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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, March 30, 2019 4:14 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
3.5 - 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 4/1 thru Sun 4/7

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   

Kuril Island Swell Hitting Hawaii
Gulf Storm Forecast - South Pacific Storm Possible

On Saturday, March 30, 2019 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/ Buoy 239 (Lanai): At Barbers Point (238) seas were 2.7 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 17.0 secs from 274 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 7.3 ft @ 18.2 secs with swell 5.2 ft @ 17.1 secs from 312 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.6 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 14.7 secs from 227 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 8-10 kts. Water temperature 59.7 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.4 ft @ 15.3 secs from 194 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.1 ft @ 15.3 secs from 209 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.6 ft @ 15.8 secs from 197 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.3 ft @ 14.7 secs from 242 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.3 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 3.4 ft @ 13.2 secs from 286 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was northwest at 14-16 kts. Water temp 56.3 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 Sunday (3/31) in North and Central CA residual Gulf swell was producing waves in the chest to head high range with light onshore winds early but still kind of jumbled and formless and soft. Protected breaks were waist high or so on the sets and clean but weak. At Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was producing surf at waist to chest high and lined up and clean but a little uneven from tide early. In Southern California/Ventura residual northerly swell was producing waves in the thigh to maybe waist high range and a bit warbled from what appears to be wind off the coast. In North Orange Co surf was chest high on the sets at the best sandbars and clean and lined but generally slow and weak. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks were getting some limited southern hemi swell with waves chest high on the sets and clean and somewhat lined up but inconsistent. North San Diego had surf at waist to maybe chest high on the peaks of the sets and clean and lined up when it came. Hawaii's North Shore was getting Kuril Island swell bigger than expected with waves with waves head high or so and slow but clean. The South Shore was waist high or so on the sets and very clean. The East Shore was getting limited northeast windswell with waves waist high and clean.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Sunday (3/31) Hawaii was getting a better than expected pulse of Kuril Island swell early from a storm that developed west of the Dateline region Wed-Thurs (3/28) producing up to 49 ft seas aimed east. Residual swell was hitting California originating from the North Dateline region earlier in the week and of no real interest. Beyond a gale is to develop over the North Dateline region Mon-Tues (4/2) with 28-29 ft seas aimed east. And maybe a small but solid storm is to form in the Central Gulf tracking east Thurs-Fri (4/5) with up to 40 ft seas aimed east with a secondary system right behind on Sat (4/6) with 30 ft seas aimed east. A more productive pattern looks possible.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Sunday (3/31) the jetstream was consolidated pushing off Japan with winds to 150 kts falling into a tight trough on the dateline then weakly splitting just northwest of Hawaii at 160W with with the northern branch pushing north over the Central Aleutians and up into the Bering Sea never to return to the Pacific but with fragments of wind energy also peeling off tracking over the East Pacific while the southern branch pushed over Hawaii and then east into Baja also fragmenting. There was some support for gale development in the dateline trough. Over the next 72 hours wind energy is to continue building from Japan reaching east to the dateline with wind speeds to 170 kts Mon-Wed (4/3) pushing the tight trough east to a point north of Hawaii then washing out offering limited support for gale development there through the period. By Wed (4/3) the jet is to be consolidated pushing east on the 38N latitude line nearly the whole way across the Pacific with no clear split remaining but also no troughs forecast. Beyond 72 hours wind energy is to remain solid at 170 kts focused from the dateline into the Eastern Gulf with a trough starting to build in the Gulf on Thurs (4/4) pushing to the Eastern Gulf 24 hours later offering good support for gale development then fading while pushing into Central CA on Sat (4/6). Back to the west at that time the jet is to remain consolidated tracking east on the 30-35 N latitude line but weaker with winds only 140 kts over that entire area with no troughs forecast and holding that way into Sunday (4/8).

