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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, December 10, 2020 4:21 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
4.9 - California & 4.1 - Hawaii
Using the 'Summer' 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 12/7 thru Sun 12/13

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   

Local Gale for US West Coast
North Dateline Gale for HI

On Thursday, December 10, 2020 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.8 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 11.8 secs from 266 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.1 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 2.9 ft @ 10.4 secs from 274 degrees. Water temp 79.5 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.9 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 2.4 ft @ 13.7 secs from 262 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northeast at 4-6 kts. Water temperature 62.4 degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 5.5 ft @ 13.7 secs from 295 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.5 ft @ 12.6 secs from 253 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.7 ft @ 14.7 secs from 256 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 3.3 ft @ 14.5 secs from 276 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 9.6 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 5.5 ft @ 12.4 ft from 293 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was northwest at 12-16 kts. Water temp 51.6 degs (013), 52.5 degs (SF Bar) and 52.7 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 (12/10) in North and Central CA Swell #2 was all but gone with waves estimated at 1 ft overhead and clean and lumpy and totally fogged in. Protected breaks were chest to head high and clean and soft and lined up. At Santa Cruz surf was head high to 1 ft overhead and clean and lined up and fun. In Southern California/Ventura waves were waist high and clean but weak and occasionally somewhat lined up. Central Orange County had set waves at maybe chest high and pretty torn up by north wind though not whitecapped. South Orange County's best summertime breaks had sets at thigh high and ruffled and not good looking. North San Diego had sets at chest high and lined up and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting fading energy from Swell #2 at chest to maybe head high and clean and lined up when it came. The South Shore was getting shoulder high sets and clean and lined up when they came. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves waist high and near clean early with no easterly trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (12/10) Swell #2 was all but gone in California having originated from a storm that developed in the Western Gulf of Alaska with 54 ft seas aimed east. A relatively local gale is forecast developing in the Central Gulf tracking northeast with seas forecast to 43 ft in the Northeastern Gulf on Sun (12/13). Beyond a reasonably active pattern is forecast, but no clearly defined storm centers are to result.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Thursday (12/10) the jet was consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds building to 180 kts over the dateline with a trough north over there offering good support for gale development. But as the jet tracked north of Hawaii it split with most energy ridging hard north up into the Bering Sea. From there the northerly branch fell southeast just off the Canadian coast then down just barely over the coast of California before pushing inland. Over the next 72 hours the trough over the North Dateline region is to fade out late Fri (12/11) while a new trough develops in the Central Gulf being fed by a consolidated jet with winds to 150 kts in the Gulf offering decent support for gale development as that trough pushes east and into the Pacific Northwest on Sun (12/13). Beyond 72 hours the jet is to running due east off Japan on the 35N latitude line with winds building to 170 kts starting to form some sort of a broad trough focused on the Kuril Islands by Tues (12/15) but then heavily splitting at 170W with the northern branch weak and pushing a bit northeast and into the Pacific Northwest offering nothing but weak weather and the southern branch falling south to the equator then tracking east. But by Thurs (12/18) the consolidated jet is to steam rolling east-northeast with winds to 150 kts tracking up into the North-Central Gulf of Alaska with the split point just off the US West Coast. No troughs are indicated offering no support for gale development but all the ingredients are to be in-place. An improving gale pattern looks possible.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (12/10) the last fading remnants of swell from Storm #2 was hitting Hawaii and California (see see Storm #2 below).

Over the next 72 hours swell from a weak gale that is over the North Dateline region is to be radiating southeast (see Weak North Dateline Gale below).

Also on Fri AM (12/11) a gale is to start building 900 nmiles north of Hawaii with a small area of 45 kt west winds and seas building from 22 ft at 35N 159W aimed east. In the evening a small fetch of 55 kt west winds is to be pushing east-northeast with seas building to 30 ft at 37.5N 150W aimed east. On Sat AM (12/12) fetch is to be lifting northeast off the North CA coast with west winds 50 kts and seas 32 ft at 41N 141W aimed east. In the evening the gael is to stall forward motion and ease north some with 50-55 kt west-northwest winds and seas building to 42 ft at 48N 143.5W aimed east. Fetch is to hold stationary Sun AM (12/13) off the Pacific Northwest with 50 kt west winds and seas 42 ft at 49N 144W aimed east. Fetch is to be fading and still stationary in the evening with 45 kt west winds and seas fading from 36 ft up at 50.5N 145W aimed east. The gale is to dissipate from there.

