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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, March 21, 2020 1:26 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 & 3.0 - 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 3/23 thru Sun 3/29

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   

West Pacific Swell Hitting HI
Another Small Southern Hemi Swell Poised for CA

On Saturday, March 21, 2020 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai)/Barbers Point (Buoy 238) : Seas were 5.6 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 4.2 ft @ 15.9 secs from 307 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 6.5 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 5.5 ft @ 15.7 secs from 317 degrees. Water temp 75.9 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.0 ft @ 12.8 secs with swell 1.2 ft @ 13.3 secs from 175 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north at 2 kts. Water temperature 59.4 degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 1.7 ft @ 13.1 secs from 195 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.3 ft @ 13.0 secs from 202 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.2 ft @ 13.3 secs from 196 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 1.3 ft @ 13.1 secs from 193 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 2.4 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 1.3 ft @ 12.7 secs from 200 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was south at 10-12 kts. Water temp 53.6 degs (013), 55.8 degs (012) and 57.4 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 (3/21) in North and Central CA surf was flat and unrideable with clean conditions. Protected breaks were flat and clean. At Santa Cruz surf was flat and swamped by tide and clean. In Southern California/Ventura waves were flat with occasional thigh high sets and clean and weak. In North Orange Co surf was occasionally waist high on the sets and soft and weak coming from the south but clean. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks had sets at chest high and clean and lined up but slow and inconsistent. North San Diego had surf in the waist high range and lined up and clean and peeling but soft. Hawaii's North Shore was getting new West Dateline swell with waves up to 2 ft overhead on the sets and clean and lined up but inconsistent. The South Shore was maybe thigh high and mushed and soft but clean. The East Shore was getting easterly windswell at thigh to waist high and textured but not chopped with modest east-southeasterly wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (3/21) in Hawaii was was hitting from a storm that developed off Japan late Mon (3/16) tracking east-northeast on Tues (3/17) producing up to 44 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. That swell is also pushing towards California. But nothing else of any real interest to follow. Down south a modest sized gale formed in the Southeast Pacific on Sat (3/14) producing 40-41 ft seas aimed more east than northeast. Small swell is expected for CA for the weekend. A small gale developed northeast of New Zealand Tues-Thurs (2/20) producing up to 39 ft seas aimed north targeting Hawaii. And another gale formed in the far Southeast Pacific on Fri-Sat (3/21) producing up to 38 ft seas aimed north but well east of the SCal swell window targeting mainly Central America. A small gael is forecast developing on the eastern edge of the CA swell window on Tues (3/24) producing 29 ft seas aimed north. But nothing else is forecast after that. The transition to Spring is underway with Winter effectively gone.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Saturday (3/21) the jetstream was weakly consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds to 120 kts then splitting heavily just off the coast with the northern branch tracking north over the Western Aleutians and into the Bering Sea then turning east tracking over the Alaskan Coast then falling south off the coast of British Columbia forming a backdoor trough off the PAcific Northwest before moving onshore over Southern CA. The southern branch tracked east splitting just east of the dateline with some energy tracking north and joining the northern branch of the jet with the rest continuing east over Hawaii and the joining the main flow pushing into Southern CA. There was no significant troughs and no support for gale development anywhere in the North Pacific. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast but with backdoor trough off the Pacific Northwest collapsing late Sun (3/22) only to be replaced by a new one developing Mon-Tues (3/24) over the same area. At that time the split pattern is to be only more defined with the split starting off Japan and continuing to a point just off Central CA with no 'dirt' in between. Beyond 72 hours there's some suggestion a new trough might try to form off the Kuril Islands on Wed (3/25) but all wind energy in it is to be in it's east quadrant aimed north. The backdoor trough off the Pacific Northwest is to move onshore over North CA on Wed (3/25). By late Fri (3/27) the split point is to retrograde even further west moving over Vietnam with a large backdoor trough setting up off the PAcific Northwest reaching west to a point north of Hawaii and slowly pinching off from there into Sat (3/28). There is literally no hope for the North Pacific. We'd start monitoring the South Pacific but the picture is not any better there.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (3/21) swell from a storm that developed in the far West Pacific was hitting Hawaii and radiating east from there (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: 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). Dribbles on Mon (3/23) fading from 3.3 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.0 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 fading Mon (3/23) from 4.1 ft @ 15-16 secs (6.0 ft). Swell fading out Tues (3/24) from 2.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.5 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 Saturday (3/21) east-southeast winds were 5-10 kts for Central CA early and northeast at 10 kts for North CA with a cutoff low off the Central CA coast. Winds turning more southeast for Central CA late afternoon and building to 10 kts later and turning north-northeast for North CA at 10 kts later. Light winds were occurring for Southern CA early forecast running south 10 kts later. Light rain possible for Central and South CA. Snow showers possible early evening for the Sierra. Sun (3/22) south winds are forecast at 10 kts for Central CA early and northeast with 10 kts for North CA. For Southern CA south winds are to be 5 kts early building to 10-15 kts late afternoon. Rain developing for all of Central CA in the afternoon reaching down into all of Southern CA in the evening. Snow for the South-Central Sierra overnight. Monday (3/23) northwest winds are forecast for North and Central CA at 10-15 kts later driven by weak high pressure with low pressure building off just Washington later. Rain fading in Central and Southern CA early. Light snow for the Central Sierra. Rain developing later for Cape Mendocino later. light snow redeveloping late afternoon for the Sierra. On Tues (3/24) the weak low pressure system is to start pushing into the Pacific Northwest with northwest winds at 5-10 kts for North and Central CA. A weak front is to be impacting the coast with light rain for all of North and Central CA with modest snow developing for all the Sierra through the day and into the evening. Wednesday (3/25) high pressure and northwest winds set up at 10-15 kts early and building to 15-20 kts for all of North, Central and Southern CA in the afternoon. Light scattered showers for all of CA. Light snow through the day for the Sierra ending late evening. Thurs (3/26) northwest winds to be 15-20 kts all day for North and Central CA and 10-15 kts for Southern CA. No precip forecast. Fri (3/27) north to northwest winds forecast at 10-15 kts for the entire state. Sat (3/28) northwest winds are forecast at 15 kts for North and Central CA and 10 kts for Southern CA early.

Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 17, 17, 20 and 8 inches respectively.

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis
Swell from a gale that formed recently in the Southeast Pacific is radiating north (See Another Southeast Pacific Gale below). And yet another gale formed off New Zealand with swell radiating north towards Hawaii (See New Zealand Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a small gael is forecast developing in the Southeast Pacific Mon AM (3/23) producing south winds at 35-40 kts with seas building from 27 ft at 49S 138W aimed north. Fetch to hold and track east in the evening with seas 25 ft aimed north at 48S 130W aimed northeast. The gale is to build some on Tues AM (3/24) on the eastern edge of the CA swell window with 40 kt south to southeast winds and 28 ft seas building at 52S 121 W aimed north. Fetch is to be fading and tracking east in the evening at 30-35 kts with seas fading from 28 ft at 49S 118W. The gael to fade out from there. Possible small swell for CA and points south of there.


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


New Zealand Gale
Starting Tues AM (3/17) a small cutoff gale developed just east of North New Zealand producing a small area of south winds to 50 kts and seas 32 ft at 33S 177W aimed north. The gale tracked 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 34 ft at 38S 166.5W aimed north. In the evening the gale slowly tracked east with 45 kt south winds and seas to 38 ft over a small area at 38S 162W aimed north. The gale started fading on Thurs AM (3/19) with south winds fading from 35 kts and seas fading from 36 ft at 38.5S 159.5W 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 hanging on early Wed (3/25) at 2.6 ft @ 15 secs (4.0 ft) fading through the day. Residuals on Thurs (3/26) fading from 1.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 187 degrees


Far Southeast Pacific Gale
A small gale formed on Fri AM (3/20) in the far Southeast Pacific off Chile with south winds 45 kts producing 30 ft over a tiny area at 49.5S 109W and well east of the Southern CA swell window. The gale built in the evening with a larger area of south winds at 45-50 kts and seas 37 ft at 44.5S 104W targeting Central America and Peru. The gale started fading Sat AM (3/21) with 40 kt south winds with seas fading from 38 ft at 41.5S 100.5W targeting primarily Peru. The gale is to dissipate in the evening no longer producing meaningful seas. Low odds of sideband swell radiating north towards Southern CA but far better for Mexico and Central America.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on late on Fri (3/27) building to 1.4 ft @ 18-19 secs late (2.5 ft). Swell peaking on Sat (3/28) at 1.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 168 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 no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.



