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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, September 27, 2014 2:35 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 = 2.5 - California & 2.9 - 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 9/29 thru Sun 10/5

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   

North Pacific To Stir Later In the Week
Decent Southern Hemi Swell Pushing Northeast - 'Big Wave Hellmen - Episode 2'

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 (9/27) in North and Central CA 
surf was 1-2 ft overhead and a bit wonky and weak, windswell from the northwest, but not too bad with light winds and clean surface conditions. Down in Santa Cruz surf was thigh to maybe waist high and clean but weak. In Southern California up north surf was waist to almost chest high and soft but clean, all just northerly windswell. Down south waves were waist to chest high and clean and nicely lined up coming well out of the north. Hawaii's North Shore was getting sideband northerly windswell at waist to chest high and clean early. The South Shore remained near flat with waves knee to thigh high and clean. On the East Shore tradewind generated windswell was producing waves at shoulder high.cgius and chopped with easterly trades in effect.  

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

Meteorological Overview
For the North Pacific a tiny low in the Northwest Gulf of Alaska produced nearly 17-20 seas on Fri-Sat (9/27) while a small but stronger gale was pushing southeast off Kamchatka producing 36 ft seas by Sat AM (9/27) targeting mainly Hawaii. And Tropical Storm Kammuri was south of Japan pushing north and forecast to recurve northeast moving towards the dateline mid-next week while fading, only to reorganize some in the Western Gulf a week out. It's way too early to believe any of that, but interesting just the same. In the southern hemisphere a moderate gale tracked under New Zealand on Mon (9/22) producing 41 ft seas fading on Tuesday with seas dropping from 36 ft. Remnant energy regenerated late Wed into Thurs (9/25) producing 28-30 ft seas pushing east-northeast and up to 34 ft on Friday (9/26) while reaching the Southeast Pacific. A nice run of small southern hemi background southwest swell is expected to cap off the late starting summer season. Nothing else is forecast behind with the focus now turning sha.cgiy to the North Pacific.  

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

North Pacific

Jetstream - On Saturday (9/27) the jetstream over the North Pacific was .cgiit with a thin trail of weak energy peeling off the main flow tracking over the North Bering Sea, stealing energy from the main flow. The bulk of the wind energy was tracking east on the 42N latitude line tracking with a small pocket of 140 kts winds forming a weak trough southeast of Kamchatka with a second weaker trough over the Gulf of Alaska. The Kamchatka trough had the best chances of supporting gale development. Yet a third trough, the one that supported last weeks storm off North California, was starting to push inland with it's apex over Monterey Bay early Saturday, accounting for cooler temps and cloudy skies there. Over the next 72 hours the Kamchatka trough is to actually build while pushing east with 160 kt winds developing and pushing decently southeast forming a steep pit 1200 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii and supportive of gale development peaking on Tues AM (9/30). Beyond 72 hours that trough is to fade and flatten out by early Thurs (10/2) with the .cgiit pattern appearing to be healing, and the entire jet looking more cohesive tracking flat east on the 40N latitude line. A broad trough is forecast developing in that flow on Fri-Sat (10/40 aging 1200 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii with 140 kt winds feeding into it offering decent support for gale development.

Surface Analysis  - On Saturday (9/27) local windswell was continuing to impact the entire California and Pacific Northwest coasts. East windswell was also producing rideable surf in Hawaii. High pressure at 1024 mbs was off Central CA generating north winds along the coast and east winds pushing into Hawaii producing the windswells mentioned above. Weak remnant low pressure was in the Northern Gulf of Alaska no longer producing fetch of interest (see Small Gulf Gale below). A stronger gale was tracking off Kamchatka (see Kamchatka Gale below). And tropical energy was approaching Japan (see Tropical Update below). In all a nice little pattern was in.cgiay, though not remarkable.    

Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to remain in.cgiay off California, fading some on Sunday as the Gulf low takes the legs out of it some, then redeveloping Mon-Wed (10/1) generating up to 25 kt north winds over all of North CA reaching down to Monterey Bay producing increased north windswell and some upwelling, taking a bit out of the warm local water temps. Relative to Hawaii east trades are to start fading in coverage some on Sunday waning more Monday then gone. Windswell fading commensurate with the velocity of the tradewinds. But beyond Wed (10/1) the high is to start dissipating and a more seasonal pattern again setting up.

Small Gulf Gale
A small low pressure system developed over the Eastern Aleutians tracking southeast with winds 30 kts on Fri AM (9/26) holding almost stationary there in the evening with seas to 20 ft over a tiny area at 50N 158W (1800 nmiles from NCal on the 308 degree path), then started tracking east producing only 25 kt west winds and 17 ft seas Sat AM (9/27) at 51N 151W, Minimal windswell to result 4.5 days later relative to NCal (Tues 9/30 near 6 PM) with period 12 secs but likely buried in locally generated windswell. Better odds to notice this windswell in the Pacific Northwest. .

Kamchatka Gale
A small storm developed from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fung-Wong just off Kamchatka on Fri PM (9/26) with 50 kt northwest winds and 30 ft seas over a tiny area at 47N 160E targeting Hawaii. This system started fading Sat AM (9/27) with 45 kts northwest winds and seas peaking at 36 ft at 44N 166E targeting Hawaii down the 315 degree track and 2200 nmiles out, a long ways away given this systems footprint. Fetch is to be fading from 30 kts in the evening with seas fading from 28 ft at 44N 174E (321 degs HI). Some swell production seems likely relative to Hawaii.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tues (9/30) at 2 PM with period 17 secs and size building, pushing 4.2 ft @ 16-17 secs by 5 PM (7 ft faces). Residuals holding on Wed (10/1) at 4.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (6.5 ft faces). Swell dropping out Thurs AM (10/2) from 4.0 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.5- ft faces). Swell Direction: 315-320 degrees

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

Tropical Update
Tropical Storm Kammuri on Thursday (9/25) was about 900 nmiles southeast of Tokyo Japan with winds 35 kts and drifting north. This system continued on this heading easing a bit to the northwest and slowly accelerated with winds building on Sat AM to 50 kts. Current data suggests no odds of Kummari reaching typhoon status. It is to be about 300 nmiles southeast of Tokyo on Sun AM (9/28) then turning to the northeast with winds increasing some in the storms southeast quadrant late Monday, then starting to become absorbed in other weather systems (see Long Term forecast below). No swell production for our forecast area is immediately forecast.

Tropical Storm Rachel was positioned 450 nmiles west southwest of Cabo San Lucas with winds 55 kts and tracking north. Rachel is to build to minimal hurricane status for 12 hours in the evening with winds to 65 kts at 20.3N 117W or 800 nmiles south of Dana Point CA on the 178 degree track. Small swell with period in the 11 secs range possibly arriving in the Dana Point area on Monday (9/29) at 2.6 ft @ 11 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces) from 178 degrees. A quick fade of this storm is forecast with it turning southwest on Tues (9/30).

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday AM (9/27) high pressure was in control of the East Pacific centered off Central CA and generating a pressure gradient along the coast with northwest winds 15-120 kts over all of North and Central CA waters. The upper trough the made Wed-Thurs (9/25) swell has brought a few inches of snow to the Sierra above 7000 ft.Quite early in the season. Those winds to back off some Sunday late AM except 20 kts over Cape Mendocino, and continuing to fade to the 15 kts range Monday but starting to rebuild late in the day as low pressure in the Gulf fades and the high gets unrestricted access to the atmosphere. The gradient is to again set up over the entire North and Central coasts Tues AM (9/30) at 20 kts building to 25-30 kt over Cape Mendo Wednesday with a finger of 25 kt winds reaching south off the Central Coast. High pressure is to be lodged off North CA into Thursday but fading and moving onshore as low pressure starts rebuilding in the Gulf of Alaska with only 15 kt northeast winds pushing off Cape Mendocino through Sun (10/5) but having no effect south of Pt Arena. But we suspect the warm water regime that has ruled off Central CA is going to loose some ground with some upwelling occurring attributable to the coming northerly winds.  

