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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, March 16, 2019 6:25 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 & 4.0 - 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 3/17 thru Sun 3/23

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   

Primer Gale Swell Moving to CA
Stronger Local Gale Swell for Hawaii - Stronger Pattern Developing

On Saturday, March 16, 2019 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/ Buoy 239 (Lanai): At Barbers Point (238) seas were 3.6 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 15.9 secs from 275 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.5 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 3.8 ft @ 12.5 secs from 337 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.3 ft @ 12.8 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 13.3 secs from 215 degrees. Wind at the buoy was west at 4-6 kts. Water temperature 57.2 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.5 ft @ 12.1 secs from 273 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.4 ft @ 13.1 secs from 236 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.2 ft @ 13.4 secs from 209 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.8 ft @ 12.6 secs from 246 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.2 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 5.4 ft @ 12.3 secs from 298 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was northwest at 12-16 kts. Water temp 55.6 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 Saturday (3/16) in North and Central CA residual swell from the North Dateline was fading with waves in the 1-2 ft overhead range at top spots and lined up and clean though a little soft. Protected breaks were chest to head high and lined up and mostly clean but mostly closed out. At Santa Cruz surf was chest to shoulder high and lined up and clean and peeling but a bit soft. In Southern California/Ventura surf was thigh high and lined up but heavily textured from northerly wind and soft. In North Orange Co north windswell was producing surf at waist high and soft and pretty ragged from northerly wind. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks were chest high on the sets and lined up but a but warbled from northerly surface bump. North San Diego had surf at thigh high on the sets and clean and soft. Hawaii's North Shore was getting sideband primer Gulf swell with waves 1-2 ft overhead and clean and lined up and looking quite fun. The South Shore was thigh to waist high and nearly chopped. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves thigh high and clean with no trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (3/16) residual swell from the second of two gales that tracked through the Northern Dateline Region last weekend was still limping into California with primer swell from a gale that was in the Gulf tracking east Wed-Thurs (3/14) with 33 ft seas was hitting Hawaii and moving towards California. And a stronger and broader gale developed Thurs (3/14) and is to continue east into -Mon (3/18) traversing the width of the North Pacific with seas to 36 ft aimed southeast targeting primarily Hawaii for the late weekend. And yet another to follow traversing the North Pacific Sun-Thurs (3/21) pushing into the Central Gulf with seas reaching up to 36 ft. A nice little run of late season swell looks likely.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Saturday AM (3/16) the jetstream was consolidated riding a little northeast off Japan then falling southeast from the dateline with winds to 190 kts carving out a broad trough in the the Western and Central Gulf offering good support for gale development then splitting at 145W (900 nmiles west of CA) with the northern branch lifting northeast and pushing into British Columbia while the southern branch tracked southeast and into Central Baja. Over the next 72 hours this trough is to dig deeper into the Central Gulf being fed by 170 kts winds offering good support for gale development into later Sun (3/17) before starting to pinch off some. But even at that the pinched trough is to continue east moving into Central CA on Wed (3/20) offering mainly weather there. Back to the west a reasonably healthy flow of 140 kt winds is to continue consolidated running flat off Japan to a point north of Hawaii and feeding the aforementioned trough. Beyond 72 hours another trough is to develop on the dateline late Wed (3/20) tracking east into the Eastern Gulf on Fri (3/22) also offering support for gale development. A bit of a weak split is to develop on the dateline Fri (3/22) tracking east to the Western Gulf late Sat (3/23) but wind energy is to start rebuilding over Japan and pushing east almost to the dateline again possibly adding renewed support for gale development beyond. Not a bad pattern.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (3/16) swell associated with gale previously on the North Dateline Region was fading out at exposed breaks in California. But in Hawaii small swell was hitting from a primer gale that tracked through the Gulf and that swell was also moving towards California (see Primer Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours even more focus was on a gale that was developing while falling southeast from the dateline towards Hawaii (see Hawaiian Gale below).

