Thursday, May 21, 2020
- Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 13.1 secs from 194 degrees.
- Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.3 ft @ 6.7 secs with swell 3.1 ft @ 6.3 secs from 31 degrees. Water temp 77.2 degs.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.7 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 9.2 secs from 249 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 6 kts. Water temperature 63.5 degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 4.9 ft @ 7.8 secs from 308 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.2 ft @ 14.6 secs from 205 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.8 ft @ 13.8 secs from 193 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 4.3 ft @ 8.0 secs from 278 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.4 ft @ 6.7 secs with swell 5.9 ft @ 6.5 secs from 318 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was northwest at 10-14 kts. Water temp 52.3 degs (013), 55.6 degs (012) and 55.9 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).
Summer - 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).
Summer - 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.
Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.
On Thursday (5/21) in North and Central CA locally generated northwest windswell was producing waves at chest high and warbled and soft and pretty formless with a modest onshore flow early. Protected breaks were waist high with chest high peaks and lined up and fairly clean and soft and crumbled. All parking lots closed. At Santa Cruz residual background southern hemi swell was occasionally producing waves at thigh to waist high and clean and weak. In Southern California/Ventura waves were waist and weak and soft and clean with a fair amount of warble in the water even though local wind was calm. Central Orange County had waves to waist high and clean and very weak. South Orange Country had sets in the shoulder high range and clean and lined up but inconsistent and soft and mushed. North San Diego had waves at waist high plus with top breaks to head high and clean and lined up but fairly soft. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was chest to head high and line dup and clean and peeling. Fun looking. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves thigh to maybe waist high and chopped early from moderate easterly trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
On Thursday (5/21) in California local northwesterly windswell was hitting mixed with the last fading remnants of southern hemi swell from a gale that previously 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. Residual swell from that system was also pushing into Hawaii's South Shores. Looking ahead no swell producing weather systems are realistically forecast for the North Pacific though the models suggest a gale forming in the Gulf on Tues-Wed (5/27) with up to 25 ft seas aimed east. Odds low. But down south a gale/storm formed southeast of New Zealand on Sat-Sun (5/17) tracking east with up to 53 ft seas aimed east then faded over the Central South Pacific Mon (5/18) with seas fading from 30 ft. And another gale is to track east under New Zealand on Thurs-Fri (5/22) producing up to 37 ft seas aimed east. A pair of smaller systems to follow with the first over the Central South Pacific Sun-Mon (5/25) with up to 40 ft seas aimed east, and another on Wed-Thurs (5/27) with up to 44 ft seas aimed northeast. So the cycle is not over yet.
See all the details below...
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (5/21) no swell of interest was hitting California or Hawaii. but small swell from a gale previously over the North Dateline region was radiating towards both locations (see North Dateline gale below).
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast.
North Dateline Gale
A small gale developed over the North Dateline region on Tues PM (5/19) producing 30-35 kt west winds and seas building to 19 ft at 43N 172.5E aimed east. The gale built on Wed AM (5/20) producing 30-35 kt west winds and seas to 22 ft over a tiny area at 46.5N 178.5E aimed east. The gale faded in the evening with 30 kt winds and 20 ft seas aimed east at 47.5N 176.5W. The gale was fading Thurs AM (5/21) with 30 kt west winds over the North Dateline region seas fading from 20 ft at 47.5N 176W aimed east. Low odds of any meaningful swell resulting for Hawaii or the US West Coast.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Sat (5/23) building to 2.5 ft @ 12-13 secs late (3.0 ft). Swell holding Sun (5/24) at 2.5 ft @ 11-12 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell holding Mon (5/25) at 2.8 ft @ 11-12 secs (3.0 ft). Dribbles on Tues (5/26) fading from 2.5 ft @ 10-11 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 318 moving to 330 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (5/25) building to 2.8 ft @ 13 sec later (3.5) ft and buried in local north windswell. Swell buried after that. Swell Direction: 300-305 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (5/21) high pressure was setting up with northwest winds 20 kts early over outer water of North and Central CA building to 20-25 kts later. Fri (5/22) northwest winds to be 20-25 kts for North CA and Central CA building to near 30 kts for North Ca later and 25 kts solid for Central CA. Sat (5/23) northwest winds are forecast at 25 kts for North CA and 20 kts for Central CA all day. Sun (5/24) northwest winds are to be 20-25 kts for North CA early and 10-15 kts for Central CA holding later. Mon (5/25) northwest winds are forecast at 20 kts for North CA and 10 kts for Central CA early and fading to 15 kts for North CA later nearshore (but 20-25 kts just offshore). On Tues (5/26) northwest winds are forecast at 20-25 kts for Cape Mendocino to Pt Arena but 10 kts south of there all day. Wed (5/27) a weak eddy flow (south winds) is forecast for all of North And Central CA but north at 30 kts for the CA-OR border fading in the afternoon. Thurs (5/28) a weak northwest flow is forecast for all of North and Central CA early building to 10 kts later.
Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 0, 0, 0 and 0 inches respectively.
Snow Models: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_snow.html (Scroll down for resort specific forecasts). Updated!
On Thursday (5/21) the jetstream was split over the entirety of the South Pacific with the southern branch lifting north some under New Zealand starting to form a trough and being fed with 140 kts winds offering some support for gale development. East of there the jet was falling hard south forming a ridge pushing into Antarctica Southeast of New Zealand pushing east to the Central South Pacific then lifting hard north forming a trough over the Southeast Pacific and being fed by 120 kts winds offering some support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the trough under New Zealand is to ease east into later Friday (5/22) offering some support for gale development then flattening out and dying while the trough is the far east holds decently into Fri PM (5/22) then gets cut off and dies as well. Support for gale development to continue until the cutoff occurs. Beyond 72 hours a bit of a trough is to develop under New Zealand on Sun (5/24) pushing east but not remarkable, perhaps offering some support for gale development. A ridge is to start pushing south under New Zealand on Mon (5/25) down to 65S and just north of the Antarctic Ice Line likely not offering support for gale development pushing east. Then on Mon (5/25) southwest winds to start building under New Zealand at 140 kts sweeping east offering better support for gale development there and getting better defined late Tues (5/26) over the Central South Pacific and if anything building north to 48S early Thurs (5/28) continuing to support gale development.
On Thursday (5/21) swell from a gale that tracked from New Zealand swept northeast was fading out in California. (see New Zealand - Central Pacific Gale below). Also swell from a gale that tracked under New Zealand was radiating northeast (see Another New Zealand Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours a gale is forecast developing under New Zealand on Thurs AM (5/21) producing a broad area of 40+ kt west winds and seas to 37 ft at 55S 155.5E aimed east but partially shadowed by Auckland Island and Macquarie Island. Fetch is to hold while tracking east in the evening at 40+ kts from the west with seas holding at 37 ft over a decent area at 55S 168.5E aimed east and no longer shadowed. The gale is to track east and southeast some Fri AM (5/22) with 35+ kt west winds and seas 35 ft at 57S 177E aimed east. In the evening the gale is to start fading in coverage with with 35-40 kt southwest winds and seas rebuilding to 36 ft at 57.5S 178W aimed east. Fetch is to be fading Sat AM (5/23) from 30-35 kts from the southwest with seas fading from 33 ft at 55.5S 166W. 30-35 kt west winds to linger into the evening with 29-30 ft seas over a large area at 57S 160W aimed east. Something to monitor.
And a small gale is to develop in the Central South Pacific Thurs PM (5/12) producing 35 kt south winds and 25 ft seas lifting north at 48S 141W aimed north. Fetch is to build Fri AM to 40-45 kts from the south in the northern reaches of the Southeast Pacific with seas 28 ft at 40S 135W aimed north. Fetch holding in the evening at 40-45 kts over a tiny area aimed north with 32 ft seas at 39S 132W aimed north. Fetch fading Sat AM (5/23) from 35-40 kts with seas fading from 28-30 ft over a tiny area at 32.5S 126.5W aimed north. the gale to fade from there. Possible small southern hemi swell to be radiating north towards CA, Mexico and Central America.
