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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, September 12, 2015 7:08 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 = 2.0 - California & 2.0- 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 9/14 thru Sun 9/20

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

Small Gale Developing on the Dateline
Small Southern Hemi Gale In Flight Too

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.


On Sunday, September 13, 2015 :

  • Buoy 165 (Barbers Point): Seas were 4.4 ft @ 6.2 secs with swell 3.2 ft @ 6.2 secs from 160 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.9 ft @ 8.0 secs with swell 2.2 ft @ 14.4 secs. Wind south 2-6 kts. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.9 ft @ 14.0 secs from 158 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.1 ft @ 15.3 secs from 202 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.0 ft @ 14.0 secs from 197 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 6.2 ft @ 8.0 secs with swell 2.1 ft @ 14.4 secs. Wind northwest 14-18 kts. Water temp 59.9 degs.

Buoy 46059 is scheduled to come back on-line in October.  

Current Conditions
On Saturday (9/12) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the waist high range and heavily textured with northwest winds starting to blow. There was low overcast too. Down in Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was still producing a few waves with sets in the waist high range and clean early. In Southern California up north waves were waist high on the sets and soft but clean. Down south southern hemi swell was still producing waves in the chest high high range and clean and lined up though a little slow. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was in the thigh high range and textured and generally very weak. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves waist high and textured from with light southeast wind early.  

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

Meteorological Overview
For the North Pacific no large scale swell producing weather systems were occurring, at least not yet. Minimal local north windswell was hitting exposed breaks on the US West Coast. Even smaller windswell was hitting the east shores of the Hawaiian Islands. And the tropics have settled down, with no systems of interest being tracked. still minimal swell was hitting Southern CA from what was Hurricane Linda. Forecast wise, a solid gale is forecast developing from the remnants of Jimena well north of Hawaii on Sunday (9/13), but all fetch is to be aimed well west of Hawaii, mainly at Japan and the Philippines. There some hints of something trying to organize in the far Northeastern Gulf of Alaska from the remnants of Kilo on Wed (9/16), but likely resulting only in windswell for Oregon down into North and Central CA. Regarding local windswell, the usual pressure gradient is to wake up again weakly over North CA Sun-Mon (9/14) offering a hint of something rideable north of Pt Conception. And a shallow area of trades are forecast in the direct vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands and holding for the foreseeable future, offering tiny windswell for exposed east facing breaks. Down south the models indicate a new gale is tracking under New Zealand with 32 ft seas, but expected to fade fast on Sunday (9/13). And maybe a similar system to develop next weekend. But at this time, and with El Nino looking very solid, the focus with shortly turn to the northern hemisphere. And once it starts, we suspect things will get quite busy. Use this meteorological down time to complete preparations.   


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (9/12) moderate high pressure at 1032 mbs was in the Northwest Pacific arching east into the Gulf of Alaska but down to 1024 mbs there. It was blocking the storm track across the North Pacific. It was generating a small fetch of north winds along the Pacific Northwest coast at 15-20 kts generating windswell there. It was also generating trades at 15 kts in the near vicinity of Hawaii perhaps resulting in minimal short period east-southeast windswell on east facing shores. Otherwise the remnants of what was Hurricane Jimena was trapped under the high pressure system northwest of Hawaii, and starting to develop, being fed by a trough in the jetstream above it and resulting in a broad area of 25 kt northeast winds roughly on the dateline targeting the Philippines.

Over the next 72 hours the low north of Hawaii is to bloom resulting in what we'll call extratropical storm Jimena. By Sun AM (9/13) 45 kt west to northwest winds are to take root just east of the dateline resulting in 23 ft seas at 42N 173W. That fetch is to race west and fade some down to 40 kts in the evening with seas peaking at 26 ft at 41N 180W. A quick fade is to follow Mon AM (9/14) with winds down to barely 35 kts and seas fading from 24 ft at 38N 176E. This system is to continue fading and tracking west from there. Unfortunately, all this systems fetch and seas are to be aimed at Japan down to the Philippines with nothing aimed back at Hawaii. It's a fish storm.

Closer to home and relative to California high pressure is forecast locking down the area north of ET Jimena extending from roughly the Kuril Islands to the Pacific Northwest by Sun (9/13) resulting in a return of the usual pressure gradient down to Cape Mendocino generating a small area of 25-30 kt north winds resulting in production of local north short period windswell but then fading fast Monday AM (9/14). Relative to Hawaii trades to build on coverage slightly and turn more easterly Mon-Tues (9/150 in the 15-20 kts range courtesy of the same high pressure system resulting in some east windswell production.

