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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, December 18, 2021 5:18 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
2.5 - California & 2.3 - 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 12/20 thru Sun 12/26

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   

Small Japan Swell Targets CA
Winter Weather To Follow


On Saturday, December 18, 2021 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor)/Buoy 239 (Lanai)/Buoy 238 (Barbers Pt): Seas were 3.8 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 2.2 ft @ 16.1 secs from 303 degrees. Water temp 77.2 degs (Pearl Harbor 233), NA (Lani 239), 77.9 (Barbers Pt).
  • Buoy 202 (Hanalei): Seas were 6.4 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 3.7 ft @ 14.8 secs from 312 degrees. Water temp 77.7 degs.
  • Buoy 067 (San Nicholas): Seas were 6.6 ft @ 10.5 secs with swell 4.4 ft @ 11.0 secs from 310 degrees. Water temperature 59.0 degs, 58.5 (Topanga 103), 58.5 degs (Long Beach 215), 59.5 (Del Mar 153), 58.8 (Imperial Beach 155). At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 3.5 ft @ 11.8 secs from 306 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.8 ft @ 9.4 secs from 271 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.0 ft @ 13.3 secs from 216 degrees. Southward at Torrey Pines (Outer) (100) swell was 1.8 ft @ 12.9 secs from 242 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.9 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 4.3 ft @ 9.7 secs from 306 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was north at 14-18 kts. Water temp 55.4 (Pt Reyes 029), 53.4 (46026), 53.1 degs (SF Bar 142), and 52.5 (Santa Cruz 254).

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 (12/18) North and Central CA had set waves at head high on the peak and lined up and clean early but pretty soft. Protected breaks were waist to chest high and lined up but with some intermixed lump and soft. At Santa Cruz surf was maybe waist high and mushed and fairly clean but weak and a little warbled. In Southern California/Ventura waves were flat to thigh high and weak and soft but clean with brisk offshores. Central Orange County had a few waist high waves and lined up and clean but breaking nearly on the beach. South Orange County's best summertime breaks had sets at maybe thigh to waist high and clean but soft and weak. North San Diego had sets at thigh high and weak and soft but clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting Japan swell with waves 3-4 ft overhead and lined up and peeling and clean but with hard offshore winds and inconsistent. The South Shore was flat to knee high and clean. The East Shore was flat to knee high and modestly chopped from east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (12/18) North and Central California was getting leftover swell from a small local gale that developed off the Pacific Northwest Wed (12/15) producing up to 25 ft seas aimed southeast. Hawaii was getting better than expected swell from a gale that developed off North Japan Tues-Wed (12/15) producing 29 ft seas aimed east but faded before reaching the dateline. This swell is tracking towards California. A very weak system is forecast off California Sun-Tues (12/21) producing up to 18 ft seas aimed south. But then nothing till a stronger system develops in the Northern Gulf falling south Wed-Fri (12/24) producing up to 26 ft seas aimed south and southeast. And maybe a small system to develop well off North Japan on Tues (12/21) producing 35 ft seas aimed east but not moving even to the dateline. The Central Pacific is locked down by high pressure leaving only the edges in play.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Saturday (12/18) the jet was pushing east off Japan with winds to 190 kts but splitting heavily just west of the dateline with the northern branch ridging hard north up into the Bering Sea then falling equally as hard southeast over the Northern Gulf forming a trough there offering some support for gale development before turning east and pushing over the Pacific Northwest. Over the next 72 hours starting Sun (12/19) more of the same is forecast with the Gulf trough falling further south and starting to pinch off on Mon (12/20) still being fed by 130 kt winds with it's apex well off Pt Conception forming a backdoor trough still offering some support for gale development then fully cutting off on early Tues (12/21). Beyond 72 hours starting Wed (12/23) more of the same is forecast in the west with the flow pushing off Japan at 160 kts splitting on the dateline and tracking up into the North Bering Sea before starting to again fall south through the Northern Gulf cutting out a new trough with it's apex off California and again turning into more of a a backdoor trough on Thurs (12/23) slowly trying to push into California on Fri (12/24). And yet again the trough is to be reinforced with more jetstream energy on Sat (12/25) but so close to the coast as to not offer much in terms of support for gale development. But local weather is definitely in the mix, with a constant Atmospheric River (AR) scenario possible for California and the Sierra starting late Mon (12/20) continuing through Sat (12/25). And at that time winds to rebuild to 190 kts pushing off Japan with the split point moving to 170W.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (12/18) swell from a gale off Japan was hitting the Islands a bit better than expected (See Japan Gale below). Also swell from a gale that developed off the Pacific Northwest was fading in North and Central California (See Pacific Northwest Gale below). And small swell from a gale that formed on the dateline was radiating towards Hawaii (see Tiny Dateline Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours a gale is forecast developing off North CA on Sun AM (12/19) producing 30-35 kt north winds and seas building from 20 ft at 41N 144W aimed southeast. Fetch to hold at 30 kts from the north in the evening well of Central CA with 17 ft seas at 38N 142W aimed south. On Mon AM (12/20) north winds are to be fading from 25 kts with seas fading from 15 ft at 36N 140W aimed south. Something to monitor.

