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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, October 20, 2018 4:54 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
2.2 - California & 2.1 - 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 10/22 thru Sun 10/28

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   

2 Small NPac Gales Forecast
2 & 1/2 New Zealand Swells Pushing Northeast

On Saturday, October 20, 2018 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 3.5 ft @ 18.2 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 18.2 secs from 185 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 6.0 ft @ 10.5 secs with swell 5.0 ft @ 10.3 secs from 338 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.1 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 2.1 ft @ 13.7 secs from 216 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northeast at 4-6 kts. Water temperature 67.6 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.2 ft @ 15.1 secs from 204 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.8 ft @ 13.8 secs from 226 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.7 ft @ 14.9 secs from 215 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.1 ft @ 14.7 secs from 218 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.7 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 3.4 ft @ 12.1 secs from 297 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was northwest at 4-8 kts. Water temp 60.4 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 (10/20) in North and Central CA residual Dateline swell was hitting producing waves at head high on the sets and lined up but pretty ragged from local northwest winds over outer waters. Protected breaks were waist to maybe chest high and clean but relatively soft. At Santa Cruz dateline swell was wrapping in producing waves at waist high or so and soft and clean. In Southern California/Ventura surf was thigh high and very clean and weak and slow. In North Orange Co waves were chest to almost head high and clean and lined up but breaking mostly on the beach from too much tide early. South Orange Country's best breaks were chest to head high and real clean and lined up but soft. In North San Diego surf was waist to maybe chest high and clean and soft and unremarkable. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northwest windswell with waves head high and clean but soft. The South Shore was a new New Zealand swell with waves head high and set sto 2 ft overhead and clean and lined up. The East Shore was getting northwest windswell wrapping in at chest high and heavily textured if not lightly chopped from modest northeast wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (10/20) swell from the third of three gales that previously passed under New Zealand was fading out in Southern California. Northwest swell from the Dateline was fading out in North CA. Swell from a gale developed under New Zealand Fri-Sat (10/13) with up to 37 ft seas aimed northeast was starting to hit Hawaii and also bound for CA. Yet one more gale developed southeast of New Zealand on Wed-Thurs (10/18) with up to 34 ft seas aimed well northeast with up to 26 ft seas continuing into early Sat (10/20). But after that the South Pacific is to turn non-productive. Up north a tiny gale was developing in the Central Gulf of Alaska on Sat (10/20) rushing northeast and producing 28-34 ft seas aimed east. Maybe another similar gale to develop on Wed 910/24) taking the same path but starting off Oregon producing 28-30 ft seas. Perhaps a more productive pattern is to follow if one is to believe the models 180 hours out.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Saturday AM (10/20) the northern branch of the jetstream was ridging weakly while pushing off Japan reaching up to 45N tracking over the dateline with winds to 170 kts then starting to fall southeast while moving over the Western Gulf of Alaska starting to form a weak trough offering minimal support for gale development. The jet split east of there in the Central Gulf with most energy tracking northeast up and over the Central Canadian Coast with secondary wind energy tracking southeast from the split point over Southern Baja. Over the next 72 hours more of the same is forecast but with the ridge moderating and the pocket of winds energy fading to 150 kts on Sun (10/21) pushing over the dateline into the Gulf and a more organized trough set up there offering decent support for gale development and holding while pushing east into late Monday (10/22). Beyond 72 hours the pocket of wind energy is to hold at 150-160 kts tracking over the Gulf of Alaska Wed (10/24) with a new trough starting to carve out in the Eastern Gulf offering some support for gale development. By Thurs (10/25) new wind energy is to be falling south down the dateline forming a new trough axis north of Hawaii being fed by 130-140 kts winds offering some support for gale development but that trough quickly pinching off early Sat (10/27). But more wind energy is to be building tracking east over the dateline at 170 kts and falling into the pinched trough later in the day perhaps offering a more favorable pattern longer term. Finally a early Fall-like pattern appears to be on the charts.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday AM (10/20) swell from a gale that previously developed on the Dateline was fading out in California and no longer of interest (see Dateline Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a small gale started to develop in the Western Gulf on Fri PM (10/19) producing a small area of 35 kts west winds with seas starting to build. On Sat AM (10/20) the gale was lifting northeast into the Northern Gulf producing 45 kts west winds and seas building from 28 ft at 48.5N 155.5W aimed east and tracking northeast. In the evening the gale is to be racing northeast with 45 kt west winds and seas 37 ft at 53W 150.5W in the gales south and southeast quadrants aimed mainly at Central Canada with side band energy down to maybe North CA. On Sun AM (9/21) the gale is to be racing northeast and moving into Alaska with 33 ft seas just off the Alaskan Coast targeting only locations there. Possible swell to result for the mainland from Pt Conception northward. Something to monitor.

