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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, March 4, 2021 4:24 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 & 3.1 - 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 3/1 thru Sun 3/7

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-Gulf Swell Hitting HI & CA
2 More Gales Forecast for Gulf - One Down South Too

On Thursday, March 4, 2021 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.8 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 1.2 ft @ 16.2 secs from 294 degrees. Water temp 76.3 degs (Pearl Harbor 233).
  • Buoy 187 (Pauwela): Seas were 8.2 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 5.0 ft @ 16.0 secs from 333 degrees. Water temp 76.1 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.1 ft @ 7.7 secs with swell 3.1 ft @ 8.3 secs from 223 degrees. Wind at the buoy was east at 2-4 kts. Water temperature 57.6 (Topanga 103), 57.9 degs (Long Beach 215), 58.3 (Del Mar 153). At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 4.9 ft @ 12.6 secs from 295 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 3.6 ft @ 8.9 secs from 240 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 3.8 ft @ 7.9 secs from 216 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 2.6 ft @ 13.3 secs from 268 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.4 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 3.3 ft @ 12.3 secs from 302 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was south at 10-12 kts. Water temp 50.9 (029), 51.6 degs (SF Bar) and 52.5 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 (3/4) North and Central CA had waves at chest to maybe head high and lined up and soft but pretty ruffled from south winds with small whitecaps developing. Protected breaks had chest high sets and lined up but textured and soft. At Santa Cruz surf was chest to shoulder high on the sets and clean and lined up but fairly weak with southeast bump building outside the kelp. In Southern California/Ventura waves were waist high and lined up but weak and mushed with some texture on it but with light winds nearshore. Central Orange County had set waves at waist to chest high and lined up with good form but soft and crumbled with light northwest winds. South Orange County's best summertime breaks were thigh high and textured an not rideable. North San Diego had sets at waist to chest high and clean and lined up but weak. Hawaii's North Shore had waves at 3-4 ft overhead on the sets coming from the north but pretty ruffled from northeast trades. The South Shore was maybe thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around north swell with waves head high and lightly chopped from northeast wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (3/4) California was getting leftover swell from a gale previously in the far Northeast Pacific. But Hawaii was starting to see sideband swell from a storm that developed in the far Northwest Pacific Sun-Mon (3/1) producing 44 ft seas aimed east and then redeveloped in the Northwestern Gulf on Tues-Wed (3/3) producing 33 ft seas aimed southeast then fading while moving over the Central Gulf on Thurs (3/4) as seas fade to 21 ft. That swell is poised for CA too. And some secondary fetch to develop behind it in the Northern Gulf on Sat (3/6) producing 33 ft seas aimed southeast and that gale slowly falling southeast through Tues (3/9). Also a gale is forecast developing on the dateline Wed-Thurs (3/11) tracking east with seas to 43 ft. Down south a small gale developed over the Southeast Pacific Wed-Thurs (2/25) producing barely 35 ft seas over a tiny area aimed northeast. Swell arrival later today for Southern CA. And another is to form in the Southeast Pacific on Sun (3/7) producing 39 ft seas lifting northeast. We are in a Springtime pattern with both hemispheres productive.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Thursday (3/4) the jet was not consolidated and a mess tracking off the area between Japan up to Kamchatka with winds 100 kts in pockets lifting northeast splitting on the dateline with most energy then ridging hard up into the East Bering Sea before falling hard south forming a trough in the Northern Gulf being fed by 120 kts winds offering decent support for gale development. The southern branch was tracking east over Hawaii and then into Baja Mexico. Over the next 72 hours the trough in the Gulf is to push east with its apex moving over San Francisco early Sat (3/6). But another broader but weaker trough is to build back over the Northeast Gulf Sat-Sun (3/7) being fed by 100 kts winds offering some support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours back to the west the jet is to become more consolidated on Mon (3/8) with 150 kts winds pushing off Japan trying to form a trough north of there but not really doing it with the jet still split starting at the dateline. The Gulf trough is to still be present easing slowly east with it's apex moving over San Francisco again early Wed (3/10) still offering some support for gale development. On Wed (3/10) the jet is to be erratic but a trough is forecast forming in the Northwestern Gulf being fed by 130 kts winds pushing east into Thurs (3/11) offering some support for gale development. At that time the jet is to fairly consolidated pushing off Japan at 100-110 kts in pockets tracking to the dateline then splitting with the northern branch generally lifting northeast into the Northern Gulf while the southern branch pushes east over Hawaii and into Baja. In all, not a great jetstream pattern is forecast. Take what you can get.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (3/4) swell was hitting Hawaii and poised for California from a gale that tracked from off Kamchatka east over the dateline and then fell southeast into the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska (see North Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a new small gale is forecast developing in the Northwestern Gulf on Fri AM (3/5) producing 30-35 kt northwest winds and starting to get traction. In the evening 35-40+ kt northwest winds are to be building in the Northern Gulf with seas building to 22 ft at 49N 150W aimed southeast. On Sat AM (3/6) fetch is to build to 40-45 kts from the northwest with seas 31 ft at 47N 147.5W aimed southeast. In the evening northwest winds are to be falling southeast at 40-45 kts moving into the Eastern Gulf off Washington with 34 ft seas at 46N 140W aimed southeast. On Sun AM (3/7) the gale is to holding position with 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas fading from 32 ft at 45.5N 140W aimed southeast off North Oregon. In the evening fetch is to be fading while holding position with northwest winds 30-35 kts and seas 28 ft at 44N 140W aimed southeast. The gale to fall southeast on Mon AM (3/8) with 30-35 kt northwest winds and seas fading from 25 ft at 42.5N 136.5W aimed southeast. More of the same in the evening with seas fading from 24 ft at 41.5N 137W (295 degs NCal) aimed southeast. On Tues AM (3/9) 30 kt northwest winds to be off North CA with 23 ft seas at 38.5N 134W aimed southeast (280 degs NCal, 295 degs SCal). The gale is to dissipate from there. Something to monitor.