Perhaps secondary fetch is to form off Cape Mendocino (North CA) on Mon PM (12/20) producing north winds at 30-35 kts and seas building. On Tues AM north winds to be 35 kts solid with seas 18 ft at 43N 133W aimed south. Fetch is to fade in the evening from 30 kts pushing west off the coast with sea fading from 17 ft at 42N 137W aimed south.

Also another small gale is to form well off North Japan and nearly on the dateline Mon PM (12/20) generating 45 kt northwest winds and seas building from 26 ft over a small area at 39N 165E aimed southeast. On Tues AM (12/21) fetch to build to 55 kts from the west with seas 35 ft at 37.5N 171.25E aimed east. The gale is to lift north fast in the evening producing 45 kt west winds south of the Aleutians with seas 29 ft at 41.5N 178E aimed east. On Wed AM (12/22) the gale is to be moving into the Bering Sea with no seas of interest remaining. Something to monitor.



Japan Gale
A gale developed off Japan on Mon AM (12/13) producing west winds at 40+ kts starting to get traction on the oceans surface with seas building from 25 ft at 40N 151E aimed east. In the evening 40-45 kt west winds were tracking off the coast with seas 29-30 ft at 42N 159E aimed east. On Tues AM (12/14) 35 kt west winds were positioned half way to the dateline lifting north generating 26 ft seas at 41.5N 166.5E aimed east. In the evening fetch is to be fading from 30-35 kts from the west still lifting north off Kamchatka and making no east headway with 26 ft seas fading at 48.5N 168.5E aimed east. Fetch fading out on Wed AM (12/15) with 24 ft seas fading just south of the Western Aleutians at 50N 172E aimed east. The gale is to be gone after that. Perhaps some swell for Hawaii and inconsistent energy radiating into California with luck.

Oahu: Swell building on Sat (12/18) to 3.8 ft @ 14-15 secs mid-day (5.5 ft). Swell fading Sun (12/19) from 2.8 ft @ 13 secs early (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 315 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (12/19) building to 1.8 ft @ 16-17 secs later (3.0 ft) a very inconsistent. Swell holding on Mon (12/20) at 2.8 ft @ 14.15 secs (4.0 ft) with local windswell intermixed. Swell Direction: 296 degrees.


Pacific Northwest Gale
On Tues AM (12/14) a small fetch of northwest winds at 30-35 kts started building associated with a building small gale in the Northwestern Gulf falling southeast with seas building. In the evening 35-45 kt northwest winds were off Vancouver Island with seas building from 21 ft at 48N 143W aimed southeast. On Wed AM (12/15) 35-40 kt northwest winds were just off the Pacific Northwest with 25 ft seas at 47.5N 137W aimed southeast and barely in the NCal swell window (316 degs). In the evening fetch was fading from 30 kts with the gale just off South Oregon and seas 22 ft fading at 43N 132W aimed southeast. Possible modest and raw swell pushing into North CA on Thurs (12/16).

North CA: Dribbles on Sat (12/18) fading from 3.4 ft @ 10 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 317 degrees


Tiny Dateline Gale
A small gale developed on the dateline on Thurs PM (12/16) producing 45+ kt northwest winds over a tiny area aimed southeast with seas 26 ft at 36N 173E. On Fri AM (12/17) northwest winds held at 45 kts with seas 25 ft seas at 36N 179E aimed southeast. Fetch fading in the evening at 35 kts from the north with seas fading from 22 ft at 32N 180W. Some small swell to result for Hawaii.

