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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, May 5, 2020 2:56 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 & 1.8 - Hawaii
Using the 'Summer' Scale
(See Swell Category Table link at bottom of page)

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

Issued for Week of Monday 5/4 thru Sun 5/10

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   

Gulf Gale Swell Hitting CA
A Solid Southern Hemi Swell Pushing North

On Tuesday, May 5, 2020 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.9 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 11.1 secs from 283 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 6.4 ft @ 10.5 secs with swell 4.6 ft @ 9.4 secs from 353 degrees. Water temp 76.5 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.5 ft @ 5.9 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 8.7 secs from 256 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 8-10 kts. Water temperature 62.8 degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 4.7 ft @ 10.2 secs from 302 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 3.4 ft @ 6.5 secs from 259 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 2.0 ft @ 9.3 secs from 271 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 3.1 ft @ 9.3 secs from 275 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.1 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 2.8 ft @ 15.5 secs from 285 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was northwest at 10-14 kts. Water temp 50.9 degs (013), 52.5 degs (012) and 54.7 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 (5/5) in North and Central CA local windswell was mixing with new Gulf swell to produce waves at chest to maybe head high but pretty warbled and soft with small whitecap even early. Protected breaks were waist high and cleaner but still a bit warbled and very soft. All parking lots closed. At Santa Cruz waves were thigh to waist high and soft and weak but clean. In Southern California/Ventura waves were coming form the northwest at waist to maybe chest high on the sets and soft with decent form but with a fair amount of lump intermixed and modest northwest winds blowing but no whitecaps. In North Orange Co waves were waist high on the sets coming from the northwest and clean but real soft and focused on the inside and pretty gutless. Orange Country's best summertime breaks had sets in the thigh high range and clean but weak with no real form. Beaches were closed. North San Diego had waves at thigh to maybe waist high on the sets and clean but real soft and weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting some windswell with waves chest high at top spots and a bit warbled but still clean enough to ride, but nothing more. The South Shore was flat to thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting easterly windswell at waist to chest high and chopped from northeast trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Tuesday (5/5) in Hawaii local windswell was making for some minimally rideable surf at select breaks on the North Shore. Another gale developed in the Central Gulf on Sun-Mon (5/4) producing 25 ft seas aimed east. Swell is starting to show in North CA. Another low pressure system is to develop in the Western Gulf on Wed (5/6) producing a short lived area of 20 ft seas targeting mid-way between Hawaii and CA. And maybe another to form off Japan on Fri (5/8) producing 25 ft seas aimed southeast but not even making it to the dateline. Down south a small gale developed in the Southeastern Pacific Sat-Mon (5/4) producing up to 40 ft seas aimed well northeast. And another is to push under New Zealand on Wed-Fri (5/8) producing 41 ft seas aimed east then redeveloping over the Central South Pacific Sat-Sun (5/10) producing 36 ft seas aimed northeast. So there's decent hope there too.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (5/5) swell from a gale that developed in the Gulf of Alaska was starting to hit California (see Gulf Gale below). Residual swell from a previous gale was fading in CA (See Another Gulf Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours another gale is forecast trying to develop in the Western Gulf on Wed AM (5/6) producing 30-35 kt north-northwest winds targeting Hawaii slightly with seas building to 18 ft at 43N 159W aimed southeast. The gale is to be easing east in the evening with 35 kts north winds and seas building to 21 ft at 43N 154.5W aimed southeast. The gale is to fade after that with residual seas fading from 19 ft Thurs AM (5/7) at 42N 149W aimed east. The gale is to be gone after that. Maybe some swell to result for Hawaii.

Oahu: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Fri (5/8) with swell building to 4.5 ft @ 12 secs mid-day (5.0 ft). Residuals fading on Sat (5/9) from 4.4 ft @ 11 secs (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 350 degrees

And yet another gale is to form Thurs PM (5/7) just off North Japan producing 40 kt northwest winds and seas building to 20 ft at 42N 153E. The gale is to build Fri AM (5/8) with 45 kts west winds and seas 25 ft at 44N 161E. The gale is to be lifting northeast fast after that in the evening with 30-35 kts north winds and seas fading from 23 ft at 45N 170E aimed east. This system to be gone after that.


