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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, February 27, 2020 6:07 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 & 2.5 - 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 2/24 thru Sun 3/1

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   

Dateline Swell Hitting CA
Small Early Early Season S. Hemi Swell Hitting SCal

On Thursday, February 27, 2020 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai)/Barbers Point (Buoy 238) : Seas were 3.7 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 12.3 secs from 297 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 6.7 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 3.0 ft @ 12.2 secs from 326 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.4 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 15.0 secs from 174 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north at 2-4 kts. Water temperature 60.6 degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 3.9 ft @ 16.2 secs from 271 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.0 ft @ 15.3 secs from 206 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.6 ft @ 15.3 secs from 191 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 1.7 ft @ 14.7 secs from 212 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.8 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 4.6 ft @ 14.9 secs from 283 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was northwest at 10-14 kts. Water temp 51.3 degs (013), 53.1 degs (012) and 54.7 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 (2/27) in North and Central CA waves were 1 ft overhead and pretty soft if not mushed but unwarbled and clean with no wind early. Protected breaks were shoulder to head high and soft but lined up and clean early. At Santa Cruz surf was shoulder to head high on the peaks of the bigger sets and clean and lined up when it came. In Southern California/Ventura waves were thigh to waist high and clean and lined up when they came. In North Orange Co surf was waist to chest high and lined up and clean coming from the south. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks had sets at head high if not a little more on the peaks of the bigger sets and clean and lined up and peeling when it came. North San Diego had surf in the waist high range and clean and lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was much smaller today with waves chest to head high and pretty ragged with a fair amount of north lump running through it and whitecaps outside the break. The South Shore was maybe thigh high and clean and weak. The East Shore was getting northeasterly windswell at shoulder to head high and chopped from solid east-northeast trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (2/27) in California swell was hitting from a small gale that developed on the Dateline Sun-Mon (2/23) falling southeast with seas building to 37 ft aimed southeast then it tracked east and dissipating Mon (2/24) with seas fading from 28 ft in the Western Gulf. That swell was fading out in Hawaii. Secondary fetch followed tracking northeast through the Gulf Tues (2/25) producing up to 25 ft seas but aimed monthly northeast at Alaska. No swell to result for out forecast area. Another gale pushed off North Japan on Sun (2/23) tracking east producing up to 33 ft seas aimed east fading some on Tues (2/25) only to redevelop into Wed (2/26) producing 28 ft seas pushing up to the dateline, then fading out. A small gale is forecast forming in the Northern Gulf falling southeast Wed-Thurs (3/5) with seas to 30 ft. And maybe another is to form off just Japan on Thurs (3/5) producing 31 ft seas aimed east. And 2 small southern hemi swells are in the water, one hitting now and the second right behind. And maybe another weak gale to develop in the Southeast Pacific Mon-Tues (3/3). The transition to Spring is starting.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Thursday (2/27) the jetstream was consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds to 160 kts in one pocket forming a tight trough there offering some support for gale development there. But east of there the jet started loosing energy and split at 160W while weakening with the northern branch tracking east through the Gulf pushing inland over British Columbia while the southern branch fell southeast over Hawaii then tracked east over Southern Baja. Over the next 72 hours the Japan trough is to push east to a point mid-way to the dateline and start fading there and very weak by Sun (3/1) offering diminishing support for gale development. But in the east the split jetstream flow is to only get more defined with the split point moving to 180W on Sunday and with the northern branch running up into Alaska then down the coast of British Columbia while the southern branch continues pushing over Hawaii and then east into Northern Baja offering no support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours more of the same is forecast but with the split jetstream only becoming more pronounced with the split point moving west to 160E on Wed (4/4) with the northern branch running flat east into British Columbia and the southern branch parallel to it pushing into Southern Baja with no troughs forecast offering no support for gale development. No real change expected into Thurs (3/5) but with a small trough trying to organize over the Southern Kuril Islands moving northeast. It sure looks like Spring.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (2/27) swell was hitting California and all but faded out for Hawaii from a gale that previously formed over the dateline tracking east into the Western Gulf (see Small Dateline Swell below). Also small swell is tracking towards Hawaii from a gale that pushed off Japan (see Japan Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.


