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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, November 17, 2018 2:54 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
3.3 - California & 3.0 - 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 11/19 thru Sun 11/25

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   

Small Gale Developing in NW Pacific
Stronger Storm Pattern Forecast

On Saturday, November 17, 2018 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 3.1 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 11.9 secs from 300 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 11.1 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 6.8 ft @ 13.2 secs from 342 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.2 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 2.6 ft @ 12.9 secs from 201 degrees. Wind at the buoy was west at 10-12 kts. Water temperature 65.7 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.4 ft @ 11.7 secs from 270 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.4 ft @ 14.6 secs from 223 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.9 ft @ 14.7 secs from 207 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.6 ft @ 13.3 secs from 221 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.0 ft @ 10.5 secs with swell 4.0 ft @ 11.1 secs from 296 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was east at 2-6 kts. Water temp 60.6 degs (042).

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

Swell Classification Guidelines

Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
- Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate/Utility Class: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft).
- Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
- up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

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

Current Conditions
On Saturday (11/17) in North and Central CA Gulf swell was fading but still producing waves in the head high range and clean but slow. Protected breaks were chest to maybe shoulder high on the bigger sets and clean and soft. At Santa Cruz surf was waist to chest high and clean but soft and slow. In Southern California/Ventura surf was waist to chest high and clean and lined up with decent form. In North Orange Co background southern hemi swell was producing waves at chest high and lined up if not closed out and clean. South Orange Country's best breaks were chest to shoulder high and clean and lined up with good form but slow. In North San Diego surf was waist to chest high and clean and lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was getting new Gulf swell with waves 8-10 ft on the face and relatively clean but pretty warbled, raw and unorganized with northeast winds in control. The South Shore was flat to thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting a mix of northeast windswell and wrap around Gulf swell with waves 1-2 ft overhead and chopped from moderate plus strength northeast wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (11/17) in California swell was fading generated from a gale previously in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska Sat-Tues (11/13) with seas in the 25-26 ft range. Hawaii was getting raw swell from a gale that tracked east through the Gulf Wed-Thurs (11/15) targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast with 26 ft seas aimed southeast and east. This swell is tracking towards California too. A somewhat stronger gale developed off the Kuril's Fri (11/16) with seas to 29 ft aimed east but is to fade Saturday (11/17) as it hits the dateline with seas down to 18 ft as it moves into the Western Gulf on Sun (11/18) and fading from there. A local gale is forecast off California on Wed-Thurs (11/22) with 18 ft seas possible. After that a more interesting pattern is to set up with a gale developing off Kamchatka on Wed-Thurs (11/22) with seas to 41 ft aimed east but making no east headway. And perhaps a stronger system is to develop in the Northern Gulf on Fri-Sat (11/24) with 36 ft seas aimed east and another southwest of it with 34 ft seas. So there's something to monitor. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is fading with a turn to the Active Phase forecast, which might usher in a period of better swell production.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Saturday AM (11/17) the jet was weakly split pushing off Japan reaching to the dateline with winds to 120 kts over Japan but far less over the West Pacific offering no support for gale development. On the dateline the jet split more definitively with the northern branch pushing east into the Western Gulf with winds to 140 kts in one small pocket then splitting again while the southern branch tracked east from the dateline over Hawaii and into Baja. There was no support for gale development though the wind pocket in the Gulf was suspicious. Over the next 72 hours a bit of a trough is to start digging out in the Gulf Sun (11/18) with winds 120 kts flowing into the trough perhaps offering some support for gale development through Tues (11/20) with it's apex moving to a point 600 nmiles west of San Francisco offering some support for gale or low pressure development. Back to the west wind energy is to be building over Japan to 130 kts on Sun (11/18). Beyond 72 hours the jet jet is to be building reasonably cohesive tracking east off Japan and almost consolidated then splitting at 160E holding and not easing east much until Wed (11/21), when winds to 150 kts are to start building off Japan and then to 190 kts on Thurs (11/22) reaching east to 170E, or almost to the dateline with the jet well consolidated. Perhaps a trough is to build off the Northern Kurils Wed-Thurs (11/22) being fed by these stronger winds offering decent support for gale development and pushing into North Ca on Thurs (11/22). By Sat (11/24) the jet is to be well consolidated pushing off Japan with winds to 190 kts reaching east to the dateline then splitting but with decent wind energy at 140 kts ridging northeast through the Northern Gulf perhaps offering hope longer term. It sure looks like the Active Phase of the MJO is to start feeding the jetstream but there's no indication of coupling between the ocean and the atmosphere from a supposedly developing El Nino.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (11/17) swell from a gale that tracked through the Gulf of Alaska is fading in California (see Gulf Gale below). Swell from another gale that tracked east through the West and Central Gulf was hitting Hawaii and theoretically tracking towards California (see West Gulf Gale below). And another gale developed in the far Northwest Pacific and is tracking east (see Northwest Pacific Gale below).

