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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, August 15, 2020 4:42 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
3.3 - California & 3.0 - 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 8/17 thru Sun 8/23

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   

Small NZ Swell Hitting HI
String of Small S Hemi Gales Possible

On Saturday, August 15, 2020 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.9 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 1.1 ft @ 16.6 secs from 186 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.0 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 3.3 ft @ 9.8 secs from 30 degrees. Water temp 80.2 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.3 ft @ 12.0 secs with swell 1.0 ft @ 12.5 secs from 196 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 12-16 kts. Water temperature 69.1 degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 3.1 ft @ 8.5 secs from 315 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 0.8 ft @ 13.1 secs from 192 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.1 ft @ 12.8 secs from 195 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 0.9 ft @ 17.0 secs from 186 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 3.2 ft @ 8.3 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 8.2 secs from 307 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was west at 2 kts. Water temp 55.8 degs (013), 61.2 degs (SF Bar) and 60.3 degs (042).

See 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 (8/15) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell was producing waves at waist high and lined up when it came and fairly clean but with some lump in the water. Protected breaks were maybe up to waist high and clean but soft. At Santa Cruz surf was flat and clean. In Southern California/Ventura windswell was producing waves up to thigh high coming from the northwest and clean and weak. Central Orange County had set waves at thigh high and clean but with some lump intermixed and weak. South Orange County's best summertime breaks had set waves at to chest high and clean but mostly smaller and weak. North San Diego had sets to thigh high and weak with clean conditions. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting some southern hemi swell with waves waist to chest high and clean and lined up when they came. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves to chest to shoulder high and chopped from moderate east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (8/15) minimal locally generated windswell was producing barely rideable waves in North and Central CA at exposed breaks. There was some minimal background southern hemi swell limping into Southern CA. New small southern hemi swell was hitting Hawaii originating from a tiny gale that developed south of New Zealand tracking northeast Sat (8/8) producing up to 32 ft seas aimed east-northeast. And it's remnants redeveloped slightly under New Zealand on Sun (8/9) producing 33 ft seas aimed east. Another weak system developed in the same area Tues (8/11) producing up to 34 ft seas aimed east. So there's some little hope. And another gale developed south of New Zealand on Fri (8/14) producing 27-28 ft seas aimed northeast for 12 hours. And the model are suggesting a weak system tracking northeast through the Central South Pacific on Sun-Mon (8/16) producing up to 32 ft seas over a small area aimed northeast. And after that the models suggest some sort of a gale tracking east through the South Central Pacific on Wed-Thurs (8/20) producing up to 35 ft seas aimed east. So little swell is possible but nothing solid is suggested. At this point we're waiting for Fall to start.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (8/15) no swell of interest was in the water.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.


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


Tropical Update
No tropical weather systems of interest were being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (8/15) there was no pressure gradient with northwest winds 5-10 kts along the North and Central Coast. No windswell production was occurring. On Sun (8/16) no windswell producing fetch is forecast with local winds northwest winds 5-10 kts for North and Central CA all day. On Mon (8/17) a northwesterly flow at 15 kts is forecast from Pt Arena down to Big Sur early and the 15-20 kts in the afternoon over most of North and Central CA nearshore waters. On Tues (8/18) northwest winds are forecast at 20 kts over all of North and Central CA waters early building to 25 kts in the afternoon for North CA while 20 kt north winds hold for Central CA. Some windswell starting to build. On Wed (8/19) north winds are forecast at 20-25 kts over all of North CA and most of Central CA with windswell potential increasing and fetch building over Central CA later. Thurs (8/20) 20-25 kt northwest winds are forecast over all of North and Central CA holding all day. Friday (8/21) north west winds are forecast at 20 kts along the North and Central CA coast early and holding all day with raw local windswell production continuing. On Sat (8/22) northwest winds are forecast at 20 kts for Cape Mendocino fading south of there and down to 10 kts from San Francisco southward. Windswell production fading.

Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 0, 0, 0 and 0 inches respectively. Freezing level 14,000 ft or higher for the week.

Snow Models: (Scroll down for resort specific forecasts). Updated!


South Pacific

On Saturday (8/15) the jetstream was well split over the width of the South Pacific with the southern branch lifting northeast under New Zealand forming a trough being fed by 140 kt winds offering some support for gale development there. But east of there the jet was falling gently southeast down to 64S and over the north edge of Antarctic Ice in the far Southeast Pacific offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the new trough is to lift further north into Sun AM (8/16) continuing to support gale development then losing energy with support for gale development fading some but not completely out until Mon (8/17) evening. Beyond 72 hours starting Tues (8/18) a mostly zonal flow is to set up with the jet running due east on the 63S latitude line over the West Pacific and pushing due east over the Southeast Pacific early Thurs (8/20) not offering much in terms of support for gale development. And by Fri (8/21) the jet is to be falling southeast over Antarctic Ice over the bulk of the South Pacific offering no support for gale development through Sat (8/22).

