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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, August 12, 2017 2:44 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
2.1 - 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 8/7 thru Sun 8/13

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   

Tiny S. Hemi Swell Hitting CA
2 South Swells Behind


On Saturday, August 12, 2017 :

  • Buoy 146 (Lanai): This buoy is down and there is no backup site and no date if or when it will return to service. Buoy 233/51211 (Pearl Harbor) is available but has a new frequency layout. We'll have to code a new program to read it's output (date TBD).
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.3 ft @ 6.7 secs with southern hemi swell 1.2 ft @ 14.0 secs from 198 degrees. Wind at the buoy was southeast at 6-12 kts. Water temperature 69.1 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.7 ft @ 6.4 secs from 268 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.3 ft @ 13.8 secs from 200 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.3 ft @ 14.6 secs from 204 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.5 ft @ 14.6 secs from 186 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.0 ft @ 7.1 secs with local north windswell 5.3 ft @ 6.6 secs from 315 degrees and southern hemi swell 1.5 ft @ 15.5 secs from 190 degrees . Wind at the buoy was northwest at 14-18 kts. Water temp 59.2 degs.

    46006, 46059, Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (bottom of the page)
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.

Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.


Current Conditions
On Saturday (8/12) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf at waist to maybe chest high and heavily warbled from northwest wind. Fog early. Protected breaks were waist high and almost clean early. At Santa Cruz waves were waist high on the biggest rare sets and clean but foggy early. In Southern California up north waves were waist high and clean looking mostly like windswell. In North Orange Co southern hemi swell was producing waves at waist to chest high and heavily textured early. In South Orange Co surf was occasionally shoulder to head high but mostly chest high at top spots and lightly textured. In San Diego surf was thigh to maybe waist high and clean and weak. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore had sets thigh high and clean and slow. The East Shore was waist high and chopped from modest east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (8/12) small gutless local north windswell was present along the coast of North and Central California and forecast to build some Mon (8/14) only to fade some 24 hours later but holding in the small rideable range through the week. Windswell is fading some along east shores of the Hawaiian Islands and expected to stay small if not even rideable until late Mon (8/14) when it builds some for 24 hours, then fades out and remains small for the rest of the workweek. A gale developed in the deep Southeast Pacific on Wed (8/2) with 34 ft seas aimed northeast. Small sideband swell is finally arriving in California on Sat (8/12) but is to be gone in 24 hours. Another gale developed in the far Southeast Pacific lifting north Tues-Wed (8/9) but well east of the Southern CA swell window targeting mainly Chile and Peru. Some energy is possible for exposed breaks in CA by Wed (8/16). A tiny cutoff gale developed in the mid-South Pacific Fri (8/11) producing a small area of 31 ft seas aimed north. But beyond nothing is projected. No tropical activity of interest is forecast either. Things are quiet and expected to stay that way as we start the transition to Fall.

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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (8/12) high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered 900 nmiles north of Hawaii trying to ridge east but still not quite making it yet. Still it was producing north winds at 15-20 kts along sections of the North and Central CA coast resulting in somewhat larger windswell than in day past, making it into the barely rideable range. But it was no longer ridging south effectively generating only a fading fetch of 15 kt east winds in pockets only within 200 nmiles east of Hawaii and pushing over the Islands and trying to generate minimal east local windswell there.

Over the next 72 hours for California the local pressure gradient is to hold Sun (8/13) with north winds continuous at 15-20 kts relative to North and Central CA then building Mon (8/14) to 25 kts over Cape Mendocino and 15 kts down to Pt Conception with some increase in local short period northerly windswell expected. But by Tues (8/15) that fetch is to be fading some down to 20 kts over North CA and barely 15 kts south of there with windswell size backing off some.

For Hawaii, trades to trades to be 15 kts only in a few pockets east of the Islands on Sun (8/13) offering no real potential for generating easterly windswell. But Mon (8/14) as the high tracks east some trades to build to 15 kts solid over a broad area east of the Islands with windswell building only to start fading Tues (8/15) as the trades again loose coverage and velocity.

