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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, September 29, 2018 5:34 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
3.0 - California & 3.0 - Hawaii
Using the 'Summer' Scale
(See Swell Category Table link at bottom of page)

Probability for presence of largest swells in near-shore waters of NCal, SCal or Hawaii.    

Issued for Week of Monday 10/1 thru Sun 10/7

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   

Multiple Small NPac Gales in Flight
New Zealand Storm Corridor to Activate Too

On Saturday, September 29, 2018 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.7 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 16.9 secs from 194 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.4 ft @ 10.8 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 11.8 secs from 150 degrees. Wind at the buoy was east at 6-8 kts. Water temperature 68.9 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.4 ft @ 11.2 secs from 156 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.2 ft @ 13.2 secs from 181 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.3 ft @ 13.5 secs from 214 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.2 ft @ 11.2 secs from 172 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 2.8 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 1.3 ft @ 14.6 secs from 186 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was calm. Water temp 57.6 degs (042).

See Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (bottom of the page)

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.

Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.

Current Conditions
On Saturday (9/29) in North and Central CA northwest windswell was producing waves at knee to thigh high on the sets and heavily textured from south wind and weak. Protected breaks were completely flat and clean. At Santa Cruz surf on the sets was knee to thigh high with a few stray waist high peaks and clean and slow. In Southern California/Ventura surf was waist high or so on the sets and clean and lined up when they came. In North Orange Co surf was waist high and weak and mushy and fairly clean. South Orange Country's best breaks were chest to shoulder high on the bigger sets and lined up but soft with a fair amount of moderate texture coming from the west in the water. In North San Diego surf was chest to shoulder high and clean and lined up and pretty closed out. Hawaii's North Shore was getting north windswell with waves head high to 2 ft overhead but pretty jumbled and weak though semi lined up. The South Shore was up to waist high and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around windswell from the north at head high and a bit jumbled from modest east wind early.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (9/29) small south swell, the forerunners from Hurricane Rose, were starting to show in Southern CA. In Hawaii windswell from a gale that developed in the Northwestern Gulf on Wed (9/26) producing 16 ft seas aimed south was hitting making for rideable surf. Down south a gale tracked northeast along the coast of New Zealand with 29-32 ft seas aimed north on Tues-Wed (9/26) with swell in the water pushing northeast. Beyond a series of 3 gales are to start tracking east under New Zealand on Mon (10/1) continuously through Thurs (10/4) with seas ranging from 32-38 ft possibly setting up some swell radiating northeast. In the North Pacific a small gale was tracking from just off Japan towards the dateline with seas to nearly 30 ft, then is to lift northeast some and possibly redeveloping in the Northern Gulf briefly on Sun (9/30) with seas again building to near 30 ft over a tiny area. Also the remnants of Typhoon Trami are to push just east of the Kuril Islands Mon (10/1) tracking northeast over the intersection of the Aleutians and the dateline early Tues (10/2) with seas building to 37 ft. Also Hurricane Rosa turned north off Mexico Fri AM (9/28) with winds to 120 kts possibly pushing swell towards California, but started fading fast after that.


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

North Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Saturday AM (9/29) windswell from a gale previously in the Western Gulf of Alaska was hitting Hawaii (see North Gulf Gale below). Also swell was being generated from a small gale tracking to the dateline (see Dateline Gale below)

Over the next 72 hours the remnants of Typhoon Trami are to be tracking northeast and becoming exposed east of Northern Japan on Sun PM (9/30) with 55 kt southwest winds and seas building from 32 ft at 40N 144E. On Mon AM (10/1) the gale is to racing northeast with 50 kt southwest winds over and extending east of the Kuril Islands with 37 ft seas over a modest area at 44N 156E (305 degs NCal) aimed northeast. In the evening the gale is to be exposed off the Northern Kurils producing 50 kt west winds and seas 35 ft at 49N 168E aimed northeast at the Western Aleutians 9307 degs NCal). The gale is to move into the Bering Sea Tues AM (10/2) with seas from previous fetch 32 ft at 51N 175E mostly targeting the Western Aleutians (308 degs NCal). Something to monitor.

Also the gale previously moving from the Kuril's to the dateline (reference Dateline Gale below) is to redevelop in the Northwestern Gulf on Sun AM (9/30) producing 45 kt northwest winds over a small area and seas building from 22 ft at 46N 171W aimed at Hawaii and the US West Coast. In the evening the gale is to be producing northwest winds at 35+ kts over a small area with seas building to 28 ft at 47N 167W aimed southeast. The gale is to lift northeast from there and fade Mon AM (10/1) with northwest winds 30 kts over a small area and seas 19 ft over a modest sized area at 47N 162W. The gale is to fade away in the evening. Something to monitor.


