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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2018 3:39 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
4.1 - California & 4.2 - 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 11/26 thru Sun 12/2

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   

Raw Local Swell Takes Over in CA
Strong W. Pacific Storm Forecast

On Thursday, November 29, 2018 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.1 ft @ 6.9 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 7.2 secs from 167 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.4 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 2.5 ft @ 12.2 secs from 323 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 6.0 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 3.6 ft @ 13.8 secs from 236 degrees. Wind at the buoy was southwest at 14-18 kts. Water temperature 65.1 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.2 ft @ 14.6 secs from 262 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 3.1 ft @ 15.6 secs from 266 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 2.0 ft @ 13.6 secs from 264 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 4.3 ft @ 16.7 secs from 277 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 15.6 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 7.7 ft @ 15.8 secs from 289 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was southwest at 14-18 kts. Water temp 61.3 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 Thursday (11/29) in North and Central CA a raw mix of local westerly swell and longer period west-northwest swell was hitting making surf in the 10-15 ft range and untouchable due to southwest winds at 20-30 kts and full gale-chop conditions. Protected breaks were 2-3 ft overhead and relatively clean and mostly closed out. At Santa Cruz surf was 3 ft overhead and blown to bits by strong south wind with chop to the horizon. In Southern California/Ventura surf was chest high and pretty ugly with northwest winds and chop in control. In North Orange Co surf was head high to 2 ft overhead and trashed by strong north wind. South Orange Country's best breaks were chest high and a chopped mess and unrideable from strong north wind. In North San Diego surf was chest high and chopped and mushed and not really rideable, but better than up north. Hawaii's North Shore was pristine clean and lined up with set waves head high a top breaks. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was east windswell at waist high and near clean with light southeast wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (11/29) Swell #1 was fading out in Hawaii but still hitting California. It evolved from a strong weather system that developed off Japan Fri-Sat (11/24) with 49 ft seas pushing over the dateline aimed east then fading in the Western Gulf on Sun (11/25) with seas dropping from 42 ft to 30 ft Mon AM (11/26). A small local system developed just off Central California Wed-Thurs (11/29) with 30 ft seas impacting the coast directly. Another system was falling southeast through the Northern Gulf on Thurs-Fri (11/30) with seas to 20 ft. But of far more interest is another strong storm forecast developing off North Japan late Sat (12/1) moving east to the dateline late Sun (12/2) with seas to 57 ft aimed east then fading while pushing over the dateline into the Western Gulf Mon-Tues (12/4) with seas fading from 51 ft down to 30 ft. It's still a long ways from actually forming, but it suggests another real swell is possible. The Active Phase of the MJO and a warming equatorial Pacific is having the desired effect for a little while.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Thursday AM (11/29) the jet was consolidated ridging east-northeast off Japan with winds 160 kts then splitting some near the dateline only to regroup north of Hawaii and pushing consolidated east into Central CA at 150 kts with a tiny trough just off the coast there offering support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold with the California trough moving inland through early Sat (12/1) while the split point moves east over the Gulf of Alaska and the consolidate flow continues pushing off Japan and east over the dateline to 170W with winds 130-140 kts starting to look solid but with no trough indicated. But on Sun (12/2) a trough is forecast develop off the Central Kurils pushing east to the dateline by Mon (12/3) being fed by 140 kts winds offering good support for gale development. At the same time the split east of that trough is to move over the Gulf of Alaska. Beyond 72 hours the trough on the dateline is to pinch off while lifting north over the Eastern Aleutians on Wed (12/5) no longer offering support for gale development. But at that time a new local trough is forecast developing just off San Francisco being fed by 120 kts winds offering support for gale development there. By Thurs (12/16) at 180 hours out the jet is to be ridging northeast off Japan then turning east and consolidated with winds 130 kts and building while pushing over the dateline possibly setting up a new trough developing in the Northern Gulf being fed by 160 kts winds. More support for gale development there.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (11/29) swell from a strong storm that tracking over the dateline was fading in CA (see Dateline Storm #1 below) and being overwhelmed by raw local swell (see Local CA Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours swell from the Local CA Gale and another gale pushing through the Eastern Gulf (See Gulf Gale below) are to be of some interest, especially the Local CA Gale for Southern CA. But of far more interest is to be a new strong storm building west of the dateline (See West Pacific Storm below).