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


Tropical Update
Tropical Storm Kilo: On Saturday (9/12) the remnants of Kilo were circulating over west Kamchatka tracking northeast with no exposure to open waters of the North Pacific. Kilo's remnants are forecast to eventually track east through the Bering Sea and fall into the Gulf of Alaska on Tues (9/15) (see Long Term Forecast). 
Tropical Storm Linda: On Sat AM (9/12) the remnants of what was Linda were below depression status circulating 350 nmiles southwest of Southern CA producing maybe 20 kt northeast winds and offering nothing in terms of swell generation potential. This system was effectively dead.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Sat (9/12) high pressure was off North CA trying to ridge towards the coast but not quite making it. A generic 10-15 kt northwest flow was in effect for North and Central CA. That high pressure system is to return on Sun (9/13) again generating 25-30 kts north winds isolated to North CA then falling south some on Monday but not getting south of Pt Arena with a light eddy flow over Central CA. The gradient and fetch is to collapse on Tues (9/15) with low pressure moving in from the north and a slack wind pattern in control for all of North and Central CA. South winds take over Wednesday from Pt Reyes northward as a front moves down the northern coast, with rain south to Bodega Bay. South winds to fade Thurs with perhaps north winds 25 kt isolated to Pt Conception but slowly building northward. By Sat (9/19) northwest winds at 20 kts are to cover all of North and Central CA lifting north with 25 kts north winds over North CA late.

South Pacific

On Sat AM (9/12) a small trough was south of New Zealand with southwest winds 120 kts pushing up to almost South New Zealand offering some support for gale development. East of there a solid ridge was pushing steadily southeast to nearly Antarctica over the Central and Southeast Pacific generally shutting down potential for gale development anywhere east of the aforementioned trough. Over the next 72 hours the trough is to be getting pinched and then cut off early Sun (9/13) by a new ridge developing under New Zealand down at 70S tracking east fast and running over the width of the South Pacific pushing hard south into Antarctica by Mon (9/14) and eliminating support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere. Beyond 72 hours the previous ridge is to continue influencing the bulk of the South Pacific through Thurs (9/17). But by Fri (9/18) the southern branch of the jet is to lift north some under New Zealand with wind 140 kts perhaps offering some support for gale development.

Surface Analysis  
On Saturday AM (9/12) small residual swell from a broad gale that developed under New Zealand 2 weeks ago was fading out in California. Also swell from a broad gale that was southeast of New Zealand on Sat-Mon (9/7) generating 23 ft seas was targeting moving towards Hawaii (See Tahiti Gale below). Otherwise strong high pressure at 1040 mbs just off Southern Chile riding south to 60S locking storm production down over the Southeast Pacific. also high pressure at 1020 mbs was over the Central Pacific reaching south to 60S having the same effect. Of more interest was a gale that developed under Tasmania
Fri PM (9/11) pushing east under New Zealand Sat AM (9/12) generating 40-45 kt west winds and seas to 31 ft at 56S 158E aimed east (216 degs CA, shadowed by NZ relative to HI). Fetch is to be fading from 35 kts in the evening with seas to 29 ft at 54S 169E (215 degs CA and unshadowed by Tahiti, 200 degs HI). Fetch to be gone by Sun AM (9/13)  Some reasonable odds for small swell to result for Tahiti, Hawaii and the US West Coast.

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.  That said remnant winds energy from the gale above to reorganize east of Northern New Zealand on Mon AM (9/14) generating a sliver of 45 kt southwest winds producing a tiny area of 30 ft seas at 41S 165W. Fetch is to be fading from 40 kts in the evening with seas barely 30 ft over a tiny area at 38S 161W. This system to be falling south after that and of now interest. Small swell possible for Tahiti and Hawaii.

Tahiti Gale
On Sat AM (9/5) a broad gale was developing south of New Zealand with 35 kts south winds targeting New Zealand directly and getting some limited traction with seas 22 ft at 53S 164E. Seas built to 24 ft  in the evening at 52S 167E. The gale eased east into Sun PM (9/6) with a broad area of 30-35 kt south winds moving a bit clearer east of New Zealand generating 23 ft seas at 45S 178E. The low held while easing Monday (9/7) AM with 30-35 kt south winds generating 23 ft seas at 45S 179W. In the evening fetch was fading from 30 kts generating 23 ft seas at 43S 172W aimed north. Fetch was almost gone Tues AM (9/8) generating a tiny area of 22 ft seas at 44S 170W. 

Some decent southwest swell has already hit Tahiti and is pushing up towards Hawaii with tiny swell for the US West Coast if all goes as forecast.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival late on Sun (9/13) at 2 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell building through the day Mon (9/14) to 2.5 ft @ 15-16 secs early (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell fading slowly Tues (9/15) from 2.6 ft @ 14 secs (3.5 ft).  Swell Direction: 195 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 the remnants of what was Typhoon Kilo are to track through the Bering Sea and then fall into the Gulf of Alaska on Tues (9/15) generating a small fetch of 30-35 kt northwest winds in the evening starting to get traction on the oceans surface producing maybe 12 ft seas off North California. The gale is to stall just off the Pacific Northwest Wed AM (9/18) with winds mostly 25 kts over open water but up to 35 kts near the coast generating 13 ft seas at 42N 135W. Fetch barely holding in the evening over open waters with seas building to 15 ft at 45N 138W targeting North and Central CA well. More 30 kt northwest winds are forecast Thurs AM (9/17) off Central Oregon with 16 ft seas forecast at 46N 131W. This system to fade from there. In all, just windswell is to result for North and Central CA since seas never are to hit the 20 ft mark. At least it's a start. The front from this system is to produce precipitation reaching to maybe Pt Reyes on Thurs (9/17), but not down to San Francisco proper.

