Swell Classification Guidelines
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
Summer - 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).
Summer - 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.
Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
On Thursday (9/4) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the chest high range and a bit warbled from south wind off the coast but with reasonably clean surface conditions. Surf was cleaner but a bit smaller at protected breaks. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high on the sets and clean but weak and unimpressive. Chest high sets at top peaks. In Southern California up north surf was in the thigh high range and clean but weak. Down south waves were waist high with a few bigger sets and very clean, but the bottom remains thrashed and will stay that way till some real north swell rearranges the sand. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was still getting Swell #3 with sets head high or so at top spots and inconsistent, and very clean, but more in the chest high range at most breaks. On the East Shore windswell was producing waves in the thigh high range and lightly chopped.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Swell production for the North Pacific was limited to locally produced windswell for California. Trades were suppressed for Hawaii with no rideable windswell being produced. Longer term the model continue to suggest a gale forming on the dateline on Fri-Sat (9/6) possibly producing nice Fall swell. Something to monitor. In the southern hemisphere a primer gale developed southeast of New Zealand on Tues (8/27) tracking northeast with 32 ft seas, but swell from that one is going to be overtaken by a stronger swell that was produced by a gale that tracked through the South Central Pacific on Wed-Thurs (8/28) with up to 48 ft seas pushing northeast (Swell #3S) relative to California. And one small secondary fetch developed from that storm in the Southeast Pacific Fri-Sat (8/30) with 32 ft seas over a tiny area aimed north, but minimal in terms of it's swell production capacity. After that the charts suggest another primer gale is to track under New Zealand on Fri-Sat (9/6) with 34-36 ft seas over a tiny area aimed east followed by a much stronger system following the same course on Sun-Mon (9/8) with 53 ft seas. Certainly something to monitor.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (9/4) high pressure at 1026 mbs was centered in the Northeast Gulf of Alaska ridging east into British Columbia generating a pressure gradient and 25-30 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino CA producing small north windswell pushing down the Central CA coast. But those winds are fading. Trades were below the 15 kt threshold relative to Hawaii with no easterly windswell resulting there. The remnants of what used to be Marie were still circulating mid-way between Hawaii and Central CA, but producing no fetch of interest and forecast to dissipate later today.
Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to move into British Columbia with the Mendocino gradient and north winds dissipating later Friday (9/5) and windswell from it fading to nothing along the Central California coast. A low pressure regime is to set up relative to California offering a path for Hurricane Norbert (currently just southwest of Cabo San Lucas) to travel up into. Trades to remain suppressed relative to Hawaii with no windswell expected on east facing shores.
A broad low pressure system is starting to build just west of the dateline on Thurs AM (9/5) and expected to start producing 35 kt northeast winds in the gales north quadrant later in the day. On Friday AM (9/6) a solid fetch of 30-35 kt north winds are to set up on the dateline aimed south a bit west of Hawaii. 18 ft seas developing at 38N 170E aimed south. In the evening 45 kt northwest winds to quickly develop in the gale west quadrant falling into it's southwest quadrant taking aim on Hawaii with a tiny area of 26 ft seas forecast at 43N 174E (320 degs HI). On Sat AM (9/6) winds are to hold at 40 kts in the same general area with 28 ft seas wrapping into the gales south quadrant at 42N 178E at 06Z then fading to 24 ft at 12Z at 42N 180W targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast well. (319 degs HI, 294 degs NCal, 298 degs SCal). In the evening winds to be fading from barely 35 kts with the gale lifting gently north and seas 20 ft at 43N 177W targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast (325 degs HI, 295 degs NCal, 299 degs SCal). A quick fade is forecast to follow with winds down to 35 kts Sun AM (9/7) with 19 ft seas retreating to 45N 180W.
