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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, April 7, 2016 5:25 PM
Buoys: Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Buoy Forecast:
Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Pacific Links:  Atmospheric Models - Buoy Data - Current Weather - Wave Models
Forecast Archives: Enter Here
A chronology of recent Mavericks Underground forecasts. Once you enter, just click on the HTML file forecast you want to review (e.g. 073199.html equals July 31, 1999). To view the maps that correspond to that forecast date, select the html file labeled 073199 maps.html
2.5 - California & 1.5 - 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 4/4 thru Sun 4/10

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   

Small Gale Targets California
Two More to Track Over Dateline

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.


On Thursday, April 7, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea Bay): Seas were 9.1 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 6.8 ft @ 9.6 secs from 304 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.1 ft @ 12.8 secs with swell 1.2 ft @ 13.4 secs from 194 degrees. Wind northwest 2-4 kts. Water temperature 59.0. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.4 ft @ 10.1 secs from 258 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.3 ft @ 15.9 secs from 208 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.3 ft @ 14.9 secs from 200 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.1 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 4.3 ft @ 10.6 secs from 300 degrees. Wind south-southeast 12-14 kts. Water temp 54.3 degs.


    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

Current Conditions
On Thursday (4/7) in North and Central CA surf was waist high with a few chest high sets and pretty hacked from south winds. At Santa Cruz surf was waist high and mushy but reasonably clean but with south lump intermixed especially outside the kelp. In Southern California up north waves were thigh high and clean but swamped by tide early. Down south waves were occasionally waist high at best breaks and clean but again buried in tide. Hawaii's North Shore was head high and trying to clean up but with some northerly lump still in the water and swell weak. The South Shore was near flat with rare waist high sets and clean. The East Shore was chest high and chopped with solid trades in effect.

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

Meteorological Overview
Local north windswell was all there was in California and limited to exposed breaks. No swell was coming from the southern hemi. Hawaii was getting only northwest windswell. But, the future looks brighter. A tiny gale developed northeast of Hawaii on Wed (4/6) generating 25 ft seas targeting Central CA with 18 ft seas holding into early Thurs (4/7). And a broad system is to follow on the dateline on Fri (4/8) producing 28-30 ft seas aimed southeast offering hope for Hawaii and the US West Coast. Another small and short lived system is forecast for the dateline on Sat (4/9) with up to 30 ft seas fading Sunday then redeveloping in the Gulf Mon (4/11) early next week producing 27 ft seas targeting the US West Coast and falling southeast through Wed (4/13) positioned a bit off Southern CA with seas still 20 ft. A good run of swell is possible for the mainland from it. Nothing is forecast from the Southern Hemi.

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

North Pacific

On Thursday AM (4/7) the jet was reasonably consolidated pushing off Japan with winds to 180 kts falling into a modest trough near the dateline offering good support for gale development there. From there the jet .cgiit with the northern branch ridging northeast almost reaching the eastern Aleutians then falling hard south into another steep trough in the Eastern Gulf being fed by 120 kts winds and offering some support for gale production. From there the jet .cgiit again with the northern branch heading hard north up into North Canada. Overall. not a horrible configuration. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to track east and get cutoff while falling southeast positioned off Southern CA on Sat AM (4/9) actually redeveloping some and moving onshore there in the evening. Good support for weather into South CA. Otherwise the dateline trough is to ease east while slowly loosing wind energy but holding together well into Sat (4/9) relocated in the Western Gulf still being fed by 150 kts winds offering support for gale development before pinching off 24 hours later in the Central Gulf. Back to the west the jet is to be running flat west to east on the 40N latitude line with winds to 170 kts off Japan but down to 120 kts as it reaches the Gulf. Beyond 72 hours the steep trough in the Eastern Gulf is to fall southeast and over California by Mon (4/11) providing more opportunity for weather there. Otherwise wind energy is to build over the jet off Japan on Mon (4/11) at 170 kts with the jet consolidated and forming a trough there but .cgiitting while ridging to a point just south of the Eastern Aleutians, then falling into a new trough in the Gulf still being fed by 160 kts winds offering good support for gale development. Both the Japan trough and the Gulf trough to push east into late Tues (4/12) with the Japan trough fading some on the dateline while the Gulf trough start steepening and positioned just off Central CA being fed by 140 kts winds and then moving onshore over CEntral CA on Thurs (4/14). Good support for gale development and weather for CA. Back to the west the jet weaken substantially with no support for gale development expected.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (4/7) swell associated with a gale that developed northeast of Hawaii on Wed (4/6) was tracking towards California (See East Gulf Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a new gale is to develop on the dateline tracking east (see Dateline Gale below). And another is to develop west of the dateline late Fri (4/8) (see Another Dateline Gale).


