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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, March 8, 2016 5:37 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
4.0- California & 3.0 - 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 3/7 thru Sun 3/13

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   

One More Pulse of Stormsurf for California
Active Phase of MJO Exiting Pacific

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.


On Tuesday, March 8, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea Bay): Seas were 5.1 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 2.9 ft @ 13.2 secs from 321 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 9.4 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 5.8 ft @ 13.5 secs from 270 degrees. Wind northwest 20-23 kts. Water temperature 59.5 degrees. At Santa Barbara swell was 6.8 ft @ 12.4 secs from 266 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 5.3 ft @ 13.7 secs from 262 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 5.5 ft @ 13.8 secs from 273 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 11.9 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 7.6 ft @ 12.9 secs from 290 degrees. Wind northwest 14-18 kts. Water temp 55.6 degs.


    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Tuesday (3/8) in North and Central CA raw local swell was 8-9 ft on the face and jumbled with local windswell intermixed and northwest winds adding chop. Down in Santa Cruz surf was 2 ft overhead and reasonably lined up, but still not very organized. At least it was clean. In Southern California up north surf was head high or so and lined up but a bit warbled and unorganized even though winds were light. Down south the same local swell was producing waves at 3-4 ft overhead on the sets and pounding, with clean conditions and a strong southward current. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northwest windswell with waves head high to 2 ft overhead and clean making for some fun surf. The South Shore was head high or so and blown out with south wind and chop in control. The East Shore was getting wraparound windswell with waves thigh to waist high and clean with southeast winds in control for the moment.

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

Meteorological Overview
Raw swell from a gale that was off the immediate California coast over the weekend into Monday (3/7) was still hitting, but on it's way down. A tiny gale is forecast moving into California waters on Fri (3/11) with 26 ft seas just off Cape Mendocino, generating more local raw swell. A far broader system is forecast tracking southeast through the Gulf of Alaska Fri-Sat (3/12) generating up to 42 ft seas targeting the US West Coast. More larger raw swell is possible. Then a quiet pattern is to set up.

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

North Pacific

On Tuesday AM (3/8) the jet was .cgiit tracking off Japan finally consolidating just east of the dateline and forming a small tight and pinched trough just 700 nmiles northwest of Hawaii. East of there the jet was consolidated ridging northwest some with winds to 180 kts, then diving southeast into another trough that was pushing over Southern California and Baja, moving onshore there. In all there was only limited support for gale development in the trough northwest of Hawaii. Over the next 72 hours the Hawaiian trough is to redevelop and broaden while moving east into the Gulf of Alaska on Thurs (3/10) supported by a consolidated jet and winds in the 130 kt range. That trough to move onshore over Central CA on Fri (3/11) offering some support for gale development. But back to the west the jet is to become very .cgiit over the dateline with the northern branch tracking northeast from Japan up to the northern dateline region while the southern branch runs flat west to east pushing directly over Hawaii. Good support for high pressure development. Beyond 72 hours a secondary trough is to develop in the Eastern Gulf Sun (3/13) moving onshore over Central CA on Mon (3/13) with 130 kt winds flowing into it, supporting gale development but also weather relative to CA. Back to the west the worst of the .cgiit jet is to north of Hawaii on Mon (3/14) and poised to be into the US West Coast 24 hours later. Back to the west a rather weak and muddled jetstream flow is to be taking over the North Pacific. A steep trough is forecast north of Hawaii on Tues (3/15) with 130 kts winds feeding it, offering some hope to support gale development at lower levels of the atmosphere. But west of there winds to be only 90 kts with the jet mostly .cgiit and suggestive of nothing that would support gale development. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is setting up.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (3/8) residual raw swell from another local gale previously off California was fading on the north end of the state and peaking in the south (See local California Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours starting Wed AM (3/9) another weak local gale is to develop 500 nmiles west of San Francisco lifting northeast generating 30-35 kts southwest winds and seas building. By the evening it is to be impacting Oregon with 30-35 kt west to northwest winds generating 20 ft seas from off San Francisco moving onshore into the CA-Oregon border. Raw proto-swell expected pushing into North CA early Thurs (3/10).

