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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Sunday, May 20, 2018 1:42 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
4.2 - California & 2.0 - 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 5/21 thru Sun 5/27

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   

Swell #1S Hitting Hawaii
And Tracking Stronger Towards CA


On Sunday, May 20, 2018 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.5 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 3.7 ft @ 8.8 secs from 202 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 5.6 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 15.6 secs from 195 degrees. Wind at the buoy was west at 4-6 kts. Water temperature NA. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.4 ft @ 7.8 secs from 267 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.4 ft @ 14.9 secs from 206 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.7 ft @ 15.7 secs from 216 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.0 ft @ 14.9 secs from 196 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Buoy 029 is back on line! Seas were 6.4 ft @ 7.7 secs with swell 5.2 ft @ 6.7 secs from 320 degrees and southern hemi swell 2.1 ft @ 14.8 secs from 220 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 14-18 kts. Water temp 53.4 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 Sunday (5/20) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf at maybe waist high and chopped from northwest winds and a mess. Protected breaks were thigh to waist high and soft and warbled but not fully chopped. At Santa Cruz minimal background southern hemi swell was producing set waves at waist high and clean early but very slow. In Southern California up north surf was flat to thigh high and warbled early with light north wind. In North Orange Co southern hemi swell was still hitting producing waves at waist high or so when they came and clean early with north texture on it. South Orange Country's best breaks had surf in the waist to maybe chest high range with a few stray sets chest high or more and clean but very slow. In North San Diego surf was waist to maybe chest high on the biggest peaks and clean and lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was getting some limited northeast windswell at waist high with a little north warble running through it and weak. The South Shore was getting southern hemi Swell #1S with waves head high to 1-2 ft overhead on the sets and clean and lined up with a good number of waves per set but the sets were inconsistent. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at waist high and chopped from east-northeast trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Sunday (5/20) southern hemi swell from the first pulse of Storm #1S previously under New Zealand was hitting Hawaii and pushing towards California. Fading remnant South Pacific swell from another storm previously under New Zealand was fading out in California. The big story remains about a gale that formed south of New Zealand on Sat-Sun (5/13) producing up to 39 ft seas aimed northeast with it's remnants tracking east into the Central Pacific then started lifting northeast Mon-Wed (5/16) while redeveloping producing up to 46 ft seas aimed northeast but small in coverage. Swell #1S is in the water. But after that no swell producing weather systems are forecast for the greater Pacific. Instead the storm track is to shift west focused on the Tasman Sea and Fiji.


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Sunday AM (5/20) 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 reaching barely 18 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 Sunday AM (5/20) high pressure at 1024 mbs was ridging east from a point north of Hawaii producing northwest winds at 20 kts over the entire North and Central Coast and forecast building in the evening. Monday (5/21) the gradient is to hold with 20 kts north winds over the entire North and Central coast and building to 25 kts in the afternoon over North CA and 15 kts down into Southern CA too. North winds are to start fading Tues AM (5/22) isolated to North CA at 20-25 kts but only 10-15 kts early over the Central CA coast and fading to 10 kts in the afternoon. Wednesday a lift flow is forecast for the entire state with low pressure building well off the Central CA coast. More of the same on Thursday (5/24) as the low slowly eases east some. Friday light west winds are forecast at no more than 10 kts all day for the entire state. Light winds are forecast Sat (5/26) as the low eases east now just 400 nmiles off the Central Coast. Sunday (5/27) the north winds build from 5-10 kts early and up to 15 kts in the afternoon as high pressure starts to plot it's return.

South Pacific

On Sunday AM (5/20) the southern branch of the jetstream was tracking east over mainland Antarctica down at 73S offering no support for meaningful trough (or gale) development. But a weak trough was pushing through the Tasman Sea with a jet there lifting north and impacting the southern tip of New Zealand with 90 kt winds offering some support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hours another trough is to start building under Tasmania Sunday evening (5/20) with 140 kt winds pushing north reaching a point just south of Tasmania and offering good support for gale development there. That trough is to build into Mon AM (5/21) with south winds in the jet to 150 kts impacting the southern tip of Tasmania offering more support for gale development into the Tasman Sea and tracking east while holding into Tues AM (5/22) as the trough moves over southern New Zealand and then pinches off and fades making no progress into the Southwest Pacific and effectively gone by Wed AM (5/23). Meanwhile southeast of New Zealand a new ridge is to start building on Monday (5/12) pushing hard south and impacting Antarctica and holding the lock down over the South Pacific into at least Wed (5/23). Beyond 72 hours another trough is to start building well south of Tasmania on Thurs (5/24) lifting steadily northeast into Fri evening (5/25) producing good winds in the upper atmosphere aimed north up into the Tasman Sea into Sat AM (5/26) when the trough moves fully over Southern New Zealand. But even then the trough is to lifting north over New Zealand into Sun (5/27) possibly still supporting gale development. Meanwhile in the greater South Pacific a ridge is to remain in control starting just southeast of New Zealand pushing the jet south to 70S and sweeping east across the bulk of the South Pacific through Fri (5/25). But come Sat (5/26) there's indications a trough might start building down at 70S well south of New Zealand and lifting northeast into Sun (5/27) with south winds 90-100 kts offering a glimmer of hope for support for gale development in the deep Southwest Pacific beyond. Perhaps the troughing pattern isolated to the Tasman Sea is to start pushing east into the Southwest Pacific.

