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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, May 15, 2018 3:34 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 & 1.7 - 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 5/14 thru Sun 5/20

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   

Storm #1S Tracking Through Central Pacific
Multiple Smaller Swells Ahead of it for CA


On Tuesday, May 15, 2018 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.0 ft @ 7.7 secs with swell 3.2 ft @ 8.4 secs from 142 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.1 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 13.9 secs from 185 degrees. Wind at the buoy was southwest at 8-12 kts. Water temperature NA. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.0 ft @ 14.8 secs from 191 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.4 ft @ 14.8 secs from 202 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 2.8 ft @ 14.9 secs from 217 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 3.0 ft @ 14.7 secs from 195 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Buoy 029 is back on line! Seas were 4.7 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 2.8 ft @ 15.1 secs from 185 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 6-8 kts. Water temp 53.2 degs.

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 (5/15) in North and Central CA local north windswell was fading out at waist high with southern hemi swell in the mix too also about waist to maybe chest high with light wind and glassy conditions with heavy overcast. Protected breaks were waist high and clean and weak. At Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was hitting solidly producing set waves at head high to 1 ft overhead on the peaks and clean. In Southern California up north surf was thigh high and lumpy and weak and unremarkable. In North Orange Co southern hemi swell was producing waves at shoulder high and lined up but a bit on the weak side and textured with some south wind on it. South Orange Country's best breaks had head high sets and clean and lined up. In North San Diego surf was head high on the sets and lined up and clean but with some warble in the water. Hawaii's North Shore was still getting some limited windswell at waist high or so with a north warble running through it. The South Shore was getting southern hemi swell with sets to head high and clean and lined up. The East Shore was getting east windswell at thigh to waist high and semi chopped from modest east-northeast trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Tuesday (5/15) small southern hemi swell from a storm previously under New Zealand was hitting Hawaii making for rideable surf on the South Shore. Also swell from a gale that pushed north through the Central South Pacific was hitting California. So there was a little southern hemi swell for everyone. But the North Pacific is asleep for the summer now. Down south a small gale developed in the upper latitudes of the South Pacific on Sat-Mon (5/7) pushing northeast producing up to 30 ft seas over a small area aimed north. That swell started hitting California late Sun (5/13). Also a small system pushed east under New Zealand on Sun-Mon (5/7) producing 37 ft seas aimed east. And a stronger system tracked under New Zealand on Tues (5/8) with up to 57 ft seas aimed east. That swell is hitting Hawaii now. And another gale formed south of New Zealand on Sat-Sun (5/13) producing up to 39 ft seas aimed northeast. Remnants of it tracked east into the Central Pacific then started lifting northeast Mon-Thurs (5/17) with up to 46 ft seas projected aimed northeast but small in coverage. So a nice little early season storm cycle is setting up in the South Pacific. After that no swell producing weather systems are forecast.


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday AM (5/15) a weak pressure and wind pattern was in control of the North Pacific generating no swell nor any windswell relative to Hawaii or California.

Over the next 72 hours no swell production is forecast.

A series of weak weather system are to track through the Northern Gulf of Alaska but none with fetch exceeding 30 kts and seas not reaching even 20 ft. No swell is to result.


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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (5/15) a weak pressure pattern was in control of the Northeast Pacific with a light wind flow over the entire state and a weak surface low off the San Francisco Bay area. Winds west to northwest 5-10 kts later in the day. Weak high pressure is to try and build later Wed (5/16) with weak northwest winds for the entire state but 15-20 kts over the Channel Islands through the day. Thurs (5/17) the low fades with northwest winds 10 kts early for North and Central CA but up to 15 kts over Pt Conception building later at 15 kts for the entire state including Southern CA. Friday (5/18) high pressure at 1024 mbs builds eastward into CA from a point north of Hawaii with north winds 15-20 kts for all of North and Central CA early building in coverage some in the late afternoon. Saturday (5/19) northwest winds build in coverage at 20 kts over the entire North and Central Coast. Sunday (5/20) the gradient fades some but still is to be producing northwest winds 15-20 kts over the entire North and Central Coast. Monday (5/21) the gradient is to build again with 15-20 kts north winds over the entire North and Central coast and building to 20 kts in the afternoon and down into Southern CA too. There's a sense that north winds are to start fading Tues AM (5/22) isolated to North CA at 20+ kts with 15 kt north winds only well off the Central CA coast.

