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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, August 4, 2015 7:18 PM
Buoys: Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Buoy Forecast:
Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Pacific Links:  Atmospheric Models - Buoy Data - Current Weather - Wave Models
Forecast Archives: Enter Here
A chronology of recent Mavericks Underground forecasts. Once you enter, just click on the HTML file forecast you want to review (e.g. 073199.html equals July 31, 1999). To view the maps that correspond to that forecast date, select the html file labeled 073199 maps.html
Swell Potential Rating = 2.8 - California & 3.3 - 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 8/3 thru Sun 8/9

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   

1 Small S. Hemi Swell Hitting CA - Another to Follow
Water Temps Regrouping Off Ecuador

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 Tuesday, August 4, 2015 :

  • Buoy 165 (Barbers Point): Seas were 2.4 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 1.1 ft @ 14.7 secs from 184 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.3 ft @ 6.0 secs with swell 1.1 ft @ 14.6 secs. Wind northwest 6-12 kts early. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.4 ft @ 15.4 secs from 226 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.1 ft @ 16.6 secs from 194 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.5 ft @ 15.1 secs from 183 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 15.0 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 14.6 secs. Wind east 1-4 kts. Water temp 62.4 degs.

Current Conditions
On Tuesday (8/4) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the thigh to waist high range at best breaks and weak but clean early. Down in Santa Cruz new south angled southern hemi swell was producing surf at waist to chest high with a few bigger peaks at top spots and clean. In Southern California up north windswell was hitting producing waves at thigh high and very weak but clean early. Down south waves were waist to chest high on the sets and clean and lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean with occasional 2 ft sets showing . The South Shore was getting minimal background southern hemi swell with waves maybe thigh high on the sets and clean. The East Shore was getting tradewind generated east windswell with waves 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 large scale swell producing weather systems were in.cgiay or forecast. Regarding windswell, trades were in control over and east of Hawaii resulting in windswell with swell from Hurricane Guillermo also in the mix for exposed east shores. Relative to California high pressure has retreated with no windswell producing fetch occurring and none forecast till Thurs (8/6). For the southern hemisphere a modest gale tracked through the eastern edge of the California swell window on Mon (7/27) producing 29 ft seas aimed northeast.  That swell is hitting CA now.  And another smaller gale produced 29 ft seas in the same area Wed AM (7/29) again offering hope for small south angled swell for CA by late in the workweek. Beyond a .cgiit upper level flow continues to be a problem suppressing storm production over the bulk of the South Pacific.  


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (8/4) no non-tropical swell producing fetch was occurring over the greater North Pacific. High pressure at 1028 mbs was in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska starting to ridge east into British Columbia and generating a weak pressure gradient over the Pacific Northwest producing 15 kt north winds there, but nothing relative to California. For Hawaii the high was generating trades at 15-20 kts east and northeast of the Islands, but the remnants of Guillermo were 300 nmiles east of the Big Island offering the best shot for swell production (see Tropical Update below). 

Over the next 72 hours high pressure relative to California is to start ridging stronger into the Oregon Coast producing 25 kt north fetch by Thurs (8/6) holding into Friday resulting in modest north angled windswell for North and Central CA. Relative to Hawaii Guillermo's remnants to track just north of the Islands continuing to spray windswell along east facing shores.  And trades to hold at 15 kts east of the Islands putting windswell into the mix. No other swell source was indicated.


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


Tropical Update
Hurricane Guillermo developed Thurs PM (7/30) positioned 1750 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island tracking west-northwest with winds 70 kts and seas 22 ft. Small 14 sec period swell started to arrive on the Big Island Monday (8/3). Guillermo built from there and had winds to 90 kts Sat AM (8/1) and was peaking in intensity positioned 1400 nmiles from the Big Island tracking west-northwest with seas 35 ft. 14-15 sec period swell was being generated and arrived Monday evening (8/3). Guillermo continued on this heading while slowly weakening fading below hurricane strength and by Tuesday AM (8/4) was positioned 350 nmiles east of the island of Hawaii with winds 60 kts still generating swell.  It is expected to push 180 nmiles north of the Big Island by Thurs AM (8/6) with winds down to 40 kts (minimal tropical storm force) and fading passing 180 nmiles north of Kauai on Fri AM (8/7) with winds down to 35 kts and continuing west-northwest from there while fading, dissipating northwest of Hawaii on Sun (8/9).  Continued east to northeast windswell to result for exposed breaks on all islands until the storm passes due north of any given island, at which time swell production will cease for that location.  

