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 Sunday (9/7) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the waist high range and soft but clean. Southern hemi swell was chest to head high at exposed breaks. Down in Santa Cruz surf was shoulder to head high and clean at the better breaks with bigger sets. In Southern California up north surf was flat (or at least swamped) and clean. Down south waves were head high.cgius and clean but not breaking decently at many breaks due to bottom conditions. Best spots were pushing 2 ft overhead. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore had residual southern hemi swell energy producing surf at waist high and clean. On the East Shore windswell was producing waves in the waist high range and chopped by trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Swell production for the North Pacific was looking better with a small gale having generated near 30 ft seas on the dateline Fri PM (9/5) targeting mainly Hawaii. No windswell production was occurring for California. Trades were suppressed for Hawaii with no rideable windswell being produced. And small hurricane swell from Norbert was pushing towards exposed breaks in Southern CA. Longer term the models suggest perhaps small swell to result from Tropical Storm Fengshen relative to Hawaii. And the tropics are to remain active relative to the East Pacific and turning active for the West Pacific. In the southern hemisphere another primer gale tracked under New Zealand on Sat (9/6) with 28 ft seas with a much stronger storm was developing on Sunday (9/7) following the same eastward course into Mon (9/8) with 53 ft seas. Certainly something to monitor. But after that the southern hemi is to go to sleep. It's time to start looking north.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Surface Analysis - On Sunday (9/7) a light pressure pattern was in.cgiay with no north windswell production occurring relative to North and Central CA. Trades were below the 15 kt threshold relative to Hawaii with no easterly windswell resulting there. Hurricane Norbert had just barely moved into the Southern CA swell window (see Tropics Section below). Tropical Storm Fengshen was building some just south of Japan tracking northeast (see Tropics section). Swell from a gale that developed on the dateline on Fri (9/5) was pushing mainly towards Hawaii (see Small Dateline Gale below)
Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to develop just off British Columbia with the Mendocino gradient re-emerging some and north winds building to 25 kts Tues PM (9/9) and holding Wednesday (9/10) before quickly dissipating. Perhaps a small pulse of north local short period windswell to result for exposed breaks in North and Central CA. Trades to remain suppressed relative to Hawaii with no windswell expected on east facing shores. Tropical Storm Fengshen to continue tracing east-northeast making it about half way to the dateline while a broad low pressure systems starts building in the Bering Sea and sown into the Western Gulf. A possible interesting setup to develop long term.
Small Dateline Gale
A small low pressure system started building just west of the dateline on Thurs AM (9/5) 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 were set up on the dateline over a small area aimed south a bit west of Hawaii. 18 ft seas developed at 38N 170E aimed south. In the evening 45 kt northwest winds quickly developed in the gales southwest quadrant taking aim on Hawaii with a tiny area of 28 ft seas modeled at 42N 175E (320 degs HI) peaking at 30 ft at 06Z Sat (9/6) at 42N 180W. On Sat AM (9/6) winds were fading fast from 35 kts with seas fading from 26 ft at 42N 177W targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast well. (320 degs HI, 293 degs NCal, 297 degs SCal). In the evening winds were fading from 30 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 followed with winds down to 25 kts Sun AM (9/7) with 17 ft seas retreating to 44N 175W.
Some modest early season 14-15 sec period swell to result for Hawaii and tiny energy for the mainland. It's a step in the right direction.
Oahu: Expect swell arrival on Mon afternoon (9/8) building to 4.5 ft @ 15 secs at sunset (6.5-7.0 ft). Swell holding decently into Tues AM (9/9) 5.0 ft @ 13-14 secs (6.5 ft faces) then fading some through the day. Residuals expected by Wed AM (9/10) at 3.6 ft @ 12 secs (4.5 ft faces) and fading from there. Swell Direction: 316-320 degrees
NCal: Expect swell arrival on Wed afternoon (9/10) building to 2 ft @ 15 secs (3 ft faces). Swell to hold into Thurs AM (9/11) at 2.2 ft @ 13 secs early (2.5-3.0 ft faces) fading slightly in the afternoon. Residuals on Fri AM (9/12) at 2 ft @ 11-12 secs (2.5 ft faces). Swell Direction: 293 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Hurricane Norbert peaked at 06Z Sat (9/6) at 24.4N 113.1W with winds 105 kts (120 mph) generating 24 ft seas pushing north. This position had Norbert just barely moving into the swell window relative to Pt Dume (152 degrees) and 675 nmiles out and not in the Dana Point swell window. Norbert did not move into the Dana Point swell window till 0Z on Sun (7/7). At that time winds were down to 80 kts and seas 22 ft at 25.3 N 115.1W. Relative to Pt Dume, assuming a 12 sec period swell was being generated, swell should arrive at Sun (9/7) at 11 AM at 4 ft @ 12 secs (4.5 ft faces) and into Dana Point about 18 hours later. And extreme southeast angle is to be expected.
Tropical Storm Fengshen on Sun AM (9/7) was positioned 250 nmiles south of Southern Japan tracking east-northeast with winds 45 kts and seas 12 ft. Fengshen is forecast to continue this heading over the next several days and intensifying some, with winds building to 60 kts Tues AM (9/9) and seas to 32 ft over a tiny area at 33N 146E (296 degs HI) 3000 nmiles from HI. Fengshen is to continue on this head producing up to 30 ft seas through Wed PM (9/10) at 38N 161E (305 degs HI). The issue is the fetch is to be tiny, getting only the smallest of footprint on the oceans surface. Still some tiny background swell is possible for exposed breaks mainly on Kauai with period 16 secs starting Fri AM (9/12).
