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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Sunday, March 7, 2021 7:09 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
3.7 - California & 2.3 - Hawaii
Using the 'Winter' Scale
(See Swell Category Table link at bottom of page)

Probability for presence of largest swells in near-shore waters of NCal, SCal or Hawaii.    

Issued for Week of Monday 3/8 thru Sun 3/14

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   

Fresh North Gulf Swell for CA
Another Behind That

On Sunday, March 7, 2021 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 18.2 secs with swell 1.0 ft @ 17.8 secs from 204 degrees. Water temp 75.9 degs (Pearl Harbor 233).
  • Buoy 187 (Pauwela): Seas were 7.9 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 4.0 ft @ 11.8 secs from 303 degrees. Water temp 75.9 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 8-10 kts. Water temperature 58.8 (Topanga 103), 57.2 degs (Long Beach 215), 58.5 (Del Mar 153). At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 6.9 ft @ 13.6 secs from 297 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.6 ft @ 13.5 secs from 250 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 3.8 ft @ 8.5 secs from 270 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 4.0 ft @ 12.7 secs from 280 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 8.3 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 6.0 ft @ 12.7 secs from 299 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was northwest at 12-16 kts. Water temp 51.1 (029), 51.1 degs (SF Bar) and 52.9 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 Sunday (3/7) North and Central CA had waves at 2 ft overhead and lined up but pretty warbled and unorganized from northwest wind just off the coast. Protected breaks were chest to maybe head high and lined up but pretty warbled with onshore northwest winds. At Santa Cruz surf was waist to chest high on the sets and clean and lined up but weak and mushed. In Southern California/Ventura waves were thigh to waist high and lined up but weak and mushed but clean. Central Orange County had set waves at chest to head high and lined up but crumbled and heavily textured from south wind. South Orange County's best summertime breaks were thigh to waist high and textured with light south winds and soft with poor form. North San Diego had sets at chest to shoulder high and to spots just overhead and clean and lined up but weak. Hawaii's North Shore had waves at 1 ft overhead on the sets with some northerly ruffle but not bad and pretty lined up and decent at select breaks. The South Shore was maybe thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap-around northerly swell with waves head high mixed with east windswell and chopped from east-northeast trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Sunday (3/7) Hawaii and California were seeing leftovers from a gale that developed 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 fading from 21 ft. Secondary fetch developed behind it in the Northern Gulf on Sat (3/6) producing 38 ft seas aimed southeast with remnants of that gale slowly falling southeast through Tues (3/9) off North and Central CA. Beyond a small gale is forecast developing again in the Northern Gulf Fri-Sat (3/13) producing 26 ft seas aimed southeast. Small southern hemi swell is fading in CA from a small gale that developed over the Southeast Pacific Wed-Thurs (2/25) producing barely 35 ft seas over a tiny area aimed northeast. And another is developed in the Southeast Pacific on Sun (3/7) producing 35 ft seas lifting northeast. We are in a Springtime pattern with both hemispheres productive, but only weakly now.

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 consolidated pushing off Japan with winds to 150 kts not making it to the dateline and splitting at 165E with the northern branch pushing north up into the North Bering Sea then falling south fast forming a weak trough in the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska off Oregon offering weak support for gale development there before pushing onshore over Cape Mendocino CA. The southern branch tracked east-southeast just south of Hawaii then lifted up over Baja Mexico. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast but with the consolidated portion of the jet pushing a bit further east and the split point reaching 170W while the trough in the Gulf slowly tried to move onshore over Oregon but doesn't completely complete that objective, perhaps continuing some weak support for gale development in the easterly Gulf. Beyond 72 hours starting Fri (3/12) the jet is to become a weak unfocused mess with no defined flow over the entirety of the North Pacific other than something that looks like a weak trough over the Northern Gulf with that trough moving inland over Canada on Sat (3/13) likely offering little in terms of support for gale development. no other change is forecast through Mon (3/15). The Winter season is fading fast is not already gone.

