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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, December 8, 2018 5:38 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
4.4 - California & 4.0 - 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 12/10 thru Sun 12/16

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   

Swell #2 Fading Out in CA
Gulf Swell Pushing Towards HI and CA

On Saturday, December 8, 2018 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.9 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 13.2 secs from 271 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 10.3 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 5.7 ft @ 13.5 secs from 329 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.3 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 2.6 ft @ 15.2 secs from 250 degrees. Wind at the buoy was east at 4-6 kts. Water temperature 62.2 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.8 ft @ 14.0 secs from 256 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.2 ft @ 15.1 secs from 269 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.5 ft @ 15.6 secs from 245 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.7 ft @ 15.1 secs from 272 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 6.7 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 5.3 ft @ 14.6 secs from 291 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was east at 14-16 kts. Water temp 59.5 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 (12/8) in North and Central CA Dateline Swell #2 was fading at 2-3 ft overhead and clean with offshore winds and groomed, though a bit slow at times. Protected breaks were head high and clean and mostly closed out with brisk offshore winds. At Santa Cruz surf was 1-2 ft overhead on the bigger sets and lined up and clean and peeling nicely at select breaks. In Southern California/Ventura surf was waist to chest high and lined up and clean with steady offshore's and corduroy. In North Orange Co surf was waist to chest high and clean but unremarkable. South Orange Country's best breaks were waist high or so and clean but soft and textured. In North San Diego surf was waist to chest high with some north lump running through it and rideable. Hawaii's North Shore was getting fading Dateline Swell #2 with waves 8 ft and raw with northeast lump running through it and fully chopped at many break. The South Shore was thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at head high and chopped from moderate easterly trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (12/8) residual swell was still hitting Hawaii from what was strong Storm #2 that pushed off North Japan late Sat (12/1) moving east towards the dateline late Sun (12/2) with seas to 51 ft aimed east and then redeveloped while pushing north over the dateline on Mon (12/3) with seas again to 51 ft aimed east before fading in the Western Gulf Tues (12/4) with seas dropping from 41 ft. Also residual swell from it is hitting California, well past it's peak. After that a more modest system developed in the Western Gulf Fri (12/7) with 35 seas falling southeast then fading in the Central Gulf on Sat (12/8) with seas dropping from 26 ft aimed southeast. Swell is in the water pushing towards Hawaii and CA. Looking at the models another storm was developing over the Northern Kuril's on Sat (12/8) with seas to 44 ft aimed east and tracking east fading on the North Dateline region, only to redevelop in the Northern Gulf on Mon (12/10) with seas to 34 ft aimed east then building Tues (12/11) with seas to 40 ft in the Northern Gulf aimed east and Canada. Perhaps another small gale to develop right behind in the Gulf on Wed (12/12) with up to 40 ft seas aimed east, then fading 24 hours later. And yet another is forecast for the Central Gulf on Fri-Sat (12/15) with 44 ft seas aimed east. A warming equatorial Pacific seems to be feeding the storm track. We are monitoring to see if the storm track holds over the next 2 weeks as the Inactive MJO moves through the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA), or whether it fades out. If it holds decently, that will be an indicator that perhaps those warming waters are starting to coupling with the atmosphere, and helping to set up a longer term pattern favorable for storm development.