Assuming the model are valid some modest 14-15 sec period swell to result for Hawaii and tiny energy for the mainland. It's a step in the right direction.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Hurricane Norbert was 150 nmiles south of Cabo San Lucas Mexico tracking northwest at 5 kts with sustained winds 75 kts. Norbert is expected to continue on this path peaking in strength in the evening onto Fri AM (9/5) with winds 80 kts positioned 100 nmiles west of Cabo. On Friday AM Norbert is to be just barely in the Pt Dume swell window (152 degs) and 750 nmiles out, but east of the window relative to Dana Point. Swell arrival assuming a 12 sec period to be 9 PM on Sat (9/6) (2 ft @ 12 secs (2.5 ft faces). Norbert is to continue on a slightly more westerly course into Sat AM (9/6) finally moving into the Dana Point swell window (160 degs and 600 nmiles out) with winds barely hurricane force at 65 kts near 24.2N 14.5W. Assuming an 11 sec period swell arrival in Dana Point to be Sunday (8/7) at 4 PM (4 ft @ 11-12 secs - 4.5 ft faces). Of interest, the GFS model has Norbert, or at least is sub-depression status remnants pushing directly over Southern CA on Mon PM (9/8) with rain in the forecast.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (9/4) modest high pressure at 1028 mbs was trying to ridge into British Columbia generating the standard pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino CA with an eddy flow (south winds) over all of South and Central CA. The remnants of what was Hurricane Marie are still circulating midway between Hawaii and Central CA. The gradient to fade from 20 kts early Friday and is to move off the Cape Mendocino coast, weakening more on Saturday and all but gone. Generic 15 kt north winds to rebuild over Cape Mendocino on Mon (9/8) holding into Thurs (9/11), but very limited in coverage and never reaching further south than Pt Arena. The hope is the gradient stays to the north with an eddy flow continuing nearshore preventing upwelling and keeping water temps at near record levels.
Jetstream - On Thursday (9/4) the southern branch of the jetstream was in a zonal flow tracking under New Zealand moving flat west to east on the 54S latitude across the width of the South Pacific. Winds were weak in the 60-70 kts range with no troughs present and no support for gale development indicated. Over the next 72 hours winds to start building in the jet under New Zealand to 120 kts Fri PM (9/5) fading some then building to 180 kts on Sun (9/7) pushing well to the northeast forming a nice little trough southeast of New Zealand offering good support for gale development at lower levels of the atmosphere. But a quick fade is forecast on Monday. Beyond 72 hours another pulse of wind energy is to develop under New Zealand at 150 kts sweeping east, offering limited support for gale development into early Wed (9/10), then dissipating. Beyond a flat zonal flow is to follow.
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (9/4) swell from a primer gale is in the water pushing towards California (see Primer Gale below). And stronger swell is arriving in CA (and will overrun the Primer swell) being generated by a small but strong storm that pushed through the South Central Pacific Wed-Thurs (8/28) (see Strong Small Tahitian Storm - Swell #3S below). And secondary swell that evolved from remnants of the Tahitian Storm are in the water (see Secondary Gale below).
Currently high pressure was centered over the mid-latitudes of the Central South Pacific at 1028 mbs pushing the wind vectors any fetch south of it towards Antarctica. In short, no fetch or seas of interest were being produced.
Over the next 72 hours that situation is to improve as the high eases east, opening up a gap under New Zealand. On Friday AM (9/5) a small gale is to start developing southwest of New Zealand generating 45 kt west winds over a tiny area aimed east and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By evening that fetch is to be hanging on and positioned directly under New Zealand generating 32 ft seas at 57S 170E. The fetch is to ease east Sat AM (9/6) still blowing at 40 kts with seas fading from 28 ft at 57S 173W. This is to not so much be a swell producer as an agent to rough up the oceans surface.
