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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2018 4:49 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
2.5 - California & 3.5 - 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 9/3 thru Sun 9/9

Swell Potential Rating Categories
5 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Significant swell
4 = Good probability for 1-2 days of Significant swell
3 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Intermediate/Advanced swell
2 = Good probability for  1-2 days of
Intermediate/Advanced swell
1 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Impulse or Windswell
0 = Low probability for 1-2 days of Impulse or Windswell   

Small Southeast Pacific Swell Pushing North
Two More Behind


On Thursday, September 6, 2018 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.5 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 1.8 ft @ 12.2 secs from 186 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.6 ft @ 10.0 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 9.6 secs from 168 degrees. Wind at the buoy was west at 4-6 kts. Water temperature 70.0 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.6 ft @ 8.7 secs from 221 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.3 ft @ 15.7 secs from 196 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.5 ft @ 15.4 secs from 214 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.8 ft @ 9.8 secs from 185 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.7 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 15.9 secs from 191 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north at 6-10 kts. Water temp 59.5 degs.

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 Thursday (9/6) in North and Central CA northern windswell was producing waves at knee to thigh high and heavily textured from south winds. Protected breaks were flat to maybe thigh high and clean but weak and barely rideable. At Santa Cruz surf was occasionally up to waist high plus on the peaks and clean but very slow. In Southern California/Ventura surf was up to thigh high on the peak of the sets and clean and weak. In North Orange Co waves were chest to head high on the peak of the sets coming from the south and lightly textured but rideable. South Orange Country's best breaks were chest to maybe head high on the sets and a bit warbled from west wind. In North San Diego surf was waist to chest high and lined up but a bit warbled. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting background southern hemi swell with set waves chest high and clean with occasional sets. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves chest high and chopped from moderate east-northeast trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (9/6) small background southern hemi swell was hitting California and Hawaii making for rideable (but nothing more) surf at select breaks. Northwest windswell was not rideable in California. Swell from Hurricane Norman was hitting mainly the Big Island of Hawaii while Hurricane Olivia was lurking behind. Two low pressure systems are forecast developing in the North Pacific on Sunday (9/9) both with 18 ft seas aimed south targeting CA and HI. Don't expect much. In the southern hemisphere a gale produced up to 43 ft seas just east of the Southern CA swell window on Sun (9/2) pushing north, so some swell is finally tracking barely towards CA but more so for Mexico. Another gale produced 38 ft seas in the Southeast Pacific on Wed (9/5) targeting California down to Peru while at the same time another gale produced 39 ft seas in the Southwest Pacific just off the Ross Ice Shelf aimed east. And maybe another gale is to form in the far Southeast Pacific by Sun (9/9) but mostly east of even the SCal swell window. Things are looking a little better.


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Thursday AM (9/6) no swell was hitting and no swell was in the water moving towards Hawaii or California.

Over the next 72 hours 2 low pressure systems are forecast. In the Northeastern Gulf of Alaska on Fri (9/7) low pressure is to be circulating, building on Sat (9/8) to 998 mbs with winds building to 20-25 kts over a fairly broad area then building on Sun AM (9/9) with winds briefly to 30-35 kts over a tiny area for 6 hours aimed southeast with seas building to 18 ft briefly at 48N 138W (1500 nmiles from NCal on the 319 degree path). Seas to quickly fade after that. Windswell could result pushing towards NCal 72 hours later.

Also another broad low is to form on the dateline on Sat PM (9/8) producing 35 kts northwest winds over a tiny area starting to get traction on the oceans surface. Winds to hold while building in coverage Sun AM (9/9) aimed south with seas building. In the evening fetch is to build in coverage at 30 kts aimed south with seas building to 18 ft over a tiny area at 38N 177E aimed south mostly bypassing Hawaii. More of the same is expected on Mon AM (9/10) with 18 ft seas at 37N 175E. This system is to fade from there. Low odds of small sideband swell radiating southeast towards Hawaii. Something to monitor.