Dateline Gale
A small gale developed just east of the Southern Kuril Islands on Fri AM (9/28) producing a tiny area of 45 kt northwest winds and seas building from 18 ft at 44N 155E. In the evening the gale built while pushing east producing a small area of east winds at 40 kts and seas building to 29 ft at 40N 163E aimed east. On Sat AM (9/29) the gale was tracking east approaching the dateline producing west winds at 35 kts with seas at 29 ft at 39N 170E. In the evening the gale is to reach the dateline with northwest winds 30-35 kts producing 26 ft seas at 38N 179E. The gale is to reorganize while lifting north Sun AM (9/30) with seas from the original fetch fading from 20 ft at 39N 175W targeting Hawaii well (see Short Term Forecast above). Possible swell radiating southeast towards Hawaii and the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tues (10/2) building late AM to 4.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (7.0 ft). Swell fading Wed AM (10/3) from 3.6 ft @ 13 secs (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 325 degrees

North CA: Small swell to arrive starting Thurs (10/4) building to 4.2 ft @ 14-15 secs (6.0 ft) in the afternoon. swell fading Fri AM (10/5) from 4.2 ft @ 13 secs (5.5 ft). Swell Direction: 295-296 degrees


North Gulf Gale
On Tues PM (9/25) a broad low pressure system developed 1200 nmiles north of Hawaii on Tues PM (9/25) positioned in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska producing 30 kt north winds and seas building targeting mainly open ocean south of there. On Wed AM (9/26) 30-35 kt north winds are to be building in coverage some with seas building to 16 ft over a tiny area at 43N 165W aimed south somewhat at Hawaii. In the evening fetch held at 30 kts from the north with seas 15 ft at 42N 166W aimed south-southwest with sideband energy possibly radiating towards Hawaii. The gale is to fade on Thurs AM (9/27) producing no seas of interest. Maybe some small windswell to result for Hawaii.

Hawaii: Swell peaks on Sat (9/29) to 4.2 ft @ 10-11 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell fades Sun AM (9/30) from 3.1 ft @ 10-11 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 350 degrees


Windswell Forecast
California: No windswell producing fetch of interest is forecast Sat (9/29) through Tues (10/2). See QuikCAST's for details.

Hawaii: No windswell producing fetch of interest is forecast Sat (9/29) through Tues (10/2). See QuikCAST's for details.


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


Tropical Update
Typhoon Trami: On Saturday (9/29) Trami was 300 nmiles south-southwest of the southern tip of Japan with winds 90 kts (104 mph) tracking northeast at 18 kts with seas 28 ft. Trami is to continue northeast and starting to accelerate pushing over Japan near Kyoto Sunday AM (9/30) and then racing northeast over central Japan to a point just east of the Southern Kuril Islands on Mon AM (10/1) likely fading to tropical storm status with winds 60 kts. See Short Term Forecast (above) for more details.

Hurricane Rosa: On Thursday (9/27) Rosa was 900 nmiles south-southeast of Los Angeles with winds 85 kts tracking west. Rosa slowly strengthened while continuing on a westerly track turning northwest Fri AM (9/28) positioned at 17.0N 117.4W or 950 nmiles south of San Diego CA peaking with winds 120 kts (138 mph) and seas 40 ft. Rosa completed it's turn to the north at 18Z Friday with winds fading to 105 kts (120 mph) with seas 35 ft and pushing swell up into the California swell window. By Sat AM (9/29) Rosa was 750 nmiles south of San Diego with winds fading from 85 kts (98 mph) and seas 29 ft. Theoretically swell is radiating north into Southern CA and exposed breaks in NCal. in fact, some small forerunners were hitting SCal on Sat (9/29).

