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.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
- Buoy 165 (Barbers Point): Seas were 3.7 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 2.4 ft @ 12.5 secs from 181 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.3 ft @ 5.0 secs with swell 1.1 ft @ 14.1 secs. Wind northwest 6-10 kts early. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.7 ft @ 9.3 secs from 257 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.2 ft @ 16.7 secs from 207 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.2 ft @ 17.3 secs from 205 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 4.9 ft @ 9.0 secs with swell 2.5 ft @ 10.0 secs. Wind southeast 10-12 kts. Water temp 57.7 degs.
On Saturday (6/27) in North and Central CA locally generated north windswell was producing surf at waist high with a few chest high peaks and heavily textured from southerly winds. Down in Santa Cruz minimal background southern hemi swell was producing barely rideable waves in the thigh to waist high range at top breaks and clean early but inconsistent. In Southern California up north windswell and high tide were making for a flat and unrideable setup but clean. Down south waves were thigh high and heavily textured from early morning southerly wind. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting leftovers from New Zealand swell with waves waist to maybe chest high on the sets and clean. The East Shore was getting no real east windswell with waves thigh high or less and chopped from light trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
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.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday (6/27) no swell producing fetch was occurring over the greater North Pacific. Otherwise weak high pressure at 1020 mbs was centered west of Southern CA but not strong enough to produce north winds along the California coast of any interest to generate windswell. But a local eddy was producing a southerly flow from Pt Reyes southward. Relative to Hawaii, the same high pressure system was not strong enough to generating trades exceeding the 15 kt threshold with no windswell in.cgiay.
Over the next 72 hours a slack wind pattern is forecast until high pressure gets a better footing off Cape Mendocino on Tues AM (6/30) at 1024 mbs with north winds building quickly to 25 kts limited to North CA, generating windswell. An eddy flow (south winds) to develop late in the day for Central CA. Relative to Hawaii trades are to remained suppressed until Mon (6/29) when they start building east of the Islands at 15 kts courtesy of the same high off California. Some local east windswell is possible for Hawaii. Also low pressure is to be tracking from the dateline to a point 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii on Tues (6/30) generating 20 kt northwest winds but not enough to result in windswell production given the distance.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored in exposed waters of the Pacific. But with the expected development of a significant Westerly Wind Burst in the West Pacific, it's only a mater of time before a tropical system results.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (6/27) high pressure at 1022 mbs was off the Central CA coast but not really ridging anywhere with no gradient nor north winds over North CA but south eddy winds along the immediate Central coast. No change is forecast on 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 25 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) and holding into the weekend.
On Saturday AM (6/27) a .cgiit flow continued in control of the Southwest Pacific with it's core southeast of New Zealand and the southern branch of the jet falling southeast under New Zealand over the Ross Ice Shelf, then eventually lifting north of Antarctic Ice over the Southeast Pacific forming a weak trough at 120W with it's apex at 62S tracking east under South America. Limited support for gale development there but mainly east of the Southern CA swell window. Over the next 72 hours a trough is to open up south of New Zealand on Sun (6/28) with 120 kt winds flowing up into it and easing east into Monday before disintegrating offering some support for gale development,and serving to lift the whole southern branch of the jet up to 50S opening this area up to more development long term. Beyond 72 hours another trough is to build just south of New Zealand on Tues (6/30) with 90 kt winds continuing the trough generated 2 days before. And yet a third and stronger trough is to push into the area later Wed (7/1) with 110 kts winds pushing almost due north into the East Tasman Sea offering more support for gale development. But that trough is to quickly collapse Fri-Sat (7/4) instead forming a ridge pushing south under New Zealand and reaching down into antarctica shutting gale development potential down. 0 on flowing better up into it and tracking east offering support for gale development temporarily. But 180 hours out on Sat (7/4) a new tough is to be building south of Tasmania. In all, not a bad pattern is projected for the upper atmosphere.
On Saturday AM (6/27) low pressure was in control of the far and deep Southeast Pacific (outside the California swell window) while a muddled pattern was over the Southwest and Central Pacific offering no immediate indications of swell production. High pressure at 1028 mbs was over Southeast Australia. Swell from a small gale previously under New Zealand was fading in Hawaii and starting to show at the buoys along 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). Even smaller sideband swell from a gale due south of California late this past week was pushing north (see Southeast Pacific Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours a pair of very solid swell producing storms are forecast in the coveted New Zealand swell corridor.
