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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, May 12, 2020 2:59 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
4.1 - California & 2.5 - 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 5/11 thru Sun 5/17

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   

S. Hemi Swell #1S Fading In CA
Another One Behind - Gale Developing Over N. Dateline Region

On Tuesday, May 12, 2020 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 254 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 1.2 ft @ 13.5 secs from 189 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.1 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 2.8 ft @ 9.4 secs from 206 degrees. Water temp 76.6 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.4 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 2.6 ft @ 14.1 secs from 193 degrees. Wind at the buoy was west at 8-10 kts. Water temperature 63.3 degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 3.6 ft @ 15.1 secs from 189 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 3.4 ft @ 14.8 secs from 198 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 2.9 ft @ 15.0 secs from 193 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 4.1 ft @ 14.7 secs from 183 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.0 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 4.0 ft @ 15.5 secs from 190 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was southwest at 8-12 kts. Water temp 50.7 degs (013), 53.6 degs (012) and 58.3 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 Tuesday (5/12) in North and Central CA local windswell and southern hemi swell were producing waves occasionally head high and soft and real junky from southerly wind. Protected breaks were thigh to waist high and clean early but fairly closed out. All parking lots closed. At Santa Cruz Southeast Pacific swell was producing set waves to head high and clean but with a fair amount of southerly lump still in the water early. In Southern California/Ventura waves were waist high and clean coming from the south. In North Orange Co set waves were head high and pushing hard from the south and fairly clean with some light south wind blowing down the beach. Orange Country's best summertime breaks had sets in the 2 ft overhead range and clean and lined up but inconsistent and a bit drained from tide early. North San Diego had waves at waist to maybe chest high on the sets and clean but soft and with some warble intermixed. Hawaii's North Shore was waist high and clean. The South Shore was thigh high and clean and weak. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at thigh high and lightly chopped from northeast trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Tuesday (5/12) southern hemi swell was still hitting California from a small gale that developed in the Southeastern Pacific Sat-Mon (5/4) producing up to 40 ft seas aimed well northeast. Nothing of interest was hitting Hawaii. Another gale pushed under New Zealand on Wed-Fri (5/8) producing up to 39 ft seas aimed east then redeveloped over the Central South Pacific Sat-Sun (5/10) producing 35 ft seas aimed northeast. That swell is radiating north towards Hawaii and California. And small swell from a gale previously off Japan that produced up to 27 ft seas was pushing east towards Hawaii and exposed breaks in California. Beyond a gale is forecast forming over the North Dateline region today falling southeast to the Western Gulf through early Fri (5/15) producing up to 27 ft seas aimed southeast. And down south possibly a weak gale is to form southeast of New Zealand on Sun (5/17) tracking east gale with seas 27 ft building to maybe 30 ft on Tues (5/19) in the far Southeast Pacific. So there's something to monitor.

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 (5/12) swell from a gale previously off Japan was poised to hit Hawaii (see Japan Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours another gale has developed on the North Dateline region Tues AM (5/12) producing 35+ kt northwest winds and seas building from 25 ft at 46.5N 173.5E aimed southeast. In the evening the gale is to fall southeast over the dateline with a solid area of 35 kt northwest winds and seas 26 ft at 46N 177E aimed southeast. More of the same is forecast on Wed AM (5/13) with 26 ft seas moving over the dateline at 43.5N 178.5E aimed southeast. In the evening the gael is to be fading with northwest winds 30-35 kts in the Western Gulf with 25 ft seas at 41N 173W aimed southeast targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. The gael is to be fading on Thurs AM (5/14) with 30 kt northwest winds and seas fading from 23 ft at 39N 165W aimed southeast. IN the evening 30 kt west winds to move east with 21 ft seas at 37N 160W aimed east. The gale is to fade from there. Something to monitor.

Oahu: Assuming all goes as forecast expect swell arrival late on Fri (5/15) with swell building to 5.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (8.5 ft). Swell fading Sat AM (5/16) fading from 7.0 ft @ 14 secs (9.5 ft). Swell Direction: 330 degrees