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (8/15) tiny swell from a gale that developed under New Zealand was starting to hit Hawaii and bound weakly for CA (see Weak New Zealand Gale below). Secondary swell energy is also radiating northeast from another gale that build under New Zealand (see Secondary New Zealand Gale below). And another small swell was radiating northeast from New Zealand (see Southwest Pacific Gale below). And yet another system developed in the same area producing small swell radiating northeast (see Another New Zealand Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours starting Sat PM (8/16) a gale is forecast developing southeast of New Zealand producing southwest winds at 40 kts with seas building from 23 ft at 57S 180W aimed northeast. On Sun AM (8/17) fetch is to continue lifting northeast at 40-45 kts with seas 28 ft at 52S 170W aimed northeast. In the evening the gael is to continue tracking well northeast with winds 45 kts from the southwest with seas 34 ft over a small area at 49S 160W aimed northeast. Fetch is to fade Mon AM (8/17) from 35 kts from the southwest with seas fading from 30 ft at 46S 153W aimed northeast. The gael to dissipate in the evening with seas fading from 27 ft at 45S 144W aimed northeast. Something to monitor.


Weak New Zealand Gale
A gale started building in the far Southwest Pacific south of Tasmania on Fri PM (8/7) pushing east with 35-40 kt west winds over a small area and seas building. On Sat AM (8/8) southwest winds were 40-45 kts over a small area south of New Zealand with seas 30 ft over a modest area at 56S 162E aimed east-northeast. In the evening fetch was fading with southwest winds 35-40 kts over a modest sized area aimed northeast with seas 32 ft at 53S 176E aimed east-northeast. On Sun AM (8/9) fetch was fading and sinking south from 30-35 kts with seas fading from 27 ft at 53S 175W aimed east. Low odds of any swell resulting for Hawaii or the US mainland.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Sun (8/16) building to 1.6 ft @ 16 secs later (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell continues on Mon (8/17) fading from 1.6 ft @ 14-15 secs early (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell gone after that. Swell Direction: 195 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues (8/18) building to 1.8 ft @ 17-18 secs later (2.5 ft). Swell to peak on Wed (8/19) at 2.0 ft @ 16 secs (3.0 ft) holding through the day. Swell still decent on Thurs (8/20) at 2.0 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft). Swell being reinforced on Fri (8/21) by secondary energy (see below) to 1.8 ft @ 15 secs all day (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell fading on Sat (8/22) from 1.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 213 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues (8/18) building to 1.6 ft @ 17-18 secs later (2.5 ft). Swell to peak on Wed (8/19) at 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft) holding through the day. Swell fading some on Thurs (8/20) at 1.6 ft @ 15 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell being reinforced on Fri (8/21) by secondary energy (see below) to 1.5 ft @ 15 secs all day (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fading on Sat (8/22) from 1.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 213 degrees


Secondary New Zealand Gale
Another gale developed from the remnants of a previous gale (see Weak New Zealand Gale above) on Sun AM (8/9) southeast of New Zealand producing 40 kt west-southwest winds with seas 29 ft over a tiny area at 59.5S 177W aimed east. In the evening fetch pulse from the southwest at 40-45 kts over a small area with seas building to 33 ft at 58.5S 173W aimed east-northeast. On Mon AM (8/10) fetch was fading from 30-35 kts with seas 27 ft over a tiny area at 58.5S 170W aimed mostly east. This system was gone after that.

Low odds of any swell resulting for Hawaii and likely only reinforcing the above swell (Weak New Zealand Gale) in California.