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival overnight Sat (9/29) and building to 4.9 ft @ 14 secs (6.5 ft) on Sun AM (9/30) holding through the day. Swell to build a little more on Mon AM (10/1) pushing 6.5 ft @ 14 secs (8.5 ft). Swell all but gone on Tues AM (10/2) Swell Direction: 175 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (9/30) mid-morning building to 4.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (6.0 ft). Swell peaking on Mon (10/1) at 4.9 ft @ 14 secs (6.5 ft) holding steady through the day. Swell fading fast Tues AM (10/2) from 2.6 ft @ 11-12 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 165 degrees


Hawaiian Tropical System: The GFS model has been continually suggesting some sort of tropical system is to develop south of Hawaii on Sat (9/29). Yes a tropical low is present there but it is not as developed as previously forecast. This low is to track west while slowly building, then turning northwest Mon (10/1) and north on Tues (10/2) finally starting to get decently organized, then tracking fast to the north-northeast into Wed (10/3) and stalling Thurs AM (10/4) about 800 nmiles northwest of Hawaii before dissipating. There's some potential for sideband southwest swell to radiate towards Kauai as the storm tracks north on Wed (10/3).

Two more tropical systems are forecast, one in the far West Pacific and another south of Baja on Tues (10/2). Something to look forward to.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (9/29) weak low pressure was off Oregon setting up south winds at 10-15 kts over North CA and light winds over Central CA nearshore waters. Light rain possible for North CA north of Bodega Bay. Additional low pressure is to be building 700 nmiles off the CA coast on Sun (9/30) with south winds 5-10 kts along the North and Central coasts. Light rain early for North CA. Monday the low is to move to about 450 west of San Francisco with south winds continuing at 10 kts for North and Central CA. Rain building from Big Sur northward to Cape Mendocino late evening. Tues (10/2) the low is to move to a point 200 nmiles off Big Sur CA with south winds building to 15 kts there and 10 kts elsewhere. Solid rain is possible from Pt Conception north to Cape Mendocino through the day. Wed (10/3) the low is to fade off Pt Conception with a light winds pattern continuing nearshore. Rain still possible from San Francisco south to Pt Conception. Light snow in the highest elevations of the South Sierra. Thursday (10/4) high pressure is to start setting up off the coast with north winds building to 15 kts along North and Central CA later in the day. Fri (10/5) north winds to be 15-20 kts just off the entire North and Central CA coast. Sat (10/6) north winds to be 20 kts for all of North and Central CA waters early then fading over Central CA to 10 kts late.


South Pacific

On Saturday AM (9/29) the southern branch of the jetstream was weak ridging south under New Zealand pushing into Antarctica continuing inland the whole way across the South Pacific offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the ridging pattern is to continue under New Zealand and sweeping east across the entire South Pacific through Sun (9/30) offering no support for gale development. But later Mon (10/1) winds are to start building under Tasmania at 58S pushing east at 140 kts and sweeping east on that latitude into Wed (10/3) possibly opening up a small area between the jet and Antarctic Ice to allow low pressure to develop, through no clearly defined troughs are forecast. Beyond 72 hours starting Thurs (10/4) through Sat (10/6) more of the same is forecast with the jet generally running due east on the 57S latitude line with winds 110 kts or grater offering support for low pressure development.

Surface Analysis  
On Saturday (9/29) swell from a gale that tracked along the New Zealand coast was radiating northeast (see Small New Zealand Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.


Small New Zealand Gale
A gale developed south of Tasmania on Mon AM (9/24) producing a broad fetch of 35-40 kt southwest winds with seas 27 ft at 58.5S 146E. The gale lifted northeast in the evening with winds still 35-40 kts over a solid area but mostly impacting Southern New Zealand with 33 ft seas at 53S 158E and barely in the CA swell window (221 degrees). On Tues AM (9/25) southwest fetch was holding while easing east at 30-35 kts aimed northeast and just barely clear of New Zealand with seas 30 ft at 49S 170E just clear of Auckland Island and in the Hawaii (201 degrees) and CA swell windows (221-222 degrees). In the evening the gale barely held with 30-35 kt south-southwest winds holding and seas 29 ft at 50S 172E free and clear of any land (200 degs HI, (220 degs CA). On Wed AM (9/26) southwest fetch of 30-35 kts is to be producing 27 ft seas at 45S 180W (220 degs CA, 200 degs HI) aimed well north. In the evening the fetch faded and barely 30 kts from the southwest over a fragmented area with seas 25 ft at 49S 173W. Fetch dissipated Thurs AM (9/27) with no seas of interest left. Possible swell for Tahiti and Hawaii but much less size for US West Coast given the relatively low wind speeds and sea heights causing significant decay on the long journey north.