South Pacific

On Tuesday AM (5/15) the southern branch of the jetstream was ridging south under New Zealand at 62S tracking east to 150W then started to push north over the Southeast Pacific with winds to 130 kts forming a bit of a trough there supportive of gale development. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to slowly weaken and fade late Wednesday (5/16) with winds falling below 110 kts offering little support for gale development at that time. Beyond a weak jetstream flow is forecast with remnants of the ridge holding over the Central South Pacific reaching south to 70S effectively shutting down any support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the ridge is to continue pushing south into Antarctica through Sun (5/20) suppressing gale development. And on Sunday another ridge is to start building in the Central Pacific pushing hard south reaching mainland Antarctica later Monday (5/21) with more southbound winds energy behind it on Tues (5/22). But a trough is forecast developing under Tasmania on Sun (5/20) being fed by 130 kt winds lifting northeast into the Tasman Sea and building over New Zealand on Tues (5/22) offering some support for gale development there. It is unknown whether this trough will make it into the Southwest Pacific.

Surface Analysis  
On Tuesday (5/15) swell from a small gale previously in the Central Pacific was hitting California (see Central Pacific Gale below). Also swell from a primer gale under New Zealand was pushing northeast (see Primer New Zealand Gale below). And swell from a strong storm that pushed under New Zealand was tracking northeast (see New Zealand Storm below). Also swell is being generated by another gale building while tracking northeast through the Central Pacific (see Central Pacific Gale - Swell #1S below).

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


Central Pacific Gale
A gale started developing in the upper latitudes of the Central South Pacific on Sat AM (5/5) producing 30 kt southwest winds over a small area lifting northeast with seas building. In the evening south winds built in coverage some at 30-35 kts aimed north with seas still building to barely 22 ft but not reaching a critical threshold just yet. On Sun AM fetch built in coverage at 35+ kts aimed north with 25 ft seas over a small area at 41S 142W. In the evening 35-40 kt south winds were pushing northeast with seas building to 25-26 ft at 38S 135W. On Mon AM (5/7) a tiny area of 40-45 kt south winds persisted with seas building to 31 ft at 42S 131W aimed northeast (192 degs SCal, 189 degs NCal). Fetch faded in the evening from 35 kt over a small area aimed north with seas dropping from 29 ft at 38N 129W. Swell has been generated pushing northeast.

Southern CA: Swell fading some on Tues (5/15) from 2.8 ft @ 14 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell fading out on Wed (5/16) from 2.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 192-195 degrees

North CA: Swell holding on Tues (5/15) at 2.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell fading on Wed (5/16) from 2.4 ft @ 14 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Dribbles on Thurs (5/17) fading from 2.0 ft @ 13 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 189-193 degrees


New Zealand Primer Gale
A primer gale tracked east under the Tasman Sea approaching New Zealand on Sun AM (5/6) with 40 kt west winds and seas to 36 ft at 53.5S 153E and barely in the SCal swell window (222 degs) but shadowed for NCal and Hawaii. This system was roughing the oceans surface up some. Fetch pushed east in the evening and faded from 40 kts from the west with seas 37 ft at 53S 165E (201 degs HI, 220 degs SCal, 219 degs NCal). On Mon AM (5/7) fetch was fading from 35 kts from the west with seas fading from 33 ft at 55S 175E (195 degs HI, 219 degs SCal, 217 degs NCal). This gale dissipated from there.

Hawaii: Swell to build slightly Tues (5/15) to 1.4 ft @ 17 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fading Wed (5/16) from 1.1 ft @ 15-16 secs early (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 201 degrees

South CA: Expect the first hints of swell energy arriving late on Tues (5/15) and not even 1 ft @ 20 secs late (1.5 ft) and not even noticeable. Swell builds on Wed (5/16) to 1.3 ft @ 18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) and getting overrun by more powerful New Zealand swell. Swell Direction: 219-221 degrees

North CA: Expect the first hints of swell energy arriving late on Tues (5/15) building to less than 1 ft @ 20 secs late (1.5 ft) and not even noticeable. Swell builds on Wed (5/16) to 1.1 ft @ 18 secs (2.0 ft) and getting overrun by more powerful New Zealand swell. Swell Direction: 217-219 degrees


New Zealand Storm
A strong but small storm developed Mon PM (5/7) on the same track under New Zealand as the Primer Gale (above) producing 65 kt southwest winds and 53 ft seas at 50S 156E aimed east-northeast but shadowed by New Zealand relative to HI and CA. On Tues AM (5/8) a broad area of 50 kt southwest winds were just south of New Zealand with seas building to 53 ft over a modest sized area at 50S5 165E and unshadowed relative to California (221 degs SCal, 220 degs NCal). Fetch pushed east and faded in the evening from 45 kts from the west-southwest with seas 45 ft at 50S 178W aimed east (215 degs SCal and shadowed by Tahiti, 213 degs NCal and unshadowed, 192 degs HI). This system faded from there Wed AM (5/9) with southwest winds 35 kts and seas fading from 34 ft at 49S 171W (189 degs HI, 211 degs SCal and 209 degs NCal and both shadowed). This system dissipated from there.

