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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Wednesday, July 14, 2015 7:11 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   

Hurricane Dolores Builds
South Pacific Naps for Now

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 Wednesday, July 15, 2015 :

  • Buoy 165 (Barbers Point): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 14.7 secs from 212 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 16.0 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 14.1 secs. Wind southeast 8-12 kts early. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.2 ft @ 9.2 secs from 257 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.3 ft @ 14.9 secs from 205 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.6 ft @ 14.7 secs from 210 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 8.5 ft @ 8.0 secs with swell 3.6 ft @ 8.3 secs. Wind northwest 18-21 kts. Water temp 60.4 degs.

Current Conditions
On Tuesday (7/14) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the waist to chest high range at exposed breaks and chopped with heavy overcast. Down in Santa Cruz local north windswell was wrapping in producing thigh high sets and clean and weak. In Southern California up north windswell and southern hemi swell combo was producing thigh to near waist high waves and clean early. Down south windswell and leftover southern hemi combo swell was producing surf at waist high and nearly chopped early. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting background southern hemi swell with set waves to near waist high and clean. The East Shore was getting tradewind generated east windswell with waves waist to chest 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 a tropical storm (Enrique) and a hurricane (Dolores) were tracking westerly off of Mexico. Regarding windswell, trades were in control over and east of Hawaii and producing some windswell and expected to hold into Wed (7/15) then fade some. Relative to California high pressure was in control with north winds and locally generated windswell in effect and expected to hold into the early weekend. For the southern hemisphere no swell was in the water and none was being generated. A decent gale has been on and off the charts just east of New Zealand on Sun-Mon (7/19) generating 38 ft seas aimed north. Possible swell to result. 

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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (7/14) no swell producing fetch was occurring over the greater North Pacific. Relative to Hawaii a broad high pressure cell was centered 900 nmiles north-northeast of the Islands generating trades at 15 kts and resulting in some easterly windswell at exposed breaks. Tropical Storm Enrique was fading while tracking east midway between Hawaii and Mexico offering no swell generation potential. Typhoon Nangka was 500 nmiles south of Southern Japan tracking north bound for Japan and  offering nothing for our forecast area. Relative to California the same high pressure system north of Hawaii was ridging into the Central and North coasts generating the usual summer time pressure gradient and north winds at 20 kts, producing limited northerly short period windswell at exposed breaks. 

Over the next 72 hours high pressure north of Hawaii is to migrate northeast with fetch/trades from it fading later Wed (7/15) relative to Hawaii with windswell from it fading out. The remnants of Enrique to be gone at that time too without getting withing striking distance of the Islands. But a broad fetch of northeast winds associated with the high off California to redevelop producing 20 kt northeast winds targeting the Islands Fri-Sun (7/19) perhaps setting up small northeast windswell. After that trades to falter. For California the high pressure induced pressure gradient is to continue if not build while lifting north along the North CA coast later Wed (7/15) with north winds building to 30 kts pushing 35 kts on Thursday then starting to fade later Friday into Sat (7/18). North windswell building and radiating down into Central CA commensurate with winds speeds in the gradient. Slack winds to be in control next week (7/20).   


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


Tropical Update (as of 12Z Tues 7/14)
Typhoon Nangka was 750 nmiles south of Central Japan with winds 90 kts and tracking north. Slow steady strengthening is forecast as Nangka tracks north peaking on Wed AM (7/15) at 100 kts 300 nmiles south of Kyoto Japan, making a slight jog to the north-northwest. The forecast track has Nangka moving over Southern Japan on Thurs AM (7/16) with winds 95 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.

Hurricane Dolores was 300 nmiles south-southeast of Cabo San Lucas Mexico tracking west-northwest winds winds 70 kts. This track is to continue with winds steadily building pushing 105 kts on Wed PM (7/15) just north of the island of Socorro or 150 nmiles south of Cabo San Lucas. Doloroes to continue on a west-northwest track moving into the Dana Point swell window at 18Z Thurs (7/16) and 825 nmiles away.  Swell arrival assuming a 13 secs period to be at Friday 2 hrs before sunrise. Swell building through the day possibly reaching 2.6 ft @ 12 secs (3.0 ft) on Sat (7/18). Dolores to continue on this heading through Sat PM (7/18) with winds fading to 75 kts. The GFS model has this system fading away completely on Tues (7/21) positioned 450 nmiles off the CA/Baja boarder. 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.