Hawaii: Swell arrival expected on Tues (10/2) with swell building to 1.6 ft @ 17 secs later (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell to peak on Wed (10/3) at 2.1 ft @ 15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft) . Swell to fade Thurs (10/4) from 2.1 ft @ 14 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading Fri (10/5) from 1.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 200 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (10/4) mid-day at 1.0 ft @ 19 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). On Fri (10/5) swell is to build to 2.0 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell fading Sat (10/6) from 1.8 ft @ 15-16 secs early (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 220 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (10/4) late at 1.3 ft @ 18 secs (2.0 ft). On Fri (10/5) swell is to build to 1.8 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading Sat (10/6) from 1.7 ft @ 15-16 secs early (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 220 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 no swell producing weather systems are forecast.

Windswell Forecast
On Thursday (10/4) high pressure at 1026 mbs is to start building 600 nmiles west of North CA ridging east into the Pacific Northwest with northwest winds building at 15 kts along the North and Central CA coast. Windswell not yet building, but close. On Fri (10/5) north winds along the North and Central Coast to be 20 kts early with a gradient developing and lifting north some in the afternoon with north winds 25 kts over North CA and off the coast of Central CA producing raw local north windswell. On Sat AM (10/6) the gradient is to continue lifting north with north winds 30 kts just off Pt Arena but local north winds 10-15 kts from San Francisco southward and raw local north windswell in the waters of North and Central CA.

Hawaii: On Thursday (10/4) high pressure at 1026 mbs is to start building 600 nmiles west of North CA also getting traction well east of Hawaii with 15 kts east winds starting to build in the afternoon about 600 nmiles east of Hawaii. No windswell building just yet. On Fri (10/5) a broad fetch of east winds at 15+ kts is forecast setting up from about 200 nmiles northeast of Hawaii extending 1200 nmiles east of there starting to generate solid easterly windswell along exposed east facing shores of the Islands. More of the is forecast on Sat (10/6).


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a series of gales are forecast pushing east under New Zealand. The first is forecast developing under New Zealand on Mon AM (10/1) producing 55 kts southwest winds and seas building to 37 ft at 57S 169E aimed east. In the evening fetch is to fall southeast still at 55 kts from the west with seas 43 ft at 61S 179EW aimed east. Tues AM (10/2) southwest winds to hold at 45-50 kts with seas 41 ft at 62S 170W aimed east just barely clear of Antarctic Ice. Fetch fading from 40 kts in the evening from the southwest with 37 ft seas at 61S 164W. The gael to fade from there.

Another gale is to pass under New Zealand on Mon PM (10/1) with 45 kt southwest winds getting traction on already roughed up ocean surface producing 39 ft seas at 56S 168E aimed east. On Tues AM (10/2) 40 kt west winds to continue pushing east with 36 ft seas at 55S 179W.

Another fetch to follow behind on Wed PM (10/3) with a broad area of 40+ kt west winds pushing east with 37 ft seas aimed east at 55.5S 166E. On Thurs AM (10/4) west winds to continue at 40+ kts from the west with seas 37-38 ft at 56S 175E. Additional fetch to follow in the evening with 35 kt west winds and seas fading from 33 ft at 55S 172W. Something to monitor.

Details to follow...


MJO/ENSO Forecast


Sea Surface Temps Rising Solidly Along Equator

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 equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing 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 planet, 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 in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.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).

Overview: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. A double dip La Nina was in control and continued through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018 associated with two upwelling Kelvin Waves, and continued trying to build over equatorial waters in July and beyond, but could not sustain itself, suggesting the demise of La Nina but not yet turning towards El Nino.

Fall/Winter 2018 = 6.5 (California & Hawaii)
Rating based on a 1-10 scale: 1 being the lowest (small and infrequent surf conditions), 5 being normal/average, and 10 being extraordinary (frequent events of large, long period swells)