Also a weak fetch of west winds is to set up off Kamchatka on Fri AM (10/19) tracking east and producing 20 ft seas pushing over the dateline Sat AM (20 ft seas at 49N 180W over a tiny area) and to the Western Gulf on Sun AM (10/21) with 18 ft seas at 48N 168W tracking southeast to 43N 156W Mon AM (10/22) before fading in the afternoon. Low odds for small 12-13 sec period background/windswell for Hawaii and the US West Coast. Something to monitor.


Dateline Gale
A gale developed mid-way between Kamchatka and the dateline on Sat AM (10/13) producing a tiny area of 45 kt northwest winds ands seas building. In the evening a broader fetch of up to 50 kt northwest winds were pushing over the dateline with 36 ft seas on the dateline at 48N 180E over a small area targeting Hawaii and California. On Sun AM (10/14) the gale tracked east into the Northwestern Gulf with 45 kt northwest winds and seas to 38 ft at 46N 173W pushing east. In the evening the gale was fading in the Gulf with 40 kt northwest winds and seas fading from 32 ft at 45N 167W. Monday (10/15) the gale was fading while stalling in the Northwestern Gulf with northwest winds 30+ kts and seas 24 ft at 44.5N 162W targeting both Hawaii and California. The gale held position in the evening and faded with winds barely 30 kts from the west and seas fading from 19 ft at 45N 160.5W. The gale dissipated from there. Teaser Fall swell to result for Hawaii and California.

North CA: Swell fading Sat AM (10/20) from 3.2 ft @ 11-12 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 298 degrees

Southern CA: Swell fading on Sat AM (10/20) from 2.2 ft @ 13 secs (2.5 ft) Swell Direction: 304 degrees


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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (10/20) north winds were building over North CA at 15-20 kts early but are expected to fade in the afternoon to 10 kts and light winds were over Central CA and forecast to hold all day. A light north flow is to persist on Sun (10/21) at 5-10 kts for North and Central CA. On Mon (10/22) north winds to be 15 kts from Big Sur to Pt Conception all day but light north of there. On Tues (10/23) a front is to be pushing into Oregon and extreme North CA with south winds 5 kts down to maybe Pt Arena but calm over most of the region down to Big Sur with north winds 15 kts over Pt Conception and holding all day. On Wed (10/24) light north winds continue at 10 kts but up to 15 kts for Pt Conception with another front possibly impacting North CA later with south winds 10 kts down to Pt Arena. Light winds continue on Thurs (10/25) but south at 10 kts from Pt Arena northward and north at 15 kts for Big Sur southward. San francisco continues to be the dividing line. More of the same is forecast on Fri (10/26). Then on Sat (10/27) high pressure develops just off the North Coast with northwest winds 15 kts for all of North and Central CA.


South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
On Saturday (10/20) swell from the third of 3 gales that previously tracked under New Zealand was fading in CA (see New Zealand Gale 3 below). Also swell from another series of 3 gales that developed under New Zealand was on the way, the first developing on Fri-Sat (10/13) and was starting to hit Hawaii and bound for the US West Coast (see Another New Zealand Gale - #1 below). A second gale developed behind that one (See New Zealand Gale #2 below) and secondary fetch was developing right behind it too (see Secondary New Zealand Fetch below).

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.


