Swell Classification Guidelines
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
Summer - 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).
Summer - 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.
Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
On Saturday (10/11) in North and Central CA surf was head high to 1 ft overhead and lined up with swell coming from Kamchatka and some warbled on top with heavy overcast. Down in Santa Cruz surf was chest high on the sets and clean but weaker than up north again with heavy overcast. In Southern California up north surf was knee high with a few bigger sets and clean but weak and not real rideable. Down south waves were thigh to waist high and clean but breaking close to the beach and nothing special. Hawaii's North Shore was still decent with waves 4 ft overhead or more and clean and lined up but with less size and power than Friday. Trades in control early. The South Shore was getting tropical wrap around swell with waves chest high and clean. On the East Shore wrap around swell was producing surf in the waist high range and chopped with trades in effect.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
For the North Pacific a gale pushed off Kamchatka on Sunday (10/5) with seas to 37 ft late targeting Hawaii well. Swell has past Hawaii but arrived in California on Friday and continues into today. Of more interest is the remnants of Typhoon (Phanfone) which pushed east off Japan and merged with a cold core gale that previously tracked off Kamchatka. It reached the dateline generating a small area of up to 39 ft seas Wed (10/8) up to 41 ft on Thurs (10/9) aimed east targeting the US West Coast well. But Jason data suggests these readings are overstated. That swell has already peaked in Hawaii in the 10-11 ft range (Hawaiian) and is bound for California on Sun-Mon (10/13). remnants of this system to redevelop in the Gulf Mon-Tues (10/14) producing 22 ft seas and some swell for the US West Coast, and possibly weather too. Another cold core low is forecast developing near the dateline on Mon (10/13) but only aiming fetch back towards Japan. 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 Sun-Mon (10/13) and then just east of the Kurils. Some recurvature to the northeast is expected long term possible making it intact to the Gulf of Alaska. The models keep teasing about a small gale developing in the Southwest Pacific a week out, but that seems more like a fairy take than reality at this point. It certainly appears the North Pacific is on-line and pushing forward, with no looking back. Summer is over.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Saturday (10/9) the jetstream was ridging northeast over inland China then falling south just off Japan and turning east pushing over the dateline and rising gently through the Gulf eventually pushing inland over Washington state. Winds were up to 150 kts on the dateline feeding a small and weak trough there then building to 160 kts over the Gulf. but only the small trough on the dateline held any promise of support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the jet is to .cgiit over the Kurils on 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 and offering support for gale development there. The Gulf trough is to build with up to 190 kt winds feeding it Mon-Tues (10/14) with the apex of the trough pushing over Cape Mendocino late on Tuesday but also starting to weaken then. This configuration is to support a gale in the Gulf initially then weather for the Pacific Northwest. Back to the west the .cgiit flow is to dissipate, but a large ridge is to start developing later Tuesday (10/14) with the jet pushing northeast off Japan arching up into the central Aleutians, then falling southeast through the Gulf of Alaska terminating with the aforementioned trough off North CA. Beyond 72 hours a single consolidate flow is to be in.cgiay over the entire Pacific by thurs (10/16) ridging northeast from Japan to the Central Aleutians then falling southeast into the Gulf of Alaska at 120-130 kts with a nice trough developing in the Gulf and a.cgiifying into Saturday (10/18) with nearly 140 kts winds supporting it. Good support for gale development in the Gulf possible. In all a favorable jetstream flow is in control.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (10/11) swell from a winter gale that built off Kamchatka was hitting California but on it's way down. The remnants of that gale and remnants of Typhoon Phanfone consolidated forming an extratropical gale that tracked over the dateline into the Gulf of Alaska (see Extratropical Storm Phanfone below). Weak high pressure remained over the East Pacific producing a light northerly flow over California waters and trades relative to Hawaii. The remnants of the extratropical storm were pushing into Canada and all but gone and what was Super Typhoon Vongfong was tracking north positioned just south of Japan (see Tropical Update section for details).
Over the next 72 hours 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 40 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 45 kt west winds wrapping around it's core in it's south quadrant. Seas building to 38 ft at 40N 169E targeting only Japan with 28 ft seas in it southeast quadrant at 37N 170E not really targeting Hawaii. Winds to fade quickly Mon AM (10/13) from maybe 35 kts in it's south quadrant with seas dropping from 24 ft at 39N 170E targeting Hawaii down the 312 degree path over a tiny area as this system gets cutoff from the jetstream and dissipating. Maybe a small pulse of background northwest swell to result for Hawaii.