Surface Analysis
On Sunday (3/7) swell was fading in Hawaii and 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 swell from a gale that developed in the Northern Gulf is falling southeast towards the US West Coast (See North Gulf Gale below).


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: 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: 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 Gulf Gale
A new small gale was developing in the Northwestern Gulf on Fri AM (3/5) producing 30 kt northwest winds and starting to get traction. In the evening 35-40 kt northwest winds were building in the Northern Gulf with seas building to 21 ft at 50N 153W aimed southeast. On Sat AM (3/6) fetch was building to 40-45 kts from the northwest with seas 28-30 ft at 50N 149W aimed southeast. In the evening northwest winds were falling southeast at 40-45 kts moving over the Eastern Gulf off Washington with 37 ft seas at 49.5N 143W aimed southeast (316 degs NCal). On Sun AM (3/7) the gale was holding position with 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas fading from 33 ft at 47.5N 137W aimed southeast off North Oregon (315 degs NCal). In the evening fetch is to be fading while holding position with northwest winds 30-35 kts and seas 23 ft at 44N 140W aimed southeast. The gale to fall southeast on Mon AM (3/8) with 30 kt northwest winds and seas fading from 22 ft at 42.5N 140W aimed southeast (296 degs NCal). More of the same in the evening with seas fading from 20 ft at 43N 138.5W (298 degs NCal) aimed southeast. On Tues AM (3/9) 30 kt northwest winds to be off North CA with 21 ft seas at 41N 134.5W aimed southeast (293 degs NCal, 305 degs SCal). The gale is to dissipate from there. Something to monitor.

North CA: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Mon (3/8) building to 9.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (14 ft) but shadowed in the SF Bay area. Swell fading on Tues (3/9) from 7.5 ft @ 14 secs (10.5 ft) and shadowed in the SF Bay Area. Swell and swell combination is expected on Wed (3/10) pushing 10 ft at 12-13 secs (12 ft). Windswell to follow. Swell Direction: 315 degrees moving to 290 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues (3/9) at 3.8 ft @ 15 secs (5.5 ft) early at exposed breaks. Swell and windswell combination building on Wed (3/10) to 4.0 ft @ 13 secs (5.0 ft) at exposed breaks. Swell Direction: 310 fading to 298 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

  • Mon (3/8) northwest winds are to be 5-10 kts for North CA early and 10-15 kts for Central CA. A low pressure system is to be just off the coast with south winds 20 kts for Cape Mendocino late afternoon and 5 kts to the Golden Gate but northwest 5 kts for Central CA. Rain developing for North CA at sunset reaching San Francisco overnight. Snow developing for Tahoe 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 Santa Barbara County overnight. Snow building for all the Sierra in the afternoon continuing through the evening.
  • Wed (3/10) westerly winds are forecast early for North and Central CA at 10-15 kts turning northwest 10+ kts for North CA in the afternoon and 10-15 kts for Central CA. Northwest winds forecast building to 15-20 kts for Southern CA in the afternoon. Rain for all of North and Central CA early fading some in the afternoon for North CA but continuing for Central CA. Rain developing for all of Southern CA in the afternoon. Solid snow for the Sierra through the day fading late evening.
  • Thurs (3/11) northwest winds are forecast at 20-25 kts for Cape Mendocino early and 10-15 kts for the remainder of North CA and all of Central CA and including Southern CA early kts building to 25 kts for all of North and Central CA later and 15-20 kts for Southern CA. No precip forecast other than maybe some early showers for Southern CA.
  • Fri (3/12) northwest winds are forecast at 15-20 kts for North and Central CA early fading to 15 kts later.
  • Sat (3/13) northwest winds are forecast at 5-10 kts early for all of North and Central CA turning south 30 kts at sunset for Cape Mendocino then rapidly switching to northwest 25-30 kts in the evening pushing south to Pt Reyes. Rain for North CA at sunset pushing to Santa Cruz overnight.
  • Sun (3/14) northwest winds are forecast at 25-30 kts for North CA early down to Monterey Bay then covering all of North and Central CA and 20 kts down into Southern CA in the afternoon. Rain for Central CA early clearly quickly. Snow for Tahoe early building over the entire Sierra during the day.