Japan Gale
And yet another gale formed Thurs PM (5/7) just off North Japan producing 40 kt northwest winds and seas building from 24 ft at 42.5N 155.5E. The gale built in coverage Fri AM (5/8) with winds fading from 40 kts from the west and seas 25 ft at 43.5N 164E. The gale was lifting northeast fast after that in the evening with 35 kts west winds and seas holding at 27 ft at 46.5N 172E aimed east. On Sat AM (5/9) the gale was lifting north into the Bering Sea with 35 kt west fetch just south of the Aleutians producing 26 ft seas aimed east at 49N 175E aimed east. This system to be gone after that. Small swell expected to radiate into Hawaii on Tues (5/12) and likely the last of the Winter season.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tues (5/12) building to 2.5 ft @ 14 secs later (3.5 ft). Swell holding on Wed (5/13) at 2.8 ft @ 12-13 secs (3.5 ft). Swell fading Thurs (5/14) from 2.7 ft @ 11-12 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 320 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (5/14) building to 3.1 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.5 ft). Swell holding Fri (5/15) at 2.8 ft @ 12-13 secs (3.5 ft). Swell gone on Sat (5/16). Swell Direction: 300 degrees


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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (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 but Cape Mendocino at 15 kts in the afternoon. 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 with south winds building to 15 kts mid-day down to Big Sur, but holding south at 15 kts from Bodega Bay northward. Rain developing for the Golden Gate northward early reaching south to Monterey in the late afternoon and maybe a sprinkle to Pt Conception in the evening. Tues (5/12) the low is to be fading off the Oregon Coast producing south winds at 10-15 kts for Pt Arena northward early and slowly fading some and northwest 5-10 kts for Central CA later. Rain for the Golden Gate northward all day then fading over the evening. Wed (5/13) south winds are forecast at 5-10 kts from Pt Reyes northward and north 10 kts for Central CA. Rain forecast building south to Pt Reyes in the afternoon. Thurs (5/14) light winds are forecast all day except north at 15 kts from Morro Bay southward. Rain forecast for San Francisco northward all day. Fri (5/15) light winds are forecast for North CA down to Big Sur and building from the northwest to 20-25 kts south of Monterey bay in the afternoon. Sat (5/16) light winds are forecast for North CA with low pressure again off the coast and north winds 15-20 kts south of Monterey Bay all day. South winds building for Cape Mendocino to 25 kts late afternoon. Rain for Cape Mendocino starting mid AM.

Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 3, 3, 2 and 0 inches respectively.

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


South Pacific

On Tuesday (5/12) the southern branch of the jetstream was ridging hard south into Antarctica under new Zealand and sweeping east then lifting hard north over the Southeast Pacific forming a broad trough reaching up to 40S over the Southeast Pacific merging with the northern branch producing up to 140 kts winds in it's apex offering some support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to hold position and form decently but getting progressively weaker and all but gone by Thurs (5/14) no longer supporting gale development at that time. The ridge is to hold in the west but also getting progressively weaker but still suppressing support for gale development through the 72 hours window. Beyond 72 hours a pocket of 160 kt winds is to be building over the South Tasman Sea starting late Fri (5/15) sweeping east and possibly providing some support for gale development on it's eastern edge reaching the far Southeast Pacific on Mon (5/18) and looking more like a trough at that time. That trough is to move east of the California swell window on Tues (5/19). Back to the west a weak jetstream flow is forecast offering no support for gale development.


Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (5/12) Swell #1S from a gale previously in the Southeast Pacific was hitting California (see Southeast Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours swell from a gale that built under New Zealand and sweeping northeast was radiating northeast (see New Zealand - Central Pacific Gale below). Otherwise no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.


Southeast Pacific Gale - Swell #1S
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: Swell fading on Tues (5/12) from 3.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.0-5.5 ft). Residuals fading on Wed (5/13) from 3.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.5 ft). Dribbles on Thurs (5/14) fading from 2.7 ft @ 12-13 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 200 moving to 185 degrees.

North CA: Swell fading on Tues (5/12) from 3.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (5.5 ft). Residuals fading on Wed (5/13) from 3.3 ft @ 14 secs (4.5 ft). Dribbles on Thurs (5/14) fading from 2.9 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0-3.5 ft).Swell Direction: 195 moving to 180 degrees