Rationale: Assuming the PDO has moved to the warm phase and that El Nino develops as forecast, and assuming and an ocean-atmospheric coupling becomes established in the Sept timeframe and ocean temperature anomalies in Nino3.4 build to the +1.0 deg range, there is good probability for enhanced storm production in the North Pacific starting in the late Nov timeframe (specifically the Gulf of Alaska and Dateline regions) with an increased intensity in number of storm days and storm intensity, resulting in increased odds for larger than normal swell, with increased duration and higher than normal period.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Fri (9/28) 5 day average winds were from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific then fading on the dateline and turning strongly from the west just west of there and filling the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the East Pacific then turning light westerly south of Hawaii and building to strong westerly filling the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (9/29) strong west anomalies were in the core of the KWGA and have been for the past 7 days. Strong west anomalies are to fade out on 9/30 and turning to modest east anomalies on 10/1 continuing through the end of the model run but retrograding west and decreasing coverage. So it appears we're in a mini-Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) right now but that is to quickly fade.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (9/28) A modest Inactive/Dry signal was over the far West Pacific easing into the KWGA. The statistical model depicts that this pattern is to slowly build with a full moderate Inactive/Dry Phase in control of the KWGA at day 5-10, then starting to fade at day 15 in the West Pacific. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the strongest portion of the Inactive Phase in play over days 10-15.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (9/29) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was strong over the Atlantic and is to be hold at moderate strength slowly moving west over Africa and into the Indian Ocean at the end of the model run 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts a variation on the same thing but not quite as strong and making it only to Africa at the end of the model run.
40 day Upper Level Model: (9/29) This model depicts a weak Wet signal over the far East Pacific and is to push into Central America on 10/4. A strong Dry/Inactive pattern is over the Maritime Continent but it is to be fading some while moving into West Pacific 10/7 and is to track east while fading filling the equatorial Pacific 10/12 but pretty weak and then pushing into Central America on 10/27. A moderate Active/Wet signal is to follow in the West Pacific starting 10/22 pushing east to the Central equatorial Pacific at the end of the model run on 11/8.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (9/28) This model depicts strong west anomalies over the central KWGA today and is to slow weaken some while moving east and out of the KWGA by 10/6. Modest east anomalies are to develop over the Western KWGA 10/3 reaching east to 165E and holding through 10/16 then retrograding west while weakening and mostly out of the KWGA by 10/19 while modest west anomalies redevelop in the Eastern KWGA about 10/18 and holding through the end of the model run on 10/26. This now looks a little more like previous model runs where westerly anomalies are to hold steadily from here forward. It seems that El Nino is trying to take root, but not coupled yet with the Inactive Phase of the MJO likely to damped quick development.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (9/29) This model depicts a weak Inactive/Dry MJO signal over the western KWGA but with moderate west wind anomalies filling the KWGA and forecast to hold for the next 2-3 days. Then the Inactive Phase is to build over the KWGA and in control 10/3 holding through 10/28 with east anomalies reaching east almost to the dateline but then fading and retrograding west with west anomalies starting to develop in the heart of the KWGA on 10/18. The Active Phase of the MJO is to take root 10/25 with west anomalies at that time building to WWB status 11/14-12/2 then west anomalies holding till 12/4 when the Active Phase start fading. A weak Inactive Phase is to develop 12/5 but west anomalies holding through the end of the model run on 12/27. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is fully in control of the KWGA reaching east to 125W at 3 contour lines and is to build east to 120W (over California) by 10/2 and to 115W in mid-October. A 4th contour line previously forecast to start 12/2 and holding through the end of the model run has return forecast to start on 12/16. The high pressure bias has dissolved south of California (9/11) and is to not return and is instead building over the Indian Ocean and reached 2 contour lines on 9/29. The atmosphere and ocean are slowly becoming coupled towards an El Nino bias in the Pacific Ocean. But the coupling is developing a bit less aggressively than expected. It's not clear when full coupling will occur, though we're now tempted to say mid to late Oct. This pattern is slowly becoming more favorable to support storm production in the Pacific regardless of whether El Nino develops, especially compared to the 2 previous years.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (9/29) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs solid reaching east and stable at 170E. The 28 deg isotherm line was easing east at 158W. The 24 deg isotherm was 125 meters deep at 140W then setting progressively shallower east of there breaching the surface today and steady at 105W. Anomaly wise warm anomalies are building indicative of the new Kelvin Wave (#2) at +3 degs centered under 170W down 150 meters and reaching east to Ecuador in the +1-2 degree range. Basically warm anomalies are filling the entire Pacific subsurface region. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 9/25 paints the same picture with the Second Kelvin Wave pushing aggressively east from the Maritime Continent spilling into the West Pacific pushing under the dateline at +4.0 degs reaching east to 125W at that strength then east to 95W in the +2 degrees range. The remnants of the Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle was dissipating but still present at 90W at -1 deg C. Kelvin Wave #2 was poised to breach the surface from 105W to 130W. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (9/25) Positive anomalies were solid from the Maritime Continent over the West Equatorial Pacific and dateline and broad in coverage east to 120W at +5-15 cms indicative of a new Kelvin Wave (#2) building and pushing east. East of there it weakened some with 5 cms anomalies in a thin but continuous stream continuing to Ecuador and branching out along the Central American Coast. El Nino appears to be developing.