MJO/ENSO Forecast


MJO Turning Inactive - Long Term Unpredictable

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 (3/20) 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 were neutral over the far East equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and then modest easterly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (3/21) moderate east anomalies were filling the KWGA. The forecast calls for east anomalies building steadily turning strong focused on the dateline on 3/23 holding through the end of the model run on 3/28.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (3/20) A strong Inactive MJO was filling the KWGA. The statistic model indicates the Inactive Phase is to hold on day 5 then losing coverage while moving to the dateline at day 10 and almost gone east of the dateline at day 15 with the Active Phase building in the far West KWGA. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with the peak of the Inactive Phase at day 5, then fading rapidly and gone at day 15 with with a weak Active Phase moving into the far West KWGA.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/21) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was weak over the Western Indian Ocean today and is to track east while loosing strength over the Maritime Continent and very weak at day 15. The GEFS model suggests the same thing initially, with the Active Phase tracking east and holding strength at modest levels, then weakening while pushing east into the Central Pacific and very weak at day 15 of the model run.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (3/21) This model depicts the Inactive Phase was moderate over the Central Pacific and is to track east over the East Equatorial Pacific pushing into Central America 4/5. The Active Phase is to start building modest over the far West Pacific 3/31 pushing east and into Central America on 4/20. A modest Inactive Phase is to start building in the West Pacific on 4/25 moving east at the end of the model run on 4/30.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/20) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO pattern was over the West KWGA today with a modest easterly anomaly pattern in the KWGA. The forecast indicates the Inactive Phase is to push steadily east through the equatorial Pacific 3/27 with moderate plus strength east anomalies in control of the KWGA. A weak Active Phase is to follow starting 3/28 in the West KWGA pushing east through 4/10. Another Inactive Pattern is to set up in the West Pacific 4/10 tracking into and filling the KWGA through the end of the model run on 4/17 with moderate east anomalies in control of the KWGA.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/21 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO pattern over the KWGA today with moderate moderate east anomalies in the KWGA. The Inactive Phase is to hold through 4/3 with modest east anomalies in the KWGA fading on 3/27. Beyond a modest Active Phase is forecast developing 4/6 holding through 4/21 with moderate west anomalies in the KWGA during that period. An Inactive Phase/Pattern is to develop 4/20 holding through 5/8 but with weak to modest west anomalies still in control (during the Inactive Phase). A weak Active Phase is to follow starting 4/30 holding through 5/16 with weak west anomalies still in control of the KWGA. After that a broad but weak Inactive Phase is to set up in the KWGA starting 5/16 holding through the end of the model run on 6/18 with weak west anomalies giving way to modest east anomalies in the KWGA. 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. The second contour line is to hold till 3/27, then dissipate with one contour line holding through the end of the model run but losing coverage the last week of the run. A high pressure bias previously built in the Indian Ocean last Fall and is to hold till May 8 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 through the end of the model run. It looks like the high pressure bias/blocking pattern in the Indian Ocean is gone and it's looking like the low pressure bias in the Pacific is to start fading too by early Summer.

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 the 30 deg isotherm was retrograding west to 167E. The 29 deg isotherm was retrograding to 177W today. The 28 deg isotherm line which previously was a brick wall aligned and steady at 163W was moving east at 150W but with most body still at 163W at depth 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 103W today at +1 degs. Warm water was filling the entire equatorial subsurface Pacific from 150 meters upwards. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/14 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: (3/14) A broad pocket of +1-5 cm 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: (3/20) 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 with a mirror image of it off California and well off Baja.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/20): Weak warming was dissipating off Peru tracking northwest and also off Central America tracking southwest converging at 110W and then tracking east from there to the dateline. An interesting pocket of cooling was developing pushing off Ecuador reaching over the Galapagos and out to 110W on the equator. The short term trend is looking like developing cooling over the far East Equatorial Pacific.
Hi-res Overview: (3/20) 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 building along Chile and Peru then stronger up to Ecuador and Central America up to Mainland Mexico out over the Galapagos. Warmer than normal water were tracking 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: (3/21) Today's temps were steady at +0.677, positive in that range since 2/28. 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:
(3/21) Temps were rising at +0.692. 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 (3/21) Actual's indicate temperatures started rising in early Oct to +0.25 degs holding to Dec 1 then rising to +0.65 degs Jan 1 2020 holding through Feb. From there temps started falling early March down to +0.5 degs. 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 down to -1.5 degs early Nov and holding there. 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 March 19, 2020 Plume depicts temps are at +0.30 degs, and are to slow fade to neutral +0.00 in June 2020, then falling some to -0.15 degs in the October 2020 timeframe. 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) (3/21): The daily index was negative today at -7.32. The 30 day average was weakly negative at -1.00 and steady. The 90 day average was steady at -2.95, 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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