New Zealand - Central Pacific Gale
A gale started tracking east through the Southern Tasman Sea on Wed AM (5/6) with 40 kt west winds and seas 34 ft at 53.5S 157E aimed east. In the evening the fetch built in coverage with winds to 45 kts from the southwest and seas 37 ft at 57S 159E aimed east. The gale eased east on Thurs AM (5/7) producing 40 kt southwest winds over a solid area and seas to 36 ft at 52.5S 173E aimed northeast. The gale started lifting northeast in the evening with 35-40 kt southwest winds lifting northeast and seas 29-31 ft over a solid area at 50.5S 180W aimed northeast. On Fri AM (5/8) the gale was covering a large area but weaker with 30-35 kts southwest winds and seas 29-31 ft at 57S 170W but reaching up to 48S aimed northeast. In the evening the gale continued in the large category with 35-40 kt southwest winds with 29-30 ft seas over a large area centered at 52S 168W aimed northeast. Fetch continued easing east on Sat AM (5/9) but growing in coverage at 35-40 kts over a large area from the south with seas 34 ft over a solid area at 47S 160.5W aimed northeast. In the evening the gale was large in coverage with a new building fetch of 40 kt south winds developing south of the previous core and seas 30-34 ft aligned north-south from 41S to 58S 153W aimed north. On Sun AM (5/10) south to southwest fetch was fading at up to 40 kts in pockets embedded in a broad area of 30-35 kt southwest winds lifting north with seas 30-33 ft from 53S 154W up to 41S 141.5W aimed northeast. In the evening fetch was fading in coverage from 30-35 kts tracking north with seas fading from 25 ft at 49S 152W and 34 ft at 44S 133W aimed mostly east. On Mon AM (5/11) fetch was fading from 30-35 kts with seas 32 ft at 45.5S 129W aimed mainly east and no longer of interest. This system was gone after that. Good odds of swell resulting. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival starting late Wed (5/13) building to 1.3 ft @ 19-20 secs late (2/5 ft). Swell building some on Thurs (5/14) pushing 1.6 ft @ 17 secs mid-afternoon (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell holding Fri (5/15) at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft) with secondary energy building underneath to 1.6 ft @ 17 secs later (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell getting more solid on Sat (5/16) pushing 2.0 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading Sun (5/17) from 1.6 ft @ 14 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Residuals on Mon (5/18) fading from 1.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 turning to 183 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (5/16) building to 2.6 ft @ 18-19 secs later (4.5 ft). Swell building on Sun (5/17) to 2.9 ft @ 17 secs (4.5-5.0 ft). Swell holding on Mon (5/18) at 3.0 ft @ 15-16 secs early (4.5 ft). Swell fading some on Tues (5/19) from 2.8 ft @ 15 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 206 degrees

Northern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (5/16) building to 1.6 ft @ 20 secs later (3.0 ft). Swell building on Sun (5/17) to 2.4 ft @ 17-18 secs later (4.0 ft). Swell holding on Mon (5/18) at 2.6 ft @ 16 secs early (4.0 ft). Swell holding on Tues (5/19) at 2.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 204 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.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a weak gale is forecast developing under New Zealand on Sat PM (5/16) pushing east with 35-40 kt northwest winds producing no swell producing 29 ft seas aimed slightly east at 57S 171E. The gael is to push east on Sun AM (5/17) with 35-40 kt west winds over a small area and seas 27 ft at 58.5W 168.5W aimed east. In the evening the gael is to start tracking northeast with a building area of 30-35 kt southwest winds and one small area to 40 kts with seas 27 ft at 56.5S 151.5W aimed northeast. Fetch is to build in coverage Mon AM (5/18) at 30-35 kts over a large area aimed northeast with seas 24-25 ft at 54S 136.5W aimed northeast. More of the same is forecast in the evening with 29 ft seas at 60S 139W aimed northeast. On Tues AM (5/19) 30-35 kt southwest fetch is to be over the far Southeast Pacific with 30 ft seas building at 55.5S 128W aimed northeast. Something to monitor.