Oahu: Expect swell and windswell mix to arrive on Tues (12/21) building to 6.0 ft @ 10 secs later (6.0 ft). Swell peaking Wed AM (12/22) at 6.0 ft @ 11 secs (6.5 ft). residuals on Thurs (12/23) fading from 4.6 ft @ 10-11 secs (4,5 ft). Swell Direction: 312 degrees


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


Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast

  • Sun (12/19) a front is to be sagging south approaching Pt Arena with south wind 15 kts and up to 30 kts over Cape Mendocino and 10 kts south of there to the Golden Gate with light winds to Pt Conception. In the afternoon south winds are forecast at 5 kts from Pt Conception northward building to 15 kts at the Golden Gate and 20 kts from Bodega Bay northward. Rain for Cape Mendocino through the day.
  • Mon (12/20) south winds and the front are to be over North CA at 20 kts early with south winds 20 kts down to Monterey Bay and 10-15 kts for the remainder of Central CA. In the afternoon a broad low is to start building off North and Central CA with south winds 15 kts from Pt Conception northward building to 30 kts from the Golden Gate north to Cape Mendocino. Rain tickling the North and Central CA coast early then lighter for Central CA in the afternoon.
  • Tues (12/21) the front is to push inland with south winds 20 kts for North CA and south 30 kts for Central CA. In the afternoon south winds to be fading from 15-20 kts for all of North and Central CA. Heavy rain developing for all of North CA mid- AM building over Central CA mid-AM down into Santa Barbara County late afternoon. Snow developing for Tahoe northward mid-morning pushing down the Sierra in the afternoon and evening.
  • Wed (12/22) the low is to get reinforced with south winds rebuilding to 20 kts for all of North and Central CA and 25 kts from Pt Arena northward. South winds build in the afternoon at 25 kts for Cape Mendocino and 15-20 kts from Pt Conception northward. Rain for all of North and Central CA early and holding all day building south into Southern CA through the day and evening. Steady moderate snow for the Sierra during the day building to heavy status for Tahoe overnight.
  • Thurs (12/23) morning the front is to be just off the North CA coast with south winds 20-25 kts from San Francisco northward and south winds 15 kts for pt Conception northward. In the afternoon the front is to be impacting Central CA with south winds 30-35 kts and 15 ks south winds into Santa Barbara County. Light rain for all of CA early rebuilding to heavy status for Cape Mendocino later then down into San Francisco overnight. Heavy snow for the Sierra early fading to light snow in the afternoon then rebuilding to heavy status overnight.
  • Fri (12/24) southwest winds to be 10-15 kts for North CA early but still south at 30-35 kts for all of Central CA. The front is to move inland mid-day and by the afternoon west to southwest winds are to be 20 kts for all of North CA and down to Big Sur, with southwest winds 10 kts south of there. Rain for all of the state early continuing but fading through the day. Very heavy snow for the Sierra from Yosemite northward early building for the whole Sierra mid-AM then still solid into the evening.
  • Sat (12/25) south to southwest winds continue at 20 kts from Monterey Bay northward and 10-15 kts down to Pt Conception. Rain for mostly North and Central CA all day and some showers for Southern CA. Steady moderate snow for the Sierra early building to heavy status in the Afternoon focused on Tahoe.

Total snow accumulation for the next 10 days respectively for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 140, 156, 121, and 101 inches starting 12/21 and going non-stop through 12/26.

Freezing level building to 9,000 ft today 12/18 and steadily falling to the 3,000 ft level on 12/25 falling to 1,000 ft on 12/27. A significant winter weather event looks possible.


Tioga Pass/Pacific Crest Trail intersection forecast: Temps - Freeze Level (more here - scroll down to 'Resort Snow Forecasts>Central CA or North CA Caltrans & Backcountry')

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis
No swell producing fetch has occurred of is forecast.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest 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 yet another gale is forecast for the Northern Gulf on Wed AM (12/22) producing an elongated fetch of 35 kts north winds and seas building from 19 ft at 50N 141W aimed south. In the evening the gale is to be winding up off Cape Mendocino with 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas 23 ft over a broad area at 41N 141W aimed southeast. Fetch is to hold Thurs AM (12/23) at 35-40 kts with seas 26 ft off San Francisco at 38.5N 138W aimed southeast. In the evening the gale is to start moving inland over North CA with 35-40 kt northwest winds targeting Southern CA and seas 26 ft at 34.5N 133W off Pt Conception. The gale to fade from there. Something to monitor.

Perhaps secondary fetch is to develop off Oregon impacting North CA on Fri-Sat (12/25) producing more 18-20 ft seas.