Southern CA: Swell arrival possible on Fri (5/29).
North CA: Swell arrival possible on Fri (5/29).
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.
Southern CA: Dribbles on Thurs (5/21) fading from 1.6 ft @ 13-15 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Residuals on Fri (5/22) fading from 2.2 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 206 degrees
Northern CA: Dribbles on Thurs (5/21) fading from 1.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.0 ft). Maybe a secondary little pulse possible on Fri (5/22) at 1.8 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 204 degrees
Another New Zealand Gale
A gale developed under New Zealand on Sat PM (5/16) pushing east with 5055 kt west winds producing 53 ft seas aimed east at 59.5S 164.5E. The storm faded to gale status pushing east on Sun AM (5/17) with 45 kt west winds over a solid area and seas 48 ft at 60S 177E aimed east. In the evening the gale continued tracking east with 35-40 kt west winds and seas fading from 39 ft at 61.5S 170.5W aimed east. Fetch held coverage Mon AM (5/18) at 35-40 kts starting to lift northeast some with seas 29-30 ft over a large area at 58S 164W aimed east-northeast. The gale was fading in the evening with 30-35 kt southwest winds over a small area and 27 ft seas fading at 59S 160W aimed northeast. On Tues AM (5/19) the gale is to be gone. Something to monitor.
Oahu: Expect swell arrival on Sat (5/23) with swell building to 1.3 ft @ 20 sec late (2.5 ft). Swell holding on Mon (5/24) at 1.3 ft @ 18 secs early (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fading after that with most energy aimed well east of the Hawaii swell window. Swell Direction: 195 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival late on Sun (5/24) building with luck to 1 ft @ 23-24 secs at sunset (2.0 ft). Swell building Mon (5/25) through the day to 1.9 ft @ 20-21 secs late (3.5 ft). Swell building on Tues (5/26) to 2.5 ft @ 18-19 secs and holding (4.5 ft). Swell building some on Wed (5/27) pushing 3.0 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.5-5.0 ft). Swell fading some on Thurs (5/28) from 2.9 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 209-212 degrees and mostly shadowed by Tahiti
North CA: Expect swell arrival late on Sun (5/24) building with luck to 1 ft @ 23-24 secs at sunset (2.0 ft). Swell building Mon (5/25) through the day to 1.6 ft @ 20-21 secs late (3.0 ft). Swell building on Tues (5/26) to 2.1 ft @ 19 secs and holding (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell building some on Wed (5/27) pushing 2.5 ft @ 17 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading some on Thurs (5/28) from 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 209-212 degrees and partially shadowed by Tahiti
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast. But the models do suggest a gale developing on Mon AM (5/25) in the Western Gulf producing 30 kt northwest winds over a small area with seas on the increase. In the evening the the gale is to build with 30-35 kt northwest winds and seas to 16 ft at 3N 169.5W aimed east. On Tues AM (5/26) the gale is to be over the Central Gulf with 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas building to 18 ft at 36.5N 162W aimed east. The gale is to be lifting northeast in the evening with 35 kts northwest winds and seas fading from 18 ft at 40N 156W aimed east. the gale is to track northeast from there moving to the Northern Gulf Wed PM (5/27) with 40 kt west winds and seas building to 23 ft at 48.5N 155W targeting mainly the Pacific Northwest. Fetch fading Thurs AM (5/28) with 35 kt west winds and seas 21 ft at 48N 155W aimed east. The gale to fade from there. Low odds of this actually occurring.
Beyond 72 hours starting Sat PM (5/23) a small gale is to start building under New Zealand with 45-50 kt west winds and seas building from 37 ft at 60S 174E aimed east. On Sun AM (5/24) 45 kt west winds to hold solid with seas 40 ft over a small area at 58.5S 172W aimed east. Fetch is to be fading in the evening from 35-40 kts from the southwest with seas fading from 34 ft at 56S 157.5W aimed east. Mon AM (5/25) 35-40 kt west winds to be tracking east with 31 ft seas fading in coverage at 58.5S 135.5W aimed east. Something to monitor.