Surface Analysis
On Sunday (3/31) swell from a gale that formed on the North Dateline region was all but gone in California but swell from a storm has formed off the Kuril Islands was peaking in Hawaii (see Kuril Islands Storm below). Also a small gael was developing northwest of Hawaii (see Hawaiian Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours another small gale is forecast developing west of the dateline on Sun PM (3/31) with 40 kt northwest winds over a small area and seas building. On Mon AM (4/1) the gale is to be building with 45 kt west winds over a modest area tracking east with seas 28 ft at 42.5N 167.5ZE aimed east. In the evening the gale is to fade with west winds dropping from 40 kts approaching the dateline with seas 29 ft at 44.5N 172E aimed east. On Tues AM (4/1) fetch is to fade from 30-35 kts and stationary with seas 27 ft at 46.5N 175E aimed east. In the evening fetch is to fade from 30+ kts over a moderate area aimed east with seas fading from 23 ft at 46N 175E aimed east. This system is to be gone after that. Small swell possible for Hawaii and eventually reaching the US West Coast if this forms as forecast. Something to monitor.


Kuril Islands Storm
A new storm started building off Japan on Tues PM (3/26) producing west winds at 50 kts with seas building from 28 ft at 35N 154.5E aimed east. On Wed AM winds were 60 kts solid from the west with the storm lifting northeast and seas 37 ft at 39.5N 162E aimed east. In the evening the storm was lifting north off the Central Aleutians with west winds 55 kts and seas building to 49 ft at 44N 164.5E aimed east. On Thurs AM (3/28) the storm was just off the Northern Kurils with 45 kt west winds and seas fading from 46 ft at 47.5N 166E aimed east-northeast. By evening this system was dissipating with 45 kt west winds and seas fading from 35 ft at 47.5N 166E aimed east-northeast. Some degree of inconsistent long distance swell should be pushing east towards Hawaii and the US West Coast.

Hawaii: On Sun (3/31) swell to build to 4.4 ft @ 15-16 secs early (6.5 ft) holding through the day. Swell fading on Mon (4/1) from 3.7 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 311 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (4/1) building to 4.1 ft @ 17-18 secs later (7.0 ft). Swell fading slowly on Tues (4/2) from 3.9 ft @ 16 secs (6.0 ft). Swell dissipating on Wed (4/3) fading from 3.1 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft). Swell DIrection: 300-302 degrees


Hawaiian Gale
On Sun AM (3/31) a small gale was developing 950 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii producing 35 kt northwest winds and seas building from 18 ft aimed southeast. In the evening fetch is to be building in coverage still aimed southeast at 35 kts with seas 22 ft at 40N 170.5W 1150 nmiles northwest of Hawaii. Fetch is to fade Mon AM (4/1) from 30 kts with seas 21 ft fading at 39N 169W targeting Hawaii well. This system to be gone after that. Small windswell expected for Hawaii.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival in Oahu before sunrise on Tues (4/2) and peaking mid-day at 6.4 ft @ 13-14 secs (8.5 ft) holding through sunset. Swell fading steadily through the day on Wed (4/3) at 5.6 ft @ 12-13 secs (7.0 ft) early. Residuals fading on Thurs AM (4/4) from 3.9 ft @ 11 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 330 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 Sunday (3/31) high pressure was stationary off San Francisco producing north winds 10-15 kts over outer waters of North and Central CA and forecast holding all day. High pressure is to be weaker on Mon (4/1) with low pressure weak off Oregon with north winds 10 kts early but fading through the day for North and Central CA turning southerly at 15 kts for Cape Mendocino and 5-10 kts down to Pt Reyes late afternoon. Light rain building over North CA down to the Golden Gate later. Rain for the Sierra except the highest elevations by late afternoon. Tuesday (4/2) weak low pressure is to hold over the Oregon Coast with south winds 5-10 kts for North CA and light winds for Central CA but turning west to northwest 10 kts late afternoon for all of North and Central CA as high pressure builds in. Light rain for all of North Ca down to Monterey Bay. Snow only for the highest elevations of the Sierra. Wed (4/3) a light northwesterly flow at 5-10 kts is forecast through the day. No rain is forecast. Thursday (4/4) broad low pressure is to be filling the Gulf pushing towards California with light winds 5 kts all day but south winds 10 kts building to over Cape Mendocino later. Light rain for Cape Mendocino. Light rain for Tahoe later and snow for the highest elevations. Fri (4/5) a front from a large low is to be hitting Cape Mendocino with south winds 25 kts early there building south to Pt Reyes later at 15-20 kts. Rain pushing south to the Golden Gate at sunset and Big Sur later. No snow forecast. On Sat (4/6) a light northwest flow is forecast at 5-10 kts building to 20 kts for Pt Conception late afternoon. Light rain for all of North and Central CA early and fading fast. Modest snow for only the highest elevations of Tahoe. Sunday (4/7) light winds are forecast for North CA early but northwest at 15 kts for Pt Conception building north to Monterey bay later. Light rain for Cape Mendocino.

