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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 8:21 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
2.5 - California & 3.0 - Hawaii
Using the 'Winter' Scale
(See Swell Category Table link at bottom of page)

Probability for presence of largest swells in near-shore waters of NCal, SCal or Hawaii.    

Issued for Week of Monday 3/25 thru Sun 3/31

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   

N. Dateline Swell Pushing Towards HI
Another West Dateline Swell Forecast

On Tuesday, March 26, 2019 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/ Buoy 239 (Lanai): At Barbers Point (238) seas were 3.8 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 2.9 ft @ 8.6 secs from 172 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.1 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 3.3 ft @ 10.3 secs from 2 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 5.2 ft @ 12.8 secs with swell 3.8 ft @ 12.7 secs from 248 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 8-10 kts. Water temperature 59.4 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.4 ft @ 12.4 secs from 273 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 3.1 ft @ 13.1 secs from 260 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 0.7 ft @ 19.8 secs from 211 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 3.5 ft @ 12.8 secs from 273 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 8.7 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 6.3 ft @ 14.2 secs from 288 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was east at 8-12 kts. Water temp 55.4 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 Tuesday (3/26) in North and Central CA swell from the Gulf was fading but still producing waves in the 3 ft overhead range with light winds and glassy conditions but a little warbled but not bad. Protected breaks were head high on the sets and clean and closed out. At Santa Cruz surf was chest to maybe head high and lined up and clean but a bit on the weak side. In Southern California/Ventura swell was wrapping in producing set waves in the head high range and lined up and clean but a little closed out with a little warbled in the water but not bad. In North Orange Co surf was chest to head high on the sets and lined up if not somewhat closed out and clean. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks were getting head high sets and lined up and clean and looking pretty fun. North San Diego had surf at waist to maybe chest high on the sets and clean and lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was getting residual Gulf swell with waves chest high or so and clean and soft. The South Shore was thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around northwest windswell with waves chest high and chopped from modest east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Tuesday (3/26) fading Gulf swell was limping into Hawaii and fading in California and no longer or any real interest. A gale developed on the North Dateline Region Sun-Mon (3/25) producing 34 ft seas aimed somewhat to the east. Swell is pushing towards Hawaii and California. A stronger storm is forecast just west of the North Dateline region Wed-Thurs (3/28) producing up to 50 ft seas aimed east. Beyond a weaker swell pattern is forecast with a series of weak gale developing in the West Pacific tracking to the dateline but none are projected to produce meaningful swell.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Tuesday AM (3/26) the jetstream was consolidated pushing off Japan with winds there to 160 kts in one small stream tracking east forming a trough over the North Dateline region offering some limited support for gale development. The jet then split on the dateline with the northern branch pushing hard north up into North Alaska before falling hard south again reconnecting with the main flow off California forming a backdoor trough offering support for low pressure development there then pushing inland into North CA. The southern branch tracked east from the dateline over Hawaii then east into Northern Baja. Over the next 72 hours wind energy over Japan is to build into Fri (3/29) to nearly 190 kts again helping to form a trough over the Northwest Pacific then splitting on the dateline with the northern branch tracking north into the Bering Sea and then over Alaska and not returning to the Pacific. The southern branch is to push east pushing over Hawaii and on into Baja. The only support for gale development is to be in the trough over the Northwest Pacific. Beyond 72 hours wind energy off Japan is to fade to 160 kts on Sun (3/31) only to rebuild to 180+ kts on Mon-Tues (3/2) trying to cut off the split flow to the north and possibly starting to form a trough north of Hawaii by Tues (4/2) but that outcome is far from certain at this early date. But if that were to happen, it would indicate a positive change in pattern setting up.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (3/26) swell from a gale that traversed the North Pacific then redeveloped in the Gulf was all but gone in Hawaii and fading out along t he US West Coast (see Gulf Gale below). Also a gale formed on the North Dateline region and swell is pushing east towards Hawaii and California (see North Dateline Gale below). And a cutoff low is forecast developing north of Hawaii aimed at the Islands (see Cutoff Low below). And a new storm is forecast off the Aleutians (see directly below).

Over the next 72 hours a new storm is to start building off Japan on Tues PM (3/26) producing west winds at 50-55 kts with seas building from 29 ft at 34.5N 154E aimed east. On Wed AM winds are to be 55-60 kts solid from the west with the storm lifting northeast and seas 35 ft at 39N 162E aimed east. In the evening the storm is to be lifting north off the Central Aleutians with west winds 55 kts and seas building to 49 ft at 44N 163.5E aimed east. On Thurs AM (3/28) the storm is to be just off the Northern Kurils with 50 kt west winds and seas fading from 47 ft at 48N 167E aimed east-northeast. By evening this system is to be dissipating with 40 kt southwest winds and seas fading from 36 ft at 49.5N 169.5E aimed east-northeast. Assuming all goes as forecast some degree of inconsistent long distance swell should be pushing east towards Hawaii and the US West Coast.