North CA: Rough data for planning purposes suggests larger raw swell arriving late Sun (12/13) pushing 10 ft @ 16-17 secs (17.0 ft). Swell Direction: 280-295 degrees


Storm #2
Another strong storm developed just west of the dateline on Fri AM (12/4) producing 45-50 kt west winds and seas building to 23 ft at 40N 172E aimed east. In the evening the storm pushing over the dateline producing 60-65 kt west winds (hurricane force) with seas building from 44 ft at 40N 176.5W aimed east. On Sat AM (12/5) the storm was sweep fast east with 55 kt west winds over the Western Gulf with seas building to 52 ft at 40.5N 165.5W aimed east. The storm is to plod east-northeast in the evening with 50-55 kt west winds in the Western Gulf with seas 54 ft at 45.5N 157W aimed due east. On Sun AM (12/6) the storm is to start fading with 45-50 kt west winds while lifting northeast and seas fading from 52 ft up at 47N 154W aimed east. In the evening the gale is to continue fading in the Northern Gulf with 40 kt west winds and seas fading from 45 ft at 49N 149W aimed east-northeast. On Mon AM (12/7) the last little fetch is to be fading from 35-40 kts from the southwest positioned in the Northern Gulf with seas fading from 37 ft at 53N 147.5W aimed east-northeast targeting only British Columbia and points north of there. Large swell is expected targeting mainly the US West Coast.

Hawaii (Oahu): Thurs AM (12/10) swell fading out from 2.8 ft @ 11 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 330-335 degrees

North CA: Residuals fading Thurs (12/10) from 5 ft @ 13 secs (6/5 ft). Swell Direction: 290-298 degrees Large consistent and dangerous swell conditions likely. Do not venture near or into the ocean unless you are highly experienced.


Weak North Dateline Gale
On Wed AM (12/9) a small gale was developing over the North Dateline region producing 30-35 kt northwest winds and seas building from 18 ft at 44N 171E aimed southeast. In the evening northwest winds were building at 40-45 kts just west of the dateline and over a small area aimed southeast with seas 25 ft at 47N 174E aimed southeast. On Thurs AM (12/10) fetch was lifting north slightly at 35-40 kts from the west with seas 27 ft south of the Central Aleutians at 47N 175E aimed southeast. This system is to hold position in the evening with 35 kt northwest winds and seas 26 ft at 47N 176E aimed southeast. More of the same is forecast Fri AM (12/11) with 30-35 kt northwest winds steady and seas 25 ft at 47N 179E aimed southeast. Winds to weaken in the evening to 30 kts with 22 ft seas at 49N 179E aimed southeast. The gale is to be gone on Sat AM (12/12). Small northerly angled swell is possible for Hawaii and even less for the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Swell arrival possibly on Sun (12/13) building to 4.8 ft @ 15 secs later in the day (7.0 ft). Swell fading Mon (12/14) from 4.3 ft @ 14 secs (6.0 ft). Swell fading on Tues (12/15) from 4.2 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.0 ft). Swell dissipating later in the day. Swell Direction: 325-330 degrees


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


Tropical Update
No tropical weather system of interest were being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thurs (12/10) northwest winds were projected at 20 kts off the coast of North and Central CA and 10 kts nearshore early building to 15-20 kts nearshore in the afternoon all locations. Maybe some sprinkles for North Cape Mendocino in the evening. On Fri (12/11) weak high pressure tries to build in producing northwest winds at 15 kts for North CA early and up to 20 kts for Central CA holding in Central CA all day but fading to calm north of the Golden Gate later. Rain developing for Pt Arena northward at sunset pushing south to Santa Cruz in the evening. On Sat AM (12/12) a weak front is to impact Cape Mendocino with southwest winds 15 kts early with light winds south to Pt Conception then turning northwest 10-15 kts south of Monterey Bay later. Rain for North CA and down to Monterey Bay early fading mid-day but persisting for Cape Mendocino. Snow for Tahoe and the Central Sierra early fading in the afternoon. Sunday (12/13) light winds are forecast all day for North and Central CA. Rain for all of North CA early pushing south over Monterey Bay to Morro Bay in the evening. Snow for the higher elevations of Lake Tahoe late AM building over all the Sierra in the afternoon then fading overnight. Monday (12/14) high pressure tries to build in with north winds 10 kts early for North CA and northwest at 10-15 kts for Central CA south of Monterey Bay building to 20 kts later but north 10 kts over all of North CA down to Pigeon Point later. Light rain for Cape Mendocino early. On Tues (12/15) light winds are forecast for all of North and Central CA early turning south at 20-30 kts for Cape Mendocino midday then south 10 kts down to Pt Reyes later. Rain pushing south from Cape Mendocino to early to Pt Reyes overnight. Wed (10/16) southwest winds are forecast at 15-20 kts for all of North CA early building south to Pigeon Point mid-day then turning northwest 10 kts at sunset. Light northwest winds for Central CA early. Rain for all of North Ca early pushing south to Pt Conception overnight. Heavy snow pushing south over all the Sierra through the day and into the evening. Thurs (12/17) north winds are forecast at 20 kts early for all of north and Central CA early with high pressure in control pushing 25 kts later. Light rain for all of North and Central CA rapidly fading at sunrise. Snow fading through the day for all the Sierra.

Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 34 inches, 32 inches, 32 inches, and 22 inches respectively.

Freezing level varying from 6.000 to 9,000 ft over the next 7 days.

Snow Models: (Scroll down for resort specific forecasts). Updated!


South Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (12/5) no swell was in the water and no swell producing weather systems were occurring. but a small storm did produce some seas of interest (See New Zealand storm below)

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


New Zealand Storm
A small storm developed just southwest of New Zealand on Wed AM (12/2) producing 50 ft west winds and 45 ft seas at 52.5S 156E aimed east. In the evening west winds faded from 40 kts and seas were 42 ft at 54.5S 166E aimed east. On Thurs AM (12/3) 40 kt west winds persisted south of New Zealand with 35 ft seas at 57S 166.5E aimed east. Fetch faded from 35 kts in the evening with seas fading from 33 ft at 56.5S 174E aimed east. The gale dissipated after that. Small swell has been generated and is expected to radiate into Southern CA.

Southern CA: Swell arrival roughly on Fri AM (12/11) at 1 ft @ 20 secs (2 ft). Swell building on Sat (12/12) to 1.3 ft @ 18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell holding Sun (12/13) at 1.3 ft at 16-17 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fading on Mon (12/14) from 1.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0 ft). Swell dissipating after that. Swell Direction: 219 degrees


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




Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a tiny gale is to develop 800 nmiles north of Hawaii on Sun AM (12/13) with 40 kt west winds and seas building from 20 ft at 33N 165W aimed east. The gale is to track east in the evening with 50 kts west winds over a tiny area and seas 32 ft at 34.5N 199.5W aimed east. The gale is to push east Mon AM (12/14) while fading with 35 kt west winds and seas 27 ft at 35N 153W aimed east. The gale is to dissipate from there. Maybe some small northerly swell to result for Hawaii. Something to monitor.

Also on Wed AM (12/16) a small gale is forecast developing over the North Dateline region producing 45 kts west winds over a tiny area and seas building from 28 ft at 46N 176.5W aimed east. The gale is to building to storm status in the evening with 55 kt west winds just south of the Eastern Aleutians with seas 36 ft over a tiny area aimed east at 50.5N 172W aimed east. A broad fetch of 30-45 kt west winds is to develop in the Northwestern Gulf on Thurs AM (12/17) around the core of this system with 38 ft seas at 52.5N 166W aimed east. In the evening a solid fetch of 40-45 kts west winds is to be tracking east through the Northwestern Gulf with 34 ft seas at 49.5N 164.5W aimed east. Something to monitor mainly for the US West Coast.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the models are unbelievable suggesting a strong storm developing under New Zealand tracking east-northeast Tues-Thurs (12/17) producing 50-55 kt west winds and seas 50 ft near 57S 178W aimed east-northeast on Wed AM (12/16). this seems impossible to believe. Will monitor.



MJO/ENSO Forecast


La Nina Likely Past Its Peak

MJO/ENSO Discussion
The Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) 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.
And the El Nino/La Nino cycle (collectively know as ENSO - El Nino Southern Oscillation) is a less frequent (about once every 7 years) but more impactful cycle that affects world wide weather. Specifically, strong El Nino events promote storm production in the Pacific while La Nina events suppress storm production. These therefore have a significant impact on the production of swell and surf. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO and ENSO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for upcoming activity (or inactivity depending on the state and interaction of these two oscillations).

Overview: A double dip La Nina was in control 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 to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere. In January 2019, those warm waters were fading, but then rebuilt late in Feb associated with Kelvin Wave (#3). But as of early June 2019 warm water was fading and by August a tongue of cool water was tracking west on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos reaching to a point nearly south of Hawaii. El Nino was dead. A bit of a recovery occurred during Fall of 2019, with weak warm water building in the Nino 1.2 region, but cool water held in a pool off Peru and had not changed until March 2020. By April the cool pool pushed east and by May subsurface cool waters erupted off Ecuador, forming a well defined cool tongue that looked like the start of La Nina, holding into July 2020.