Southwest Pacific Gale
On Tues AM (8/11) a decent sized fetch of 40 kt west winds built just southeast of New Zealand with seas building to 29 ft at 51.5S 175.5W aimed east. In the evening fetch built to 45 kts from the west with seas 35 ft at 52S 160W aimed east but with the fetch starting to fall southeast. On Wed AM (8/12) fetch built to 55+ kts from the west but falling southeast with seas building to 39 ft at 61S 139W aimed southeast and falling southeast having no swell potential radiating northeast. More of the same occurred in the evening with the fetch and seas crashing into Antarctica offering nothing in terms of swell production radiating into the Northern Hemisphere. But the first 18-24 hours of this system had some limited potential.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tues (8/18) building to 1.6 ft @ 16-16 secs mid-day (2.5 ft). Swell continues on Wed (8/19) at 1.7 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5 ft). Swell fading on Thurs (8/20) from 1.6 ft @ 13-14 secs early (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 200 degrees


Another New Zealand Gale
On Fri AM (8/14) a small gale is to form southeast of New Zealand lifting northeast producing a modest sized area of 40 kt southwest winds producing 29 ft seas aimed northeast at 56S 171E. In the evening southwest winds to be 35 kts lifting northeast producing 29 ft seas at 52.5S 175W aimed northeast. Fetch is to dissipate after that on Sat AM (8/15) offer no more swell production potential. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on late Fri (8/21) pushing 1.0 ft @ 17-18 secs (1.5 ft). Swell building on Sat (8/22) to 1.5 ft @ 16 secs mid-day(2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 195 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 the model are suggesting low pressure building in the northern Gulf of Alaska on Wed (8/19) producing a decent fetch of 30+ kt northwest winds on Thurs (8/20) aimed well towards the US West Coast, then getting better traction on Fri AM (8/21) with northwest winds to near 40 kts briefly while falling southeast. Something to monitor but not likely to actually develop.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours starting Tues AM (8/18) a gale is forecast developing well southeast of New Zealand producing abroad area of northwest winds at 45 kts with seas building to 29 ft at 58S 180W aimed east. In the evening fetch is to build in coverage at 40-45 kts from the west-northwest with 33 ft seas at 59.5S 164W aimed east-southeast. Fetch is to move rapidly east on Wed AM (8/19) over a building area at 40-45 kts with seas 33 ft at 59.5S 151W aimed east. The gale is to push east with west winds 45 kts over a large area and seas 30-36 ft over a broad area aimed east at 55-60S 140W aimed east. The gale is to push east of the Southern CA swell window after that. Something to monitor.


MJO/ENSO Forecast


Cool Sea Surface Temps Focusing on Central Equatorial Pacific

MJO/ENSO Discussion
The Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) 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.

And the El Nino/La Nino cycle (collectively know as ENSO - El Nino Southern Oscillation) is a less frequent (about once every 7 years) but more impactful cycle that affects world wide weather. Specifically, strong El Nino events promote storm production in the Pacific while La Nina events suppress storm production. These therefore have a significant impact on the production of swell and surf. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO and ENSO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for upcoming activity (or inactivity depending on the state and interaction of these two oscillations).

Overview: A double dip La Nina was in control through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018 associated with two upwelling Kelvin Waves, and continued trying to build over equatorial waters over the Summer and Fall, but not enough to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere. In January 2019, those warm waters were fading, but then rebuilt late in Feb associated with Kelvin Wave (#3). But as of early June 2019 warm water was fading and by August a tongue of cool water was tracking west on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos reaching to a point nearly south of Hawaii. El Nino was dead. A bit of a recovery occurred during Fall of 2019, with weak warm water building in the Nino 1.2 region, but cool water held in a pool off Peru and had not changed until March 2020. By April the cool pool pushed east and by May subsurface cool waters erupted off Ecuador, forming a well defined cool tongue that looked like the start of La Nina, holding into July 2020.

Fall/Winter 2020/2021 = 3.0/3.5 (California & Hawaii)
Rating based on a 1-10 scale: 1 being the lowest (small and infrequent surf conditions), 5 being normal/average, and 10 being extraordinary (frequent events of large, long period swells)