South Pacific

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


MJO/ENSO Forecast


La Nina Stable As Cold Sub-Surface Pool Discharges - Active MJO Building
Summary - Cool subsurface water volume peaked under the equatorial Pacific on 10/15/21, beating last years volume, and now is discharging to the surface while fading and easing east. A stronger than expected Active Phase of the MJO is producing west anomalies forecast to take over the Western KWGA as previously forecast and filling 75% of the KWGA with the low pressure bias slowly building in from the west in earnest late Dec and filling the KWGA by mid-Feb with a return to a more regular cadence of Active and Inactive MJO phases starting now. With the cold subsurface pool discharging to the surface in the East Pacific, and a return of the MJO projected, it seems the the peak of this years La Nina event is already behind us. But the atmosphere will be slow to respond.

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: In 2019 warm equatorial waters were 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. A bit of a recovery tried to occur during Fall of 2019, with weak warm water building in the Nino 1.2 region, but cool water held in a pool off Peru. By April 2020 a cool pool was starting to build, forming a well defined cool tongue that evolved into La Nina, with it fully developing through July 2020. A slow dissolving of La Nina started in March 2021 with 2 Kelvin Waves sweeping east and arriving over the Galapagos in June. Weak warming set up over the equator with no cool waters present. NOAA declared La Nina dead.

Fall /Winter 2021-2022 = 3.0 (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 was assumed that the moderate La Nina from the Winter of 2020/2021 was on the wane and that a return to neutral ENSO state would set up over the Pacific Basin through the summer of 2021. But La Nina is making a strong return as we move into the end of Sept much like what the CFS model suggested would happen. So at this point we are speculating that the CFS model will verify and that a full double dip La Nina pattern will take hold as we move into November with this second La Nina dip being nearly as strong as the previous one. But a quick fade is forecast as we move into late Fall (Nov) with the CFS predicting a return to a neutral wind anomaly pattern at that time and the low pressure bias making headway in to the KWGA in early Dec. Still it will take some time for the atmosphere to fully respond, resulting in a less than normal swell production forecast especially for Fall into early Winter. But by later in Jan 2022 perhaps a return to a more normal pattern might take hold. As a result a somewhat reduced number of storm days and storm intensity is expected Oct-Dec, resulting in a below normal level of swells, with swell being below normal duration and period. But by later Winter (2022), the number of storm days, intensity and duration of those storms should start improving as La Nina fades out. The status of the PDO is not known, though it appears to be returning to at least a neutral state, rather than the warm phase as previously projected thereby having no significant positive or negative effect on the long term outlook.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis (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 and strong east over the Central Pacific and moderate east over the KWGA. Anomalies were light east over the East equatorial Pacific and moderate east over the Central Pacific and moderate east over the KWGA. (Note: These are 5 day average winds, versus realtime, so they lag what is happening today (by about 2.5 days).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (12/18) east anomalies were modest over the entire KWGA. The forecast calls for moderate east anomalies slowly fading and gone by 12/21 with west anomalies trying to build in and slowly filling the entire KWGA by 12/22 and holding through the end of the model run on 12/25 at modest strength. This is a solid step in the right direction and the first in a very long time.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