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


Tropical Update
On Saturday (8/12) no swell producing tropical systems were being monitored. Tropical Storm Jova was 250 nmiles south of Cabo San Lucas Mexico with winds 35 kts tracking west and forecast to fade. No swell to result.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (8/12) high pressure at 1028 mbs was 900 nmiles north of Hawaii trying to ridge east but not quite making it yet being held at bay by a 996 mbs low pressure system over the Northeast Gulf of Alaska . The result was a weak flow of 15-20 kts north winds over all of North and Central CA nearshore waters. On Sun (8/13) more of the same is forecast as the low starts moving into British Columbia. Then on Mon (8/14) the low is to clear out and high pressure is to build anew centered in the Southern Gulf of Alaska at 1030 mbs ridging east with north winds 25+ kts over North CA and 20 kts down to San Francisco and 15 kts down to Pt Conception. Tues (8/15) the gradient is to hold with 25 kt north winds over North CA but shrinking in coverage with 15 kt north winds down to Pt Conception early but retrograding north by the afternoon. Wednesday the gradient is to lift north over North CA at 25 kts with an eddy flow (south winds) from Bodega Bay southward continuing Thurs (8/17). More of the same is forecast through Sat (8/19) but with the size of the fetch building in coverage and nearly to 30 kts while the eddy flow holds from Bodega Bay southward.


South Pacific

On Saturday AM (8/12) the jetstream continued in a zonal pattern with the northern branch running east on the 30S latitude line while the southern branch of the jet was running east on the 65S latitude line with a ridge pushing it further south over the West Pacific then lifting some over the Southeast Pacific with winds building to barely 120 kts offering no real support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours t
he ridge is to push east and dissipate on Mon (8/14) with the southern branch running flat east on the 63S latitude line with winds only to 90 kts offering no support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours starting Wed (8/16) the southern branch of the jet is to start ridging south into Antarctica over the West Pacific but with a bit of a trough starting to build in the far Southeast Pacific Thurs (8/17) near 120W reaching north to 60S being fed by 110 kts winds offering some limited support for gale development but moving east out of the California swell window on Fri (8/18) targeting only Chile and Peru with the ridge in the west holding and building east. No support for gale development is forecast after the trough moves out. This looks very much like a La Nina influenced weather pattern.

Surface Analysis  
On Saturday (8/12) small swell was hitting California from a small gale previously in the Southeast Pacific. Also a gale formed off Chile with small swell possibly radiating north towards California but mainly focused on South America and Mexico (see Chilean Gale below). Another small swell was behind that from a gale that developed in the Central Pacific (see Central Pacific Gale below).

Otherwise no swell producing fetch is forecast.


Chilean Gale
A gale low started developing in the far Southeast Pacific on Sun (8/6) with 40 kt south winds trying to get traction on the oceans surface. In the evening winds built to 45 kts from the south with winds 24 ft at 56S 116W mostly out of the SCal swell window. On Mon AM (8/7) fetch faded some from 40 kts from the south but starting to fall south with barely 30 ft seas at 58S 111W and outside the CA swell window. In the evening the gale started building but well north and east with 55 kt southwest winds off South Chile with a tiny area of 36 kts seas at 50S 95W. No swell production is forecast relative to CA. On Tues AM (8/8) fetch held at 45 kts from the southwest with seas building to 36 ft at 50S 96W. On Tues PM (8/8) fetch built while lifting north at up to 50 kts with seas to 40 ft at 48S 99W and way too far east to be of interest to California targeting only Chile and Peru. This system lifted northeast on Wed AM (8/9) with winds fading from 45 kts and seas 39 ft at 44S 93W just off Southern Chile with swell pushing north towards Chile and Peru up into Mexico. Low odds of sideband swell reaching up into California.

Southern CA: Potential for small south angled swell arriving on Tues (8/15) pushing 2.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (4.5 ft). Swell fading some Wed (8/16) at 2.0 ft @ 17 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). More energy expected on Thurs (8/17) at 2.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell holds Fri (8/18) at 2.0 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) fading Sat (8/19) from 1.7 ft @ 13 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 170-175 degrees

North CA: Potential for small south angled swell arriving on Tues (8/15) pushing 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft) late. Swell building some Wed (8/16) at 2.0 ft @ 17 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell fading some Thurs (8/17) at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft). Swell holds Fri (8/18) at 1.6 ft @ 14 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) fading Sat (8/19) from 1.7 ft @ 13 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 165-175 degrees


Central Pacific Gale
Thursday PM (8/10) a tiny cutoff low developed generating an area of 40 kts south winds aimed north in the upper reaches of the Central Pacific with seas building. The gale held with south winds 40 kts while holding it's position Fri AM (8/11) with a tiny area of 30 ft seas at 40S 139W. In the evening the gale was lifting north with 40 kt south winds and seas 29 ft at 38N 141W aimed north. Fetch was fading Sat AM (8/12) from 30-35 kts with 22 ft seas fading at 34S 140W aimed north. The gale to dissipate from there.

