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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, June 25, 2015 10:19 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
Swell Potential Rating = 2.0 - 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 6/22 thru Sun 6/28

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   

Small SW Swell Moves Into Hawaii
Bound For CA Too - Models Tease Longer Term

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.

On Thursday, June 25, 2015 :

  • Buoy 165 (Barbers Point): Seas were 4.2 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 16.0 secs from 186 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 15.0 secs with swell 1.0 ft @ 14.4 secs. Wind southwest 8-12 kts early. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.6 ft @ 7.1 secs from 258 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.2 ft @ 14.4 secs from 206 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.6 ft @ 14.0 secs from 207 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 5.9 ft @ 8.0 secs with swell 2.8 ft @ 7.8 secs. Wind south 4-6 kts. Water temp 56.3 degs.

Current Conditions
On Thursday (6/25) in North and Central CA locally generated north windswell was producing surf at waist high or so and heavily textured but not chopped from southerly winds. Down in Santa Cruz leftover southern hemi swell was producing rideable waves in the waist high range with some bigger sets at top breaks and clean but inconsistent.  In Southern California up north windswell/southern hemi combo swell was producing waves to knee high on the sets and clean but weak and hazy. Down south waves were thigh to maybe waist high and textured but still with defined lines coming through. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was starting to get new small New Zealand swell with waves waist to maybe chest high on the sets and clean. The East Shore was getting some east windswell with waves thigh to maybe waist high and chopped from trades. 

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

Meteorological Overview
For the North Pacific no swell producing weather systems were in.cgiay or forecast.  Regarding windswell, trades from the east were blowing at 15 kts north and south of the Islands, but nothing that strong was directly east of the Hawaii, reducing the odds for windswell production. Even that is to fade for the weekend with no change foreseen until maybe Tuesday (6/30). Relative to California, weak high pressure induced north winds were blowing isolated to Cape Mendocino resulting in small local north windswell and expected to Friday (6/26) then fading out. Windswell to return on Tuesday (6/30). For the southern hemisphere, a small gale developed southeast of New Zealand on Tues (6/16) producing 26 ft seas at best aimed mainly east, faded, then started redeveloping Thurs-Fri (6/19) with 26-30 ft seas again aimed east. Minimal background swell is starting to hit Hawaii and bound for CA. Another small gale was south of New Zealand on Mon (6/22) with 28 ft seas but aimed barely east.  Another tiny system developed just along the New Zealand coast tracking north on Wed (6/24) with 32 ft seas aimed north targeting Hawaii best. Beyond the models suggest a decent sized gale to develop on the eastern edge of the SCal swell window Thurs PM (6/25) with 32 ft seas aimed east.  Maybe something to result. And over the weekend the models continue teasing concerning a gale tracking east under New Zealand with 37 ft seas aimed east, with another following on Tues (6/30) with 46 ft seas over a tiny area aimed east. Something to monitor.  

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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (6/25) no swell producing fetch was occurring over the greater North Pacific. But low pressure continued in the Gulf of Alaska supported by a  surprisingly cohesive jet stream flow aloft. But it's not till mid-July that we will start monitoring it for signs of a pre-escent Fall pattern. Just the same, another low is to be crossing over the dateline on Tues (6/30) possibly providing support for windswell for Hawaii. Otherwise generic high pressure at 10204 mbs was centered north of Hawaii pushing up to Central CA producing a small area of 20-25 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino CA producing small north windswell for exposed breaks down into North and Central CA.  A local eddy flow was producing a southerly flow from Pt Reyes southward. Relative to Hawaii, the same high pressure system was generating trades at 15 kts north and south of the Islands, but nothing targeting them directly. No clear support for windswell production was evidenced.   

Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to get better footing over Cape Mendocino on Fri AM (6/26) with north winds to near 30 kts for a few hours, generating windswell, then quickly fading late and gone for the remainder of the weekend. An eddy flow (south winds) to hold through the weekend. Relative to Hawaii trades are to start fading out Fri AM (6/26) and not return with any velocity through the weekend.

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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored in exposed waters of the Pacific. 

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (6/25) high pressure was off the Central CA coast at 1026 mbs ridging north into Washington generating a version of the usual summer time pressure gradient over North CA with north winds at 20-25 kts nearshore limited mainly to points north of Pt Arena. And eddy flow was over all of Central CA. North winds to build to near 30 kts briefly Fri AM (6/26) over Cape Mendocino while the eddy flow holds over Central CA, then the gradient collapses on Saturday with the eddy flow holding into Sunday.  North winds to return to the Central Coast on late Monday at 15 kts but quickly shifting north to Cape Mendocino on Tuesday at near 30 kts with the eddy flow returning to Central CA then fading on Wednesday with light winds in control of the entire coast on Thurs (7/2).  