Small Dateline Gale
A small gale started developing Sat PM (2/22) over the North Dateline region producing a tiny area of 50 kt northwest winds and seas to 31 ft at 46.5N 180W aimed southeast. On Sun AM (2/23) the gale was falling southeast with 45 kt northwest winds over a tiny area and seas 36 ft at 44N 179.5W aimed southeast. The gale was fading in the evening while falling rapidly southeast with 40 kt northwest winds and seas fading from 36 ft at 41.5N 171.5W aimed southeast. Fetch was fading Mon AM (2/24) from 30-35 kts and seas 29 ft at 40N 164W aimed southeast. Additional fetch was build in the evening at 30-35 kts from the west but lifting northeast fast with seas 24 ft over a small area up at 41N 157W aimed east. The gale was tracking northeast on Tues AM (2/25) with 30-35 kt west wind and seas 29 ft up at 52N 151W aimed northeast. In the evening residual 30-35 kt southwest fetch is to be fading with seas fading from 25 ft at 50N 144W aimed northeast. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tues afternoon (2/25) building to 6.2 ft @ 17 secs late (10 ft). Swell fading on Wed AM (2/26) from 5.9 ft @ 14-15 secs (8.5 ft) and down considerably late afternoon. Dribbles on Thurs AM (2/27) fading from 3.0 ft @ 12 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 330 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (2/27) building to 6.7 ft @ 14-15 secs at sunset (9.5 ft). Swell fading Fri AM (2/28) from 5.9 ft @ 13-14 secs early (7.5 ft). Residuals fading Sat AM (2/29) from 4.2 ft @ 12 secs (5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 293-296 degrees


Japan Gale
A gale developed off North Japan on Sun PM (2/23) with 45 kt northwest winds and seas 33 ft at 42N 156E aimed southeast. On Mon AM (2/24) 35-40 kt west fetch was pushing towards if not reaching the dateline producing 31 ft seas at 41.5N 162.5E aimed east. In the evening fetch held position and strength at 30-35 kts with 29 ft seas at 40.5N 170E aimed east. More of the same occurred Tues AM (2/25) with 28 ft seas fading at 40N 175E aimed east. Fetch is to pulse but west from it's previous position in the evening at 35-40 kts with seas building to 27 ft at 44N 170E aimed southeast with lingering seas from previous fetch fading from 27 ft at 40N 178W aimed east. Fetch is to be fading Wed AM (2/26) at 35 kts on the dateline with 29 ft seas at 44N 177E aimed southeast. In the evening fetch is to be easing east at 30 kts with seas fading from 26 ft at 45N 178W aimed east. The gale is to dissipate from there. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (2/27) building to 4.9 ft @ 16-17 secs late (8.0 ft). Swell holding Fri AM (2/28) at 5.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (8.5 ft). Swell fading Sat AM (2/29) from 4.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (6.0 ft). Dribbles Sun AM (3/1) fading from 2.1 ft @ 13 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 312-315 degrees


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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (2/27) north winds were 10-15 kts for Cape Mendocino to Pt Arena early and 5 kts everywhere south of there and dropping to 1-5 kts everywhere later. Fri (2/28) light winds are forecast everywhere all day except building to 15 kts for Pt Arena later. Sat (2/29) northwest winds are forecast at 20-25 kts early for all of North CA and 10-15 kts for Central CA pushing 20-25 kts later for all of North and Central CA. Snow developing for the Northern Sierra in the evening. Sun (3/1) local low pressure is forecast developing off San Francisco falling south. North winds are forecast at 25 kts nearshore early for all of North and Central CA building to 30-35 kts for North CA and 30 kts for Central CA late afternoon. Low odds for showers from the northern half of the state early pushing to Southern CA in the afternoon. Snow for the Tahoe area early building southward into the Central and Southern Sierra later afternoon then dissipating overnight. On Mon (3/2) north winds are forecast at 30 kts solid for North and Central CA early fading to 25 kts in the afternoon for NCal and 15-20 kts for Central CA late afternoon. Tues (3/3) north winds to continue at 25-30 kts for North CA early and 10 kts for Central CA holding all day. Wed (3/4) north winds are forecast at 20-25 kts for Pt Arena northward early but calm south of there fading to 15-20 kts for Pt Arena later. Thurs (3/5) north winds are forecast at 15-20 kts for Pt Arena southward to Morro Bay early.

Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 3, 3, 4 and 4 inches respectively.

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis
Two small early season gales have produced small swell that is tracking north. (see South Central Pacific Gale and Southeast Pacific Gale below). Otherwise no swell producing fetch is occurring.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.


South Central Pacific Gale
A small gale developed in the Central South Pacific Mon AM (2/17) with 40 kt southwest winds and seas building to 33 ft at 54.5S 151.5W aimed northeast. In the evening southwest winds built in coverage but down to 35 kts and seas 31 ft at 53S 144W aimed northeast. Fetch was fading Tues AM (2/18) from 30-35 kts from the southwest with seas fading from 29 ft at 52.5S 136.5W aimed northeast. The gale dissipated from there.

Southern CA: Swell 2.2 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft) early Thurs (2/27). Residuals fading on Fri (2/28) from 2.2 ft @ 14 secs (3.0 ft). Dribbles on Sat (2/29) fading from 2.0 ft @ 13 secs early (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees

Northern CA: Swell 1.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) early Thurs (2/27). Swell fading some on Fri (2/28) from 1.8 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Residuals on Sat (2/29) fading from 1.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 192 degrees


Southeast Pacific Gale
A small gale started developing Sat AM (2/22) in the South Central Pacific with 45- kt south winds over a tiny area and seas building from 28 ft at 45.5S 139W aimed north. 40 kt south winds held in the evening with 33 ft seas over a tiny area aimed north at 44S 139W aimed north. Fetch was fading Sun AM (2/23) from 35 kts from the south with seas fading from 29 ft at 42S 134W aimed northeast. Small swell has been produced radiating north.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival late on Sat (2/29) building to 1.3 ft @ 18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell building through the day Sun (3/1) to 2.2 ft @ 16 secs later (3.5 ft). Swell fading some on Mon (3/2) from 2.3 ft @ 15 secs early (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell fading Tues (3/3) from 1.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 198 degrees

Northern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (3/1) building to 1.3 ft @ 17 secs (2.0 ft). Swell holding Mon (3/2) at 1.4 ft @ 15-16 secs early (2.0 ft). Swell fading Tues (3/3) from 1.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (1.5 ft). Swell Direction: 192 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 small gale is forecast developing in the Northwestern Gulf on Tues PM (3/3) producing 25 kt northwest winds and 23 ft seas at 49N 159W aimed east. 30-35 kt northwest winds to build in the Central Gulf on Wed AM (3/4) producing 24 ft seas at 51N 152W aimed east. In the evening 30-35 kt northwest fetch is to be falling southeast just of Oregon with 27 ft seas at 48N 145W aimed southeast. On Thurs AM (3/5) 30 kt north west winds to hold in the Northeastern Gulf with 30 ft seas at 47N 141W aimed southeast. Clearly the wind and wave models are not in sync. Still its something to monitor.

Also on Thurs AM (3/5) A gale is forecast developing just off North Japan on Thurs AM 93/5) with 45 kt northwest winds and seas building from 30 ft at 41N 152.5E aimed east.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a gale is forecast forming in the Southeast Pacific on Mon (3/2) producing up to 31 ft seas aimed northeast in the evening at 60S 130W possibly offering some swell potential.

Perhaps another to follow behind on Thurs (3/5) producing 31 ft seas at 63S 136W aimed east-northeast also offering some potential. But given that both these system are nearly a week from forming, confidence remains low.



MJO/ENSO Forecast


MJO Fading - But Models Tease

The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).

Overview: 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 hold in a pool off Peru and has not changed as of late Jan 2020.