Windswell Forecast
California: On Thursday (9/6) no fetch was occurring that could produce windswell relative to California. On Fri (8/31) high pressure is to start pushing east again ridging south and under low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska and well into North and Central CA resulting in north winds building from 15 to 20 kts later in the day with odds for windswell production starting to increase some. By Saturday (9/8) high pressure is to continue ridging east from the Southern Gulf into California with north winds 20 kts over North and Central CA producing raw short period local north windswell for that area. And by Sunday (9/9) more of the same is forecast with north winds 20-25 kts over all of North and Central CA with raw local north windswell expected reaching down into Southern CA too. See QuikCAST's for details.

Hawaii: On Thursday (9/6) local fetch at 15 kts is to turn more northeasterly at 15+ kts over all Hawaiian Islands to 600 nmiles east of the Islands with Hurricane Norman moving closer while turning to the northwest 300 nmiles northeast of the Islands again resulting in solid potential for windswell production, though hurricane swell will likely start to dominate. Friday (9/7) Norman is to be tracking northwest and the gradient between it and high pressure to the north is to be lifting north and aimed mostly north of the Islands with windswell from it starting to fade. On Saturday (9/8) no fetch exceeding 15 kts is forecast near the Hawaii Islands other than the fading remnants of Norman 280 nmiles north of Hawaii and fading with little to no fetch aimed southwest at Hawaii. But Olivia is to be moving west about 800 nmiles out and positioned north enough to be targeting swell production at all the Hawaiian Islands. No windswell fetch is to be occurring on Sun (9/9) with Norman dissipating 320 nmiles north of Hawaii and possibly swell from Olivia poised to hit but with Olivia slowly weakening while tracking west 600 nmiles east of the Islands. See QuikCAST's for details.


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


Tropical Update
Hurricane Norman: On Thurs AM (9/6) Norman was tracking northwest positioned 300 nmiles east-northeast of Hawaii with winds still hurricane force at 100 kts (115 mph) with seas 33 ft but moving over cooler water and wind velocity fading fast later in the day down to 90 kts (103 mph), but with the core now in the swell window for Oahu's east shore. On Fri AM (9/7) Norman is to continue tracking northwest with winds still hurricane force 75 kts (85 mph) and 200 nmiles northeast of the Big Island with most fetch aimed north of all the Hawaiian Islands, and swell generation potential dissipating. Norma is to fall to tropical storm status Friday evening with winds 60 kts (69 mph) positioned 250 nmiles north-northwest of the Big Island. By Sat AM (9/8) TS Norman is to be 300 nmiles north of Hawaii with winds 45 kts (52 mph) tracking northwest and of no interest. Norman is to continue on this track. while fading providing no swell production potential.

Oahu (exposed breaks on the East Shore): Swell is to be peaking on Thurs (9/6) at 5.0 ft @ 13 secs (6.5 ft). Swell fading Fri (9/7) at 5.9 ft @ 12 secs (7.0 ft faces). Residuals fading on Sat (9/8) from 5.0 ft @ 10-11 secs (5.0 ft faces). Swell Direction: 80 degrees moving to 55 degrees

Hurricane Olivia: On Thurs AM (9/6) Hurricane Olivia was positioned 1800 nmiles east of Hawaii with winds 105 kts (120 mph) tracking west at 14 kts with seas 30 ft. Swell was pushing east towards Hawaii. Olivia is to continue on a westerly track peaking Thurs PM with winds peaking at 110 kts (125 mph) then starting to fade after jogging a bit on a west-northwesterly track positioned 850 nmiles west of Maui on Sun AM (9/9) with winds 70 kts (81 mph) still generating swell, but of less size. The official track has Olivia fading to tropical storm force Tues AM (9/11) with winds 60 kts (69 mph) positioned 300 nmiles east of Maui and tracking west. The GFS model has Olivia tracking 50-100 nmiles north of Oahu on Wed PM (9/12) with swell generation potential fading relative to all Hawaiian Islands. Something to monitor.

Oahu: Small swell possible starting Sun (9/9) with period 15 secs.


