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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, October 9, 2014 9:52 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 = 2.2 - California & 3.9 - Hawaii
Using the 'Winter' 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 10/6 thru Sun 10/12

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

Dateline Swell Pushing Towards Hawaii
Small Kamchatka Swell Up Next for CA

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 Thursday (10/9) in North and Central CA surf was waist to maybe chest high and weak and warbled and basically blown out due to northwest winds.  Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist to chest high on rare the sets and clean but weak and warbled mainly due to tide. In Southern California up north surf was flat and washing directly onto the beach though given the right break surf could have been waist high. Conditions were clean with no wind blowing. Down south mixed southerly swell was producing waves at waist high or so and clean with south texture on it. Hawaii's North Shore was getting solid swell with waves 2-3 ft overhead with 10 ft Hawaiian sets pushing through on occasion with clean conditions and well lined up swell energy pushing in. The South Shore was still getting residual background swell producing waves in the waist high range on occasion and clean. On the East Shore wrap around swell was producing surf in the thigh to waist high range and textured with light 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 gale pushed off Kamchatka on Sunday (10/5) with seas to 37 ft late targeting Hawaii well. Swell is hitting Hawaii but arriving later than projected and theoretically bound for the US West Coast. The remnants of Typhoon (Phanfone) pushed east off Japan and have merged with a cold core gale that previously tracked off Kamchatka (see above). It reached the dateline generating a small area of up to 39 ft seas Wed (10/8) with seas forecast to 41 ft on Thurs (10/9) aimed east targeting the US West Coast well. But Jason data suggests these readings are overstated. regardless, swell is already in the water pushing towards Hawaii and California with more swell production still to come. And yet another typhoon (Vongfong) built to Super Typhoon status on Tues-Wed (10/8) south of Japan and east of the Northern Philippines and then turned north expected to tracking over Japan and the Kurils. No recurvature to the northeast is expected long term. And a cold core low is forecast developing near the dateline on Mon (10/13) a week out but only targeting back towards Japan. Something to monitor. The southern hemisphere is to produce a small gale Mon-Tues (10/14) southeast of New Zealand with 32 ft seas tracking east.  Low confidence in this occurring at this time.  In all a pretty active early season pattern is setting up for the North Pacific. 

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

North Pacific

Jetstream - On Thursday (10/9) the jetstream was pushing east off Southern Japan with winds building to 140 kt half way to the dateline building to 150 kts just east of the dateline, then .cgiitting 1000 nmiles east of Oregon in the Eastern Gulf with most energy tracking north up into Alaska. No real trough were indicated through wind speeds alone suggested support for gale development in the dateline region. Over the next 72 hours this basic configuration is to hold into later Friday (10/10) but with the .cgiit point moving onshore over north Washington state with a bit of a trough starting to build on the dateline into Sat (10/11). But at the same time the jet is to be .cgiitting over the Kurils and becoming more defined into Sunday but limited to the West Pacific. The dateline trough is to push east into the Gulf of Alaska with 160 kt winds feeding it offering some support for gale development there. Beyond 72 hours the Gulf trough is to build with up to 170 kt winds feeding it Mon-Tues (10/14) with the apex of the trough pushing over the San Francisco area late on Tuesday but also starting to wash out then.  This configuration is to support weather rather than swell production relative to the US West Coast. Back to the west the .cgiit flow is to dissipate, but a large ridge is to evolve with the jet pushing northeast off Japan arching up into the Bering Sea, then falling southeast through the Gulf of Alaska with a cutoff upper low circulating south of the ridge on the dateline. No real support for gale production indicated other than what is previously noted. By Thursday (10/16) a single consolidate flow is to be in.cgiay over the entire Pacific ridging northeast from Japan to the Central Aleutians then falling southeast into the Gulf of Alaska at 120 kts with a nice trough there then ridging up into Oregon. More support for gale development in the Eastern Gulf possible. 

Surface Analysis  - On Thursday (10/9) swell from a winter gale that built off Kamchatka was hitting Hawaii (see Kamchatka Gale below).  And the remnants of the Kamchatka Gale and the remnants of Typhoon Phanfone have consolidated forming an extratropical gale now positioned just east of the dateline and pushing east (see Extratropical Storm Phanfone below). A weak high pressure pattern remained over the East Pacific with no trades of interest relative to Hawaii and no gradient induced windswell of interest forecast relative to North and Central CA.