Tropical Storm Enrique was fading between Mexico and Hawaii. No swell to result.  

Typhoon Halola was mid-way between Hawaii and the Philippines forecast building to 115 kts on Sun (7/19) positioned 600 nmiles north of Guam heading west-northwest.  There are no immediate signs of swell generation potential projected relative to our forecast area. 

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (7/14) high pressure at 1030 mbs was ridging east from a point north of Hawaii and generating northwest winds at 20 kts over North and Central CA waters.  More of the same is forecast Wednesday but with north winds migrating north and 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 early Saturday with a light wind pattern holding for all nearshore waters of the state through Monday. Tuesday (7/21) high pressure is to be in the Gulf of Alaska with northeast winds 20 kts just off Cape Mendocino, but with light winds south of there.


South Pacific

On Tuesday AM (7/14) 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 just off the tip of South America offering only limited support for gale development targeting Southern 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 28S 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. That said, a small trough is to try and develop south of New Zealand on Wed (7/15) with 120 kt winds pushing briefly to the northeast, but then collapsing late in the day. Maybe a hint of support for gale development possible there. But then on Thurs (7/16) another trough is to start developing in the same area with 130 kts winds pushing northeast and up into it building to 140 kts late Fri (7/17) reaching almost to the southern tip of New Zealand, then moderating and washing out late Sat (7/18). Some decent support for gale development is possible.
Also on Thurs (7/16) in the extreme Southeast Pacific another mall trough is forecast 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 supporting development of yet another gale. Beyond 72 hours the ridging pattern is to set back up taking over the whole South Pacific with no troughs and no support for gale development indicated.  

Surface Analysis  
On Tuesday AM (7/14) high pressure was just east of New Zealand at 1028 mbs while a small gale was in the extreme Southeast Pacific generating a small area of 45 kt southwest winds producing 32 ft seas at 51S 95W targeting only Chile up into Peru. That fetch is to be lifting northeast into the evening and fading from 40 kts and seas fading from 28 ft at 50S 85W 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 a string of 3 gales are forecast Wed PM (7/15), all on the northern edge of Antarctic Ice.  The first is to be south of Tasmania with winds 55 kts from the west generating 42 ft seas at 60S 152W (shadowed relative to Hawaii by NZ), the second southeast of New Zealand with 45-50 kt west winds and seas building, and the third on the southern edge of the SCal swell window producing 45 kt southwest winds with seas building. By Thurs AM (7/16) the first is to be fading from 45 kts under New Zealand with seas fading from 34 ft at 60S 158E and barely on the 201 degree path to HI), then second with 55 kt west winds and mostly over ice with 34 ft seas at 62S 160W (185 degrees HI), and the third with 45 kts southwest winds and 32 ft seas at 56S 110W targeting only Chile and Peru.  By Thurs evening the second one is to be the only one of interest left, producing  50 kt southwest winds and seas to 35 ft at 61S 136W targeting South America but with sideband energy possibly for California. By Fri AM (7/17) this system is to be east of the CA swell window with no seas of 34 ft quickly tracking out of the SCal swell window from 60S 123W.  The net result is to be tiny background swell for Hawaii from the first 2 and background swell for Southern CA from the third one. Tiny is the operative word. 

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 strong low pressure system is to develop off the Kamchatka on Fri PM (7/17) with winds briefly hitting 30 kts resulting in 16 ft seas at 46N 168E.  No swell to result. No other swell producing fetch is to result. 