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


Gulf Gale
Starting Sat PM (11/10) a new gale was developing while falling southeast from the Central Aleutians over the Western Gulf with winds 30-35 kts over a solid area with a tiny core at 40 kts with seas 20 ft over a small area at 47N 173W aimed southeast. On Sun AM (11/11) the gale was building more with a decent fetch of 30-35 kts extending southeast from the Aleutians with a few pockets to 40 kts and seas 23 ft at 44N 167W aimed southeast targeting mainly Hawaii. In the evening fetch held over a broad area at 30-35 kts extending from the Aleutians southeast to a point 1000 nmiles north of Hawaii with seas 21 ft over a reasonably broad area aimed southeast centered at 43N 165W. On Mon AM (11/12) northwest winds were holding at 35 kts aimed more east now and over not as large an area with seas to 25 ft at 46N 166W aimed southeast. In the evening west winds were 30-35 kts with seas 24 ft at 43N 160W aimed southeast. On Tues AM (11/13) the gale was tracking east with winds 35-40 kts mainly in one pocket from the west with seas fading in coverage from 24 ft at 47N 156W aimed east. The gale is to fade fast from there while tracking northeast with winds 35 kts in the evening with seas 26 ft at 49N 149W. The gale is to dissipate from there. Swell is in the water heading towards Hawaii and the US West Coast.

North CA: Dribbles on Sat (11/17) fading from 3.4 ft @ 11-12 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 293-307 degrees


West Gulf Gale
Starting Tues AM (11/13) a small gale was developing on the dateline with 30 kt southwest winds targeting Hawaii and seas building from 18-20 ft over a tiny area aimed southeast. In the evening fetch built to 35+ kt from the north while the gale tracked east steadily with seas to 22 ft at 37N 177W aimed south almost targeting Hawaii well. On Wed AM (11/14) the gale tracked east with north winds to 40 kts and seas 25 ft at 39N 169W aimed south targeting Hawaii well. In the evening the gale was start lifting northeast with winds 40 kts solid from the north and seas to 26 ft at 40N 162W targeting Hawaii and California well. On Thurs AM (11/15) the gale was over the Central Gulf with a moderate sized fetch of 35 kts northwest winds and seas 26 ft at 42.5N 157W targeting California well. In the evening the gale was fading while holding position with 30-35 kt northwest winds and seas fading fast from 21 ft at 45N 157W aimed southeast. The gale was fading Fri AM (11/16) with winds dropping from barely 35 kts and seas below 18 ft aimed southeast. The gale was gone after that.

Hawaii: Swell fading Sat AM (11/17) from 4.3 ft @ 12 secs (5.0 ft). Swell fading on Sun (11/18) from 4.1 ft @ 11-12 secs (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 330 moving to 350 degrees

North CA: Swell arrival on Sun (11/18) at 4.4 ft @ 14 secs early (6.0 ft). Leftovers on Mon (11/19) fading from 3.0 ft @ 12 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 290 degrees


Northwest Pacific Gale
A broad but ill formed gale developed in the Northwest Pacific just off the North Kuril Islands on Thurs PM (11/15) producing a tiny area of north winds at 45 kts starting to get traction on the oceans surface. Fri AM (11/16) the gale produced a moderate area of 40 kt northwest winds with a core to 45 kts and the gale tracking east with seas 28 ft at 45.5N 164.5E. In the evening fetch was racing east at 35+ kts positioned about half way to the dateline with seas 27 ft at 44N 172E pushing east. On Sat AM (11/17) the gale was fading with west winds barely 30 kts on the dateline with seas fading from 23 ft at 43N 178E aimed east. The gale is to fade to low pressure status with west winds 25-30 kts and seas 20 ft at 46N 171W. Fetch fading to 25 kts Sun AM (11/18) with seas barely 18 ft at 45N 168W aimed east. The gale to fade after that. Small swell is possible for Hawaii and less for exposed breaks in California. There's a slim chance remnants from this gale are to start redeveloping off California on Wed (11/21).