Total snow accumulation for for the week (thru Sun PM 4/7) per the GFS model: Tahoe = 10-12 inches and Mammoth = 3 inches

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
Swell was hitting California from a gale that previous formed in the Central South Pacific (See Central South Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a strong storm is forecast developing in the deep Central Pacific on Tues AM (4/2) with 55 kt west winds and seas building from 48 ft at 68S 149.5W aimed east. 50 kt west winds to continue pushing east in the evening with 50-51 ft seas aimed east at 67S 133.5W. ON Wed AM (4/3) winds are to be fading from 45 kts aimed east with seas 46 ft at 66.5S 120W and on the east edge of the CA swell window. This system to fade from there. Most swell energy is to target Chile but some sideband energy might push north towards CA. Something to monitor.

Central South Pacific Gale
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.

Southern CA: Swell fading Sun (3/31) at 2.0 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft). Swell pulsing on Mon (4/1) at 1.8 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0 ft). Swell continues on Tues (4/2) at 2.5 ft @ 16 secs (4.0 ft). Swell down some on Wed (4/3) fading from 2.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5 ft). Swell fading Thurs (4/4) from 2.2 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading out on Fri (4/5) from 2.0 ft @ 13 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 196 degrees

North CA: Expect swell fading some on Sun (3/31) at 1.8 ft @ 15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell to pulse a little on Mon (4/1) at 2.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell stable on Tues (4/2) at 2.1 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5 ft). Swell fading some Wed (4/3) from 2.1 ft @ 15 secs early (3.0 ft). Swell fading Thurs (4/4) from 1.9 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.5 ft). Dribbles on Fri (4/5) fading from 1.5 ft @ 13 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 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 there's some indication that a gale is to develop in the Western Gulf on Wed PM (4/3) with 35+ kt northwest winds and seas building while tracking east-southeast. On Thurs AM (4/4) with to reach storm status pushing 55 kt from the west over a modest sized area with seas building to 39 ft at 42.5N 161.5W aimed east. The storm is to fall southeast fast in the evening with 50 kt west winds and seas 39-40 ft at 39N 153.5W aimed east. The gale is to race east and fade Fri AM (4/5) positioned just off Oregon with 35-40 kt west winds targeting North CA and 32 ft seas at 37N 144W or 1100 nmiles west of San Francisco. The gale is to lift north and fade in the evening off Oregon with seas fading from 27 ft at 40N 137.5W aimed east at the CA coast well. Something to monitor.

The models suggest another small system to form in the Central Gulf on Sat AM (4/6) with 35 kt west winds and seas maybe 30 ft at 40N 149W aimed east. The gael is to lift east-northeast in the evening with 30-35 kt west winds off the North CA coast with seas fading from 26 ft at 43N 137W aimed east.