South Pacific

On Thursday AM (6/25) a .cgiit flow continued in control of the Southwest Pacific with the southern branch of the jet tracking more or less west to east on the 65S latitude line and the northern branch doing the same up at roughly 25S. The southern branch was lifting slightly northeast over the Central Pacific and merging with a ridge pushing south from the northern branch generating a pocket of 160 kt winds and starting to form a trough. By evening winds are to build to  180 kts offering a minimal pocket north of Antarctic Ice on the eastern edge of the Southern CA swell window capable of supporting gale development, but quickly tracking east and targeting only southern South America. But west of there no troughs were indicated with the jet tracking over the Ross Ice Shelf and offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours a trough is to open up south of New Zealand on Sun (6/28) with 120 kt winds somewhat flowing up into it and easing east into Tuesday offering some support for gale development, then fading. Beyond 72 hours another trough is to build just southwest of New Zealand on Wed (7/1) with 130 kt winds flowing better up into it and tracking east offering support for gale development. And maybe another trough is forecast behind that. 

Surface Analysis  
On Thursday AM (6/25) high pressure at 1028 mbs was over the upper reaches of the Southeast Pacific, with another high at 1024 mbs over the northern Tasman Sea. Swell from a small gale under New Zealand was starting to show in Hawaii and bound for the US West Coast (see 3rd New Zealand Gale below). Small swell from a cut-off gale east of New Zealand was pushing towards Tahiti and Hawaii (see Cut-Off Gale below). Otherwise a gale was trying to form in the far Southeast Pacific. 

Over the next 72 hours the gale in the far Southeast Pacific on Thurs AM (6/25) was producing a broad area of 40-45 kt west winds and seas building from barely 30 ft at 61S 131W, or positioned barely in the California swell window. By evening winds to build better in organization aimed east-northeast with seas building to 32 ft at 61S 121W.  Winds to hold at 45 kts pushing east with seas building to 36 ft at 63S 111W and aimed east of the Southern CA swell window, targeting only Southern Chile. Given the fact that swell would have to travel 90 degrees off focus to reach Southern CA, no (or only limited) swell is expected to result. This system to continue tracking east through Sat (6/27) producing 38 ft seas, targeting only Southern Chile. 

3rd New Zealand Gale
A gale developed under New Zealand on Tues AM (6/16) producing 35 kt southwest winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface resulting in 24 ft seas at 58S 170E. In the evening a small area of 40 kt southwest winds generating 26 ft seas over a tiny area at 58S 176E. Fetch was fading while holding stationary from the southwest at 35 kts Wed AM (6/17) with seas fading from 25 ft at 59S 178E. Fetch was building in coverage at 35 kt in the evening aimed well to the northeast with no seas of interest resulting (24 ft at 58S 178E). Secondary fetch started pushing northeast at 35-40 kts Thurs AM (6/18) generating 26 ft seas at 56S 174W. In the evening 35 kts southwest fetch held while pushing northeast generating 25 ft seas at 50S 162W while a tiny area of 55 kt south fetch built southeast of there. By Fri AM (6/19) the new fetch was fading from 40 kts from the southwest with seas fading 30 ft at 55S 147W. No additional fetch or sea production occurred. Perhaps some small generic 14-15 sec period swell to result, but it's to be shadowed for the most part relative to CA. Maybe slightly better odds for Hawaii and more so for Tahiti. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Swell Direction: Swell fading Fri (6/26) from 1.6 ft @ 15 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 194-198 degrees

SCal: Swell from the first part of this gale to arrive early Sun AM (6/28) with swell 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft). Swell fading on Mon (6/29) from 1.6 ft @ 14 secs (2.0-2.5 ft).  Swell Direction: 211 degrees

NCal: Swell from the first part of this gale to arrive Sun AM (6/28) with swell building to 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft). Swell fading on Mon (6/29) from 1.6 ft @ 14 secs (2.0-2.5 ft).  Swell Direction: 209 degrees

Cut-Off Gale
Also a small cut-off gale formed just east of New Zealand on Wed AM (6/24) producing 45 kt south to southeast winds over a tiny area aimed north with seas building from 23 ft.  In the evening 45 kt south winds continued pushing north with 32 ft seas building over an infinitesimal sized area area at 40S 174W. Fetch was fading from 35 kts Thurs AM (6/25) with seas from previous fetch fading over a tiny area from 29 ft at 35S 170W, very far to the north. This system is to be gone after that.
The tiny footprint of this system will be it's limiting factor for everywhere but Tahiti.  