Over the next 72 hours the extratropical storm is to be migrating east-northeast pushing into Alaska over the weekend. A new cold core low enhanced by tropical energy is to start developing just west of the dateline late Saturday (10/11) then consolidating on the dateline Sunday AM (10/12) with high pressure north of it  producing a gradient and east winds in it's north quadrant aimed at Japan at 55 kts with limited 45 kt west winds over a tiny area in it's south quadrant targeting Hawaii somewhat. Seas building. This system to lift north some in the evening with 50 kt east winds still targeting Japan with only 35-40 kt west winds in it's south quadrant. Seas building from 36 ft at 40N 169E targeting only Japan with 32 ft seas in it southeast quadrant at 37N 172E not really targeting Hawaii. Winds to fade quickly Mon AM (10/13) as this system gets cutoff from the jetstream and dissipating. Seas targeting Japan fading from 29 ft at 42N 170E.      


Kamchatka Gale
On Sunday AM (10/5) a gale was developing just east of Kamchatka generating 45 kt northwest winds and 30 ft seas over a small area at 48N 162E. By evening winds are to build to 50 kts with seas increasing to barely 37 ft at 46N 165E 2300 nmiles from Hawaii (319 degs) and 3150 nmiles form NCal (304 degs). The Jason-2 satellite reported seas at 32.1 ft with on reading to 35.6 ft where the model reported 34 ft seas.  The model was about right on track. Fetch was fading fast Mon AM (10/6) from 35 kts with seas dropping from 33 ft at 44N 171E (319 degs Hi, 300 degs NCal). The Jason-2 satellite passed over the east edge of the fetch reporting seas at 26.4 ft with one reading to 30.8 ft where the model indicated seas should be 27 ft. The model was right on track.  Some decent 17-18 secs period swell should result for Hawaii with much smaller size for the mainland.

Hawaii (Oahu): Swell holding into sunrise Thurs (10/9) at 5.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (9 ft Hawaiian) then fading some late afternoon. Residuals holding into Fri AM (10/10) at 4.8 ft @ 15 secs (7 ft Hawaiian). Swell Direction: 319 degrees

NCal: Expect swell arrival Fri AM (10/10) with period at at 18 secs and size building peaking at sunset at near 3 ft @ 17 secs (5 ft faces), but shadowed in the San Francisco area. Swell to continue into Saturday AM (10/11) at 3 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft faces) and fading from there. Swell Direction: 301-302 degrees


Extratropical Storm Phanfone
On Tues AM (10/7) the remnants of what was Typhoon Phanfone (when it was south of Japan) were fully merged with the remnants of a gale that previously tracked off Kamchatka (see Kamchatka Gale above) forming a broad new extratropical gale approaching the dateline with 45 kt northwest winds and seas building from 26 ft at 38N 165E. The Jason-2 satellite passed over the western edge of the fetch at 14Z and reported seas of 25.0 ft with one reading to 27.8 ft where the model reported 26 ft seas. The model was overhyping this system a little.  In the evening this system was sweeping quickly east with winds building to 50 kts and seas 32 ft at 40N 180W (318 degs HI, 292 degs NCal). The Jason-2 satellite passed over the core of the storm 3 hours earlier (21Z) and reported seas over a 15 reading average of 28.6 ft with one reading to 33.4 ft, where the model indicated 32 ft seas. The model appeared to be overhyping this storm, or since the Jason-2 data was 3 hours earlier than the model, seas had not developed to the specified level. By Wed AM (10/8) west winds were 50 kts over a small area with seas building to 39 ft at 44N 172W (333 degs HI, 296 degs NCal, 301 degs SCal). The Jason-2 satellite made another pass directly over the core of the fetch and reported seas at 31.6 ft with a peak reading of 35.8 ft where the model suggested 39 ft seas. And the Jason data was as of 12Z, so no time skew was involved. The model was overhyping the storm. In the evening this system stalled and lifted north some with 45 kt west winds holding up at 46N 170W with seas 38 ft up at 45N 168W (340 degs HI, 297 degs NCal, 302 degs SCal). By Thurs AM (10/9) 45-50 kt west winds were still in.cgiay easing east with seas 41 ft over a tiny area at 45.5N 166W bypassing Hawaii and pushing down the 297 degree track to NCal. 40 kt west winds to be fading in the evening with the gale easing east-northeast into the Northern Gulf with 39 ft seas fading at 47N 159W (302 degs NCal). Winds fading from 35 kts Fri AM (10/10) with seas fading from 34 ft at 50N 153W (309 degs NCal).