East Gulf Gale
Low pressure northeast of Hawaii developed some Wed AM (4/6) producing 45 kt northwest winds and 26 ft seas over a tiny area at 35N 150W starting to target Southern CA. That gale lifted northeast fast in the evening with winds still 35 kts but getting less traction with seas falling from 22 ft at 38N 147W. Thurs AM (4/7) the gale is to stall off the North CA coast still producing 30 kt northwest winds targeting North CA well with seas to 19 ft at 41N 143W, then dissipating. Maybe some small windswell to result for CA late week into the weekend.

North CA: Expect windswell theoretically on Thurs (4/7) at 3.5 ft @ 11-12 secs early (3.5-4.0 ft) fading to 2.8 ft @ 11 secs (3.0 ft) early Fri (4/8). But the meat of the swell is to arrive later evening at 4 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.5 ft). Swell fading on Sat AM (4/9) from 4.4 ft @ 12 secs (5.0 ft). Residuals on Sun AM (4/10) fading from 3.5 ft @ 10 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction 295 degrees falling to 285 degrees Sat AM, then moving back to 295+ degs on Sunday.


Dateline Gale
Of more interest is to be a broad gale developing over the dateline on Thurs AM (4/7) producing 30-35 kt northwest winds targeting Hawaii well. Seas building. In the evening a broad fetch of 35-40 kt northwest winds to persist over the dateline aimed like before generating 25 ft seas at 42N 177W. A fetch of 45 kt northwest winds to develop Fri AM (4/8) just east of the dateline targeting mainly California with seas building to 30 ft at 42N 172W. In the evening 35 kt west winds to push east with seas fading from 27 ft at 42N 164W. The gale is to start lifting east-northeast in the Gulf on Sat AM (4/9) with winds fading from 30 kts from the west and seas fading from 23 ft at 44N 158W. Fetch and seas to dissipate from there in the evening. Possible decent swell to result for Hawaii and the US West Coast if all goes as forecast.

Hawaii: For.cgianning purposes sideband swell to start showing on Sat (4/9) building to 3 ft @ 14 secs late (4 ft). the meat of the swell to arrive midday Mon (4/10) building to 6.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (9.5 ft). More energy to follow. Swell Direction 326 degrees


Another Dateline Gale
On Fri PM (4/8) another gale is to develop a bit west of the dateline generating 35 kts west winds over a small area and tracking east. By Sat AM (4/9) winds are to build to 50 kts from the west with seas to 30 ft over a small area approaching the dateline at 41N 173E. Fetch is to fade some in the evening at 45 kts over a small area as the gale moves to the dateline with seas fading from 28 ft at 40N 177W. Sun AM (4/10) the gale is to increase in coverage but fade in strength with winds 35 kts generating 23 ft seas at 39N 170W. On Sun PM the gale is to lift northeast slightly and move into the Gulf of Alaska generating 35-40 kt west winds and seas holding at 22 ft at 45N 158W. Theoretically the gale is to build Mon AM (4/11) with winds to 40 kts over a solid area and seas building to 27 ft at 45N 152W. In the evening the gale to fall southeast with 30-35 kts winds targeting California well and seas 25 ft at 43N 148W. On Tues AM (4/12) 30-35 kt west winds to be positioned off North CA generating 23 ft seas at 41N 142W. the gale to fall southeast from there into Wed AM (4/13) with 20 ft sea holding at 33N 133W or a bit off Pt Conception. Swell possible for Hawaii with larger but rawer energy for California. Certainly something to monitor.