California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday (9/6) a light wind pattern was in play early turning from the north and building to 10-15 kts over Cape Mendocino and Monterey Bay. Friday (9/7) north winds to be 10-15 kts early building to 20 kts over all of North and Central CA later. Sat (9/1) north winds to hold control at 20+ kts over all of North and Central CA nearshore waters and continuing Sun (9/9) and Monday (9/10). On Tues (9/4) north winds to be 20 kts over all of North and Central CA and a little less strong as compared to days past. Wednesday (9/12) north winds to continue at 15 kts over North CA and 20 kts over Central CA nearshore waters. More of the same is expected on Thurs (9/13).

South Pacific

On Tuesday AM (9/4) the southern branch of the jetstream was ridging south southeast of New Zealand down to 70S with winds up to 140 kts suppressing gale production there pushing east while lifting northeast over the Southeast Pacific forming a trough there lifting north to 59S with winds 90 kts offering some support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the ridge in the west is to push east fast through Sat (9/8) pushing the jet over Antarctic Ice at 63S offering no support for gale development. But by Sun (9/9) a bit of a trough is to develop in the far Southeast Pacific being fed by a pocket of 130 kts winds offering some support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours some sort of trough is to persist in the vicinity of 120W being fed by 130 kts winds through Mon (9/10) offering more support for gale development on the eastern edge of the California swell window, then pushing east of there on Tues (9/11) with support for gale development dissipating. The ridge is to hold in the west suppressing support for gale development. The ridge is to sweep east and fade through Thurs (9/13) with a far weak but northward displaced southern jet developing at 50S offering no real support for gale development but also not actively suppressing it either.

Surface Analysis  
On Thursday (9/6) no swell of interest was hitting. But swell from a gale previously in the far Southeast Pacific is radiating north towards California and Mexico (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). Also two other swell are starting to radiate northeast from gales in the Southeast and Southwest Pacific (see Another Southeast Pacific Gale and Southwest Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours

Another Southeast Pacific Gale
On Wed AM (9/5) a new gale developed in the Southeast Pacific with a broad area of 45 kt southwest winds building and getting traction on the oceans surface aimed northeast with seas building to 37 ft at 55.5S 137.5W. Fetch faded fast ain the evening at 35-40 kts with seas 35 ft at 52S 121W. Fetch was fading from 40 kts from the west Thurs AM (9/6) with seas 33 ft at 55.5S 121W and pushing mostly east of the CA swell window targeting mainly Chile and Peru. No additional fetch or seas is forecast. Small swell is to radiating north towards California but more so at Central America and Peru.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (8/12) building to 1.5 ft @ 20 secs late (3.0 ft). Swell building Thurs (8/13) to 2.5 ft @ 17-18 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 189 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (8/12) building to 1.3 ft @ 20-21 secs late (2.5 ft). Swell building Thurs (8/13) to 2.0 ft @ 18 secs (3.5 ft) later. Swell Direction: 187 degrees


Southwest Pacific Gale
On Wed AM (9/5) a solid gale was trying to build under New Zealand on the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf with west winds 45 kts and seas 36 ft over a tiny area at 62S 175E hugging the ice. In the evening fetch was fading while lifting east-northeast with winds fading from the southwest at 35 kts and seas 36 ft at 60.5S 172.5W. On Thurs AM (9/6) fetch was fading from 35 kts from the southwest lifting northeast with seas 31 ft at 59S 158W aimed northeast. In the evening fetch is to fade while racing northeast at 40 kts from the southwest with seas 30 ft at 53.3S 134W. Fetch is to continue tracking east in the evening at 40 kts with seas 33 ft at 53S 121W and starting to move out of the Southern CA swell window. Additional fetch is to build in the evening to near 50 kts again on the edge of the SCal swell window generating 33 ft seas at 54S 123W aimed east. On Sat AM (9/8) 35 kt southwest winds to be lifting northeast with 31 ft seas at 50S 123W. Small swell is possible pushing up into mainly the US West Coast Central America and Peru. Something to monitor.