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a broad fetch of 40 kt west winds are to develop south of Tasmania extending to a point south of New Zealand Sat (9/19) generating 30 ft seas at 60S 166E. Something to monitor.

Details to follow...


Nino1.2 Temps Continue Weak East of Galapagos
But Continue Very Warm Just West of There Courtesy of Kelvin Wave #3

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, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases help support the formation of El Nino. 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).E.cgianation of data layout below: Major sections are organized in cause-and-effect sequence starting with wind conditions/forecasts for the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA - equatorial West Pacific) followed by subsurface ocean temperature conditions (i.e. monitoring for Kelvin Waves), then ocean surface temperature conditions (i.e Nino 1.2 and 3.4) followed by atmospheric co.cgiing analysis. The 1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data and is typically updated with each new forecast. The 2nd paragraph, where present, provides analysis and context and is updated as required.

Overview: A strong El Nino is developing. It began its lifecycle in late 2013 as a primer WWB and Kelvin Wave developed. Then in early 2014 a historically strong push by the Active Phase of the MJO resulted in a large Kelvin Wave, and anomalies continued in the Spring into early Summer transporting more warm water eastward. But the cycle faltered in July due to a protracted bout of the Inactive Phase of the MJO which enabled the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle to manifest driving cooler water east, muting warm water buildup along the Ecuador coast. Still the warm water pipe remained open, but surface temperatures near the Galapagos never recovered and any atmospheric momentum was lost. Then in early 2015, another historically strong push from the MJO occurred, effectively a repeat of the early 2014 event, invigorating the warm water transport process and, adding more heat to an already anomalously warm surface pool off Ecuador. That pool has been building steadily in spurts ever since. The paragraphs below describe the current status of various El Nino indicators, followed by a few paragraphs that tie all the pieces together and provide our analysis of what is to come.      

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast: As of Sat (9/12):
Analysis from TAO Buoys: Down at the surface the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated modest west winds (not anomalies) from 160E-180W just north of the equator, and moderate in strength over that region further north of the equator on the Intertropical Convergence Zone reaching to 170W. A pocket of 20-24 kt west winds was centered at 7N 148E with 12 kt or grater west winds from 135E to 175E aligned on the 7N latitude line. Anomalies were moderate from the west from 160E to 120W on and north of the equator. This pattern has been in control since 9/2 and has remain effectively unchanged. The anomalous west wind pattern is like a machine at this point and is locked over the eastern half of the KWGA, which is a normal configuration as El Nino matures. Previously west anomalies were steady for a 29 day window (7/19-8/19) and followed directly behind a very strong WWB burst (third of the year) that was associated with a robust Active Phase of the MJO (historically strong) 6/24-7/17 (nearly 2 months of west anomalies or stronger). Since 9/2 this steady Westerly Wind anomaly pattern has been in.cgiay from 160E over the dateline and beyond. 
1 Week Forecast: Modest west anomalies are forecast from 150E to 150W with pockets of stronger anomalies lasting a day here and there. Overall the strength of these anomalies is to be about similar to the pattern that has persisted for months now, just minus any WWBs. The GFS model depicts steady west winds in the Intertropical Convergence Zone up at 9N (reaching south to 5N) in the 15 kt range holding into Mon (9/14) then fading and gone by Thurs (9/17). Though not in the KWGA proper, the thought is this might end up being a legitimate WWB. Could another Kelvin Wave result? The answer is unknown at this time but for the most part Kelvin Wave development is limited by the Coriolis Effect to a few degrees either side of the equator. A dead wind pattern is to continue forward in the heart of the KWGA. No east anomalies have occurred this year in the KWGA, not one day, and none are forecast.

A huge WWB occurred in March followed by a second smaller one (9 day duration) in early May with weaker but still solid west anomalies continuing after that through 6/10. Anomalies faded to neutral for 8 days through 6/18 as the Inactive Phase of the MJO interfered with the pattern (the first such event of the year), then weak westerlies started again on 6/18. A significant WWB, the strongest of the year so far, starting on 6/26 peaking near 7/4 but held nicely through 7/17 (22 days), the result of a historically strong Active Phase of the MJO which produced a strong and large Kelvin Wave, the third this year and the strongest by far. Moderate westerly anomalies redeveloped 7/29 when a Rossby Wave started interacting with the building El Nino base state, enhancing the westerly flow, developing a mini-WWB at 175E through 8/5. And westerly anomalies continued through 8/19. That is nearly 2 months of non-stop anomalies if not out and out west winds (6/26-8/19). From 8/19-8/25 lesser westerly anomalies occurred and those were mainly east of the KWGA, with dead neutral anomalies in the West KWGA. West anomalies started rebuilding on 8/26 and turned to legit west winds at 9N on 9/3.  West wind anomalies at the surface are the hallmark of the Active Phase of the MJO and El Nino and drive Kelvin Wave production.  

Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections: As of 9/12: 
OLR Models: Indicate a weak Inactive signal over the far West Pacific typical of a maturing El Nino. The Statistic model suggests a weak Inactive MJO pattern is to hold over the far West Pacific for the next 15 days. The Dynamic model depicts a weaker version of the same. In essence no MJO influence is forecast. This is typical of the pattern when an El Nino base state strengthens.  
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): They suggest the Active Phase of the MJO is dead and collapsed and is to not return.  
40 Day Upper Level Model: It depicts a moderate Inactive Phase in the far West Pacific tracking east. In reality, this pattern has been on the charts for weeks now and consistently fails to materialize. It is suspected the stronger El Nino base state is in control, but exhibits an Inactive-like MJO pattern over the far West Pacific, with an Active-like pattern over the dateline and points east of there, but not moving. The model thinks it's a real Inactive Phase in a normal year in the West Pacific and tries to move it east. We are for the most part ignoring this model.        
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): A weak Inactive Phase of the MJO is forecast continuing through 9/26 centered at 130E, much like the 40 day upper level chart we are ignoring above. We will ignore this one too. Some positive enhancement from a Rossby Wave is occurring now and is to continue through 9/22 easing slowly west. A push of the Active Phase of the MJO has returned to the charts expected to start 9/29 and holding through 10/22 enhanced by a Rossby Wave in the west during that period. we'll believe it when it happens. and Inactive Phase to follow 11/1-11/26, followed by another Active Phase. Regardless of those oscillations, we believe the El Nino base state is now the primary driver of Westerly Anomalies from here forward into early Dec. No easterly anomalies are forecast. The question is, will another Kelvin Wave result or will the anomalies at least continue to fuel the subsurface warm reservoir into Dec? We'll see. Regardless, by 12/1 the CFS model has westerly anomalies on the move to the east centered at 165W (instead of 180W like now) suggesting the peak of El Nino is expected in the Dec timeframe (from a wind perspective). 

Again we are ignoring the supposed Inactive MJO pattern in the far West Pacific depicted by the models. And we're more interested now in constructive interference from a Rossby Wave now in.cgiay in the East Pacific and easing west into early October. A pure El Nino base state is at.cgiay driving current west anomalies and not expected to change much anytime soon, or if anything, build.  Tropical systems have the best chance of constructively interfering (enhancing) westerly anomalies from here forward. And west anomalies if not out and out west winds, regardless of their source, are all that's required to push warm water to the east. If anything, we're on autopilot now, which is a good.cgiace to be.  

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (9/12) Actual temperatures remain impressive. 29 deg temps are between 140E to 145W (easing east some) with a pocket at 30 degs at 170W and holding. Anomaly wise +2.0 degs anomalies are fully bulging from the dateline eastward and +4 deg anomalies cover from 142W eastward (easing east), the direct effects of the massive June-July WWB. A large warm reservoir at +5-7 deg above normal is poised to erupt into Ecuador (leading edge erupting now just west of the Galapagos). That reservoir is holding coverage with peak +7 degs anomalies centered at 110W (easing east some) with +5 deg anomalies extending east from 137W to Ecuador (holding). This pocket is a mixture of warm water from a WWB in early May merging with water from the most recent strong WWB in late June-July. The pipe is open. And warm warm water continues falling to depth near the dateline. Warm waters appears to be erupting in the east with the hi-res subsurface animation (9/5) depicting a complete disappearance of what was a tiny backdraft cool pool (east of) the Galapagos.
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA):  (9/5)  It is holding solid depicting 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific starting at 179W (holding) with a core at +15 cm anomalies from 105-140W (shrinking). Anomalies are holding into Ecuador (0-+5 cm) with 10 cm anomalies pushing to the Galapagos indicative of the arrival of the 3rd Kelvin wave. All this is indicative of a wide open pipe with a large Kelvin Wave in flight in the mid-Pacific poised to merge with a subsurface reservoir poised off Ecuador. This is a classic major El Nino setup.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: As of (9/5) this data drives the point home. It indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 1757 and the Galapagos (expanding). +1.0-1.5 degs are from 159W eastward. +1.5 deg anomalies are doing the same easing east from 154W. All these sectors are holding or easing east slightly. A pocket of +2.0 degs anomalies are at 148W-->95W (building) with a large pocket of +2.5 deg anomalies between 140W-->105W (expanding some). A pocket of cooler 0.5-1.0 degs anomalies is fading fast between the Galapagos and Ecuador (from 86W-80W). The backdraft pool has not completely given up but is fading.  

A strong Kelvin Wave impacted the Ecuador Coast in May-June with a second somewhat weaker one impacting it in June. And now a third is poised with it's leading edge starting to present over and west of the Galapagos, the strongest of all and getting stronger with each update. A pause in warming near Ecuador occurred starting mid August, suggestive of a break between successive strong Kelvin Waves. But that gap is fading fast now (see below). The subsurface configuration suggests there are 2.5 months of warm water in this reservoir (till Nov 1) and some of that water is extremely warm (8 degs above normal). The peak is forecast to occur roughly on 10/4 in the Nino 1.2 region. And westerly anomalies are building in the ITCZ just north of the KWGA. So the question becomes, is this third Kelvin Wave the final one, or will another follow? We all hope the answer is more is on the way. but that is entirely dependent upon how strong the El Nino base state really is. Historically this is an epic setup.  