South Pacific

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


MJO/ENSO Forecast


SSTs Cooling Slightly - SOI Falling and ESPI Rising Some - 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 (3/30) 5 day average winds were solidly from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, then weaker easterly over the KWGA and even lighter west south of the equator. Anomalies were easterly over the far East Pacific then neutral over the Central Pacific and modestly westerly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (3/31) modest west anomalies were over the KWGA. The forecast is for modest west anomalies steadily if not building in coverage through 4/4, then fading and only light westerly through the end of the model run on 4/7. Support for storm development is modest but is to be building into 4/5, then fading.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (3/30) A dead neutral MJO pattern was over the KWGA. The statistic model indicates a neutral Active MJO signal is to hold through day 15. The dynamic model indicates some variant of the same theme. The 2 models are in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/31) 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): (3/31) This model depicts a modest Active Phase was over the West Pacific. It is to move east while fading pushing into Central America on 4/20. A modest Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be setting up in the West Pacific on 4/15 pushing east to Central America on 5/5. A very weak Active Phase is to be building over the West Pacific 4/27 moving to the Central Pacific at the end of the model run on 5/10. This model suggests the MJO is very weak.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/30) This model depicts moderate west anomalies in the KWGA today with a weak Active MJO signal indicated. Moderate west anomalies are to be holding in the Central KWGA through 4/27 while easing slightly east centered at 170E. Continued support for gale development is indicated.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/31) This model depicts a modest Active Phase over the Central KWGA. The Active Phase is to hold solid filling the KWGA through 5/5 with weak west anomalies in the core of the KWGA building modestly and perhaps to WWB status 4/16 and holding through nearly the end of the Active MJO phase on 5/2. After that a very weak Inactive MJO pattern is to set up but with weak to modest west anomalies in the KWGA till 5/20, then a weak MJO signal is to follow with weak west anomalies holding till the end of the model run on 6/28. 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 5/10, then fading out. It appears from this model that a tendency towards El Nino was previously in control during 2018, then faded, and then rebuilt in mid-Feb and is to hold till mid-May before fading some. 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 (other than rain into California which may or may not be related). But it seems that tendency is trying to redevelop again (or at least forecast to) and holding into May. 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: (3/31) 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, and is at 137W 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 from the surface to 100 meters down. A pocket of warm water was centered at 110W at +3 degs (Kelvin Wave #3) pushing into Ecuador and +2 degs C from 160W and point east of there. Kelvin Wave #3 is the warmest of any Kelvin Wave so far since La Nina faded into early 2018 and is to adding warmth moving into the 2019-2020 El Nino year. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/24 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 fading some under the West Pacific but was solid east of there peaking at +4-5 degs from 160W to 100W (attributable to a Westerly Wind Burst 12/30-1/16 and another 2/12-2/24). And today it appears that more warm water was starting to build in the far West Pacific from 135E falling into the pre-existing warm pool near 160W. 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: (3/24) Positive anomalies were gone from the interior Maritime Continent with weak negative anomalies there now. But positive anomalies were solid tracking east from 145E over the dateline to a point west of the Galapagos (100W) at 0-5 cms with an imbedded pocket of +5 cms anomalies fading from 145W to 105W and a shrinking peak at +10 cms at 120W.

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: (3/30) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were modestly warm straddling 15 degrees north and south of the equator from a point just west of the Galapagos west to the dateline though cooler just south of Mexico. These temps continued fading compared to day past. Cool water was building along the immediate coast of Chile and Peru up to Ecuador. And a weird pocket of cold water was also present off Columbia 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 but that signal is fading.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/30): There was a sense today that a cooler water pattern was building focused off Ecuador migrating east to a point just west of the Galapagos. Otherwise a weakly warming pattern was building on the equator from 120W and points west of there.
Hi-res Overview: (3/30) 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: (3/31) Today's temps were steady today at -0.306 after falling hard from +1.00 degs on 3/20 after rebounding hard from -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:
(3/31) Today temps were steady at +0.751 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 (3/31) The model indicates temps were at +1.00 degs on March 1 and forecast holding April 1 to +1.00 degs then slowly building to +1.45 degrees in early July, then fading slightly through the Fall to +1.10 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) (3/31): The daily index was negative today at -8.47 and has been negative the last 55 days (since Feb 4 other than 3/23 & 3/24). The 30 day average was falling some at -6.85 suggesting a holding Active MJO. The 90 day average was falling at -7.55, 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): (3/31) 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 rose again to +0.47 on 3/28 and then down to _0.38 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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