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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2019 10:41 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   

Gulf Swell Hitting Hawaii
And Pushing Towards CA - Weaker Pattern Behind

On Thursday, March 21, 2019 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/ Buoy 239 (Lanai): At Barbers Point (238) seas were 3.8 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 14.7 secs from 301 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 6.8 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 5.1 ft @ 13.6 secs from 316 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 5.8 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 3.8 ft @ 13.7 secs from 237 degrees. Wind at the buoy was south at 4-6 kts. Water temperature 57.4 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.5 ft @ 14.4 secs from 250 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 3.7 ft @ 13.3 secs from 246 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 2.4 ft @ 14.9 secs from 238 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 3.0 ft @ 15.6 secs from 242 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 10.1 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 7.1 ft @ 12.7 secs from 287 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was north at 2-4 kts. Water temp 55.8 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 Thursday (3/21) in North and Central CA residual Hawaiian swell was fading with waves 2-3 ft overhead on the sets and clean but a bit soft with light winds. Protected breaks were head high on the sets and clean with decent form. At Santa Cruz surf was head high and lined up and clean. In Southern California/Ventura Hawaiian swell was hitting producing set waves occasionally reaching head high and lined up and clean though mostly chest high. In North Orange Co surf was head high to maybe 1 ft overhead on the sets and lined up but a little on the soft side with some intermixed lump but otherwise clean with no wind. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks were chest high on the sets and a bit ill formed coming from the north and clean but with lump intermixed. North San Diego had surf at chest to head high on the sets and clean but inconsistent and soft with intermixed lump. Hawaii's North Shore was still getting local swell with waves head high to 2 ft overhead on the face and reasonably clean but a little warbled. The South Shore was flat to thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around windswell with waves waist high or so and lightly chopped from modest northeast trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (3/21) swell was still hitting Hawaii and California from a gale that developed Thurs (3/14) off Japan tracking east into Mon (3/18) traversing the width of the North Pacific with seas to 36 ft aimed southeast targeting primarily Hawaii. And swell from another gale was hitting Hawaii after having traversed the North Pacific Sun-Tues (3/19) with seas in the 33 ft range and then redeveloped in the Central Gulf Wed-Thurs (3/21) with 31-35 ft seas aimed east. That swell is also tracking towards California.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Thursday AM (3/21) the jetstream was almost split just off Japan then consolidated just east of the dateline with winds building to 170 kts feeding development of a trough in the Gulf of Alaska and offering good support for gale development. The jet proceeded east splitting at 135W or about 600 nmiles off North CA, with the northern branch pushing up into Alaska and the southern branch falling southeast pushing over Baja. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to hold while pushing east to the Pacific Northwest coast on Sat AM (3/23) while additional energy builds into the jet at 140 kts generating another weak trough in the Gulf holding off the Pacific Northwest into Mon (3/25) supporting low pressure development. Back to the west on Sat (3/23) winds are to start building over and off Japan at 160 kts reaching east to the dateline on Sun (3/24) producing a weak trough off the Kuril Islands supporting gale development there. The split portion of the jet is to be slowly moving east migrating to a point north of Hawaii on Sun (3/24). Beyond 72 hours the Kuril Island trough is to fade only to be replaced by another one Wed-Thurs (3/28) being fed by 170 kts winds streaming off Japan offering some more support for gale development there. The split north of Hawaii is to balloon north on Mon-Tues (3/26) then fade while disconnecting from the jet leaving a mostly consolidated jet tracking east across the rest of the North Pacific running flat east on the 35N latitude line with a weak trough in the Gulf being fed by 110 kts winds offering only modest support for low pressure development. The jet appears to shaking off the funk it was in in Jan-Feb, but it is fighting against the change of seasons now.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (3/21) swell from a gale that developed while falling southeast from the dateline towards Hawaii was gone in Hawaii and fading in Northern CA (see Hawaiian Gale below). But swell from another gale that traversed the North Pacific then redeveloped in the Gulf was hitting Hawaii and bound for the US West Coast (see Gulf Gale below).

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


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.