Another Gulf Gale
On Wed AM (4/29) a small gale developed 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii again producing 30-35 kts west winds and seas 19 ft at 41N 163W aimed east. That gale tracked east through the day and into the evening producing 30-35 kts west winds and 19 ft seas at 39.5N 155.5W aimed east. On Thurs (4/30) the gale weakened and was lifting northeast offering no seas of interest. On Fri AM evening (5/1) the gale was trying to redevelop off Washington with 30 kt west winds and seas trying to rebuild. On Sat AM (5/2) the gale was stationary off Washington producing 35 kt west winds and seas to 20 ft at 48N 140W aimed east. In the evening 30-35 kt west winds are to hold with seas building to 20 ft at 48N 138.5W aimed east. The gale is to be fading out Sun AM (5/2) and no longer of interest. Something to monitor.

North CA: Swell fading on Tues (5/5) from 3.5 ft @ 11 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290 moving to 310+ degrees.


Gulf Gale
Another gale developed in the Central Gulf on Sat PM (5/3) producing 35 kt northwest winds and seas on the increase. On Sun AM (5/3) fetch was building in coverage at 35 kts from the northwest with seas building to 20 ft at 42N 148W aimed southeast mainly at the US West Coast. In the evening the gale was tracking east with 35 kt west winds and seas 26 ft at 42.5N 143W aimed east. On Mon AM (5/4) the gale was fading producing northwest winds at 30 kts and seas fading from 21 ft at 45N 138W aimed southeast. The gale was gone in the evening.

North CA: Expect swell arrival later on Tues (5/5) building to 8.0 ft @ 13-14 secs late (10.0 ft). Swell fading Wed AM (5/6) from 4.6 ft @ 11-12 secs (5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 294-296 degrees


North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (5/5) north winds are to be 5-10 kts for all of North CA and 15-20 kts from Big Sur southward to Pt Conception. Wed (5/6) northwest winds to take over a 20+ kts all day and building to 25 kts everywhere including North CA later. Thurs (5/7) north winds continue at 20-25 kts for North Ca and 20 kts for Central CA early fading to 15-20 kts everywhere later. Fri (5/8) northwest winds to be 15-20 kts nearshore for North CA and 10-15 kts for Central CA early fading to 10-15 kts later for North CA and 10 kts for Central CA. Sat (5/9) a weak pressure pattern is forecast with north winds 15 kts over Pt Arena but 5-10 kts everywhere else and fading to 10 kts everywhere later. On Sun (5/10) light winds are forecast with low pressure building off the coast. On Mon (5/11) low pressure is to be nudging up to the North CA coast with south winds 15 kts from Bodega Bay northward and light winds south of there early and holding all day. Rain developing for the Golden Gate northward by late afternoon reaching south to Santa Cruz in the evening. Tues (5/12) the low is to hold off the Oregon Coast producing south winds at 20 kts for Cape Mendocino early and southwest at 10 kts or greater from Bodega Bay northward with light winds from San Francisco southward. Rain for Morro Bay northward early then continuing from Bodega Bay northward through the day.

Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 0, 0, 0 and 0 inches respectively.

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


South Pacific

On Tuesday (5/5) the southern branch of the jetstream was ridging south to 65S under New Zealand with a second ridge over the Central South Pacific pushing south also to 65S the forming a broad trough over the far Southeast Pacific being fed by 120-130 kts winds on the eastern edge of the California swell window offering decent support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the trough is to track east and out of the Southern CA swell window on Wed (5/6). But a new weak trough is forecast trying to develop under New Zealand getting better organized on Thurs (5/7) being fed by 110 kt winds and lifting north to 50S offering decent support for gale development. The trough is to move over the Central South Pacific on Fri (5/8) reaching far enough north to tap into energy from the northern branch of the jet there fueling more potential for gale development and holding steady into Sun (5/10) while moving to the Southeast Pacific. Beyond 72 hours a new ridge is to start building over the entirety of the South Pacific down at 75S undercutting the aforementioned trough and eliminating support for gale development. The ridge is to hold while pushing east to the Southeast Pacific into Tues (5/12) suppressing support for gale development.


Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (5/5) swell from a gale previously in the Southeast Pacific was pushing north (see Southeast Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a gale is to start building under New Zealand (see South Pacific Long Term Forecast).