On Wed AM (3/9) high pressure is to be setting up just west of Hawaii at 1028 mbs. But a small gale is to build east of it and 900 nmiles north of Hawaii producing a small area of 35 kts northwest winds sending sideband energy towards the Islands. In the evening 40 kt northwest winds to be falling southeast and positioned 700 nmiles north-northeast of Hawaii generating 22 ft seas at 34N 155W. Winds to be fading from 35 kts Thurs AM (3/10) northeast of Hawaii with seas fading from 20 ft at 31N 148W offering no swell for anyone. Remnants of this system to race northeast and reorganize just off Cape Mendocino CA on Fri AM (3/11) generating 45 kt northwest winds and seas building from 22 ft at 38N 130W. the fetch is to be moving onshore over Cape Mendo in the evening with winds fading from 35 kts and seas 25 ft at 38N 125W or just off Pt Arena and Pt Reyes. Large raw wind driven swell possible for North CA on Fri night, early Sat AM (3/12).

Of more interest is a storm forecast developing over the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians on Thurs AM (3/10) with west winds 45-50 just just south of the Aleutians aimed east. In the evening 50 kt northwest winds to be moving into the Western Gulf of Alaska generating 39 ft seas up at 50N 168W. On Fri AM (3/11) a elongated fetch of 45 kts northwest winds to be tracking into the Central Gulf generating 42 ft at 47N 160W targeting Oregon and California. In the evening the gale is to be approaching the US West Coast with 40 kt west winds generating 36 ft seas at 45N 153W. Sat AM (3/12) winds to be fading from 30-35 kts over a broad area just 600 nmiles west of California with seas fading from 32 ft at 42N 146W. In the evening 30 kt west winds to stall off the North Coast with seas fading from 29 ft at 41N 140W. The gale is to dissipate from there but with remnants energy continuing to circulate stalled off the coast and slowly easing east through Tues (3/15). Much local weather is expected in sync with the swell arriving in California.

Local California Gale
Another weak weather system developed off North CA on Sat AM (3/5) producing 35 kt west winds 1200 nmiles out and seas to 23 ft at 41N 148W. A broad area of 30-35 kts west winds pushed east in the evening starting to reach the coast and generating more 24 ft seas at 40N 140W targeting all of California. Additional west fetch at 35 kts developed Sun AM (3/6) just off North CA generating seas of 26 ft at at 37N 138W targeting Central CA. The fetch was just off San Francisco in the evening with seas to 26 ft 600 nmiles west of there at 37N 134W. Additional northwest fetch held just off the coast into Mon AM (3/7) at 35-40 kts with seas 26 ft just of Pt Conception targeting mainly Southern CA and moving over the Channel Islands by evening and into Baja Tues AM (3/8). Raw conditions seem likely nearshore for this entire window.

North CA: Swell fading Tues AM (3/8) from 11 ft @ 14 secs (15 ft). Conditions unrideable except at the most protected breaks for the duration of this event. Swell Direction: 270 turning to 290 degrees late in the swells life.

South CA: Larger swell to arrive Tues AM (3/8) well before sunrise peaking at sunrise at 7.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (11 ft) fading some through the day. Residuals fading on Wed AM (3/9) from 4.5 ft @ 14 secs (6 ft). Swell Direction: 275-280 degs initially turning to 290 degrees late in the swells life.

  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 Tuesday AM (3/8) high pressure was ridging into the North end of the state after days of rain. North winds in control early burt are to be fading as the day progresses. Possible light rain for San Francisco northward starting at sunset from a new front developing off the coast. Wednesday winds to fade to calm while a new front builds and moves into the north end of the state with south winds 20 kts for Pt Reyes northward. Rain for Monterey Bay northward mainly early and some light snow for Tahoe. Thursday the front is to dissolve while pushing into San Francisco with southwest wind 20 kt to Monterey Bay early. Solid rain over the North and Central Coast pushing south to Monterey Bay. Maybe a few inches of snow for Tahoe late afternoon. Friday AM the storm door is to open fully again with southwest to west winds 20+ kts reaching down to Southern CA late afternoon with solid rain for the entire state reaching down to San Diego late afternoon. A good push of snow for the Sierra overnight. The next front queues up Sat AM (3/12) off North CA with southwest winds 25+ kts reaching to Monterey Bay late afternoon. Modest rain pushing south to Big Sur late night. North winds for Southern CA later in the day. Sunday light winds are forecast early except up north where another front is forecast developing off North CA. South winds 20+ kts reaching to San Francisco late afternoon and rain to Pt Conception late evening. Modest snow for Tahoe late evening. Monday AM the front passes south through Central CA and dissipates with rain all day eventually reaching San Diego. Heavy snow for the Sierra. Tuesday high pressure and north winds take over the state. Light steady rain fading. Large high pressure is to be queued up off the coast.

