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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 8:04 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
Swell Potential Rating = 2.0 - California & 3.0 - Hawaii
Using the 'Summer' Scale
(See Swell Category Table link at bottom of page)
Probability for presence of largest swells in near-shore waters of NCal, SCal or Hawaii.    

Issued for Week of Monday 9/8 thru Sun 9/14

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   

Dateline Swell Hitting Hawaii
Small But Strong S. Hemi Storm Pushes Swell Northeast

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.


Current Conditions
On Tuesday (9/9) in North and Central CA
local north windswell was producing surf in the waist high range and soft but clean. Southern hemi swell was waist high with a few bigger sets at exposed breaks. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high with a few stray chest high peaks and pretty textured with winds picking up outside the kelp. In Southern California up north surf was waist high on the sets and lined up but getting pretty textured. Down south waves were chest high and soft but lined up with a good amount of texture on it. Still it looked fun. Hawaii's North Shore was getting the first North Pacific swell of the season with waves 1-2 ft overhead, lined up and clean flat and clean. Alot of sand on the beach. The South Shore was small with residual background southern hemi energy producing surf in the thigh to waist high range and very clean. On the East Shore windswell was producing waves to thigh high and chopped by light trades. 

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

Meteorological Overview
For the North Pacific swell was in the water from a small gale that generated near 30 ft seas on the dateline Fri PM (9/5) hitting Hawaii with some rideable size with much less energy pushing towards California and the US West Coast. No windswell of interest was being produced for California. Trades were suppressed for Hawaii with no rideable windswell being produced. Longer term the models suggest perhaps small swell to result from Tropical Storm Fengshen relative to Hawaii as it pushes east towards the dateline, but not much. No other tropical systems of interest were in flight or projected. In the southern hemisphere swell from what was strong but small Storm #4S was in the water pushing towards all the usual targets, but mainly focused on California down into Central America. But after that no other storms of interest are forecast. It's starting to look like the South Pacific season might be wrapping up.  

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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis  - On Tuesday (9/9) high pressure at 1024 mbs was situated off British Columbia, barley ridging into the Pacific Northwest. No fetch capable of generating north windswell was in.cgiay relative to North and Central CA. Trades were below the 15 kt threshold relative to Hawaii with no easterly windswell resulting there. Tropical Storm Fengshen was tracking east-northeast off Japan with winds 50 kts and of no real interest with the final update issued (see Tropics section). Swell from a gale that developed on the dateline on Fri (9/5) was hitting Hawaii (see Small Dateline Gale below) and pushing towards the US West Coast.

Over the next 72 hours high pressure off British Columbia is to ridge east some with the Cape Mendocino gradient re-emerging some and north winds building to 25 kts Wednesday (9/10) before quickly dissipating from 20 kts on Thursday. 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 on Thurs AM (9/11) while a broad low pressure systems starts building in the Bering Sea and down into the Western Gulf. At this time no significant fetch is to result as Fengshen merges with this cold core low, with only 25 west kt fetch resulting in pockets in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska with seas never exceeding 15 ft. No swell to result.


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: 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

Tropical Update
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 continued this heading and intensified some with winds building to 50 kts Tues AM (9/9) and seas to 20 ft over a tiny area at 33N 147E (296 degs HI) 3000 nmiles from HI. The models suggested 34 ft seas erroneously. Fengshen is to continue on this heading producing supposedly up to 30 ft seas through Wed AM (9/10) at 36N 158E (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 17 secs starting Sat PM (9/13). Swell peaking Sun (9/14) at 3 ft @ 14-15 secs late (4.5 ft), though that seems optimistic.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (9/9) modest high pressure at 1026 mbs was positioned off British Columbia trying to ridge east. A light northerly flow was over California. By Wednesday the high is to start pushing into Washington with the usual pressure gradient and north winds building over Cape Mendocino to 25 kts with an eddy flow taking over Central and South CA later in the day. But by Thursday the gradient is to be lifting north and fading to 20 kts late, then gone by Friday. A light eddy flow to be in control of Central CA. Thursday. No change is forecast through Tuesday (9/17) with a weak low trying to wrap up off the CA coast and something that looks like a front developing off Cape Mendocino with south winds up into the Pacific Northwest. Hard to believe, but interesting none the less.

South Pacific

Jetstream - On Tuesday (9/9) the southern branch of the jetstream was ridging south under New Zealand then lifting up into a trough over the Central Pacific being fed by 110 kt winds offering decent support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere there. This trough was the same that generated Storm #4S (details below). East of there the jet was ridging hard south pushing to the Antarctic coast proper from the Southeast Pacific actively suppressing gale development there. Over the next 72 hours winds speeds in the southern branch of the jet to rapidly fade dropping to 50 kts by Mon (9/15) flowing zonally west to east with no troughs nor any support for gale development indicated.

Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (9/9) swell from Storm #4S was starting to radiate away from the fetch that produced it, pushing northeast and east towards targets in Tahiti, Hawaii, California and Central America (see Second Strong New Zealand Storm #4S below).

Otherwise high pressure at 1028 mbs was just east of New Zealand on the 40S latitude line with a second strong high at 1040 mbs east of it off Chile. These two highs were starting to provide a virtual lock down of the South Pacific, with the pockets of 35 kt fetch present all pushing southeast towards Antarctica. Over the next 72 hours no fetch of interest is to be present with the wind vector still pushing decidedly southeast, then moderating into Friday (9/12) taking more of a flat easterly vector, but winds mostly 25 kts or less. No swell production is forecast.


Primer Gale
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 was 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. 19 ft seas from it were still present Sat evening in the same area that storm #4S was starting to develop, enabling it's fetch to get great traction.     


Second Strong New Zealand Storm #4S
On Sat PM (9/6) a small storm started forming south of the Tasman Sea generating 55 kt southwest winds with 36 ft seas at 56S 158E 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 51 ft at 55S 172E (196 degs HI, 213 degs NCal and unshadowed, 214 degs SCal and shadowed). Fetch was starting to fade but still respectable in the evening blowing from the southwest at 55 kts with seas peaking at 55 ft at 55S 176W (189 degs HI, 208 degs NCal and shadowed, 210 degs SCal and unshadowed). Most energy aimed a bit east of optimal relative to the great circle tracks to the north. The Jason-2 satellite passed over the southwest quadrant of the storm at 06Z Mon (9/8) reporting average seas 39.3 ft with a peak single reading to 43.7 ft where the model depicted 36-37 ft seas. The model undercalled seas based on this data. By Monday AM (9/8) south-southwest winds were fading from 50 kts and seas from previous fetch fading from 46 ft at 54S 170W kts (184 degs HI, 206 degs NCal and shadowed, 207 degs SCal and unshadowed). The Jason-2 satellite passed over the core of the storm at 14Z and reported average seas at 43.8 ft with a peak single reading at 46.3 ft where the model depicted 46 ft seas. The model was overhyping the seas slightly.  By evening fetch was falling from 45 kts but blowing straight to the north with seas from previous fetch decaying from 39 ft at 50S 165W (181 degs HI, 206 degs NCal and shadowed, 207 degs SCal and unshadowed). Tues AM (9/9) winds were fully south and fading from 40 kts with seas 34 ft at 48S 157W (180 degs HI, 203 degs NCal and unshadowed, 205 degs SCal and unshadowed).

This system was a bit too much on an easterly track to be optimal for much of our forecast area, with the preference for the storm to track northeast up and off the eastern coast of New Zealand. But the winds in the storm were blowing well to the northeast (early) and north (later) pushing well up the great circle tracks to California, but less so for Tahiti and Hawaii. And given the sheer force of this system and the height of the seas (51-55 ft for 12+ hours), some decent swell should result (even with the shadow relative to CA). But NCal was unshadowed for the first part of the peak of the seas production. Jason-2 data suggested the model did a good job of imaging sea heights, doing the usual job of undercalling it early in it's life and overcalling it later in it's life. Solid long period swell is expected to result for all locations.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Fri afternoon (9/12) with period 25 secs and size tiny. Swell to build Sat (9/13) pushing 3 ft @ 20 secs late (6 ft with sets to 7.4 ft - bigger at breaks with good bathymetry). Swell to peak on Sun (9/14) early at 3.3 ft @ 18 secs (6.0 ft with sets to 7.4 ft and bigger at top breaks). Swell to continue solid on Mon AM (9/15) at 3.3 ft @ 16 secs (5.3 ft with sets to 6.6 ft). Period dropping to 15 secs late. On Tues AM (9/16) swell to be fading from 3 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft faces with sets to 5.6 ft and bigger at top breaks). Swell fading Wed (9/17) with period 14 secs. Swell Direction: 185-194 degrees with most energy from 192 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival starting Sun (9/14) with period 25 secs building to 1.0 ft @ 23-24 secs late (2.5 ft). Swell to continue building into Mon (9/15) pushing 1.6 ft @ 21 secs late (3.4 ft faces with sets to 4.2 ft). Swell is to start building solidly by Tues AM (9/16) as period hits 20 secs building to 2.8 ft @ 18.5 secs late (5.2 ft with sets to 6.5 ft). Swell to continue upwards on Wed (9/17) pushing 3.3 ft @ 17-18 secs early (5.7 ft with sets to 7.2 ft). 16 sec energy expected on Thurs (9/18) and then fading on Friday. Peak Swell Direction: 210-215 degrees  