New Zealand Gale 3
Another gale passed under New Zealand Sat AM (10/6) producing an area of 35-40 kt southwest winds and seas building from 29 ft at 56.5S 173.5E aimed east. A generalized fetch of 35-40 kt west winds held in the evening with seas building to 32 ft at 57.5S 175.0E aimed east. Fetch started fading Sun AM (10/7) with west winds 35 kts and seas 30 ft at 56S 171W. By evening a new fetch of 35 kt west winds developed under New Zealand with 29 ft seas at 56S 172E aimed east. By Mon (10/8) seas were below 30 ft and of no interest. Some odds for small sideband swell radiating northeast.

Southern CA: Swell fading on Sat (10/20) from 1.9 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Nothing after that. Swell Direction: 210 degrees


Another New Zealand Gale (#1)
On Fri AM (10/12) a gale developed directly under New Zealand with 50-55 kt southwest winds and seas building from 32 ft at 59S 159E aimed east. In the evening southwest winds built in coverage at 45 kts tracking east with 37 ft seas at 57S 170E aimed east. On Sat AM (10/13) fetch was fading from 40 kts from the southwest with seas 34 ft at 53.5S 173.5E aimed east-northeast. In the evening southwest fetch was 35 kts with 29-30 ft over a broad area at 55S 179W aimed northeast. Some 40 kt southwest fetch rebuilt Sun AM (10/14) aimed well northeast in the same area with barely 29 ft seas at 52S 173W. In the evening fetch is to fade from 35 kts aimed northeast with a decent area of 29 ft seas at 46S 168W. Fetch is to fade from there. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Swell building through the day Sat (10/20) to 2.6 ft @ 16-17 secs later (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell holding on Sunday (10/21) at 3.1 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.5-5.0 ft). Swell fading some on Mon (10/22) from 3.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell slowly fading on Tues (10/23) from 2.9 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading Wed (10/24) from 2.5 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Dribbles fading on Thurs (10/25) from 1.6 ft @ 12-13 secs (2.0 ft) and being overtaken by a new swell. Swell Direction: 192 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (10/21) building to 1.1 ft @ 20 secs late (2.0 ft). Swell builds on Mon (10/22) to 2.0 ft @ 17-18 secs late (3.5 ft). Swell builds on Tues (10/23) to 2.5 ft @ 16-17 secs mid-day (4.0 ft). Swell continues on Wed (10/24) at 2.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell fading on Thurs (10/25) from 2.1 ft @ 15 secs early (3.0 ft). Dribbles on Fri (10/26) at 1.6 ft @ 14 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 215-216 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (10/21) building to 1.0 ft @ 20 secs late (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell builds on Mon (10/22) to 2.1 ft @ 18 secs late (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell builds on Tues (10/23) to 2.5 ft @ 16-17 secs mid-day (4.0-4.5 ft). On Wed (10/24) swell holds at 2.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell fading Thurs (10/25) from 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Dribbles on Fri (10/26) fading from 2.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 214-215 degrees


New Zealand Gale #2
Yet another gale developed under New Zealand Wed AM (10/17) producing 45 kt southwest winds and seas building from 25 ft at 58S 164E aimed northeast. In the evening southwest winds continued lifting northeast at 40-45 kts with seas building to 31 ft at 56S 173E. On Thurs AM (10/18) southwest fetch was holding at 40 to barely 45 kts lifting northeast with 35 ft seas aimed northeast at 52S 167.5W tracking northeast. Fetch was fading from 35 kts in the evening with seas fading from 31 ft at 49.5S 161.5W. The gale to faded from there. Some more southwest swell is in the water pushing northeast.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Wed (10/24) building to 2.0 ft @ 18 secs later (3.5 ft). Swell building on Thurs (10/25) to 2.4 ft @ 16 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading some Fri (10/26) from 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 192 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri (10/26) building to 1.0 ft @ 19 secs later (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell building slightly on Sat (10/27) to 1.5 ft @ 17 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 205 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri (10/26) building to 1.0 ft @ 19 secs later (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell building slightly on Sat (10/27) to 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 204 degrees