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Saturday AM (12/8) the jet was consolidated with winds 190 kts over Japan tracking east-northeast and holding together the whole way to the Western Gulf of Alaska with winds still 140 kts there while falling into a developing but somewhat steep trough there with it's apex down at 40N and supportive of gale development. From there the jet starting ridging northeast again and splitting at 135W (600 nmiles off North CA ) with a broad spray of energy tracking over the entire US West Coast. Over the next 72 hours the Western Gulf trough is to track east quickly and impacting the Pacific Northwest Coast late Sun (12/9) while 180 kt winds off Japan continue in the core of the jet holding at 160 kts over the Western Gulf, then fading. A broad but gentle trough is to be generally just east of Kamchatka but not offering defined support for gale development. That pattern is to generally hold while building east with 130-140 kts winds consolidated tracking generally due east from Japan to North Oregon with winds 130-140 kts with a weak trough starting to develop over the North Dateline late Tues (12/11). Beyond 72 hours starting Wed (12/12) that trough is to start building now over the Western Gulf and tracking east to the Northern Gulf on Thurs (12/13) and supportive of gale development before pushing inland over British Columbia on Fri (12/14). And yet another trough is to develop in the Western Gulf late Fri (12/14) being fed by 160 kts winds basically filling the entire North Pacific again supporting gale development and getting reinforced while building into the Eastern Gulf on Sat (12/15) with winds building to 190 kts. At this time the jet is to be fully consolidated from Japan running east to a point just 700 nmiles off San Francisco offering great support for gale development. In short, a progressive gale pattern is forecast centered over the Gulf of Alaska, even though the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be in control. This is good news if it materializes.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (12/8) residual swell from a strong storm that built west of the dateline was fading in both Hawaii and California (See West Pacific Storm #2 below). Also swell from a gale that developed in the Western Gulf of Alaska was pushing towards Hawaii and California (see Gulf Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours another gale started developing Fri PM (12/7) just off the Northern Kuril's producing a modest sized area of 45-50 kt west winds getting traction on the oceans surface with seas building. On Sat AM (12/8) 55 kt west winds were pushing off the North Kuril's with seas 42 ft at 48N 160E. In the evening the storm is to fade and track east off Kamchatka with winds 45 kts from the west and seas fading from 40 ft at 49N 167E. The gale is to fade from there Sun AM (12/9) with winds dropping from 35-40 kts with seas fading from 32 ft at 49N 176E. Remnants of this system are to reorganize while pushing east over the dateline into the Northwestern Gulf Sun PM with winds 35 kts from the west and seas 29 ft over a broadish area straddling the dateline with it's east most extent at 48N 178W aimed east. On Mon AM (12/10) the gale is to be more cohesive with west winds 35-40 kts in the Western Gulf with seas building from 31 ft at 46N 173W. In the evening west winds to push east while building at 40 kts from the west in the Gulf with seas building to 33 ft at 47N 161W aimed east at the Pacific Northwest. Additional fetch is to build Tues AM (12/11) in the Northern Gulf with northwest winds 45 kts with seas 35 ft at 52N 152W aimed east. 45 kt west winds to continue in the evening with 40 ft seas at 54N 144,5W and north of the North CA swell window targeting only Canada. Swell possible for the Pacific Northwest down to Pt Conception. Something to monitor.