North Pacific Gale
A gale developed just off Kamchatka on Sat PM (2/27) producing 45 kt northwest winds and 26 ft seas aimed southeast at 48.5N 161.5E. On Sun AM (2/28) the gale lifted northeast fast producing a solid area of 45-50 kt northwest winds approaching the North Dateline region producing seas of 29 ft at 47N 170E aimed east. In the evening the storm moved into the Bering Sea with 55 kt west winds and fetch of 50 kts just west of the North Dateline Region and south of the Aleutians with 40 ft seas unshadowed at 51N 174E aimed east. On Mon AM (3/1) the storm was tracking east through the Bering Sea with 40-45 kt west winds just barely south of the Aleutian over the Dateline with 40 ft seas at 51N 180W aimed east. In the evening 35-40 kt west fetch was just south of the Eastern Aleutians with 36 ft seas at 52N 170W aimed east. On Tues AM (3/2) fetch was building in coverage at 35-40 kts now well exposed in the Northwestern Gulf with seas redeveloping at 34 ft at 50N 165W aimed east. Interestingly the gale fell southeast in the evening with 35-40 kt northwest winds building in coverage and seas building in coverage at 32 ft at 49.5N 161W aimed southeast. The gale held on Wed AM (3/3) with 35 kt northwest winds and seas 29-30 ft at 47N 154W aimed south-southeast. In the evening the gale faded some while easing east with 30-35 kt north-northwest winds and seas 27 ft at 43N 155.5W. The gale was fading out on Thurs AM (3/4) with 25-30 kt northwest winds in the Central Gulf and seas fading from 25 ft at 37N 150W aimed south-southeast. This system is to dissipate from there. Swell is likely with sideband energy from the Islands from early in the gales life and larger but rawer energy for exposed breaks in CA.

Hawaii: Swell arrival expected on Thurs (3/4) building to 4.9 ft @ 16-17 secs later (8.0 ft). Swell fading on Fri (3/5) from 5.1 ft @ 14-15 secs (7.0 ft). Residual swell fading on Sat (3/6) from 4.8 ft @ 13 secs (6.0 ft). Dribbles on Sun (3/7) fading from 3.5 ft @ 11-12 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 325 degrees moving to 10 degrees later

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (3/4) building to 4.2 ft @ 18 secs late (7.5 ft). Swell building on Fri (3/5) 8.0 ft @ 16-17 secs early (13.5 ft) and shadowed in the SF Bay Area. Swell rebuilding on Sat (3/6) at 9.0 ft @ 15 secs (13 ft) and still shadowed. Swell fading on Sun (3/7) from 6.2 ft @ 12-13 secs (7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 308 degrees moving to 297 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

