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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Wednesday, December 18, 2019 1:51 PM
Buoys: Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Buoy Forecast:
Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Pacific Links:  Atmospheric Models - Buoy Data - Current Weather - Wave Models
Forecast Archives: Enter Here
A chronology of recent Mavericks Underground forecasts. Once you enter, just click on the HTML file forecast you want to review (e.g. 073199.html equals July 31, 1999). To view the maps that correspond to that forecast date, select the html file labeled 073199 maps.html
3.8 - California & 3.7 - 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 12/16 thru Sun 12/22

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   

Dateline Swell Hitting CA
Long String of Gales Forecast

On Wednesday, December 18, 2019 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai)/Barbers Point (Buoy 238) : Seas were 3.9 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 2.5 ft @ 13.5 secs from 306 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 6.0 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 3.2 ft @ 13.4 secs from 321 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.5 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 12.8 secs from 235 degrees. Wind at the buoy was east at 6-8 kts. Water temperature 60.3 degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 4.8 ft @ 14.4 secs from 299 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.3 ft @ 13.6 secs from 255 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 0.8 ft @ 13.5 secs from 234 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.2 ft @ 13.7 secs from 269 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 13.9 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 7.2 ft @ 15.9 secs from 284 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was east at 21-25 kts. Water temp 55.2 degs (013), 56.8 degs (012) and 56.7 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 Wednesday (12/18) in North and Central CA waves were 3-5 ft overhead and lined up but pretty raw and warbled from brisk southeasterly winds with whitecapped outside. Protected breaks were 1-2 ft overhead and lined up and mostly closed out but clean. At Santa Cruz surf was 1 ft overhead and trashed by south winds and unrideable. In Southern California/Ventura waves were thigh high or so and clean and weak. In North Orange Co surf was flat and clean. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks were flat and clean. North San Diego had waves at thigh to maybe waist high on the sets and clean and lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was getting small northwest swell with set waves head high and soft and inconsistent but clean with light trades. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell with waves head high and chopped from brisk easterly trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Wednesday (12/18) in California swell was hitting from a storm that pushed off the North Kuril Islands Fri-Sat (12/14) with seas at first up to 39 ft aimed east, then faded with seas down to 29 ft as it tracked east approaching the dateline, but pulsed slightly in the Northwestern Gulf Sun-Mon (12/16) with seas up to 30 ft aimed east. Remnants of this swell were fading in Hawaii. Another gale developed off the Kuril Islands tracking east over the dateline Sun-Mon (12/16) with 32 ft seas aimed east then is to rebuild some in the Western Gulf on Wed-Thurs (12/19) with seas again building to the 31 ft range. Another storm is forecast developing on the North Dateline region moving into the Northwestern Gulf on Sat-Mon (12/23) with 33 ft seas aimed east. Yet another gale is to follow tracking over the Northwestern Gulf Tues-Wed (12/250 producing 48 ft seas aimed east. And another gale is to form at the same time off the Kuril Islands producing 43 ft seas aimed southeast. The storm pattern continues to look positive.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Wednesday (12/18) the jetstream was consolidated pushing east over Japan with winds 150 kts but instantly splitting after pushing off the coast only to consolidate just east of the dateline with winds rebuilding to 160 kts forming a trough in the Northwestern Gulf offering some support for gale development. Another steep trough was pushing over the Oregon and California coast creating some weather there but expected to move inland over the next 12 hours and no longer be of interest. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to steadily track east being fed by 150 kt winds while getting steeper providing continued support for gale development moving to a point off the California coast on Sat (12/21) and not fading. The split over the dateline is to move east and slowly start fading over the far Western Gulf on Sat (12/21) but still present. And winds off Japan are to build east at 150-160 kts reaching the dateline on Sat (12/21) and forming a new trough over the North Dateline region offering decent support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the North dateline trough is to push east mostly over the Eastern Aleutians then trying to redevelop in the Northern Gulf on Mon (12/23) being fed by 140 kt winds offering support for gale development then pushing into North Canada on Wed (12/25). The trough forecast off California is to continue circulating if not stalling some Sun (12/22) continuing to support gale development then finally pushing onshore over Southern CA on Mon-Tues (12/24) providing weather for most of the California coast. The split in the jet is to be moving over the Western Gulf at that time. But starting Tues (12/24) the jet is to be consolidating over and off Japan with winds building to 150 kts pushing to the dateline forming a broad trough off the North Kuril Islands on Wed (12/25) starting to support gale development. The storm machine is to continue production.