Dateline Storm #1
On Fri AM (11/23) a new gale started building just off North Japan with west winds 45 kts over a solid area aimed east and seas building from 37 ft at 43,5N 166E and pretty far south aided by a strong jetstream flow aloft. In the evening winds were 50 kts from the west and seas building from 44 ft at 41N 171E. The Jason-2 satellite passed over the storm west quadrant at 2Z and confirmed seas at 37.4 ft with one reading to 42 ft where the model projected seas at 38 ft. The model was on track. On Sat AM (11/24) the storm was over the dateline with west winds 45-50 kts and seas 49 ft at 40N 179E aimed east over a decent sized area targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. In the evening west winds are to start fading from 35-40 kts over a large area filling the Western Gulf with seas 42 ft at 38.5N 173.5W pushing east and aimed southeast at Hawaii and California. On Sun AM (11/25) the gale is to be fading with northwest winds 35 kts over a large area aimed east and seas 36 ft over a large area aimed east at 37.5N 166.5W. The gale is to fade some in the evening with 35 kt west winds still over a solid area aimed east and seas 34 ft over a large area aimed east at 38N 161W. On Mon AM (11/26) fetch is to fade from 30-35 kts from the west in the Central Gulf with seas fading from 32 ft at 39N 152.5W aimed east targeting only the US West Coast. The gale is to fade in the evening with west winds 30-35 kts lifting north in the Northern Gulf with seas fading from 28 ft at 40N 145W or 900 nmiles west of North CA. Possible large swell to result.

North CA: Swell fading Thurs AM (11/29) from 9.5 ft @ 15 secs early (14 ft) with copious locally generated protoswell in the water at the same time. Swell Direction: 288-294 degrees

Southern CA: Swell fading Thurs AM (11/29) from 4.3 ft @ 16 secs early (6.5 ft) with locally generated protoswell in the water at the same time. Swell Direction: 293-299 degrees


Local CA Gale
Starting Wed AM (11/28) a fetch of 30 kt northwest winds were developing in the Southern Gulf with seas building. In the evening that fetch tracked east and built stronger than expected with northwest winds 45 kts covering a decent sized area associated with low pressure hugging the North CA Coast with seas 22 ft at 36N 135W aimed east. The gale was solid Thurs AM (11/29) with it's core 200 nmiles off Bodega Bay producing 40 kts northwest winds off Pt Arena down to Morro Bay aimed southeast and the low moving inland over North CA with 30 ft seas at 36.5N 128.5W or just west of Monterey Bay. The low is to move inland over NCal in the evening with 30-35 kt northwest winds over and just off all of Central CA nearshore waters and 27 ft seas just off Morro Bay moving onshore over Pt Conception. A messy local weather pattern is expected for North and Central CA. The gale is to be dissipating Fri AM (11/30) with residual 30 ft seas fading over Pt Conception.

North/Central CA: Raw protoswell to arrive late Thurs (11/29) building to 15.6 ft @ 14-15 secs later (20 ft). Swell to be fading Fri AM (11/30) from 13 ft @ 13 secs (15 ft). Residuals fading on Sat AM (12/1) from 6 ft @ 11-12 secs (6.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290 degrees

Southern CA: Raw protoswell is to arrive on Fri AM (11/30) building early to 8.2 ft @ 15 secs (12 ft) fading some later in the day. Swell fading Sat AM (12/1) from 4.2 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.0 ft). Residuals on Sun (12/2) from 2.6 ft @ 11-12 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 285 degrees moving to 295 degrees