By Sat PM (9/6) a small storm is to start forming south of the Tasman Sea generating 55 kt southwest winds with 32 ft seas at 55S 160E pushing flat east. This fetch is to be getting good traction on an already roughed up ocean surface with 19 ft seas courtesy of the Primer Gale that preceded it. Fetch is to be well into storm force on Sun AM (9/7) with 60-65 kt southwest winds in.cgiay just southeast of New Zealand at 57S 173E (195 degs HI, 210 degs NCal and barely unshadowed, 211 degs SCal and shadowed) with seas 46 ft at 55S 174E (196 degs HI, 212 degs NCal and unshadowed, 213 degs SCal and shadowed). Fetch is to start fading but still respectable in the evening blowing from the southwest at 55 kts with seas peaking at 48 ft at 56S 174W (189 degs HI, 206 degs NCal and shadowed. 208 degs SCal and unshadowed). Most energy aimed a bit east of optimal relative to the great circle tracks to the north. By Monday AM (9/8) southwest winds are to be fading from 40 kts and seas from previous fetch fading from 42 ft at 56S 165W kts (184 degs HI, 203 degs NCal and barely unshadowed, 205 degs SCal and unshadowed). By evening fetch is to be falling from 35 kts with seas from previous fetch decaying from 34 ft at 55S 160W (181 degs HI, 201 degs NCal and unshadowed, 203 degs SCal and unshadowed). This system is to have a bit too much of an easterly track to be optimal for our forecast area, but given the sheer force of this system, some decent swell should result (even with the shadow relative to CA). Something to monitor.
On Monday PM (8/25) a new gale formed and tracked northeast from a point south of New Zealand producing 40 kt southwest winds over a modest sized area with seas on the increase. By Tuesday AM (8/26) 40-45 kt southwest winds continued in.cgiay over a reasonably broad area aimed better to the northeast generating a small area of 30 ft seas at 59S 171W (187 degs HI, 205 degs SCal and 204 degs NCal and barely shadowed by Tahiti) pushing well to the northeast. 40 kt southwest winds were over a broad area Tues PM with 32 ft seas lifting northeast at 57S 160W (181 degs HI, 202 degs SCal and 200 degs NCal and east of the shadow). Fetch was fading fast from 30-35 kts Wed AM (8/27) with seas fading from 26 ft at 53S 145W aimed decently to the north (199 degs SCal and 198 degs NCal and unshadowed by Tahiti).
A modest pulse of swell to result for Tahiti, Hawaii, and California.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (9/4) with period 18 secs building to 1.9 ft @ 17-18 secs (3.0 ft) at sunset and getting overrun by stronger swell (below).
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (9/4) with period 18 secs building to 1.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) at sunset and getting overrun by stronger swell (below). Swell Direction: 200-204 degrees
Strong Small Tahitian Storm (Storm #3S)
A storm developed directly on the same path as the previous system under New Zealand getting traction on already roughed up sea surface tracking to the northeast starting Wed AM (8/27) with 55 kt west-southwest winds and 34 ft seas building at 61S 173E just off the Ross Ice Shelf (198 degs HI, 209 degs SCal, 208 degs NCal and shadowed by Tahiti). By Wed PM (8/27) a solid area of 50-55 kt southwest winds were blowing while lifting northeast with seas building to 48 ft at 58.5S 174W (188 degs HI, 207 degrees SCal and 205 degs NCal and shadowed by Tahiti). Winds were fading from 45 kts Thurs AM (8/28) with a solid area of 41 ft seas at 55S 162W (182 degs HI, 203 degs SCal and 202 degs NCal and east of the Tahiti swell shadow). The Jason-2 satellite made a clean pass over the core of the fetch at 18Z and reported average seas 41.2 ft with a peak reading of 48.5 ft, exceeding what the model projected. A rapid fade followed with winds down to 35 kts in the evening and seas fading fast from 34 ft at 50S 153W (201 degs SCal, 199 degs NCal and unshadowed). This system was gone by Fri AM (8/29).
Solid swell to result for all locations though less than expected size for Hawaii given the fact the fetch was tracking well east of the great circle paths up into the Islands. Conversely the fetch was aimed almost right up the great circle paths to California (though shadowed at the peak of the storm by Tahiti).