Total snow accumulation for the next 10 days for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 27 inches, 30 inches, 25 inches, and 8 inches through 3/16 in 2 shots, on 3/9 and 3/14.

Freezing level 7,500 ft today falling to 3,500 ft on 3/8 and holding there till 3/16 when it rises to 10,000 ft.

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 fading in California today (see Small Southeast Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a gale started building in the deep Southeast Pacific Sat PM (3/6) producing 45 kt southwest winds with seas building from 26 ft at 65S 140W aimed northeast. On Sun AM (3/7) 45 kt southwest winds were lifting northeast fast with 35 ft seas at 59S 123.5W aimed northeast. In the evening the gale is to be just east of the SCal swell window with 40-45 kt south winds and seas 32 ft at 55S 114W 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: Swell fading Sun (3/7) 1.9 ft @ 14 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Swell Direction: 187 degrees

North CA: 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 perhaps another weak gale is to form in the Northern Gulf on Fri AM (3/12) producing 30-35 kts northwest winds with seas building from 24 ft at 45N 143W over a tiny area aimed southeast. 35-40 kt northwest winds to hold in the evening with 26 ft seas at 50N 145W aimed southeast. On Sat AM (3/13) fetch is to be fading from 30 kts from the northwest with seas 24 ft at 47.5N 140.5W aimed southeast. The gale is to dissipate from there. Something to monitor.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.



MJO/ENSO Forecast


La Nina Collapsing - Driven by Active MJO over East Pacific

MJO/ENSO Discussion
The Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.
And the El Nino/La Nino cycle (collectively know as ENSO - El Nino Southern Oscillation) is a less frequent (about once every 7 years) but more impactful cycle that affects world wide weather. Specifically, strong El Nino events promote storm production in the Pacific while La Nina events suppress storm production. These therefore have a significant impact on the production of swell and surf. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO and ENSO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for upcoming activity (or inactivity depending on the state and interaction of these two oscillations).

Overview: A double dip La Nina was in control through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018 associated with two upwelling Kelvin Waves, and continued trying to build over equatorial waters over the Summer and Fall, but not enough to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere. In January 2019, those warm waters were fading, but then rebuilt late in Feb associated with Kelvin Wave (#3). But as of early June 2019 warm water was fading and by August a tongue of cool water was tracking west on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos reaching to a point nearly south of Hawaii. El Nino was dead. A bit of a recovery occurred during Fall of 2019, with weak warm water building in the Nino 1.2 region, but cool water held in a pool off Peru and had not changed until March 2020. By April the cool pool pushed east and by May subsurface cool waters erupted off Ecuador, forming a well defined cool tongue that looked like the start of La Nina, holding into July 2020.

Fall/Winter 2020/2021 = 3.0/3.5 (California & Hawaii)
Rating based on a 1-10 scale: 1 being the lowest (small and infrequent surf conditions), 5 being normal/average, and 10 being extraordinary (frequent events of large, long period swells)