Gulf Gale
Another gale is to started developing over the Northern Dateline Tues PM (11/27) pushing east. By Thurs AM (11/29) it was in the Northwestern Gulf just south of the Eastern Aleutians producing 35 kt northwest winds over a small area with seas building from 20 ft at 52N 156W aimed southeast. In the evening it is to be falling southeast with fetch fading from 30 kts from the northwest aimed southeast with 20 ft seas at 50N 151W targeting Oregon down to Pt Conception. On Fri AM (11/30) the gale is to be falling southeast just off Oregon and fading with 25 kt northwest winds and seas 18 ft over a tiny area at 47N 145W aimed at Southern Oregon down into Central CA. The gale is to push east and stall off North Oregon Sat AM (12/1) with 30-35 kts northwest winds and seas 17 ft at 45N 130W. This system to dissipate from there. Most likely outcome is windswell for Oregon (Sat-Sun 12/2) and down into California (Sun 12/2). See QuikCASTs for details.


West Pacific Storm
Supposedly a new strong storm is to develop. Give the upper level forecast, this seems a bit over stated. Regardless, here's the details:

On Sat PM (12/1) a new storm is to start building off North Japan producing a broad area of 50-55 kt northwest winds aimed southeast with seas building from 26 ft at 42N 145E. On Sun AM (12/2) northwest winds are to build to 60-65 kts (hurricane force) solid with seas building from 51 ft at 41N 164E. The storm is to track east in the evening with fetch still 55 kts from the west with seas building to 59 ft at 40N 172.5E aimed east. On Monday AM (12/3) the storm is to fade to gale status and move to the dateline producing northwest winds at 40-45 kts over a solid area with seas fading from 487 ft at 40N 179,5E. The gale is to rebuild some in the evening while lifting north on the dateline with 50-55 kt northwest winds and seas fading from 42 ft at 42N 173W over a solid area aimed east. On Tues AM (12/4) the gale is to dissipating with fetch 40 kts over a small area aimed southeast and seas fading from 37 ft at 44N 175W aimed southeast. The gale to fade in the evening with fetch down to 35 kts from the northwest and seas fading from 28-30 ft over a large area centered at 44N 164W mainly from previous fetch. Something to monitor.


  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 Thursday AM (11/29) a gale low was just off Pt Arena producing local southwest winds at 20 kts from Santa Barbara northward and expected to turn northwest at 25-30 kts late afternoon over the entire state as the low moves inland. Heavy rain for North CA early and solid for the entire state all day breaking up in the evening. Heavy snow developing for the Sierra mid-AM and holding all day then fading in the evening. Fri AM (11/30) another gale is to be approaching from the northwest with high pressure locally and low pressure inland resulting in north winds at 25 kts for Central CA and South CA and 10-15 kts for North CA fading through the day but never below 15-20 kts even late for Central and South CA. South winds building for Pt Arena at 15 kts a bit after sunset. Snow showers fading for the Sierra through the day. Rain developing for Bodega Bay northward through the evening. On Sat (12/1) the low is to be moving over the Pacific Northwest with high pressure off Southern CA and northwest winds 15 kts for all of North and Central CA. Moderate rain early for North CA with lighter rain reaching south to Big Sur early and barely to Pt Conception at sunset. Moderate snow developing 8 AM for the entire Sierra fading through the early evening. On Sunday (12/2) north winds are to be fading from 15 kts early for North CA and up to 20 kts for Central and Southern CA down to calm at sunset everywhere except 15 kts for Pt Conception. No precip forecast. Monday (12/3) south winds to start building ahead of a new gale approaching the coast at 10 kts for Monterey Bay northward and 15-20 kts late afternoon from Pt Reyes northward. Light rain starting at sunset from the Golden Gate northward. Light snow for Tahoe later in the evening. On Tues (12/4) the gale (now down to low pressure status) is to be stalled 600 nmiles off Santa Cruz with south winds 5 kts for Southern CA and 15+ kts from Big Sur northward pushing to 25-30 kts from Monterey Bay to Cape Mendocino late afternoon. Steady light rain developing for the entire North and Central CA coast by late afternoon. Light snow for the Sierra late evening. Wednesday (12/5) the low is to remain off Monterey Bay drifting southeast with south winds 25 kts for all of North and Central CA and 10 kts for Southern CA building to 15 kts later. Light rain for the entire state. Light snow for the Southern Sierra and building into Tahoe late. Thurs (12/6) the low is to be moving inland over Southern CA with east winds 10-15 kts early for North CA and southwest winds 10+ kts for Southern CA fading to light and variable late up north and west 10-15 kts for Southern CA late afternoon. Rain for Southern CA all day. Light snow for the Southern Sierra mainly early. Total accumulation for the week for North Lake Tahoe 34-37 inches and 34 inches for Mammoth.