West Pacific Storm #2
On Sat PM (12/1) a storm developed off North Japan producing a solid area of 60-65 kt northwest winds (hurricane force) aimed southeast with seas building from 30 ft at 41N 159.5E. On Sun AM (12/2) northwest winds were tracking east at 55-60 kts solid with seas building from 50 ft at 39.5N 169E. The storm tracked east in the evening with fetch still 55 kts solid from the northwest with seas 49 ft at 41N 177.5E aimed east. On Monday AM (12/3) the storm was lifting north over the dateline with winds 55 kts from the west over a solid area with seas rebuilding to 50 ft at 43.5N 175W. The gale was lifting north in the evening on the dateline with 45 kt west winds and seas 47 ft at 47.5N 171W over a solid area aimed east. On Tues AM (12/4) the gale was dissipating with fetch dropping from 40 kts over a solid area aimed east and seas fading from 37 ft at 49N 168W aimed east. The gale dissipated in the evening with fetch down to 35 kts from the west and seas fading from 29 ft over a modest sized area centered at 48N 169W aimed east and mainly from previous fetch. Something to monitor. Possible large long period swell to result.

North CA: Dribbles Sun (12/9) at 5.0 ft @ 12 secs (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 293-296 degrees

South CA: Residuals on Sun (12/9) holding at 2.4 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 298-301 degrees


Gulf Gale
A new fetch of northwest winds started building over the North Dateline into the Western Gulf on Thurs PM (12/6) with northwest winds 45 kts solid over a decent sized area aimed east-southeast with seas building from 30 ft over a small area at 49N 175.5W aimed southeast. Fri AM (12/7) northwest winds were 45-50 kts over a moderate sized area aimed southeast falling southeast in the Western Gulf with seas building to 35 ft @ 44N 166.5W. In the evening fetch fell southeast fast at 35 kts with 30 ft seas at 45N 159W aimed southeast. On Sat AM (11/8) fetch was over the Southern Gulf aimed more east and fading from 30 kts with seas 27 ft at 40N 152W aimed southeast. In the evening the gale is to be lifting north positioned 450 nmiles off Vancouver Island with northwest winds 30-35 kts and seas 25 ft at 38N 150W aimed southeast. In the evening the gale is to be gone with residual seas fading from 21 ft at 37N 145W aimed southeast targeting California swell. Another bout of larger rawer swell is possible for California and smaller less direct energy from Hawaii.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival starting before sunrise Sun (12/9) pushing 9.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (15 ft) at sunrise, holding through the day. Swell fading Mon (12/10) fading from 5.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (7.5 ft). Residuals on Tues AM (12/11) from 3.4 ft @ 12 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 341-350 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival starting before sunrise Mon (12/10) pushing 8.9 ft @ 16-17 secs (14.5 ft) early morning, holding through the day. Swell fading Tues (12/11) fading from 7.8 ft @ 14 secs (10.5 ft). Residuals on Wed AM (12/12) from 4.5 ft @ 12 secs (5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 286-298 with most energy from 295 degrees

South CA: Expect swell arrival starting before sunrise Tues (12/11) pushing 4.3 ft @ 16 secs (6.5 ft) at sunrise, holding through the day. Swell fading Wed (12/12) fading from 3.4 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.5 ft). Residuals on Thurs AM (12/13) from 2.4 ft @ 12-13 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 291-303 with most energy from 299 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 AM (12/8) a front was 500 nmiles off the North CA coast with light winds from Bodega Bay southward but south winds 5 kts building for Pt Arena northward and 15 kts for Cape Mendocino later. No rain forecast. Sunday (12/9) the front is to be impacting extreme north CA with south winds 20 kts reaching south to Pt Arena and maybe 10 kts to the Golden Gate later. Light winds south of there. Rain building south over all of North CA and Pt Reyes late evening. Monday (12/10) high pressure is to be building over North CA with north winds 15 kts early and light winds from Pt Reyes southward down into Central CA but north winds building for all of North and Central CA late afternoon at 20 kts. Rain for all of North CA early falling south early then stalling over the Golden Gate to Monterey Bay late AM and dissipating. A touch of snow late AM limited to Lake Tahoe. Tues (12/11) high pressure to remain in control at 20 kts all day. Light rain for Cape Mendocino after sunset. Wednesday (12/12) the high is to be pushing inland with north winds 15 kts mainly for Central CA and pretty much 10 kts for all of North and Central CA later. No precip. Thurs (12/13) light winds to be in control for the entire state. Fri (12/14) a weak local low to develop off and over North CA early with south winds 15 kts for Cape Mendocino but light winds early south of there building to northwest 10 kts later to Pt Conception. Light rain from Cape Mendocino sweeping south to the Golden Gate late afternoon then dissipating there. Saturday northwest winds 5 kts early for North and Central CA but up to 15 kts for Pt Conception. No precip. Total snow accumulation for for the week for North Lake Tahoe 1-2 inches and nil 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 a gale is to start developing in the Northwestern Gulf Tues PM (12/11) with 40-45 kt west winds and seas building. On Wed AM (12/12) winds building to 50-55 kts from the west and seas 39 ft over a tiny area at 47N 163W aimed east (301 degs NCal). In the evening 45-50 kt northwest winds are forecast in the Northeastern Gulf with seas 46 ft at 48N 146W aimed east (309 degs NCal). On Thurs AM (12/13) the storm is to be down to gale status with 45 kts northwest winds starting to impact the Central Canadian coast with 42 ft seas at 51N 135W and well outside the NCal swell window. The gale to fade from there. North angled swell expected for North and Central CA.