Surface Analysis  
On Sunday (5/20) swell from a solid storm that pushed under New Zealand was fading out in California (see New Zealand Storm below). Of far more interest was swell now hitting Hawaii generated by yet another gale that tracked northeast through the Southwest Pacific then redeveloped and lifted north through the Central Pacific (see Central Pacific Gale - Swell #1S below).

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast for the greater South Pacific. But for the Tasman Sea a series of 3 storms are forecast.


Tasman Sea Gale #1
A gale tracked southwest of Tasmania on Tues PM (5/15) with southwest fetch fading from 40 kts and seas 46 ft at 55.5S 131W targeting the Tasman Sea area. ON Wed Am (5/16) southwest fetch was fading from 40 kts and seas 39 ft at 55S 140.5E aimed northeast. The gale pushes east in the evening with southwest winds fading from 35 kts and seas fading from 35 ft at 52.2S 151.5E. On Thurs AM (5/17) the gale was fading with 30 kt southwest winds mainly targeting Southern New Zealand with seas fading from 31 ft at 51.5S 161E. This system dissipated in the evening while pushing east into the Southwest Pacific.

Fiji: Swell is peaking here on 12Z Sun (midnight Mon (5/21) local time) estimated at 8-9 ft @ 18 secs (14.5-16.0 ft) and expected to hold into sunrise Mon (5/21) at 7.9-8.9 ft @ 17 secs (13.4-15.1 ft). Swell Direction 203-211 degrees.

Hawaii: Sideband and filtered swell to reach Oahu's South Shore on Wed (5/23) building to 1.2 ft @ 19 secs late (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell continues on Thurs (5/24) peaking at 1.5 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.5-3.0 ft - biggest later). Swell starts fading on Fri AM (5/25) from 1.7 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) but holding decently though the day. Residuals on Sat AM (5/26) fading from 1.2 ft @ 15 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 215 degrees.


2nd Tasman Sea Gale
Another gale is forecast to form southwest of Tasmania on Mon AM GMT (5/21) producing up to 40 kt southwest winds aimed up the Tasman Sea with seas building to 31 ft at 52S 138W. The gale is to build while pushing up into the Tasman Sea in the evening with 40 kt southwest winds and 31 ft seas at 42S 156E. This is an upgrade from Sat PMs model runs. On Tues AM (5/22) fetch is to be well up in the Tasman Sea at 35 kts from the south with seas 30 ft at 41S 158E aimed northeast. The gale is to fade from there.

Fiji: Expect swell arrival on Fri (5/25) at 3 AM local time with period 18 secs and size building. Swell to peak starting 7 AM Fri (5/25) with pure swell 7.0 ft @ 17 secs (11.9 ft). Swell holding through the day as period drops to 15-16 secs around 6 PM. Swell Direction 212-213 degrees


3rd Tasman Sea Gale
A stronger storm is forecast developing on Wed AM (5/23) under Tasmania with 45 kt southwest winds and seas 37 ft at 52S 146E aimed northeast. In the evening 45 kt southwest winds to continue tracking east with 41 ft seas at 49.5S 155E. On Thurs AM (5/24) fetch is to start impacting New Zealand with 40 kt southwest winds just west of the South Island and 38 ft seas at 46S 163E. The gale is to be inland after that. Something to monitor.



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.

South CA: 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


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 faded from 35-40 kts from the south with seas fading from 35 ft at 46S 131W. A last pulse of south winds developed Wed AM (5/16) at 45 kts over a tiny area pushing north with seas 31 ft up at 42S 128W. Fetch faded in the evening from 35+ kts and seas fading from 32 ft at 40.5S 126W. 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: 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 continues Wed (5/23) at 4.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (7.0 ft with sets to 9.0 ft). Swell fading some Thurs (5/24) from 3.8 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.5 ft with sets to 7.0 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 continues Wed (5/23) at 3.8 ft @ 17 secs (6.5 ft with sets to 8.0 ft). Swell holding on Thurs (5/24) at 3.7 ft @ 15-16 secs (5.5 ft with sets to 7.0 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 for the greater South Pacific. But yet a 4th system is forecast for the Tasman Sea.