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.
Satellite Imagery
(9/10) Overall the picture is improving. A tiny cool pocket previously just east of the Galapagos is gone. Otherwise a warm water signal covers the entire equatorial Pacific from the dateline eastward. And the pattern is getting better defined and is exhibiting more concentration compared to previous months data. The overall signatures is the strongest of any point so far this year and of any time since mid-July 1997. A huge pool of warm water is covering the entire equatorial Pacific and filling the entire North Pacific Ocean. Temperatures in the NINO1.2 region continue to be of concern (see below). Along the West African Coast, cool water continues there, but not growing any. Very warm water continues off the US West Coast and is building while extending west the whole way to Japan but unrelated to this years El Nino, but possibly attributable to the building warm phase of the PDO. Slightly cool water is over North Australia extending north of New Guinea to the dateline. The cool wake of Kilo is evident off Japan. Warming water continues near Madagascar suggestive of a building Indian Ocean Dipole.  
Hi-res Nino1.2: (9/10) Temps continue suppressed here. They crashed on 9/8 and are steady at this time. Water temps dramatically faded between the Galapagos and Ecuador where on 9/6 the warm pattern was looking very solid and approaching peaks set during Kelvin Wave #2's eruption. Unfortunately we have back-slid. There were still patches of +2.25 deg anomalies, but with greatly diminished coverage and mostly +1.75 deg anomalies now filling the area between Ecuador and the Galapagos. We're not as bad as we were in mid-August, but not looking particularly good either in this area. The hi-res chart that depicts temp changes over the past 7 days (9/10) depicts a cooling trend along the Peruvian Coast up to the Galapagos as well. All this speaks to the focus of this event being either 1) westward di.cgiaced or 2) just another piece of the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle bleeding through the line.  

Previously a rapid decline in anomalies started 8/13, reaching it's worst on 8/15 east of 100W with only limited pockets of +2.5 deg or greater anomalies present. This cooler pocket started working it's way west over the Galapagos. But warming from Kelvin Wave #3 started just in time, on 8/23 and built solidly into 9/8, negated any affect previous cooling might have had. But now that warming has retracted. The upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle is apparently not over. Peak temps occurred between the Galapagos and Ecuador on 7/14, then faded between 7/14-7/30. From 7/31-8/13 temps between Ecuador and the Galapagos stabilized then crashed starting 8/13 finally bottoming out 8/17. A slow warm up started 8/23 and progressed nicely through 9/8 before falling back some.
Galapagos Virtual Station:
(9/11) This station reported temp anomalies at +3.6 degs. This is up some from +3.1-3.4 degs since 8/31 and up from 2.6 degs (8/28), and back in line with previous readings in the +2.7-3.2 range (8/20-8/26). The trend is steady for now. Previously a solid reading occurred on 5/23 at +4.59 degs suggesting the first Kelvin Wave generated in Jan-Mar had arrived, then built to +5.45 degs on 6/14. Temps faded from that high peak down to +4.1 degs in late June then rebuilt up to +4.94 on 7/17. Then a fade set in, down to +3.1 degs as of 7/31 and bouncing from +3.1-3.5 through 8/7, then falling dramatically to +2.0 on 8/10 and held at +2.1-2.3 degrees 8/14-8/19. Temps built to +2.7-3.2 8/22-8/27 and up to +3.5 on 9/5 then down to +3.2 degs on 9/9.   
Hi-res NINO 3.4: (9/11)
Unbroken +2.25 degs anomalies continue advecting west from a previous Kelvin Wave that impacted the Galapagos reaching west to 145W. Two pockets of +4 deg anomalies (measured at 5 deg C above normal and building in coverage) are present at 100W and 110W, advecting west. Total coverage of anomalies continues to build except between 145-155W, where anomalies have fallen below +2.25 degs.  Previously +2.25 anomalies reached to 133W on 7/16 and then 138W (7/31) pushing to 149W on 8/10 and 158W on 8/15 and filling the area to 160W on 8/18. This is advection west of warm water resulting from eruption of the 1st and 2nd Kelvin Waves earlier this year. And the third one is just starting to present. 