Secondary New Zealand Fetch
Another gale was building right behind New Zealand Gale 32 (above) on Fri AM (10/19) with 30-35 kt southwest winds building aimed northeast over abroad area with seas building to 25 ft at 53S 168W. In the evening fetch built to 35+ kts over abroad area from the southwest with 27 ft seas at 52S 168W aimed northeast. Fetch on Sat AM (10/20) is was fading from 30 kts from the southwest lifting hard northeast with 27 ft seas at 47S 162W aimed northeast. Fetch is to fade from 30 kt from the south in the evening with 25 ft seas at 40S 156W aimed northeast. This system is to fade from there. Possible solid secondary southwest swell in the 15 sec range to tag on to the end of the New Zealand swell developing above for Hawaii and CA.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Fri (10/26) building to 2.0 ft @ 16 secs later (3.0 ft). Swell peaking Sat AM (1027) at 3.0 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 189 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 another tiny gale is forecast developing Tues PM (10/23) in the Central Gulf with 35 kts southwest winds and seas to 20 ft over a tiny area at 40N 149W. The gale is to be racing northeast on Wed Am with 35-40 kt west winds and seas 28 ft at 43N 142W aimed east. The gale is to be lifting north in the evening producing 40 kt northwest winds and 30 ft seas at 48N 135W aimed east. From there the gale is to lift hard northeast and is to be pushing over the North Canadian coast Thurs AM (10/25) no longer producing swell of interest with seas to 40 ft impacting the coast there. Something to monitor.

Theoretically another gale is to be developing east of Kamchatka on Fri evening (10/26) producing 37 ft seas at 48N 170E starting to track east maybe making it to the dateline Sat (10/27) with 31 ft seas before fading.

A tropical system is to be turning extratropical while tracking north through the West Pacific with seas to 40 ft possibly getting ready to recurve northeast. So a possibly more productive pattern is to set up.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no further swell producing weather systems are forecast.

Details to follow...


MJO/ENSO Forecast


Inactive MJO Starting to Back Off - SST's, SOI & ESPI Moving In the Right Direction Now