Surface Analysis
On Wednesday (12/18) swell from a gale that was traversing the North Pacific was fading in Hawaii and starting to hit California (see Dateline Storm below). Also swell from a local gale was hitting Central California (see Local CA Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours


Dateline Gale
A small gale developed while pushing off the Northern Kuril Islands on Fri AM (12/13) with 45 kt west winds and seas 39 ft at 44.5N 158.5E aimed east. In the evening west winds faded at 40-45 kts over a broad area aimed east with 33 ft seas at 43N 170E aimed east. On Sat AM (12/14) the fetch moved over the Dateline with west winds 35-40 kts producing 31 ft seas 42.5N 179W aimed east. Fetch held in the evening over the Western Gulf at 35 kts with 29 ft seas at 45N 170W aimed east. Fetch moved east on Sun AM (12/15) at 30-35 kts over a broad area with 26 ft seas at 45N 163W aimed east. Fetch was fading in coverage in the evening while lifting north at 30-40 kts aimed east and seas fading from 30 ft over a small area up at 50N 161W aimed east. The gale faded Mon AM (12/16) with winds dissipating from 30 kt and seas fading from 25 ft at 48N 155W aimed east. Swell to result for Hawaii and the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Residuals fading on Wed AM (12/18) from 3.7 ft @ 13-14 secs (5.0 ft) early. Swell Direction: 323 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival Wed AM (12/18) with swell building to 5.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (9.5 ft) early. But this swell is to get overridden by more locally produced swell mid-day (see Local CA Gale below). Swell fading on Thurs (12/19) from 6.8 ft @ 14 secs early (9.5 ft). Swell Direction: 292-293 degrees


Local CA Low
A small local gale developed just off North CA on Mon PM (12/16) producing 30 kt west winds and seas building to 20 ft at 40N 134W aimed east. On Tues AM (12/17) northwest winds were 30 kts just off the North Coast with seas 18-20 ft at 41N 131W (just off the OR-CA border) aimed southeast. 35 kt northwest winds held in the evening drifting east with 24 ft seas at 39N 130W aimed east. The gale was just off Pt Reyes on Wed AM (12/18) producing west winds at 30 kts with seas 22 ft at 38N 127W aimed east. The gale is to move onshore over the San Francisco Peninsula through the day. Local swell for North CA expected.

North CA: Swell arrival on Wed AM (12/18) and very raw and confused mixing with Dateline Swell (see above) producing seas at 11.6 ft @ 8-17 secs (10-13 ft). Mixed swell fading on Thurs (12/19) see above. Swell Direction: 283 degrees


Another Dateline Gale
Another gale developed Sun AM (12/15) while tracking just off the Kuril Islands producing northwest winds at 45 kts resulting in 33 ft seas at 42N 158.5E aimed east. In the evening 40-45 kt northwesterly winds were tracking east over a tiny area with 32 ft seas at 41.5N 166.5E aimed east-southeast. On Mon AM (12/16) a moderate sized area of 40 kt west-northwest winds were approaching the dateline with 32 ft seas at 42.5N 174E aimed east. In the evening the gale moved over the Dateline with 40 kt west winds producing 31 ft seas at 45N 179W aimed east. On Tues AM (12/17) a broad area of west winds were rebuilding over the Northwestern Gulf at 35-40 kts producing 30 ft seas at 47.5N 175W aimed east. More of the same occurred in the evening with 35-40 kt west winds over a solid area in the Gulf aimed east producing 31 ft seas at 47N 163.5W aimed east. The gale held together Wed AM (12/18) with 30-35 kt west winds filling the Gulf resulting in 31 ft seas at 48N 155.5W aimed east. In the evening the gale is to stall in the Gulf with 30 kt west winds over a large area and 29 ft seas at 47.5N 148W aimed east. The gale is to be fading Thurs AM (12/19) with 25-30 kt northwest winds and 24 ft seas filling the Gulf centered at 48N 143W aimed east. Secondary fetch is to develop in the evening at 30 kts from the northwest and seas 19 ft at 42N 156W aimed southeast and 20 ft seas at 38N 135W aimed southeast. The gale is to fade from there with 19 ft seas fading Fri AM (12/20) at 38N 152W aimed southeast and 18 ft seas associated with a front off the Central CA coast. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (12/19) building to 5.2 ft @ 15 secs 97.5 ft) later in the afternoon. Swell fading on Fri AM (12/20) from 3.9 ft @ 14 secs (5.5 ft) early. Dribbles fading Sat AM (12/21) from 3.1 ft @ 12 secs (3.5 ft). Swell DIrection: 315-318 degrees