North CA: Residuals on Thurs (3/21) fading from 5.9 ft @ 13 secs (7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 275-285 degrees\


Gulf Gale
This gale developed off Japan on Sat PM (1/16) with 55 kt winds from the northwest and seas on the increase from 26 ft at 40N 157E aimed east. The gale built 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 faded while tracking east in the evening with winds 40 kts over a small area and seas 34 ft at 40N 171.5E aimed east. On Mon AM (3/18) the gale was crossing the dateline and rebuilding with 45 kt west winds and seas 33 ft at 41N 180W aimed east. In the evening the gale was tracking into the far Western Gulf with 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas 32 ft at 41.5N 172W aimed east. On Tues AM (3/19) the gale was fading out while stalling in the Western Gulf with barely 30 kt northwest winds and 29 ft seas at 43N 164.5W aimed east. A secondary fetch was building just south of the original fetch in the evening at 40-45 kts from the northwest with seas building from 24 ft at 38N 169W aimed east. On Wed AM (3/20) the new fetch is to be at 55 kts over a tiny area aimed east with seas starting to build at 33 ft at 40N 160W. In the evening a solid fetch of 40+ kt northwest winds is to be centered in the Gulf with a core at 45 kts aimed east with seas building to 39 ft at 44N 154W aimed east. The gale is to be lifting north Thurs AM (3/21) with winds 40 kts from the west and seas 35 ft at 41.5N 156W aimed east. In the evening westerly fetch is to be lifting north at 35-45 kts with seas 32 ft over a modest area embedded in a broad area of 28-29 ft seas centered at 41N 152W aimed east. The gael is to fade out on Fri AM (3/22) with 30-35 kt west winds fading in the Gulf and seas 25-26 ft at 42N 146W aimed east. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Swell from the first pulse of this gale is to be fading on Thurs AM (3/21) from 6.2 ft @ 14 secs (8.5 ft). Swell holding Fri (3/22) at 5.9 ft @ 12-13 secs (7.0 ft). Swell Direction: 315-320 degrees Secondary swell to arrive on Sat (3/23) well before sunrise and fading from 5.9 ft @ 13-14 secs early (8.0 ft). Residuals fading on Sun (3/24) from 4.0 ft @ 13 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 335-340 degrees

NCal: Expect swell arrival from the first pulse of this gale on Fri (3/22) building to 7.0 ft @ 16 secs late (11.0 ft). Swell Direction: 290 degrees Swell from the second pulse to arrive Friday evening and peaking Sat AM (3/23) at 8.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (12.5 ft). Swell fading Sunday (3/24) from 7.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (10.5 ft) residuals on Mon (3/25) fading from 7.5 ft @ 12-13 secs (9.5 ft). Swell fading Tues (3/26) from 6.0 ft @ 13 secs (7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290-295 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 Thursday AM (3/21) a weak wind flow is forecast as a broad gale and front set up in the Gulf pushing east to a point 300 nmiles off the North CA coast. Winds turning south 5-10 kts for North CA late afternoon. No precipitation forecast. Friday (3/22) the front is to be impacting North CA early with south winds 25+ kts and south winds at 15 reaching south to Monterey Bay mid-day then fading with the front dissipating and light winds in control by sunset. Rain building south down to Morro Bay in the evening. Light snow building late afternoon into the evening for the Sierra. Sat (3/23) high pressure is to be weakly in control with northwest winds 10 kts for North CA and 15 kts for Central CA. Light rain for Central CA fading around Pt Conception late afternoon. Light snow for the Sierra focused on Tahoe through the day. Sunday (3/24) another front is to be off the coast with light winds forecast early turning south 15-20 kts late afternoon from Monterey Bay northward as the front approaches. Rain building for North and central CA overnight. Monday (3/25) southwest winds are forecast at 15 kts from Pt Conception northward early and fading through the day. Rain for North and Central CA early fading late afternoon. Snow developing early for the Sierra and pretty solid mid-day fading late. Tuesday (3/26) low pressure off the coast is to push east into the coast with south winds 15 kts for North CA early pushing 25 kts late afternoon and up to 15 kts down to Monterey Bay late afternoon. Rain building over North CA late afternoon pushing south to Monterey Bay late evening. Wednesday (3/27) the low is to be stalled off the coast with southwest winds 15 kts from Monterey Bay northward and up to 20+ kts for Cape Mendocino. Rain for all of North and Central CA down to Morro Bay starting early continuing all day. moderate snow for the Sierra starting mid-day and building into the evening. Thurs (3/28) weak high pressure is to take control with north winds 10 kts all day and light rain fading early. Light snow fading early for the Sierra.

Total snow accumulation for for the week (thru Thurs PM 3/28) per the GFS model: Tahoe = 33-38 inches and Mammoth = 13 inches

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell of interest was in the water.

A gale started building in the Central South Pacific Wed AM (3/20) with 35 kt southwest winds and seas building to 29 ft ft at 61S 167W aimed east-northeast. In the evening winds turned fully southwest at 35-40 kts with 30 ft seas at 57.5S 157W aimed northeast. On Thurs AM (3/21) fetch to hold at 35 kts from the south-southwest with seas 29-30 ft at 59S 145W aimed -northeast. The gael is to fade from there. Maybe some small swell is to radiate northeast towards Hawaii and the US West Coast.