Other Sources
TAO Data: +1.0 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial East Pacific, the warmest in years, advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to the dateline and beyond (expanding to 172E as of 9/11). We're monitoring the +0.0 anomaly line to see if it's moving east. Today its at 155E (moving west). +1.5 deg anomalies reaching to 177W (no change). There is also a massive embedded area of +2.0-2.5 deg anomalies extending from the Galapagos to 163W (steady) with +3.0 deg anomalies depicted embedded in it from 107W to 125W. Overall the warm water signature is building, and very impressive at this time. We expect more expansion in the next 2-3 months
Nino1.2 Index Temps: (9/12) Temps are falling at +1.558 degs, down from +1.813 degs on 9/10, and +1.981 on 9/8. This falloff is consistent with what is being indicated in the hi-res Nino1.2 imagery. Previously temps hovered at +2.1 degrees early June then spiked reaching +3.0 degs on 7/3, faded, then spiked again on 7/13 at +3.0 degs and yet again at +3.0 degs on 7/22. Temps fell to +1.9 degrees on 7/27 and bottomed out at +1.0 degs on 8/20 at the height of the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave Cycle. Then temps started building to +1.3 on 8/26 and +1.7 by 8/29 and to +2.0 by 9/8 before falling recently.
Nino 3.4 Index Temps: Temps are down slightly at +1.718 degs, falling from +1.859 on 9/10. The all time peak for this event was +2.24 degs on 8/23 (one day). By any normal standard we are in Strong El Nino now. The recent falloff is a result of falling temps at 150W (discussed in the NIno3.4 hi-res imagery above). In '97 for Aug the monthly anomaly in Nino3.4 was +2.02 (OISST.v2) The data for this months data (Aug) just posted at +2.06. They are even. For OISSTv.4 its +1.74 ('97) and +1.49 (2015). This months data is just a bit behind '97. Based on what is happening in the Nino 1.2 region, with the 3rd Kelvin Wave apparently starting to erupt there, the thought is additional warming is poised to occur in Nino3.4. Water temps previously held in the +1.0-1.3 deg range since mid-April, then started building pushing +1.5 degs on 6/30, held then crept up, peaking at +1.75 degs on 7/19 and +1.7 degs on 7/29, pushing +1.8 of 8/10 and +2.24 on 8/23. 

Special Analysis (9/3): We performed an analysis of Nino1.2 and Nino3.4 weekly anomalies temps using OISST.v2 data. A very interesting pattern emerged: Nino1.2 temps are averaging lower in this years event to date compared to '97, but the Nino3.4 temps are higher.  Specifically the Nino1.2 anomaly average for the period 4/30-8/26 for 2015 is +2.42 while in '97 is was +3.43. Meanwhile west of there in the Nino3.4 region, the average for 2015 is +1.49 while it was +1.42 in '97.  This suggests the 2015 event is more focused west of the Galapagos as compared to '97. And looking at the Nino4 region, the same pattern emerges. A si.cgie view of SST anomaly charts clearly indicates the same thing. There was much more heating in the Galapagos region in '97, while in 2015 the warmth is di.cgiaced more to the west.

If you narrow the focus to just the timeframe July through August the same trend emerges with Nino1.2 anomalies +1.52 degs warmer in '97 compared to 2015 and Nino 3.4 temps almost dead even (-0.03 in 2015). 

Regardless, the pattern is emerging that this is a westward di.cgiaced El Nino like the 82/83 super El Nino event. This suggests the Walker circulation is not di.cgiaced as far east as in '97 but more like '82/83. At this time we're unsure what the effects on rainfall would be. Total rainfall in San Francisco in '82/83 was 38.17" (+16.38") versus 47.22" in '97/98 (+25.43"). The long term average is 21.79". In LA in '82/83 it was 31.28" (+16.47) versus 31.01" in '97 (+16.2"). Long term average 14.81". Regardless, both events were well above average. This also suggests the core of storm production will be north of the most warming. So rather than the Eastern to Central Gulf of Alaska being the focus, it might be more in the Western Gulf. This is actually a good thing relative to California by perhaps giving resulting swells more room to groom themselves before hitting the coast. This might bode not so well for Hawaii, with large stormy conditions the result. Of course, this is just speculation at this time.  

The biggest issue is we need to get past the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle. We thought we were there, but with todays readings in the Nino1.2 region, it's apparent a little more cool water needs to bleed out of the line. If that is not the case, then the focus of upwelling for the 3rd Kelvin Wave will be west of the Galapagos. But we're not ready to declare that a fact just yet.          

Pacific Counter Current:  As of 9/3 the current moderate but not overly impressive. The current is pushing strongly west to east over the west equatorial Pacific north of the equator from 130E to 165E, and still solid but fading while pushing west to 140W before fading out at 120W. A stream of weak to modest east current was over the immediate Galapagos reaching west to 120W and then again near 170E. Anomaly wise - moderate west anomalies were spread mostly north of the equator over the West Pacific to the dateline, with a strong pocket north of the equator from the dateline to 140W, then fading with another pocket at 100W. One pocket of east anomalies was indicated south of the equator at 180W. This is not as impressive as the last update. Compared to the '97 El Nino at this time, there is no comparison. In '97 the current was raging east from 130E to 140W mainly north of the equator.   

SST Anomaly projections
CFSv2 model - PDF Corrected:
 For the model run 9/12 for the Nino 3.4 region, peak temperatures for this event have fallen again. Water temps are at +1.75 deg C (verified at 1.6 degs today) and are to fade some to +1.7 degs by Oct peaking at +1.85 degs by Nov, then dropping off. Considering temps in Nino3.4 now and the size of the new Kelvin Wave forming subsurface, we suspect this projection is on the low side. Uncorrected data suggests peaks to +2.6 degs. We'll venture a guess of somewhere around +2.3 degs for a one month peak.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Aug Plume has upgraded significantly, suggesting peak temps between +2.0 degs (Statistical models), +2.5 degs (Dynamic) with the CPC consensus at +2.3. The mid-July consensus was spread between +1.5-2.0 degs. See chart here - link. 