Southern California: Small swell to start arriving on Thurs (8/17) building to 1.6 ft @ 16-17 secs late (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell builds Fri (8/18) to 2.3 ft @ 16 secs later (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell continues Sat (8/19) 2.7 ft @ 15 secs (4.0 ft) . Swell Direction: 200 degrees

North California: Small swell to start arriving on Fri (8/18) building to 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs later (2.5 ft). Swell continues Sat (8/19) 2.0 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft) . Swell Direction: 198 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 regarding windswell production, high pressure is to be 1200 nmiles west of North CA by Wed (8/16) ridging weakly into the coast there with the local pressure gradient producing a limited fetch of north winds to 25 kts with no fetch south of Pt Reyes CA Windswell to be down some but not out from Pt Conception northward. More of the same is expected Sat (8/19) with small but rideable windswell the rule for North and Central CA with a possible eddy flow in control of the coast from San Francisco southward.

For Hawaii trades to be less than 15 kts starting Wed (8/16) east of the Islands through Sat (8/19) with no odds for windswell production.

Also a series of weak low pressure systems are to be rotating northeast around the high pressure system north of Hawaii and west of California moving into the Northern Gulf of Alaska but none strong enough to result in any swell for Hawaii or California. But its a step in the right direction. Given the propensity for La Nina this year, a late start to the Fall season is forecast with frequency and strength of swell producing weather system lower than average.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.

More details to follow...


La Nina Cool Pool Building

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 equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing 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 planet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. 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. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.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).

Overview: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration and is holding.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Fri (8/11) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weaker over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were neutral over the East Equatorial Pacific and also over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (8/12) Modest east anomalies were modeled over the entire KWGA. This pattern is to hold with moderate east anomalies forecast over the core of the KWGA through 8/14 then starting to fade in coverage but not velocity through the end of the 7 day model run (8/19). It appears an Inactive Phase of the MJO was building and feeding a La Nina 'like' pattern. This continues to be a downgrade from previous forecasts.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 8/11 a neutral MJO pattern was depicted over the West Pacific. The statistical model depicts this pattern to hold at dead neutral for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially, but with the Inactive/Dry Phase building late in the run 12 days out. We had been thinking perhaps a real Active Pattern would be in place at this point in time per the CFS model rather than being dominated by the Inactive Phase of the MJO, but that is not to be.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (8/12) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO exceedingly weak and effectively nonexistent and is to remain weak and directionless over the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. This is not promising.
40 day Upper Level Model: (8/12) This model depicts a solid Inactive/Dry pattern over the West Pacific. It is to track east while slowly fading pushing over Central America through 9/1. A neutral MJO pattern bias Dry is forecast to follow through the end of the model run on 9/21. So basically some flavor of the Inactive Phase is to hold for the next 40 days. This model runs about 2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (8/12) This model depicts the Inactive Phase of the MJO was developing over the West Pacific with weak east wind anomalies were over the far West Pacific but neutral over the bulk of the KWGA, and this pattern is expected to hold to 9/13. After that the Active Phase of the MJO is to return starting 9/17 with west anomalies in control through 10/15 when the Inactive Phase starts developing the West Pacific and west anomalies start fading but not gone through the end of the model run (11/9). Of note: East anomalies are to develop from the dateline and points east of there 8/28 and are to hold into early-Oct, then start fading. The low pass filter indicates a very weak La Nina signal redeveloped 7/25 from the dateline eastward and is to hold very weak till 9/29, then building and holding for the foreseeable future. There's some sense the El Nino like core is to start shifting east some in later October from the Indian Ocean to the Maritime Continent and even the far West Pacific. Best guess is a very weak directionless pattern biased towards La Nina redeveloping in Fall of 2017. It will take 5 years for the Pacific to recharge from the 2014-16 El Nino.

CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (8/12) A pattern change is starting to show, with warm water in the far West Pacific at 30 degs over a shallow area at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line continues retrograding west and currently is at 167W. The 24 deg isotherm has retrograded to 115W and holding at 75 meters deep at 140W (previously 100 meters). The warm water layer in the East Pacific is getting shallower suggesting a transition to La Nina. Anomaly wise a clear change is developing with warm water at +1.0 degrees above normal in the East Pacific and also in the West Pacific at 100 meters, but with slightly cooler anomalies developing in a pocket between 140-170W with cooler anomalies at -3.0 degs down 125 meters. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/6 depicts fragmented pockets of warm water from the west to the east but shrinking on coverage while a building pattern of cooler water takes root at depth from the dateline eastward down at 100m. There is no real warm water in the far West Pacific to feed any sort of a progressive Kelvin Wave pattern. The GODAS image appears to be about 1 week behind the TAO data.
Sea Level Anomalies: (8/6) A neutral pattern has been in control for the past month but with negative anomalies at -5 cm between 170W to 120W suggesting cooler water at depth.

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. All data is from blended infrared and microwave sensors.
Satellite Imagery
Hi-res Nino1.2 & 3.4: (8/11) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a weak warm pattern trying to hold well west of Peru. But a steady modest upwelling pattern is indicated nearshore along Peru and Ecuador reaching northwest to the Galapagos. And pockets of cooling continue flowing west from there on the equator getting better defined and continuous between 110-160W. This looks very much like a typical La Nina signature. A broad pocket of cooling is also holding centered at 25S 100W (well off Chile). Warm anomalies are in place south of Mexico but are starting to get eroded by the cool flow building along the equator. Overall cooling in the heart of the Nino3.4 region is developing and undeniable. The La Nina that developed Spring 2016 faded and was replaced by an El Nino like pattern that tried to build March-May 2017, but that too has dissipated and is being replaced by a new La Nina surge (starting July 2017).
Hi-res 7 day Trend (8/11): A neutral to cool trend was along the coast of Chile and Peru. But a solid cool trend was pushing west off Ecuador over the Galapagos and building at 110W out to 150W with a few lingering pockets of warm water intermixed, but strongly favoring the cooler water. An early start of a legit La Nina pattern appears to be developing.
Hi-res Overview:
(8/10) A clear legit La Nina cool stream has developed on the equator from 110W to 170W. A weak warm regime is barely holding off Chile and Peru. A thin stream of cooler water is also depicted running northwest just off Peru northwest to the Galapagos feeding the larger cool pool further west on the equator. Overall waters of all oceans of the planet are warmer than normal. Suspect climatology needs to be updated to reflect this new reality.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (8/12) Today's temps had stabilized cool down at -0.876, down from a warm peak of +3.0 degs on 3/18 and +1.0 degs on 5/2 and +0.6 degs on 6/20.  
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/12) temps have bottomed out for the moment at -0.009, way down from +0.5 degs where it was consistently through 7/18. A clear downward trend is indicated.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (8/12) The forecast has temps falling steadily from +0.0 in early Aug to -0.3 in Oct easing down to -0.55 in Dec then stating to rebound to 0.0 in early March 2018 and perhaps warming to +0.4 degs in April. This suggests a neutral pattern biased cool setting up for the Winter of 2017-2018. The CFS SST images (8/11) continues to suggest a weak La Nina cool pattern building on the equator off the Galapagos in Sept and building steadily into Dec/Jan 2018. There is no source for El Nino like warming with the warm pool in the far West Pacific weak and fading.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-July Plume updated (7/25) depicts temps warmed to +0.5 degs in June. Temps are forecast to fade some to +0.3 degs in July, and are to hold there solid through March 2018 suggesting a neutral pattern in control. See chart here - link.  The NMME consensus depicts the same thing with temp +0.3 degrees above normal through March.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (8/12): The daily index was rising at +14.51 and has been generally positive for the past month. The 30 day average was rising at 5.79. The 90 day average was creeping upward from +0.55 or just north of neutral. This suggests a return to ENSO neutral conditions has taken hold.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (8/12) Today's value was falling some at -1.24 (up from -2.20 on 6/28) but still suggesting a turn towards La Nina. A supposed peak of this La Nina was reached on 11/2/16 at -1.94 (last year) . So the index is about as negative as it was at the peak of last years (2016) La Nina. At this time it looks like La Nina is returning. This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina events.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker lately (as expected with La Nina setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.10, Feb = +0.04, March = +0.12, April=+0.52, May=+0.30, June=+0.19, July=-0.41. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO. No consistently negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington EDU index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.77, Feb = +0.70, Mar = +0.74, April=+1.12, May=+0.88, Jume=+0.79. No negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina). Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data strongly suggests that could be a possibility. By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool


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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