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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, December 12, 2020 12:14 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
4.0 - California & 3.0 - 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 12/14 thru Sun 12/20

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 Swell for US West Coast
North Dateline Swell for HI

On Saturday, December 12, 2020 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.2 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 0.8 ft @ 15.1 secs from 186 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 2.8 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 1.8 ft @ 9.2 secs from 232 degrees. Water temp 79.5 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 7.5 ft @ 6.7 secs with swell 6.5 ft @ 6.3 secs from 269 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 20-25 kts. Water temperature 61.3 degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 4.3 ft @ 12.4 secs from 301 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 3.8 ft @ 6.4 secs from 268 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.0 ft @ 18.9 secs from 213 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 1.5 ft @ 18.5 secs from 223 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 8.0 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 4.0 ft @ 11.9 ft from 304 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was northwest at 8-12 kts. Water temp 51.3 degs (013), 52.5 degs (SF Bar) and 52.5 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 (12/12) in North and Central CA waves were up to head high and lumpy and warbled and mushed with modest northwest winds junking it up even more with fog. Protected breaks were up to chest high and lined up and soft but fairly clean. At Santa Cruz surf was waist to chest high and lumpy and weird but fairly clean and foggy early. In Southern California/Ventura waves were thigh high and blown to bits and chopped from brisk northwest winds. Central Orange County had set waves at waist to maybe chest high and lined up but soft and crumbled from heavy texture and south wind. South Orange County's best summertime breaks had sets at thigh high or so and clean and weak. North San Diego had sets at chest to head high and lined up and clean but soft. Hawaii's North Shore was getting fading swell with waves occasionally waist high or so at top breaks and clean when they came. The South Shore was near flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves thigh to waist high and chopped from moderate east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (12/12) swell was pushing east towards the coast from from a developing local gale off North CA with seas 36 ft forecast building to to 39 ft in the Northeastern Gulf on Sun (12/13). Another local gael is forecast tracking from north of Hawaii to the Northeastern Gulf Sun-Tues (12/15) with seas building to 46 ft aimed east. And another gale is forecast developing and lingering just off the Northern Kuril Islands Sun-Mon (12/14) with 39 ft seas aimed east. After that nothing obvious is forecast though a series of weak weather system are forecast for the Northern Gulf. Rideable swell is expected, but nothing solid.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Saturday (12/12) the jet was somewhat consolidated pushing east off Japan over the dateline and into the Gulf with winds building to 160 kts in a pocket over Japan and another in the Western Gulf with the latter feeding a developing but tight trough in the Central Gulf offering support for gale development. From there the jet lifting northeast and was pushing over the coast of British Columbia and down into the Pacific Northwest. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to push east-northeast and move over Oregon on late Sun (12/13) continuing to support gale development. After that winds are to start building off Japan to 180 kts in a more consolidated jetstream flow pushing east over the Dateline on Tues (12/15) then fading east of there. But a weak trough is forecast embedded in that weak flow tracking from the Northwestern Gulf into the Pacific Northwest on Thurs (12/17) perhaps offering some support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to continue building east and consolidated with winds 140-160 kts extending east from Japan to a point over the Central Gulf on Fri (12/18) but with no clearly defined troughs forecast. And by Sat (12/19) the jet is to extend over the width of the North Pacific running due east off Japan on the 35N latitude line with winds building to 190 kts then weakening over the dateline only to rebuild to 160 kts over the Gulf of Alaska and pushing into Washington State. Good fundamentals are forecast in the upper level flow but without the spark to ignite a fire (i.e. a trough).

Surface Analysis
On Saturday(12/10)
swell from a weak gale that was previously over the North Dateline region is radiating southeast towards Hawaii (see Weak North Dateline Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours 2 gales are forecast, both in the Eastern Gulf (see First and Second Eastern Gulf Gale below). And one more os forecast off the Kuril Islands (see Kuril Gale below).