Southeast Pacific Gale
A gale started developing in a building trough over the Central South Pacific on Fri AM (5/1) producing south winds at 30+ kts producing 24 ft seas at 42S 158W aimed north-northeast. 30-35 kts southwest winds were lifting northeast producing 15 ft seas at 40S 150W aimed northeast. On Sat AM fetch was building well to the north at 35 kts at 35S producing seas at 26 ft at 38S 142.5W aimed northeast. On Sat PM (5/2) a broad area of 30-35 kts southwest winds continued with a core developing at 45-50 kt aimed almost north with 24-28 ft seas at 37.5S 133.5W aimed northeast. On Sun AM (5/3) south winds are to be 45 kts over a small area aimed northeast with seas building to 36 ft at 44.5S 125W aimed northeast. In the evening a broad fetch of 40-45 kt southwest winds were blowing with 39 ft seas at 43.5S 122W aimed northeast. On Mon AM (5/4) south winds were fading at 35-40 kts with seas fading from 35 ft at 42.5S 120W aimed northeast and moving out of the CA swell window. This gale was gone after that. Swell is radiating north.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri (5/8) with swell building to 2.0 ft @ 19 secs late (3.5 ft). Swell building on Sat (5/9) to 3.1 ft @ 16-17 secs later (5.0 ft). Swell fading on Sun (5/10) from 2.9 ft @ 15 secs (4.0 ft) but with secondary swell building to 3.3 ft @ 18-19 secs mid-day (6.0 ft). Swell building on Mon (5/11) building to 4.1 ft @ 16 secs (6.5 ft). Swell fading on Tues (5/12) from 3.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.0-5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 200 moving to 185 degrees.

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (5/9) with swell building to 2.4 ft @ 17 secs later (4.0 ft). Swell building on Sun (5/10) to 2.3 ft @ 15-16 secs later (3.5 ft) but with secondary swell building to 2.8 ft @ 18 secs (5.0 ft). Swell building on Mon (5/11) to 3.8 ft @ 17 secs (6.5 ft). Swell fading on Tues (5/12) from 3.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 195 moving to 180 degrees.


South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height




Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.

But perhaps low pressure is to develop off North CA on Tues (5/12) producing 18 ft seas aimed east.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a gale is to be tracking east through the Southern Tasman Sea on Wed AM (5/6) with 40 kt west winds and seas 34 ft at 53S 157E aimed east. In the evening the fetch is to build in coverage to 45 kts from the southwest and seas 37 ft at 56.5S 165.5E aimed east. The gale is to ease east on Thurs AM (5/7) producing 40 kt southwest winds over a solid area and seas to 39 ft at 53.5S 175E aimed northeast. The gale is to start lifting northeast in the evening with 35-40 kt southwest winds and seas 34 ft seas at 50.5S 177.5W aimed northeast. On Fri AM (5/8) the gale is to be covering a huge area with 30-35 kts southwest winds and seas 33 ft at 48S 170W aimed northeast. In the evening the gale is to continue in the large category with 35 kt southwest winds with 33 ft seas at 51S 165W aimed northeast. Fetch is to continue easing east on Sat AM (5/9) at 35-40 kts from the southwest with seas 36 ft over a solid area at 47.5S 159.9W aimed northeast. In the evening the gale is to be large in coverage with 30-40 kt south to southwest winds and seas 33 ft at 44S 150W aimed northeast. On Sun AM (5/10) south to southwest fetch to rebuild at up to 40 kts embedded in a huge area of 30-35 kts southwest winds and seas 29-30 ft at 43S 144W aimed north-northeast. In the evening fetch is to be fading in coverage from 30-40 kts with seas fading from 33 ft at 50S 152W aimed north. On Mon AM (5/11) fetch is to be fading from 30-35 kts with seas 29-30 ft at 44.5S 140W aimed north. This system is to be gone after that. Good odds of swell resulting. Something to monitor.


MJO/ENSO Forecast


Solid Equatorial Cool Pool Developing

The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).

Overview: A double dip La Nina was in control through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018 associated with two upwelling Kelvin Waves, and continued trying to build over equatorial waters over the Summer and Fall, but not enough to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere. In January 2019, those warm waters were fading, but then rebuilt late in Feb associated with Kelvin Wave (#3). But as of early June 2019 warm water was fading and by August a tongue of cool water was tracking west on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos reaching to a point nearly south of Hawaii. El Nino was dead. A bit of a recovery occurred during Fall of 2019, with weak warm water building in the Nino 1.2 region, but cool water held in a pool off Peru and had not changed until March 2020. By April the cool pool had collapsed with warm water starting to build on the equator.

