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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Sunday, July 12, 2015 10:27 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 = 1.0 - California & 1.0- 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 7/13 thru Sun 7/19

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   

East Pacific Tropics Warming Up
All Eyes On Pending Inactive Phase of MJO

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 Sunday, July 12, 2015 :

  • Buoy 165 (Barbers Point): Seas were 3.1 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 2.1 ft @ 13.3 secs from 193 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.3 ft @ 15.0 secs with swell 2.5 ft @ 15.9 secs. Wind west 2-4 kts early. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.8 ft @ 15.8 secs from 226 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.5 ft @ 15.7 secs from 196 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.6 ft @ 15.4 secs from 207 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 3.9 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 2.6 ft @ 15.9 secs. Wind southwest 2-4 kts. Water temp 62.4 degs.

Current Conditions
On Sunday (7/12) in North and Central CA southern hemi swell was producing surf in the waist high.cgius range at exposed breaks and textured from a light southerly flow. Down in Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was still hitting producing sets in the head high.cgius range at better breaks and clean and lined up early.  In Southern California up north southern hemi swell was occasionally producing some thigh to waist high waves but mostly shadowed. Conditions were textured early. Down south southern hemi swell was producing surf at chest to head high on the sets and clean early. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was still getting residual southern hemi swell with set waves waist to chest high or so and lined up and clean. The East Shore had some east windswell with waves 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.  A typhoon continued tracking through the far West Pacific while 3 small tropical low pressure systems were strung between Mexico and the dateline pushing east. some development is forecast. Regarding windswell, trades were in control over and east of Hawaii and expected to produce some windswell into the early weekend (7/18). Relative to California, a weak pressure pattern was in control with no north winds or pressure gradient in effect with no windswell in the water. But high pressure and north winds are forecast developing by Wed (7/15) with north local windswell possible then into Sat (7/18). For the southern hemisphere swell from a pair of storms that previously tracked under New Zealand was still in the water and expected to slowly fade out through Monday (7/13). A small storm is forecast in the far Southeast Pacific Fri (7/17) targeting only South America with another gale forecast tracking under New Zealand on Sat (7/18) with a tiny area of 40 ft seas projected. Maybe some swell to result for our forecast area from this one if all develops as forecast.

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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Sunday (7/12) no swell producing fetch was occurring over the greater North Pacific. Relative to Hawaii a broad high pressure cell was centered 900 nmiles north of the Islands interacting with the remnants of what was tropical storm Ela now below depression status generating east-northeast windswell for exposed breaks but nothing more. Typhoon Nangka was east of the Northern Philippines and tracking north bound for Japan but offering nothing for our forecast area. Relative to California a light pressure pattern and no windswell producing fetch was occurring.

Over the next 72 hours high pressure north of Hawaii is to migrate east setting up the usual pressure gradient along the North and Central CA coast by Tuesday (7/14) with north winds building to 20 kts and then becoming concentrated over North CA on Wed (7/15) with north winds to 30 kts late there. North windswell building and radiating down into Central CA. Relative to Hawaii trades (east wind) to hold at 15 kts starting well east of the Islands and continuing over Hawaii Mon-Tues (7/14) at 15 kts, courtesy of the same high pressure system, then pulling away from Hawaii but still holding east of the Islands. The net result is to be modest easterly windswell for exposed shores. Also tropical depression 06E is to start developing later Tuesday into Wednesday well east of Hawaii possibly reaching tropical storm status. A far stronger tropical system is to be developing south of Cabo San Lucas Mexico tracking north-northwest (Dolores - see Tropical Update below).     


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


Tropical Update (as of 12Z Sun 7/12)
Typhoon Nangka was 850 nmiles south of Central Japan with winds 85 kts and turning from a westerly heading to a northerly one. Slow steady strengthening is forecast is Nangka tracks north peaking on Tues AM (7/14) at 105 kts 450 nmiles south of Southern Japan, making a slightly jog more westerly. The forecast track has Nangka moving over Southern Japan on Thurs AM (7/16) with winds 85 kts. Beyond Nangka is to make it into the Sea of Japan, then get caught by the jetstream and sheared with it's remnants being redirected east over the greater North Pacific and possibly becoming absorbed by a cold core low off Kamchakta. Something to monitor.

Tropical Storm Dolores was 200 nmiles south of Zihuatanejo Mexico tracking northwest winds winds 40 kts. This track is to continue with winds steadily building pushing 95 kts on Thurs (7/16) just north of the island of Socorro or 150 nmiles south of Cabo San Lucas. The GFS model has this system turning north-north west and positioned west of and mid-way up the Baja Peninsula a week out (Sun 7/19). Something to monitor but not believable at this early date.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday (7/12) high pressure at 1026 mbs was well retreated westward from California centered north of Hawaii and having no effect on California waters with a weak northwest flow in control. But as the high pushes east northwest winds are to build to 15 kts over North and Central CA late Monday building to 20 kts late Tuesday then migrating north Wednesday becoming isolated to North CA waters at 30 kts building to 35 kts Thursday with and eddy flow setting up for Central CA. More of the same is forecast Friday then the gradient is to start fading over the weekend with a light wind pattern holding for all nearshore waters of the state.