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tues AM (11/20) at 3.2 ft @ 14-15 secs early (4.5 ft). Swell fading Wed AM (11/21) from 2.2 ft @ 12-13 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 320 degrees


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


Tropical Update
No tropical weather systems of interest are forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (11/17) a weak pressure and wind pattern was in control locally with high pressure pushing inland over British Columbia resulting in a weak directionless wind pattern. No real change on Sun (11/18) but with low pressure developing well off the Central CA coast later. Monday (11/19) weak low pressure is to be pushing east with south to southeast winds building along the North and Central coast at 5-10 kts later. On Tues (11/20) the low is to fade while a front builds off North CA and Oregon with south winds 10-15 kts along the North and Central CA coast building to 20+ kts down to Pt Arena later. Wed (11/21) south winds to continue at 15 kts from Pt Conception northward as another low and front starts moving east. Rain developing early over all of California from Pt Conception northward and even into Santa Barbara County late afternoon and to San Diego later evening with snow developing at sunset for the entire Sierra and stronger if not solid later in the evening. Thurs (11/22) yet another front builds off the North CA coast with south winds building to 20-25 kts over all of the North CA coast. Snow fading into the Sierra late morning. rain fading along the coast early. On Fri (11/23) that front is to push south into Central CA with southwest winds 20 kts early fading to 15 kts late afternoon with the front dissipating over Pt Conception and high pressure trying to build over Southern CA late afternoon and north winds 15 kts there. Rain solid for all of North CA early pushing to Pt Conception in the afternoon and snow only for the highest peaks of the Sierra during the day then fading late. Saturday (11/24) high pressure is to fade off California with light winds early for the SF Bay area but low pressure and another front is to be pushing south over North CA to Pt Arena later with south winds 20 kts there and rain for that area forecast.

South Pacific

Surface Analysis  
No swell of interest was in the water.

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


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 West Pacific Gale are to possibly redevelop off North California on Wed AM (11/21) with 30 kt northwest winds and seas building from 16 ft at 45N 148W aimed southeast. Northwest winds to continue at 30 kts in the evening with seas 16 ft at 42N 141W aimed east. At the same time an additional fetch of 30 kt west winds is to be building directly behind mainly from the interaction of high pressure north of Hawaii and generic weak low pressure in the northeastern Gulf producing a gradient and west winds. The original fetch is to fade on Thurs AM (11/22) with the new fetch building to 35 kts from the west and seas building to 18 ft at 41N 145W. The gale is to track east and fade in the evening with 30 kt west winds just off North CA and 18 ft seas at 39N 133W or just 500 nmiles off Bodega Bay. Raw local protoswell could possibly result pushing into North and Central CA if all goes as forecast.

The models also suggest another gale is to develop just off Kamchatka on Wed AM (11/21) producing 45 kt northwest winds building to 55 kts in the evening with seas to 41 ft at 50N 164E but quickly fading and making little eastward progress. Small swell possibly to result for Hawaii.

Also on Fri (11/23) a new gale is to build in the Northwestern Gulf on Fri AM (11/23) with 45-50 kt west winds and seas to 38 ft late in the evening at 52N 153W aimed east.

And yet another fetch is to be building right behind Fridays gale with winds to 45 kts Sat AM (11/24) with 34 ft seas at 44N 165W aimed east.

So a more active pattern is forecast.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.