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 all focus is to be on e the West Pacific Storm above.


South Pacific

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


MJO/ENSO Forecast


SST Building at 140W - Suggesting El Nino Modoki Possible

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 = 6.0 (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 does not develop as strong as previously forecast, and assuming and an ocean-atmospheric coupling becomes weakly established in the January timeframe and ocean temperature anomalies in Nino3.4 build to the +0.6 deg range, there is good probability for slightly enhanced storm production in the North Pacific starting in the late Nov timeframe (specifically the Gulf of Alaska and Dateline regions) with slightly increased intensity in number of storm days and storm intensity, resulting in slightly increased odds for larger than normal swell, with increased duration and higher than normal period. This should be significantly better than the past 2 winter seasons.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (11/28) 5 day average winds were moderately solid from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, then calm hard west at 175E and continuing over the remainder of the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral to slightly west over the East and Central equatorial Pacific, then turning to strong westerly from 170E and points west of there over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (11/29) moderate west anomalies were filling the KWGA. The forecast has west anomalies fading in the central KWGA by 12/2 and with weak east anomalies taking over that area with moderate west anomalies building on the dateline today and holding solid through the end of the model run on 12/6. And these anomalies are completely filling the entire Pacific from the dateline eastward through the end of the model run. Interesting.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (11/26) The Active Phase of the MJO was weak and fading on the dateline. The statistical model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO is to be all but gone 5 days out with the Inactive Phase developing in the far West Pacific easing east and in the core of the KWGA at day 10 and filling the KWGA at day 15 at moderate strength. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with the Inactive Phase being a bit weaker. The 2 models are in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (11/29) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was weak over the East Pacific. It is to track east steadily at moderate strength and is to be over the Maritime Continent 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the MJO far weaker but making it to the Maritime Continent 2 weeks out. The 2 models are generally in sync.
40 day Upper Level Model: (11/29) This model depicts a weak Inactive signal over the West Pacific tracking east. It is to track quickly east over the East Pacific and into Central America on 12/14. A weak Active Phase of the MJO is to build in the West Pacific 12/22 tracking east to the Central Pacific at the end of the model run on 1/6/19.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (11/28) This model depicts moderate west anomalies were over the core to eastern KWGA and is now forecast to hold steady over this area through the end of the model run on 12/26. Strong west anomalies are to be filling the Central and East Pacific from today through 12/5. This is an improved forecast from this model.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (11/29) This model depicts weak weak west anomalies were in the core of the KWGA today with a modest Active Phase of the MJO there. The Active Phase of the MJO is to hold with modest west anomalies over the entirety of the equatorial Pacific through 12/7. After that the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to develop in the KWGA 12/8 -12/21 with weak east anomalies in the far West KWGA reaching east to 150E and that pattern holding to 12/23. After that a weak Active MJO pattern is to develop 12/24 with west anomalies holding from 150E and points east of there in the KWGA and east to 140W for the foreseeable future through the end of the model run on 2/26. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is fully in control of the KWGA centered on the dateline reaching east over California and forecast holding through 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. Conversely the third contour line which was to fade from 12/25-1/15 has disappeared. 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: (11/29) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs solid to 178E, previously to 180W. The 28 deg isotherm line had retrograded west to 160W a few weeks back, then moved east again and stable today at 154W. The 24 deg isotherm was 125 meters deep at 140W then getting progressively shallower east of there but now pushing into Ecuador. Anomaly wise warm anomalies are filling the entire subsurface Pacific but with temps far weaker in the West Pacific than weeks and months past. Kelvin Wave (#2) starts at 140W at +2-3 degs building to +4.0 degs centered at 100W down 90 meters then pushing into the coast of Ecuador. One pocket of +3 deg anomalies holds at 170W. There was a break at 155W with only 1 deg anomalies there. Temps are certainly weakening in the far West Pacific, down to +2.0 degs from 175E and points west of there and covering a thinning area. So 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. but after that, no more Kelvin Waves seem apparent. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 11/24 paints the same picture with the Kelvin Wave #2 starting in the Central Pacific near 135W pushing into Ecuador with temps peaking at +5.0 degs at 95W-110W. Modest warming at +1-2 degs were from the far West Pacific to 140W with a small pocket of warming to +3 degs at 165W. Negative anomalies previously in the far West Pacific just east of the Maritime Continent remain not-present. Kelvin Wave #2 was breaching the surface from 90W to 155W solidly with secondary warm anomalies west from there to 165E. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (11/24) Positive anomalies were solid from the interior Maritime Continent tracking east, north of New Guinea, then over the Dateline and into the East Pacific and Ecuador at +5 cms. There were no longer any pockets of +10 cms. Kelvin Wave (#2) was steady from the dateline to Ecuador and branching north to Baja and south to Southern Peru along the coasts there, 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: (11/28) 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 one imbedded pocket of stronger warming centered at 140W, symptomatic of perhaps a Modoki El Nino. There is a steady stream of moderate warming along the coast of Chile up into Peru and Ecuador and far weaker reaching north to Central America, 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. A pocket of cool waters was elongated east to west off Peru to 130W. 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 centered at 140W, suggesting this developing El Nino is only weakly in control and still fragile at best in the East Equatorial Pacific as it has been for weeks.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (11/28): No pockets of cooling were present over the equator. Instead broad pockets of generic warming were indicated along the equator and along the coast of Chile and Peru. Overall a steady pattern is indicated.
Hi-res Overview: (11/28) Warm water was building along the immediate coast of Chile and Peru. Otherwise moderate plus warm water was on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos building out to the dateline but with no strong imbedded warming. We have turned the corner to a warm regime. And one could kinda think we are moving towards a El Nino pattern just looking at the surface temps. But that would be a false conclusion based on what is going on sub-surface (fading Kelvin Wave scenario). And given the time of year, the warm signal on the surface 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, likely not reaching full El Nino status this winter.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (11/29) Today's temps were starting to fall after rising significantly to +1.534 on 11/27 down to 1.098 on 11/29. This recent peak beat the previous peak on 9/25 at +1.316. A warming trend seems apparent here.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(11/29) Today temps were falling at +0.805 degs after having rising to +0.825 on 11/28 and steady in the +0.5-+0.6 range since 11/12. The all time high for this event was +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 suggesting some sort of minimally weak 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 (11/28) The model indicates temps at +0.8 degs in mid-Nov (which isn't even close to reality- they were about +0.5) then rising some to +1.1 on Dec 1 and holding there into May 2019, then falling to +0.85 degs into Aug 2019 and steady. If one is to believe the model then one would assume that El Nino is to build in the Winter of 18/19. 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 turn to weak El Nino conditions by late Fall. It's not certain we're there yet.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Nov Plume depicts temps are to slowly rise from here, to +1.00 degs in November and +1.0-+1.1 degs through Feb 2019, then slowly fading to 0.71 in July. See chart here - link. There's a 90% chance of a weak El Nino developing through January.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (11/29): The daily index was rising today at 12.47. The 30 day average was rising some at 0.75 suggesting a neutral MJO and not moving towards the Active Phase. The 90 day average was rising some at -1.81, unchanged the past 2 weeks and 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. Unfortunately we have made no progress from there towards a negative El Nino pattern.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (11/29) Today the index was steady at -0.02, not 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 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 (11/25):
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Powerline Productions New Movie Preimer - Next Level - Friday (11/9) at 7 PM. Details here:

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