Fall/Winter 2019/2020 = 5.0/4.0 (California & Hawaii)
Rating based on a 1-10 scale: 1 being the lowest (small and infrequent surf conditions), 5 being normal/average, and 10 being extraordinary (frequent events of large, long period swells)

Rationale: It is assumed the PDO has moved to the warm phase and that a weak borderline El Nino from 2018 is fading out, but not yet completely gone, especially in the atmosphere. Likewise it looks like a La Nina ocean temperature pattern is developing in the equatorial East Pacific, with cooler than normal waters tracking west on the equator. We assumed El Nino like momentum will hold for a while in the atmosphere will take a while to sense that the ocean temperature pattern has changed. But once it does, a turn towards a La Nina like atmospheric pattern will start to develop. that transition is expected in the late Nov-early Dec timeframe. Even so, moderation from the PDO might prevent La Nina from fully developing. Given all that, there is decent probability for a normal start to the Fall surf season (in the Northern Hemisphere) meaning a normal amount of number of storm days and storm intensity, resulting in a normal levels of swell, with normal duration and normal period. But by mid-Dec 2019, the number of storm days, intensity and duration of those storms should start fading and as a result, swell production should fade slightly as well. This pattern is expected to hold through April 2020.

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 (2/26) 5 day average winds were strong from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific on over the North Dateline and North KWGA but moderate west over the far South Dateline and into the south KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the far East equatorial Pacific and into the Central Pacific and then moderate west over the Southern Dateline and KWGA areas (south of the equator).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (2/27) west anomalies were weak to modest in the KWGA with modest east anomalies in the far West KWGA. The forecast calls for modest west anomalies holding through the end of the model run on 3/35 with modest east anomalies in the far West KWGA and strong east anomalies developing south of Hawaii.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (2/26) A neutral MJO signal was over the KWGA. The statistic model indicates a neutral MJO is forecast for the next 15 days. The dynamic model indicates the same thing initially but with a building Inactive MJO developing over the dateline/East KWGA at 5 strongest at day 10 then pushing east of the KWGA at day 15 with a modest Active MJO building over the Maritime Continent at day 10 moving into the KWGA at day 15. The two models are out of sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (2/27) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was very weak over the Eastern Atlantic today and is to slowly ease east over the Indian Ocean at day 15 of the model run. The GEFS model suggests the same thing initially, but with the Active Phase racing a bit faster east and over the Maritime Continent at day 15 but still very weak.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (2/27) This model depicts the Active Phase was weak over the Atlantic today with the Inactive Phase over the Maritime continent and trying to build into the far West Pacific. The Inactive Phase is to push east into the West Pacific 3/6 tracking east and into Central America on 3/28 while steadily losing energy and very weak. A modest Active Phase starts to develop in the KWGA 3/23 pushing to the East Pacific at the end of the model run on 4/7. A weak Inactive Phase is to be pushing into the West Pacific at that time.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (2/26) This model depicts no real MJO signal today but with modest west anomalies in control in the KWGA. The forecast indicates the west wind anomaly pattern is to hold through 3/12 but steadily fading, dissipating on 3/11 with the Inactive Phase of the MJO taking control 3/1-3/21. but the Active Phase is to be rebuilding in the KWGA starting 3/21 moving into the core of the KWGA at the end of the model run on on 3/25 with modest west anomalies starting to develop.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (2/27 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a very weak Active MJO pattern fading in the KWGA today with light west anomalies in the KWGA. The Active MJO Phase is to hold through 3/4, then dissipate with modest west anomalies holding unchanged through the period. Beyond weak west anomalies are to barely hang on even as a weak Inactive Phase sets up 3/3-3/16. Another very strong Active Phase is now forecast developing 3/17 holding through 4/18 with very strong west anomalies in the KWGA. A weak Inactive Phase is to develop 4/8 through the end of the model run on 5/26 with weak west anomalies still in control. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias with 2 contour lines in control of the KWGA centered on the dateline reaching east to the California coast. It is to hold unchanged through the end of the model run with occasional pockets of a 3rd contour line. A high pressure bias built in the Indian Ocean and is to hold. East anomalies set up in the Indian Ocean starting 10/22/19 and are to hold for the foreseeable future. The model was previously switching between the continuation of the Indian Ocean high pressure/east wind bias and the low pressure bias over the dateline and the demise of all three in the April timeframe (Springtime 'Predictability Barrier' in full effect). But it seems for now to be settling on a continuation of the low pressure bias over the dateline.