Southeast Pacific Gale
On Sat PM (9/1) a small gale started to form in the deep Southeast Pacific generating 31 ft seas at 50S 126W aimed northeast. On Mon AM (9/2) the original fetch faded while a new fetch developed further south with 34 ft seas building at 52S 122W, on the edge of California swell window and up to 43 ft mid-morning at 48.5S 115W and effectively out of even the SCal swell window. By evening the storm was well east of the CA swell window with 41 ft seas at 45.5S 133W aimed northeast. Small swell is radiating north towards CA but more so at Mexico down into Central America.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (9/8) building to 2 ft @ 19 secs late (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell to continue upwards on Sun (9/9) building to 3.2 ft @ 17 secs mid-day (5.5 ft with sets to 6.5 ft). Swell holding on Mon (9/10) 3.3 ft @ 15-16 secs (5.0 ft with sets to 6.5 ft). Swell fading some on Tues (9/11) from 3.1 ft @ 14-15 secs early (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 175-185 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (9/8) building to 1.3 ft @ 20-21 secs late (2.5 ft). Swell to continue upwards on Sun (9/9) building to 2.8 ft @ 18 secs later 5.0 ft with sets to 6.0 ft). Swell holding on Mon (9/10) at 2.8 ft @ 17 secs (4.5 ft with sets to 6.0 ft). Swell fading some on Tues (9/11) from 2.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 170-180 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 no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast. A gale is to possibly track off the Kuril Islands east with seas building to 22 ft on Wed PM 99/12) at 42N 165E. Something to monitor.

Windswell Forecast
Monday (9/10) high pressure is to continue ridging into North and Central CA producing north winds at 20+ kts along the coast there resulting in more local short period raw north windswell at exposed breaks. On Tuesday (9/11) the fetch is to slowly become less defined but still at 20 kts and up to 25 kts over Pt Conception. Wednesday (9/12) the high is to start pushing inland with north fetch 15-20 kts for all of North and Central CA and windswell fading some then holding steady into Thurs (9/13).

Hawaii: On Monday (9/10) swell from Olivia is to be hitting but with Olivia slowly weakening while tracking west positioned 400 nmiles east-northeast of Hawaii. Tues (9/11) Olivia is to be tracking east while slowly fading positioned 225 nmiles northeast of the Islands generating windswell. Wednesday (9/12) Olivia is to be 150 nmiles north of Oahu generating some windswell pushing southwest. Thursday (9/13) Olivia is to be tracking west positioned 60 nmiles north of Kauai offering no swell production potential.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours starting Sun AM (9/9) a storm is to build in the far Southeast Pacific with 60 kt southwest winds and seas building barely in the CA swell window at 46 ft at 55.5S 117W. In the evening fetch is to be lifting northeast at 50 kts with seas 44 ft at 53S 107W and outside even the SCal swell window targeting mainly Chile. The gale is to continue east from there. Something to monitor.

Details to follow...


MJO/ENSO Forecast


ESPI Reaches It's Highest Point So Far

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 but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. A double dip La Nina was in control and continued 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 was building over equatorial waters in July, suggesting the demise of La Nina and possibly turning towards El Nino.