MJO/ENSO Forecast


SST Temps Fading - ESPI Neutral

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 over the Summer 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 (11/16) 5 day average winds were solid from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, then solidly from the west over the bulk of the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the East and Central equatorial Pacific, then turning moderate to strong westerly from 170E and points west of there over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (11/17) moderate west anomalies were over the core of the KWGA from 165E and points west of there with east anomalies on the dateline and points east of there. The forecast has the same general pattern holding for the next week but with east anomalies building to the west reaching to 150E on 11/22 and holding to the end of the model run (11/24) with solid west anomalies holding on in the far western KWGA.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (11/16) The Active Phase of the MJO was building in the West Pacific. The statistical model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO is to continue pushing east through the West Pacific reaching the dateline on day 5 and holding through day 15 unchanged. The dynamic model has the Active Phase doing effectively the same thing peaking at day 10 then moving rapidly east on day 15 over the dateline with the Inactive Phase building strong in the Indian Ocean. The 2 models are in sync other than the day 15 projection.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (11/17) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was weak over the Eastern Maritime Continent and is to be holding while tracking east through the West Pacific quickly and racing east and out of the West Pacific 9 days out and then to the Atlantic. The GEFS model depicts the Active Phase building far stronger over the West Pacific through day 11, then into the East Pacific at day 15. The 2 models are generally in sync.
40 day Upper Level Model: (11/15) This model depicts a very weak Active signal was over the dateline tracking east. The Active Phase is to continue tracking east weakly over the Central Pacific then pushing over the East Pacific and into Central America on 12/5. After that a very weak Inactive Phase is to again set up over the West Pacific on 11/25 and is to track to the East Pacific at the end of the model run on 12/25.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (11/16) This model depicts moderate west anomalies were over the core of KWGA near 165E and retrograding west with west anomalies on the dateline. This pattern is to hold through 11/23. After that the Active Phase and west anomalies are to track west and be fading into 11/23 and then dissipating in the West Pacific on 11/28. After that east anomalies are to set up in the KWGA by 11/30 and holding through the end of the model run at 12/14. This run suggests that no El Nino pattern will develop.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (11/17) This model depicts weak west anomalies were in the core of the KWGA today with a weak Active Phase of the MJO developing there. The Active Phase of the MJO is to start building but with modest west anomalies retrograding west and fading out of the KWGA by 11/25. Neutral anomalies are forecast in the KWGA 11/20-12/3. After that the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to develop in the KWGA 12/3 -12/20 but with west anomalies in the KWGA. The Active Phase is to rebuild 12/25 holding through 1/12 with winds anomalies building, if not to WWB status. After that a weak Inactive MJO signal is forecast through the end of the model run on 2/14 with west anomalies fading out on 1/28. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is fully in control of the KWGA reaching east over California and forecast holding beyond while slowly easing east, but still centered over the dateline at the end of the model run. A 4th contour line previously forecast to to develop in the 12/22-1/21/19 period is no longer on the charts. It now appears El Nino development is becoming less certain per this model. The atmosphere and ocean are trying to become coupled towards an El Nino bias in the Pacific Ocean, but there's no objective evidence of it yet. If it hasn't happened yet (by Nov 1), it's doubtful there will be significant weather influence even if it does develop. And this model is not suggesting they will not become coupled with the MJO coming back to life and steady west anomalies fading. Still this pattern is to slowly become more favorable to support storm production in the Pacific regardless of whether El Nino develops, especially compared to the 2 previous years given that we're still moving towards Winter and La Nina is gone. Our assumption is a normal Winter pattern will result, but nothing more.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (11/17) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs solid steady today at 180W, having retrograded from there the 2 weeks prior. The 28 deg isotherm line had retrograded west to 160W a few weeks back, then moved east to 154W 11/6, and today was stable at 157W. The 24 deg isotherm was 125 meters deep at 140W then getting progressively shallower east of there and no longer pushing into Ecuador, but was breaking the surface at 103W. It seems that Kelvin Wave #2 had already peaked in the West Pacific, and temps were retrograding, but starting 11/8 they surged east again, but started fading on 11/13 and continue in that trend. Anomaly wise warm anomalies are filling the entire subsurface Pacific but with temp far weaker in the West PAcific than weeks and months past. Kelvin Wave (#2) starts at 180W at +2-3 degs and is building to +5.0 degs centered at 100W down 90 meters then pushing into the coast of Ecuador. But with temps certainly weakening in the far West Pacific, down to +2.0 degs from 175E and points west of there, it seems this Kelvin Wave is fading. The peak of the Kelvin Wave cycle for this supposed El Nino has already occurred, but upwelling from it is still to be ongoing for a few more weeks. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 11/9 paints the same picture with the Second Kelvin Wave starting in the West Pacific near 175W with building temps peaking at +5.0 degs at 100-110W and then pushing into Ecuador but weaker. A small pocket of neutral anomalies that was in the far West Pacific just east of the Maritime Continent appears to be getting cooler with negative anomalies present there now and building in coverage. Kelvin Wave #2 was breaching the surface from 100W to 155W solidly with secondary solid warm anomalies starting to fill the entire region on the equator from 100W-165E. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (11/9) Positive anomalies were solid from north of New Guinea over the Dateline, then weakening some from 170W to 140W with pockets of neutral anomalies there, then rebuilding and solid at 140W into Ecuador and broad in coverage peaking at +10 cms in pone small pocket at 110W. This indicates that Kelvin Wave (#2) was peaking south of California and pushing quickly east. It was branching north to Baja and south to Southern Peru, a good sign.