All this is attributable to the Active Phase of the MJO moving east into the US West Coast.

South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.

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


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




Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a gale is forecast developing off Japan on Mon-Tues (3/15) but tracking northeast fast driving by a large .cgiit in the jet over the dateline. No swell production is likely.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.

More details to follow...

Subsurface Warm Pool Making a Slight Comeback
Kelvin Wave #6 Possibly Developing, But Very Weak

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 equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced 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.cgianet, 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 help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. 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 strong El Nino has developed. It began its lifecycle in late 2013 as a primer WWB and Kelvin Wave developed. Then in early 2014 a historically strong push by the Active Phase of the MJO resulted in a large Kelvin Wave, and anomalies continued in the Spring into early Summer transporting more warm water eastward. But the cycle faltered in July due to a protracted bout of the Inactive Phase of the MJO which enabled the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle to manifest driving cooler water east, muting warm water buildup along the Ecuador coast. Still the warm water pipe remained open, but surface temperatures near the Galapagos never recovered and any atmospheric momentum was lost. Then in early 2015, another historically strong push from the MJO occurred, effectively a repeat of the early 2014 event, invigorating the warm water transport process and, adding more heat to an already anomalously warm surface pool off Ecuador. That pool built steadily in spurts, peaking in the Oct-Nov, timeframe, then began a slow decline. But even in Jan 2016, the strongest Westerly Wind Burst of the event occurred, with another Kelvin Wave developing. But it was too little too late. There was not any real warm water left in the West Pacific to transport east. El Nino was in a steady collapse by mid-Feb with the subsurface warm reservoir in the East Pacific in steep decline with cool water ready to move in migrating from the west. The paragraphs below describe the current status of various El Nino indicators, followed by a paragraph that ties all the pieces together and provide our analysis of what is to come.    

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis from TAO Buoys: As of Mon (3/7) weak west winds were south of the equator from 160E to 165W mainly between 3-5S. Otherwise east winds prevailed and strong over the entire zone mainly north of the equator. Anomalies were strong from the west from 180W to 160W south on and of the equator. El Nino continued expressing itself modestly.
1 Week Forecast: A WWB developed in the KWGA on 2/16, then built to near WWB status 2/23 and continued through 3/2. They faded to just anomalies on 3/4 and are loosing coverage today, expected to dissipate 3/9 with a dead neutral pattern taking hold. Possible Kelvin Wave #6 is in flight. At that time positive influence of the jetstream will fade as will manifestation of El Nino. The only east anomalies that occurred in 2015 and 2016 (so far) in the KWGA were from 12/7-12/17 during an Inactive Phase of the MJO. For Now an El Nino pattern continues to hold control.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Comparison of 2 Strong Westerly Wind Bursts (WWB)

On left the massive WWB in late June/July that created large Kelvin Wave #3. On right the current WWB that is generating Kelvin Wave #4.
Scales are a little different but notice anomalies in the July event at 12-14 m/s est (24-28 kts) and now in Oct at 13-14 m/s (26-28 kts)
(Click to Enlarge Images)