Another storm is forecast for the Tasman Sea starting 12Z on Thurs (5/24) producing 55 kt southwest winds southwest of Tasmania and seas building from 42 ft over a small area at 55.5S 128E. In the evening fetch is to fade to 45-50 kts and seas 47 ft at 54S 140E. On Fri AM (5/25) the gael is to fade with southwest winds 40 kts moving clearly into the Tasman Sea and 40 ft seas at 52S 150E. in the evening 40 kt southwest winds are to be approaching South New Zealand with seas fading from 35 ft at 49S 159E. On Sat AM (5/26) this system is to be impacting south New Zealand with no swell production forecast. Something to monitor.

More details to follow...


SST's Holding Steady 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 Sat (5/19) 5 day average winds were from the east over the bulk of the equatorial Pacific and light easterly over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific and neutral over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (5/20) Moderate to strong east anomalies were over the whole of the KWGA but with light west anomalies east of the dateline to Ecuador and not in the KWGA. A pocket of strong east anomalies is to hold over the dateline through 5/24 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 by 5/26 in the KWGA and moving east to the dateline and points east of there through the end of the model run on 5/27. West anomalies are to be holding 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: (5/19) The Inactive/Dry Phase of the MJO was over the KWGA. The statistical model depicts the Inactive/Dry Phase is to track east while weakening in the KWGA at day 8 then slowly fading and gone a few days later with the Active Phase of the KWGA building over the West Pacific 15 days out. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with the Inactive Phase of the MJO holding over the far West Pacific through day 15. So the 2 models are at opposing ends of the spectrum.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (5/20) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was moderate over the West Indian Ocean. It is to tracking east steadily through the Indian Ocean weakening slightly over the next 15 days moving over the Maritime Continent at day 15. The GEFS model depicts effectively the same thing but not moving as fast with it in the East Indian Ocean at day 15.
40 day Upper Level Model: (5/20) This model depicts a strong Inactive Phase is over the far Central Pacific and is to be moving east to Central America on 6/4 while a new weak Active Phase builds in the West Pacific starting 5/30 and moving through the East Pacific into Central America on 6/24. A very weak Inactive Phase is to be developing over the West Pacific on 6/16 pushing to the East Pacific at the end of the model run on 6/29. This model runs about 1-2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (5/20) This model depicts the Inactive Phase of the MJO was weakly building over the West Pacific with modest east anomalies developing in the KWGA. The Inactive Phase is to hold through 7/4 with weak east anomalies through 5/25 then turning to neutral anomalies and then to weak west anomalies by 6/1. A weak push of the Active Phase to develop 6/6 holding with weak west anomalies holding. A stronger and more coherent push of the Active Phase of the MJO is to develop 6/23 with modest west anomalies forecast in the KWGA and holding through 7/31. A very weak Inactive Phase is to try and develop after that on 8/6 holding through the end of the model run on 8/17 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. This is good news for the coming Fall-Winter season. The high pressure bias is limited to an area south of California and shrinking at the end of the model run. 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: (5/20) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line continues moving eastward from it previous location at 180W last winter to 165W on 5/15 to 162W today from the surface to 75 meters deep with fingers to 161W. 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 at 170W down 150 meters pushing east with +2 deg anomalies now reaching to the Galapagos. We're waiting for these warm anomalies to erupt to the surface. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 5/13 depicts warm water in the west at +4.0 degs at 170W with a river of warm water at +1 degs pushing continuously east to 100W with a pocket at 95W and that mass touching the surface there. The last of the La Nina cool pool was all but gone now and no longer at the surface along the coast of Ecuador being forced to depth by the large approaching Kelvin Wave. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed an accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (5/13) Positive anomalies were over the West equatorial Pacific at +5-10 cms centered at 180W with continuous +5 cm anomalies reaching east under and 10 degrees north and south of the equator to 115W continuously with one pocket east of there at 105W. Negative anomalies have completely dissipated east of there including along the coast of 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: (5/19) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a small pocket of cool anomalies are building along the immediate coast of Peru but reaching no further north. Weak warm anomalies are holding on the oceans surface on the equator from the Galapagos and 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 (5/19): A warming trend is holding over the equatorial Pacific from 100W west out to 160W from 20N down to 10S likely indicative of the Kelvin Wave at depth now starting to leach to the surface. No defined cooling pockets are indicated anywhere on the equator.
Hi-res Overview: (5/19) A tiny weak pocket of cool water was wisping 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 110W 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: (5/20) Today's temps were steady today at -0.692, down from a recent peak 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: (5/20) Today temps were up slightly at -0.127, 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 (5/18) 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 +0.30 degs in Oct and +0.4 degs in late Dec and holding there into Feb 2019. 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 (5/20): The daily index was rising some today at 13.58. The 30 day average was rising some at -2.92 suggesting the Inactive Phase of the MJO was building some. The 90 day average was rising some at 5.27 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): (5/20) Today the index was falling again down to -0.71, down from -0.60 on 5/17, 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/JISAO 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, Mar = -0.05. 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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