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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 5:29 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
3.0 - California & 1.0 - Hawaii
Using the 'Summer' 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 3/16 thru Sun 3/22

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   

Small Storm Off Japan
Southern Hemi Swell Hitting CA

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai)/Barbers Point (Buoy 238) : Seas were 5.3 ft @ 7.7 secs with swell 4.2 ft @ 7.6 secs from 178 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 3.8 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 2.5 ft @ 9.8 secs from 42 degrees. Water temp 75.2 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.2 ft @ 17.2 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 17.4 secs from 192 degrees. Wind at the buoy was southwest at 8-12 kts. Water temperature 59.5 degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 2.2 ft @ 18.0 secs from 179 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.8 ft @ 17.9 secs from 202 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 2.1 ft @ 18.0 secs from 197 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 2.1 ft @ 17.8 secs from 184 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 2.7 ft @ 9.4 secs from 291 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was southeast at 12-16 kts. Water temp 53.1 degs (013), 54.5 degs (012) and 54.9 degs (042).

See Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (bottom of the page)

Swell Classification Guidelines

Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
- Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate/Utility Class: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft).
- Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
- up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.

Current Conditions
On Tuesday (3/17) in North and Central CA local windswell was producing waves at waist high and clean but soft, inconsistent with some cross lump running through it. Protected breaks were flat to thigh high and clean and mushed and weak. At Santa Cruz surf was occasionally thigh high high and clean and weak. In Southern California/Ventura waves were occasionally thigh to almost waist high and clean and line dup and peeling when they came. In North Orange Co surf was shoulder high on the sets and lined up and clean pushing hard from the south but pretty inconsistent. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks had sets at 1-2 ft overhead on the peak and lined up and reeling with clean conditions. North San Diego had surf in the waist to almost chest high range and clean and lined up and clean but with some strange warble in the water. Hawaii's North Shore was getting no real swell with random waves maybe waist high or so and clean and lined up but inconsistent. The South Shore was waist high and blown out with chop in control. The East Shore was getting easterly windswell at chest high and warbled but not chopped with modest southeasterly wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Tuesday (3/17) in California and Hawaii no swell of interest was hitting from the Northern Hemisphere but in California small longer period swell was hitting originating from the Southern Hemisphere. Up north storm developed off Japan late Mon (3/16) tracking east-northeast on Tues (3/17) producing up to 45 ft seas aimed east then racing northeast and moving over the north dateline region on Wed (3/18) with seas fading from 39 ft aimed east. Possible small swell to result. But nothing else to follow. Down south a decent gale formed in the Central and Southeast Pacific Sun- Mon (3/9) producing up to 40 ft seas aimed east-northeast. That swell is hitting Ca now. Another modest sized gale formed in the Southeast Pacific on Sat (3/14) producing 40-41 ft seas aimed more east than northeast. Some small swell to result. A small gael is forecast developing northeast of New Zealand Tues-Thurs (2/20) producing up to 36 ft seas aimed north targeting Hawaii. And another gale is forecast forming in the far Southeast Pacific on Fri-Sat (3/21) producing up to 38 ft seas aimed north but mostly east of the SCal swell window targeting mainly Central America. The transition to Spring is underway with Winter fading away.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Saturday (3/14) the jetstream was consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds to 160 kts forming a trough mid-way to the dateline offering support for gale development. East of there the jet split on the dateline with the northern branch tracking north over the Aleutians then splitting again while tracking fragmented over the Gulf of Alaska eventually pushing down the US West Coast and into a backdoor trough centered just off Pt Conception. The southern branch fell southeast tracking over Hawaii and then east feeding into the southern portion of the previously mentioned backdoor trough. There was no support for gale development other than the trough east of Japan. Over the next 72 hours the Japan trough is to hold until Thursday (3/19) then start losing definition with the split point retrograding to 160E on Fri (3/20) and winds getting progressively weaker holding no potential for gale development. The jet is to be a fragmented mess east of there with the backdoor trough moving inland over Southern CA on Wed (3/18). But a new broader backdoor trough is to form off the US West Coast on Fri (3/20) perhaps offering some more potential mainly for weather, but not gale development. Beyond 72 hours a persistent weak trough is to be holding off the US West Coast through Sun (3/22) then pulse again off the Pacific Northwest Mon-Tues (3/24) again supporting local weather there. But back to the west the jet is to remain split at 160E with the northern branch pushing hard north up into the Bering Sea and the southern branch tracking east to southeast down at 15N with neither offering any support for gale development.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (3/17) swell from a storm that was developing in the far West Pacific was radiating east (see West Pacific Storm below).