And another gale is forecast developing off Japan on Sat PM (1/16) with 45 kt winds from the west and seas on the increase from 26 ft at 40N 157E aimed east. The gale is to build some Sun AM (3/17) with 45 kt west winds over a building area and seas 38 ft over a small area aimed east at 40N 164E aimed east. The gale is to hold while tracking east in the evening with winds 45 kts over a small area and seas 37 ft at 41N 172E aimed east. On Mon AM (3/18) the gale is to be crossing the dateline with 45 kt west winds and seas 35 ft at 41N 179.5W aimed east. In the evening the gale is to be tracking into the far Western Gulf with 40-45 kt northwest winds and seas 35 ft at 42N 171.5W aimed east. On Tues AM (3/19) the gale is to be fading while stalling in the Western Gulf with 35 kt northwest winds and 35 ft seas at 42.5N 164W aimed east. A secondary fetch is to build just south of the original fading fetch in the evening at 35-40 kts from the northwest with seas 31 ft at 43.5N 158W aimed east. On Wed AM (3/20) the new fetch is to be at 40-45 kts with seas from the original fetch fading at 25 ft at 44N 150W and new seas starting to build at 24 ft south of there. In the evening a solid fetch of 40+ kt northwest winds is to be centered in the Gulf aimed east with seas building from 31 ft at 38N 154W aimed east. The gale is to be lifting north Thurs AM (3/21) with winds 35-40 kts from the northwest and seas 31 ft at 43N 150W aimed east. In the evening westerly fetch is to be fading while lifting north at 35-45 kts with seas 29 ft over a broad area near 42N 148W aimed east. Something to monitor.


Primer Gale
A primer gale developed in the Western Gulf on Wed PM (3/13) producing west winds at 45 kts over a small area getting traction on the oceans surface with seas building from 25 ft at 41N 174W aimed east. On Thurs AM (3/14) the gale was getting better formed with 45 kt west and northwest winds in the Central Gulf tracking east with 34 ft seas at 41N 165.5W targeting mainly the US West Coast with sideband energy at Hawaii. In the evening the gale was holding together producing 40 kt west and northwest winds tracking east with seas 31 ft at 41.5N 158.5W aimed mostly east and now bypassing Hawaii. On Fri AM (3/15) the gale was lifting northeast while fading with 30 kt northwest winds and seas fading from 28 ft at 43.5N 152W aimed east. Fetch dissipated in the evening with seas from previous fetch fading from 21 ft at 46N 148W aimed east. Possible small swell mainly for the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Sat AM (3/16) AM at 4.6 ft @ 15 secs (7.0 ft). Swell fading fast and all but gone Sun AM (3/17) dropping from 2.8 ft @ 10 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 325-330 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (3/17) building to 5.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (8.0 ft) and holding through the day. Swell fading on Mon AM (3/18) from 4.2 ft @ 13 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 292 degrees


Hawaiian Gale
And of more interest is a new gale that is developing on Thurs AM (3/14) tracking east off North Japan with 45 kt west winds over a tiny area and seas building from 22 ft at 39N 162E aimed east. In the evening winds held at 45 kts tracking and aimed east approaching the dateline with seas 26 ft at 40.5N 173E. On Fri AM (3/15) the gale was building in coverage on the dateline with 40 kt northwest winds and seas up to 29 ft at 43.5N 177.5W aimed southeast. In the evening the gale was starting to fall southeast with winds 35-40 kts over a solid area and seas to 29 ft at 40N 176W aimed east-southeast. On Sat AM (1/16) the gale was building solidly with winds 40+ kts from the northwest over a solid area aimed well at Hawaii and nearby with seas 35 ft at 39N 174W falling southeast. In the evening the gale is to fade some with northwest winds 40 kts positioned due north of Hawaii with seas 33 ft at 34.5N 167.5W targeting Hawaii well. On Sun AM (3/17) the gale is to be lifting northeast with winds 30 kts from the northwest and seas 27 ft over a decent sized area at 30N 160W aimed southeast. In the evening the gale is to continue lifting northeast and fading with winds 25 kts and seas dissipating from 23 ft at 30N 153W aimed east-southeast. Swell possible for Hawaii and the US West Coast. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival near 2 PM Sun (3/17) with period 17-18 secs and size building fast. Swell peaking at 9 PM at 13 ft @ 16 secs (20 ft Hawaiian) and exceedingly raw and jumbled. Swell settling down overnight. On Mon AM (3/18) swell is to be dropping from 11.2 ft @ 15 secs at sunrise (15-16 ft Hawaiian) and still pretty raw and fading steadily through the day while cleaning up some down to 8.6 ft @ 14-15 secs at sunset (12 ft Hawaiian). Residuals on Tues AM (3/19) fading from 4.5 ft @ 11-12 secs (5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 323-332 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues afternoon (3/19) building to 8.0 ft @ 17 secs (13 ft). Swell fading Wed (3/20) from 7.8 ft @ 15 secs (11.5 ft). Residuals on Thurs (3/21) fading from 5.2 ft @ 13-14 secs (7.0 ft). Swell Direction: 275-285 degrees