On Wed AM (5/27) another small storm is forecast developing over the Central South Pacific with 55+ kt south winds and seas building from 44 ft at 49.5S 153.5W aimed northeast. The storm is to track northeast in the evening with fetch fading from 55kts from the south over a tiny area with seas fading from 39 ft at 47S 145W aimed northeast. The gale is to fall southeast Thurs AM (5/28) from there and no longer of interest. But secondary fetch is to build directly behind at 35-40 kts from the southwest with seas 29-31 ft over a decent sized area at 47S 151W aimed northeast providing more hope. Something to monitor.
La Nina Appears to be Developing
The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).
Overview: A double dip La Nina was in control through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018 associated with two upwelling Kelvin Waves, and continued trying to build over equatorial waters over the Summer and Fall, but not enough to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere. In January 2019, those warm waters were fading, but then rebuilt late in Feb associated with Kelvin Wave (#3). But as of early June 2019 warm water was fading and by August a tongue of cool water was tracking west on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos reaching to a point nearly south of Hawaii. El Nino was dead. A bit of a recovery occurred during Fall of 2019, with weak warm water building in the Nino 1.2 region, but cool water held in a pool off Peru and had not changed until March 2020. By April the cool pool had collapsed with warm water starting to build on the equator.
LONG-RANGE PACIFIC STORM AND SWELL GENERATION POTENTIAL FORECAST
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 (5/20) 5 day average winds were solid from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and continuing unchanged over the Dateline and KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the far East equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and moderate easterly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (5/21) strong east anomalies were filling the KWGA. The forecast calls for easterly anomalies slowly fading while tracking east and mostly east of the KWGA at the end of the model run on 5/28. Neutral to patches of weak east anomalies to be building in behind.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
- Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: (5/20) A weak Inactive MJO pattern was over the KWGA today. The statistic model indicates and neutral MJO signal is forecast 5 days from now with a weak Active signal trying to ease east into the far West KWGA, then taking it over on day 10 and holding on day 15. The dynamic model indicates essentially the same thing but with the Active signal fading some at day 10 then fading with a strong Inactive signal building over the Maritime Continent and moving into the far West KWGA at day 15.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (5/21) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was weak over the Eastern Indian Ocean today and is to slowly ease east to the West Pacific mostly exceedingly weak at day 15 of the model run. The GEFS model suggests the Active Phase is to track east and hold at weak status moving to the West Atlantic 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): (5/21) This model depicts the Inactive Phase was strong over the East Pacific today. The Inactive Phase is to track steadily east pushing into Central America 5/31. A modest Active Phase is supposed to start building in the West Pacific on 5/29 moving to the East Pacific and over Central America on 6/17. A modest Inactive MJO is forecast developing over the far West Pacific 6/12 pushing slowly east to the East Pacific at the end of the model run on 6/30.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (5/20) This model depicts no cohesive MJO signal anywhere today but with solid east anomalies present over the bulk of the KWGA. The forecast indicates a neutral MJO is to continue but with east anomalies dissipating in the KWGA by 5/27. After that a mixed bag of mostly weak westerly anomalies are forecast in the core of the KWGA with no coherent MJO signal forecast and holding through the end of the model run on 6/17.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (5/21 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weak Active Phase was trying to build over the Western KWGA but with east anomalies in the KWGA. The Active Phase is to retrograde then finally push east 6/1 through 6/20 with east anomalies fading on 5/27 and then weak west east anomalies building and holding. No Inactive Phase to follow with weak west anomalies holding in the KWGA through strong east anomalies are to set up in the Central and East Pacific 6/14 and beyond. An Active MJO is forecast after that from 7/6-7/23 with weak west anomalies continuing. Then the Inactive Phase is forecast 7/24 through the end of the model run on 8/18 with mostly east anomalies in the KWGA and holding in the KWGA and extending over the whole of the equatorial Pacific through the end of