Over the next 72 hours no other swell producing weather systems are forecast.


West Pacific Storm
On Mon AM (3/16) a gale started developing just off Japan producing 35-40 kt northwest winds and getting some traction on the oceans surface with seas building. In the evening 45-50 kt north to northwest winds were building with seas starting to build to 28 ft at 36.5N 155.5E aimed east. On Tues AM (3/17) a solid fetch of 50-55 kt west winds were mid-way to the dateline with seas building to 41 ft at 40N 160.5E aimed east with decent coverage area. In the evening the fetch is to start lifting northeast and fading from 45 kts with 43 ft seas over a decent sized area at 42.5N 170.5E aimed east. On Wed AM (3/18) the gale is to lift rapidly northeast and be positioned over the North Dateline region with 45 kt west winds over a decent sized area and 38 ft seas at 47.5N 171E aimed east. In the evening the fetch is to be fading and pushing over the Central Aleutians into the Bering Sea with west winds 35 kts and seas 32 ft over a small area on the North Dateline region at 51N 178.5E no longer offering meaningful support for swell production. Possible modest sized swell to resulting pushing east towards Hawaii and the US West Coast.

Oahu: Possible swell arrival on Fri (3/20) building to 4.5 ft @ 17 secs (7.5 ft). Swell fading some Sat (3/21) dropping from 4.8 ft @ 15 secs (7.0 ft) early. Residuals fading on Sun (3/22) from 3.4 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 310 degrees

North CA: Possible swell arrival on Sun (3/22) building to 4.5 ft @ 17 secs later (7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 295-297 degrees


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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (3/17) east winds were 5 kts north of Monterey Bay and southwest 5 kts down to Pt Conception driven by weak low pressure off Pt Conception. Light rain early for Central CA. Snow fading from the Sierra through the day. Wed (3/18) north winds are forecast at 5-10 kts for North and Central CA but east winds at 5-10 kts for Southern CA building up north to 10 kts from the northwest in the afternoon and building in Southern CA from the northwest at 20 kts later as the low moves onshore over Northern Baja. Light rain possible for NCal through the day. Snow developing pushing south to Tahoe late afternoon. Thurs (3/19) light winds are forecast turning light southerly at 5 kts for Cape Mendocino later. Rain possible for Central and Southern CA mainly in the afternoon. Light snow for the Sierra mainly from Tahoe southward into the evening. Fri (3/20) south winds are forecast at 5 kts early for North and Central CA building to 10 kts later. Light winds all day for Southern CA. No rain forecast. Maybe some snow for the Central Sierra in the afternoon. Sat (3/21) southeast winds are forecast at 10 kts for North CA early and 5 kts for Central CA building to 10 kts later with low pressure building off the coast. Light winds for Southern CA. Sun (3/22) south winds are forecast at 10 kts for Central CA early and east with 10 kts for North CA. South winds building to 10-15 kts later for Southern CA. Monday (3/23) southwest winds to be building for North CA to 15 kts later and Central CA to 5-10 kts as low pressure builds off just Oregon. Rain developing for Central and South CA late AM. Snow developing for the Sierra in the afternoon. On Tues (3/24) the weak low pressure system is to start pushing down and just off the North CA coast producing southwest winds at 5-10 kts for North and Central CA. A front is to be impacting the coast with rain for all of North and Central CA with heavier snow for the Sierra developing late AM.

Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 43, 48, 48 and 18 inches respectively.