A small pulse of swell is possible for Tahiti peaking late Sat (6/27) at 6.6 ft @ 15 secs (10 ft) from 215-220 degrees. 

Small swell is also possible for Hawaii starting at sunset on Tues (6/30) with period 16 secs.  Swell peaking on Wed (7/1) at 2 ft @ 15 secs (3 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees. 

Background energy possible for the US West Coast. 


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 high pressure is to start redeveloping off Oregon on Tues AM (6/30) with north winds to 30 kts over Cape Mendocino and windswell production increasing, then dropping on Wed (7/1) while a light local wind flow holds from Pt Reyes southward. . dropping out, but with the eddy flow still in.cgiay for Central CA offering some hope for warmer water to develop. No return of the gradient is forecast. 

Relative to Hawaii trades to start building Tues (6/30) east of the Islands at 15 kts and then fading Wednesday. Some local east windswell is possible for Hawaii. Also low pressure is to 900 nmiles northwest of Hawaii on Tues (6/30) generating 25 kt northwest winds and 14 ft seas. Perhaps some windswell to result from that too.  

Note: 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 equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced 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.cgianet. 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. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. 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).

(1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data. 2nd paragraph where present is analysis data and is updated only as required).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) As of Thursday (6/25) the daily SOI was down hard at -44.40. The 30 day average was falling from -2.65 and the 90 day average was falling from -7.58. The near term trend based on the daily and 30 day average was indicative of a building Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a modest Active Phase of the MJO if not a weak El Nino. High pressure at 1032 mbs was building over Southeast Australia while weak low pressure was holding just south of Tahiti. Beyond high pressure is to hold over Southeast Australia while somewhat higher pressure regime builds over Tahiti. Negative daily SOI's are indicated at least for the next few days with the longer term averages falling too. High pressure over Australia could help the Southern Hemi Booster Index (a component of strong El Ninos) and supportive of storm development under New Zealand. The theory suggests it is high pressure over this area that 'boosts' a regular El Nino into Super El Nino status. 

Current equatorial surface wind analysis per 850 mb charts (~4,500 ft up) indicated moderate west anomalies were building over the Maritime Continent reaching almost to the dateline, with weak west anomalies from there extending south of Hawaii.  Modest east anomalies were from there to the Galapagos Islands. Down at the surface the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated a similar picture with moderate to strong west winds (not just anomalies) between 135E-160E with moderate west anomalies starting at 130E in the east Kelvin Wave Generation Area extending to 175E and modest west anomalies from there over the dateline to a point almost south of Hawaii. Neutral anomalies were east of there to the Galapagos. The GFS model also indicated west winds at up to 20 kts in.cgiay in one pocket over the Central KWGA. This is exactly as hoped for to reinforce warm water movement to the east. The Active Phase of the MJO was getting a foothold and building (good news). A week from now (7/3) strong westerly anomalies are forecast over the entire Kelvin Wave Generation Area pushing over the dateline fading to moderate strength and pushing to a point south of Hawaii. Neutral anomalies are forecast east of there into the Galapagos. A huge WWB occurred in March followed by a second smaller one (9 day duration) in early May with weaker but still solid west anomalies continuing into late May while easing east out of the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. West anomalies held through 6/10 (per TAO data) fading to neutral for 8 day, then weak westerlies started again on 6/18. Zero easterly anomalies reported so far this year. And now a significant WWB is forecast. More westerly anomalies are needed into Sept if a strong El Nino is to develop, as is projected by the long term models and based on evolving atmospheric signals.    

See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here.