the model run. No decent west anomalies are forecast in the core of the KWGA. The low pass filter indicates no low or high pressure bias present in either the Indian Ocean or the Pacific at the moment. A high pressure bias is to appear over the East Pacific on 6/6 building in coverage through the end of the model run with a second contour setting up on 8/7 and reaching west into the eastern KWGA at the end of the model run on 8/18. And at the same time the low pressure bias is to reappear over the Indian Ocean starting 7/19 building through the end of the model run. East anomalies that have been previously solid in the Indian Ocean are migrating east today into the Pacific continuing to mid-June and are then to be taking root just east of the dateline and holding there for the foreseeable future. Based on this model it appears a clear transition to La Nina is starting today and is to become entrenched by mid-June.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc - Alternate link
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (5/21) Today in the far West Pacific the 30 deg isotherm was redeveloped at 160E. The 29 deg isotherm was steady at 179W. The 28 deg isotherm line was steady at 161W today. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing into Ecuador but very shallow east of 120W. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies at +1 deg C were in the West Pacific reaching east to 160W. Cool anomalies were upwelling to the surface from a large subsurface pocket of cool water -3 degs 150 meters deep from 150W to 100W. It is likely poised to continue pushing to the surface over the coming weeks. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 5/13 indicates the same thing with warm anomalies now gone in the East Pacific with cool water at depth erupting in the east between 105W-165W. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (5/13) Negative anomalies at -5 to -10 cms were over the equatorial Pacific between Ecuador and 170W and building in coverage, suggestive of a cool subsurface pool developing below the equator and growing in coverage. Positive anomalies at +5 cms were isolated in the far West Pacific reaching east to 170E in a horseshoe pattern indicative of cool water encroaching upon it from the east on the equator.
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.
Hi-res Nino1.2 & 3.4: (5/20) The latest images indicate cold water was building solidly over the equator from the Galapagos the whole way west to the dateline, looking like the start of a La Nina pattern. Warm anomalies were modest along the coast of Chile up into Peru continuing up off Ecuador up into Central America reaching west to 100W. And 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 all but gone off California and Baja. Overall the Cool pool on the equator was unmistakable.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (5/20): A stream of cooling water was building on the equator from just west of Ecuador out to 140W. There is weak warming building in the far West Pacific but otherwise nowhere along the equatorial Pacific. The short term trend is looking like a push towards the development of La Nina.
Hi-res Overview: (5/20) A stream of cool water was holding on the equator from 85W west to the dateline. Warmer than normal temps were along the coast of South and Central America but fading. Warmer than normal temps were stable north of the equator with cooler than normal water building on and south of the equator. Overall the data suggests a fading El Nino and a building La Nina.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (5/21) Today's temps were steady at +0.019, but overall trending down from a warmer range near +0.6 degs between 2/25-3/26.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (5/19) Temps were stable today down to -0.295, 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.
CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 Sea Surface Temp (SST) Anomalies & Current SST Anomalies
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (5/21) Actual's indicate temperatures were in the +0.65 deg range Jan 1 2020 through April 1 then started falling hard to 0.0 mid-May. The forecast depicts temps continuing to fall, down to -0.50 June 1, stabilizing somewhat then continuing on a far slower downward trajectory into early Oct, down to -0.75 and holding there to Dec, then starting to rebound in early 2021. According to this model sea surface temps should be falling strongly moving towards La Nina as Summer develops.
IRI Consensus Plume: The May 20, 2020 Plume depicts temps are at +0.20 degs, and are to slow fade to neutral +0.00 in July 2020, then holding there through December 2020. The outliers are the dynamic models (NCEP CFS, NASA GMAO and the COLA CCSM4) all suggesting solid La Nina. 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) (5/21): The daily index was positive today at 10.97. The 30 day average was rising at +1.98. The 90 day average was falling slightly to -1.12, 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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