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 30 deg isotherm backtracked from 175E to all but gone today at 171E and shallow. The 29 deg isotherm backtracked to 174W and is steady there today. The 28 deg isotherm line was a brick wall aligned and steady at 163W today. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing into Ecuador and decently thick. Anomaly wise, Kelvin Wave #6 was under the dateline at +3.0 degs tracking from the Maritime Continent under the dateline with it's leading edge steady at 130W. Lesser warm water was pushing into Ecuador at +1 degs. Warm water was filling the entire equatorial subsurface Pacific from 150 meters upwards. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 2/22 indicates warm water had formed a Kelvin Wave with warm water falling from 120E down into the dateline at 180m deep peaking there at +3 degrees then pushing and rising east to 120W with a stronger pocket of warm water pushing and rising east from there (impacting Ecuador). The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (2/22) A broad pocket of +5-10 cms anomalies is filling the equatorial Pacific between 160E pushing non-stop east to 120W then with a small pocket impacting Ecuador. Fairly impressive.

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: (2/26) The latest images indicate warm anomalies were weak just off the coast of Chile up into Peru but building some from days past with building warm anomalies continuing up along Ecuador up into Central America then tracking west on the equator to the Galapagos. But cool anomalies were present on the equator between 97W to 135W. Warm anomalies were west of there on the equator. A broad pocket of cooling was still south of the equator and well off Peru filling the area from 2S south down to 35S reaching west to 140W and east to 80W. A mirror image of it was now developing off California and well off Baja.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (2/26): Weak warming was off Peru and building strongly along Ecuador west off the Galapagos out to 120W. The short term trend is towards warming.
Hi-res Overview: (2/26) A steady pocket of cool anomalies is holding south of the equator starting at 5S and just off Peru reaching west out to 140W and steady. A mirror image of it was also off California and Baja Mexico out to 140W. But warm anomalies were trying to build along Chile and Peru then stronger up to Ecuador and Central America up to Mainland Mexico out over the Galapagos. But a weak cool pocket was on the equator from 87-135W and weakening. Warmer than normal water was west of there out to the dateline and beyond. Water temps appear to be stable and neither El Nino or La Nina.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (2/27) Today's temps were rising up to +0.660. Previously temps dropped to -0.900 on 12/12. Temps peaked prior at +1.55 degrees on 12/2 after a long runup from negative anomalies in October. It now appears we are in a falling trend.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(2/25) Temps were rising slightly at +0.436. Temps peaked on 11/14 at +0.509 degs, fell some to -0.018 on 11/28, and are now trying to rebuild. The trend has been steadily generally upwards since Sept when they bottomed out at -0.6 degs (9/14).

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 (2/26) Actual's indicate a cooling trend set up late last summer with temps -0.2 degs in mid-Sept then started rising to +0.25 degs in early Oct holding to Dec 1 rising to +0.70 degs Jan 1 2020 and holding at +0.65 to Feb 1. From there the forecast depicts temps holding steady to early April at +0.5 then starting to fall, down to 0.0 in mid-May then diving negative appearing to be moving strongly to La Nina down at -1.50 in mid- Oct and possibly falling from there. According to this model a neutral sea surface temperature pattern biased slightly warm is forecast for the Winter and Spring of 2020, then turning strongly towards La Nina in the core of Summer.
IRI Consensus Plume: The Feb 2020 Plume depicts temps are at +0.32 degs, and are to slow fade to neutral +0.00 in June 2020, then falling some to -0.1 degs in Aug only to rebound to neutral in October 2020. 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) (2/27): The daily index was positive today at +15.90 and has been positive at 8 days in a row. The 30 day average was weakly negative at -1.48 and rising. The 90 day average was rising slightly at -2.76, suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern was developing.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): Dec +0.46, Nov +1.03, Oct +0.27 Sept +1.11, August +0.60, July +0.75, June -0.32, May +1.10, April +0.30, March +1.0, Feb +1.29, Jan +0.193. This index has been steadily positive but still indicates mostly ENSO neutral conditions (not El Nino).

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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