South Pacific

Surface Analysis - On Saturday (9/27) swell from a small gale that tracking northeast from Northern New Zealand was pushing towards Hawaii and supposedly ready to hit (see New Zealand Gale below). Also a storm tracking east under New Zealand (see Stronger New Zealand Storm below), faded, but then regenerated while tracking east-northeast. Small swell to result for Hawaii and the US West coast. No other swell producing weather systems were in.cgiay. Over the next 72 hours
no swell production is forecast.  

New Zealand Gale
A small gale started building directly over Central New Zealand on Sun (9/21) pushing northeast and free and clear of land Mon AM (9/22) with winds 40 kts aimed well northeast with seas building from 23 ft. By evening winds were holding at 40 kts aimed well northeast with seas building to 27 ft at 31S 170W targeting Tahiti (230 degs) and Hawaii. The fetch area started tracking east Tues AM (9/23) with winds southwest still 40 kts and seas peaking at 30 ft at 30S 161W (216 degs Tahiti, 186 degs Hawaii). Fetch started fading in the evening and falling southeast. No additional swell generation occurred Tahiti or Hawaii. Swell expected best for Tahiti with secondary swell for Hawaii.

Hawaii:  Swell arrival expected late Sat (9/27) with swell to 2.2 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5 ft). Swell peaking Sun AM (9/28) at 2.3 ft @ 15 secs (3.5 ft). Residuals on Mon (9/29) at 2.3 ft @ 13 secs  (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 186-193 degrees 

SCal: Expect swell arrival on Tues (9/30) with swell building to 1.8 ft @ 16-17 secs late (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell to peak Wed (10/1) at 2.0 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading Thurs (10/2) from 1.9 ft @ 13-14 secs early (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 223 degrees

NCal: Expect swell arrival on Tues (9/30) with swell building to 1.5 ft @ 16-17 secs late (2.5 ft). Swell to peak Wed (10/1) at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft). Swell fading Thurs (10/2) from 1.6 ft @ 14 secs early (2 ft). Swell Direction: 220 degrees


Stronger New Zealand Gale
A tiny storm started developing southwest of Tasmania on Sun PM (9/21) with 50 kts west winds and seas 39 ft over a small area at 59S 139E (218 NCal and SCal and unshadowed). 45-50 kt west-southwest fetch built in coverage on Mon AM (9/22) while pushing east with 40 ft seas at 58S 150E (218 degs SCal and barely unshadowed, 217 degs NCal and unshadowed). Winds faded to 40 kts in the evening still aimed decently east-northeast with seas 37 ft at 58S 163E (214 degs SCal and shadowed, 213 degs NCal and barely unshadowed and moving into the HI swell window at 200 degs). 40 kt southwest winds held into Tues AM (9/23) with 36 ft seas at 57S 173E (211 degs NCal and partially shadowed, 212 degs SCal and shadowed, 195 degs HI). But the Jason-2 satellite passed right over the core of the storm reporting seas 42 ft with a peak reading to 46 ft where the model suggested only 35 ft seas.  You don't see that often. The model was under hyping the storm. Fetch was fading in the evening from 35 kts over a large area aimed northeast with seas fading from 34 ft at 55S 177W (190 degs HI, 208 degs NCal and shadowed, 210 degs SCal and still barely shadowed).