Fall/Winter 2018 (California & Hawaii) = 6.5
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: Assuming the PDO has moved to the warm phase and that El Nino develops as forecast, and assuming and an ocean-atmospheric coupling becomes established in the Sept timeframe and ocean temperature anomalies in Nino3.4 build to the +1.0 deg range, there is good probability for enhanced storm production in the North Pacific starting in the late Nov timeframe (specifically the Gulf of Alaska and Dateline regions) with an increased intensity in number of storm days and storm intensity, resulting in increased odds for larger than normal swell, with increased duration and higher than normal period.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wed (9/5) 5 day average winds were solidly from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific reaching west and continuing to the dateline, but not further, with light west anomalies west of there and mostly filling the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were neutral to light easterly in pockets over the East equatorial Pacific building slightly on the dateline, but held there with modest to moderate west anomalies directly west of the dateline and filling the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (9/6) Light to modest west anomalies are filling the KWGA continuing east and filling the entire East Pacific and are forecast to hold like this solidly for the next week (through 9/13) except for a small pockets of east anomalies developing 9/12 near 155E.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (9/5) A weak Inactive/Dry signal was over the far West KWGA. The statistical model depicts that this pattern is to hold if not build east but still not making it to the dateline over the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with the Inactive/Dry Phase building far stronger in week 2. The models are mostly in sync suggesting the Inactive Phase is coming. Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (9/6) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak over the Atlantic and it is to remain weak if not collapse while drifting east to the indian Ocean over the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (9/6) This model depicts a weak Active/Wet MJO signal over the Central Pacific. That pattern is to ease east pushing into Central America on 10/1 while a modest Inactive/Dry pattern develops in the West Pacific starting 9/18 making slow east headway reaching the East Pacific at the end of the model run on 10/16. A very weak Active Phase is to follow in the west at that time. This is typical of El Nino development (i.e. the MJO disappears).
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (9/5) This model depicts moderate west anomalies over the entirety of the KWGA today. The forecast indicates west anomalies are to build in coverage and intensity over the next 3-4 days in the heart of the KWGA, then weakening some though 9/18. After that modest west anomalies are to hold filling the KWGA through the end of the model run on 10/3. It certainly smells of El Nino if the model is correct.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (9/6) This model depicts a break in a weak Inactive/Dry Phase of the MJO was occurring over the KWGA with weak to modest west wind anomalies in play. The Inactive MJO signal is to fade only to rebuild 9/12-9/28 but with weak to modest west anomalies holding in KWGA. The Active Phase is to build 9/30 through 11/10 with modest westerly anomalies steady over that entire duration. An Inactive MJO to follow 11/12-12/4 but with weak to modest west anomalies continuing through the end of the model run on 12/4. In short, west anomalies are to hold for the foreseeable future. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is fully in control of the KWGA reaching east to 125W at 3 contour lines and is to hold solid through the end of the model run building east to 120W (over California) by 9/19 and to 115W in mid-October. No 4th contour line is expected now. The high pressure bias is currently limited to an area south of California and shrinking fast and is to be gone by 9/11. The atmosphere and ocean are slowly becoming coupled towards an El Nino bias and were originally thought to reach that state 3 months after the start of when the low pressure bias officially filled the KWGA (on 5/8) or on 8/8. But the coupling is developing a bit less aggressively than expected, so we're thinking coupling should occur more like 8/28 now. This pattern is slowly becoming more favorable to support storm production in the Pacific. The high pressure bias is forecast building near 90E (Central Indian Ocean) reaching 2 contour lines in November.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (9/6) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs and migrating east now to 170E. The 28 deg isotherm line started to retrograde west from 148W on 7/2 to 153W on 7/10 and to 163W on 8/10). It started moving east again reaching to 158W on 8/16 due to development of Kelvin Wave #2 under the West Pacific, but today is steady at 161W. The 24 deg isotherm was 100 meters deep at 140W but retracted from the coast of Ecuador and was breaching the surface at 123W, or basically stationary since 8/10. Anomaly wise warm waters associated with the February Kelvin Wave #1 are gone with neutral anomalies in the far East equatorial Pacific pushing into Ecuador. To the west warm anomalies are building indicative of the new Kelvin Wave (#2) at +3 degs centered under 165W down 150 meters and with a finger of +1.0 degs anomalies reaching east to 105W. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/31 is a little more optimistic, with remnants of the first Kelvin Wave still holding over a shallow area in the East Pacific from 140W eastward to 105W at +1.5 degs. It was breaching the surface between 110W-130W. The Second Kelvin Wave was pushing east from the Maritime Continent spilling into the West Pacific pushing under the dateline at +3.5 degs reaching east to 130W and building in coherency with broken fragments of warm water joining the existing Kelvin Wave east of there. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (8/31) Positive anomalies were solid from the Maritime Continent over the West Equatorial Pacific and dateline and broad in coverage east to 110W at +5-15 cms indicative of a new Kelvin Wave (#2) building strong there. East of there it weakened some with 5 cms anomalies continuing in mainly one pocket at 90W, but not reaching ecuador, remnants of Kelvin Wave #1. No negative anomalies were indicated. El Nino appears to be developing.