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 (10/19) 5 day average winds were solid from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, then fading significantly and calm over the KWGA. Anomalies were light east over much of the East equatorial Pacific continuing to the dateline, then turning light westerly and holding over the entire KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (10/20) light to modest west anomalies were over the entire equatorial Pacific but with moderate west anomalies building in the heart of the KWGA. Moderate west anomalies are to hold in the western KWGA for the next week with perhaps a small pocket of weak east anomalies developing just east of the dateline on 10/23 retrograding into the Eastern KWGA through the end of the model run on 10/27.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (10/19) A weak Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the far West KWGA. The statistical model depicts this pattern is to build slowly and pretty much filling the KWGA at the end of the model run 2 weeks out. The dynamic model depicts the same thing. The 2 models are now in sync, but not in the direction we had hoped for.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (10/20) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was very weak over the Indian Ocean and is to noodle around in that area unchanged over the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts a variation on the same thing but with the Active Phase slightly pulsing to very weak status over East Africa 6 days out then tracking east from there. The 2 models are not that far apart.
40 day Upper Level Model: (10/20) This model depicts a modest Dry/Inactive pattern is over the East Pacific and is to track east pushing into Central America on 10/30. A weak Active/Wet signal was over the West Pacific and is to push east to the Eastern equatorial Pacific and Central America on 11/14. A new very weak Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be moving into the West Pacific on 11/2 and pushing to Central America at the end of the model run on 11/29 while a weak Active Phase is to be developing over the West Pacific. Overall a very weak MJO signal is forecast through the end of November.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (10/19) This model depicts weak west anomalies were over the entire KWGA. This pattern is to hold for the foreseeable future but generally tracking east and starting to move east of the KWGA at the end of the model run on 11/16 while weak east anomalies start moving from the Indian Ocean to the far West Pacific at that time. It seems that El Nino is trying to take root, but not coupled yet fully coupled.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (10/20) This model depicts weak west anomalies were developing over the KWGA today with a weak Inactive Phase of the MJO peaking on the dateline. Western anomalies are to slowly build in the core of the KWGA from here forward even though the Inactive Phase is to hold through 11/1. After that point no clear MJO pattern is expected typical of a building El Nino situation. West anomalies are to hold if not build steadily through the end of the model run on 1/17/19 while drifting east and nearly out of the KWGA at that time. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is fully in control of the KWGA reaching east to 120W (over California) and is forecast to 115W late-October and holding beyond. A 4th contour line previously forecast to start 12/2 and holding through the end of the model run has again reappeared starting 12/22-29 ish. 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: (10/20) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs solid retrograding west slightly to 176E. The 28 deg isotherm line was easing east at 153W. The 24 deg isotherm was 125 meters deep at 140W then setting progressively shallower east of there but now reaching east to 103W. Anomaly wise warm anomalies are building indicative of the new Kelvin Wave (#2) at +3 degs centered under 165W down 150 meters and reaching east and pushing into the coast of Ecuador. Basically warm anomalies are filling the entire Pacific subsurface region and reaching South America. This is likely the peak of the Kelvin Wave cycle for this El Nino. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 10/15 paints the same picture with the Second Kelvin Wave completely done over the Maritime Continent spilling into the West Pacific and is isolated starting at 160E pushing under the dateline at up to +5.0 degs but mostly +4.0 degs reaching east to 120W and in the +2 degrees range pushing into Ecuador. Kelvin Wave #2 was breaching the surface from 90W to 145W solidly with secondary solid warm anomalies starting to fill the entire region on the equator from 105W-165E. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (10/15) Positive anomalies were solid from New Guinea over the Dateline and broad in coverage peaking at +1- cms at 160W and continuing east in pockets at that level to 110W with +5 cms reaching east to the Galapagos and weaker into the Ecuador coast (just barely) indicative of Kelvin Wave (#2) peaking and pushing east and then pushing north up the Central American and Mexico coasts and with hints of it pushing down into Peru. 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: (10/19) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were solidly warm in a classic Kelvin Wave pattern straddling 5 degrees north and south of the equator from Ecuador west to the dateline, with imbedded pockets of stronger warming. There was slight warming building along the coast of Chile up into mid-Peru. Generic warm anomalies were north of the equator from Central America and south of Mexico building out to Hawaii and the dateline. It's actually starting to look like El Nino.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (10/19): A previous cooling trend the was from Ecuador to 120W was rapidly fading with just a few small pockets left. Weak warming was along the coast of Peru and Chile. The Inactive Phase of the MJO has taken a toll.
Hi-res Overview: (10/19) A pocket of weak cool water was present just off the outer coast of Chile but warm water was building along the immediate coast of Peru. Otherwise moderate warm water was on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos out to the dateline with many pockets of stronger imbedded warming. There were no pockets of imbedded 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: (10/20) Today's temps were falling slightly but appear to be stabilizing at -0.263 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: (10/20) Today temps were down again at +0.487, below the peak of +0.795 on 10/9, beating the previous all time high of +0.649 on 9/27, and that beating the previous peak at +0.490 on 7/2. Overall temps are slowly and markedly rising from the +0.25 degs range the past month. This looks like perhaps El Nino is developing.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (10/20) The forecast calls for a steady increase from here forward rising to +1.00 degs in mid-Nov and to +1.15 degs in Dec and Jan 2019, then fading slowly from there to +1.10 degs in April 2019 then slowly fading through July 2019 down to +0.50 degs. This suggests that perhaps El Nino is to build through the Fall of 2018. But perhaps La Nina to follow in Fall of 2019. 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) (10/20): The daily index was falling negative at -4.71 today. The 30 day average was rising at -2.65 suggesting an Inactive MJO was building. The 90 day average was falling some at -3.92 and has been essentially steady for a month now. 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): (10/20) Today the index was steady at -0.02 after having risen to +0.39 on 10/10, the highest so far this event. This suggests the Inactive Phase of the MJO was having a negative effect. The reading from 8/14 (+0.11) was the first time it's turned positive in a year. 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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