Fall/Winter 2020/2021 = 3.0/3.5 (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: It is assumed the PDO has moved to the warm phase in 2014 and that a weak borderline El Nino from 2018 faded out in the Fall of 2019. A La Nina like ocean temperature pattern developed in the equatorial East Pacific in the summer of 2019, then faded and returned to a neutral if not weak warm status during the Winter of 2019-2020 only to return stronger in the Summer of 2020. We have been suspecting a turn towards a La Nina like atmospheric pattern to develop in the late Winter/early Spring of 2020. Our best hope is that moderation from the warm phase of the PDO might tamp down development of a full blown La Nina as we move into 2020. But at this time that does not appear likely. Given all that, for the 2020 there is decent probability for development of La Nina meaning a reduced number of storm days and storm intensity during the summer season, resulting in a below normal level of swell, with swell being below normal duration and period. And by the Fall and early Winter of 2020/21, the number of storm days, intensity and duration of those storms should fade even more, resulting in depressed swell production. This pattern is expected to hold through the Spring of 2021.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast (KWGA - Kelvin Wave Generation Area - The area 5 degrees north and south of the equator from 170W to 135E)
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (12/9) 5 day average winds were strong from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and again strong from the east over the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral to light west over the East equatorial Pacific turning neutral over the Central Pacific and moderate easterly over the KWGA. (Note: These are 5 day average winds, so they lag what is happening today by about 2 days).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (12/10) a mix of modest east and west anomalies were filling the KWGA with moderate east anomalies reaching east to a point south of California. The forecast calls for moderate to strong east anomalies back building from the east to the west filling the eastern 50% of the KWGA at the end of the model run on 12/16. East anomalies are to hold over the East Pacific on the equator.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (12/9) the Active Phase of the MJO is present over the KWGA today. The statistic model projects it building in coverage and strength through the end of the model run (day 15). The dynamic model suggests the Active Phase is to remain modest over the West KWGA for the 15 day model run.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/10) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was weak over the East Maritime Continent today and is to track east to the West Pacific and getting steadily weaker and non-existent on day 15. The GEFS model suggests the Active Phase is to hold over the East Maritime Continent at weak status through day 15.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (12/6) This model depicts a weak Active Phase (wet air) over the East Pacific tracking east while fading pushing into Central America on 12/21. A modest Inactive Phase was over the West Pacific and is to push east and into the Central America on 1/5. A weak Active Phase is to push into the West Pacific on 1/10 easing east at the end of the model run on 1/15. .
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/9) This model depicts no MJO signal over the KWGA today with a mix of weak east and west anomalies over the core of the KWGA. The forecast indicates weak to modest east anomalies are to hold in coverage over the KWGA getting progressively weaker and gone starting 12/22 with weak west anomalies in control through 12/29 and the Active Phase of the MJO pushes through the KWGA. After that weak to modest east anomalies are to return on 12/31 holding through the end of the model over the KWGA to 1/6. The low pass filters coverage of high pressure over the KWGA is to be steadily fading covering only from 155E to the dateline at the end of the model run.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/10 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts the Inactive Phase of the MJO was fading over the KWGA today with neutral anomalies in control. The Inactive Phase is to push east and out of the KWGA by 12/13 with east anomalies following the Inactive Phase east. A weak Active Phase is to start pushing into the Western KWGA on 12/15 and tracking east through 1/19 producing weak west anomalies in the KWGA but with east anomalies holding east of the dateline. A weak Inactive MJO is to return 1/11 holding to 2/4 but with a mix of east and west wind anomalies in the KWGA. A weak Active Phase is to return 1/27 holding through the end of the model run 3/9 with very weak west anomalies filling the KWGA. This is an upgrade. The low pass filter indicates a high pressure bias is firmly in control over the dateline today with 2 contour lines reaching east to a point south of California and is to continue through the end of the model run with it's western periphery easing east to 160E at the end of the model run. A third contour line is to appear on 12/15 holding through the end of the model run. A single contour low pressure bias is over the Indian Ocean today and is to build in coverage holding through the end of the model run and its eastern periphery easing east to 150E at the end of the model run. Its core is to start moving east at that time. East anomalies that have been previously solid in the Indian Ocean for over a year previous migrated east through the West Pacific to the East Pacific on 10/1 and then stabilized there. For now the trend is towards a building La Nina though the model suggest it might be dislodged in Spring.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (12/10) Today in the far West Pacific the 30 deg isotherm was gone. The 29 deg isotherm was retrograding to 156E today. The 28 deg isotherm line has retrograded west to 170E today. The 24 deg isotherm was steady at 145W today with a finger on the surface extending east to 120W. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies +2 deg C were steady in the West Pacific pushing east to 150W at depth today but no warmth east of there and no sign of moving east anytime soon. A broad cooling pattern was set up over the entire equatorial Pacific with anomalies -4 degs C in the far East, but otherwise temps generally -1 deg C over the entire equatorial Pacific at depth. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/4 indicates a strong cool pattern over the East Pacific at depth but with warming easing east to 150W. 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) Negative anomalies were forming a wave pushing west from the Galapagos to 180W peaking at -15 cms at 110W and -10 cms solid from Ecuador to 140W. Negative anomalies were -10 cms along the coast of Peru up into Ecuador and then reaching north up to Baja and into South and North CA. Looking at the big picture, negative anomalies were forming a massive triangle from Cape Mendocino south to Southern Chile and west out to the intersection of the dateline and the equator. No positive anomalies were over the equatorial Pacific, except from the dateline and points west of there.