Swell on the East Shore of Oahu is to hold Tues (8/4) at 4.3 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.0-5.5 ft) then start building to 6 ft @ 12-13 secs (7.5 ft) on Wed (8/5) and up to 7 ft @ 11-12 secs (8 ft) early Wed (8/6), then quickly fading.  Minimal wrap around energy is forecast into the North Shore.  

Super Typhoon Soudelor peaked at 18Z on Monday (8/3) with winds 155 kts (178 mph) positioned 850 nmiles south of Tokyo Japan still heading west-northwest with seas 50 ft (all aimed west). A slow fade set in thereafter with winds down to 140 kts (161 mph) Tues AM (8/4) still heading the same direction with seas forecast at 48 ft. Soudelor is to be 150 nmiles west of Northern Taiwan on Fri AM (8/7) with winds still 115 and then tracking over Northern Taiwan in the evening and then into mainland China Sat AM (8/8). No recuravture to the northeast expected.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (8/4) high pressure at 1028 mbs was in the Gulf of Alaska pushing into British Columbia generating a weak gradient and northwest winds at 15 kts over the Pacific Northwest, but with a weak wind flow over all of California. More of the same is forecast until later Wed (8/5) when high pressure falls south some and starts ridging into the north end of the state with north winds there 20 kts pushing near 30 kts late Thursday then fading from 25 kts Friday before falling south into Central CA on  Saturday producing northwest winds 15 kts down into Pt Conception. More of the same is forecast Sunday (8/9) with 15 kt north winds nearshore from Pt Arena down to Pt Conception holding into Wed (8/12) if not expanding coverage some.   


South Pacific

On Tuesday AM (8/4) the jetstream continued well .cgiit with the southern branch falling southeast from New Zealand ridging south to 70S in the Southeast Pacific at 145W then rebounding some but not till 110W, east of the Southern CA swell window. Also a weak trough was moving through the Tasman Sea but with no winds of interest flowing up into it. The northern branch of the jet was tracking east as it has all summer from a point north of Northern New Zealand on the 27S latitude line an embedded pocket of 160 kt winds over the Tasman Sea and then 180 kt winds over the far East Pacific. A small trough was south of Tahiti supporting a cutoff low there that has been in.cgiace for over a week now. Still, no support for gale formation that could support swell production in lower levels of the atmosphere were indicated. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast with the ridge in the southern branch of the jet holding if not pushing harder south by Fri (8/7) down to 74S.  The trough in the Tasman Sea is to east east reaching the southern tip of New Zealand but remain very weak. The net result is no support for gale development. Probably of most interest is the trough forecast in the northern branch of the jet positioned south of Tahiti, which is forecast to build some into Friday.  Through not contributing to swell production, it could server to drive the SOI more negative contributing to El Ninos evolution. Beyond 72 hours the Tasman Sea trough is to get under-cut and collapse by Sat (8/8) with the ridge in the southern branch building taking over the entire South Pacific through Tues (8/11).  At that time there's some sense a trough might start building in the Central Pacific, but that is far from guaranteed. And the trough south of Tahiti is to start fading and falling south by Mon (8/10) with it's contribution tot he SOI diminishing. No support for gale development is forecast for the South Pacific.  

Surface Analysis  
On Tuesday AM (8/4) strong high pressure at 1032 mbs was positioned east-southeast of New Zealand locked between the .cgiit jetstream flow and ridging south to 63S. It was driving the storm track south over Antarctic Ice. Low pressure was in the far Southeast Pacific generating 30-35 kt southwest winds producing 25 ft seas at 55S 118W but likely not high enough to result in swell for even California.  It was targeting primarily Chile and Peru. Swell from a gale previously in the far Southeast Pacific on Mon (7/27) was hitting California (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). Swell from a second gale that developed in the same location Wed AM (7/29) was tracking northeast (see Second Southeast Pacific gale below).  