South Pacific

On Sunday AM (7/12) the southern branch of the jet continued ridging hard south under New Zealand at 120 kts on the 65S latitude line continuing east over the width of the South Pacific with only a weak trough in the extreme Southeast Pacific offering only limited support for gale development targeting Chile. Otherwise there was no support for gale development. The northern branch of the jet was tracking east and well north of Northern New Zealand on the 27S latitude line at 140 kts continuing on that heading the whole way to Chile. Over the next 72 hours the pattern is to remain effectively unchanged with the southern branch continuing tracking west to east down at 65S with no troughs forecast developing. Beyond 72 hours a somewhat improving pattern is forecast with a weak trough starting to develop in the extreme Southeast Pacific on Thurs (7/16) offering support for gale development but only targeting Chile followed directly by a second trough in the same area on Fri (7/17) with 120 kt winds flowing up into it. At the same time a trough is to be building under New Zealand with 130 kts winds pushing northeast and up into it building to 140 kts on Sat (7/18) then moderating and washing out 24 hours later. Some decent support for gale development is possible if all.cgiays out as forecast.

Surface Analysis  
On Sunday AM (7/12) high pressure was over New Zealand at 1032 mbs while a small storm was in the extreme Southeast Pacific generating a small area of 55 kt south winds producing 35 ft seas at 55S 99W targeting only Chile up into Peru. That fetch is to be lifting northeast into the evening with south winds 50 kts and seas to 37 ft at 52S 88W targeting only Chile. Swell likely for Chile. But for the greater South Pacific no fetch of interest was in.cgiay.

Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to continue locking down the Southwest Pacific east of New Zealand with no swell producing fetch of interest forecast. Another small gale is to develop just east of extreme Southern Chile producing southwest winds 45 kts on Tues (7/14) with seas forecast to 34 ft at 50S 92W again targeting only Chile up into Peru. Otherwise no swell producing fetch is forecast.


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 a small low is to develop on the dateline tracking east into the Western Gulf of Alaska but generating no fetch of interest other than southerly winds at 30 kts targeting Alaska as it interacts with high pressure off Oregon. For California the gradient generated by that same high pressure system is to continue generating north winds over extreme Northern California at near 35 kts late Thurs (7/16) offering good potential for windswell generation pushing down into Central CA. But that gradient is to be fading Fri-Sat (7/18) with windswell from it steadily dropping and all but gone by Sun (7/19). a weak pressure pattern is to remain in control through the weekend. But then on Tues (7/14) high pressure in the Central Pacific is to start ridging east firing up the usual pressure gradient and north winds along the Central and North Coasts at 20 kts with some windswell starting to develop.

Relative to Hawaii trades to hold Thurs-Fri (7/17) at 15 kts from the east then start fading some in coverage Sat-Sun (7/19) with a more northeasterly tilt extending the whole way from just off the California coast to a point 100 nmiles northeast of Hawaii. More windswell possible on east and northeast facing shores.  

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 Sunday (7/12) the daily SOI was falling some at -3.80. The 30 day average was falling from -15.65 and the 90 day average was falling from -10.06. The near term trend based on the daily and 30 day average was indicative of fading Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a modest Active Phase of the MJO or a building El Nino base state. High pressure at 1032 mbs was over Southwest Australia ridging east and forecast tracking to Southeast Australia into next weekend (7/19) while high pressure was exiting east of Tahiti and a new low pressure if not gale starts building south of Tahiti through the workweek, then fading. The SOI is expected to continue falling through the week. We continue watching high pressure over Australia and it's possible contribution to building the Southern Hemi Booster Index (a component of strong El Ninos) and supportive of storm development under New Zealand. We want to see the 90 day SOI get down into the -15 range and hold there (typical El Nino). The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.