The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 6/24 suggests a modest Active MJO signal was building over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model suggests the Active Phase has peaked out and is to push steadily east over the next 15 days while withering, gone 15 days out. The Dynamic model depicts a steady state Active Phase in the West Pacific inching east for the next 15 days. This is great news. But, the presence of regular pulses of the MJO is not an indication of El Nino per past experience. Rather a steady state Weak Active Phase would be more in-line with what is believed to be a building El Nino (at least that's the way it.cgiayed out in '97). But each El Nino has it own peculiarities. The ultra long range upper level model run on 6/25 depicts a strong Active pattern over the Central Pacific and is expected to track east over the equatorial Pacific through 7/15 and gone. A moderate Inactive Phase is to follow developing in the west starting 7/15 making it to the East Pacific by 8/4. As of right now, there are no signs of a upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave lifecycle, as developed last year at this time and eventually squashed continued evolution of last years El Nino. That upwelling phase was heralded by the Inactive Phase of the MJO. Instead this year, westerly anomalies are back in the picture with the Inactive Phase betwee 6/10-6/18 being all but non-existent anomaly wise. If the WWB develops as forecast, it adds fuel to the speculation that a strong El Nino might be in development. A well entrenched westerly wind anomaly pattern is required during the June/July timeframe if something that wants to rival the '97 El Nino is to develop. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.    

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.  

As of the most recent low-res imagery (6/25) first impressions continue indicating a moderate and well defined warm water/El Nino-like regime in.cgiace and building over the entire equatorial Pacific. It depicts a generalized expansion of coverage near the Galapagos over the last 15 days extending west into the edge of the NINO 3.4 region, but not into it yet and also down the Peruvian Coast and up into Central America.  Temperatures in the NINO1.2 region do not look to be getting warmer, but are instead fueling expansion of coverage over the entire region. That is not a concern given what's building subsurface (more below). Along the West African Coast, cool water continues holding it's coverage there. In the past we've used this as a sign of impending Inactive Phase upwelling in the Galapagos area. But that does not appear to be the case now. Compared to the '97 Super El Nino on this date, today's image depicts a very similar warm water pattern, both in terms of coverage and absolute temps. But the latest image does depict some slight weaknesses in temperate in the Nino 1.2 region compared to '97. The cold water African signature is also present in the '97 image, and similar in coverage. It is the permanent set up of a Inactive like Phase over West Africa and a semi permanent Active State over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area tracking slowly east, and high pressure locked over Southeast Australia that we are looking for. 

TAO data indicates +1.5 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial Pacific, the warmest in years, presumably advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to the dateline. There is an embedded area of +2 deg anomalies from 105W-122W and building to the west in coverage. A key component of the later phases of El Nino is the migration east not only subsurface waters, but also surface waters forced by continued anomalous westerly winds pushing across the dateline. That is not occurring yet with the western border of +1.5 deg anomalies at 172W-176W.  

The most recent hi-res data (6/25) indicates peak temps between the Galapagos and Ecuador are holding while advecting west. More pockets of warmer anomalies are starting to appear off Peru and Ecuador to the Galapagos (6 of them at +4-5 degs). A peak station reading at the Galapagos occurred on 5/23 at +4.59 degs suggesting the first Kelvin Wave generated in Jan-Mar had maxed out. But since then, 4.6 deg above normal readings were reported 6/9, besting the previous peak, and then stair stepped up from there, to +5.45 degs on 6/14. Temps have been fading slightly since, currently down to +4.2 degs above normal.  But this is not a concern with much more warm water pushing east at depth (see below). No expansion of core coverage was indicated on 6/19-6/22 but it wasn't giving up any ground either. The CDAS Nino 1+2 index spiked at +2.3 degs on 5/23, then fell bottoming out at +0.55 degs June 1, and then quickly climbed back to +2.45 degs on 6/14, holding at +2.1 degs on 6/22 and now +2.2 degs on 6/25. The Nino 1.2 area is not of prime concern, and is very volatile and noisy. As warm water from a stronger Kelvin Wave lurking just under the surface impacts the Galapagos shortly, temps should spike again. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggests water temps peaked at +1.3 degs 6/9 dipping to 1.1 degs on 6/14 and have now rebuilt to +1.3 degs on 6/25. Effective temps have held in the +1.0-1.3 range since mid-April. One would expect this area to start warming as warming water from Nino 1.2 starts advecting west into the Nino3.4 area. 

Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator under the dateline (160-180W) are holding at +1-2 degs above normal. Warmer water previously there is tracking east reinforcing a warm reservoir moving into Ecuador . Still, warm water continues downwelling from the surface, the result of ongoing westerly anomalies on the surface on the dateline and west of there. So the pipe is open and much more warm water is expected to start spilling into it in the next week. But the big story remains very warm anomalies under the equator in the East Pacific, pushing east into the Galapagos and Ecuador. On 6/13 a significant reorganization started with +5 deg anomalies impacting the Galapagos Islands on 6/16. This is the source of the high temps being reported at the surface there. A large pool of +5-6 degs anomalies is building centered at 110W with +5 deg anomalies pushing east from 122W to Ecuador and 4+ deg anomalies reaching east from 137W. This pocket is a mixture of warm water driven by an extended WWB that occurred Jan-March.cgius water from an additional WWB in early May. This suggests there are not weeks but perhaps 2 months of warm water still in the pipe (into 7/28). And more warm water continues downwelling on the dateline, the result of westerly anomalies that have been in.cgiay since the May WWB in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area to 6/10. A bit of a stall in westerly anomalies occurred 6/10-6/18, but has now restarted and is forecast to rapidly deepen. This second Kelvin Wave should peak on Aug 1, with presumably a third getting ready to start building. . 