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 a new storm is to start building off the Southern Kuril Islands with 50 kt northwest winds and seas building from 30 ft over a small area at 38N 162E and the gale lifting northeast. In the evening the storm is to build with 55 kt west winds and seas 41 ft at 42N 171E tracking northeast. On Mon AM (3/25) the storm is to be in the North Dateline region with 50 kt west winds and seas 44 ft at 47.5N 175.5E aimed east. By evening the gale is to move into the Bering Sea on the dateline with seas fading from 37 ft at 50N 179W aimed east to northeast. This system is to be gone after that. Small swell is to be radiating east targeting mainly the US West Coast with sideband energy pushing towards Hawaii.

On Wed (3/27) another similar storm is to start developing off the Kuril Islands with 50 kt northwest winds in the evening and seas building to 35 ft at 43N 159E aimed east. On Thurs AM (3/28) the gael is to be fading with 45 kt west winds and seas peaking at 41 ft at 46N 163E aimed east. Something to monitor.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.


MJO/ENSO Forecast


SSTs Solid - SOI Negative - ESPI Rising Some

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 (3/20) 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 south of the equator. Anomalies were weakly easterly over the far East Pacific north of the equator turning light westerly over the Central equatorial Pacific and continuing light westerly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (3/21) light to modest west anomalies were over the KWGA. The forecast is for light to modest west anomalies continuing through the end of the model run on 3/28 migrating from the Central KWGA to the dateline. Support for storm development is modest but and is to hold a week out.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (3/20) A neutral MJO pattern was indicated over the entire Pacific. The statistic model indicates a weak MJO signal is to persist with perhaps a weak Inactive signal developing over the Maritime Continent 15 days out. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with a weak Active Phase developing at day 15 over the West Pacific. The 2 models are generally in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/21) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was exceedingly weak over the Indian Ocean and is effectively to hold there for the next 15 days. The GEFS model suggests the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical model): (3/21) This model depicts a weak Active Phase was over the far West Pacific. This weak Active Phase is to move east while fading pushing into Central America on 4/10. A weak Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be setting up in the West Pacific on 4/2 pushing east to Central America on 4/20. A very weak Active Phase is to be building over the West Pacific 4/20 moving to the Central Pacific at the end of the model run on 4/30. This model suggests the MJO is very weak.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/20) This model depicts moderate west anomalies in the KWGA today with the Active Phase in the Central KWGA. Modest west anomalies are to be holding in the Central KWGA for the foreseeable future perhaps easing slightly east to the Eastern KWGA through the end of the model run on 4/17. Weak west anomalies are forecast pushing into California 4/1-4/5.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/21) This model depicts a modest Inactive MJO signal fading in the East KWGA while the Active Phase was building in the West KWGA. The Active Phase is to be solid filling the KWGA by 3/29 holding through 5/5 with weak west anomalies in the core of the KWGA building modestly perhaps to WWB status 4/14 and holding through the end of the Active MJO phase. After that a very weak MJO pattern is to set up but with weak to moderate west anomalies in the KWGA from 5/8 through the end of the model run on 6/18. This looked very much like El Nino (no MJO and consistent west anomalies). 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 stronger by May 2019. 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: (3/21) 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 made a major push east today from 150W on 3/16 to 138W 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 +3 degs (Kelvin Wave #3) pushing east into Ecuador. 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 3/14 indicates cool water associated with the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle occurring just east of Ecuador 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: (3/14) 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 (100W) at 0-5 cms with an imbedded pocket of +5 cms anomalies from 160W to 110W and a shrinking peak at +10 cm from 140W to 123W. -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: (3/20) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were modestly warm straddling 20 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 Columbia and Panama but fading. There is more of an indication of El Nino now than at any point prior in the last 3 years, but this cold water pocket is concerning. Overall the pattern looks modestly like El Nino, but nothing more.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/20): Warming water was building steadily on the equator from solid around the Galapagos and weaker west to the dateline. Weak cooling was developing in the immediate costal waters of Peru.
Hi-res Overview: (3/20) Modest warm water was along the immediate coast of Chile and Peru but with cold water off Panama down to Columbia and out to the Galapagos and along the immediate coast of Peru. 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: (3/21) Today's temps were steady today at +0.889 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:
(3/21) Today temps were up some at +0.921 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 (3/21) The model indicates temps were at +1.10 degs on March 1. Temps are forecast falling April 1 to +1.0 degs then slowly building to +1.50 degrees in July, then fading slightly through the summer to +1.25 degs in Oct, then falling to +1.0 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) (3/21): The daily index was still negative at -5.84 and has been negative the last 46 days (since Feb 4). The 30 day average was rising some at -10.20 suggesting an Active MJO. The 90 day average was falling at -6.24, 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): (3/21) 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), then has been falling some but steady today at +0.33 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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