  • Fri (3/5) south winds are forecast at 30+ kts for Cape Mendocino early and south 15 kts down to the Golden Gate early and southwest 5 kts down to Morro Bay. In the afternoon south winds are forecast at 15-20 kts between the Golden Gate and Pt Arena with light southwest winds 10 kts north of there and south winds 5-10 kts for Half Moon Bay south to Big Sur. Rain developing for the area from Pt Arena northward through the day then pushing down to Monterey Bay overnight.
  • Sat (3/6) northwest winds are forecast at 5-10 kts early for North and Central CA and up to 15 kts from Morro Bay southward. In the afternoon northwest winds are forecast at 10 kts for all of North CA and 15-20 kts from Monterey southward to Pt Conception. Rain early for all of North and Central CA fading out mid-AM. Snow for all the Sierra early fading and gone by late afternoon.
  • Sun (3/7) light winds are forecast for all of North Ca early and northwest winds 10-15 kts for Central CA early. In the afternoon northwest winds are to be 10-15 kts for North CA and 15-20 kts for Central CA. Light rain for Cape Mendocino early and clearly mid-AM.
  • Mon (3/8) south winds are to be building for all of North CA at up to 20 kts for Cape Mendocino and 5 kts for the Pt Reyes later. Northwest winds are forecast for Central CA at 5-10 kts down to Monterey and 15 kts for Big Sur southward to Pt Conception. Rain developing for North CA at sunset reaching San Francisco overnight. Light snow for the Sierra overnight.
  • Tues (3/9) south winds are forecast at 15+ kts for Cape Mendocino early and 10 kts down to Monterey Bay building to 10-15 kts for all of North and Central CA later. Rain for all of North and Central CA early along the coast building inland through the day with showers for Southern CA stating late afternoon and continuing overnight all locations. Snow building for all the Sierra mid-day into the evening.
  • Wed (3/10) offshore winds forecast for North CA and most of Central CA early but west 15 kts from Morro Bay southward and into Southern CA turning northwest at 15 kts all location in the afternoon. Light rain for North CA early and more pronounced for Central And South CA holding all day. Light steady snow for the Sierra likely confined to higher elevations.
  • Thurs (3/11) northwest winds are forecast at 15-20 kts all day for North and Central CA. No precip forecast.

Total snow accumulation for the next 10 days for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 30 inches, 34 inches, 34 inches, and 8 inches through 3/13 with the bulk of it starting on Mon 3/8.

Freezing level 8,000 ft today falling to 4,000 ft on 3/6 and holding there for the foreseeable future.

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis
Small swell from a gale previously in the far Southeast Pacific was radiating north and expected to arrive in SCal today (see Small Southeast Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a gale is forecast developing in the deep Southeast Pacific producing 45 kt southwest winds with seas building from 28 ft at 65S 140W aimed northeast. On Sun AM (3/7) 50 kt southwest winds are to be lifting northeast fast with 39 ft seas at 59.5S 124.5W aimed northeast. In the evening the gale is to be just east of the SCal swell window with 45 kt south winds and seas 38 ft at 55S 115.5W aimed northeast. Something to monitor.


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). On Fri (3/5) swell to build to 2.0 ft @ 16-17 secs late (3.0 ft). Swell holding on Sat (3/6) at 2.1 ft @ 15-16 secs early (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell fading Sun (3/7) 1.9 ft @ 14 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Swell Direction: 187 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri (3/5) building to 2.0 ft @ 17-18 secs later (3.5 ft). On Sat (3/6) swell to hold at 2.1 ft @ 16 secs early (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell fading Sun (3/7) from 2.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Swell Direction: 185 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 starting Tues PM (3/9) a small storm is to be developing on the dateline with 55 kt north winds over a tiny area and seas building. On Wed AM (3/10) a solid fetch of 50 kts west winds are forecast pushing east-northeast with seas 38 ft over a tiny area at 42.5N 174W aimed east. In the evening 50-55 kt northwest winds are to be lifting northeast with 43 ft seas at 45N 167W aimed east. On Thurs AM (3/11) 50 kt northwest winds are forecast in the Northwestern Gulf with 41 ft seas at 46.5N 164.5W aimed east. In the evening the gael is to be fading in the Northwestern Gulf with 40-45 kt northwest winds pushing southeast from the East Aleutians with 38 ft seas fading at 48N 158.5W aimed east. Something to monitor but likely overhyped by the models.

Perhaps another gale is to form off the North Kurils on Thurs (3/11).


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.