North CA: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Fri (12/20) building to 5.0 ft @ 17-18 secs (8.5 ft) with much local windswell intermixed at 7.8 ft @ 13 secs (10 ft). Mixed distant and local swell to continue on Sat (12/21) at 7.6 ft @ 15 secs (11.0 ft) with local windswell 5.0 ft @ 6-10 secs (4-5 ft). On Sun (12/22) swell 5.9 ft @ 13-14 secs (8.0 ft) early and slowly fading. Windswell fading on Mon (12/23) from 6.0 ft @ 12 secs (7.0 ft). Swell fading from there. Swell Direction: 298 degrees


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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Wednesday (12/18) south winds are forecast at 15-25 kts for Big Sur northward to Cape Mendocino early turning northwest 10-15 kts later. Light rain for North and Central CA mainly early but still possible at sunset. Modest snow for the Tahoe area through the day fading late evening. Thurs (12/19) a front is to building over the area from Pt Arena northward with south winds 20-25 kts and not moving. Light winds for Central CA. Rain developing over Cape Mendocino early reaching to Bodega Bay late afternoon and stalling there. No snow is forecast. Fri (12/20) the front is to remain stalled over Cape Mendocino with south winds there 25 kts building to 30 kts later and 15 kts or less from the south from the Golden Gate northward. Light winds for Central CA. Light rain mainly for Cape Mendocino. Sat AM (12/21) the front is to push south to Pt Conception late evening with south winds 20-25 kts in the front turning west 10 kts behind the front. Rain pushing south to Pt Conception and solid. Heavy snow developing for Tahoe late evening and building southward. On Sun (12/22) light winds are forecast along the entire California coast. Rain for the coast down into Southern CA mid-morning and getting lighter everywhere later in the day. Solid snow for the Sierra fading some in the evening. Monday a new low pressure system is to be building just off the Central CA coast. A light offshore flow is forecast for North and Central CA with a light southwest flow developing for Southern CA. Light rain continuing for Southern CA through the day. Light snow for the Sierra fading through the day. north winds are forecast. Rain for Southern CA all day. Tues (12/24) the low is to be pushing onshore over Baja with north winds 10 kts forecast for North and Central CA turning northeast for Pt Conception at 10 kts and south 20 kts for Southern CA. Rain only for Southern CA fading later in the day. Wed AM (12/25) north winds are forecast at 15 kts mainly for the Pt Conception area and south winds 15-20 kts for Cape Mendocino early.

Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 10, 12, 14 and 7 inches respectively.

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis
No swell producing fetch is occurring.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is 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 new gale is to to be developing over the Dateline Sat AM (12/21) producing northwest to west winds at 35-40 kts starting to get traction and producing 20 ft seas at 41N 168E aimed east with the gael lifting northeast fast. In the evening the gale is to be repositioned over the North Dateline region producing a broad area of 45 kt northwest winds with seas building from 30 ft over a small area at 49N 178W aimed east. On Sun AM (12/22) west winds to build to 45-50 kts over a solid area but directly over the Central Aleutians with 33 ft seas building at 51N 175W aimed east just south of the Aleutians. In the evening the gale is to move fully into the Bering Sea with seas from previous fetch fading at 28 ft at 52N 170W aimed east. Secondary fetch is to be building lifting northeast from the north Dateline Region at 45 kt west winds and seas building. On Mon AM (12/23) 50 kt west winds are to be moving into the Northwestern Gulf with 33 ft seas at 47.5N 170W aimed east. Fetch to fade in the evening from 35-40 kts from the west with 31 ft seas fading at 49N 162W aimed east. The gale is to fade out from there. Something to monitor.

Also a cutoff gale is to develop just 600-800 nmiles northwest of Kauai on Sun-Mon (12/23) with northeast winds 30-35 kts and 20 ft seas building over a tiny area at 28N 172W aimed southwest bypassing Hawaii. No direct impact is forecast to Hawaii at the moment, but this bears monitoring. The low is to track northeast moving north of Hawaii on Mon PM (12/23) producing 45 kt northeast winds and 24 ft seas at 33N 160W. Fetch is to hold on Tues AM (12/24) at 35 kts from the northeast with 24 ft seas holding at 30N 160W or just 600 nmiles north of Hawaii. Fetch and seas to slowly fade from there into Wed AM (12/25).

