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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, September 13, 2014 2:08 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 = 4.0 - California & 4.0 - 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 9/15 thru Sun 9/21

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   

Swell #4S Hitting Hawaii
New Gale Building over the Eastern Aleutians

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 Saturday (9/13) in North and Central CA
residual dateline swell was producing surf at at waist high and soft but clean. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high on the sets and clean but soft and generally pretty quiet. In Southern California up north surf was thigh high with a few stray waist high peaks and clean and very weak. Down south waves were waist high and clean but weak. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was small with surf in the waist high range and inconsistent but clean and coming up with long period energy in the water. On the East Shore windswell was producing waves to knee 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 no swell was in the water but the second gale of the Fall season (the remnants of TS Fengshen) were starting to develop over the Eastern Aleutians and forecast to produce up to 25 ft seas later today targeting mainly the US West Coast and British Columbia. No windswell was being produced for California. Trades were suppressed for Hawaii with no rideable windswell being produced. Swell from what was Tropical Storm Fengshen is pushing towards Hawaii expected there on Sun (9/14). Tropical Storm Odile reached minimal hurricane force Sat AM (9/13) still meandering off mainland Mexico but forecast to start making headway northwest while building, with some energy expected pushing into the Southern CA swell window. Of only meteorological interest is that the remnants of the Gulf gale are theoretically to redevelop just off North CA mid-next week. No swell to result but it would speak to the though that the NE Pac High Pressure system is weaker than normal for this time of year (a good sign). And finally in the southern hemisphere swell from what was strong but small Storm #4S was in the water having produced 18-20 ft faces in Tahiti and starting to show in Hawaii bound eventually for California, but focused either north of Monterey Bay or south of mid-Baja, with the area in between shadowed by Tahiti. After that no storms of interest are forecast with the SPac assumed to be going to sleep.

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

North Pacific

Jetstream - On Saturday (9/13) the jetstream over the North Pacific was weakly .cgiit off the Kuril Islands with the southern branch pushing off Japan still managing to produce 120 kt winds while ridging somewhat north, arching over the dateline (still south of the Aleutians) then consolidating and falling somewhat southeast before .cgiitting in the Central Gulf with half the stream tearing up into Alaska and the rest falling southeast towards Central CA but fading before reaching that point. Over all not impressive (by '97 El Nino standards) but still respectable. Limited support for gale development possible in the Northwestern Gulf. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast but with a trough becoming more defined in the Gulf by Mon PM (9/15) with winds speeds building to 140 kts feeding it, but not greatly defined. A secondary trough is to start building off North CA on Tues PM (9/16). Actually at that time 100-110 kts with to be tracking fully from Japan east-northeast over the dateline and into the Gulf then falling south into this secondary trough with 100 kts winds feeding it there. Limited support for low pressure development is possible in this trough. Beyond 72 hours the secondary trough is to get cut off with the main jet taking over running from Japan east-northeast up into the Gulf and into Canada by Thurs AM (9/18) with winds building to 140 kts over much of the jet late Fri (9/19) with a new trough building in the Central Gulf and holding well into Saturday. Decent support for gale development possible.

Surface Analysis  - On Saturday (9/13) a 968 mb gale was positioned in the Southeast Bering Sea with 40 kt northwest winds sweeping over the Eastern Aleutians and into the extreme Northern Gulf of Alaska. The remnants of what previously was Tropical Storm Fengshen were fully absorbed into this system now. Otherwise a weak pressure pattern was over the greater North Pacific with no high pressure or windswell producing fetch off Northern CA. And trades were below the 15 kt threshold relative to Hawaii with no easterly windswell resulting there.

Swell from when Fengshen was tracking off Japan is in the water and pushing towards Hawaii (see Tropical Update below).

Over the next 72 hours the Bering Sea Gale is to be the focus. On Saturday AM (9/13) 35-40 kt northwest winds were falling south of the Aleutians Sat AM (9/13) getting traction on the oceans surface with seas building to 19 ft at 51S 171W. In the evening 35 kt west winds to continue just south of the Eastern Aleutians with 25 ft seas forecast over a modest sized area at 51N 166W (308 degrees NCal) with no fetch aimed at Hawaii. 30 kt west winds to track east into Sun AM (9/14) generating more 21 ft seas at 52N 158W (311 degs NCal). Winds to fade below 30 kts in the evening with seas dropping below 20 ft and of no interest to anyone other than Alaska. Assuming all this develops as forecast some degree of 14-15 sec period swell could result for British Columbia, the Pacific Northwest and down into Central CA.