1st New Zealand Storm
A broad gale with 45 kt southwest winds was pushing south of Tasmania on Sat AM (6/27) generating 43 ft seas at 52S 141E targeting only Fiji. Fetch is to rebuild some in the evening still 45 kts but over a little larger area aimed east-northeast with 39 ft seas at 54S 155E barely in the 221 degree window relative to North and Central CA (222 degs SCal) and unshadowed by Tahiti and shadowed in HI by New Zealand. Fetch is to be fading from 40 kt Sun AM (6/28) with seas from previous fetch fading from 35 ft at 55S 165E (216 degs NCal and unshadowed, 217 degs South CA and starting to be shadowed, and barely on the 201 degree unshadowed path to Hawaii. 40 kt southwest winds to hold into Sunday evening aimed well to the northeast with 34 ft seas at 55S 170E (198 degs Hi, 214 degs Ncal and unshadowed and aimed right up the GC path there, 215 degs SCal and shadowed). 35 kt southwest winds to be fading Mon AM (6/29) with a broad area of 30 ft seas fading at 55S 177E (195 degs HI, 213 degs SCal and shadowed, 211 degs Ncal and starting to become shadowed). This system to be gone after that. Something to monitor with good energy pushing northeast though a long ways away.
2nd Stronger New Zealand Storm
Another small but potent storm is to develop south of Tasmania on Mon AM (6/29) with 60 kt southwest winds over a tiny area and 44 ft seas building at 55S 145E and barely in the NCal/SCal swell window at 221 degrees. Fetch is to fade from 55 kts in the evening tracking east-northeast with 52 ft seas at 54S 155E and again unshadowed relative to NCal (221 degrees) and SCal (220 degrees). 45-50 kt southwest winds are to hold over a solid area pushing under New Zealand on Tues AM (6/30) generating 47 ft seas at 52S 165E (220 degs NCal and SCal unshadowed) and barely moving into the HI swell window at 201 degrees. Fetch is to be fading from 45 kts in the evening still aimed well northeast with 42 ft seas at 50S 177E (197 degs HI, 215 degs NCal and unshadowed, 217 degs SCal and starting to become shadowed). 45 kt southwest fetch to rebuild Wed AM (7/1) aimed well northeast with 40 ft seas at 49S 172W (190 degs HI, SCal 211 degs and shadowed, 210 degs NCal and barely shadowed). This system to be gone after that. Solid swell production is possible and right on the heels of the previous storm. Something to monitor.
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.
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
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 California starting Fri (7/3) but likely not rideable peaking Sat (7/4) at 1.5-1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) on Sat from 217 degrees.
Southeast Pacific Gale
A gale formed in the far Southeast Pacific on Thurs AM (6/25) 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 built and were better organized aimed east-northeast with seas building to 35 ft at 61S 121W. Winds held at 45 kts pushing east Fri AM (6/26) with seas building to 37 ft at 61S 106W and positioned 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, even when it was in the SCal swell window only very limited sideband swell is expected to result. This system continued tracking east through Sat (6/27) producing 34 ft seas, targeting only Southern Chile.
Southern CA: Swell arrival expected noon on Sat (7/4) with period 17 secs and not big enough to be rideable. Swell Direction: 180 degrees
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 high pressure is to be lifting northeast in the Gulf of Alaska with no support for the local gradient projected over North California and no windswell expected. A light local flow to hold over North and Central CA. warmer water appears to be taking root and is to hold for the next week.
Relative to Hawaii trades to hold through Fri (7/3) east of the Islands at 15 kts with some minimal local east windswell possible for exposed breaks. Also another low pressure is to be tracking over the dateline late Fri (7/3) supposedly building with up to 40 kt northwest winds and 22 ft seas 1500 nmiles northwest of Hawaii and holding into Saturday. Impossible to believe but it's a nice fantasy. Perhaps some swell to result with alot of luck for both Hawaii and California.