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


Tropical Update
No tropical weather systems of interest are forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (3/16) a light northeast flow occurred early along the North and Central Coast turning northwest 10 kts in the afternoon as high pressure was moving onshore over the Pacific Northwest. Sunday (3/17) a light flow is forecast early into the afternoon as low pressure starts building in the Gulf. Monday (3/18) a front associated with the low is to be 600 nmiles off the coast with a light southeast flow in control for all of North and Central CA turning southerly mainly for North CA at 10 kts late afternoon. Tuesday (3/19) south winds associated the weak front off the coast are to be over the North and Central CA at 10+ kts with the core of the low and front pushing into Central CA late afternoon. Light rain developing in the evening for mainly Central CA down into Southern CA with less chances for North CA. Light snow at higher elevations of the Central Sierra. Wednesday (3/20) low pressure is to be over the Central CA coast with south winds 10-15 kts for Central CA and east winds 10 kts for North CA north of Bodega Bay early turning northwest 15 kts all locations later afternoon. Light rain for the entire state through the day. Snow for all the Sierra through the day and into the evening. Thursday (3/21) weak high pressure is to be driving northwest winds at 15 kts for the whole state early fading to 10 kts later. Light patchy rain mainly for Central CA through the day. Light snow for higher elevations of mainly the the Central Sierra. Friday (3/22) a stronger front is to be impacting North CA early with south winds 25+ kts and south winds 15-20 reaching south to Monterey Bay early evening and then to Pt Conception overnight. Rain building south over the same area. Light snow building late evening for the Sierra. Sat (3/23) another front is to be setting up off the coast with light winds early turning south 20 kts in the afternoon for all of North CA and into central CA overnight. More rain for North CA late afternoon into the evening.

Total snow accumulation for for the week (thru Sun PM 3/24) per the GFS model: Tahoe = 21-30 inches and Mammoth = 9 inches

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell of interest was in the water.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are 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 yet another small gale is to start forming in the Western Gulf on Fri AM (3/22) with 35-40 kts northwest winds getting traction on an already roughed up ocean surface with seas building from 24 ft at 45N 167W aimed east. In the evening a solid area of 40 kt northwest winds is to be in the Central Gulf with seas 29 ft at 41N 150W aimed east. On Sat Am (3/23) the gale is to be approaching North CA with 40 kt northwest winds and seas 30 ft at 42N 142W aimed east. This system is to fade from there.

And yet another gale is to be developing while approaching the dateline Fri (322) tracking into the Western Gulf on Sat (3/23) with 40 kt westerly winds and seas 26-27 ft over the duration. Something to monitor.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the model are suggesting some level of possibly swell producing activity for the Central South Pacific starting Wed (3/20). But the model have been teasing about this on and off for the past week and it never really materializes. But we are getting into the time of year when it is not out of the question.


MJO/ENSO Forecast


SSTs Rebuilding - SOI Still Negative

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: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and did not stop, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. A double dip La Nina was in control and continued 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. As of January 2019, those warm waters were fading, but then started building some late in Feb associated with another Kelvin Wave (#3).

Fall/Winter 2018 = 6.0 (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: Assuming the PDO has moved to the warm phase and that El Nino does not develop as strong as previously forecast, and assuming and an ocean-atmospheric coupling becomes weakly established in the January timeframe and ocean temperature anomalies in Nino3.4 build to the +0.6 deg range, there is good probability for slightly enhanced storm production in the North Pacific starting in the late Nov timeframe (specifically the Gulf of Alaska and Dateline regions) with slightly increased intensity in number of storm days and storm intensity, resulting in slightly increased odds for larger than normal swell, with increased duration and higher than normal period. This should be significantly better than the past 2 winter seasons.