At this time swell is in the water pushing towards Hawaii and California with more swell production forecast relative to California, mainly focused north of Pt Conception from Thurs AM (109) onwards. There is some concern regarding early Jason-2 readings, that the resulting swell will be something less than what would be forecast if one only used the wave model data for calculating swell heights. Still, solid swell is to result, but nothing over the top.  Just normal Fall energy.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival starting at sunset Thurs (10/9) with period 19 secs and size tiny and buried by Kamchatka swell. Swell to build overnight and start peaking Fri (10/10) near 7 AM at 8.4 ft @ 16 secs (13.5 ft Hawaiian). Swell holding solid through the day with period falling to 15 secs late. Swell to continue on Saturday (10/11) at 7.2 ft @ 14 secs early (10 ft) and fading slowly through the day (6 ft @ 13-14 secs late - 8 ft Hawaiian). Residuals on Sunday 5.7 ft @ 13 secs 97.5 ft). Swell Direction: 318-333 degrees

Northern CA: Rough estimates based on confirmed and forecast data suggests swell arrival late on Saturday (10/11) building to 4.8 ft @ 18 secs late (8.5 ft). Swell continuing to build overnight peaking Sun (10/12) near sunrise at 7.8 ft @ 17 secs (13 ft) and partially shadowed in the SF Bay area. Period holding at 16 secs with swell size holding through the day. Swell fading Mon AM (10/13) from 7.3 ft @ 14-15 secs early (10.5 ft).  Residuals on Tues AM (10/14) fading from 4.8 ft @ 13 secs (6 ft faces).  Swell Direction: 296-298 degrees initially moving to 302-309 degrees The forecast above includes deprecation based on Jason-2 data. 

Southern CA: Rough estimates based on confirmed and forecast data suggests swell arrival on Sunday AM (10/12) building to 3.5 ft @ 18 secs late (6.3 ft). Swell continuing to build and peak overnight. By Monday AM (10/13)  swell to be 3.9 ft @ 16-17 secs early (6.5 ft) holding decently through the day with period down to 15-16 sec late. Swell fading Tues AM (10/14) from 3.0 ft @ 14 secs early (4 ft).  Residuals on Wed AM (10/15) fading from 2.3 ft @ 13 secs (3 ft faces).  Swell Direction: 301-302 degrees initially moving to 302-310+ degrees 

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

Tropical Update
Typhoon Vongfong was 100 nmiles north of Guam on Sun 18Z (10/5) with winds 90 kts and tracking west-northwest. Steady strengthening occurred while holding it's west-northwest track into Tuesday AM (10/7). At that time winds were 120 kts with seas 44 ft positioned 900 nmiles south of Kyoto Japan. Vongfong peaked out Tues PM (10/7) with winds to 155 kts (180 mph) putting it well into at Super Typhoon status positioned 750 nmiles south of Southern Japan and 600 nmiles east of the Northern Philippines. Vongfong started making a hard turn to the northwest and north on Wednesday (10/8) with winds holding at 145 kts (167 mph) and was moving due north on Thurs AM (10/9) with winds down to 130 kts (150 mph). It was positioned 700 nmiles south of Southern Japan.  This system is to continue on a northward track  through Sun AM (10/12) with winds 80 kts and starting to accelerate to the north-northeast, moving over Southern Japan in the evening continuing to head right up the middle of Japan starting Mon (10/13) then moving up the Kuril Islands on Tuesday (10/14).  Perhaps a late turn into the open Northwest Pacific is possible (see Long Term forecast below). 

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (10/9) high pressure at 1018 mbs was between California and Hawaii ridging slightly into Oregon and generating a weak fetch of 15 kts north winds along the North and Central CA coast. Trades remained light relative to Hawaii. More of the same is forecast on Friday with high pressure building offshore to 1022 mbs ridging towards Oregon while low pressure starts moving into the Gulf of Alaska. Trades to build in Hawaii too associated with this high.  The gradient is to try and lift north on Sat AM (10/11) but not make it with north winds 15-20 kts along the North and Central Coasts building to 25 kts Sun AM but finally isolated to the Cape Mendocino area but with 20 kt north winds over outer waters off all of Central CA and fading as the day continues. A light wind regime is forecast Monday-Wednesday (10/15) as low pressure builds in the Gulf, fall south some then falters. Light rain possible down to Monterey Bay Tues PM fading Wed AM. South winds and another front are to move into extreme North CA waters on Thursday but likely not make it down to even Pt Reyes. Light winds south of there are forecast. 

South Pacific

Surface Analysis  - On Thursday (10/9) no swell producing fetch was occurring and none is forecast for the next 72 hours.