Hawaii: Swell building some on Tues (5/15) to 1.4 ft @ 17 secs later (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fading Wed (5/16) from 1.1 ft @ 15 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell gone after that. Swell Direction: 201 degrees

South CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues (5/15) building to 1.0 ft @ 23 secs late (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell building on Wed (5/16) building steadily through the day to 1.8 ft @ 20 secs late (3.5 ft). Swell building through the day Thurs (5/17) to 2.3 ft @ 18 secs later (4.0 ft). Swell fading on Fri (5/18) from 2.1 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Residuals on Sat (5/19) fading from 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft). Swell continues on Sun (5/20) at 1.7 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft). Dribbles on Mon (5/21) fading from 1.4 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 214-221 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues (5/15) building to 0.9 ft @ 23 secs late (2.0 ft). Swell building on Wed (5/16) building steadily through the day to 1.6 ft @ 20 secs late (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell building through the day Thurs (5/17) to 2.1 ft @ 18 secs late (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell fading on Fri (5/18) from 2.0 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Residuals on Sat (5/19) fading from 1.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 213-220 degrees


Central Pacific Gale (Swell #1S)
Another gale started forming south of New Zealand on Sat AM (5/12) with 50 kt southwest winds over a small area and seas building from 37 ft at 59S 164E. In the evening it moved south-southeast of New Zealand with a smaller area of 45 kt southwest winds with seas building to 38 ft at 57.5S 179W. On Sun AM (5/13) the gale tracked east with winds 40 kt over a small area aimed northeast with seas 34 ft at 55.5S 168.5W. In the evening the original fetch faded from 35 kts with seas fading from 28 ft at 55S 157W. Also a new fetch associated with the gale started building west of the original fetch from 35 kts aimed northeast. On Mon AM (5/14) fetch in the new area built to 40-45 kts from the southwest with seas building from 31 ft at 52.5S 154W. In the evening this system built though over a small area with south winds 55 kts aimed north with seas 44 ft at 52S 147W. On Tues AM (5/15) south winds were fading from 45 kts aimed north-northeast with seas 42 ft over a tiny area at 48S 139W. In the evening fetch to fade from 35-40 kts from the south with seas fading from 36 ft at 46S 131W. A last pulse of south winds are expected Wed AM (5/16) at 45 kts over a tiny area pushing north with seas 32 ft up at 43S 129W. Fetch fading in the evening from 35+ kts and seas fading from 32 ft at 40.5S 127.5W. Something to monitor. Limited energy from the first part of this storm expected for Hawaii with more energy from the second part of the storm targeting California.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Sat (5/19) building to 1.6 ft @ 18 secs late (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell peaking on Sun (5/20) at 1.7 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading on Mon (5/21) from 1.5 ft @ 15 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Residuals on Tues (5/22) fading from 1.1 ft @ 14 secs early (1.5 ft). Swell Direction: 197-200 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (5/21) building steadily through the day pushing 2.7 ft @ 20 secs late(5.5 ft). Swell building Tues (5/22) pushing 3.9 ft @ 18 secs early afternoon (7.0 ft with sets to 8.5 ft). Swell Direction: 187-197 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (5/21) building steadily through the day pushing 2.1 ft @ 21 secs late (4.5 ft). Swell building Tues (5/22) pushing 3.3 ft @ 18-19 secs late afternoon (6.0 ft with sets to 7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 185-195 degrees


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




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

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.

More details to follow...