This is exactly how the '97 El Nino.cgiayed out, with not individual Kelvin Waves impacting the coast, but a huge pool of warm water developing at this time of year in the East Pacific creating continuous upwelling of warm water off Ecuador, with continuous westerly anomalies in the KWGA feeding yet more warm water into that subsurface pool for 6+months. This is a significant development.

Satellite data from 6/17 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific east of 180W with a small core at +15 cm fading at 120W and 95W. All this is indicative of a wide open pipe with embedded and merging Kelvin Waves forming into a large subsurface reservoir. This is a classic major El Nino setup, not a standard El Nino. 

The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (6/17) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 172W and the Ecuador coast (easing east) with +1.0-1.5 degs from 166W eastward (loosing a little ground by moving east). +1.5 deg anomalies are doing the same easing east from 152W. And +2 deg anomalies are holding between the coast and 148W. The first Kelvin Wave has impacted the Ecuador Coast and the next wave of warming is building behind looking every bit as strong. This is a very good sign. See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here

Pacific Counter Current data as of 6/17 continues solid, though down some from the last update on 6/7. The current is pushing moderately west to east over the far west equatorial Pacific with strongest velocity filling the Kelvin Wave Generation Area to the dateline with modest current reaching south of Hawaii only on the north side of the equator eventually hitting the Galapagos. Weak easterly current was 3 degrees south of the equator over the width of the Pacific. Anomaly wise - moderate west anomalies were in control on the equator over the far West Pacific, fading to modest strength and reaching over the dateline and south of Hawaii to the Galapagos both north and south of the equator. East anomalies are now in.cgiay over and just south of the equator from 120-180W. This is not good. And compared to the '97 El Nino at this time, there is no comparison. In '97 west velocities and anomalies were raging from 130W-170W.  Based on this data, unless something huge happens in the next week or two and holds for a month, there is no way this years event will compare to '97 at least from a current perspective. Suspect all this is a function of the strength of westerly anomalies, which are just now on the rebound after a 8 day pause. 

Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model (PDF Corrected) run 6/25 for the Nino 3.4 region have stepped up yet again. It suggests water temps are at +1.2 deg C (confirmed) and are to steadily warm continuing to +1.7 degs by Oct peaking at +2.0 degs by late Nov, then dropping off. Peak temps have continued to toggle between +1.85-2.00 degs. This suggests we are moving from a multi-year steady state Modoki event to a full blown moderate.cgius El Nino, maybe bordering on the strong side. But it is too early to believe just yet. The model overhyped it last year, then the atmospheric picture collapsed in June. That does not appear likely this year, but July is still an unknown. Much more warm water would need to be transported east over the coming 5 months for a strong El Nino to develop (including surface warm water currently locked over the dateline), especially of the magnitude projected by the model. The mid-May consensus Plume suggests development of a moderate El Nino with peak temps 1.2-1.5 degs above normal. See the chart based version here - link. 

Analysis: In late 2013 into 2014 mult.cgie downwelling Kelvin Waves generated by suppressed trades and occasional Westerly Wind Bursts in the West Pacific. Those Kelvin Waves warmed waters over the Eastern equatorial Pacific, but not sufficiently to declare an official El Nino until Feb 2015, and then very weak at that. Those were in effect primers to help move the atmosphere out of a perpetual La Nina biased pattern that had been in.cgiay for the past 15 years. Still some degree of teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere was in.cgiay with some greater force dictating the change from a cool regime to warmer pattern (likely the PDO). The focus now becomes whether this warming and teleconnection will persist if not strengthen in 2015. Water temps in the Nino 1.2 region have been warming solidly through June due to the arrival of the first of two Kelvin Wave (see details above) and advecting west over the entire equatorial Pacific into the Nino 3.4 region. Water temp anomalies there are well within El Nino parameters.  Westerly anomalies, which stalled for 8 days in mid-June due to the passage of the Inactive Phase of the MJO, have resumed and if anything, are to rebuild to WWB strength the last few days of June aided by the return of the Active Phase of the MJO interacting with an El Nino base state, eliminating previous concerns about a possible appearance of the cool upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle. Westerly anomalies and a certified WWB that developed in early May over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area have generated a second Kelvin Wave which merged with remnants of the first Kelvin Wave, creating a large warm reservoir lodged just west of the Galapagos and poised to start erupting the first week of July. At this point we believe warming in the equatorial Pacific is sufficient to start the classic El Nino feedback loop, evidenced by cooling temps off Africa and a solid North Pacific jetstream pattern (when there should be none).  If so, then westerly anomalies/WWBs should continue through July-Sept and beyond, modulated by the MJO with at least full scale El Nino developing. All this is very positive. But we will remain cautious.    