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: (11/16) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were warm in a Kelvin Wave pattern straddling 5 degrees north and south of the equator from Ecuador west to the dateline, with imbedded pockets of slightly stronger warming. But these temps are cooler over the past few days compared to 2 weeks prior. There was minimal slight warming along the coast of Chile unbroken up into Peru, but nothing indicative of a strong trend towards El Nino. Generic warm anomalies were north of the equator from Central America and south of Mexico building out to Hawaii and the dateline. This pattern looks somewhat like El Nino, but also like La Nina with no solid warming branching north and south along the Central and South American coast, and most warming still in the West Pacific, suggesting this developing El Nino is only weakly in control and still fragile at best in the East equatorial Pacific.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (11/16): A weak cooling trend continues from Ecuador over the Galapagos on the equator on out to 140W. No warming was indicated there. Building warming was along the coasts of Chile, Peru and Ecuador, but no where else.
Hi-res Overview: (11/16) A tiny sliver of weak cool water was present just off the outer coast of North Chile with warm water building over the coast of Chile and along the immediate coast of Peru. Otherwise moderate plus warm water was on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos building out to the dateline but with no stronger imbedded warming. We have 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. And one could kinda think we are moving towards a legitimate El Nino pattern just looking at the surface temps. But that would be a false conclusion based on what is going on sub-surface. And given the time of year, the warm signal should be much stronger if El Nino were truly developing. We are in ENSO neutral and likely only going to move to a minimal warm regime, though not reaching full El Nino status this winter.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (11/17) Today's temps were rising to +0.617 and near the peak of temps in this region since mid October. Temps have been toggling between the 0.0 and +0.6 deg range for 2 weeks now. They were down to -0.628 on 10/22, after having fallen from the all time high for this event on 9/25 +1.316. Basically things are neutral here.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(11/17) Today temps were holding at +0.474, down from the all time high for this event of +1.45 on 11/5, beating the previous peak temps of +0.795 on 10/9, and +0.649 on 9/27, and that beating the previous peak at +0.490 on 7/2. Overall temps are noodling around at +0.5 to +0.7 degs above normal adding some hope that perhaps El Nino is trying to develop, but nothing serious.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (11/16) The model indicates temps at +0.9 degs in mid-Nov (which isn't even close to reality) then rising some and toggling from +1.00 to +1.20 degs from Dec into July 2019, then fading at +1.0 degs into July 2019. If one is to believe the model then one would assume that El Nino is to build through the Fall of 2018. But given all the data we've seen, we believe odds of even a weak El Nino developing are fading. Most models are suggesting a possible turn to weak El Nino conditions by late Fall.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Oct Plume depicts temps are to slowly rise from here, to +0.90 degs in October and +0.9-+1.0 degs in Nov through March 2019, then slowly fading to 0.78 in June. 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) (11/17): The daily index was falling today at -25.26. The 30 day average was falling some at -1.018 suggesting an Inactive MJO was fading and turning neutral. The 90 day average was falling some -2.26, but still the highest its been in months. 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): (11/17) Today the index was rising some at -0.04, but still not as positive as it should be if El Nino were developing. It was down to -0.22 the week of 10/22, after having risen to +0.39 on 10/10, the highest so far this event. This suggests that precip and evaporation are just slightly less than normal, and not above normal as one would expect if El Nino were in play. We are in an ENSO neutral pattern. The reading from 8/14 (+0.11) was the first time it's turned positive in a year.
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 -0.85, July -0.09, Aug -0.42, Sept -0.42. 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, July +0.11, Aug +0.18, Sept +0.09. 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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Local Interest

Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (11/11):
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Powerline Productions New Movie Preimer - Next Level - Friday (11/9) at 7 PM. Details here:

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