Hawaii: Swell fading from 2.5 ft @ 15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) on Fri (9/5). Residuals on Sat (9/6) 2.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (3 ft). Swell Direction: 182-188 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (9/4) near 5 AM with period 22 secs and size tiny but building pushing 1.7 ft @ 20-21 secs late (3.5 ft with sets to 4.5 ft). Period turning to 19 secs Fri AM (9/5) and swell getting solid near mid-day with swell 2.8 ft @ 18-19 secs (5 ft with sets to 6.4 ft). Solid swell expected Sat (9/6) at 3.8 ft @ 17-18 secs (6.6 ft with sets to 8.3 ft). Swell fading Sun (9/7) with swell 3.3 ft at 16-17 secs early (5.3 ft with sets to 6.7 ft). Residuals on Mon (9/8) fading from 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft).Swell Direction: 204-207 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (9/4) near 8 AM with period 22 secs and size tiny but building pushing 1.3 ft @ 21-22 secs late (2.5-3.0 ft). Period turning to 19 secs mid Fri AM (9/5) with swell getting solid mid-day at 2.8 ft @ 19 secs (5 ft within sets to 6.5 ft). Solid swell expected Sat (9/6) at 3.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (5.8 ft with sets to 7.3 ft). Swell fading Sun (9/7) with swell 3.3 ft at 17 secs early (5.6 ft with sets to 7.0 ft). Residuals on Mon (9/8) fading from 2.6 ft @ 15 secs (4 ft). Swell Direction: 201-205 degrees
Secondary Southeast Pacific Swell
A new gale started developing from the remnants of the Tahitian Storm (above) on Fri AM (8/29) with a small area of 35-40 kt south winds taking shape in the Central South Pacific. By Fri PM a decent sized fetch of 40-45 kt southerly winds were in.cgiay 1800 nmiles south of Tahiti aimed well to the north-northeast with a small area of 30 ft seas at 49S 150W targeting Tahiti with sideband energy and mainly targeting the Southwest US Coast (198-199 degs CA and unshadowed by Tahiti). This fetch held while lifting northeast Sat AM (8/30) with 32 ft seas at 45S 142W (195-196 degs CA) with a tiny core of embedded 36 ft seas within it. The fetch was fading fast in the evening with wind dropping from 40 kts over a small area and seas fading from 32 ft over a small area at 41S 134W (188 degs CA), positioned well north of normal.
A small pulse of secondary swell to result for CA merging with bigger swell above.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours the models suggest tropical energy developing near Japan on Sun (9/7) is to get captured by the jetstream and is to race northeast and start developing as it merges with remnants of the dateline gale (see details above) on Thurs (9/11) over the dateline. 40 kt west winds are projected targeting mainly the US West Coast. Something to monitor.
Trades to remain suppressed relative to Hawaii with no windswell of interest being produced.
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).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) On Thursday (9/4) the daily SOI was down to -6.65. The 30 day average was up to -9.68 and the 90 day average was down some at -6.22. The near term trend based on the 30 day average was indicative of a Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO. High pressure is developing south of Tahiti and expected to hold into Mon (9/8) likely causing the SOI to rise some. Then more low pressure is to follow into Fri (9/12).
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated light west anomalies were developing over the Central Maritime Continent switching to light to modest east anomalies between the Eastern Maritime Continent and the dateline. Neutral anomalies extended from there to a point south of Hawaii then continuing neutral on to the Galapagos. A week from now (9/12) light west anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent fading to neutral on dateline, continuing from the dateline into the Galapagos. This suggests a neutral MJO pattern biased slightly Active over the far West Pacific over the coming week.
Looking at the trend over the past few months there has not been a extended period of enhanced trades so far this year, and we're over 245 days into the year. The trend is clearly towards westerly anomalies which suggests a bias towards El Nino. Big westerly wind bursts occurred Jan-April, followed by a neutral period May into early June. The TOA array surface sensors (the ground truth) indicated moderate westerly anomalies re-developed west of the dateline 6/25 holding through 7/6, then turning neutral. But by 7/11 light west anomalies redeveloped holding through 7/20. A legitimate Westerly Wind Burst formed and held through 8/10, then weakened with neutral anomalies through 8/18, turning light westerly 8/20-8/22, then again 8/29-9/2 west of the dateline. Latest data from the TAO array indicates neutral anomalies were in.cgiay on 9/3. Another Kelvin Wave (weak at this point) is developing mainly associated with the westerly anomalies of mid-July into mid-August. Compared to La Nina where enhanced trades (20+ kts) would be blowing non-stop, we're in great shape and have been all year. It would be hard to make a case stating some flavor of weak El Nino was not in.cgiay at this point.