Fall/Winter 2019/2020 = 5.0/4.0 (California & Hawaii)
Rating based on a 1-10 scale: 1 being the lowest (small and infrequent surf conditions), 5 being normal/average, and 10 being extraordinary (frequent events of large, long period swells)

Rationale: It is assumed the PDO has moved to the warm phase in 2014 and that a weak borderline El Nino from 2018 faded out in the Fall of 2019. A La Nina like ocean temperature pattern developed in the equatorial East Pacific in the summer of 2019, then faded and returned to a neutral if not weak warm status during the Winter of 2019-2020. We have been suspecting a turn towards a La Nina like atmospheric pattern to develop in the late Winter/early Spring of 2020. Our best hope is that moderation from the warm phase of the PDO might tamp down development of a full blown La Nina as we move into 2020. Given all that, for 2020 there is decent probability for development of La Nina meaning a reduced number of storm days and storm intensity during the summer season, resulting in a below normal level of swell, with swell being below normal duration and period. And by the Fall and early Winter of 2020, the number of storm days, intensity and duration of those storms should fade even more, resulting in depressed swell production. This pattern is expected to hold through the end of 2020 if not longer.

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 (5/4) 5 day average winds were strong from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and then solid east over the Dateline and KWGA. Anomalies were moderate easterly over the far East equatorial Pacific fading to modest over the Central Pacific holding that way over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (5/5) Modest east anomalies were over the easterly half of the KWGA with weak west anomalies over the far western KWGA. The forecast calls for east anomalies tracking east and mostly out of the KWGA by 5/9 with mixed weak east to west anomalies expected to continue in the KWGA through the end of the model run on 5/12.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (5/4) A weak Active Phase of the MJO was over the KWGA today. The statistic model indicates the Active Phase is to hold modestly in the KWGA on day 5, then fading some on day 10 and gone by day 15 with a neutral MJO signal forecast then. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with the Active Phase weakening fairly quickly and on day 5 then gone on day 10 only to return weakly on day 15.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (5/5) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was weak over the Central Maritime Continent today and is to track slowly east while losing strength over the West Pacific at day 15. The GEFS model suggests the Active Phase racing east and very weak over the Indian Ocean at the end of the model run 15 day out.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (5/5) This model depicts a weak Active Phase of the MJO was weak over the West Pacific. The Active Phase is to track east and weak pushing into Central America on 5/25. A modest Inactive Phase is supposed to start building in the West Pacific on 5/12 moving to the East Pacific and Central America on 6/6. A weak Active MJO is forecast developing over the far West Pacific 5/25 pushing east through the end of the model run on 6/14.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (5/4) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO signal mostly east of the KWGA today but with weak east anomalies present over the eastern half of the KWGA. The forecast indicates the Active Phase and west anomalies building 5/6 tracking east through the KWGA on 5/14. After that a neutral MJO pattern is forecast with modest east anomalies filling the KWGA 5/11 through 5/25 then wind anomalies fading to neutral holding through the end of the model run on 6/1.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (5/5 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts an Inactive Phase of the MJO over the KWGA today with weak east anomalies in-play. The forecast indicates the Inactive Phase/Pattern is to hold through 5/12 with east anomalies slowly giving way to weak west anomalies. A weak Active Phase is to start building 5/8 in the far West KWGA slowly building east and weakly filling the KWGA till 5/23 with mainly neutral anomalies in play. A weak Inactive Phase is forecast 5/23-6/23 but with a mix of weak east and west anomalies holding. A broad Active Pulse is to follow 6/14 building in the west and filling the KWGA through the end of the model run on 8/2 with west anomalies modest in the West KWGA but mainly focused in the Indian Ocean and Maritime Continent. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias with 1 contour line over the KWGA and fading on 5/6. A high pressure bias that has been over the Indian Ocean since last Fall and is to hold till May 7, then dissipate then reappearing over the Northeast Pacific on 7/4 and filling it through the end of the model run maybe reaching west to the dateline but not filling the KWGA. And at the same time the low pressure bias is to reappear over the Indian Ocean on 7/24 but very thin. East anomalies set up in the Indian Ocean last Fall and held through Jan 10, 2020, then started to become more episodic and are to continue that way while moving into the Pacific on 7/14. After that west anomalies are to start building in the core of the Indian Ocean eventually reaching east to 180W 7/24. Based on this model it appears the long term outlook is in a state of flux but becoming increasingly biased towards potentially La Nina.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (5/5) Today in the far West Pacific the 30 deg isotherm was shallow and retracking to the west reaching east to only 155E. The 29 deg isotherm was steady at 178E today. The 28 deg isotherm line was retrograding to 159W today. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing into Ecuador. Anomaly wise, Kelvin Wave #6 was fading while pushing into the East Equatorial Pacific at +2.0 degs but with other nondescript warm water tracking from the Maritime Continent under the dateline merging with the tail of Kelvin Wave #6. The net effect was warm water was filling the entire equatorial subsurface Pacific down to 100 meters deep on the dateline getting progressively shallower east of there today. A large pocket of cool water at -3 degs was 150 meters deep at 150W today tracking east with it's leading edge at 95W. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 4/28 indicates warm water had formed a Kelvin Wave with warm water falling from 120E down into the dateline at 100m deep peaking in the East Pacific at +2-3 degrees then pushing and rising east to 85W and moving east to just of Ecuador. A pocket of cool water east of there associated with the upwelling phase of the previous Kelvin Wave Cycle was all but gone. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (4/28) Negative anomalies at -0.5 cms were indicated in the equatorial Pacific between 130-160W, suggestive of a Kelvin Wave blocking pattern setting up. But positive anomalies were building near 160E.