June/July WWB October WWB


Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of Mon (3/7) a modest Inactive Phase of the MJO was in the West Pacific moving east with a neutral pattern elsewhere. The Statistic model projects the Inactive Phase moving east and fading over the next 2 weeks, reaching the dateline. The dynamic model depicts the same thing, but with the Inactive Phase fading to nothing while moving east, with a dead neutral pattern in control 7 days to 2 weeks out. This suggests El Nino influence of the jetstream fading as the Inactive Phase destructively integrates with it by 3/14.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): The ECMF model indicates a moderately Active MJO signal in the Eastern Atlantic and very weak. It is to track east over the next 2 weeks while tracking to the Maritime Continent. The GEFS depicts the same general pattern but with the MJO weakening even more. West winds/anomalies in the KWGA are to start fading as the Active Phase moves well out of the Pacific Basin, with a weaker jetstream flow and weaker storm track forecast.
40 Day Upper Level Model: The Inactive Phase was over the West Pacific and forecast to track east to Central America through 3/28. A weak Active Phase to return to the West Pacific 4/2 moving to the East Pacific 4/17.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): The Active Phase of the MJO is past it's peak intensity positioned south of California easing into the Atlantic with west wind anomalies in rapid decline. Fuel for the jetstream and therefore storm production are in decline everywhere but the east North Pacific. The model depicts west anomalies weak to nearly gone through 3/23 with the Inactive Phase of the MJO in control. The Active Phase is to develop 3/25 in the West Pacific holding through 4/17. Modest west anomalies are forecast through that window. Another Inactive Phase to develop starting 4/18 but with west anomalies holding into mid-May, driven mainly by El Nino.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (3/8) Actual temperatures remain decent but are fading. A large pocket of 29 deg temps were at depth between 140E to 155W with the 28 deg isotherm line easing east to the Galapagos, the furthest east of this event. Anomaly wise things are collapsing. +2 deg anomalies are from 175W and points eastward but getting steadily shallower. No 4 deg anomalies or higher are present. 3 deg anomalies are from 122W eastward. This is the last of the El Nino subsurface reservoir. No warmer temps remain. Cool subsurface waters are down at 150m and racing east now reaching the Ecuador Coast. The warm pool is is steep decline. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/4 the reservoir is fading but warm water is still flowing into it from near the dateline attributable to Kelvin Wave #6. No real warm waters is associated with it, unless you consider +2-3 deg anomalies a legit Kelvin Wave. A small +4 deg core attributable solely to WWB #5 was fading at 110W. +3 deg anomalies are retreating east from 130W. The subsurface reservoir is shrinking steadily. Kelvin Wave #5 has put the end of this ENSO event on hold for now, but even it's end is in sight. And Kelvin Wave #6 will only delay the inevitable a little longer.
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA):  (3/4) The image depicts the warm pool rebuilding slightly. 0-+5 cm anomalies are holding for the moment covering the entire equatorial Pacific starting at 163W (steady for the moment). Peak anomalies have redeveloped at +15 cm near 125W. +10 cm anomalies and growing in coverage between 105W-160W. The subsurface warm pool is rebuilding some, holding on barely thanks to weak Kelvin Waves #5 and #6.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: (3/4) Temps are fading fast. +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are fading from 128W extending east to the Galapagos. +1.0-1.5 degs anomalies are retracting some from 116W. No warmer anomalies exist. The Downwelling Phase of Kelvin Wave #5 is over. Temps have dropped from Ecuador to the Galapagos to 0.5-1.0 degs and moving east. But the eastern periphery, instead of pushing east is growing to the west, currently at 100W, demarking the Upwelling Phase of Kelvin Wave #4. This El Nino remains westward di.cgiaced. Kelvin waves #5 and #6 are only serving to hold off the emergence of La Nina at this point.

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: (3/7) The latest image indicates temps are fading some from the Galapagos westward with +2.25 deg anomalies on the equator extending 3 degs north and south out to 130W, but loosing concentration. Marked cooling is occurring east of the Galapagos. But some warming is occurring in a thin pool along the coast of Peru. Warming in this area peaked on 7/14 then crashed and has been trying to rebuild ever since.
Hi-res Nino 3.4: (3/7) The latest image depicts this area is rapid decline other than between 120W to 130W, part of the Nino1.2 warming mentioned above. This is attributable to Kelvin Wave #5.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/7): Weak warming is occurring west of the Galapagos mainly south of the equator attributable to Kelvin Wave #5 with cooling east of it thanks to the Upwelling Phase of Kelvin Wave #4.
Hi-res Overview:
(3/7) The El Nino signal is unmistakable but is no longer building and showing signs of finally moving to the east with most warm anomalies now between 90W-140W.