Rationale: It is assumed the PDO has moved to the warm phase in 2014 and that a weak borderline El Nino from 2018 faded out in the Fall of 2019. A La Nina like ocean temperature pattern developed in the equatorial East Pacific in the summer of 2019, then faded and returned to a neutral if not weak warm status during the Winter of 2019-2020 only to return stronger in the Summer of 2020. We have been suspecting a turn towards a La Nina like atmospheric pattern to develop in the late Winter/early Spring of 2020. Our best hope is that moderation from the warm phase of the PDO might tamp down development of a full blown La Nina as we move into 2020. But at this time that does not appear likely. Given all that, for the 2020 there is decent probability for development of La Nina meaning a reduced number of storm days and storm intensity during the summer season, resulting in a below normal level of swell, with swell being below normal duration and period. And by the Fall and early Winter of 2020/21, the number of storm days, intensity and duration of those storms should fade even more, resulting in depressed swell production. This pattern is expected to hold through the Spring of 2021.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast (KWGA - Kelvin Wave Generation Area - The area 5 degrees north and south of the equator from 170W to 135E)
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (3/6) 5 day average winds were moderate from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and strong east over the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral to light west over the East equatorial Pacific and modest west over the Central Pacific then modest to strong 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 (3/7) east anomalies were moderate over the dateline (East KWGA) with light west anomalies over the extreme west KWGA. The forecast calls light west anomalies fading in the far West KWGA and gone by 3/10 with moderate east anomalies filling the KWGA at that time and holding through the end of the model run on 3/14.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (3/6) A neutral MJO pattern was over the KWGA today. The statistic model projects a moderate Inactive MJO developing on day 10 of the model run and and filling the KWGA at the end of the 15 day run. The dynamic model suggests the same thing but with the Inactive Phase a bit stronger at day 15.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/7) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was exceedingly weak over the East Pacific today and is to track east over North Africa at very weak status on day 15 of the model run. The dynamic model suggests the same thing but with the Active Phase in the Central Indian Ocean.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (3/6) This model depicts a moderate and Active MJO pattern (moist air) over the Central 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 3/16 and is to track east and over Central America on 4/10. A weak Active Phase is to develop over the KWGA at the end of the model run on 4/15.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/6) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO signal trying to move over the KWGA today with weak west anomalies over the far West KWGA and east anomalies over the bulk of the KWGA. The forecast indicates the Inactive MJO is to track slowly east and still in the KWGA at the end of the model run on 4/3 with east anomalies slowly building to modest strength on 3/27 and holding through the end of the model run. West anomalies and the Active Phase of the MJO are to be south of California today through 3/27 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): (3/7 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO is over the KWGA today and is to slowly and weakly track east through 4/7 with weak east anomalies holding during that timeframe over the dateline and west west anomalies over the far West KWGA. An Active MJO signal is forecast to follow tracking east 4/10-5/19 producing solid if not strong west anomalies filling the KWGA. A weak Inactive MJO is to follow 5/12 through the end of the model run on 6/4 but with modest west anomalies still in control of 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 3/23. The 3rd contour line is to fade on 4/24. The second contour line is to fade 5/10. The remaining 1 is to hold indefinitely but shifting quickly 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 3/31 and starting to track east to 180W on 5/18 and filling the KWGA just after that while building to 3 contour lines. This looks like a possible El Nino scenario if one is to believe the model. 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: (3/7) Today in the far West Pacific the 28 deg isotherm line was easing east to 162E after being steady at 165E for over a month. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing the whole way across the equatorial Pacific and building in coverage as compared to weeks 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 limited to 140W and 120W on the equator. 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 and reaching north from Central America 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: (3/6) The latest images indicate a stream of weak cool waters tracking west on the equator from 100W joining the main pocket at 145W continuing west to the dateline. But temperatures were much warmer than even a few day ago over the whole area. Warmer temps were building along Peru. 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 far weaker than even a few days ago. Overall this seems to indicate the start of the collapse of La Nina.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/6): Temps are warming significantly over the equator from Ecuador west to 160W. Warming was also building off Peru out to 135W. This is likely attributable to the Active Phase of the MJO over the East Pacific.
Hi-res Overview: (3/6) A weakening stream of weakly cool water was entrenched from off 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 reaching south off Chile and north to Mexico west to 110W. The remaining cool core of La Nina is pushing west from 110W towards the dateline but warmer than day past.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/7) Today's temps were rising dramatically to +0.593 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:
(3/7) Temps were rising at -0.460, the highest in a year. 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 (3/7) 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 rising to -0.20 degs into June then starting a decline falling to -0.50 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) (3/7): The daily index was rising to -3.40 and negative almost 11 days in a row. The 30 day average was falling at +7.18 after peaking at +19.51 on 1/14. The 90 day average was falling some at +13.28 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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