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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, March 10, 2016 5:03 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   

Dateline-Gulf Storm Forecast
Inactive Phase of MJO Takes Over

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 Thursday, March 10, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea Bay): Seas were 9.2 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 6.1 ft @ 9.4 secs from 328 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.9 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 2.2 ft @ 13.8 secs from 265 degrees. Wind northwest 8-10 kts. Water temperature 60.8 degrees. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.3 ft @ 13.1 secs from 260 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.8 ft @ 16.1 secs from 230 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.2 ft @ 15.9 secs from 237 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 15.7 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 11.9 ft @ 13.4 secs from 293 degrees. Wind south 18-20 kts. Water temp 55.9 degs.


    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Thursday (3/10) in North and Central CA raw local swell was 10 ft on the face and raw with wind from the south adding chop at exposed breaks. Down in Santa Cruz surf was 3-4 ft overhead and lined up, but with some bump intermixed. Conditions were clean with no wind blowing. In Southern California up north remnants local swell was producing surf in the waist high range and weak with clean conditions. Down south the same local swell was producing waves at near head high and clean but very slow. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northwest windswell with waves 1-2 ft overhead and somewhat clean but pretty lumpy with morning sickness. The South Shore was still getting southern hemi swell with waves chest high and clean. Pretty good for it still being winter. The East Shore was getting wraparound windswell with waves waist high but chopped from northeast wind.

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 on Wednesday (3/9) lifting northeast fast while generating 22-24 ft seas peaked in North CA mid-morning, but conditions were not ideal with the front from that system just off the coast. A tiny gale is forecast developing while moving into Central California waters on Fri-Sat (3/12) with 20 ft seas, generating more local raw swell. A far broader system is forecast tracking southeast through the Gulf of Alaska Thurs-Sat (3/12) generating up to 43 ft seas targeting the US West Coast, then moving directly over the NOrth end of CA late Sun (3/13) bringing more larger raw swell and weather with it. Two gale are forecast on Wed-Thurs (3/17), one just west of the Northern Dateline region with 35 ft seas and the other north of Hawaii moving towards California with up to 28 ft seas. Swell possible from both.

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

North Pacific

On Thursday AM (3/10) the jet was .cgiit tracking off Japan with the northern branch moving east just south of the Aleutians and the southern branch tracking along the 22N latitude line over Hawaii. They merged just east of Hawaii forming a trough there with 130 kts winds feeding it, with the consolidated just then lifting northeast and moving inland over North California. There was good support for gale development in that trough. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to lift northeast and move inland over North CA on Fri PM (3/11) while the jet in the Gulf dips south some forming another trough tracking southeast through the Gulf fed by 140 kts winds and supporting gale development. That trough to move into Oregon on Sun (3/13). Beyond 72 hours the jet is to be .cgiit over the width of the North Pacific, strongest from the dateline east supporting high pressure down at the oceans surface. A bit of a trough is forecast developing in the Western Gulf on Tues (3/15) being fed by 130 kts winds and moving into the Central Gulf by Thurs (3/17), but also a bit pinched. Limited support for gale development possible. And a second trough is to develop off the Kuril Islands on Wed (3/16) tracking east but winds generally less than 120 kts. Limited support for gale development possible. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is having the expected negative impact on the jet and therefore storm development.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (3/10) raw proto-swell was hitting North and Central CA from a gale just that was just off the coast (see Local CA Gale below). aa 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 another local gale is forecast just off Central CA Fri-Sat (3/12) targeting mainly there down into Southern CA (see Central CA Gale below). And a larger system is forecast developing on the dateline (see Dateline-Gulf Storm below).


Local CA Gale
On Wednesday AM (3/9) a weak local gale developed 500 nmiles west of San Francisco lifting northeast generating 30-35 kts southwest winds and seas building. By the evening it was impacting Oregon with 30-35 kt west to northwest winds generating 22 ft seas from off Cape Mendocino. By Thurs AM (3/10) is was moving onshore into Oregon with seas to 28 ft up at 46N 126W but outside the CA swell window.