Historical Comparison of Strong El Nino's
Images built using 2 data sets - Monthly OISSTv.2 (left) & ERSSTv4 (right) This years data valid through November.
Both images/datasets suggest this is the warmest the NINO3.4 region has ever been. Now the question becomes: Will that translate in weather and swell? If the theory that temps in this area translate in stormier weather, then the answer is obvious.
Requisite Disclaimer - Current performance is no indication of future performance.
(Click to enlarge)

OISSTv2 data ERSSTv4 image


Kelvin Wave #3 Eruption Evolution
(click to enlarge)


Other Sources
TAO Data: +1.0 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial East Pacific, the warmest in years, advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to the dateline and beyond. The +0.0 anomaly line on the equator is not present (formally at 140E). +1.5 deg anomalies are extending west to 176E and east to at least 95W. There is also a solid area of +2.0 deg anomalies extending from 173W (steady) and now reaching east to 110W. No +2.5 anomalies are present. Overall the warm water signature is solid but on the decline in the west, but building some in the east.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/8) Temps started building some starting on 2/23, up some today at +1.329, rising from a recent low of +0.5 degs in mid-Feb. Previously they peaked here for 5 days at +2.581 near 10/8 and previously at +3.0 degs on 7/3, faded, then spiked again on 7/13 at +3.0 degs and yet again at +3.0 degs on 7/22.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (3/8) temps were steady at +2.087. They fell below the +2.0 mark on 2/25 for the first time since when this El Nino first started developing, and below the +2.5 deg range that was reached in late Dec through Feb 11. The all time peak was reached at +3.041 on 12z 11/19. This temp beat the previous all time high of +3.028 degs (12Z 11/17), Temps have not been below +2.0 degs since 8/21.
Nino3.0 CDAS Index Temps: (3/8) Today's values are stabilize at +1.952, up some from +1.848 on 2/28, but otherwise declining since 1/16. Peak temps occurred 12/6 at +2.989, and +2.990 (11/28).

Nino3.4 Monthly Temps (January) The centered Nino3.4 temps for the month of Feb were +2.19 (beating '98 which was +1.89 and '83 which was +1.84). Jan readings were +2.23 (beating '98 which was +2.21 and '83 which was +2.13). December was +2.31 (beating 97 which was +2.23 and 82 at +2.21). November was +2.36 degs (beating the highest temp recorded in '97 Nov - +2.32 degs and beating '82 +2.03 degs). Oct temps were +2.03 degs. See updated graphs above. The ONI uses a 3 month running average.
ONI For 2015 for the 3 month period centered on Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec the values are: +1.8, +2.1. +2.2 +2.3. For the same period in '97 the values were: +2.0, +2.2, +2.3 and +2.3. And for '82 the values were: +1.5, +1.9, +2.1 and +2.1. This make this years El Nino the second strongest on record since 1950.

Note: ERSSTv4 'centered' data is not available for Nino1, 3 and 4 regions, only Nino3.4.

Pacific Counter Current:  As of 2/15 the current was strong from the east on the equator from 160E to 145W. East current was also present from Galapagos to 145W. Anomaly wise - One pocket of solid east anomalies was between 160E to 145W on the equator. Otherwise everything was effectively normal. There were no pockets of west anomalies indicated. El Nino is in solid decline based on this data.

