hawaii (Oahu): Expect swell arrival on Sun (2/28) before sunrise holding at 3.2 ft @ 16 secs early (5.0 ft). Swell fading Mon (3/1) from 2.1 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 312 degrees


Northeast Gulf Gale
On Wed PM (2/24) a small gale developed in the Northern Gulf of Alaska with 45 kt northwest winds and seas building fast from 25 ft at 52.5N 147W aimed east and barely in the NCal swell window (319 degs). Fetch was build Thurs AM (2/25) to 50 kts while falling southeast just off the Canadian Coast with seas 38 ft at 53.5N 137.5W aimed east but well east of the North CA swell window. Minimal swell generation potential is forecast. The gale is to fade and move inland from there.

North CA: Low odds of sideband swell arriving on Sat AM (2/27) at 2.9 ft @ 15 secs later (4.5 ft) but buried in local north windswell. Swell Direction: 315+ degs


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

  • Fri (2/26) north winds are forecast at 30 kts for all of North CA and 25 kts for Central CA early (though less nearshore) holding all day and building to 30 kts for Central CA later.
  • Sat (2/27) north winds are forecast at 25-30 kts early for both North and Central CA early and holding at 30 kts later for both locations.
  • Sun (2/28) north winds are forecast at 20-25 kts early for North CA and 20 kts for Central CA (though lighter nearshore) fading to northeast at 10 kts mid-AM and going calm after that. North winds fading to 10-15 kts for Cape Mendocino though.
  • Mon (3/1) south winds are forecast at 10 kts for all of north and Central CA all day with low pressure well off the coast.
  • Tues (3/2) south to southeast winds are forecast at 5-10 kts all day for North and Central CA but turning north 10 kts for North Cape Mendocino late.
  • Wed (3/3) southeast to east winds are forecast at 5-10 kts all day for North and Central CA. South winds 10 kts for Southern CA early are to build to 20 kts later. Light rain building for Southern CA and Central CA up to Monterey Bay late Am continuing into the evening. Light snow for the Sierra from Tahoe southward.
  • Thurs (3/4) south winds are forecast at 5 kts early for North and Central CA building to 20 kts for Cape Mendocino later and 10-15 kts for the rest of North CA later and 10 kts for Central CA later.

Total snow accumulation for the next 10 days for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 3 inches, 4 inches, 2 inches, and 1 inch through 3/6.

Freezing level 9,000 ft on 2/25 falling steadily down to 4,000 ft on 2/27 before bouncing back to 8,000 ft on 2/28 and holding, dipping to 5,000 ft on 3/4 then rising to near 10,000 ft on 3/5 before falling to 3,000 ft on 3/6.

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis
Small swell from a gale previously lifting northeast from under New Zealand was radiating northeast (see Small New Zealand Gale below). Also small swell from a gale previously in the far Southeast Pacific was radiating north (see Small Southeast Pacific Gale below).

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


Small New Zealand Gale
On Wed PM (2/17) a small gale was tracking northeast from under New Zealand producing 40 kt southwest winds with seas 29 ft at 62S 1670E 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 faded in the evening with 30-35 kt southwest winds and seas fading from 29 ft at 57.5S 168.5W aimed northeast. On Fri AM (2/19) residuals 30+ kt southwest winds were still present producing 25 ft seas at 48S 172W aimed almost north. In the evening fetch was fading while pushing north from 30 kts with seas fading from 24 ft at 44S 165W aimed north at Hawaii and Tahiti. Small background swell is expected for Hawaii and Tahiti.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (2/25) building to 1.3 ft @ 17-18 secs later (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell peaking on Fri (2/26) at 1.5 ft @ 16 secs mid-day (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fading on Sat (2/27) from 1.3 ft @ 14-15 secs early (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 192 degrees