Hawaii: For planning purposes based solely on forecast data expect swell arrival on Sat (3/30) building to 3.1 ft @ 18 secs late (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 311 degrees


Cutoff Low
Also a cutoff low is to develop 900 nmiles north of Hawaii on Wed AM (3/27) generating 35 kt north winds and seas building. In the evening 35 kt north winds are to build while falling south 1100 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii generating seas of 22 ft over a small area at 39N 163W aimed south. On Thurs AM (3/28) north winds are to be 30 kts targeting Hawaii well with seas 21 ft aimed south at 35N 161W. Fetch is to be gone in the evening. Windswell is possible for Hawaii.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival Fri afternoon (3/29) building to 6.0 ft @ 13 secs (7.5 ft). Swell fading on Sat AM (3/30) from 6.0 ft @ 12 secs (7.0 ft).


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.

NCal: Swell fading Tues (3/26) from 6.0 ft @ 13 secs (7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290-295 degrees


North Dateline Gale
A gale started building off the Southern Kuril Islands on Sun AM (3/24) with 40 kt northwest winds over a tiny area and seas building from 23 ft over a small area at 38N 163E and lifting northeast. In the evening the gale was lifting northeast with 45-50 kt west winds and seas 30 ft at 44N 176E. On Mon AM (3/25) the gale was over the North Dateline region with 40-45 kt west winds just south of the Central Aleutians and seas 35 ft at 51N 178W aimed east. By evening the gale was in the Bering Sea on the dateline with seas fading from 27 ft at 50N 173W aimed east to northeast. This system was gone after that. Small swell is radiating east targeting mainly the US West Coast with sideband energy pushing towards Hawaii.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Wed (3/27) building to 4.2 ft @ 16 secs at sunset (6.5 ft). Swell peaking overnight then starting to fade Thurs AM (3/28) from 4.8 ft @ 14 secs (6.5 ft). Swell fading Fri AM (3/29) fading from 5.0 ft @ 12-13 secs (6.0 ft). Swell DIrection: 315 degrees

North California: Expect swell arrival on Fri AM (3/29) building to 4.2 ft @ 15-16 secs mid-day (6.5 ft) then holding. Swell fading Sat AM (3/30) from 3.8 ft @ 14 secs (5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 300-306 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 Tuesday (3/26) another low pressure system was building off the coast pushing east with south winds building to 5 kts for North and Central CA mid-day pushing 10-15 kts late afternoon and into the evening down to Big Sur. Rain fading early from the previous front over Central CA and then rebuilding over Central CA late evening. Low odds of snow only at the highest elevations of Tahoe in the evening. Wed (3/27) the low is to be circulating off the Oregon-CA border lifting north with southwest winds 10-15 kts for Central CA early and 20 kts mainly near Pt Arena and holding through the day. Rain for all of North and Central CA starting early continuing all day. Moderate snow for the Sierra early building into mid day then holding through the evening. Thurs (3/28) weak high pressure is to be just off Pt Conception with the low fading off Southern Oregon. Southwest winds to be 15+ kts for Pt Arena northward early with light winds for Central CA but turning north 15 kts late afternoon. Light rain through the day mainly for North CA. Steady light snow mainly for Tahoe and building some late afternoon into the early evening. Fri (3/29) high pressure is to take over with north winds 15-20 kts for Pt Conception early building to 15 kts for the entire North and Central Coast late afternoon. Light rain mainly for Cape mendocino early and fading fast. No snow forecast. Saturday (3/30) high pressure is to be weakening with north winds 15 kts for Central CA and 10 kts for North CA pushing 15 kts all locations in the afternoon. No precip forecast. On Sun (3/31) high pressure to be lifting north off San Francisco with north winds 15+ kts from Monterey Bay southward early building north to Bodega Bay in the afternoon. More of the same on Mon (4/1). Tuesday (4/2) north winds to weaken to 5-10 kts early everywhere but south of Big Sur as low pressure starts building in the Gulf.

Total snow accumulation for for the week (thru Tues PM 4/2) per the GFS model: Tahoe = 22-26 inches and Mammoth = 10 inches

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
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 held at 35 kts from the south-southwest with seas 29-30 ft at 59S 145W aimed -northeast. The gale faded from there in the evening with seas 27 ft at 55S 139W aimed northeast. Maybe some small swell is to radiate northeast towards Hawaii a week out and the US West Coast 10 days out.