Also a new gale is to be building while tracking well off North Japan on Mon AM (12/23) producing 35-40 kt westerly winds while lifting northeast. In the evening west winds are to be 45 kts over a moderate area with seas 27 ft at 41N 175E aimed east. The gale is to be race northeast over the dateline on Tues AM (12/24) producing 40-45 kt west winds and seas 28 ft at 45N 175W aimed east. In the evening the gale is to build to storm status with 55 kt west winds in the far Northwestern Gulf with 36 ft seas building at 49N 165W aimed east. On Wed AM (12/25) 50 kt west winds are to be in the Northern Gulf with 46 ft seas at 51.5N 157W aimed east. Something to monitor.

Also on Tues AM (12/24) a new gael is to be building off the Kuril Islands producing 45 kt west winds and seas building. In the evening the gael is to build while pushing east with 45 kt west winds and seas building to 40 ft at 45N 158E aimed east. On Wed AM (12/25) the gale is to build to storm status with 50 kt northwest winds and seas 41 ft at 43.5N 162E aimed southeast. Something to monitor.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.



MJO/ENSO Forecast


Kelvin Wave #5 Impacting Ecuador

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: 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.

Fall/Winter 2019/2020 = 5.0/4.0 (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: It is assumed the PDO has moved to the warm phase and that a weak borderline El Nino from 2018 is fading out, but not yet completely gone, especially in the atmosphere. Likewise it looks like a La Nina ocean temperature pattern is developing in the equatorial East Pacific, with cooler than normal waters tracking west on the equator. We assumed El Nino like momentum will hold for a while in the atmosphere will take a while to sense that the ocean temperature pattern has changed. But once it does, a turn towards a La Nina like atmospheric pattern will start to develop. that transition is expected in the late Nov-early Dec timeframe. Even so, moderation from the PDO might prevent La Nina from fully developing. Given all that, there is decent probability for a normal start to the Fall surf season (in the Northern Hemisphere) meaning a normal amount of number of storm days and storm intensity, resulting in a normal levels of swell, with normal duration and normal period. But by mid-Dec 2019, the number of storm days, intensity and duration of those storms should start fading and as a result, swell production should fade slightly as well. This pattern is expected to hold through April 2020.

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 (12/17) 5 day average winds were strong from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific fading to moderate from the east over the Central Pacific building to moderate strong on the dateline then turning modest westerly over the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the far East equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and the dateline then weak westerly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (12/18) weak west anomalies were over the KWGA today. The forecast continues to call for weak west anomalies building in coverage filling the KWGA by 12/20 and growing in coverage and strength through the end of the model run on 12/25 with west anomalies moderate at that time.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (12/17) A weak Inactive MJO signal was over the dateline today. The statistic model indicates the Inactive Phase is to push east and fading on the dateline at day 5 and then east of the dateline and weakening beyond while the Active Phase starts building moderately over the far West Pacific at day 10 and filling the KWGA at day 15. The dynamic model indicates the same thing initially but with the Inactive Phase fading out on the dateline and gone at day 5 with only a very weak Active Phase in the far West Pacific in days 10-15. The 2 models are mostly in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/18) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was weak over the East Indian Ocean today and is to move to the far West Pacific and very weak at day 15. The GEFS model suggests the same thing but with the Active Phase moving to the West Pacific and moderately strong at day 15. stronger.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical model): (12/18) This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO pushing into Central America today. The Inactive Phase is to gone by 12/24. A weak Active Phase is filling the KWGA today and forecast to push to the East Pacific and over Central America on 1/12. A weak Inactive MJO signal is forecast setting up over the West Pacific on 1/7 pushing to the East Pacific at the end of the model run on 1/27. At that time a weak Active Phase is to start setting up over the KWGA.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/17) This model depicts a weak Active Phase over the Indian Ocean pushing east with weak east anomalies over and filling the KWGA. Weak west anomalies are to hold in the KWGA through the end of the model run on 1/14. A pocket of east anomalies is to occasionally appear at 130E from 12/27-1/14 but mostly west of the KWGA.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/18) This model depicts the Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the KWGA but with weak west anomalies over the KWGA. A generally weak wind anomaly pattern is to hold but with pockets of west anomalies embedded within the Inactive Phase which is to fade on 1/5. A weak version of the Active Phase is to develop tracking east through the KWGA 1/8 holding through the end of the model run on 3/16 with weak west anomalies holding through 1/10, then fading out with weak east anomalies developing 2/4-2/20. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias with 2 contour lines in control of the KWGA centered on the dateline reaching east to the California coast. The second contour line is to hold till 2/20, then collapse. A high pressure bias built in the Indian Ocean starting 10/22 and is to hold through the end of the model run through getting a little weaker at the end of the run. A strong area of east anomalies in the Indian Ocean is forecast to significantly weaken by 2/12 and appears to track east through the KWGA as mentioned above in Feb.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (12/18) Today in the far West Pacific the 30 deg isotherm was steady at 174E while the 29 deg isotherm was building east from 173W to 172W today. The 28 deg isotherm line was steady at 163W today. The 24 deg isotherm was backtracking to 116W today after previously pushing east into Ecuador. Anomaly wise, gentle warm anomalies are filling the entire Pacific with a pocket at 2-3 degs building from the Maritime Continent moving east with it's leading edge at 135W indicative of new Kevin Wave #6 pushing east. A smaller area of warm water at +1 degs was all but gone while pushing into Ecuador indicative of Kelvin Wave #5 mostly inland now. Warm water was filling the entire equatorial subsurface Pacific from 110 meters upwards. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/14 indicates warm water had formed a Kelvin Wave extending from 120E under the Dateline east to 150W at +2-3 degrees with lesser warm water pushing east from there then rebuilding to +2-4 degrees and impacting Ecuador. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (12/14) A small area of weak nondescript positive anomalies were fading on the equator in the vicinity of the Galapagos. A building pocket of +5 cms anomalies was tracking east between 155E-145W. Negative anomalies were gone along Peru and being replaced by very weak positive anomalies in pockets.