Hawaii: Swell arrival expected late on Mon (9/29) at 1.6 ft @ 19 secs (3.0 ft faces). Swell building into Tues (9/30) pushing 2.3 ft @ 17 secs late (4 ft). Swell peaking on Wed (10/1) with swell 3.2 ft @ 16 secs (5 ft). Residuals fading Thurs (10/2) from 2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) Swell Direction: 190-200 degrees

NCal:  Swell arrival forecast mid-day Thurs (10/2) with swell building to 2.0 ft @ 19 secs (3.5 ft). Swell peaking on Fri (10/3) at 2.4 ft @ 18 secs (4.3-5.5 ft with sets to 5.5 ft). Swell still decent on Sat AM (10/4) at 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.8 ft with sets to 4.7 ft). Swell Direction: 211-216 degrees

SCal: Swell arrival forecast early Thurs (10/2) with period 20 secs building to 2.3 ft @ 19 secs late (4.0 ft). Swell peaking on Fri (10/3) at 3 ft @ 17-18 secs (5.0-5.5 ft with sets to 6.5 ft). Swell still decent on Sat AM (10/4) at 3.1 ft @ 16 secs (5 ft with sets to 6 ft). Swell Direction: 212-217 degrees

The remnants of this system started regenerating Wed PM (9/24) with 40 kt southwest winds and seas to 30 ft at 77S 168W. Thurs AM (9/25) 35-40 kt southwest winds were building over a decent sized area pushing east with seas 28 ft at 44S 161W (182 degs HI, 206 degs NCal and shadowed, 209 degs SCal and becoming unshadowed). 40 kt southwest fetch built into the evening with 32 ft seas at 43S 151W and moving out of the Hawaii swell window (201 degs NCal and unshadowed, 203 degs SCal). 40 kt west-southwest fetch covered a better area Fri AM (9/26) with 34 ft seas at 42S 140W (193 degs NCal, 194 degs SCal).  In the evening fetch was tracking flat east with west winds 40 kts and 34 ft seas fading at 42S 134W (188 degs NCal, 189 degs SCal). More 16-17 sec period backfill  energy possibly radiating north. 

North CA: Swell arrival expected on Friday afternoon (10/3) peaking on Sat AM (10/4) at 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.8 ft with sets to 4.7 ft). Swell Direction 188-210 degrees focused on 198 degrees.   

Southern CA: Swell arrival expected on Friday afternoon (10/3) peaking on Sat AM (10/4) at 2.5 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.1 ft with sets to 5.2 ft). Swell Direction 189-212 degrees focused on 198 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 the Kamchatka Gale (formally) Tropical Storm Fung-Wong are to migrate to the Southwestern Gulf of Alaska on Tues (9/30) and stall, blocked by high pressure lodged off the US West Coast. The remnants of Tropical Storm Kammuri are to reorganize while tracking northeast and east over the dateline on Wed (10/1) trying to merge with low pressure already present in the Western Gulf. 20-22 ft seas are forecast off Kamchatka and over the dateline on Wed (10/1) with 35 kts fetch falling towards Hawaii on Fri (10/3) generating 23 ft seas near 40N 170W offering potential for swell production. Something to monitor.

And theoretically more tropical development is forecast for the West Pacific, aided by a projected push of westerly anomalies (see details below).

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 (9/27) the daily SOI was up to 5.29. The 30 day average was up some at -8.31 and the 90 day average was up slightly at -7.21. The near term trend based on the 30 day average was indicative of a fading Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO. We're were at 65 days of near continuous negative daily SOI values, but that has been interrupted by 2 days of positive values. A high pressure regime has taken control south of Tahiti and expected to hold for the next week with a positive SOI likely.   

Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated weak west anomalies over the Maritime Continent turning easterly on the dateline and continuing to a point south of Hawaii, then dying to neutral the rest of the way to the Galapagos. A week from now (10/5) moderate westerly anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent, fading to neutral approaching the dateline and holding neutral south of Hawaii into the Galapagos. This co.cgied with a new wave of tropical development in the West Pacific suggests a westerly wind anomaly regime if not an out and out Westerly Wind Burst was in control of the West Pacific. This is good news. The TOA array indicated neutral to north anomalies over the western equatorial Pacific. So though the sensors and models are mixed, the renewed presence of tropical systems suggests some flavor of westerly wind is occurring, or at least a weak Active Phase of the MJO.  CDAS winds indicate westerly anomalies in the far West Pacific have been in.cgiay near 140E since at least 9/20.  