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 (3/15) 5 day average winds were solidly from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, and also easterly over the KWGA but lighter. Anomalies were modest easterly over the far East equatorial Pacific turning light westerly over the Central equatorial Pacific and continuing light westerly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (3/16) light west anomalies were over the KWGA. The forecast is for building west anomalies continuing through the end of the model run on 3/23 pushing to moderate strength. Support for storm development is modest but is to be building some a week out.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (3/15) The Inactive Phase of the MJO was very weak over the dateline with the Active Phase very weak over the Indian Ocean. The statistic model indicates the Inactive Phase is to fade significantly in the KWGA at day 5 and then gone with a dead neutral MJO pattern at days 7 through 15. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with a weak active Phase developing in the KWGA at day 15. Basically the models are in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/16) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was exceedingly weak over the Indian Ocean and is effectively hold there for 15 days. The GEFS model suggests the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical model): (3/16) This model depicts a weak Active Phase was filling the equatorial Pacific with the Inactive Phase exiting over Central America. The weak Active Phase is to move east while fading pushing into Central America weakly on 4/10. A weak Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be setting up in the West Pacific on 4/5 pushing east to Central America at the end of the model run on 4/23. A very weak MJO is to follow.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/15) This model depicts modest west anomalies in the KWGA today with the Active Phase in the Central KWGA and the Inactive Phase exiting out of it to the east. Modest to moderate west anomalies are to be building in the Western KWGA and pushing east filling the KWGA 3/17 and holding through the end of the model run on 4/12. No east anomalies are forecast in the KWGA. No west anomalies are forecast pushing into California except for a few days around 3/30.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/16) This model depicts a modest Inactive MJO signal was fading in the East KWGA while the Active Phase was entering the West KWGA. The Active Phase is to be solid in the KWGA by 3/24 holding through 4/25 with weak east anomalies in the core of the KWGA starting 3/21 building to just below WWB status on 3/28 holding to 4/20. After that a very weak MJO pattern is to set up with a weak Inactive MJO in place 4/25-5/12 but with modest west anomalies holding. After that a very weak MJO signal is set up (a good sign for El Nino development) but west anomalies are to be steady just below or at WWB status starting 5/15 holding through 5/30 and then just normal westerly anomalies through the end of the model run on 6/13. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is fully in control of the KWGA centered on the dateline reaching east to California but not inland anymore and forecast to hold steady for the foreseeable future. A third contour line faded 12/17 but rebuilt starting 2/12 centered over the dateline and is to hold through the end of the model run. And a 4th control line was to develop 4/5-4/25 but has now disappeared. It appears from this model that a tendency towards El Nino was previously in control during 2018, then faded, and is now trying to rebuild and strongly so starting in June. Theoretically the atmosphere and ocean were trying to become coupled towards El Nino in the Pacific Ocean during the summer of 2018, but that faded in the late Fall of 2018 with no objective evidence that coupling every happened. But it seems that tendency is trying to redevelop again (or at least forecast to do it). This pattern is more favorable to support storm production in the Pacific regardless of whether El Nino develops, because the atmosphere has turned from a La Nina pattern (that had been entrenched for the past 2 years) at a minimum towards a neutral one. Our assumption is a normal Winter pattern will result, or perhaps slightly enhanced, but nothing more. But of more interest, if the low pass filter forecast holds, maybe El Nino to develop next year.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (3/16) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 29-30 deg temps reaching east to 180W. The 28 deg isotherm line had retrograded west to 160W mid-Nov, then moved east and walled up to 153W near Christmas, then retrograded back at 160W in late Feb, but is back east at 150W today. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing into Ecuador 25-30 meters down. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies are filling the entire subsurface Pacific at +1 degs or greater with a pocket of warm water centered at 145W at +4 degs (Kelvin Wave #3) pushing east to 95W. We think the peak of the Kelvin Wave cycle for this supposed 2018-2019 El Nino already occurred associated mainly with Kelvin Wave #2. But Kelvin Wave #3 is the warmest of them all so far and is to add some warmth moving into the 2019-202 El Nino year. And a new Westerly Wind Burst (2/12-2/24) might add yet more fuel (warm water) to the proverbial fire. So there's good sub-surface oceanic warming potential to feed jetstream core energy for the foreseeable future. Cool anomalies previous off the Central America coast are gone. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/9 indicates Kelvin Wave #2 gone in the East Pacific with cool water associated with the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle occurring there but fading. Kelvin Wave #3 was building at +4-5 degs from New Guinea to the dateline east to 110W (attributable to a Westerly Wind Burst 12/30-1/16 and another 2/12-2/24). There is a river of very warm water traversing the width of the equatorial Pacific. 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) Positive anomalies were gone from the interior Maritime Continent with weak negative anomalies there now. But positive anomalies were solid tracking east from 150E over the dateline to a point west of the Galapagos (110W) at 0-5 cms with an imbedded pocket of +5 cms anomalies from 165E to 120W and a broad peak at +10 cm from 150W to 120W. -5 cms anomalies were in a small pocket at 95W associated with the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave Cycle and fading steadily.