See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here.
Previously a series of WWBs occurred 1/8-4/20 creating a large Kelvin Wave that impacted Ecuador, the Galapagos and Peru, May and June. This was very similar situation that led up to the big El Nino's of '82/32 and '97/98. But in those instances the WWBs and Kelvin Wave generation progressed non-stop through the Summer and Fall months. An article presenting a Comparison between the genesis of the 1997 El Nino and this 2014 WWB event has been posted here. A second analysis from 5/28 is posted here.
The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 9/3 are generally in sync. They both suggest a very weak Active MJO signal was in control over the far West Pacific. 5 days out it is to be holding with no change forecast for the next 15 days per the Statistic model. The Dynamic model depicts the same thing initially, then has the Active Phase dissipating 8 days out with the Inactive Phase mysteriously returning and building moderately 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model run 9/4 suggests a moderate Active Phase was building in the West Pacific and is to track east through through 10/4. A modest Inactive Phase is to build behind it starting 10/4 in the far West Pacific reaching the Central Pacific on 10/14. Recent experience this year suggests this model overhypes any Inactive Phase. The suspicion is this model does not work well in an El Nino like situation. We're looking for a very weak MJO pattern biased Active if an El Nino were developing. This is what happened during July, even though the model suggested an Inactive Phase was to develop. And that is what happened in August. This suggests that warming water in the equatorial East Pacific is starting to have some impact on the atmosphere above, however slight. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.
Surface Water Temps: The more warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). Cold water in that area has a dampening effect. Regardless of what the atmospheric models and surface winds suggest, actual water temperatures are a ground-truth indicator of what is occurring in the ocean. As of the most recent low res imagery (9/4), a moderately warm water regime remains in control of the equatorial East Pacific, but down some from the peak of the Kelvin Wave eruptions in late June, and a little more ragged. Still, it's held up way better than expected since the big Kelvin Wave peaked out and the upwelling Phase did it's damage. It has rebounded admirably. No extensive areas of cool water are depicted in any of the Nino regions, and 1.5-2.0 deg anomalies are building between 105-130W where previous neutral water temps were indicated. Hi res imagery indicates a string of warm pockets building over the width of the equator between the Galapagos and the dateline. +1.0 deg C anomalies remain over the dateline, the start of a new Kelvin Wave. Even though the bulk of the massive Kelvin Wave earlier this year has dispersed, at least at this moment, another source of warm water is in.cgiay. The issue remains getting more warm water into the pipe to eventually erupt near the Galapagos.
Elsewhere, the entire North Pacific Ocean is full of warmer than normal water. There are virtually no signs of high pressure induced upwelling streaming southwest off California as would be expected this time of year. And serious warm water is entrenched along the California coast and building in coverage, the exact opposite of the trend of the past 3+ years. Waters temps in San Francisco are 62 degrees and holding solid. Very rare. But this is expected if El Nino were in.cgiay. This is significant in that is suggests the Gulf of Alaska High pressure system is much weakened relative to normal years, with north winds and upwelling much suppressed. The South Pacific is mostly normal/neutral except for cool water streaming off Southern Chile pushing west reaching up to the equator just south of Hawaii. But even the areal coverage of that pocket is in decline, suggesting a warm regime is getting the upper hand over the entire Pacific Basin. Overall the total amount of warmer than normal water in the North Pacific remains most impressive, while the South Pacific is starting to trend in the same direction.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator are on the rebound. Residual warm subsurface water from the previous Kelvin Wave dissipated on 7/31. Temps from it peaked at +6 degs C above normal on 6/21. As of 9/4 a +1.0 C anomaly flow was arching from the dateline down then pushing up towards the Galapagos. This is great news indicating the pipe is open and modest warm waters are pushing east - the next Kelvin Wave. And imbedded in that is a sizable pockets of +2.0 deg C anomalies near the Galapagos and +3 deg anomalies under the equator south of Hawaii. The leading edge of the new Kelvin Wave is making quick advances. Satellite data from 8/31 depicts a solid and building area of +5 cm anomalies are covering the dateline region and tracking east reaching to 115W, suggestive of a Kelvin Wave in flight. Other models depict much the same suggesting the Kelvin wave is pushing east. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (8/26) indicates a new Kelvin Wave is developing in the west reaching east to 120W, with the cool upwelling Phase of the previous Kelvin Wave all but gone except east of 115W. As the last of the cool water anomalies are squeezed out of the 'pipe' over the Galapagos, and light westerly anomalies continue, they will feed more warm water into the building Kelvin Wave. At this time we are over the proverbial 'hump'. When the developing Kelvin Wave arrives at the Galapagos (~Sept 30), more warm water will reinforce the existing warm pool theoretically pushing things into El Nino territory. That cannot be declared until it happens, but everything is lining up.