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis
Swell from a gale previously in in the deep Southeast Pacific was radiating north towards California and points south of there (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). Another gale formed right behind producing swell (See Another Southeast Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours starting Tues AM (3/17) a small cutoff gale is forecast developing just east of North New Zealand producing a small area of south winds to 50 kts and seas 32 ft @ 33S 177W aimed north. The gale is to track east fading some in the evening with 40 kt south winds and seas 29 ft at 33S 172W aimed north. On Wed AM (3/18) the gale is to track east-southeast with 45 kt south winds and seas building to 35 ft at 37.5S 168W aimed north. In the evening the gale is to slowly track east with 45 kt south winds and seas to 36 ft seas at 37S 164W aimed north. The gale is to start fading on Thurs AM (3/19) with south winds fading from 35 kts and seas fading from 32 ft at 36S 161.5W aimed north. The gale is to fade out after that. Possible swell radiating towards Tahiti and Hawaii.

Oahu: Expect swell arrival on later on Mon (3/23) with swell building to 2.0 ft @ 18-19 secs later (3.5 ft). Swell peaking on Tues AM (3/24) at 2.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 187 degrees


Southeast Pacific Gale
On Sun AA (3/8) a gale started developing in the Central South Pacific producing 40-45 kt southwest winds and seas building from 36 ft at 59N 156W aimed northeast. In the evening a broad fetch of 45 kts southwest winds developed aimed well northeast with seas to barely 40 ft at 58S 138.5W aimed northeast. The fetch contracted while pushing east Mon AM (3/9) at 45 kts aimed due north producing seas at 38 ft at 56.5S 127 W aimed northeast. The gael rapidly faded in the evening with 35 kt southwest winds and seas fading from 35 ft at 58S 121W aimed northeast. The gale dissipated after that. Swell is in the water tracking northeast.

Southern CA: Swell peaking through the day Tues (3/17) at 2.7 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.5 ft with sets to 5.5 ft) mainly earlier. Swell fading some on Wed (3/18) from 2.5 ft @ 15-16 secs early (4.0 ft). Residuals fading on Thurs (3/19) from 2.0 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Dribbles on Fri (3/20) fading from 1.7 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 190-192 degrees

North CA: Swell peaking through the day Tues (3/17) at 2.5 ft @ 17-18 secs (4.0-4.5 ft with sets 5.0-5.5 ft) mid-day. Swell fading some on Wed (3/18) from 2.3 ft @ 15-16 secs early (3.5 ft). Residuals fading on Thurs (3/19) from 1.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5 ft). Dribbles on Fri (3/20) fading from 1.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 188-190 degrees


Another Southeast Pacific Gale
On Fri AM (3/13) another small gale started building in the Southeast Pacific producing 40-45 kt southwest winds and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. In the evening 45 kt southwest winds increased in coverage while nearly holding position with seas building from 39 ft over a small area at 58S 141.5W aimed east-northeast. On Sat AM (3/14) the gale was fading while tracking east-northeast with 40-45 kt west-southwest winds and seas 40 ft at 56S 134W aimed east-northeast. The gale was fading in the evening with 35-40 kt west-southwest winds over a smaller area and seas fading from 38 ft at 53.5S 123.5W aimed east. The gale dissipated from there. Small swell to result.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (3/21) building to 2.1 ft @ 19 secs later (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell building on Sun (3/22) to 2.5 ft @ 17 secs mid-day (4.0 ft). Swell fading some on Mon (3/23) from 2.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading Tues (3/24) from 2.3 ft @ 14 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 190-195 degrees

North California: Expect swell arrival on Sat (3/21) building to 1.6 ft @ 20 secs later (3.0 ft). Swell building on Sun (3/22) to 2.3 ft @ 17-18 secs mid-day (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell fading some on Mon (3/23) from 2.3 ft @ 16 secs early (3.5 ft). Swell fading Tues (3/24) from 1.9 ft @ 14 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 190 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 no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a small gale is forecast developing on Thurs PM (3/20) in the far Southeast Pacific generating south winds at 50 kts aimed north with seas building. On Fri AM (3/20) south winds to continue easing east at 45 kts producing 37 ft at 48.5S 108.5W and well east of the Southern CA swell window. The gale is to build in the evening with a larger area of south winds at 45-50 kts and seas 42 ft at 45.5S 103W targeting Central America and Peru. The gale is to start fading Sat AM (3/21) with 40-45 kt south winds with seas fading from 34 ft at 43.5S 101W targeting primarily Peru. Low odds of sideband swell radiating north towards Southern CA but far better for Mexico and Central America.