Weak Warm SST's Developing over the Equatorial Pacific

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

Overview: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. A double dip La Nina was in control and continued through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018 associated with 2 Upwelling Kelvin Waves, suggesting the demise of La Nina.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Mon (5/14) 5 day average winds were from the east over the bulk of the equatorial Pacific and moderate easterly over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific and light easterly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (5/15) Modest east anomalies were over the whole of the KWGA with a few pockets of spotty west anomalies east of the dateline to Ecuador and not in the KWGA. This pattern is to hold for the coming week but with a pocket of strong east anomalies building near the dateline 5/17-5/22 associated with an Equatorial Rossby Wave forecast there. This is not MJO related (meaning it should be short lived). East anomalies are to be fading at the end of the model run on 5/22. West anomalies are also building south of California to the moderate range at the end of the model run.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (5/14) The Inactive/Dry Phase of the MJO was over the West Pacific at moderate strength and building into the KWGA. The statistical model depicts the Inactive/Dry Phase is to track east filling the KWGA at day 5 then slowly fading for the next 15 days and finally positioned over the dateline at day 15. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but not making any eastward progress and instead fading over the far West Pacific.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (5/15) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was modest over Africa. It is to track east steadily through the Indian Ocean while weakening over the next 15 days moving to the Maritime Continent at 15 days out. The GEFS model depicts effectively the same thing but with not as fast an eastward trajectory, making it only to the Central Indian Ocean.
40 day Upper Level Model: (5/15) This model depicts a modest Inactive Phase is over the far West Pacific and is to be moving east to Central America on 6/4 while a new modest Active Phase builds in the West Pacific starting 5/25 and moving through the East Pacific into Central America just before the end of the model run on 6/19. A weak Inactive Phase is to be developing over the West Pacific on 6/10 pushing to the Central Pacific at the end of the model run on 6/24. This model runs about 1-2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (5/15) This model depicts the Inactive Phase of the MJO was weakly building over the West Pacific with spotty weak east anomalies developing in the KWGA. The Inactive Phase is to hold through 6/21 but with neutral to weak west anomalies developing 5/21 and in control of the KWGA through the period. The Active Phase to develop 6/22 holding through 7/27 with modest west anomalies forecast in the KWGA. The Inactive Phase is to try and develop after that on 7/26 through the end of the model run on 8/12 but with weak west anomalies still be in control of the KWGA. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is now fully filling the KWGA and building with 2 contours in the heart of the KWGA now. A third contour is to develop 7/22 meaning the low pressure bias is to be strengthening. This is good news for the coming Fall-Winter season. The high pressure bias is limited to an area south of California. La Nina bias is gone. The expectation is that the atmosphere and ocean will begin to be coupled starting 8/8 (low pressure bias officially filled the KWGA on 5/8) in a more favorable configuration to support storm production in the Pacific.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (5/15) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 29-30 degs at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line is now moving eastward from it previous location at 180W last winter to 165W at 75 meters deep up to the surface with fingers to 164W. The 24 deg isotherm was steady in thickness at 100 meters deep at 140W and 50 meters deep at 120W rising to 35 meters into Ecuador. Anomaly wise in the East Pacific negative temperatures are gone as warm waters from a Kelvin Wave are building in from the west at depth. Warm anomalies at depth were holding in the West at +3.0 degs fat 165W down 150 meters pushing east with +2 deg anomalies now reaching to 95W. We're waiting for these warm anomalies to erupt to the surface. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 5/8 depicts warm water in the west at +3.0 degs at 170W with a river of warm water at +1 degs pushing east to 90W with the leading edge of that mass touching the surface there. The last of the La Nina cool pool was all but gone now and still fading along the coast of Ecuador and being squeezed to the surface by the large approaching Kelvin Wave. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data.
Sea Level Anomalies: (5/8) Positive anomalies were over the West equatorial Pacific at +5-10 cms centered at 180W with continuous +5 cm anomalies reaching east under the equator to 115W continuously with one pocket east of there at 105W. Negative anomalies have almost completely dissipated were east of there except for one small pocket at -5 cms off Peru. The La Nina cool pool is all but gone.