Southern CA: Swell weakly showing late on Sat (2/27) pushing 1.1 ft @ 18 secs (1.5-2.0 ft) rarely. Swell building some on Sun (2/28) to 1.2 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.0 ft). Swell holding on Mon (3/1) at 1.3 ft @ 15-16 secs early (2.0 ft). Swell fading on Tues (3/2) from 1.2 ft @ 14-15 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 208 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (2/28) at 1.1 ft @ 16-17 secs later (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell holding on Mon (3/1) at 1.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell fading on Tues (3/2) from 1.1 ft @ 14-15 secs early (1.5 ft). Swell Direction: 207 degrees


Small Southeast Pacific Gale
A gale started developing the Southeast Pacific on Wed PM (2/24) producing 45 kt south-southwest winds and seas building from 33 ft at 59S 134W aimed northeast. On Thurs AM (2/25) south winds were fading from 35-40 kts with seas 33 ft aimed north at 55S 128.5W. In the evening fetch is to be fading from 30-35 kts aimed north with seas fading from 26 ft at 54S 122W aimed north-northeast. This system is to be gone after that. Something to monitor.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (3/4) building to 1.3 ft @ 19 secs late (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 187 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 just off Kamchatka on Sat PM (2/27) producing 45 kt northwest winds and 26 ft seas aimed southeast at 48N 160E. On Sun AM (2/28) the gale is to lift northeast fast producing a solid area of 45-55 kt west winds approaching the North Dateline region producing seas of 35 ft at 48.5N 168E aimed east. In the evening the gale is to move into the Bering Sea with residual fetch of 40+ kts just west of the North Dateline Region with 40 ft seas unshadowed at 50N 175E aimed east. On Mon AM (3/1) the storm is to track east through the Bering Sea with 40-45 kt west winds just barely south of the Aleutian over the Dateline with 41 ft seas at 51N 178W aimed east. In the evening 35-40 kt west fetch is to be just south of the Eastern Aleutians with 36 ft seas at 52N 169W aimed east. On Tues AM (3/2) fetch is to fade from 35 kts in the Northwestern Gulf with seas fading from 30 ft at 51N 165W aimed east. Interestingly the gale is to fall southeast in the evening with 35 kt northwest winds building in coverage and seas building in coverage at 28 ft at 47.5N 163W aimed southeast. The gael is to hold on Wed Am (3/3) with 35+ kt north winds and seas 27 ft at 45N 160W aimed south-southeast. In the evening the gale is to fade some while easing east with 30-35 kts north winds and seas 26 ft at 45N 155W. the gael is to fade on Thurs AM (3/4) with 30 kt northwest winds in the Central Gulf and seas fading from 23 ft at 39N 150W aimed south-southeast. Something to monitor.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.