Raw proto-swell expected pushing into North CA early Thurs (3/10) peaking near 10 Am at 9.4 ft @ 14 secs (13 ft) holding decently till sunset. Residuals on Fri (3/11) fading from 7.5 ft @ 12 secs (9 ft). Swell Direction: 280-290 degrees


Central CA Gale
On Wed AM (3/9) high pressure was setting up just west of Hawaii at 1032 mbs. But a small low was building east of it and 900 nmiles north of Hawaii producing a small area of 30 kts northwest winds sending sideband energy towards the Islands. In the evening 35 kt northwest winds were falling southeast and positioned 700 nmiles north-northeast of Hawaii generating 20 ft seas at 34N 155W. Winds to be fading from 30 kts Thurs AM (3/10) northeast of Hawaii with seas fading from 18 ft at 31N 148W offering no swell for anyone. Remnants of this system to race northeast and reorganize just off San Francisco on Fri AM (3/11) generating 40 kt northwest winds and seas building. The fetch is to track southeast just off Pt Conception in the evening with winds fading from 35 kts and seas 21 ft at 35N 123W targeting Central CA down into Southern CA. This system is to be fading while pushing into Pt Conception Sat Am (3/12).

For.cgianning purposes for North CA: Large raw wind driven swell possible on Fri night (3/11) pushing 13 ft @ 12 secs (14 ft), fading sunrise Sat AM (3/12) from 9.1 ft @ 11-12 secs (10 ft). Swell Direction: 270 degrees.

For.cgianning purposes for Southern CA: Swell arrival expected at sunrise Sat (3/12) building through the day, peaking at sunset at 6.5 ft @ 12-13 secs (8 ft). Residuals fading Sun AM (3/13) from 3.9 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 280 degrees


Dateline-Gulf Storm
Of more interest is a storm 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 producing 29 ft seas on the increase. In the evening 50-55 kt northwest winds to be moving into the Western Gulf of Alaska generating 37 ft seas up at 50N 167W. On Fri AM (3/11) a elongated fetch of 45-50 kt northwest winds to be tracking into the Central Gulf generating 41 ft at 48N 160W targeting Oregon and California. In the evening the gale is to be approaching the US West Coast with a shrinking area of 45 kt west winds generating 39 ft seas at 47N 153W. Sat AM (3/12) winds to be fading from 35-40 kts over a shrinking area 1,200 nmiles west of California with seas fading from 34 ft at 41N 146W. In the evening 30 kt west winds to stall off Oregon with seas fading from 28 ft at 46N 138W with 26 ft seas extending south to 40N 140W. The gale is to dissipate from there but with remnants energy continuing to circulate stalled off the coast and slowly easing east through later Mon (3/14). Much local weather is expected in sync with the swell arriving in California.

Hawaii: Rough estimates suggest sideband swell arrival Sat evening (3/12) peaking sunrise Sun (3/13) at 6.3 ft @ 16 secs (10 ft Hawaiian) then fading late to 6 ft @14 secs(8.5 ft). Residuals on Mon AM (3/14) fading from 4 ft @ 12-13 secs (5 ft). Swell Direction: 340 degrees

North CA: Rough data suggests swell arrival later Sun afternoon (3/13) with period 18 secs.

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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (3/10) a front was dissolving while pushing over San Francisco with southwest winds to 20 kts to Pigeon Point early. Solid rain over the North and Central Coast pushing south to Monterey Bay. No snow for Tahoe. Friday AM the storm door is to open fully again with a local low just off the SF Bay Area generating southwest to west winds 20-30 kts reaching down to Southern CA late afternoon with solid rain for the entire state reaching down to San Diego late afternoon. A few inches of snow for higher elevations of the Sierra overnight. Another weak front queues up Sat AM (3/12) off North CA with southwest winds 15+ 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. 12 inches of snow for Tahoe through the evening. 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 Morro Bay late evening. Snow for Tahoe building through the day getting heavy by sunset and building through the late evening. Monday AM the front passes south through Central CA and dissipates with winds turning northwest and fading to 15 kts in the North. Light rain fading through the day reaching south to Santa Barbara early. Tuesday high pressure takes over the state with north winds 15-20 kts for North and Central CA building to 20 kts on Wednesday. Light winds take over Thursday with low pressure well off the coast.

All this is attributable to the Active Phase of the MJO moving east into the US West Coast, then passing east with the Inactive Phase starting to build in.