Also 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 35-40 kt northwest winds and 22 ft seas at 50N 152W targeting the Pacific Northwest. In the evening northwest winds to build to 40 kts over a modest sized area with 25 ft seas building at 49N 150W (309 degs NCal) again targeting the Pacific Northwest down into North CA. Winds to fade from 35 kts Tues AM (10/14) with 27 ft seas over small area at 45N 145W (296 degs NCal). Fetch is to fall southeast in the evening and be fading from barely 35 kts with 24 ft seas at 43N 137W (296 degs NCal). This system to fade thereafter. Larger raw swell is possible for the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA. A rather windy and wet pattern is possible for that area too.
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 were 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 were fading from 35 kts Fri AM (10/10) with seas fading from 33 ft at 49N 153W (307 degs NCal).
This system has produced swell that has already peaked in Hawaii (on Fri 10/10) and is pushing towards California, mainly focused north of Pt Conception. There remains 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: Residuals on Sunday 5.7 ft @ 13 secs (7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 318-333 degrees
Northern CA: Expect 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 6.8 ft @ 14-15 secs early (9.5 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: Expect swell arrival 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
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 continued on a northward track into Sat AM (110/11) with winds falling steadily, down to 75 kts and 300 nmiles south-southwest of Southern Japan. On Sun AM (10/12) winds to be 60 kts and Vongfong is to start accelerate to the north-northeast, moving over Southern Japan in the evening continuing to head right up the east coast of Japan and mid-day up the peninsula Mon AM (10/13) then moving into open ocean just east of the Kuril Islands on Tuesday (10/14). Vongfong is to be just off the east coast of Kamchatka on Wed AM (10/15) with 40 kts winds and turning east, with the core barely in the bering Sea and most fetch tracking just south of the Central Aleutians near the dateline Thurs AM (10/16) generating 28 ft seas at 51N 175E. The models suggest this system is to hold and start falling east-southeast into the Western Gulf mid-Friday 910/17) with seas still 28 ft and reaching the Central Gulf 24 hours later with seas fading from 25 ft. Something to monitor with sideband energy possible for Hawaii and more direct but distant energy for the US West Coast.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday AM (10/11) high pressure at 1026 mbs was ridging into the Oregon coast and generating a weak fetch of 15 kts north winds just off the immediate North and Central CA coast with light winds nearshore. On Sunday north winds to build to 25 kts over North CA early and fading later with light winds nearshore for Central CA. A light wind regime is to take over Monday-Wednesday (10/15) as low pressure builds in the Gulf, falls south some then falters tracking inland over Oregon. Light rain possible down to Monterey Bay Tues PM fading late Wed AM. South winds associated with another front are to move into extreme North CA waters on Thursday reaching down to Morro Bay late Friday then dissipating Saturday. Rain to Monterey Bay late Friday and Pt Conception early Saturday. Another low and front are to be in the Gulf at that time pushing east.
Surface Analysis - 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
Beyond 72 hours the remnants of Typhoon Vongfong are to push east off Kamchatka on Thurs (10/16) generating possibly 40 kt west winds and 28 ft seas and heading towards the Gulf of Alaska. See tropical update. 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 Saturday (10/11) the daily SOI was up to 5.22. The 30 day average was up at -3.39 and the 90 day average was up some at -5.96. 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 building just southeast of Tahiti and is to continue for a week with falling SOI numbers expected.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated neutral anomalies over the Maritime Continent turning light westerly on the dateline continuing south of Hawaii to a point mid-way to the Galapagos. Neutral anomalies were east of there. A week from now (10/19) weak east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent turning to light westerly anomalies on the dateline extending to a point south of Hawaii fading some then rebuilding westerly approaching the Galapagos. A Westerly Wind Burst developed in the West Pacific 9/28-10/8, then faded. But residuals from it appear to be working their way east and a re theoretically to redevelop between 150W and the dateline starting today and holding a week out. 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 neutral anomalies over the western equatorial Pacific and light easterly anomalies south of Hawaii. It is presumed an Active Phase of the MJO was in control in the West Pacific and is now pushing east.
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 10/10 are generally in sync. They both suggest a very weak Active MJO pattern over the West Pacific. Both the Statistic and Dynamic models depicts that Active Phase fading to neutral 5-10 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 10/11 depicts a weak Active Phase exiting east over the East Pacific. A weak Inactive pulse is developing in the West Pacific and is to track east reaching the East Pacific 11/5. Another weak Active Phase to follow starting 11/10. 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 (10/9) 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 0.5 deg C anomalies present from Central America to 140W, and then 0.0-+0.5 degs above normal between 140W-180W. +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 10/11 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 deg anomalies at from 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 10/11 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 +0.75 deg C in early November and are to hold. But the real interesting part is that water temps are hold decently still at +0.8 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
Beyond 72 hours the models hint at a gale developing in the Central South Pacific on Fri-Sat (10/17) generating 28 ft seas tracking northeast. Low odds of this developing.
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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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table