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: (5/4) The latest images indicate warm anomalies were modest along the coast of Chile up into Peru and steady in intensity from days past with warm anomalies continuing up off Ecuador up into Central America. A stream of cool water was fading while moving north along the immediate coast of Peru not pushing north of there. But, cool water was building on and just south of the equator from just west of the Galapagos the whole way out to 160W and building looking like the thin start of a La Nina pattern. Otherwise warmer water was steady aligned on and just north of the equator from the Galapagos out to 165W. A broad pocket of cool anomalies was all but gone south of the equator off Peru but with a solid but not unusual pocket of cool water off California and Baja.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (5/4): A building sold cooling pattern was on the equator from just west of Ecuador out to 160W with a build marked cool pool developing from 100-140W. The short term trend is looking like a developing cooling trend/La Nina.
Hi-res Overview: (5/4) A previous pocket of cool anomalies is gone off Peru. A stronger pocket of cooling was off California and Baja Mexico out to 145W but losing coverage. Warm anomalies were steady along Chile and Peru then stronger off Ecuador and Central America up to Mainland Mexico. But a stream of cool water had developed on the equator from 100W west to the dateline. Water temps appear to be stable north of the equator and cool water building on and south of the equator. Overall the data suggests a fading El Nino and a possible building La Nina.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (5/5) Today's temps were steady at -0.154, overall trending down from a warmer range near +0.6 degs between 2/25-3/26. Previously temps had been toggling near neutral. It appears we were in a rising or at least warmer trend, but that is now fading.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(5/5) Temps were falling steadily today down to +0.198. The trend appears to be falling after previously being in the +0.3 degree range in Feb, and up to the +0.5-+0.6 degree range 3/12-4/8.

Click for Full Sized Image Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 Sea Surface Temp (SST) Anomalies & Current SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (5/5) Actual's indicate temperatures were generally +0.65 degs Jan 1 2020 through April 1. The forecast depicts temps falling steadily from there, down to 0.0 in early May then diving negative down to -0.50 July 1 and moving to La Nina down at -0.95 in early Sept holding there into Jan 2021. According to this model sea surface temps should be falling strongly moving towards La Nina as Summer develops. But as of May 5, we are nowhere near the doom and gloom forecast by this model. But the recent downward trend suggests that pattern could be developing now.
IRI Consensus Plume: The April 21, 2020 Plume depicts temps are at +0.30 degs, and are to slow fade to neutral +0.00 in August 2020, then holding there through December 2020. See chart here - link.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (5/5): The daily index was weakly negative today at -1.74. The 30 day average was rising at +0.79. The 90 day average was rising at -2.70, suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern was developing.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): March 2020 -0.11, Feb +0.69, Jan +0.42, Dec 2019 +0.46, Nov +1.03, Oct +0.27 Sept +1.11, August +0.60, July +0.75, June -0.32, May +1.10, April +0.30, March +1.0, Feb +1.29, Jan +0.193. This index has been steadily positive but still indicates mostly ENSO neutral conditions (not El Nino).

Pacific Decadal Oscillation
Per NOAAs index recent values: Jan 2018 +0.29, Feb -0.19, Mar -0.61, April -0.89, May -0.69, June -0.85, July -0.09, Aug -0.43, Sept -0.46, Oct -0.75, Nov -0.78, Dec -0.12, Jan 2019 -0.18, Feb -0.50 Mar -0.23, April +0.10, May +0.14, June -0.11, July +0.44, Aug -0.14, Sept +0.05, Oct -0.96, Nov -0.28, Dec +0.01, Jan 2020 -1.17, This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2018 +0.70. Feb +0.37, Mar -0.05, April +0.11, May +0.11, June -0.04, July +0.11, Aug +0.18, Sept +0.09. No real negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina). Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data strongly suggests that could be a possibility. By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool 


External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave

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