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data depicts peak temps were reached at +2.95 degs on Nov 5, then faded slightly in early December to +2.8 holding to Feb 1. Then a sharp decline started with temps down to +2.5 degs mid-Feb. The forecast indicates temps fading fast to +2.0 by 3/1, then steadily declining from there before stabilizing at +0.75 degs in June and starting to rebuild in Oct. This would still be El Nino threshold temps. Hard to believe and is a minority opinion.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Jan Plume depicts temps peaked in Jan, at +2.8 degs. The consensus suggests temps to fall steadily from here forward, down to -0.7 by October.
See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Co.cgiing Index's (lagging indicators rather than driving oceanic change):   
Daily Southern Oscillation Index (3/8): It was rising steadily as the Active Phase faded, at 6.40. The 97 El Nino had daily values at -40 to -50 in early Nov with one spurt to -76 Jan 30-31st. Notable deep readings in this 2015-16 event were: -49.70/-46.60 on Oct 3 & 4, -42.20 on 10/14, -47.50 on 12/3, -38.50 on 1/2, -40.20 on 2/17. Then the peak of this event occurred 2/22 at -50.30 and -49.10 on 2/29.
30 Day Average: Was rising from -22.84. The peak low was recorded on 1/26/16 at -24.89, with a secondary peak on 3/6 at -23.00. Another peak occurred on 10/9 at -22.72, beating the previous peak low of -20.95 on 8/21, with the previous lowest at -20.49 on 7/18/15. This is exactly where we want to be (at -20 or lower).  
90 Day Average: Was rising some at -16.15. A record low of -19.28 occurred on 10/16 and was matched on 10/20. The previous record low was -18.56 on 9/16. A recent low of
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): On 3/8 weak high pressure was south of Tahiti but is to be followed a few days out by neutral pressure. The SOI is expected to start rising based on the Tahiti contribution and offer no further solid support to enhance El Nino or to fuel the jetstream as this Active Phase of the MJO dissipates. Its just too late in the season.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (3/8) Today's value was rising from +1.46. The most recent peak was +2.33 on 1/14. It also peaked at +2.40 on Sat (10/17) and was steady in the +2.5 range through 8/10, then began falling. Historically the peak of the '82 El Nino was +2.2 and the '97 event +2.85. This suggests the '15-16 El Nino is still reasonably well co.cgied with the atmosphere, more so than some of the other indices indicate.
Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (Feb) These numbers were released March 5th and indicate the index decreased slightly to +2.12. In Feb the readings increased slightly by 0.08 to +2.20, holding it in the third highest since 1950 behind the '82/83 and '97/98 El Ninos. Since it has not reached the +3.0 standard deviation level, it is NOT considered a Super El Nino, nor is it expected to reach that status. The Nov ranking was +2.31, up barely from +2.23 (Oct), down from it's peak of +2.53 in Sept, and from +2.37 in Aug. The top 6 events since 1950 in order are: '97, '82, '15, '91, '86, and '72 with '97 and '82 classified as 'Super El Nino's' because they reached 3 standard deviations (SD) above normal. '91 and '86 were at about 2.2 and 2.1 respectively with '72 peaking at 1.8 SD's above the norm.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been mostly above +1.5 all of 2015. In Jan 2016 it was +1.53. 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 suggests that could be a real possibility. We've been in the negative phase since 1998 through at least 2013 (15 years). By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

North Pacific Jetstream (3/8) Detailed analysis is in the NPac Short Term Forecast above. The jet looks very good and is forecast to hold for a few more day, but then move into rapid decline as the Inactive Phase of the MJO takes over the dateline region. From a surf standpoint, it's all down hill from here.

Comparing the 2015 El Nino to '82 and '97
Full Sized Chart
(Click to enlarge)

Conclusion: This El Nino is the 3rd strongest El Nino since 1950 based primarily on the MEI. Centered Monthly Nino3.4 data suggests it is the 2nd strongest. Based on California precipitation, this one does not compared to any major El Nino in recent memory. Solid precip is expected over the next week (3/3-3/10) as the Active Phase of the MJO moves east into California, but after that, it's over. Based on surf, El Nino has had the expected affect producing 11 significant class swells in the North Pacific so far this season. The target is 16, but that appears ambitious.

From a pure El Nino perspective, the peak of the event is over. But from a teleconnection standpoint, the warm pool in Nino3.4 is still imparting solid energy to the atmosphere and the jetstream is still positively being reinforced by it. That in combination with the Active Phase of the MJO is still rendering El Nino of significant positive influence on storm production and will continue to do so through mid-to late April. But with the Inactive Phase of the MJO scheduled to take over in the next 2 weeks, and the seasons moving towards Spring, the veracity of that influence will decline.

The focus now turns to how quick and how much will the jet be affected for the Fall and Winter of 2016-2017. It's too early to know anything definitive yet, but with the PDO still positive, it is possible the transition to La Nina may not be a strong as in past events.

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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