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: (12/17) The latest images ( 1.2 3.4) indicate weak warming anomalies were building from North Chile along Peru up to Ecuador then streaming west on the equator over the Galapagos out to the dateline. Weak cool anomalies were south of the equator off Peru starting at 10S reaching west to 110W. Weak warm anomalies were on and north of the equator building while tracking west to the dateline.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/17): Today a building area of warming was filling the entire area from Chile and Peru steaming west out to 90W and also off Ecuador on the equator out to the dateline. A few pockets of cooling were interspersed along the equator from Ecuador to 140W and building some. The short term trend is now towards warming in the Southeast Pacific. This is a step in the right direction.
Hi-res Overview: (12/17) A weak fading area of cool anomalies is trying to hold on south of the equator off Peru reaching out to 120W. Otherwise gentle warming was along Peru lifting north up to Ecuador then pushing west on the equator, out to the dateline. Warmer than normal water was north of the equator from the remnants of El Nino, but mostly gone south of the equator. Water temps appear to be stable mildly favoring El Nino.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/18) Today's temps were steady at -0.299 after bottoming out down at -0.900 on 12/12. Temps peaked prior at +1.55 degrees on 12/2 after a long runup from negative anomalies in October. It now appears we are in a falling trend.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(12/18) Temps were rising slightly today at +0.216. Temps peaked on 11/14 at +0.509 degs, fell some to -0.018 on 11/28, and are now trying to rebuild. The trend has been steadily generally upwards since Sept when they bottomed out at -0.6 degs (9/14).

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 (12/18) Actual's indicate a cooling trend set up late summer with temps -0.2 degs in mid-Sept then then trend started rising to +0.25 degs in early Oct holding to Dec 1. The forecast has temps holding in the +0.2-+0.4 degree range into May, then fading steadily to 0.0 in early Sept. According to this model a neutral sea surface temperature pattern biased slightly warm is forecast for the foreseeable future.
IRI Consensus Plume: The Oct 2019 Plume depicts temps are at +0.25 degs, and are to hold in the +0.25 deg range into May 2020, then fading slightly to +0.15 in June 2020. 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) (12/18): The daily index was negative today at -7.94 and has been negative the last 7 days. The 30 day average was negative and rising at -5.44. The 90 day average was rising at -5.98, suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern was developing.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): Oct +0.33 Sept +1.13, August +0.64, July +0.75, June -0.32, May +1.10, April +0.30, March +1.0, Feb +1.29, Jan +0.193. This index has been steadily positive but still indicates mostly ENSO neutral conditions (not El Nino).

Pacific Decadal Oscillation
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 -0.43, Sept -0.46, Oct -0.75, Nov -0.78, Dec -0.12, Jan -0.23, Feb -0.55 This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): June 2017 +0.79, July +0.10, Aug +0.09, Sept +0.32, Oct +0.05, Nov +0.15, Dec +0.50, Jan +0.70. Feb +0.37, Mar -0.05, April +0.11, May +0.11, June -0.04, July +0.11, Aug +0.18, Sept +0.09. No real negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina). Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data strongly suggests that could be a possibility. By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool 


External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave

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