MJO/ENSO Forecast


Equatorial Warming Trend Fading

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 (2/24) 5 day average winds were strong from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and strong east over the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the East equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific then 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 (2/25) light west anomalies were over the extreme west KWGA and moderate east anomalies were over the eastern KWGA focused on the dateline. The forecast calls west anomalies fading over the West KWGA turning neutral with east anomalies building to strong status on the dateline (Eastern KWGA) starting 2/28 and holding through the end of the model run on 3/4.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (2/22) A modest Active MJO pattern was over the KWGA today. The statistic model projects it easing slowly east while losing strength and over the dateline at day 15 of the model run. The dynamic model suggests the same thing but with the Active Phase moving more slowly to the east and a bit stronger and straddling r the dateline at day 15 of the model run.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (2/25) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was very weak over the extreme West Pacific today and is to track east fading over the East Pacific at very weak status on day 15 of the model run. The dynamic model suggests the Active Phase is to hold at weak status and move back to the Western Pacific at day 15.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (2/24) This model depicts a building and broad Active MJO pattern (moist air) over the West Pacific and is to track east while holding strength moving over Central America on 3/21. A solid Inactive Phase is to move over the West Pacific on 3/14 and is to track east and to Central America at the end of the model run on 4/5. A weak Active Phase is to develop over the KWGA at that time.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (2/24) This model depicts a neutral MJO signal over the KWGA with west anomalies over the West KWGA and East anomalies over the Dateline/East KWGA. The forecast indicates west anomalies are to backtrack west and be gone from the KWGA on 3/15 with east anomalies slowly taking control from east building west filling the KWGA on 3/15 at moderate plus status holding through the end of the model run on 3/24. East anomalies are forecast building in coverage in the Central and East Pacific even filling the area south of California at the end of the model run.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (2/25 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO is moving east over the KWGA today continuing on that path through 3/7 but with weak west anomalies holding in the far West KWGA and moderate east anomalies east of there. A weak Active MJO signal is forecast to follow 3/8-3/21 with winds unchanged in the KWGA. Another weak Inactive MJO is forecast in the KWGA 3/23-4/20 but west anomalies are to build to weak status filling the KWGA. A weak Active MJO is to follow tracking east 4/22-4/30 producing modest to moderate west anomalies filling the KWGA. A weak Inactive MJO is to follow 5/1 through the end of the model run on 5/25 but with weak west anomalies holding over the KWGA. 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 4/4. The 3rd contour line is to fade on 4/22. The second contour line is to fade 5/14. The remaining 1 is to hold indefinitely but easing east. 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 4/6 and starting to ease east to 175E at the end of the run. Perhaps a second contour line is to redevelop on 5/1. 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, but are theoretically starting a slow fade while migrating east moving to the a point south of California at the end of the model run.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (2/25) Today in the far West Pacific the 28 deg isotherm line was steady at 165E today. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing the whole way across the equatorial Pacific and building some compared to a week prior. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies +4 deg C were starting to show signs of easing east with the dividing line today at 155W versus 165W 3 days ago. A broad cooling pattern was controlling the entire equatorial Pacific with anomalies in a broad pocket at -4C at 125W and west from there. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 2/17 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: (2/17) 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 that area was weaker than at any point over the past 6 months. And no -15 cms readings were present on the equator now. A broad area of neutral anomalies was building over the Galapagos. Negative anomalies were -5 cms 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: (2/24) The latest images indicate a stream of cool waters tracking west from 100W joining the main pocket on the equator from 145W to the dateline. This flow looks a bit stronger today than days past. Cool anomalies were streaming from Chile west-northwest to the dateline also feeding the main cool pool but much weaker than days past. Overall this indicates a late phase version of La Nina filling the bulk of the equatorial Pacific and down into Chile but the overall intensity of that pool appears to be waning. We are past the peak of this event and possible moving towards its demise.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (2/24): Temps are cooling modestly along the equator from Ecuador west to 160W with 4 pockets indicated imbedded in this flow. Weak warming was off South Chile and Peru. Overall a warming trend is underway.
Hi-res Overview: (2/24) A stream of 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 100W. A broader and cooler core of La Nina cold waters are pushing west from 140W towards the dateline but cooler than day past.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (2/25) Today's temps were steady at -0.475 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:
(2/25) Temps were falling some at -0.702 after peaking at -0.611 on 2/20. Temps bottomed out at -1.654 on 11/3, rising to to -0.982 on 1/21. 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.

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

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (2/25) Actuals per the model indicates temps bottomed out in early Nov at -1.25 degs then rose to -0.65 degs mid-Jan and more to -0.45 degs in Feb. The forecast depicts temps falling slightly to -0.50 degs in March and holding into mid-April at -0.50 then starting a steep decline falling to -1.20 degs in Oct and -1.25 degs in Nov. This seems unbelievable but suggests another year of La Nina possible.
IRI Consensus Plume: The Feb 20, 2021 Plume depicts temps are at -0.64 degs today, and are to rise to -0.37 in April and stabilizing in May at -0.26 maybe easing up to -0.24 degs in Oct. Most models are suggesting a moderate La Nina returning to Neutral in the late Spring of 2021.
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) (2/25): The daily index was falling to -14.79. The 30 day average was steady at +13.45 after peaking at +19.51 on 1/14. The 90 day average was falling some at +15.45 after peaking at +15.75 on 2/23 and 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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Local Interest

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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