If one is to make a direct comparison of the 2015 event to '97 at this time of year based on the areal coverage of water temps, there is no comparison. '97 imagery leaves this years event in the dust. The '97 event built non-stop from this point forward (in terms of areal coverage). Instead, the 2015 event, though warming nicely with comparable to stronger anomalies in Nino3.4 and Nino4, is weak in Nino1.2 and the coverage of warm waters is a worm in this area compared to '97s mammoth coverage. A clear and significant downgrade occurred in the Galapagos area 8/12-8/20 the result of a pause in upwelling of warm water in that region, a break between the first and second Kelvin wave eruptions and the third poised just off Ecuador. The good news is concerns about these cooler waters advecting west and impacting temps in the Nino3.4 region are gone, with regent warming from the 3rd Kelvin Wave already eliminating those cool pockets. And things are just getting started. Peak temps in Nino 1.2 expected 10/4 then advecting to Nino 3.4 on 11/4.

Atmospheric Co.cgiing Index's (lagging indicators rather than driving oceanic change): As of (9/7):  
Daily Southern Oscillation Index: Was rising from -26.00. Of note: The 97 El Nino had daily values at -40 to -50 in early Nov with one spurt to -76 Jan 30/31st.
30 Day Average: Was falling from -16.47. The lowest point in years was achieved -20.95 on 8/21, with the previous lowest at -20.49 on 7/18/15.
90 Day Average: Was falling from -17.39 beating the previous peak low. It has been at or below -10.0 since early July and on a steady fall ever since, bottomed out at a low reading on 8/5 at -14.17, then beat it on 9/2 at -15.23, and then again on 9/10 at -16.51 (peak low of the year so far). 
Trend (looking for negative SOI numbers, indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO or El Nino): The near term trend based on the daily average was indicative of a building El Nino base state. The longer term pattern was indicative of a steadily building El Nino base state.
SOI Trend - Darwin (looking for high pressure here): High pressure was over Southeast Australia on Sat (9/12) but fading some, only to be r.cgiaced by more high pressure Tues (9/15) and holding for the foreseeable future. 
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): A small low pressure cell is to be tracking south of Tahiti Sun-Wed (9/16) followed again by higher pressure into Sat (9/19).  
SOI 1 week Forecast: The net result is to be a trend of a generally negative SOI values through Sat (9/19) attributable mainly to high pressure over Australia and a generally low pressure pattern trying to set up south of Tahiti.  This is exactly what we want to see, only stronger.      
SOI Analysis: During El Nino, the SOI functions as a measure of how well the ocean and atmosphere are co.cgied. Current numbers suggest good but not great co.cgiing, but getting better footing slowly but steadily (notice the 90 day average trend). This pattern is to only change for the better as the El Nino base state builds as we move into Fall. A consistent 90 day average of -18 is our target, indicative of a strong El Nino.
Southern Hemi Booster Index (SHBI) Analysis (which is theorized to supercharge a developing El Nino): A steady south wind pattern is in control and forecast to hold into Mon (9/14), collapse some, then rebuilding perhaps by Thurs (9/17). It is high pressure over Southeast Australia that sets up the southerly surface flow. South and southeast wind anomalies have been in this region off and on for weeks now (previous run 7/29-8/10, this run 8/13-8/18), but not lately. The SHBI appears to only be slightly influencing El Nino development, but we have no hard numbers to confirm. 
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed cloud cover): (9/12) Today's value was +1.98, up some from + 1.89 on 9/10, down from +2.07 on 9/5 and down from +2.16 on 9/3. The ESPI was steady in the +2.5 range through 8/10, then began falling, to +2.42 on 8/18 and bottoming out at +1.78 on 8/26. It started rebuilding on 8/29 at +1.89. Historically the peak of the '82 El Nino was +2.2 and the '97 event +2.85. This suggests the '15 El Nino is reasonably well co.cgied with the atmosphere, more so than some of the other indices indicate.
Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (Aug) The current ranking is up hard at +2.37 or up 0.39 standard deviations (65). The July MEI was 1.97 SD (65). At this same time in '97 the ranking was 3.00 SD (66) and in '82 it was 1.85 SD (62). So we're between the '82 and '97 events but close to '97, in strong El Nino territory presumably moving towards the Super El Nino range. The top 5 events since 1950 in order are: '97, '82, '91, '86, and '72 with '97 and '82 classified as 'Super El Nino's' because they reached 3 standard deviations (SD) above normal. '91 and '86 were at about 2.2 and 2.1 respectively with '72 peaking at 1.8 SD's above the norm. We've already beat all those. Suffice it to say we are somewhere between '82 and '97 in term of of atmospheric co.cgiing per this index. Most impressive.  
North Pacific Jetstream (9/12) A steep trough was over the dateline reaching down to 27N with 100 kt winds flowing down into it. Otherwise 130 kt winds were flowing up the coast of Japan forming a ridge there before falling into the aforementioned trough, then rebounding and tracking east at 140 kts into British Columbia. This is mildly interesting but not impressive at all. The trough is to get fully cut off on Mon (9/14) and circulating on it's own before dissipating on Tues (9/15). A .cgiit flow is to evolve in the west by Wed (9/16) merging over the Gulf. And by the weekend a weak Fall pattern is to try and set up, with the jet looking more organized and di.cgiaced south at 40N over the bulk of the Pacific by Sat (9/19). .    