California Nearshore Forecast
On Sunday AM (9/7) weak high pressure at 1022 mbs was filling the Northeast Pacific trying to ridge into British Columbia, but not making it. A light northerly flow was over California. More of the same is forecast on Monday with generic 15 kt north winds rebuilding over Cape Mendocino pushing 20 kts on Tuesday and up to 25 kts in the evening reaching south of Pt Arena. By Wednesday those winds are to retreat to Cape Mendocino with an eddy flow taking over Central and South CA and the gradient fading out by Thursday. Light winds are forecast into at least Sun (9/14).
Jetstream - On Sunday (9/7) the southern branch of the jetstream was forming a solid trough under New Zealand with 150 kt winds pushing northeast up into it and offering decent support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere there. East of there the jet was falling gently southeast (ridging) reaching Antarctic Ice over the Southeast Pacific and offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the trough under New Zealand is to peak out Sunday evening (9/7) with 150 kt winds pushing decently to the north. The trough is to start weakening after that but still holding together while pushing east into Monday evening (9/8), offering continued support for gale development, then dissipating some. A strong ridge is to be pushing south into Antarctica over the Southeast Pacific, suppressing gale development there. Beyond 72 hours a zonal flow is to set up later in the work week with no support for gale development indicated and then wind speeds to drop dramatically, again reinforcing a stagnant air pattern. It sure looks like a seasonal transition is setting in.
Surface Analysis - On Sunday (9/7) swell from Storm #3 was past it's prime in California, starting to fade. But another strong but small storm is building under New Zealand.
Otherwise high pressure at 1036 mbs was centered over the mid-latitudes of the Southeast Pacific pushing the wind vectors any fetch south of it towards Antarctica. In short, no fetch or seas of interest were being produced other than the new New Zealand storm. .
Over the next 72 hours no fetch of interest is to be present other than the New Zealand storm.
On Friday AM (9/5) a small gale started developing southwest of New Zealand generating 40 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 40 kt west winds and 28 ft seas at 56S 170E. The fetch eased east Sat AM (9/6) and was fading from 35 kts with seas fading from 28 ft at 56S 177W. This was not so much a swell producer as an agent to rough up the oceans surface.
Second New Zealand Storm
On Sat PM (9/6) a small storm started forming south of the Tasman Sea generating 55 kt southwest winds with 34 ft seas at 55S 157E pushing flat east. This fetch is to be getting good traction on an already roughed up ocean surface with 18 ft seas courtesy of the Primer Gale that preceded it. Fetch was well into storm force on Sun AM (9/7) with 60-65 kt southwest winds in.cgiay just southeast of New Zealand at 55S 173E (195 degs HI, 212 degs NCal and barely unshadowed, 213 degs SCal and shadowed) with seas 50 ft at 55S 172E (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 52 ft at 55S 176W (189 degs HI, 207 degs NCal and shadowed. 209 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) south-southwest winds are to be fading from 50 kts and seas from previous fetch fading from 46 ft at 55S 170W kts (184 degs HI, 205 degs NCal and shadowed, 206 degs SCal and unshadowed). By evening fetch is to be falling from 45 kts but blowing straight to the north with seas from previous fetch decaying from 40 ft at 51S 164W (181 degs HI, 205 degs NCal and shadowed, 207 degs SCal and unshadowed). Tues AM (9/9) winds to be fully south and fading from 40 kts with seas 34 ft at 49S 156W (180 degs HI, 202 degs NCal and unshadowed, 204 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 the winds itself in the storm are to be blowing well to the northeast (early) and north (later). And given the sheer force of this system, some decent swell should result (even with the shadow relative to CA). Something to monitor.
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).
Southern CA: 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: Residuals on Mon (9/8) fading from 2.6 ft @ 15 secs (4 ft). Swell Direction: 201-205 degrees
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 remnants of Tropical Storm Fengshen are to merge with a developing broad low pressure system in the Western Gulf up into the Bering Sea on Fri-Sat (9/13) generating a broad fetch of 30 kts westerly winds in the Western Gulf. The models currently depict no development nor sea generation of interest. Still, this situation could evolve. Something to monitor.
Otherwise trades to remain suppressed relative to Hawaii with no windswell of interest being produced. No windswell is expected for California either. The GFS model depicts two tropical systems developing late in the workweek, one near the dateline and another off Mexico. None of this is to be believed, but is something to monitor.
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 Sunday (9/6) the daily SOI was up to -2.14. The 30 day average was up to -8.66 and the 90 day average was up some at -5.86. 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 Sat (9/13).
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated neutral anomalies were over the Maritime Continent extending to the dateline. Light east anomalies extended from there to a point south of Hawaii then returning to neutral on into the Galapagos. A week from now (9/15) neutral anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent and the dateline, turning light west from the dateline to a point south of Hawaii, then neutral into the Galapagos. This suggests a neutral MJO pattern 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 9/7. Another Kelvin Wave (weak at this point) is in flight associated with westerly anomalies during 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 9/6 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 5 days out with a neutral pattern holding for the next 15 days. The ultra long range upper level model run 9/7 suggests a weakly Active Phase was over the West Pacific and is to track east through through 10/2. A weak Inactive Phase is to build behind it starting 9/27 in the far West Pacific reaching the East Pacific on 10/17. 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 too. 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 a previous large Kelvin Wave dissipated on 7/31. Temps from it peaked at +6 degs C above normal on 6/21. As of 9/7 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. 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 (9/31) indicates a new Kelvin Wave is developing in the west reaching east to 117W, with the cool upwelling Phase of the previous Kelvin Wave all but gone. 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 9/6 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 9/7 have dipped again. It suggests water temps building to +0.5 deg C by early Oct peaking at +0.9 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 Wed-Thurs (9/11) producing up to 46 ft seas aimed due east, 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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