Over the next 72 hours the high pressure is to lift north slightly allowing a small gale to develop Wed PM (8/5) southeast of New Zealand producing 40 kt west winds and seas to 28 ft at 58S 162W aimed east. Those winds are to start fading Thurs AM (8/6) from 35 kts with seas fading from 26 ft at 57S 151W.  Low odds of any swell to result. 

Otherwise there no indications of swell producing fetch forecast. 

Southeast Pacific Gale
On Sun PM (7/26) a gale started building in the far Southeast Pacific with pressure 972 mbs and winds building from the southwest at 40 kts with seas building from 28 ft at 56S 138W. Fetch was fading from 35-40 kts Mon AM (7/27) aimed northeast with seas peaking at 29 ft at 54S 126W targeting Peru and Northern Chile with sideband energy into California. This system was gone after that.

Swell is to be fading in Southern California on Wed (8/5) from 2.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5 ft) early.  Swell Direction: 185 degrees.

Swell is to continue in Northern California on Wed (8/5) at 1.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) early. Swell fading Thurs (8/6) from 1.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (2 ft).  Swell Direction: 183 degrees.


Second Southeast Pacific Gale
Another gale formed in the extreme Southeast Pacific Tues PM (7/28) generating a small fetch of 45 kt southwest winds pushing northeast and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By Wed AM (7/29) those winds stalled holding at 35 kts over a larger area aimed due north generating 28 ft seas at 52S 126W targeting mainly Southern California. In the evening fetch is to be shrinking and tracking east at 35 kt from the south with 25 ft seas fading at 50S 118W aimed well to the northeast. That fetch is to fade Thurs AM (7/30) and outside of the SCal swell window. Another small pulse of swell is possible for Southern CA down into Mexico and Peru.

Swell arrival in SCal is possible late Wed (8/5) with minimal size and period 18 secs peaking on Thurs (8/6) with swell 2 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading on Fri (8/7) from 2 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) Swell Direction: 185 degrees 

Swell arrival in NCal is possible late Thurs (8/6) with swell building to 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell fading on Fri (8/7) from 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft). Residuals fading Sat (8/8) from 1.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (2 ft). Swell Direction: 183 degrees 


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




Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours high pressure is to be fading along the North CA coast by Sat (8/8) with the gradient collapsing and falling south resulting in 15-20 kts north winds directly over North and Central CA California slowly fading Sunday before turning light on Monday. No windswell to result from Saturday mid-day on. Relative to Hawaii trades to continue at 15 kts from the east covering a good sized area east of the Islands after the immediate passage of Guillermo holding into Sat (7/8) likely resulting in more east windswell at exposed breaks. But then trades are to weaken in terms of areal coverage with east windswell likely fading.   

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 (8/4) the daily SOI was falling hard at -39.00 an below -20 for 7 days. The 30 day average was starting to respond falling from -14.23.  The 90 day average was falling from -14.00. It has been at or below -10.0 since early July.  The near term trend based on the daily average was indicative of a building El Nino base state. The 30 day SOI had rebounded some from it's lowest in years reached on 7/18/15 at -20.49, but is falling again. The longer term pattern was indicative of a steadily building El Nino base state. High pressure at 1032 mbs was building from Southwest Australia towards Southeast Australia and forecast to hold through Sat (8/8), fade some while another strong high starts building tracking east pushing into Western Australia on Wed (8/12). A cutoff low was south of Tahiti and forecast to hold into Sat (8/8) then fade with higher pressure following. The net result is to be a steady negative SOI into the weekend (8/8), indicative of a building El Nino, then rising thereafter at least for a while. Of note: South winds are to start building at the surface Wed-Sun (8/9), likely adding to the Southern Hemi Booster index. Southeast wind anomalies have been building in this region off and on for weeks now (latest run starting 7/29 and continuing today). We've seen mixed evidence of a high pressure regime over Northeast Australia that would aid the Southern Hemi Booster Index (and therefore supercharge the developing El Nino). The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.