North CA: Expect swell arrival starting Sun (9/14) with period 25 secs building to 1.3 ft @ 23-24 secs late (3 ft). Swell to continue building into Mon (9/15) pushing 2 ft @ 21 secs late (4.2 ft faces with sets to 5.3 ft). Swell is to start building solidly by Tues AM (9/16) as period hits 20 secs building to 3 ft @ 18.5 secs late (5.5 ft with sets to 7 ft). Swell to continue upwards on Wed (9/17) pushing 3.6 ft @ 17-18 secs early (6.3 ft with sets to 7.9 ft). 16 sec energy expected on Thurs (9/18) and then fading on Friday. Peak Swell Direction: 208-213 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 low pressure is to continue circulating in the Gulf of Alaska generating 20 kt northwest winds Sat-Tues 99/16) targeting the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA. But no fetch in the 35 kt range is expected to result, meaning no swell of interest is to be generated. No windswell relative to North CA or Hawaii is expected either with high pressure suppressed in the Northeast Pacific.

The GFS model depicts two tropical systems developing over the weekend, one south of Baja and the other just east of the Philippines. Neither is to track into our forecast area nor produce fetch or swell of interest.  

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 Tuesday (9/9) the daily SOI was down hard at -23.59. The 30 day average was down to  -9.49 and the 90 day average was down some at -6.14. 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. Low pressure was building south of Tahiti dragging the SOI negative and expected to hold into Sun (9/14). High pressure and a rising SOI to follow.

Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated very light west anomalies were over the Maritime Continent building as they moved towards the dateline reaching the moderate category and holding to a point south of Hawaii. Neutral anomalies extended from there to a point south of Mexico, where light east anomalies took over. A week from now (9/17) moderate east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent fading to neutral over the dateline, with moderate.cgius west anomalies extending from south of Hawaii to a point south of Mexico, then neutral into the Galapagos. This suggests a Active MJO-like pattern is setting up over the Central Pacific. 

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 6/25-7/6, then again 7/11-7/20, building into a WWB and holding through 8/10. Light westerly anomalies developed again 8/20-8/22 and 8/29-9/2 west of the dateline. Neutral anomalies filled the gaps. Latest data from the TAO array indicates weak west anomalies were near 155E on 9/9. Another Kelvin Wave (weak at this point) is in-flight associated with westerly anomalies during June, 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. No easterly anomalies of interest have occurred 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 9/8 are generally in sync. They both suggest a neutral signal was in control over the far West Pacific. 5 days out it is to turn weakly Active with no change forecast for the next 15 days per the Statistic model.  The Dynamic model depicts a neutral pattern holding into 8 days out then turning moderately Inactive and holding out 15 days. The ultra long range upper level model run 9/9 suggests a moderately Active Phase was over the West Pacific and is to track east through through 9/29. A weak Inactive Phase is to build behind in the West Pacific starting 9/24 tracking east reaching the East Pacific on 10/19. Recent experience this year suggests this model is overhyping any projected 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 (see TAO westerly wind anomaly reports above). 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 (9/8), 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 even through the upwelling Kelvin Wave Phase in July. And if anything a full scale regeneration of warm water is in progress over the NINO 3.4 region with +0.5 deg C anomalies over the entire equator and +1.0 deg anomalies near 160E (Kelvin Wave Generation Area) and east of 120W. Hi res imagery indicates a string of warm pockets building over the width of the equator between the Galapagos and the dateline. Even though the bulk of the massive Kelvin Wave earlier this year has dispersed, another source of warm water is in.cgiay. 

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.  As of 9/7 a +1.0 C anomaly flow was arching from the dateline down to 150 meters under the equator 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 flow is a sizable pocket of +3-4 deg C anomalies centered near 130W pushing towards the Galapagos. The leading edge of this 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, also indicative of a Kelvin Wave pushing east. Other models collaborate the presumption of Kelvin Wave genesis. 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 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 9/9 have stabilized down some. 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 in July and August have produced a new Kelvin Wave with +3 degs C in flight now. We had been thinking the gap between the 2 Kelvin Waves cause water temps to decease in the Nino regions, likely to near neutral. But that did not happened. Instead water temps have held in the Galapagos triangle in the +1.5 degree range. There was some temporary loss of water temps in the Nino3.4 range, but it is now rebounding with some other process at work keeping water temp stable in the Galapagos region. 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 WWB's 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 


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no fetch of swell production of interest is forecast. The South Pacific is to be falling asleep. 

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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