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 driven by a large .cgiit in the jet over the dateline. By Tues PM (3/15) 50-55 kt winds to develop with the storm just off the Northern Kurils and seas building to 32 ft at 48N 158E. 50 kt west winds to continue stationary off the Kurils on Wed AM (3/16) with seas still 32 ft at 48N 159E. Winds to fade from 40 kts in the evening with seas fading from 30 ft at 48N 162E. The gale to fade after that. Minimal swell is possible for Hawaii.

Also on Wed AM (3/16) a gale is to form 1,000 nmiles north of Hawaii generating 45 kt north winds and seas building from 22 ft targeting Hawaii well. In the evening winds to build to 50 kts from the north with seas 30 ft at 38N 152W but starting to to swing to the east. On Thurs AM (3/17) 45 kt northwest winds to still be in.cgiay and basically over the same area with seas 34 ft at 38N 151W aimed a bit east of the Islands and somewhat at Southern CA. Fetch is to fade from 40 kts from the north-northwest in the evening with seas fading from 30 ft at 37.5N 150W aimed like before. Perhaps some swell to result.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.

More details to follow...

Surface Waters Warm Slightly Near Galapagos
Kelvin Wave #6 Developing, But 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 Wed (3/9) very weak west winds were south of the equator from 165E 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 of and on the equator. El Nino continued expressing itself modestly. But east winds and anomalies were building at 150E.
1 Week Forecast: Solid west anomalies developed in the KWGA on 2/16 building to WWB status 2/23 continuing through 3/2, then fading to just anomalies before dissipating on 3/9 and the Inactive Phase of the MJO started taking root in the West Pacific. This was WWB #6 for the 2015-2016 season. A dead neutral pattern is in control and forecast to continue for the next week. Positive influence of the jetstream is fading as will the 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 Wed (3/9) 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 and weak at the end of the model run. The dynamic model depicts the same thing, but with the Inactive Phase fading to nothing while moving east, with a weak Active Phase developing over the Maritime Continent 1 week out and moving to the far West Pacific 2 weeks out. This suggests El Nino influence of the jetstream fading as the Inactive Phase destructively integrates with it now through at least 3/23.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): The ECMF model indicates a weak Active MJO signal over Africa moving into the Indian Ocean. 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 and non-existent when it reaches the Maritime Continent. West winds/anomalies in the KWGA are to dissipate with the Active Phase well east of the Pacific Basin, with a weaker jetstream flow and weaker storm track forecast.
40 Day Upper Level Model: A very weak Inactive Phase was over the West Pacific and forecast to track east to Central America through 3/30. A weak Active Phase to return to the West Pacific 4/4 moving to the East Pacific 4/19.
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 all but gone on the dateline. Fuel for the jetstream and therefore storm production is crashing. The model depicts west anomalies nonexistent from now through 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 4/19. Modest west anomalies are forecast through that window, stronger in the later part of that window and holding past the end of it into 5/2. Another Inactive Phase to develop starting 4/18 but with west anomalies holding into early May, driven mainly by El Nino.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (3/10) 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 reaching 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 barely handing on over a tiny area from 119W 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 108W. +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 170W (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 115W-105W. 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 103W, 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: (3/9) 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 up into Panama. 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: (3/9) The latest image depicts this area is building some with warm water at +2.25 degs between 150W-160W. Warm temps are also between 120W to 130W, part of the Nino1.2 warming mentioned above. This is attributable to Kelvin Wave #5.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/9): Weak warming is occurring west of the Galapagos and east of there south of the equator into Ecuador, attributable to Kelvin Wave #5.
Hi-res Overview:
(3/9) 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-130W and again near 160W.


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 173E and east to at least 95W. There is also a solid area of +2.0 deg anomalies extending from 178W (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: (3/10) Temps continue building some starting on 2/23, up some today at +1.481, 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 (3/10) temps were steady at +2.023. 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: (3/10) Today's values are stabilized at +1.870, 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 (3/10): It fell some at -0.40 attributable to the Inactive Phase of the MJO. 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 -22.12. 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 -15.59. 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 3/10 weak low pressure was south of Tahiti and is to be followed a neutral pressure through Thurs (3/17). 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): (3/10) Today's value was rising from +1.47. 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 (3/10) 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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