Current equatorial surface wind analysis per 850 mb charts (~4,500 ft up) indicated moderate.cgius west anomalies in the heart of the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) fading to modest just east of the dateline and almost neutral south of Hawaii, eventually turning light east near the Galapagos. These west anomalies are the result of the interaction of an El Nino base state and an equatorial Rossby Wave. These anomalies have remained virtually unchanged for the past 17 days (7/18-8/3) and followed a very strong WWB burst that was associated with a robust Active Phase of the MJO (historically strong) 6/24-7/17. Down at the surface the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated strong west winds (not anomalies) at 170E in the core of the KWGA with strong west anomalies from 170 to 170W, then fading at 160W. This continues impressive, and is attributable again the Rossby Wave occurring near the dateline. A week from now (8/12) weak east anomalies are to be in the east Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) switching to moderate west anomalies east of there to the dateline, and then neutral anomalies from there to 120W (south of California) with strong west anomalies from 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 after that 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 held nicely through 7/17. A moderate westerly anomaly flow redeveloped thereafter until 7/29 when a Rossby Wave enhanced the westerly flow, developing a mini-WWB at 175E and was still holding on 8/3, then expected to fade. The major June-July WWB effectively held for 26 days and is to result in a strong Kelvin Wave. Still more westerly anomalies are needed into Sept if a strong El Nino is to develop.  The CFSv2 model calls for non-stop westerly anomalies at least into 8/31, the likely result of a developing El Nino base state with occasional enhancement by equatorial Rossby Waves. The next active Phase of the MJO is forecast mid-Sept into late Oct.  

See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here.

Longer range MJO and Rossby Wave Models run on 8/3 indicate a dead neutral MJO signal over the entire equatorial Pacific. The Statistic model suggests this pattern is to hold for the next 15 days. The Dynamic model depicts effectively the same things.  In essence no MJO influence is forecast. Phase Diagrams from the ECMF and GEFS suggest the Active Phase of the MJO is collapsed but might redevelop over the West Pacific weakly a few days out, but then is to collapse again. The 40 day upper level model depicts a weak non-descript MJO pattern in.cgiay and not expected to change thru Sept 13. The CFS model depicts no MJO influence through the end of August, and finally starting to build into the West Pacific Sept 18. No Rossby Wave influence is expected either till Sept 8. So we are on the verge of falling into a neutral pattern, with only a pure El Nino base state at.cgiay.  This will be interesting and help us examine the true strength of the base El Nino state. For right now the models seem pretty well consolidated on a continuation of westerly anomalies. No easterly anomalies are forecast. Still, we'll remain cautious.

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 (8/3) first impressions continue indicating a moderate and well defined El Nino pattern in.cgiace and building over the entire equatorial Pacific. It's solid for late-July. But compared to previous imagery, the pattern has lost energy. If anything, there has been no increase in concentration of warm waters and if anything, the entire pattern looks less defined. And if one is to make a direct comparison to '97 at this same time, there is no comparison. 97 imagery leaves this years event in the dust. This is not unexpected given the freight train consistency of Westerly Wind bursts leading up to the '97 event. Comparatively '15 is building, but at a slower pace and with less vigor, but deliberate just the same. Total coverage of warm waters as of the 8/3 imagery still remains respectable, just not in the league of '97. Temperatures in the NINO1.2 region as of the latest image appear to be holding if not getting marginally warmer, but theya re not cooling anymore. Along the West African Coast, cool water continues there, building some. Very warm water continues off the US West Coast the whole way to Japan but unrelated to this years El Nino, but possibly attributable to the building Active State of the PDO. So for now the low res-data suggest a bit of a downgrade compared to previous expectations. The big issue of late is the apparent drop-off of NINO 1.2 water temps, likely the result of a pause in upwelling of warm water in that region. Still, there appears to be.cgienty of water poised in the subsurface reservoir to upwell. 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 (late June), maybe some of that ground will be made up in October when the resulting Kelvin wave hits. But we're convinced this event will not reach or eclipse '97. .    