MJO/ENSO Forecast


Equatorial East Pacific Warming - CFS Forecast Incrementally Improving

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 (3/3) 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 (3/4) east anomalies were strong over the dateline (East KWGA) with light west anomalies over the extreme west KWGA. The forecast calls light west anomalies holding over the far West KWGA but moderate east anomalies holding over the dateline (East KWGA) retrograding some to 150E at the end of the model run on 3/11 and maybe losing some more strength then.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (3/3) A weak Active MJO pattern was over the KWGA today. The statistic model projects it holding position and slowly fading gone by day 10 of the model run with a weak Inactive MJO trying to move into the far west KWGA on day 15. The dynamic model suggests the same thing but with the Active Phase holding slightly strong on the dateline at days 10-15 with a stronger Inactive Phase building in from the west.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/4) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was exceedingly weak over the West Pacific today and is to track east over the West Indian Ocean at very weak status on day 15 of the model run. The dynamic model suggests the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (3/4) This model depicts a moderate and Active MJO pattern (moist air) over the West Pacific and it is to track east while slowly losing strength moving over Central America on 3/27. A solid Inactive Phase is to move over the West Pacific on 3/19 and is to track east and over Central America at the end of the model run on 4/13. A modest Active Phase is to develop over the KWGA at that time.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/3) This model depicts a neutral to weak Active MJO signal over the KWGA today with weak west anomalies over the West KWGA and east anomalies over the Dateline/East KWGA. The forecast indicates the Active MJO is to track east and fade through 3/9 with west anomalies backtracking west and gone from the KWGA on 3/17 with east anomalies slowly taking control from dateline building west filling the KWGA on 3/18 at moderate status as the Inactive Phase develops over the KWGA at that time and holding through the end of the model run on 3/31 with east anomalies moderate to strong status at that time. West anomalies and the Active Phase of the MJO are to be south of California 3/7-3/22 increasing the odds of rain there. East anomalies are forecast building in coverage in the Central and East Pacific filling the area to a point south of California at the end of the model run.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/4 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO is over the KWGA today continuing on that path through 4/7 with weak west anomalies holding in the far West KWGA through 3/22, then fading with east anomalies taking control then to 3/28, with weak west anomalies starting to develop in the KWGA. The Active MJO signal is forecast to follow tracking east 4/5-4/29 producing solid west anomalies filling the KWGA. A weak Inactive MJO is to follow 4/21 through 5/17 but with modest west anomalies still in control of the KWGA. A weak Active Phase is to follow 5/20 through the end of the model run on 6/1 with solid west anomalies redeveloping in 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 4/27. The second contour line is to fade 5/23. The remaining 1 is to hold indefinitely but shifting 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 4/16 and starting to ease east to 180W at the end of the run and almost filling the KWGA at that time while building to 2 contours. 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 by 4/1. Theoretically the end of La Nina is near.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (3/4) Today in the far West Pacific the 28 deg isotherm line was easing east to 163E after being steady at 165E for over a month. 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 have moved east with the dividing line today at 154W versus 165W on 2/21. A broad cooling pattern was controlling the entire equatorial Pacific with anomalies in a broad pocket at -3C at 125W and west from there. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 2/27 indicates the same thing but with warm anomalies moving east to 145W. 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: (2/27) 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 the coverage of the -10 cms anomalies was fading and weaker than at any point over the past 6 months. A small area of positive anomalies was building over Ecuador pushing almost to the Galapagos. Negative anomalies were -5 cms along the coast of Peru up into Ecuador and reaching north up to Baja then 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. But it was much weaker than weeks and months past. And now a small pocket of positive anomalies were developing.

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: (3/3) The latest images indicate a stream of cool waters tracking west on the equator from 100W joining the main pocket at 145W continuing west to the dateline.But temperature was warmer than even a few day ago over the whole area. Cooler temps previously building along the coast of Peru were collapsing. The total cool flow looks weaker than days past. Cool anomalies were streaming from Chile west-northwest to the dateline also feeding the main cool pool but much weaker than even a few days ago. 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, and rather quickly. We are past the peak of this event and possible moving towards its demise.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/3): Temps are warming over the equator from Ecuador west to 160W but cooling in one pocket just west of the Galapagos. Otherwise a near neutral trend was along the equator.
Hi-res Overview: (3/3) A stream of weakly cool water was 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 again trying to develop on the equator from Ecuador to 110W. A broader and cooler core of La Nina cold waters are pushing west from 110W towards the dateline but warmer than day past. No meaningful cooling was present along the coast of Peru.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/4) Today's temps were rising at -0.316 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:
(3/4) Temps were rising at -0.682 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.

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 (3/4) Actuals per the model indicates temps bottomed out in early Nov at -1.25 degs then rose to -0.65 degs mid-Jan and then up to -0.45 degs in Feb. The forecast depicts temps holding at about -0.35 degs into June then starting a decline falling to -0.75 degs in early Aug and holding there in Nov. This seems more possible than previous runs, suggests perhaps another year of weak La Nina conditions at worst.
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) (3/4): The daily index was falling to -8.47. The 30 day average was falling at +9.13 after peaking at +19.51 on 1/14. The 90 day average was falling some at +13.82 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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