MJO/ENSO Forecast


Equatorial Cool Pool Fading Some For the Moment

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 (5/11) 5 day average winds were solid from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and then and moderate plus strength from the east over the Dateline and KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the East equatorial Pacific continuing neutral over the Central Pacific and neutral over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (5/12) weak east and west anomalies were over the KWGA with stronger east anomalies east of the dateline. The forecast calls for a continuation of this pattern but with the stronger east anomalies retrograding west starting 5/14 and filling the KWGA 5/16, and building to stronger status 5/17 holding through the end of the model run on 5/19.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (5/11) A neutral MJO pattern was over the KWGA today. The statistic model indicates a continuation of a neutral phase on days 5, 10 and 15 of the model run. The dynamic model indicates essentially the same thing but with a modest Active signal filling the KWGA on day 15.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (5/12) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was exceedingly weak to non-existent over the Indian Ocean today and is to essentially stay there for the next 15 day. The GEFS model suggests the Active Phase is to track east but still very weak over the West Pacific at day 15.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (5/12) This model depicts the Inactive Phase over the Central equatorial Pacific. The Inactive Phase is to track east eventually pushing into Central America 5/27. A modest Active Phase is supposed to start building in the West Pacific on 5/30 moving to the East Pacific and Central America at the end of the model run on 6/21. A modest Inactive MJO is forecast developing over the far West Pacific 6/12 pushing slowly east.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (5/11) This model depicts no MJO signal anywhere today with weak west anomalies present over the bulk of the KWGA. The forecast indicates the a neutral MJO is to continue but with moderate east anomalies developing in the KWGA on 5/13 and holding through the end of the model run on 6/8 filling the KWGA steadily. The low pass filter indicates high pressure is over the KWGA and holding through the end of the model run.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (5/12 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts an Inactive Phase of the MJO exiting just east of the KWGA today with weak wind anomalies in-play. The forecast indicates a weak Active Phase is starting to build in the far West KWGA today slowly building east and weakly filling the KWGA till 5/26 with mainly neutral anomalies in play. A weak Inactive Phase is forecast 5/27-6/13 with mostly east anomalies holding. An Active Pulse is to follow 6/12 building in the west and filling the KWGA through 7/23 with weak west anomalies mostly filling the KWGA but with east anomalies on and east of the dateline. A very weak Inactive Phase is to set up on 7/24 through the end of the model run on 8/9 with east anomalies in the KWGA and with more defined east anomalies east of the dateline. The low pass filter indicates no low or high pressure bias present in either the Indian Ocean or the Pacific. A high pressure bias is to appear over the East Pacific on 6/8 building through the end of the model run and reaching west into the eastern KWGA in mid-July building to 2 contour liens at the end of the model run. And at the same time the low pressure bias is to reappear over the Indian Ocean starting 7/9 building through the end of the model run. East anomalies set up in the Indian Ocean last Fall and held through Jan 10, 2020, then started to become more episodic. But starting today they are gone from the Indian Ocean and are repositioning themselves in the Central Pacific by late May and then holding through the end of the model run while west anomalies are migrating west and taking root in the Indian Ocean 5/24 and building through the end of the model run. Based on this model it appears a transition to La Nina is starting today and is to become entrenched in late June.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (5/12) Today in the far West Pacific the 30 deg isotherm was all but gone. The 29 deg isotherm was steady at 176E. The 28 deg isotherm line was steady at 164W today. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing into Ecuador but getting shallower. Anomaly wise, neutral anomalies were from 105W to 160W. Weak warm anomalies were west of there. There was no indication of any Kelvin Waves left. A large pocket of cool water at -3 degs was 150 meters deep between 170W to 100W looking to be pushing up towards the surface but not quite there yet. it is likely poised to push to the surface in the next week. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 5/8 indicates the same thing with warm anomalies breaking up fast in the East Pacific and cool water at depth getting ready to erupt in the east. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (5/8) Negative anomalies at -5 to -10 cms were indicated over the equatorial Pacific between Ecuador and 170W, suggestive of a cool subsurface pool developing below the equator. Positive anomalies at +5 cms were isolated in the far West Pacific.

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: (5/11) The latest images indicate warm anomalies were modest along the coast of Chile up into Peru continuing up off Ecuador up into Central America reaching west to 100W. But, cool water was building over the equator from just west of the Galapagos the whole way west to the dateline and building, looking like the start of a La Nina pattern. Otherwise warmer water was steady aligned just north of the equator from Central America out to 165W, remnants of a fading El Nino like pattern. A broad pocket of cool anomalies was off California and Baja but weaker than weeks past and fading fast.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (5/11): A previous pocket of solid cooling waters on the equator from just west of Ecuador out to 160W is fading limited to the area between 110-140W. There is warming occurring north of the equator from Central America to 135W. The short term trend is looking like a pause is occurring in a likely push towards the development of La Nina.
Hi-res Overview: (5/11) Warming temps were along the coast of South and Central America. A modest pocket of cooling was off California and Baja Mexico out to 145W but losing coverage. A stream of cool water was holding 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: (5/12) Today's temps were rising to +0.305, but 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:
(5/12) Temps were fading today down to -0.056, appearing to be on a firm downward trajectory. 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 (5/12) Actual's indicate temperatures were generally +0.65 degs Jan 1 2020 through April 1 then falling to 0.0 mid-May. The forecast depicts temps falling steadily from there, down to -0.50 July 1 holding there into early Aug, then falling more and moving to La Nina down at -0.75 in Sept and holding there to Jan 2021, then starting to rise. According to this model sea surface temps should be falling strongly moving towards La Nina as Summer develops.
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) (5/12): The daily index was positive today at +3.62. The 30 day average was rising at +0.58. The 90 day average was rising at -2.78, 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): April 2020 -0.62, March -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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