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 155W (a dramatic increase to the west from last update) with +1.5 deg anomalies reach to 178W (holding). Overall the warm water signature continues to grow.    

The most recent hi-res data (8/2) indicates we are past the peak temps experienced between the Galapagos and Ecuador on 7/14. Peak warm temps faded some between Ecuador and the Galapagos between 7/14-7/30 (and is reflected in the low res imagery too - see above). Since 7/31 temps between Ecuador and the Galapagos appear to be trying to rebuild, with warm anomalies holding along the immediate coast of Northern Chile up into Peru and the coverage of pockets of less than +2.25 degs anomalies have started to shrink marginally. 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 from that high peak down to +4.1 degs in late June then rebuilt up to +4.94 on 7/17. Then a steady fade has set in, down to +3.1 degs as of 7/31. But as of today, temps are back to +3.6 degs. Much more warm water is poised at depth just off Ecuador (see below). Given the current pause in warming near the Galapagos, no additional expansion of the warm pool is expected. This is not consistent with what one would expect if a significant El Nino were in.cgiay and further solidifies the thesis that this years event will not reach or eclipse '97. The CDAS Nino 1+2 index is falling again today at 2.2 degs. It was hovered at +2.1 degrees since late May then spiked reaching +3.0 degs on 7/3, faded then spiked again on 7/13 at +3.0 degs and yet again on 7/22. It fell to +1.9 degrees on 7/27 and is now  trying to rebuild. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index is still holding at lower values, up to +1.4 degrees. Water temps there had held in the +1.0-1.3 deg range since mid-April, then started building pushing +1.5 degs on 6/30 and generally held there while creeping up, peaking at +1.75 degs on 7/19 and +1.7 degs on 7/29.  Hi-res satellite images clearly depict unbroken +2.25 degs anomalies have encroached westward from the Galapagos to 133W as of 7/16 and then 138W (7/31) and have not changed today (8/3). Given the current at least temporary cooling in the NINO1.2 region, those cooler temps are expected to eventually advect west and negatively impact NINO 3.4, at least temporarily. This is the exact opposite of what is required.  

Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator under the dateline (160-180W) have rebuilt with +2.0 degs anomalies fully bulging from the dateline eastward and +4 deg anomalies taking root from 150W eastward (expanding), the direct effects of the July massive WWB. Warmer water is also tracking east reinforcing a large warm reservoir at +5-6 deg above normal erupting into Ecuador. So the pipe is open with more warm water rushing in and more poised to erupt into the Galapagos. The reservoir is holding coverage with +5 degs anomalies centered at 110W and +5 deg anomalies pushing east from 139W to Ecuador, continuing a significant expansion over the past few weeks.  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 2-3 months of warm water in this reservoir (till Sept 10). And more warm water continues downwelling on the dateline. We are currently in a pause between Kelvin Waves, with the third in the series building now, possibly impacting the Galapagos on 10/2. This is still a great setup.  

This is similar to how the '97 El Nino.cgiayed out, with not individual Kelvin Waves impacting the coast and then falling into an upwelling period, 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. But the veracity of this years WWBs and Kelvin waves have not been on par with the 97 event. Still, we appear to be on track for a solid El Nino event. 