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 268 days into the year.  The trend is clearly towards westerly anomalies (suppressed trades) 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 9/10-9/17 west of the dateline. Neutral anomalies filled the gaps. 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.

The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 9/26 are generally in sync. They both suggest a dead neutral MJO pattern over the West Pacific. Per both models no real change is forecast for the next 15 days though the Dynamic model suggests weak to modest Active tendencies starting 5 days out building 10-15 days out. This is the classic modest El Nino setup (ie. complete suppression of the MJO). The ultra long range upper level model run 9/27 depicts a modest Inactive Phase exiting over the far East Pacific with a weak Active Phase over the West Pacific pushing east through 10/20. A weak Inactive pulse to follow in the West Pacific starting 10/12 reaching the East Pacific 11/1. Recent experience this year suggests this model overhypes any projected Inactive Phases. The models are calibrated on a neutral global weather pattern, and typically either overcall weather events during La Nina and undercall then during El Nino in the Pacific Basin. his suggests that warming water in the equatorial East Pacific is starting to have some gentle guiding impact on the atmosphere above. 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 (9/25) nothing dramatic has changed. A moderately warm water regime remains in control of the equatorial East Pacific, down some from the peak of the Kelvin Wave eruptions in late June in the east, but up some since early Sept and building over the NINO 3.4 region with 1.0 deg C anomalies present there and +1.0 deg anomalies near 160E (Kelvin Wave Generation Area), suggesting more warm water is poised to track east. Hi res imagery indicates a string of warm pockets over the width of the equator between the Galapagos and the dateline with no anomalies less that 0. Warm water continues to slowly but steadily build on the surface, with a new Kelvin Wave poised to erupt over the Galapagos. These are good times.   

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 continue solidly warm.  As of 9/27 a +1.0 C anomaly flow was filling the equatorial Pacific from 150 meters up and east of 150E with an embedded pocket of +2-3 deg anomalies at 100-140W pushing up towards the Galapagos. This is great news indicating the pipe is open and a Kelvin Wave is in flight. The leading edge of this new Kelvin Wave is making quick advances now reaching the Galapagos. Satellite data from 9/20 depicts a solid area of +5 cm anomalies are covering the dateline region and tracking east reaching the Galapagos, indicative of a Kelvin Wave starting to impact that area.  This is right as predicted. And the coverage of anomalies is increasing over the dateline and well into the South Pacific reaching south almost to Tahiti, suggesting more warm water is flowing into the pipe and backing up in the west. Other models collaborate the presumption of Kelvin Wave genesis. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (9/20) indicates this modest Kelvin Wave is developing in the west reaching east to 105W, with the cool upwelling Phase of the previous Kelvin Wave gone. Even better, a new Kelvin wave is building back at 150E-170w, in sync with the satellite data. It is assumed the light westerly anomalies if late in the West Pacific are feeding more warm water into the pipe. At this time we are well over the proverbial 'hump'. As the first 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. And if a second Kelvin Wave is in development, then we are set into January. Of course that cannot be declared until the first Kelvin Wave hits, but everything is lining up. The quandary now is whether this will be a one year event, or something longer.    

Pacific Counter Current data as of 9/26 suggests an unchanged pattern. The current is pushing west to east over the entire Pacific on and north of the equator focused on the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) reaching into Central America. on and just south of the equator the current was generally pushing east to west. West anomalies were just north of the equator over the width of the equatorial Pacific strongest between 130-180W and increasing coverage. East anomalies were confined to the equator from mainly right at 180W. This data suggests a mixed picture but slightly better than the last update and improving incrementally. But it appears the easterly current is no longer overtaking the westerly component. A slight improvement.   

Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 9/27 are stable and in an interesting way. It suggests water temps have built to +0.5 deg C and are to hold to early Oct then start increasing building to +1.0 deg C in mid-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 hold decently still at +0.9 into June 2015. This suggests that perhaps we are moving towards a multi-year warm event. See the chart based version here - link.

Analysis: A series of downwelling Kelvin Waves have been generated starting in Aug 2013, followed by a stronger one in Oct-Nov, and a massive one in Jan-April 2014. And now a weaker one is in flight starting July and continuing non-stop through the present date. The only interruptions have been when the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle took over. Water temps in the Galapagos-Ecuador-Peru triangle have held remarkably consistent from May-June 2014 onward, event during upwelling phases. Continued suppressed trades with embedded weak westerly anomalies developed in the West Pacific in July and have held through present time producing the latest Kelvin Wave with +3 degs C in flight now. Water temps have held in the Galapagos triangle in the +1.5 degree range for several months now. Certainly there is nor has been any signs of easterly anomalies or a shut down of the Kelvin Wave pipe for better than a year now. This is a huge step forward.

Assuming westerly anomalies continue in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (west of the dateline), more warm water will migrate east. This seems reasonable seeing how there has been virtually no easterly anomalies for the first 9 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. 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). Also note the CFSv2 model accurately depicted the upwelling Kelvin Wave Phase, with water temps in Nino1.2 fading in August then redeveloping in September. 

Finally, there's the 'feedback loop' consideration.  As far as we're concerned it is 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 the near record pulse of tropical activity off Mexico (8/18-9/20) resulting in Lowell, Super Hurricane Marie, followed by Odile and Polo (though these last 2 produced no swell) and now Rachel. And then even a few inches of snow in the Sierra on Sept 27. The last time any of this happened was during the '97 and '83 El Ninos. The only argument against the feedback loop now is a west moving Pacific Counter Current.

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 from our perspective. 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 gone except the Pacific Counter Current. 

Note that what we consider 'teleconnected' and what NOAA considers threshold El Nino conditions are two different things and serve different purposes. We are focused on monitoring weather events that contribute to the production of open ocean storms mainly in the Pacific Basin that may or may not have the same impacts as a full blown El Nino. So our criteria is certainly less than the threshold of NOAAs. That said, considering the size and duration of the westerly wind bursts in Jan-April, and the Kelvin Wave that preceded it, 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 Aug 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 October will help to put the final nail in coffin, though given the current track record, it is only a formality at this time. We will continue monitoring westerly wind anomalies and warm subsurface water buildup in and under the Kelvin Wave Generation area. Also monitoring of the NPac jetstream (which has already been productive) and Atlantic hurricane activity (which is nonexistent) are key. But at this time odds continue stacking up in favor that a global teleconnection is now established. If that's true, the focus then becomes estimating how deep the ENSO cycle will become, or whether it will stay shallow but transition into a multi-year event. At this time we're predisposed to the multiyear, Midoki scenario. And that is actually the better of all options.    

At a minimum the ocean is well past recharge mode, with cold water from the multiyear 2010-2013 La Nina cycle dispersed and temperatures on the rise. Officially we are still in a neutral ENSO atmospheric pattern, with no El Nino in.cgiay. But given all current signs, from a winter storm and swell production perspective, atmospheric transition is well underway.  Even if we never reach official El Nino status  this is a far better.cgiace than previous years (2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013) under the direct influence of La Nina. Still lingering concerns about what appears to be a decadal bias towards a cooler regime (since 1998) will temper our forecasts.

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the  El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13 


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell production is forecast.  The models have been continuously teasing of a storm forming south of Tasmania on Wed (10/1) with 45 kt southwest winds and seas building to 42 ft in the evening at 50S 150E (208 degs Fiji) tracking decently up into the South Tasman Sea Thurs AM (10/2) with 42 ft seas holding and moving to 48S 161E aimed decently up the 202 degree path to Fiji. If this were to occur swell with period starting at 20 secs would start arriving in Fiji on Sun 00Z GMT (10/5). Something to monitor.

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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