  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) 3,000 nmiles from HI. The models suggested 34 ft seas erroneously. Fengshen continued on this heading producing supposedly up to 30 ft seas through Wed AM (9/10) at 36N 159E (305 degs HI) and then faded from there with 23 ft seas at 38N 166E (308 degs HI). The issue is the fetch was tiny, getting only the smallest of footprint on the oceans surface. Some tiny background swell is possible for exposed breaks mainly on Kauai starting Sun AM (9/14) and peaking late at 3 ft @ 14-15 secs late (4.5 ft), though that seems optimistic. Swell holding into Mon (9/15) at 3.4 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.0-4.5 ft) fading late. Swell Direction: 296-308 degrees

Hurricane Odile on Sat AM (9/13) was 250 nmiles west-southwest of Manzanillo Mexico with winds 65 kts and tracking northwest at 5 kts generating 20 ft seas. Odile is expected to intensify to 90 kts on Sun AM (9/14) holding into the evening positioned at 21N 110W or 150 nmiles south of Cabo San Lucas Baja , outside the swell window for anywhere in Southern CA. On Mon AM (9/15) Odile is to be relocated to 22.3N 112W or nearly 125 nmiles west of Cabo San Lucas with 85 kts winds and 28 ft seas. This would put it barely in the swell window for Pt Dume (152 degrees) and still east of the window for Dana Point. Assuming a 12 sec period swell arrival at Pt Dume would be 43 hrs later or 1 AM Wed (9/17). A steady fade is to set in over the next 24 hours as Odile fades to 75 kts on Tues AM (9/16) and moves into the Dana Point swell window (159 degrees). Swell arrival assuming a 12 sec period would be Wed (9/17) at 2 PM. A quick fade to follow with Odile at tropical storm force Wed AM (9/17) still tracking northwest. Assuming all goes as forecast and given the projected wind speeds and heading, small swell could result for exposed breaks in SCal. But it would coincide with arrival of swell from Storm #4S. Something to monitor.

Typhoon Kalmaegi was 250 nmiles east of the North Philippines with winds 65 kts and tracking west-northwest. Winds to build to 85 kts Sun AM (9/14) before moving inland over the Philippines, then continuing west-northeast eventually pushing into Hong Kong on Tues (9/16) and then North Vietnam. No recurvature to the northeast is forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday AM (9/13) weak high pressure at 1022 mbs was pushing into into Northern Canada but was having no effect on California Coastal waters. a generally light winds pattern was in.cgiay locally other than 15 kt north winds isolated to the immediate Pt Conception area. Otherwise a light eddy flow to near calm winds were in control of California coastal waters from Pt Arena southward. No change is forecast through Tuesday (9/17). But on Wednesday with a weak low is to be wrapping up off the North CA coast with something that looks like a front and south winds developing reaching south to maybe Pt Reyes. But it is to track northeast and move into Oregon on Thursday. Beyond high pressure is to build slightly behind the low on Friday setting up 15 kt north winds for all of North and Central CA late but rapidly moving to Cape Mendocino Sat AM (9/20) at 15 kts and dissipating.

South Pacific

Surface Analysis - On Saturday AM (9/13) swell from Storm #4S was starting to tickle the buoys in Hawaii with period 22-23 secs and radiating northeast towards California and Central America (see Second Strong New Zealand Storm #4S below).

Otherwise two high pressure cells at 1024 mbs each were lined up on the 40S latitude line driving wind vectors for low pressure systems south of there east to southeast into extreme Southern Chile and Antarctica. In short, no swell production for our forecast area was occurring. Over the next 72 hours no change is forecast (thru Tues 9/16).

A small gale remains forecast for the South Tasman Sea Sun-Mon (9/15) generating up to 40 kt winds for 12 hours and barely 25 ft seas at 47S 157E Sun PM (9/14) aimed well up the 204 degree path to Fiji. 14 sec period swell possible there if all goes as 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 where SCal was fully shadowed. 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.

The net effect is that solid long period swell is expected for Hawaii and then into California, but only from Monterey Bay northward. South of there down to 60% down Baja is to be in the shadow, and as a result non-significant class swell to result in that area. This will be an interest case study on the effects of the shadow, assuming Hurricane Odile does not pollute the data set. Swell of 3.6 ft @ 17-18 secs is expected in far North CA (6.5 ft faces), and only 2.4 ft 2 17-18 secs (4.2 ft faces) in Southern CA. An interesting reversal of the normal size trend.