Current equatorial surface wind analysis per 850 mb charts (~4,500 ft up) indicated neutral wind anomalies over the western Kelvin Wave Generation Area building to moderate west anomalies over the eastern section of that region continuing over the dateline, south of Hawaii building to the strong category midway to the Galapagos fading to neutral into the Galapagos. These west anomalies are part of a very strong WWB burst associated with a robust Active Phase of the MJO (historically strong) that is moving east through the tropical Pacific. Down at the surface the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated a similar picture with moderate west winds (not just anomalies) between 180W-165W on the eastern edge of the KWGA. West anomalies remained strong from there south of Hawaii and then moderate to a point south of California. This is very solid WWB with good duration and coverage, best in years. A week from now (7/20) weak east anomalies are to be in the west Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) then turning to westerly anomalies in the eastern region starting at 170W continuing to a point south of Hawaii and east to 120W. 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 after that easing east out of the Kelvin Wave Generation Area through 6/10. Anomalies faded to neutral for 8 days, then weak westerlies started again on 6/18 with zero easterly anomalies reported so far this year. And now we continue in a significant WWB, the strongest of the year so far, starting on 6/26 and forecast to hold for 19 days (7/15). Another strong Kelvin Wave is expected to result. 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.  The CFS v2 model calls for non-stop westerly anomalies for the next 3 months.  

See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here.

The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 7/11 suggests the Active Phase of the MJO has nearly died over far West Pacific. The Statistic model suggests the Inactive Phase is to start moving in from the Indian Ocean 5 days out and building taking control over the West PAcific 15 days out at moderate strength. The Dynamic model depicts much the same pattern now, but with a weaker Inactive signal taking over the West Pacific 15 days out. The Active Phase of the MJO is to start setting up in the Indian Ocean 15 days out. Phase diagrams from the ECMF and GEFS suggest this active phase peaked on 7/5 at a strength off the charts and is rapidly collapsing while holding in.cgiace in the West Pacific till 7/18. The ultra long range upper level model run on 7/12 depicts a weak Active pattern exiting over the East Pacific. A moderate Inactive Phase is already over Indonesia and is to push into the West Pacific by 7/20 making it to the East Pacific by 8/16 with a weak Active Phase building in the Indian Ocean and reaching into the West Pacific by 8/11. As of right now, there are no signs of the 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. Just such an Inactive Phase is now poised to track over the equatorial Pacific with easterly anomalies from it moving over the KWGA roughly starting 7/27 holding through 8/11. A well entrenched westerly wind anomaly pattern is required during the June-August timeframe if something that wants to rival the '97 El Nino is to develop. If easterly anomalies develop, hopes for a Super El Nino will be severely impeded. The models are .cgiit between a continuation of westerly anomalies and something less (CFSv2 suggests continued westerly anomalies - The 2 week experimental hi-res FIM model suggests no winds or light west winds turning east but not exceeding 10 kts through 7/26, which is effectively westerly anomalies). We'll have to wait and see. 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 (7/9) first impressions continue indicating a moderate and well defined El Nino pattern 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 eastern edge of the NINO 3.4 region, and making more progress into it while backfilling down the Peruvian Coast and up into Central America.  Temperatures in the NINO1.2 region do not appear to be getting warmer, but are instead fueling expansion of coverage over the entire region. Along the West African Coast, cool water continues there, though loosing some of it's coverage. Compared to the '97 Super El Nino on this date, there continues to be no comparison. And this is not unexpected as the '97 Event really starting supercharging water temps in the Nino 1.2 region in this timeframe. But with a solid Kelvin Wave impacting the Ecuador coast, additional strengthening of NINO 1.2 water temps are possible if not likely, helping to regain some ground. Still our suspicions are that the weaknesses above in this years event are to only continue over time compared to '97, mainly due to the comparative weakness in terms of duration of the WWBs earlier this year compared to 97. But with the strength of the most recent WWB, maybe some of that ground will be made up in October when the resulting Kelvin wave hits.  

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 +2.0-2.5 deg anomalies expanding from the Galapagos now to 145W and continuing to build west of there. This depicts significant growth in coverage west over the past week. 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 (not expected yet) with the western border of +1.5 deg anomalies holding at 180W.  

The most recent hi-res data (7/12) indicates peak temps between the Galapagos and Ecuador are building while advecting west. Warm anomalies are holding along the immediate coast of Northern Chile up into Peru and the Galapagos with a near continuous core of 4-5 degs anomalies streaming from Southern Peru pushing off Ecuador and over the Galapagos reaching well west of there with imbedded pockets of +5 degree anomalies. 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, then built to +5.45 degs on 6/14. Temps faded slightly down to +4.1 degs in late June but are now back to about +4.5 degs, at +4.6 degs today. And much more warm water is pushing east at depth (see below). Given the building of warm waters along Peru and increases of surface warm water, an expansion of coverage is occurring, just as would be expected if a significant El Nino were in.cgiay. The CDAS Nino 1+2 index had been hovering at +2.1 degrees since late May then spiked reaching +3.0 degs on 7/3, then retreated down to +2.0 degs, but is again on the increase at 2.7 degrees today. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index indicates water temps held in the +1.0-1.3 deg range since mid-April, then started building pushing +1.5 degs on 6/30 and generally holding there (+1.48 degs today). Unbroken +2.25 degs anomalies have encroached westward from the Galapagos to 135W as of 7/11 and continue backfilling and growing in areal coverage to the west. One would expect NINO 3.4 to start warming as warming water from the 1.2 region starts advecting west, and that is happening in fits and starts.  

Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator under the dateline (160-180W) are rebuilding with +2.0 degs anomalies building in coverage at 170W, presumably the immediate effects of a WWB occurring just west of there. Warmer water previously there is tracking east reinforcing a large warm reservoir moving into Ecuador. So the pipe is open with more warm water falling into. In parallel the reservoir in the east is pushing into the Galapagos and Ecuador. A large pool of +5-6 degs anomalies is holding there centered at 110W with +5 deg anomalies pushing east from 122W to Ecuador and 4+ deg anomalies reaching east from 129W. 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 perhaps 2 months of warm water in this reservoir. And more warm water continues downwelling on the dateline. The Kelvin Wave impacting the East Pacific should peak on Aug 1, with presumably a third starting to build now, possibly impacting the Galapagos on 10/2. This is a great setup.  

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 7/2 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific east of the dateline with a core at +10 cm at 120W and 90W. 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 (7/7) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 160W and the Ecuador coast (easing east) with +1.0-1.5 degs from 150W eastward. +1.5 deg anomalies are doing the same easing east from 143W. And +2 deg anomalies are holding between the coast and 105W. A Kelvin Wave impacted the Ecuador Coast in May-June and the next wave is building if not starting to impact the coast looking every bit as strong. This is a very good sign with yet more westerly anomalies and a new Kelvin Wave starting to build on the dateline. 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 7/12 for the Nino 3.4 region are holding. It suggests water temps are at +1.6 deg C (confirmed) and are to steadily warm continuing to +2.00 degs by Oct (previously +1.75 degs 6/28) peaking at +2.0-+2.05 degs by late Nov, then dropping off. Peak temps have stabilized in the +2.0 deg range. This suggests we have passed the likelihood of a Modoki event and are now firmly moving towards 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 an expected Inactive Phase of the MJO in late July/early August could still have unknown affects. 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. 

Also see the CFS 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds and MJO with analysis here New!

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 hold 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 are erupting on track with projections starting 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 was monitoring the strength of westerly anomalies in the KWGA as the Active Phase of the MJO tracked over that area in early July. It passed the test with flying colors. Part 2 is monitoring the impact of the second large Kelvin Wave erupting over the Galapagos. At this time that eruption is having the desired effect - expansion west of anomalously warm waters. 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) should 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.

As things currently stand, we appear to be close to crossing over a threshold. But we must get through the next possible choke point, the projected Inactive Phase of the MJO in late July. If that is a non-event, much like the mid-June one, then a significant El Nino event would become more likely. If it somehow shuts down westerly anomalies, and a upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle develops, all bets are off. Assuming that does not happen, how will this years event be 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 (see analysis here). But the latest WWB could help nudge this years event towards a stronger status. 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. Interestingly, the amount of warm water in.cgiay on the equator at the start of this year (the results of 2014's failed El Nino bid) actually gave us a starting base state well ahead of '97, somewhat negating concerns about weaker WWBs this year. Still we're guessing we're somewhere between the 82' and '97 event, 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 an improving pattern is suggested. first off another gale is to start developing in the extreme Southeast Pacific on Wed-Thurs (7/16) producing a good sized area of 45 kt southwest winds (Wed PM) with seas building to 35 ft at 56S 118W barely in the southern CA swell window but likely not pushing any energy in that direction and instead focusing on Chile and Peru. 45 kt fetch is to fading Thurs AM (7/16) with seas building to 38 ft at 52S 104W targeting Chile and Peru. That system to fade while a new storm builds in the deep South Central Pacific Thurs AM (7/16) with west winds 50 kts and seas building while tracking rapidly east. By Friday AM (7/17) 45-50 kt southwest winds are to be relocated again in the far Southeast Pacific targeting Chile well with seas 41 ft at 51S 102W. No energy to be aimed at California. In the evening 45-50 kt south winds to be just off Southern Chile with seas 39 ft at 49S 94W targeting Chile and Peru. Something to monitor.

And on Friday (7/17) a broad gale is to be building south of and over New Zealand with south winds 30-35 kts all shadowed and impacting New Zealand. That gale is to continue building huge in areal coverage Sat (7/18) and slowly becoming unobscured by New Zealand in the evening with winds building to 40-45 kts in pockets mainly southeast of New Zealand aimed north with seas 30 ft at 49S 172E targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. By Sun AM (7/19) 60-65 kt south winds are forecast free and clear aimed due north with 49 ft seas developing at 52S 177W. 50-55 kt south fetch is to be covering a huge area in the evening aimed due north with 56 ft seas at 48S 173W. Solid long period swell would be radiating north targeting all locations if this were to come to pass. Of course none of this is believable just yet,. but it's 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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