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 (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were modestly warm straddling 5 degrees north and south of the equator from a point just west of the Galapagos west to the dateline. These temps were stable. Warm water was building strongly along the coast of Chile and Peru up to Ecuador. But a weird pocket of cold water was still off Ecuador and Central America and along the immediate coast of Columbia and stable. There is more of an indication of El Nino now than at any point prior in the last 3 years, but this building cold water pocket is concerning. Overall the pattern looks modestly like El Nino, but nothing more.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/15): Warming water was building weakly mainly on the equator from just west of the Galapagos west to the dateline. Pronounced cooling was still holding on the equator from Panama and Columbia west to the Galapagos.
Hi-res Overview: (3/15) Modest warm water was along the immediate coast of Chile and Peru but with cold water off Ecuador up to Panama reaching west on the equator to the Galapagos. After that warm anomalies were on the equator from there out to the dateline. It was holding compared to days past. We have turned the corner from a cool regime a year ago to a warm regime now. And it's almost starting to look like an El Nino pattern is developing based on surface temps.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/16) Today's temps were rebounding today at -0.011 after falling hard from +0.065 on 3/8 to -1.309 on 3/13. Temps fell to -0.6 degs on 2/28, after rising to +0.5 on 2/25, down to -0.425 degrees on 2/14, and that after rising to +1.2 degs on 2/2. Previously temps fell to -0.15 degs on 2/28. Temps rose to a peak +1.385 on 1/21. Previously they were down to -0.44 on 12/25, and that after having risen to +1.265 on 12/20. Previously temps fell to +0.212 on 12/3, after having previously built to +1.534 on 11/27. That peak on 11/27 was the all time high for this event in this region.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(3/16) Today temps were rising slowly at +0.984 today after falling to +0.694 on 3/9 and that after rising to +1.239 on 3/5 after falling to +0.050 on 2/11. Temps rose to a peak at +0.738 on 1/21, after being at +0.487 on 1/7 and after previously risen to +1.050 degs on 12/6 and previously in the +0.5-+0.6 range since 11/12. The all time high for this event was +1.45 on 11/5, beating the previous peak temps of +0.795 on 10/9, and +0.649 on 9/27, and that beating the previous peak at +0.490 on 7/2.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (3/16) The model indicates temps were at +1.10 degs on March 1. Temps are forecast slowly building from +1.1 degs in early April and building to +1.5 degrees in July, then slowly fading through the summer to +1.35 degs in Oct, then falling to +1.1 degs
in early Dec. If one is to believe the model then one would assume that El Nino tried to build weakly in the Winter of 18/19, but didn't really make it, then is to build in the summer on 2019 and building more into the Winter of 2019/20. But maybe a multiyear warming event is in progress as suggested by this model.
IRI Consensus Plume: The Feb 2019 Plume depicts temps are at +0.65 degs today, and are to hold in the +0.6 range into July, then fade to +0.4 in October 2019. See chart here - link. There's a 90% chance of a weak El Nino developing through January.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (3/16): The daily index was still negative at -9.53 and has been negative the last 41 days (since Feb 4). The 30 day average was rising slightly at -14.17 suggesting an Active MJO. The 90 day average was falling at -5.21, suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern (for now) but possibly pushing towards El Nino. There is no indication that El Nino is present in the atmosphere per this index.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (3/16) The index was neutral at -0.01 on 2/14 but has been rising ever since and pushed up to +0.99 on 3/3 (the highest its been in years), but is down and falling slightly at +0.35 today. It was down to -0.24 in late December, down from +0.28 on 12/15 and not anywhere near as strongly positive as it should be if El Nino were developing. It suggest only ENSO neutral conditions.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly positive, even though La Nina is in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values: June 2017 +0.21, July -0.50, Aug -0.62, Sept -0.25, Oct -0.61, Nov -0.45, Dec -0.13, 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 -0.23, Feb -0.55 This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): June 2017 +0.79, July +0.10, Aug +0.09, Sept +0.32, Oct +0.05, Nov +0.15, Dec +0.50, Jan +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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