Rationale: It is assumed the PDO has moved to the warm phase in 2014 and that a weak borderline El Nino from 2018 faded out in the Fall of 2019. A La Nina like ocean temperature pattern developed in the equatorial East Pacific in the summer of 2019, then faded and returned to a neutral if not weak warm status during the Winter of 2019-2020 only to return stronger in the Summer of 2020. We have been suspecting a turn towards a La Nina like atmospheric pattern to develop in the late Winter/early Spring of 2020. Our best hope is that moderation from the warm phase of the PDO might tamp down development of a full blown La Nina as we move into 2020. But at this time that does not appear likely. Given all that, for the 2020 there is decent probability for development of La Nina meaning a reduced number of storm days and storm intensity during the summer season, resulting in a below normal level of swell, with swell being below normal duration and period. And by the Fall and early Winter of 2020/21, the number of storm days, intensity and duration of those storms should fade even more, resulting in depressed swell production. This pattern is expected to hold through the Spring of 2021.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast (KWGA - Kelvin Wave Generation Area - The area 5 degrees north and south of the equator from 170W to 135E)
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (8/14) 5 day average winds were solid from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and then moderating to modest status over the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the East equatorial Pacific turning light westerly over the Central Pacific and neutral over the KWGA. (Note: These are 5 day average winds, so they lag what is happening today).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (8/15) weak west anomalies filling the KWGA today with moderate west anomalies filling the entire Pacific east of the dateline. The forecast calls for weak west anomalies holding in the KWGA through 8/20, then fading with east anomalies starting to rebuild and nearly filling the KWGA at the end of the model run on 8/22. Modest west anomalies are to continue filling the equatorial Pacific east of the dateline for the duration of the forecast period. Support for energy transfer into the jet is to improve some as the week progresses.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (8/14) A neutral MJO was in control of the KWGA today. The statistic model indicates an Inactive Phase is to start developing in the far West Pacific 5 days out building in coverage filling the KWGA on day 10 and continuing through day 15. The dynamic model suggests the same thing initially and is corrupt after that.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (8/15) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was weak over the West Pacific today and is to slowly ease east while steadily weakening to weak status over North Africa 15 days out. The GEFS model suggests the Active Phase is at weak strength and is pushing faster east through the Pacific and into the Central Atlantic by day 15 of the model run and building to moderate status at that time. If that were to occur potential for tropical development in the Atlantic would increase.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (8/14) This model depicts a weak Active MJO over the East Pacific while a weak Inactive Phase is depicted over the KWGA today. The Active MJO is forecast pushing into Central America on 8/29. The weak Inactive MJO is forecast moving east through the Central equatorial Pacific and into Central America on 9/18. Another super weak Active MJO is to follow traversing the Pacific 8/29 through 9/23. A far stronger Inactive Phase is to develop in the KWGA on 9/13 tracking to the dateline through the end of the model run on 9/23.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (8/14) This model depicts an organized Active MJO peaking over the KWGA today with weak west anomalies filling the KWGA. The forecast indicates a continuation of the Active MJO with weak west anomalies in the KWGA through 8/20 with the Active Phase exiting east from the KWGA on 8/23. West anomalies were at strong status from the dateline eastward to Ecuador today and are to hold through 8/31. East anomalies are to slowly but steadily rebuild over the entirety of the KWGA starting 8/16 with an Inactive MJO eventually moving over the KWGA in earnest on 9/1 and both holding through the end of the model run on 9/11. Overall a long run of easterly anomalies are to be rebuilding in the KWGA. Whatever window there is for the MJO to support swell production, it is happening now.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (8/15 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weak Active MJO over the KWGA today with patches of modest west anomalies trying to develop as the MJO moves east through the KWGA through 8/28 though mostly just neutral anomalies in the heart of the KWGA. A strong Inactive Phase is forecast traversing the Pacific 8/23-9/18 with another bout of strong east anomalies firmly controlling the KWGA and filling the whole equatorial Pacific and strong over the East Pacific. A strong Active Phase of the MJO is forecast 9/10 through 10/31 with solid west anomalies filling the KWGA initially, but weaker later but with strong east anomalies holding over the East Pacific. A weak Inactive Phase is to start building in the far West Pacific 10/1 but stalling there, eventually tracking east in earnest through the KWGA 10/27 through the end of the model run on 11/12 but with mostly weak to modest west anomalies over the bulk of the KWGA. The low pass filter indicates a high pressure bias is in control over the dateline today reaching east to a point south of California and is to steadily build in coverage through the end of the model run with a second contour setting up on 9/8 on the dateline holding through 11/20, then fading. A single contour low pressure bias is appearing weakly over the Indian Ocean today and is to build in coverage through the end of the model run and even easing into the far West KWGA at the end of the model run. East anomalies that have been previously solid in the Indian Ocean for over a year are migrating east into the West Pacific and should be there by over the next month setting up on the dateline and points east of there by 8/31 and building while filling in over that entire area into about mid-Oct. After that the outlook is perhaps more favorable.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (8/15) Today in the far West Pacific the 30 deg isotherm was gone. The 29 deg isotherm was steady and brick walled at 165E today. The 28 deg isotherm line retrograding to 175W today. The 24 deg isotherm was steady at 116W. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies 0-1 deg C were fading in the West Pacific reaching east to 178W with another pocket at +1 deg between 100W to 130W. A river of generally cooler temps were tracking west to east down at 150m traversing the width of the equatorial Pacific. Embedded in that was a building pocket of cooler anomalies at -3 to -4 degs located between 115W-180W today and bubbling up to the surface near and around 150W. It appears a conveyor belt of cool water (Cold water Kelvin Waves) was in effect. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/11 indicates the same thing with a cool water bubble at depth in the far east erupting to the surface between 95W to 80W. Another larger subsurface cool bubble was in-flight to the east between 110W to 180W and filling the surface above it. A thin wall of warm water was between the 2 cool bubbles. Yet a third cool bubble was building in the far west at 140E. In effect a river of cool water was at depth under the entirety of the equatorial Pacific 150m tracking east. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (8/11) Negative anomalies at -5 to -15 cms were building over the Central equatorial Pacific between 120W to 175E. Interestingly negative anomalies were dissolving along Ecuador and down into Peru but still covering a large area at -5 cms there and reaching north up to Baja and into Southern CA. No positive anomalies were over the equatorial Pacific, except west of 160E.