Hawaii: Swell arrival expected late on Wed (3/27) to 1.2 ft @ 17 secs (2.0 ft). Swell peaking early Thurs (3/28) at 1.4 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Residuals on Fri (3/29) at 1.4 ft @ 14-15 secs early (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 190 degrees

Southern CA: Swell arrival expected late on Thurs (3/28) to 1.3 ft @ 20 secs (2.5 ft). Swell building Fri (3/29) to 2.0 ft @ 17-18 secs (3.5 ft). Swell peaking on Sat (3/30) at 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 196 degrees

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 tiny gael is forecast developing west of the dateline on Sun PM (3/31) with 45-50 kt west winds over a tiny area aimed east and seas 27 ft at 42N 168E aimed east. On Mon AM (4/1) the gale is to be fading while approaching the dateline with 40 kts west winds and seas 34 ft at 44.5N 173.5E aimed east. The gale is to fade from there.


South Pacific

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


MJO/ENSO Forecast


SSTs, SOI & ESPI Rising - Mixed Signals

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 (3/25) 5 day average winds were solidly from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, then weak easterly over the KWGA and even lighter south of the equator. Anomalies were easterly over the East Pacific and light westerly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (3/26) modest west anomalies were over the KWGA. The forecast is for modest west anomalies steadily building through the end of the model run on 4/2 and, if anything, solidifying in the Central KWGA. Support for storm development is modest but is to be building through the week.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (3/25) A very weak Active MJO pattern was indicated over the far West Pacific. The statistic model indicates this weak Active MJO signal is to ease east and fade out on at day 5 while a modest Inactive Phase starts building in the West Pacific days 10-15. The dynamic model indicates a different outcome with the Active Phase rebuilding on days 10-15 in the West Pacific. The 2 models are not in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/26) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was exceedingly weak and in no position and is to effectively hold in that status for the next 15 days. The GEFS model suggests the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical model): (3/26) This model depicts a weak Active Phase was over the West Pacific. This weak Active Phase is to move east while fading pushing into Central America on 4/12. A modest Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be setting up in the West Pacific on 4/2 pushing east to Central America on 4/27. A very weak Active Phase is to be building over the West Pacific 4/20 moving to the East Pacific at the end of the model run on 5/5. This model suggests the MJO is very weak.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/23) This model depicts moderate west anomalies in the KWGA today with the Active Phase in the Central KWGA. Moderate west anomalies are to be holding in the Central KWGA through 4/6, weakening to modest levels and then holding perhaps easing slightly east to the Eastern KWGA through the end of the model run on 4/20. Weak west anomalies are forecast pushing into California 4/9-4/20.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/26) This model depicts a modest Active Phase 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 and perhaps to WWB status 4/22 and holding through the end of the Active MJO phase near 5/1. After that a very weak MJO pattern is to set up but with weak to modest west anomalies in the KWGA till the end of the model run on 6/23. This looks 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 disappeared from the charts on 3/18 and has not returned. 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: (3/26) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 29-30 deg temps reaching east to 175W, pushing east from 180W where it had been for the past month. 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 starting 3/16 from 150W to 140W on 3/20, then retrograded slightly at 143W 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 110W 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 3/19 indicates cool water associated with the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle occurring just east of Ecuador was all but gone. Kelvin Wave #3 was building from New Guinea to the dateline east peaking at +4-5 degs from 145W 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: (3/19) Positive anomalies were gone from the interior Maritime Continent with weak negative anomalies there now. But positive anomalies were solid tracking east from 155E over the dateline to a point west of the Galapagos (100W) at 0-5 cms with an imbedded pocket of +5 cms anomalies from 165W to 105W and a shrinking peak at +10 cms at 135W and 125W. -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: (3/25) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were modestly warm straddling 5 degrees north and 15 degrees south of the equator from a point just west of the Galapagos west to the dateline. These temps were fading compared to day past. Cool water was building along the immediate e coast of Chile and Peru up to Ecuador. And a weird pocket of cold water was also present off Columbia and Panama but smaller than days past. There is more of an indication of El Nino now than at any point prior in the last 3 years.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/25): Warming water was weakly building on the equator around the Galapagos and modestly west to 140W and weak to the dateline. Cooling was developing solidly along the immediate costal waters of Peru and Ecuador.
Hi-res Overview: (3/25) Cool water was along the immediate coast of Chile and Peru and also along Columbia but with warmer water out beyond that and warm water from the Galapagos along the equator west 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: (3/26) Today's temps were falling hard again at -0.288 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:
(3/26) Today temps were steady at +0.796 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 (3/26) The model indicates temps were at +1.00 degs on March 1. Temps are forecast holding April 1 to +1.00 degs then slowly building to +1.45 degrees in early July, then fading slightly through the summer to +1.25 degs in Oct, then falling to +1.0 degs
in late 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) (3/26): The daily index was negative today at -4.02 after being negative the last 50 days (since Feb 4 other than 3/23 & 3/24). The 30 day average was rising some at -6.62 suggesting a fading Active MJO. The 90 day average was falling at -6.63, suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern biased towards El Nino (for now).
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (3/26) 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 fell some but is back up to +0.45 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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