  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 Thursday AM (4/7) a light pressure pattern was over the California coast with low pressure circulating in the Gulf of Alaska falling southeast. A prefrontal trough was generating southerly winds in the 10-15 kts range from Pt Conception northward. More of the same is forecast Friday with the low developing off Central CA and falling south with south winds 10-15 kts through the day for Central CA perhaps building into Southern CA late. Light rain building for the entire state through the day. Light snow in the Southern Sierras by 4 PM. Sat AM south winds to continue from San Francisco southward into San Diego at 10-15 kts as the low starts pushing onshore over Pt Conception late. Light steady rain for the entire state all day and more for Southern CA starting at noon to 4 PM. Light snow continuing from Lake Tahoe into the Southern Sierras but only the highest elevations during the day, with snow levels falling late afternoon to lake level. Snow stopping early evening. A 10 kt westerly flow is forecast on Sunday (4/10) for Southern CA while light winds prevail from Pt Conception northward. Patchy light rain statewide building from Big Sur northward late. Light snow at highest elevations Sunday for the Southern Sierra. Light winds forecast Monday everywhere with patchy light rain for mainly Southern CA. Some light snow for the Southern Sierra late. High pressure is to be barely held at bay Tuesday AM as another low moves into the Gulf tracking towards the state. Light winds everywhere except turning south 15 kts from San Francisco northward at sunset. Wednesday (4/13) south winds to be in control at 15-20 kts from Pt Conception northward moving into Southern CA at sunset. Rain for north and Central CA during the day moving to Central (SF southward) and South CA in the evening. Light snow for Tahoe southward overnight. Thursday (4/14) the low is to be moving over Central CA with the front pushing into Southern CA with west winds 15-20 kts early and continuing mid-day. North winds building to 20 kts for Central and North CA as high pressure builds in behind. rain for Central and South CA. Light snow for higher elevations of the Sierras.

South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
On Sunday AM (4/3) no swell producing fetch was occurring.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is 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 no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.

More details to follow...

Stronger La Nina Predicted By the CFS Model
MJO Weak and Not Expected to Return

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 equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced 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.cgianet, 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 help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. 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 strong El Nino is fading out. It began its lifecycle in late 2013 as a primer WWB and Kelvin Wave developed. Then in early 2014 a historically strong push by the Active Phase of the MJO resulted in a large Kelvin Wave, and anomalies continued in the Spring into early Summer transporting more warm water eastward. But the cycle faltered in July due to a protracted bout of the Inactive Phase of the MJO which enabled the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle to manifest driving cooler water east, muting warm water buildup along the Ecuador coast. Still the warm water pipe remained open, but surface temperatures near the Galapagos never recovered and any atmospheric momentum was lost. Then in early 2015, another historically strong push from the MJO occurred, effectively a repeat of the early 2014 event, invigorating the warm water transport process and, adding more heat to an already anomalously warm surface pool off Ecuador. That pool built steadily in spurts, peaking in the Oct-Nov, timeframe, then began a slow decline. But even in Jan 2016, the strongest Westerly Wind Burst of the event occurred, with another Kelvin Wave developing. And another weaker one occurred in Feb. But it was too little, too late. There was not any real warm water left in the West Pacific to transport east. El Nino was in a steady collapse by mid-Feb with the subsurface warm reservoir in the East Pacific in steep decline with cool water ready to move in migrating from the west. The paragraphs below describe the current status of various El Nino indicators, followed by a paragraph that ties all the pieces together and provide our analysis of what is to come.    

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wed (4/6) a small area of moderate west winds and anomalies were south of the equator in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) from 155E to 180W mainly from 5S and points southward. A weak expression of El Nino was occurring.
1 Week Forecast (GGFS Model): Near calm winds are forecast in the KWGA with no west anomalies projected for the next week. A very weak El Nino pattern continues to hold control.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Comparison of 2 Strong Westerly Wind Bursts (WWB)

On left the massive WWB in late June/July that created large Kelvin Wave #3. On right the current WWB that is generating Kelvin Wave #4.
Scales are a little different but notice anomalies in the July event at 12-14 m/s est (24-28 kts) and now in Oct at 13-14 m/s (26-28 kts)
(Click to Enlarge Images)