Pacific Counter Current data as of 9/1 suggests a mixed pattern. The current is pushing west to east over the entire West and Central Pacific north of the equator on the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) reaching into Central America. But the current itself is pushing east to west on the equator, the exact opposite of the direction it should be pushing. East anomalies are on the equator between 140E-180W in the heart of the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Westerly anomalies were on the equator from 110-150W. This data suggests a very mixed picture. As of right now it appears the easterly current is overtaking the westerly component. Not a good sign.
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 9/4 have stabilized suggesting water temps building to +0.5 deg C by early Oct peaking at +1.0 deg C in Dec (down from the +1.75 deg C predicted in May and then revised down to +1.55 deg C predicted in early July) holding into May 2015, then presumably fading, but not drastically per the model. Interestingly this model actually depicts warm waters dissipating in the Nino1+2 regions in August then redeveloping in the Nino 3.4 regions in Sept and gaining momentum and areal coverage while building back into Nino1.2 into Jan-Feb 2015 link.
Analysis: A massive Kelvin Wave was generated by successive Westerly Wind Bursts in Jan-April and erupted in the Galapagos region late June and is now dispersed. The WWB ended on 5/1 with the last of the warm water from it arriving 3 months later over the Galapagos on 8/1. At one point it looked like neutral water temps would be taking over the Galapagos-Ecuador-Peru triangle with no immediate Kelvin Wave reinforcements projected. But instead a persistent warm water temp regime stabilized there, and not much different temperature-wise from what it was at the peak of Kelvin Wave impact. And renewed weak WWB and west anomalies developed in the West Pacific (starting 6/28) with a new Kelvin wave at +2 degs C in flight now. But that Kelvin Wave is not expected to reach the Galapagos till 9/28. So there's still at 4 week 'hole' with no significant warm water to resu.cgiy the Ecuador triangle between 9/1 and 9/28. We had been thinking this would cause water temps to decease in the Nino1+2 regions, likely to near neutral. But that has not happened. Instead water temps are holding in the Galapagos triangle in the +1.5 degree range. Some other process is at work keeping water temp stable in the Galapagos region (as of 8/28). This is good news.
Assuming westerly anomalies continue in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (west of the dateline), more warm water will migrate east. This is a reasonable assumption seeing how there has been virtually no easterly anomalies for the first 8 months of this year. And trades tend to weaken during Fall months in the northern hemi, meaning we're just now starting to reach the point in time where Westerly Wind Bursts should have the best support for development. All data suggests we're at the end of the 'upwelling' Phase of the Kelvin Wave. It's normal after a downwelling Kevin Wave impacts the Ecuador coast, especially a massive one like just experienced, that some period of upwelling (cooling) occurs. And for that to be true, the upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle would be facilitated by a lack of westerly winds in the West Pacific (as what occurred during May and June). Most El Nino's do not develop till the Fall, including the Super El Nino of '83/83. Only a few (namely the '97 Super El Nino) developed and survived strong through the summer and over the span of an entire year. A more 'normal' development life cycle would favor the alternating 'downwelling/upwelling' Kelvin Wave cycle. See currently Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here. Notice the alternating eastward migrating 'cool' and 'warm' cycles (upwelling/downwelling Kelvin Waves).