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 remnants of the extratropical storm moving from the dateline into the Gulf are to redevelop again in the Northern Gulf on Mon (10/13) aided by a favorable upper level jetstream flow generating 35 kt northwest winds and 20 ft seas at 48N 152W targeting the Pacific Northwest. In the evening northwest winds to build to 40 kts over a modest sized area with 28 ft seas building at 52N 148W (319 degs NCal) again targeting the Pacific Northwest best. Winds to build to near 45 kts Tues AM (10/14) with 32 ft seas over tiny area at 50N 143W (317 degs NCal). Fetch is to fall southeast in the evening and be fading from 40 kts with 30 ft seas at 47N 137W (318 degs NCal). This system to fade thereafter. A rather windy and wet pattern is possible for the Pacific Northwest. 

Yet anther gale to develop during the day Thurs (10/18) from remnants of the above system just off Oregon producing 40-45 kt northwest winds and 22 ft seas at 46N 137W (308 degs NCal). More stormy weather for the Pacific Northwest possible. 

And remnants of Typhoon Vongfong to push east off Kamchatka late on Wed 910/15) generating possibly 40 kt west winds and 30 ft seas, mostly driving into the Western Aleutians. Something to monitor.         

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 Thursday (10/9) the daily SOI was up to 4.12. The 30 day average was up at -3.99 and the 90 day average was up some at -6.39. 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 a fading Active Phase of the MJO. A lower pressure regime is forecast building over and south of Tahiti starting late Thurs (10/9) and continuing for a week with falling SOI numbers expected.    

Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated neutral anomalies taking hold over the Maritime Continent turning light easterly on the dateline and then light easterly from a point south of Hawaii to a point mid-way to the Galapagos. Neutral anomalies were east of there. A week from now (10/17) moderate east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent turning to neutral anomalies on the dateline then moderate westerly from the dateline south of Hawaii and onwards into the Galapagos. A Westerly Wind Burst in the West Pacific that started 9/28 ended on 10/8. But residuals from it appear to be working their way east. This pattern suggests tropical development may cease in the West Pacific but might start building under Hawaii and into Mexico a week out if the models are correct. The TOA array indicates moderate west anomalies over the western equatorial Pacific but it runs 1 day behind the models. It is presumed an Active Phase of the MJO was in control there and will now push east. CDAS winds indicate westerly anomalies in the far West Pacific have been in.cgiay near 140E since at least 9/20 and are on the way down.  

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 280 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, and stronger 9/20-10/8 (a WWB) 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 10/8 are generally in sync. They both suggest a weak Active MJO pattern over the West Pacific. Both the Statistic and Dynamic models depicts that Active Phase fading to neutral 10 days out and then turning weakly Inactive. The Dynamic model suggests perhaps up to a moderate Inactive Phase developing up to 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model run 10/9 depicts a weak Active Phase over the Central Pacific and forecast to push east through 10/22. A weak Inactive pulse to follow in the West Pacific starting 10/19 reaching the East Pacific 11/5. Another weak Active Phase to follow starting 11/8. Recent experience this year suggests this model overhypes any projected Inactive Phases. The models are calibrated assuming a neutral global weather pattern, and typically either overcall weather events during La Nina and undercall then during El Nino in the Pacific Basin. This 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 (10/6) 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. TAO data suggests 1.0 deg C anomalies present from Central America to 115W fading to 0.5 deg out to 130W, and then 0.0-+0.5 degs above normal between 130W-180W, down some from last week. This is curious, but high res imagery also indicated the downturn in temps in the heart of the NINO 3.4 area. +1.0 deg anomalies held near 160E (Kelvin Wave Generation Area), suggesting more warm water is poised to track east. Contrary to expectation, warm water is NOT building on the surface in the NINO 3.4 region at the moment (nor is it fading). But a new Kelvin Wave is poised to erupt over the Galapagos. Mixed signals continue. 

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 10/9 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 95W-180W pushing up towards the Galapagos. This is great news indicating the pipe is open and at least one Kelvin Wave is in flight. The leading edge of this new Kelvin Wave is theoretically now reaching the Galapagos. Satellite data from 10/5 depicts a broad 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. Other models collaborate the presumption of Kelvin Wave genesis. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (9/30) indicates this modest Kelvin Wave has developed in the west reaching east to 100W. Even better, a new Kelvin wave is building back at 145E-175W, in sync with the satellite data. It is assumed the light westerly anomalies and the recent WWB of 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 10/1 suggests an unchanged pattern. The current is pushing west to east over the entire Pacific 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 110-140W and also near 140E. There were no significant east anomalies indicated. This data suggests a somewhat mixed picture but continued 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 10/9 are stable and in an interesting way. It suggests water temps have built to +0.5 deg C and are to start increasing building to +1.0 deg C in mid-Dec. 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 the models hint at a gale pushing east under New Zealand on Mon-Tues (10/14) generating 34 ft seas but falling southeast into Antarctica late. Maybe some sideband energy to result with luck. But mostly no swell production of interest is forecast.  

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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