June/July WWB October WWB


Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 4/6 a modest Inactive Phase MJO signal was over the dateline. The Statistic model projects the Inactive Phase holding position and strength for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts the same thing positionally but with the Inactive Phase fading steadily through the period and all but gone 1 week out and holding into week 2. This suggests El Nino influence of the jetstream is being suppressed by the Inactive MJO, but that suppression might fade some 1 week out. We're not counting on it.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (4/7) The ECMF model indicates the Active phase of the MJO was over the Indian Ocean and very weak. It is to stall there and weaken more over the next 2 weeks. The GEFS depicts the same pattern. West wind anomalies in the KWGA attributable to El Nino are expected to get no help from the MJO anytime soon and if anything are to be slightly suppressed by the Inactive Phase. There is to be no real fuel to supporting strengthening of the jetstream.
40 Day Upper Level Model: (4/7) A weak Active Phase was exiting east over the East Pacific and is forecast to track east to Central America through 4/17. The Inactive Phase of the MJO was building in the west Pacific and is forecast to take control 4/12 slowly tracking east into 5/2. With the change of season in.cgiay and the influx of the Inactive Phase, 4/15 is the likely mark of the end of El Ninos support for the jetstream in the North Pacific for the Winter 2015-16 season. It's been a fun run.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): This model suggests a weak Active Phase of the MJO was on the dateline moving east, and is to hold through 4/13. But no west anomalies of interest are to be associated with it. There is no fuel to support enhancing the jetstream and therefore storm production was minimal. The model depicts a very weak Inactive Phase trying to get a foothold but fading 4/15-4/24 followed by a neutral MJO signal into June. Weak west anomalies are to be developing 4/19 and holding for the foreseeable future driven mainly by El Nino. This seems like a monitory report. Each model is projecting a different outcome, suggesting a very weak MJO signal is likely for the future.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (4/7) Actual temperatures continue to retreat. A pocket of 29 deg temps were holding at depth but retreating west from 170W. The 28 deg isotherm line was shallow but stretching across the entire equatorial Pacific. Anomaly wise things are collapsing. +1 deg anomalies extend from 175E eastward with 2 degs anomalies over one small area from 132W eastward and +3 degs anomalies from 103W eastward. The entire warm pool only extends no more than 75 meters deep at it's deepest point at 165W but mostly only 25 meters deep in the east. This is the last of the El Nino subsurface warm reservoir. Cool subsurface waters are down at 150m and racing east reaching the Ecuador Coast with -2 deg anomalies reaching east to 111W down at 75 meters and -3 degs anomalies pushing east to 125W. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 4/3 the reservoir is fading and very shallow from 170E eastward. Anomalies were +1-2 deg over the area with one tiny pocket of +2-3 degs anomalies under the Galapagos. The subsurface reservoir is shrinking steadily. Kelvin Wave #5 and #6 are resisting the total collapse of this ENSO event and the onset of La Nina, but that resistance will likely be short lived.
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA):  (4/3) The image depicts the warm pool is gone with no anomalies remaining over the entire equatorial region from the dateline to Ecuador. -5 cm anomalies are easing east fast to 120W.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: (4/3 - but updated daily) Warm temps are gone. +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are barely handing on just of Ecuador at (82W). -1.0 deg anomalies are moving east reaching 140W with a pocket east to 130W. La Nina is coming closer every day.

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 : (4/6) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates temps are trying to hold on at +2.25 degs straddling the equator from the Galapagos west to 120W. Warmer temps also continue in pockets along the coast of Peru streaming northwest and joining the main pool at the Galapagos but are steadily fading. The warm pool is collapsing.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (4/6): Marked cooling is occurring from Ecuador to the Galapagos. Otherwise temps are holding.
Hi-res Overview:
(4/5) The El Nino signal is still very much present but is on the decline. A pocket of +2 deg above normal temps is present from the Galapagos to 135W attributable to the eruptions of the last of the subsurface reservoir. 1-2 deg anomalies are also out at 165W in pockets, the advection west of the warm pool, and between Ecuador and the Galapagos.

Other Sources
TAO Data: (4/6) +1.0 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial East Pacific advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to 170E but fading from 155W and points westward. One pocket of +1.5 deg anomalies was present from 138W to Ecuador with a pocket of +2.0 deg anomalies embedded in it from 110W and points eastward. Overall the warm water signature is decent but on the decline.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (4/7) Today temps were up some at +1.449 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (4/7) temps have been steadily fading but ticked up a little today at +1.286 degs. From 2/25-3/11 they were steady at about +2.023. They fell below the +2.1 mark on 2/25 for the first time since when this El Nino first started developing, and below the +2.5 deg range that was reached in late Dec through Feb 11. The all time peak was reached at +3.041 on 12z 11/19. This temp beat the previous all time high of +3.028 degs (12Z 11/17), Temps have not been below +2.0 degs since 8/21.
Centered Nino3.4 Monthly Temps The centered Nino3.4 temps for the month of March were +1.63 degs (beating '98 at +1.32 degs and '83 at +1.44 degs). Feb was +2.19 (beating '98 which was +1.89 and '83 which was +1.84). Jan readings were +2.23 (beating '98 which was +2.21 and '83 which was +2.13). December was +2.31 (beating 97 which was +2.23 and 82 at +2.21). November was +2.36 degs (beating the highest temp recorded in '97 Nov - +2.32 degs and beating '82 +2.03 degs). Oct temps were +2.03 degs. See updated graphs above. This make this year El Nino the strongest ever. That is not reasonable looking at other evidence.
ONI For 2015 for the 3 month period centered on Sept, Oct, Nov , Jan and Feb the values are: +1.8, +2.1. +2.2 +2.3, +2.2 and +2.0. For the same period in '97 the values were: +2.0, +2.2, +2.3, +2.3, +2.1 and +1.8. And for '82 the values were: +1.5, +1.9, +2.1, +2.1, +2.1 and +1.8. This make this years El Nino the second strongest on record since 1950. The ONI uses a 3 month running average.