Previous concerns about a possible fall-back to a Modoki El Nino pattern have passed. A si.cgie glance a the SST Anomaly charts can tell that. The hot topic then becomes how strong this developing El Nino will become. And that is purely a function of the strength and duration of westerly anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. If we survived this most recent Inactive Phase of the MJO with no easterly anomalies developing (and in reality, no trades at all), as we move deeper into the year with an evolving base El Nino state, then any future Inactive Phases of the MJO cycle should have even less impact. This is required for a major El Nino to develop. And this is what we are considering to be a very real possibility. The first milestone in moving towards that goal is monitoring the strength of westerly anomalies in the KWGA for the next 2-3 weeks as the Active Phase of the MJO tracks over that area. Part 2 is monitoring the impact of the large Kelvin Wave poised to erupt over the Galapagos. Two significant events could occur simultaneously, both with the capacity to significant enhance our developing El Nino. The effects of Kelvin Wave eruption (warming ocean surface more) will help to reinforce the atmospheric teleconnection, modifying the Walker Circulation and feeding the northern hemi jetstream, which in turn will reinforce the base El Nino state, which in turn will support more westerly anomalies over the KWGA. In essence, the system will move into a mode of reinforcing itself, a self perpetuating feedback loop. If sufficiently strong, that should also fuel the supposed Southern Hemi Booster Index, which in turn could supercharge the feedback loop.

Of course all this is speculation. Regardless what the models declare, it isn't real till it actually occurs. Models and theories are fallible (as was evidenced last year).  But, as things currently stand, we appear to be close to crossing over a threshold. The next possible choke point would be the projected Inactive Phase of the MJO in mid-to-late July. If that is a non-event, much like the mid-June one, then a significant El Nino event would become more likely. Will it compare to '97 or '82?  A wild guess says somewhere between the two. We're not seeing the strength and duration of westerly anomalies this year as compared to '97. Conversely the '82 event didn't even really get going till the June-July timeframe. We're way ahead of that, but not quite seeing the vigor of '97 at this point in time. So we're guessing we're somewhere between the two, with very good atmospheric momentum in.cgiay, and that's a good.cgiace to be unless you own beach front property in California.          

We continue monitoring Westerly Wind Bursts and Kelvin Wave development, suggestive of continued warming of East Pacific equatorial waters for Sept-Dec 2015 (meaning enhanced support for the jetstream and storm development in Fall/Winter 2015-2016).

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the  El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13 


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the chart continue teasing concerning a series of gale tracking east under the southern tip of New Zealand.

A broad gale with 45 kt southwest winds is to be pushing south of Tasmania on Sat AM (6/27) generating 41 ft seas at 53S 142E targeting only Fiji. Fetch is to start fading in the evening but still 45 kts over a decent sized area aimed east-northeast with 39 ft seas at 54S 154E barely in the 220 degree window relative to North and Central CA. Fetch is to be fading from 35 kt Sun AM (6/28) with seas from previous fetch fading from 32 ft at 52S 164E (219 degs North and South CA and barely on the 201 degree unshadowed path to Hawaii. Something to monitor.     

Another tiny gale is to develop east of Southern New Zealand on Mon AM (6/29) with 55 kt southwest winds over a tiny area and 37 ft seas at 49S 177W.  Fetch is to fade from 45 kts in the evening with 39 ft seas at 48S 168W.  Something to monitor. 

And another gale is to pass under New Zealand Mon PM (6/29) with 55 kt west winds and 40 ft seas at 53S 165E holding into Tues AM (6/30) with 46 ft seas at 55S 177E. Something to monitor.  

Details to follow...


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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