Hawaii: Swell to build Sat (9/13) pushing 2.8 ft @ 20 secs late (5.5 ft with sets to 7.0 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 3.1 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.5 ft faces with sets to 5.6 ft and bigger at top breaks). Swell fading Wed (9/17) from 2.5 ft @ 14 secs (3.5 ft). 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 2.0 ft @ 18.5 secs late (4.0 ft with sets to 5.0 ft). Swell to continue upwards on Wed (9/17) pushing 2.5 ft @ 17-18 secs early (4.4 ft with sets to 5.6 ft - though this is likely understated some). 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 2.3 ft @ 20-21 secs late (4.4 ft faces with sets to 5.9 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 3.2 ft @ 17-18 secs early (5.6 ft with sets to 7.0 ft). 16 sec energy expected on Thurs (9/18) fading from 2 ft @ 16 secs early (3.5 ft with sets to 4.0 ft). 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 remnant low pressure associated with the North Gulf of Alaska gale is to fall south and redevelop some off North CA on Tues (9/16) producing a small area of 25 kt northwest winds holding into Wed AM (9/17) producing maybe 14 ft seas at 40N 145W mid-day Tuesday then fading into Wednesday AM. Something to monitor but at this time no swell production seems likely.

Also on Tuesday (9/16) another small low is to be tracking over the dateline just south of the Aleutians generating a small area of 35 kt west winds pushing into the northwestern Gulf on Wed AM (9/17). 18 ft seas area forecast then at 47N 165W. The fetch is to race northeast from there fading from 30 kts and not generating any seas even to the 18 ft mark. No swell of interest is forecast, but this system remains worth monitoring. Continued low pressure and fetch less than 30 kts is forecast for the Northern Gulf beyond associated with this system.

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 Saturday (9/13) the daily SOI was down some at -17.47. The 30 day average was down to  -9.80 and the 90 day average was down some at -7.76. 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). Weak high pressure and a slightly rising SOI to follow for the next 7 days.

Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated weak west anomalies over the Maritime Continent fading as they moved towards the dateline turning almost neutral there then rebuilding some from the west extending from a point south of Hawaii over the Galapagos. A week from now (9/20) modest east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent fading to neutral over the dateline, with neutral anomalies extending from there the rest of the way into the Galapagos. This suggests a Active MJO-like pattern was over the Central Pacific. The TOA array was more aggressive indicating moderate west anomalies from 140E to a point south of Hawaii. This is a better representation of reality and well supportive of Kelvin Wave development if not an out and out Westerly Wind Burst.

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, 8/29-9/2 and 9/10 west of the dateline. Neutral anomalies filled the gaps. Latest data from the TAO array indicates moderate west anomalies from 140E to the dateline on 9/10 holding through 9/12.. Another Kelvin Wave (modest at this point) is in-flight associated with westerly anomalies during June, July into mid-August and continues to be fed up to the current date. 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 9/12 are generally in sync. They both suggest a neutral signal was in control over the far West Pacific. A neutral pattern is to hold for the next 15 days per the Statistic model.  The Dynamic model depicts a lightly Inactive pattern building 5 days out reaching moderate strength 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model run 9/13 suggests a weak Active Phase was exiting over the East Pacific. A weak Inactive Phase is building behind in the West Pacific and is to track east reaching the East Pacific on 10/13. This model has no clue what is going on. Recent experience this year suggests this model is overhyping any projected Inactive Phases and changes radically in it's projection every 4 or so days. The suspicion is this model does not handle El Nino like situations well. 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 (9/11) nothing has changed. 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 9/11 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 now at 110W. Satellite data from 9/5 depicts a solid and building area of +5 cm anomalies are covering the dateline region and tracking east reaching to 105W, 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 (9/5) indicates a new modest Kelvin Wave is developing in the west reaching east to 110W, with the cool upwelling Phase of the previous Kelvin Wave gone. It is assumed more light westerly anomalies feed more warm water into this 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 minimal El Nino territory. That cannot be declared until it happens, but everything is lining up.   

Pacific Counter Current data as of 9/1 suggests an improved pattern. The current is pushing west to east over the entire West and Central Pacific on and north of the equator but focused on the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) reaching into Central America. Just south of the equator the current was generally pushing east to west. West anomalies were just north of the equator between 130-140E and between 145W-100W. East anomalies were on and south of the equator from 150-170E in the heart of the Kevin Wave Generation Area. This data suggests a mixed picture but slightly better than the last update. But it appears the easterly current is no longer overtaking the westerly component. A slight improvement.   

Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 9/13 have stabilized and in an interesting way. It suggests water temps building to +0.5 deg C by early Oct peaking at +0.9 deg C in Nov (down from the +1.75 deg C predicted in May and then revised down to +1.55 deg C predicted in early July), but the real interesting part is that water temps are now to hold solid into June 2015. This suggests that perhaps were are moving towards a multi year warm event. See the chart based version here - 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 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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