Yet another gale is to be building just west of the dateline Thurs PM (12/13) with 45 kt west winds and seas building to 35 ft at 42.5N 171E aimed east. The gale is to track east fast and building in the Western Gulf on Fri AM (12/14) with 40 kt west winds and seas 26-28 ft at 43N 173W. In the evening northwest winds to build to 55 kts in the North Central Gulf with 35 ft seas at 47N 159W. The storm is to be lifting northeast Sat AM (12/15) with 50-55 kt northwest winds and seas 42 ft at 47N 152W aimed east. Winds fading in the evening from 40 kts over a solid area with 39 ft seas at 50N 146W aimed east. Something to monitor.


South Pacific

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


MJO/ENSO Forecast


Kelvin Wave #3 Building - ESPI Continues Weakly Rising

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 Fall, but not enough yet to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere.

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 (12/7) 5 day average winds were moderately from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, then fading to near calm over the KWGA. Anomalies were light west over the East equatorial Pacific turning solidly westerly from 150W to the dateline, then neutral over the bulk of the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (12/8) modest east anomalies were in the core of the KWGA with a small area of west anomalies on the dateline. The forecast is for this situation to generally hold, but with the east anomalies fading out at the end of the week and the west anomalies retrograding west from the dateline still in a thin strip moving to the Western KWGA. But strong east anomalies are to develop on the dateline 12/11 building on the dateline and reaching to 160E at the end of the model run on 12/15. .