The CFSv2 model depicts exactly this scenario.cgiaying out, with water temps in Nino1.2 fading in August then redeveloping in September, exactly filling the 'hole' scenario described above. The redevelopment of westerly winds started in July and is hoped to continue into at least August if not beyond, resulting in a new Kelvin Wave. All evidence at this time suggests this is the case. Monitoring surface wind anomalies in the West Pacific remains critical to determining the future of this years potential El Nino pattern.
And finally, there's the 'feedback loop' consideration. We suspect it might already be in.cgiay. The largest argument in favor of that is the total breakdown of the Gulf of Alaska high pressure system, resulting in very high water temps off California. Also the early season recurving of mult.cgie tropical low pressure systems tracking northeast off Japan bound for the dateline. And the pulse of tropical activity near Hawaii on the week of 8/4 and those systems continued evolution in the West Pacific is most telling. And then that pulse was followed by another pulse off Mexico (818-8/28) resulting in Lowell and Super Hurricane Marie. The last time this happened was during the '97 El Nino. The only argument against the feedback loop now is the development of a west moving Pacific Counter Current. Previous negative arguments concerning a dissipating Kelvin Wave, degradation of peak water temps in the Ecuador triangle and only a neutral 90 day SOI (rather than a negative one) have all turned in favor of an El Nino like pattern. For the most part they were just symptoms of the upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle. Only once the ocean and atmosphere are co.cgied on a global level (that is, the ocean has imparted enough heat into the atmosphere to start changing the global jetstream pattern) can one begin to have confidence that a feedback loop is developing and a fully matured El Nino can result. About 3 months of undisturbed heating is required for the atmosphere to start responding on a global level where the point of 'no return' could be achieved. The warm pool starting forming in earnest on 5/1, and so the atmosphere would not trip over the 'no-return' point till 8/1. We have passed that threshold. As of 9/2, all the arguments against a feedback loop being in.cgiace were fading out except the Pacific Counter Current. Assuming the arguments against co.cgiing were all associated with the upwelling Kelvin Wave phase, then one can conclude the ocean and atmosphere are now linked/teleconnected. Considering the size and duration of the westerly wind bursts in Jan-April, it seem hard to believe that at least some Pacific Basin wide 'change' was not already well entrenched even early this year, and had been developing since perhaps as early and Oct of 2013 (when the first Kelvin Wave of the series started taking shape). Monitoring the number, location and track of tropical systems in the North Pacific over the next few weeks will help to sort things out, as will monitoring westerly wind anomalies and warm subsurface water buildup in and under the Kelvin Wave Generation area. Also monitoring of the NPac jetstream (which is now starting to looks much better as of 8/19) and Atlantic hurricane activity (which is nonexistent) is key. But at this time odds continue stacking in favor of a global teleconnection now being established. If that's true, deepening of the ENSO cycle could begin in the next month or so, and perhaps rapidly once it starts.
But for now we'll remain cautious. Overall the immediate outlook remains unchanged, but potentially trending towards something that would be considered warm by Sept 2014. At a minimum the ocean is well past recharge mode, with cold water from the 2010-2011 La Nina dispersed and temperatures on the rise. Regardless of the WWBs etc, we are still in a neutral ENSO atmospheric pattern at this time with neither any form of El Nino in.cgiay. But given all current signs, atmospheric transition appears to be underway, and hopefully intensifying into Fall. Still this is a far better.cgiace than previous years (2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013) under the direct influence of La Nina. And it seems apparent we've recovered from the 2009-2010 El Nino. We've turned the corner, but we'll remain cautious and not say to much yet, especially in light of what appears to be a decadal bias towards a cooler regime (since 1998).
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13
Beyond 72 hours no fetch of swell production of interest is forecast. Theoretically remnants of the coming weekend New Zealand storm to redevelop off extreme Southern Chile on Thurs (9/11) producing 32-34 ft seas, possibly offering sideband swell for Southern Chile.
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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