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: (9/5) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were neutral biased cool along the immediate coast of Peru and Chile. A weak thin stream of warm anomalies were holding on the equator from Ecuador westward to 130W. Generic warm anomalies were north of there from Central America and south of Mexico. A small pocket of cool upwelling was near 115W on the equator but losing coverage compared to days past. Moderate warm anomalies continued from 130W west of out to the dateline without these upwelling issues. The remnants of the La Nina cool pool were gone.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (9/5): An elongated area with pockets of alternating warming and cooling were strung along the equator from the Galapagos to 125W indicative of the end of Kelvin Wave #1's eruption coupled with pockets of easterly anomalies supporting cool upwelling. Temps were steady along the coasts of Chile and Peru. Weak warming was on the equator off Central West African. We're waiting from that warming trend to be mirrored west of Ecuador.
Hi-res Overview: (9/3) An pocket of weak cool water was present along the coasts of Chile and Peru. Of interest was mild warm water holding on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos with imbedded pockets of stronger warming and continuing west from there to the dateline from 10S up to 20N, but mainly on the equator and points north of there. A pocket of cooler water was between 1055W to 130W. More coherent warming was on the equator from 135W to 140E.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (9/6) Today's temps are trying to rebound slightly after having fallen recently and are at -0.887 degs. That is down some compared to the past few weeks readings. A big peak occurred at +0.459 on 5/13. Overall temps here are steady in the -0.50 deg range and slowly rising.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (9/6) Today temps up slightly at +0.188 degs or effectively neutral, down from a peak at +0.490 on 7/2. Overall temps are slowly and steadily fading from the +0.25 degs range the past month to +0.15 now.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (9/6) The forecast calls for a steady increase from here forward rising in early Oct to +1.00 degs and to +1.30 degs in early Nov holding through April 2019 then slowly fading through May 2019 down to +1.20 degs. This suggests that perhaps El Nino is to build through the Fall of 2018. Most other models are also suggesting a possible turn to weak El Nino conditions by late Fall.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Aug Plume depicts temps at +0.45 degs in August (predicted at +0.6 last month) and are to slowly rise from here forward, to +0.8 in October (unchanged from last months forecast) and +0.9 in Nov and holding there into Jan 2019, then slowly fading to 0.7 in April. See chart here - link. It looks like La Nina is fading out and a weak El Nino might develop. The CFSv2 is in the high end of that pack.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (9/6): The daily index was falling today at -26.03. The 30 day average was falling some today at -5.13 suggesting the MJO was holding. The 90 day average was falling at -3.63. The 90 degree average turned negative for the first time in a year on 6/30 suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern was building in the atmosphere. This is expected for a month more before falling into steady negative territory by mid August.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (9/6) Today the index was rising some at +0.23, beating it's highest point this year at +0.20 on 8/20. The reading from 8/14 (+0.11) was the first time it's turned positive in a year and beats the previous highest peak (-0.09 on 7/2). This suggest that perhaps El Nino is starting to get better coupled in the atmosphere, or at least a neutral pattern has taken hold. Recent points of interest in reverse chronological order are: -1.04 on 6/5, -0.70 on 5/20, -0.60 on 5/17, -0.36 on 5/11 and -0.38 on 5/10, -0.35 on 4/26, -1.02 on 4/5, -1.13 on 3/27. The trend suggests La Nina is all but gone. This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina situations.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly positive, even though La Nina is in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values: June 2017 +0.21, July -0.50, Aug -0.62, Sept -0.25, Oct -0.61, Nov -0.45, Dec -0.13, Jan 2018 +0.29, Feb -0.19, Mar -0.61, April -0.89, May -0.69, June -0.88, July -0.23. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): June 2017 +0.79, July +0.10, Aug +0.09, Sept +0.32, Oct +0.05, Nov +0.15, Dec +0.50, Jan +0.70. Feb +0.37, Mar -0.05, April +0.11, May +0.11, June -0.04. 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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