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 Tuesday (7/12) the daily SOI was falling some at -18.20. The 30 day average was falling from -17.23 and the 90 day average was falling from -10.50. The near term trend based on the daily and 30 day average was indicative of steady state 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 1036 mbs was building over Southwest Australia ridging northeast and forecast tracking to Southeast Australia over the weekend (7/19) then moving over the Tasman Sea while low pressure if not gale was starting to build south of Tahiti expected to hold into Fri (7/17) then fade only to be r.cgiaced by a stronger gale early next week (7/20). The SOI is expected to continue falling some through the week then becoming steady. 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 light east wind anomalies over the western Kelvin Wave Generation Area switching and building to moderate west anomalies over the eastern section of that region continuing over the dateline, and continuing south of Hawaii before fading to neutral midway to the Galapagos (120W) and neutral over 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 150E-180W in the core of the KWGA. West anomalies remained moderate to strong from there south of Hawaii and were building in strength to a point south of California. This is very solid WWB with good duration and coverage, best in years. A week from now (7/22) modest east anomalies are to be in the west Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) then turning to light westerly anomalies in the eastern region continuing to a point south of Hawaii but up to modest strength continuing to 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 after that easing east out of the Kelvin Wave Generation Area through 6/10. Anomalies faded to neutral for 8 days through 6/18 as the Inactive Phase of the MJO interfered with the pattern, then weak westerlies started again on 6/18. A significant WWB, the strongest of the year so far, starting on 6/26 peaking near 7/4, but is still holding and actually pulsing slightly today (7/14) and forecast to linger til 7/16 for an eve 20 day duration. 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 7/13 suggests the Active Phase of the MJO has moved to the far East Pacific and is dying. The Statistic model suggests the Inactive Phase is starting to move into the West Pacific and is to continue moving east taking control over the West Pacific 15 days out at moderate strength. The Dynamic model now has caught up and depicts much the same thing and at the same strength 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 the current active phase is rapidly collapsing while migrating to the East Pacific till 7/18. The ultra long range upper level model run on 7/14 depicts a weak Active pattern exiting over the East Pacific. A moderate Inactive Phase is already over Indonesia and starting to push into the West Pacific, moving over the dateline by 7/29 making it to the East Pacific by 8/23 with a weak Active Phase building in the Indian Ocean and reaching into the West Pacific by 8/13. 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. But at the same time major amounts of warm water are already in motion and falling to depth on the equator and will continue for the next few weeks courtesy of the large WWB that started late June and is still in flighty. It seem highly unlikely any of that momentum will be reversed by this developing Inactive Phase resulting in an upwelling Kelvin Wave Event. Just the same, 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 for any length of time, hopes for a Super El Nino will be severely impeded. The models are .cgiit between a continuation of westerly anomalies and neutral anomalies (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). No easterly anomalies are forecast. Still, we'll remain cautious. 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 (7/13) first impressions continue indicating a moderate and well defined El Nino pattern in.cgiace and building over the entire equatorial Pacific. Impressive for mid-July. It depicts a generalized expansion of coverage near the Galapagos over the last 15 days extending west and building into the NINO 3.4 region, making more progress while simultaneously 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 building in coverage some while fueling expansion of coverage into Western areas (NINO 3 and 4). Along the West African Coast, cool water continues expanding there, though loosing some of it's intensity nearshore. Compared to the '97 Super El Nino on this date, this years event isn't quite as strong concerning absolute temperature and coverage, but is indeed quite comparable overall. This is an upgrade. And with a solid Kelvin Wave impacting the Ecuador coast, additional strengthening of NINO 1.2 water temps are possible (if not occurring), helping to keep this years event somewhat on track with '97. Still our suspicions are that weaknesses in this years event are to 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. The fact that we're even comparing this years event to '97, and not finding huge differences, is a testament to the strength and magnitude of the oceanic change in.cgiay.    

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 to 128W but signs of near +2.0 deg anomalies reach to nearly 170W. 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 (7/14) indicates peak temps between the Galapagos and Ecuador are building while advecting west. Warm anomalies are building 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 +4.7 degs today warming over the past week. 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 hovered at +2.1 degrees since late May then spiked reaching +3.0 degs on 7/3, retreated to +2.0 degs, then spiked again on 7/13 at +3.0 degs, and currently at 2.7. 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 (+1.42 degs today). Hi-res satellite images clearly depict unbroken +2.25 degs anomalies have encroached westward from the Galapagos to 132W as of 7/14 but are building in pockets west to 150W. One would expect NINO 3.4 to start warming as warm water from the 1.2 region starts advecting west, and that is happening in fits and starts. With NINO3.4 already at 1.4 degrees, we're solidly in El Nino territory.  

Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator under the dateline (160-180W) are rebuilding extremely fast with +2.0 degs anomalies fully bulging from the dateline eastward, the direct effects of the massive WWB occurring there now. Warmer water is also tracking east reinforcing a large warm reservoir that is starting to erupt into Ecuador. So the pipe is open with more warm water rushing into. The reservoir is holding coverage with +5-6 degs anomalies centered at 110W with +5 deg anomalies pushing east from 119W to Ecuador and 4+ deg anomalies reaching east from 130W. 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 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 7/7 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific starting at 160E (major westward expansion from last image) with a core at +10 cm at 120W and from 100W eastward. All this is indicative of a wide open pipe with embedded and merging Kelvin Waves combining 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 168E and the Ecuador coast (easing east).  this is a major expansion to the west and all but eliminates and chance for the upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle to develop.  +1.0-1.5 degs are from 151W eastward. +1.5 deg anomalies are doing the same easing east from 133W. And +2 deg anomalies are holding between the coast and 102W. 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 and west of the dateline. See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here

Pacific Counter Current data as of 7/12 continues solid. The current is pushing moderately strongly west to east over the west equatorial Pacific filling the Kelvin Wave Generation Area reaching to 160W with modest current reaching south of Hawaii only on the north side of the equator and fading out at 130W. Modest easterly current was on the equator from the Galapagos reaching a point south of Hawaii. Anomaly wise - moderate to strong west anomalies were in control on the equator over the West Pacific to 160W, then dissipating. Easterly anomalies were in 2 pockets, one south of Hawaii and the other over the Galapagos. Compared to the '97 El Nino at this time, there is not much of a comparison. In '97 west velocities were strong in the far West Pacific with strong anomalies at 120W-160W. Suspect all this data is heavily influenced by local wind, and therefore WWBs. Still, the data suggests there was more and larger WWBs in '97. 

Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model (PDF Corrected) run 7/14 for the Nino 3.4 region have inched up. It suggests water temps are at +1.5 deg C (confirmed) and are to steadily warm continuing to +2.00 degs by Oct (previously +1.75 degs 6/28) peaking at +2.1 degs by late Nov, then dropping off. Peak temps have stabilized in the +2.0 deg range. This suggests we 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

Recirculation Theory here New! (7/15/15)

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 at WWB strength and forecast to hold for another few days enhanced by 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 in late June. 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 is 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 Australia 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. We survived the June Inactive Phase of the MJO with no easterly anomalies developing (and in reality, no trades at all). And it appears an evolving base El Nino state is building. which should dampen any future Inactive Phases of the MJO cycle. This is required for a major El Nino to develop. On queue a major WWB developed late June/early July which should only enhance the base El Nino state more. At the same time we are monitoring the impact of the second large Kelvin Wave erupting over the Galapagos. At this time that eruption is having the desired effect - expansion in Nino 1.2 and expansion west of anomalously warm waters into Nino 3.4. 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. But the odds of shutting down the Kelvin Wave cycle seem remote, given the rapid expansion of subsurface warm waters currently occurring now under the dateline. 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 (and likely some atmospheric bias in favor of El Nino), 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 on Friday PM (7/17) a broad gale is to be building south 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 50 kts in 2 pockets east and southeast of New Zealand aimed north with seas building. By Sun AM (7/19) 50 kt south winds are forecast free and clear aimed due north with 34 ft seas developing at 41S 172W. 45-50 kt south fetch is to be covering a solid area in the evening aimed due north with 36 ft seas at 41S 174W. Fetch is to be fading from 45 kt Mon AM (7/20) with 39 ft seas at 38S 171W aimed due north at Hawaii and the US West Coast. Fetch is to be fading from 40 kts from the turning southwest with seas fading from 36 ft at 36S 164W.  Solid longer period swell could be radiating north targeting all locations if this were to come to pass. Of course none of this is believable just yet.

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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