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: (12/9) The latest images indicate cold anomalies were on the equator from Ecuador west to the dateline and solid in density over that entire and large area. Colder anomalies were barely imbedded in that flow in places but no longer distinct. And the overall cool pool does not look as cold as weeks and months past. Cool anomalies were also holding along the coasts of Chile and Peru. This clearly indicates a well developed version of La Nina filling the entire equatorial Pacific and down into Chile. But the overall cool intensity of that pool appears to have stabilized if not losing some of its intensity. Perhaps we are past the peak of this event.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/9): Temps were still warming along Chile and Peru reaching west to the dateline with only a few tiny pockets of cooling over that entire area.
Hi-res Overview: (12/9) A stream of consistent cool water is well entrenched from Chile up to Peru and Ecuador then tracking west on the equator out to the dateline and west to New Guinea. But the trail of markedly cool anomalies previously imbedded in that flow is gone. Perhaps the peak of La Nina has been reached.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/10) Today's temps were on a slow rise to -0.669 after previously rising to a high of -0.650 on 11/15. This area has been on a seesaw rising trend since early October. Temps were previously down to -2.138 on 8/13. The longterm trend has been steady but quite cold since June.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(12/10) Temps were gently rising to -1.095 today after bottoming out at -1.654 on 11/3, beating the previous low of -0.945 on 9/22. The previous low before that was -0.733 on 9/10. Temps have been on a steady decline since 7/25. Overall the trend appears to be in a steep decline.

Click for Full Sized Image Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 Sea Surface Temp (SST) Anomalies & Current SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (12/10) Today the model indicates temps at -1.15 degs. The forecast depicts temps holding at -1.15 degs to mid-Jan then beginning to rise, rebuilding up to -0.30 degs mid-July and stabilizing there. This is becoming a 2 year event in that even after temps return to 0/normal it will take 3-5 months for the upper level circulation to respond in kind.
IRI Consensus Plume: The Oct 21, 2020 Plume depicts temps are at -1.10 degs today, and are to hold into Dec, then moderating and starting to rise some to -0.89 by Jan 2021 and then neutral by June. Most models are suggesting a moderate to La Nina returning to Neutral in the late Spring. See chart here - link.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad - this is a lagging indicator) (12/10): The daily index was down some at +10.79. The 30 day average was rising at +10.17. The 90 day average was rising some at 8.21. This index is a lagging indicator.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): June -0.67, May -0.46, April 2020 -0.69, March -0.09, Feb +0.65, Jan +0.42, This index was steady positive Aug 2018 through Feb 2020, and now is steady negative, but only weakly so.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation
Per NOAAs index recent values: Jan 2018 +0.29, Feb -0.19, Mar -0.61, April -0.89, May -0.69, June -0.85, July -0.09, Aug -0.43, Sept -0.46, Oct -0.75, Nov -0.78, Dec -0.12, Jan 2019 -0.18, Feb -0.50 Mar -0.23, April +0.10, May +0.14, June -0.11, July +0.44, Aug -0.14, Sept +0.05, Oct -0.96, Nov -0.28, Dec +0.01, Jan 2020 -1.17, This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2018 +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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