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 Saturday (6/27) the daily SOI was still down hard at -40.70 having bottomed out on Friday at -48.90. The 30 day average was falling from -6.39 and the 90 day average was falling from -8.23. The near term trend based on the daily and 30 day average was indicative of strong 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 base state. High pressure at 1032 mbs was over Southeast Australia while a neutral pressure pattern was over Tahiti. Beyond solid high pressure is to hold over Southeast Australia from the entire week while a weak pressure pattern holds over Tahiti, starting to build by next weekend. Negative daily SOI's are indicated at least for the next 5 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 strong west anomalies were building over the Maritime Continent reaching almost to the dateline, with neutral anomalies from there extending south of Hawaii 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-165E with strong west anomalies starting at 130E in the east Kelvin Wave Generation Area extending to 170E 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 24 kts in.cgiay in one pocket over the Central KWGA. The WindSat satellite inicated much the same. This is exactly as hoped for to reinforce warm water movement to the east. Even more impressive is that low pressure is positioned both north and south of this WWB roughly at 165E and both are forecast to build over the next 78 hours and holding into the end of the work week. This is significant and testifies to the strength of this WWB. It's been a very long time since we've seen something like this. The Active Phase of this MJO is impressive. A week from now (7/5) strong westerly anomalies are forecast continuing 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 were in a significant WWB, the strongest of the year so far and forecast to hold for 6-8 days (7/2). Still 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 6/26 suggests a moderate Active MJO signal was in control over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model suggests the Active Phase is peaking and is to push steadily east over the next 15 days while withering, gone 15 days out with the Inactive Phase starting to move in from the Indian Ocean. The Dynamic model depicts a steady state strong Active Phase in the West Pacific inching east for the next 15 days and not giving up ground. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is to set up in the Indian Ocean making no east headway. This is great news. But, the presence of regular pulses of the MJO is not an indication of super El Nino status per past experience. Rather a steady state Weak Active Phase would be more in-line with past experience (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 6/27 depicts a strong Active pattern over the Central Pacific and is expected to track east over the equatorial Pacific through 7/12 then gone. A moderate Inactive Phase is to follow developing in the west starting 7/15 making it to the East Pacific by 8/6. 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 between 6/10-6/18 being all but non-existent anomaly wise. With the current WWB developing as strong as it already is, it adds fuel to 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, though moderating some in terms of velocity. 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 100W-125W and continuing to build 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 moving from 172W-176W to 180W as of today's image.
The most recent hi-res data (6/25) indicates peak temps between the Galapagos and Ecuador are holding while advecting west. A broader pocket of warmer anomalies is building off Peru with 5 other pockets at +4-5 degs off Ecuador and the Galapagos). 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 then, +4.6 deg anomalies were reported 6/9, besting the previous peak, and then stair stepped up from there, to +5.45 degs on 6/14. Temps fading slightly since, currently holding at +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 steady at +2.2 degs. 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 are building steadily from +1.3 degs on 6/27. 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, and there's some sense that is happening now.
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 driven by a major WWB occurring there now. 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 with much vigor, and is expected to rapidly deepen. This second Kelvin Wave should peak on Aug 1, with presumably a third starting to build. Let the good time roll.
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 6/22 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific east of 170W with a core at +15 cm at 90W and +10 cm anomalies from 125W eastward. 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 (6/22) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 165W and the Ecuador coast (easing east) with +1.0-1.5 degs from 155W eastward. +1.5 deg anomalies are doing the same easing east from 145W. And +2 deg anomalies are holding between the coast and 130W with a new peak at 2.5 degs at 98W 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 with yet more westerly anomalies and a new Kelvin Wave likely behind that. See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here.
Pacific Counter Current data as of 6/27 continues solid, though down some from the last update on 6/17 in some respects. The current is pushing moderately strongly west to east over the far west equatorial Pacific filling the Kelvin Wave Generation Area to about the dateline with modest current reaching south of Hawaii only on the north side of the equator and eventually hitting the Galapagos. Weak to modest easterly current was 3 degrees was on the equator from the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. Anomaly wise - moderate to strong west anomalies were in control on the equator over the far West Pacific, fading to modest strength and reaching over the dateline and all but gone south of Hawaii. East anomalies are now in.cgiay and strong between 130W-160W. 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 120W-180W. 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. But they still have a long ways to go.
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model (PDF Corrected) run 6/27 for the Nino 3.4 region are stable. It suggests water temps are at +1.25 deg C (confirmed) and are to steadily warm continuing to +1.75 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 are building, now at WWB strength and forecast to build from there through the end of June into early July 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 occurring 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
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather system are forecast.
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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