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. All data is from blended infrared and microwave sensors.
Satellite Imagery
Hi-res Nino1.2 & 3.4: (9/28) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were biased cool along the outer coast of Peru and Chile but warming quickly nearshore and significant warming building compared to days past. A thin stream of very warm anomalies were stretched directly over the equator from Ecuador westward to 120W and more solid that weeks past then weaker warming out to the dateline. Generic warm anomalies were north of there from Central America and south of Mexico building out to Hawaii and the dateline. Previous small pockets of persistent cool upwelling on the equator have vaporized. The remnants of the La Nina cool pool were gone. It's actually starting to look like El Nino.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (9/28): A strong warming pattern is in place extending continuously from the Ecuador over the Galapagos along the equator out to 125W and then weaker west of there to the dateline. This is a significant turnaround. Temps were warming along the coasts of Chile and Peru too.
Hi-res Overview: (9/28) A pocket of weak cool water was present along the coasts of Chile and Peru. Otherwise moderate warm water was on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos out to the 125W then weaker out to the dateline. There were no longer any small imbedded pockets of cool anomalies. It seems we've turned the corner to a warm regime and are no longer in a mixed pattern where La Nina cool anomalies are present intermixed with warm anomalies.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (9/29) Today's temps were falling some at +0.940 down from the all time high for this event on 9/25 +1.316. Two previous peaks occurred of +0.510 degs on 9/17 and +0.459 on 5/13. Otherwise temps have been steady in the -0.50 deg range.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (9/29) Today temps were falling some at +0.577, dropping from the all time high of +0.649 on 9/27, beating the previous peak at +0.490 on 7/2. Overall temps are slowly and steadily fading from the +0.25 degs range the past month. This looks nothing like El Nino.

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CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (9/29) The forecast calls for a steady increase from here forward rising Oct 1 to +0.70 degs and to +0.90 degs in early Nov and to +1.0 degs in Dec holding through April 2019 then slowly fading through May 2019 down to +0.75 degs. This suggests that perhaps El Nino is to build through the Fall of 2018. Most other models are also suggesting a possible turn to weak El Nino conditions by late Fall.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Sept Plume depicts temps at +0.52 degs in August (predicted at +0.6 last month) and are to slowly rise from here forward, to +0.71 in October (+0.8 per last months forecast) and +0.8 to +0.9 in Nov through March 2019, then slowly fading to 0.7 in May. See chart here - link. It looks like La Nina is fading out and there's a 76% chance of a weak El Nino developing.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (9/29): The daily index was still negative at -9.51 today. The 30 day average was falling at -7.46 suggesting an Active MJO was holding. The 90 day average was falling at -4.42. The 90 degree average turned negative for the first time in a year on 6/30 suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern was building in the atmosphere. This is expected for a month more before falling into steady negative territory by mid August.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (9/29) Today the index was rising steadily at -0.11 after falling to -0.43 on 9/22. It fell below it's all time recent high of +0.24 on 9/8. The reading from 8/14 (+0.11) was the first time it's turned positive in a year. But this recent turn to negative suggest that perhaps La Nina is not gone or at a minimum the Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave Cycle is occurring. In reality, we're in ENSO neutral state now and it's not unexpected that the Index will toggle between weakly positive to weakly negative. Recent points of interest in reverse chronological order are: -1.04 on 6/5, -0.70 on 5/20, -0.60 on 5/17, -0.36 on 5/11 and -0.38 on 5/10, -0.35 on 4/26, -1.02 on 4/5, -1.13 on 3/27. The trend suggests La Nina is all but gone. This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina situations.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly positive, even though La Nina is in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values: June 2017 +0.21, July -0.50, Aug -0.62, Sept -0.25, Oct -0.61, Nov -0.45, Dec -0.13, Jan 2018 +0.29, Feb -0.19, Mar -0.61, April -0.89, May -0.69, June -0.88, July -0.23. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): June 2017 +0.79, July +0.10, Aug +0.09, Sept +0.32, Oct +0.05, Nov +0.15, Dec +0.50, Jan +0.70. Feb +0.37, Mar -0.05, April +0.11, May +0.11, June -0.04. No real negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina). Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data strongly suggests that could be a possibility. By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

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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