MJO/ENSO Forecast


MJO Turning Inactive

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

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

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

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

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast (KWGA - Kelvin Wave Generation Area - The area 5 degrees north and south of the equator from 170W to 135E)
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (3/16) 5 day average winds were strong from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and then on over the Dateline and the whole of the KWGA. Anomalies modestly easterly over the far East equatorial Pacific turning neutral over the Central Pacific and then modest easterly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (3/17) weak to modest east anomalies were over the KWGA. The forecast calls for east anomalies building steadily into 3/21 then turning strong focused on the dateline holding through the end of the model run on 3/24.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (3/16) A neutral MJO signal was over the KWGA. The statistic model indicates the INactive Phase is to start building in the KWGA at day 5 and building continuously to strong status at day 15 of the model run in the core of the KWGA. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with the peak of the Inactive Phase at day 10, then a little weaker at day 15.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/17) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was very weak over the East Atlantic today and is to slowly ease east over the Indian Ocean at day 15 of the model run. The GEFS model suggests the same thing initially, but with the Active Phase racing east and building in strength over Indian Ocean, then weakening and retrograding ending up right where it started at day 15.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (3/17) This model depicts the Active Phase was weak moving over the East Equatorial Pacific pushing into Central America through 3/27 while the Inactive Phase was building strong over the far West Pacific pushing east and into Central America on 4/11. A modest Active Phase is to start building in the West Pacific on 4/8 moving to the East Pacific at the end of the model run on 4/26.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/16) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO pattern in developing over the Maritime Continent with a neutral wind pattern over the KWGA today. The forecast indicates the Inactive Phase is to push steadily east through the equatorial Pacific 4/4 with modest east anomalies in control of the KWGA. A weak Active Phase is to follow starting 4/3 in the KWGA holding through the end of the model run on 4/13 with weak west anomalies in control of the KWGA.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/17 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a very weak Inactive MJO pattern over the KWGA today with weak east anomalies in the KWGA. The Inactive Phase is to hold through 4/1 with modest east anomalies in the KWGA. Beyond a moderate Active Phase is forecast developing 4/5 holding through 4/27 with moderate west anomalies in the KWGA during that period. A broad Inactive Phase is to develop 4/23 holding through 5/10 with weak west anomalies still in control. A muddled MJO pattern to follow through the end of the model run on 6/14 with weak west anomalies in control but retrograding to the west. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias with 2 contour lines in control of the KWGA centered on the dateline reaching east to the California coast. It is to hold unchanged through 3/28, then dissipate with one contour line holding steady through the end of the model run. A high pressure bias previously built in the Indian Ocean last Fall and is to hold till May 4 then dissipate. East anomalies set up in the Indian Ocean starting 10/22/19 and held through Jan 10, then started to become more episodic and are to continue that way till 4/26 turning weakly westerly. If anything west anomalies are to start consolidating over the Maritime continent at the end of the model run. The model was previously switching between the continuation of the Indian Ocean high pressure/east wind bias and the low pressure bias over the dateline and the demise of all three in the April timeframe (Springtime 'Predictability Barrier' in full effect).

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (3/17) Today in the far West Pacific the 30 deg isotherm was rebuilding some today easing east to 170E. The 29 deg isotherm was steady at 176W today. The 28 deg isotherm line was a brick wall aligned and steady at 163W today. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing into Ecuador. Anomaly wise, Kelvin Wave #6 was under the dateline at +2.0 degs tracking from the Maritime Continent under the dateline with it's leading edge pushing east to 110W today. Lesser warm water was pushing into Ecuador at +1 degs. Warm water was filling the entire equatorial subsurface Pacific from 150 meters upwards. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/9 indicates warm water had formed a Kelvin Wave with warm water falling from 120E down into the dateline at 180m deep peaking there at +2-3 degrees then pushing and rising east to 110W. A pocket of cool water was east of there with a pocket of warm water pushing and impacting Ecuador east of the cool pocket. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (3/9) A broad pocket of +5-10 cms anomalies is filling the equatorial Pacific between 170E pushing non-stop east to 110W then with a small pocket impacting Ecuador. Fairly impressive.