Satellite data from 7/27 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific starting at 175E with a core at +10 cm from 170W eastward and a building pocket of 15 cm anomalies at 110-1450W (expanding). 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 (7/27) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 178E and the Ecuador coast (easing east). +1.0-1.5 degs are from 172W eastward. +1.5 deg anomalies are doing the same easing east from 168W. All theses sectors are sliding east slightly (suggesting the downwelling warm water falling into the developing Kelvin Wave have peaked). And a pocket of +2.0 degs anomalies are at 155W-115W (expanding). A pocket of cooler 0.5-1.0 degs anomalies has developed just off Ecuador from 91W-80W. A Kelvin Wave impacted the Ecuador Coast in May-June and a second one impacted it in June. And now a third is setting up. The pause in warming near Ecuador is evident in this chart, suggestive of nothing more than a break between successive strong Kelvin Waves. There is no indication of a proper Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle. This is a very good sign with yet more westerly anomalies holding on the dateline. See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here

Pacific Counter Current data as of 8/1 continues solid but not super impressive. The current is pushing strongly west to east over the west equatorial Pacific filling the Kelvin Wave Generation Area reaching to 160W with modest current continuing east from there to 135W then fading to weak. A pocket of strong east anomalies were over the immediate Galapagos. Most of this energy was on and north of the equator. Anomaly wise - moderate to strong west anomalies pockets were spread on the equator over the West Pacific with the strongest reaching east to 140W then dissipating. Easterly anomalies were in one pocket over the Galapagos. Compared to the '97 El Nino at this time, there is no comparison. In '97 west velocities were strong in the far West Pacific from 150W-130E with anomalies strong from 150E to 150W on both sides of the equator. 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 8/4 for the Nino 3.4 region have backed off a little more. It suggests water temps are at +1.5 deg C (verified at 1.3 degs) and are to steadily warm continuing to +1.9 degs by Oct peaking at +2.0 degs by Nov, then dropping off. Interestingly, the latest 8 members of the ensemble area all now suggesting peak temps down around +1.8, presumably the result of the cooling now taking.cgiace off Ecuador. This suggests our previous prognosis of a strong El Nino might be a bit premature. Still any immediate thought that the Inactive Phase of the MJO could somehow usher in the Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin wave Cycle seem remote at best at this time. Still much more warm water is needed to be transported east over the coming 3.5 months for a Super El Nino to develop (including surface warm water currently locked over the dateline). The mid-July consensus Plume suggests development of a strong El Nino with peak temps (depending on model type) spread between 1.5-2.0 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) just for fun.  

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 July 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, raged at WWB strength in late June into mid-July and are forecast to hold at something less than WWB strength for the foreseeable future. There are no concerns about a possible appearance of the cool upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle at this time. A large warm reservoir lodged just west of the Galapagos has paused eruption now, but is expected to resume shortly being fed by more warm water moving east (third Kelvin Wave). At this point we believe warming in the equatorial Pacific has started the classic El Nino feedback loop, evidenced by cooling temps off Africa and Australia, and solid North Pacific jetstream pattern (through that has stalled some too recently).  

A si.cgie glance at the SST Anomaly charts suggest a well developed El Nino pattern is in.cgiay. 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 El Nino base 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 cue a major WWB developed late June/early July which is feeding development of another Kelvin Wave and should only enhance the base El Nino state more. At the same time we are monitoring a pause in warming in the Nino 1.2 region and previously erupted warm waters advecting into the Nino3.4 region. the concern is that cooler water developing off Ecuador will eventually advect into NIno3.4.

As things currently stand, we have crossed over the El Nino threshold. We are currently in the Inactive Phase of the MJO cycle, and yet with the help of an El Nino base state and a Rossby Wave, westerly anomalies have persisted, and briskly. But there is still 6 weeks till the next Active Phase of the MJO is forecast to develop (though the Dynamic OLR Model suggest that might occur sooner). The hope is this Inactive Phase will be a non-event, much like the mid-June one, and the existing El Nino base state will continue westerly anomalies feeding the subsurface warm pool. If this occurs then a significant El Nino event would become more likely. But if somehow westerly anomalies shut down, and an upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle develops (note cooler water temps along Ecuador happening now - see above) 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 now. At best a pause in warming will occur, with some decrease in Nino34 temp before warming resumes. 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 seeing the vigor of '97 now or anytime in the past. 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. And if the Active Phase of the MJO develops are forecast in late Sept-mid Oct, the resulting Kelvin Wave would not hit till late Dec/Early Jan 2016. That might make this event a longer lasting one. 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 no swell production is forecast for the greater South Pacific.

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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