First Eastern Gulf Gale
A gale started developing Fri AM (12/11) 900 nmiles north of Hawaii with a small area of 45 kt west winds and seas building from 18 ft at 35N 159W aimed east. In the evening a small fetch of 55 kt west winds was pushing east-northeast with seas building to 29 ft at 38N 150.5W aimed east. On Sat AM (12/12) fetch was lifting northeast off the North CA coast with northwest winds 45-50 kts and seas 36 ft at 40N 143W aimed east. In the evening the gale is to stall forward motion and ease north some with 45-50 kt west-northwest winds and seas building to 39 ft at 45N 140.5W aimed east. Fetch is to ease north some Sun AM (12/13) off the Pacific Northwest with 45 kt west winds and seas 39 ft at 49.5N 140W aimed east. Fetch is to be fading while lifting north in the evening with 40 kt west winds and seas fading from 28 ft up at 52N 140W aimed east. The gale is to dissipate from there.

North CA: For planning purposes expect larger raw swell arriving later Sun (12/13) pushing 10.8 ft @ 16-17 secs (17.0 ft). Swell holding early Mon (12/14) at 10.8 ft @ 15 secs (16 ft) but from a more northerly (shadowed) direction. Swell fading on Tues (12/15) fading from 8.1 ft @ 14 secs (11 ft). Swell Direction: 280-290 degrees initially moving to 310+ degrees


Second Eastern Gulf Gale
Another tiny gale is forecast developing 950 nmiles north of Hawaii on Sun AM (12/13) with 45 kt west winds and seas building from 26 ft at 35.5N 165W aimed east. The gale is to track east in the evening with 40 kts west winds over a small area and seas 30 ft at 36N 159.5W aimed east. The gale is to push northeast Mon AM (12/14) while building with 50-55 kt northwest winds and seas 27 ft over a building area at 40N 150W aimed east. In the evening winds to build to 55 kts solid while the gael lifts northeast with seas building to 43 ft at 47N 140W aimed east. The gale is to be pushing into North British Columbia Tues AM (12/15) with 45-50 kt west winds and seas 47 ft just off North Vancouver Island at 50N 137W and north of the Ca swell window. Maybe some more solid but local swell to result primarily for California and the Pacific Northwest. Something to monitor.


Kuril Gale
On Sun AM (12/13) a gale is forecast developing off the Kuril Islands producing 45+ kt northwest winds and seas building from 30 ft at 43N 164E aimed east. In the evening 45-55 kt west winds are forecast holding position with and expanding area of 35 ft seas building at 46N 168E aimed east. Fetch is to lift north and fading Mon AM (12/14) from 40-45 kts with seas fading from 28-30 ft at 48.5N 167E aimed east. Maybe some swell for Hawaii. Something to monitor.


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 Saturday AM (12/12) a weak front is poised to impact Cape Mendocino with light winds 15 kts early there and northwest winds 10-15 kts from Pt Arena south to Pt Conception. Winds to turn southwest for Cape Mendocino in the afternoon at 15+ kts and light northwest south of there to Monterey Bay, then northwest 115 kts south of there to Pt Conception. Light rain fading early for North and Central CA down to Morro Bay. 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 Morro in the evening. Snow developing for Lake Tahoe late AM building over all the Sierra in the afternoon and heavy 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. Snow fading for the Sierra at sunrise. On Tues (12/15) light north winds are forecast for North CA early and north 10-15 kts for Central CA early turning south at 15 kts for Cape Mendocino midday into the afternoon and holding north 10 kts from Pt Reyes to Monterey bay and north 15 kts south of there to Pt Conception. Rain pushing south from Cape Mendocino in the late afternoon to Pt Arena then fading. Wed (10/16) southwest winds are forecast building through the day for North CA to 30 kts for Cape Mendocino late and 5 kts at the Golden Gate with light northwest winds for Central CA all day. Rain developing over all of North CA in the evening. Thurs (12/17) west to southwest winds are forecast at 15-20 kts all day for North CA and northwest 10-15 kts for Central CA. Light rain for all of North and Central CA rapidly fading at sunrise. Rain for North CA early pushing south to Morro Bay and dissipating there through the day but lingering into the evening from Monterey Bay northward. Snow developing mid-AM for Tahoe pushing down to Yosemite and holding through the day then fading overnight. On Fri (12/18) northwest winds are forecast at 10 kts early for North CA and 15 kts south of Monterey Bay early holding through the day. Sat (12/19) light winds are forecast for North CA maybe trending southerly for Cape Mendocino early building from the south at 15 kts later. Light northwest winds 5-10 kts for all of the remainder of North and Central CA.

Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 42 inches, 42 inches, 46 inches, and 11 inches respectively.

Freezing level varying from 5.000 to 8,000 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 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 perhaps another local gale is to form off Oregon on Wed AM (12/16) producing 35 kt northwest winds and seas building. In the evening 40 kt northwest winds are forecast just off the Pacific Northwest coast with seas building to 27 ft at 46N 134.5W aimed southeast. The gale is to fall southeast Thurs AM (12/17) producing 40 kt northwest winds and seas 31 ft at 42.5N 129.5W just off the CA-OR broader. This system is to be inland after that.

Perhaps another small gale is to develop in the Gulf on Sat (12/19) tracking east with seas building to 37 ft at 48.5N 132.5W or just off Vancouver Island. Something to monitor.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the models are unbelievable suggesting a decent strong storm developing under New Zealand tracking east-northeast Tues-Thurs (12/17) producing 45 kt southwest winds and seas building to 40 ft near 55S 171W aimed east-northeast on Wed AM (12/16). This seems like quite a reach. Will monitor.



MJO/ENSO Forecast


La Nina Not Building - But Not Fading Either

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 (12/11) 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 East KWGA fading to neutral over the West KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the East equatorial Pacific continuing neutral over the Central Pacific and modest easterly over the East KWGA fading to neutral in the West. (Note: These are 5 day average winds, so they lag what is happening today by about 2 days).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (12/12) 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 plus strength east anomalies back building from the east filling the KWGA at the end of the model run on 12/19. East anomalies are to hold over the East Pacific on the equator reaching almost east to a point south of California.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (12/11) the Active Phase of the MJO is present over the KWGA today. The statistic model projects it building in coverage and holding at modest strength through the end of the model run on day 15. The dynamic model suggests the Active Phase is to remain modest over the West KWGA fading to almost nothing on day 10 then rebuilding some on day 15 of the model run.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/11) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was modest 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 track to the West Pacific while generally holding strength except for a dip in strength at day 7.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (12/6) No Update. 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): (12/11) 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 start taking better hold over the KWGA at weak to modest strength through 1/1, then building to moderate to strong status and holding through the end of the model run on 1/8 even though the Active Phase of the MJO is to push through the KWGA 12/18-1/3. The low pass filters coverage of high pressure over the KWGA is to be steadily fading covering only from 155E to the dateline and moving from 2 contours to 1 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 all but gone from the KWGA today with neutral anomalies in control. The Inactive Phase is to push east and out of the KWGA by 12/14 with mostly weak west anomalies holding in the KWGA. A weak Active Phase was starting to push into the Western KWGA today and is to track east through 1/6 producing weak west anomalies in the KWGA. A strong Inactive MJO is to return 1/21 holding to 2/14 with strong east anomalies in the KWGA and filling the East Pacific again. A strong Active Phase is to return 2/6 holding through the end of the model run 3/11 with very modest 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 12/14 with a fourth on 2/6 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. 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.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (12/12) Today in the far West Pacific the 30 deg isotherm was gone. The 29 deg isotherm was barely holding at 160E today. The 28 deg isotherm line has retrograded west to 170E today. The 24 deg isotherm was steady at 138W today. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies +2 deg C were locked steady in the West Pacific pushing east to 155W at depth and moving no further east. A broad cooling pattern was controlling 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 165W. 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 150W. Negative anomalies were -10 cms along the coast of Peru up into Ecuador and then -5 cms 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: (12/11) 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 (12/11): Temps were still warming along Chile and Peru reaching west to the dateline but not a solidly as days past. A small cooling stream was developing over the Galapagos out to near 110W with a 2 tiny pockets of cooling west of there. No whole scale warming pattern was depicted, but neither was significant cooling occurring.
Hi-res Overview: (12/11) 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: (12/12) Today's temps were on a slow rise to -0.595 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:
(12/11) Temps were gently rising to -1.062 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 (12/12) 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 -0.50 degs mid-June and stabilizing there (still in minimal La Nina territory). This is becoming a 2 year event in that even if temps were to return to 0/normal it would 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) (12/12): The daily index was up some at +15.88. The 30 day average was rising at +10.25. The 90 day average was rising some at 8.35. 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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