Analysis: In late 2013 into 2014 the Active Phase of the MJO and successive Kelvin Waves warmed waters over the Eastern equatorial Pacific and primed the atmosphere out of a 15 year La Nina biased pattern that had been in.cgiay since the demise of the '97-98 Super El Nino. It is assumed some greater force was dictating the change from a cool regime to warmer pattern, (the PDO). This warming and teleconnection continued building in 2015 with two Kelvin Waves arriving in Ecuador warming surface waters well into El Nino territory and a third, the strongest so far, starting to erupt in the Galapagos region. At this time we believe the classic El Nino feedback/teleconnection loop is in effect, with the atmosphere and the ocean well co.cgied.   

The 2015 El Nino pattern continues to build in fits and starts, but is hampered by 'The Pause' that occurred in August and continues in Nino1.2 today (9/10). In spite of that, El Nino continues to move forward. Temps in the Nino 3.4 region today are solid and expected to only build as the leading edge of massive Kelvin Wave starts erupt over the Galapagos. Still the focus of that eruption right now is west of the Galapagos.  The big question remains concerning how strong will this El Nino become. In the end, strength is a function of the temperatures in the Nino3.4 region. The warmer the core temps and the larger their areal coverage, the more influence on the jetstream. Obtaining high Nino3.4 temps is a function of the strength and duration of westerly anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. And the frequency of those events is dictated by the 'character' of the El Nino. The '97 event was a bulldozer, developing out of a previous cold La Nina water state, and never looked back. Contrasting that was the '82-83 event, which didn't even start presenting until the Fall. The 2015 event presented originally with a false start in 2014 (and for that matter another false start in 2012), and has taken it's sweet time getting organized since then, in fit's and starts. We suspect it is struggling against an atmospheric biased towards La Nina forced by a 15 year run of the cool phase of the PDO. But we believe the atmosphere is now transitioning to the warm phase of the PDO, but is still fighting some previous momentum from the cool phase, hence elongating this El Nino's lifecycle. Regardless, a large and strong Kelvin Wave, the largest of this event is starting to erupt now. It will take at least 3 months for the tail end to erupt over the Galapagos and advect through the Nino 3.4 region. So assuming peak heating in Nino1.2 occurs on 10/4, it will be 11/4 till that peak warmth reaches Nino3.4. And that might even be optimistic.

The longer El Nino threshold temperatures persist, the thought is the longer it will take proportionally to dissipate. That is, the sooner warm water temps develop, the sooner they will have an effect on the atmosphere and the more momentum El Nino will have on the atmosphere, and will therefore take longer to dislodge. The atmosphere responds very slowly to change. but once changed, it doesn't turn back to it's previous configuration quick either. An official El Nino was declared in late 2014 and has only gotten stronger since then. If westerly anomalies continue as predicted by the CFS model, and another Kelvin Wave results (starting say 11/1), it would not arrive in Ecuador till ~Feb 1, 2016, and not disburse till a month later (March) that would mean a total duration of El Nino temps in the Nino3.4 region of 17 months. That said, the character of this event is not at all like '97 (which was brisk paced and steady), but not at all like '82 either (which developed even later and faster). This one is a slow moving train wreck. That would not be a bad thing, in that it could slow the inevitable transition to La Nina until later in the winter of 2016-2107.

So where does it go from here? Having a MEI (July & Aug) that is equivalent to two other El Nino that eventually turned into Super El Ninos is no guarantee that this years event will eventually evolve into a Super El Nino. We still have 0.63 SDs to go. But given the current warming in the west quadrant of Nino1.2 now, that seems like a pretty easily obtainable goal. And looking at the record back to 1950 for other events that have similar values in July & Aug, the odds favor that outcome. With an evolving El Nino base state in control and building, it seem more warm water transport east is inevitable. And we haven't even hit the Fall season switchover, which tends to supercharge westerly anomalies during El Nino years. The future concerning more and stronger WWBs is unknown, but we are betting on the CFSv2 being largely on the right track with the El Nino base state slowly having greater influence over time and being enhanced by Rossby Waves at times.        

So for now we're tracking towards an El Nino that will end up somewhere between the 82' and '97 event, with very good atmospheric momentum in.cgiay.  We'll continue monitoring the North Pacific jetstream and will be looking for tropical activity in the West Pacific to recurve northeast moving towards the Gulf of Alaska, and for swell to result from such systems in Sept. To us, those are the sure signs of deep changes in the atmosphere influenced by El Nino. Typhoon Atsani did not live up to the hype. And Kilo is not going to do it either. And the jetstream charts are not impressive. All data to date regarding the character of this years event, depict it as a slow mover. As such, any direct influence from El Nino will probably occur alter in the Fall rather than earlier. Regardless, continue your training routine.Once the storm cycle starts, we expect it to only build in momentum, consistency, and intensity, peaking in the Feb timeframe.      

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool


External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave

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