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: (8/14) The latest images indicate cold water was holding along Peru tracking northwest building over and off Ecuador slightly then tracking west on the equator weakening some west of the Galapagos then rebuilding solidly from 130W and west out to the dateline looking like the standard La Nina signature. Cool anomalies along the coast of Chile up into Peru appearing to be feeding the cool stream. Warm water was off Central America reaching west to the dateline but only north of the equator, remnants of a fading El Nino like pattern. Overall the cool pool on the equator was unmistakable and starting to show signs of rebuilding after previously being stalled.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (8/14): A stream of warming water was pushing west off Ecuador out to 100W. Pockets of cooling temps were from there west to 160W with small pockets of warming interspersed. The short term trend is looking like development of a large scale cooling trend.
Hi-res Overview: (8/14) A stream of cool water is entrenched along the coast of Peru lifting northwest to the equator from Ecuador then fading some west of the Galapagos, only to rebuild from 135W to the dateline on the equator. Warmer than normal temps were stable north of the equator. Overall the data suggests a building La Nina like pattern.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (8/15) Today's temps were rising some at -1.746 degs and previously reaching a new low of -2.138 on 8/13. The trend has been steadily downward since March 26. Overall the trend is towards cooling after having previously been in a warmer range at +0.6 degs between 2/25-3/26.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(8/15) Temps were stable if not rising some today at -0.429 after previous falling to -0.492 on 8/12. Previously temps were stable between 6/27-7/25 at near 0.0. And before that temps were rising after bottoming out down at -0.595 on 5/27. Overall the trend was warming but now appears to be in a steep decline.

Click for Full Sized Image Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 Sea Surface Temp (SST) Anomalies & Current SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (8/15) Actual temperatures were in the +0.65 deg range early this year through March, then started falling down to -0.20 in late-May before stabilized there through late June. The forecast depicts temps were supposed to be precipitously falling on July 1, down to -0.50 in late July, continuing down reaching -1.00 in late Sept dropping to -1.05 Oct 1 and holding through early Dec, then starting to rebound reaching neutral on April 1. According to this model sea surface temps should have been falling strongly starting July 1 moving towards La Nina as Summer progressed. But in reality temps didn't start falling in Nino 3.4 until 8/1. For the model to verify in October, some dramatic cooling is going to have to happen soon. Given this situation, we think the dynamic models might be overstating the magnitude of the coming cooling trend for the equatorial Pacific.
IRI Consensus Plume: The July 19, 2020 Plume depicts temps are at -0.42 degs, and are to fall into Oct to -0.55 degs then moderating and starting to rise some to -0.35 by Jan 2021 and then neutral by March. The low outlier is a dynamic models (NASA GMAO). But a good plethora of models are now suggesting a developing solid La Nina. See chart here - link.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (8/15): The daily index was positive today at 5.46. The 30 day average was rising at +4.99. The 90 day average was falling slightly to -0.47, suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern was in control.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): June -0.67, May -0.46, April 2020 -0.69, March -0.09, Feb +0.65, Jan +0.42, This index was steady positive Aug 2018 through Feb 2020, and now is steady negative, but only weakly so.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation
Per NOAAs index recent values: Jan 2018 +0.29, Feb -0.19, Mar -0.61, April -0.89, May -0.69, June -0.85, July -0.09, Aug -0.43, Sept -0.46, Oct -0.75, Nov -0.78, Dec -0.12, Jan 2019 -0.18, Feb -0.50 Mar -0.23, April +0.10, May +0.14, June -0.11, July +0.44, Aug -0.14, Sept +0.05, Oct -0.96, Nov -0.28, Dec +0.01, Jan 2020 -1.17, This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2018 +0.70. Feb +0.37, Mar -0.05, April +0.11, May +0.11, June -0.04, July +0.11, Aug +0.18, Sept +0.09. No real 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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