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (12/7) The Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the KWGA. The statistical model indicates the Inactive Phase is to ease east and over the dateline at day 5 and almost out of the KWGA at day 15 with the Active Phase of the MJO moving in to the far West Pacific. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with the Inactive Phase not moving quite as fast to the east and over the dateline at day 15. The 2 models are generally in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/8) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was moderate over the Indian Ocean. It is to track east steadily at moderate strength and is to be over the Maritime Continent 2 weeks out while fading some. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. The 2 models are generally in sync.
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/8) This model depicts a modest Inactive signal over the West Pacific tracking east. It is to disintegrate while moving east t over the East Pacific and into Central America on 1/2. A weak Active Phase of the MJO is to build in the West Pacific 12/23 tracking east and disintegrating with literally no MJO signal at the end of the model run on 1/17/19.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/7) This model depicts moderate to strong west anomalies were over the dateline and are forecast holding for another 4-5 days, with weak east anomalies at 165E holding for 3-4 days. East anomalies build in the West KWGA 12/14-12/23 then fading with west west anomalies then filling the KWGA 12/22 through the end of the model run on 1/4.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/5) This model depicts weak west anomalies were over a small area on the dateline with neutral anomalies in the western KWGA. The Inactive Phase of the MJO was developing in the KWGA today and expected to hold through 12/23 with just patches of weak west anomalies forecast in the KWGA. After that a stronger Active MJO pattern is to develop 12/24 through 2/3 with west anomalies building in coverage filling the KWGA and possibly building to WWB status 1/9-2/10. The MJO is to turn Inactive after that through the end of the model run on 3/7 but west anomalies holding in the KWGA. 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 has disappeared. Conversely the third contour line is now again to fade from 12/23-1/17 then reappear thereafter. It now appears El Nino development is perhaps becoming a bit more of a certainty per this model, or at least a solid tendency towards El Nino is fairly certain. 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 Dec 15), it's doubtful there will be significant weather influence, even if it does develop during this winter cycle. And this model is not suggesting they will become coupled, with the MJO cycle active, and not muted as it would be during a strong El Nino. 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: (12/8) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs and building coverage after falling west reaching east to only 172E on 12/5 but now to 176W. The 28 deg isotherm line had retrograded west to 160W a few weeks back, then moved east again and stable today at 152W. The 24 deg isotherm was 125 meters deep at 140W then getting shallower east of there but pushing into Ecuador. 25 meters down. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies are filling the entire subsurface Pacific with temps starting to rebuild in the West Pacific at +4 degs at 175W (Possible Kelvin Wave #3). Temps fade to +3 degs east of there only to rebuild to +4 degs (Kelvin Wave #2) starting at 120W and peaking at 100W down 50 meters then pushing into the coast of Ecuador. It appears Kelvin Wave #2 is fading out in the East Pacific while Kevin Wave #3 is building under the dateline. 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. And if Kelvin Wave #3 is building, it wouldn't reach Ecuador for 3+ months, or mid- March and then not reaching the Nino3.4 region at least another month later, meaning there's no real support to feed jetstream core energy after that during the 2018/2019 winter cycle. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/4 paints the same picture with the Kelvin Wave #2 in the East Pacific from 130W pushing into Ecuador with temps peaking at +5.0 degs at 100W. Modest warming was also building at +3 degs under the dateline (Kelvin Wave #3). 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: (12/4) Positive anomalies were solid from the interior Maritime Continent tracking east (+5-10 cms), extending east over the area north of New Guinea at +5 cms with a new core to +1-0 cms centered at 170E. A bit of break occurred east of there at 160W, then rebuilding to +5 cms at 150W and holding solid over the equator the whole way into the East Pacific and Ecuador. there were no pockets of +10 cms east of the dateline. Kelvin Wave (#2) was steady from 150W 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: (12/8) 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 110W. There is a steady stream of moderate warming along the coast the immediate coasts of Chile and Peru and Ecuador and a bit weaker reaching north to Central America, but nothing indicative of a strong trend towards El Nino, and more just like a modest El Nino. Generic warm anomalies were north of the equator from Central America and south of Mexico building out to Hawaii and the dateline. But a pocket of cool waters was solid and steady elongated east to west off Peru to 130W. Overall the pattern looks weakly like El Nino, but also like La Nina with no solid warming branching north and south along the Central and South American coast, 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 (12/7): No pockets of cooling were present over the equator. Instead a thin stream of generic very weak warming was indicated along the equator and a stronger and broader warming pattern was building along the coast of Chile and Peru, presumably due to fading trades there, not related to Kevin Wave impaction in Ecuador. Overall a steady pattern is indicated.
Hi-res Overview: (12/7) Weak 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 with one stronger pocket of warming at 110W. 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 biased warm 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: (12/8) Today's temps were rebuilding at +0.563 after falling to +0.212 on 12/3, and that after they built to +1.534 on 11/27. That peak on 11/27 was the all time high for this event in this region. A warming trend is steadily building.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(12/8) Today temps were falling some today at +0.953 after rising to +1.050 degs on 12/6 and previously 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 +0.9 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 (12/6) The model indicates temps were at +0.9 degs in mid-Nov (which isn't even close to reality - they were about +0.5) then rising some to +1.05 on Dec 1 (in reality +0.6 degs) and then forecast building to +1.25 by Feb 1 holding till late April 2019, then falling to +1.05 degs into July 2019 and steady from there into Aug. 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 weak El Nino are more likely. 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) (12/8): The daily index was falling some at 2.18. The 30 day average was rising again to 2.69 suggesting a neutral MJO. The 90 day average was rising some at 0.03, rising the past 3 weeks and no longer negative 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 and if anything, have moved back to a positive regime.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (12/8) The index has risen slightly from at +0.03 on 12/3 to +0.18 today, just barely positive and not as strong as it should be if El Nino were developing. Typically El Nino peaks in late December. If that is the case in this years event, then there's no way we're going to move into a legit El Nino this winter. 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

Powerlinessurf Jeff Clark Inside Mavericks

Local Interest

Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (12/2):
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Powerline Productions New Movie Preimer - Next Level - Friday (11/9) at 7 PM. Details here:

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Stormsurf and Mavericks on HBO Sports with Bryant Gumbel

Mavericks Invitational Pieces Featuring Stormsurf:

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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