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: (5/14) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a small pocket of cool anomalies continuing to weaken along the immediate coast of Peru reaching northwest off Ecuador then dissipating before hitting the Galapagos. Weak warm anomalies holding on the oceans surface on the equator over the Galapagos and building west of there out to 160W on and both north and south of the equator, though more prevalent north of the equator. Also warm water was also off Peru (90W) down to 10S aligned along the equator out to 110W. Cooler water was at 15S from just off Peru westward to 155W, likely the last of the the La Nina cool pool.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (5/14): A clear warming trend is developing over the equatorial Pacific from 100W west to 160W from 20N down to 10S likely indicative of the Kelvin Wave at depth now starting to leach to the surface.
Hi-res Overview: (5/14) A tiny pocket of cool water was collapsing along the immediate coast of Peru. Warm water was building from Ecuador west to the Galapagos and west from there to the dateline on the equator to 3S. Weak warming was also further off the coast of Peru to 100W and reaching north to the equator. Warming was also along Central America filling the area from the equator northward up into Mexico and east over the entirety of the equatorial Pacific. The La Nina core cool pocket was shrinking and warming some limited to a broad pocket south of the equator from 105W to barely the dateline and south of 3S looking like a Modoki La Nina (meaning the core of La Nina is advecting west and dissipating). Overall the cooling pattern is steadily loosing density and drifting west.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (5/15) Today's temps were falling some today after rising to +0.459 on 5/13. This is part of a larger rising trend stat started 4/10 indicative of the collapse of La Nina. Previously temps rose to -0.069 on 4/3 but crashed the week after that to -1.9 degs on 4/10. Prior to that temps had fallen hard to -2.364 degs on 3/25, the coldest of any point in this La Nina. Previous cool peaks were on 3/12 at -1.5 degs retreating from the peak of the first Kelvin Wave hitting at +0.898 degrees on 2/28. Overall temps had been steadily marching upwards since late December. Temps in this area bottomed out on 12/23 at -2.1 degs, a third near peak negative reading. The lowest point so far in this La Nina was -2.248 degs reached on 11/5. And that low point was lower than the previous coldest point reached on 10/11 at -1.9 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (5/15) Today temps were rising to -0.165, up from -0.427 on 5/12 after having reached up to -0.254 degs on 5/1. Temps have been steadily rising since 3/27 when they were down at -1.2 degs. A weak surge in temps occurred 1/12-1/28 reaching up to -0.600 deg range. But since then temps backed off some. Previously a peak low was observed on 1/10-1/12 to -1.577. On (12/7) temps hit a previous record low at -1.219, just below the previous coldest peak so far this La Nina on 11/22 at -1.156. And the third previous low peak was reached at -1.1 on 11/23. The long arc suggests perhaps a rising pattern. La Nina is in control, but it's taking a hit.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (5/15) The forecast depicts temps bottomed out at -0.75 in Nov 2017 and have been slowly rising since, up to -0.5 in mid-March and -0.30 in early April. Temps are forecast to continue a steady increase from here forward reaching neutral in late May, hovering there then starting to rise July into Fall to +0.25 degs in Oct and +0.4 degs in late Dec. This suggests the peak of La Nina occurred in 2017 and is to continue to fade through the Summer of 2018 before turning weakly positive in the late Fall. This model is known to be biased cold. Most other models are suggesting a possible turn to minimal weak El Nino conditions by late Fall.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-April Plume depicts temps at -0.2 degs and are to slowly rise, to +0.0 in May and +0.4 in August and +0.8 in November. See chart here - link. It looks like La Nina is fading out and a weak El Nino might develop. The CFSv2 is in the low end of that pack.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (5/15): The daily index was rising some today at -0.13. The 30 day average was falling to -4.18 suggesting the Inactive Phase of the MJO was fading. The 90 day average was rising some at 4.04 suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern was holding in the atmosphere biased towards La Nina. This is expected for a few more months.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (5/15) Today the index was steady today at -0.43, down from -0.36 on Fri (5/11) and -0.38 on Thurs (5/10), down from -0.35 on 4/26, but up from -1.02 on 4/5 and up from -1.13 on 3/27. The trend is upward but still less than the -0.33 reading in late Feb. That was was up from -1.11 on 1/29. The trend suggests La Nina is not gone, but fading steadily. Last years La Nina reached -1.94 on 11/2/16 and then fell to -2.20 on 6/28/17. It held pretty negative through Jan 2018. This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina events. The goal is to have it rise to at least -0.5 before a significant change could be suggested.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly positive, even though La Nina is in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values: April 2017=+0.53, May=+0.29, June=+0.21, July= -0.50, Aug= -0.62, Sept = -0.25, Oct= -0.61, Nov = -0.45, Dec= -0.13, Jan 2018=+0.29, Feb= -0.10, Mar= -0.51. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.77, Feb = +0.70, Mar = +0.74, April=+1.12, May=+0.88, June=+0.79, July=+0.10, Aug=+0.09, Sept = +0.32, Oct=+0.05, Nov = +0.15, Dec = +0.50, Jan +0.70. Feb +0.37. No 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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