Note: ERSSTv4 'centered' data is not available for Nino1, 3 and 4 regions, only Nino3.4.

Pacific Counter Current:  As of 4/1 the current was strong from the east on the equator from 90W to 150E. Anomaly wise - they were strong from the east over the same area. There were no pockets of west anomalies indicated. El Nino is in solid decline and La Nina is on the rise based on this data, which is normal for this point in the El Nino lifecycle.

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data depicts peak temps reached +2.95 degs on Nov 5, then faded slightly in early December to +2.8 holding to Feb 1. Then a sharp decline started with temps down to +2.5 degs mid-Feb and falling from +2.0 degs in early March.

The forecast indicates temps fading fast to +1.3 by 4/1, then continuing to decline through Oct dropping to -1.1 degs and -1.4 degs by Dec. This would be solid La Nina territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-March Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.5 by December. See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Co.cgiing Index's (lagging indicators rather than driving oceanic change):   
Southern Oscillation Index (4/7): The daily average was nearly steady at -18.20. The 30 day average was falling from -5.41. The 90 day average was rising from -13.90. El Nino was still quite evident in this index.
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): On 4/7 low pressure was falling southeast positioned about south of Tahiti and is forecast tracking southeast of Tahiti through Sat (4/9). Weak high pressure looks likely to follow. The SOI is expected to fall some based on the Tahiti contribution and offer better support to enhance El Nino and fuel the jetstream into Sun (4/9).
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (4/7) Today's value was falling some at +0.85. It peaked recently on 3/12 at +1.57 but has generally fallen ever since.
Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (March) These numbers were released April 6th and indicate the index decreased slightly to +1.96. The Feb reading was +2.12. In Jan the reading increased slightly by 0.08 to +2.20, holding it in the third highest since 1950 behind the '82/83 and '97/98 El Ninos. Since it has not reached the +3.0 standard deviation level, it is NOT considered a Super El Nino, nor is it expected to reach that status. The Dec reading was +2.12. The Nov ranking was +2.31, up barely from +2.23 (Oct), down from it's peak of +2.53 in Sept, and from +2.37 in Aug. The top 6 events since 1950 in order are: '97, '82, '15, '91, '86, and '72 with '97 and '82 classified as 'Super El Nino's' because they reached 3 standard deviations (SD) above normal. '91 and '86 were at about 2.2 and 2.1 respectively with '72 peaking at 1.8 SD's above the norm. This years El Nino was the third strongest since 1950 per this index.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been mostly above +1.5 all of 2015. In Jan 2016 it was +1.53 and up to +1.75 in Feb. 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 suggests that could be a real possibility. We've been in the negative phase since 1998 through at least 2013 (15 years). By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

Conclusion: This El Nino is the 3rd strongest El Nino since 1950 based primarily on the MEI. Centered Monthly Nino3.4 data suggests it is the strongest. Based on California precipitation, this one does not compared to any major El Nino in recent memory. Based on surf, El Nino has had the expected effect producing 13 significant class swells in the North Pacific so far this season. The target is 16, but that appears ambitious. From a pure El Nino perspective, the peak of the event is over. But from a teleconnection standpoint, the warm pool in Nino3.4 is still imparting solid energy to the atmosphere. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is destructively interacting with the influence on the jet stream and storm production. And this will continue until the next Active Phase of the MJO comes into.cgiay (if at all). With the season moving towards Spring, and SST anomalies fading in the Ninos zones, the MJOs influence will not be a strong as previous Active Phases in winter.

The focus now turns to how quick and how much will the jet be affected for the Fall and Winter of 2016-2017. It's too early to know anything definitive yet, but with the PDO still positive, it is possible the transition to La Nina may not be a strong as in past events.

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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