Surface Water Temps
The more warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). Cold water in that area has a dampening effect. Regardless of what the atmospheric models and surface winds suggest, actual water temperatures are a ground-truth indicator of what is occurring in the ocean. All data is from blended infrared and microwave sensors.
Satellite Imagery
Hi-res Nino1.2 & 3.4: (3/16) The latest images indicate warm anomalies were modest along the coast of Chile up into Peru and building some from days past with building warm anomalies continuing up along Ecuador up into Central America but with 2 pockets of cool water embedded. Markedly warmer water was aligned on the equator from the Galapagos to the dateline, stronger from days past. A broad pocket of cool anomalies was still south of the equator and well off Peru filling the area from 2S south down to 40S reaching west to 140W and east to 100W. A mirror image of it was off California and well off Baja.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/16): Weak warming was off Peru extending west to 100W. A pocket of cooling was developing pushing off Ecuador reaching to the Galapagos but then replaced with strong warming from the Galapagos on the equator west to 140W. The short term trend is a mixed bag but mostly towards warming.
Hi-res Overview: (3/16) A pocket of cool anomalies is trying to hold south of the equator starting at 5S west of Peru between 100W and 140W. A mirror image of it was also off California and Baja Mexico out to 160W. But warm anomalies were trying to build along Chile and Peru then stronger up to Ecuador and Central America up to Mainland Mexico out over the Galapagos. Warmer than normal water was from the Galapagos out to the dateline and beyond. Water temps appear to be stable and neither El Nino or La Nina.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/17) Today's temps were rising at +0.740, positive in that range since 2/22. Previously temps had been toggling near neutral. It now appears we are in a rising or at least warmer trend.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(3/17) Temps were rising at +0.606. Temps previously were in the +0.2 degree range but rose to the +0.4 degree range on 1/4 and have been holding steady ever 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 (3/17) Actual's indicate a cooling blip developed late last summer with temps -0.2 degs in mid-Sept then started rising to +0.25 degs in early Oct holding to Dec 1 rising to +0.70 degs Jan 1 2020 and holding at +0.65 through Feb. From there temps started falling down to +0.5 degs in mid-March. The forecast depicts temps falling, down to 0.0 in early May then diving negative appearing to be moving strongly to La Nina down at -1.4 in early Oct and holding there into Dec. According to this model a neutral sea surface temperature pattern biased slightly warm is forecast for Spring of 2020 but falling strongly towards La Nina in the core of Summer.
IRI Consensus Plume: The Feb 19, 2020 Plume depicts temps are at +0.32 degs, and are to slow fade to neutral +0.00 in June 2020, then falling some to -0.15 degs in Aug only to rebound to neutral in October 2020. See chart here - link.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (3/14): The daily index was positive today at +0.53. The 30 day average was weakly negative at -2.30 and unchanged. The 90 day average was rising slightly at -3.09, suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern was developing.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): Dec +0.46, Nov +1.03, Oct +0.27 Sept +1.11, August +0.60, July +0.75, June -0.32, May +1.10, April +0.30, March +1.0, Feb +1.29, Jan +0.193. This index has been steadily positive but still indicates mostly ENSO neutral conditions (not El Nino).

Pacific Decadal Oscillation
Per NOAAs index recent values: Jan 2018 +0.29, Feb -0.19, Mar -0.61, April -0.89, May -0.69, June -0.85, July -0.09, Aug -0.43, Sept -0.46, Oct -0.75, Nov -0.78, Dec -0.12, Jan 2019 -0.18, Feb -0.50 Mar -0.23, April +0.10, May +0.14, June -0.11, July +0.44, Aug -0.14, Sept +0.05, Oct -0.96, Nov -0.28, Dec +0.01, Jan 2020 -1.17, This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2018 +0.70. Feb +0.37, Mar -0.05, April +0.11, May +0.11, June -0.04, July +0.11, Aug +0.18, Sept +0.09. No real negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina). Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data strongly suggests that could be a possibility. By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool 


External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave

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