MJO/WWB/Wind Projections:  
OLR Models: (12/17) A moderate Active MJO signal was filling the KWGA today. The statistical model suggests the Active Phase is hold strength if not build some while moving very slowly east through day 15 of the model run and still somewhat over the dateline but starting to move more over the Central Pacific. The dynamic model projects the same as the statistical model but not moving east as fast, with the Active Phase well centered over the dateline on day 15 of the model run and strong.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/18) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was modest over the West Pacific and is forecast tracking over Africa at day 15 of the model run and very weak. The dynamic model suggests the Active Phase moving to the East Pacific and holding at moderate strength on day 15 of the model run. It's been a long time since we've seen this.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (12/18) A moderate Active MJO signal (wet air) was over the Central Pacific today. The forecast indicates it is to track east pushing into Central America 1/12. The Inactive Phase (dry air) is to start developing over the West Pacific on 1/2 and weak moving to the East Pacific at the end of the model run on 1/27. A new Active Phase (wet air) is forecast starting to build over the far West Pacific on 1/20 moving east from there and pretty solid.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/17) This model depicts the Active Phase was solid over the Central KWGA today filling 85% of it but with weak east anomalies. The forecast indicates the Active MJO signal tracking through the KWGA and exiting east of it on on 1/8 positioned just west of the dateline but west anomalies are to return on 12/19 building to strong status 12/26-1/6 then fading while moving out of the KWGA at the end of the model run on 1/14. East anomalies are to redevelop in the West KWGA on 12/31 with the Inactive Phase developing on 1/10 pushing east and building in coverage but not strength at the end of the model run.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/18 - using the 5th ensemble member - the mean of the 4 individual members which are all from the 00Z run - 1 run per day): Today the Active Phase of the MJO was filling the KWGA but with weak east anomalies filling the KWGA. The forecast indicates the Active MJO is to continue moving over the KWGA through 1/11 with west anomalies filling the KWGA during that window and into Jan 18. The Inactive Phase is to follow 12/20-2/9 but not particularly strong with weak east anomalies building over the KWGA peaking on the dateline on 1/25. A modest Active Phase is to develop on 1/27 pushing east through the KWGA through 3/8 with modest west anomalies during that window. An Inactive Phase is to follow starting 2/28 through the end of the model run on 3/17. The low pass filter indicates a high pressure bias with 2 contour lines was centered over the dateline and is to hold till 1/19, then easing east. A second contour is to fade out on 1/11. A broad single contour low pressure bias is now established centered over the Maritime Continent at 100E with it's leading edge at 125E and barely in the KWGA and is forecast starting to move east further into the KWGA to 150E on 1/15 filling 50% of the KWGA and building further east to the dateline at the end of the model run. Today a solid east anomaly pattern that has been in control of KWGA since early July is being significantly challenged by west anomalies from a building Active Phase of the MJO. A return to a more normal MJO alternating pattern is forecast moving forward. This could signal the demise of La Nina as we get deeper into Winter. That said, there is only one more Active MJO forecast for this winter, in the late-Jan to early March timeframe.

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 29 degree isotherm was back at 165E. The 28 deg isotherm line was steady at 179E. The 24 deg isotherm was steady at 122W. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies +3 deg C were building with their leading edge at about 165W. All sensors are down at 140W. Cool anomalies were fading from -1 to -2 degs C down 150 meters at 150W and tracking east while rising near the surface near 95W. No Kelvin Waves were obvious and cool water was in control in the east at depth but definitely less of a force than weeks and months past. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/14 indicates no warm water east of 170W at depth with a bubble of cold water at -3C below normal east of there (where the sensors are inoperable) extending upward to the surface off Ecuador but with noticeably less intensity than weeks past and definitely losing ground. 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) Sea heights were negative over the East equatorial Pacific from Ecuador to 175W at -5 to -10 cms with only one small pocket of -15 cms anomalies at 95W. No -20 or -25 cms anomalies exist. -10 cms anomalies cover a broad area between 85W to 155W. All positive anomalies were limited from 170E and points west of there at 20 to 25 cms. A warm water 'horseshoe' pattern is well developed in the West Pacific. La Nina made a return and stronger than last year, but now appears to be in decline, at least from the subsurface water temp perspective. Per the Upper Ocean Heat Anomaly Histogram La Nina subsurface cold temperatures peaked in coverage in mid-Oct, far broader than last year (-2.5 degs C), but as of 12/14 that coverage is collapsing centered at 100W with the coolest anomalies (-2.5 degs) gone and -1.5 deg anomalies shrinking fast from the west and east bordered between 108W and 90W. It appears a cold water Kelvin Wave (upwelling Kelvin Wave) is erupting just west of the Galapagos. But a second little bubble of cooler water was developing at 145W.

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 Qualitative Analysis: (12/17) The latest images depict a broad stream of cool water on the equator dominant from Chile up to Peru then turning west and peaking from the Galapagos east to 110W then weaker but still solid west of there to at least the dateline. A classic La Nina pattern was evident. But a pocket of warming water was depicted at 130W and a few pixels of warming were developing along the coast of Chile. An area of warm water just north of the equator was fading from Ecuador west to 140W and up along Central America into Southern Baja. Overall this indicates the return of cold water temps in the Central Equatorial Pacific indicative of La Nina.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/17): Temps were warming along Chile and Peru and building compared to days past and warming in pockets strung between the Galapagos to 150W and pretty solid at 100W-130W. A few small pockets of cooling were interspersed. A cold water Kelvin Wave is erupting at the surface in the East equatorial Pacific resulting from the discharge of subsurface water below it.
Hi-res Overview: (12/17) No real change - A broad stream of cooler than normal water was aligned on the equator from Ecuador to 110W then weaker but still solid out to 160E. Cooler than normal waters were also south of that line down to 20S. Warmer than normal waters were limited to a line north of the equator up to Mexico and along the US Coast up to Pt Conception. A previous cool outflow from South California southwest to the a point over Hawaii's Big Island was gone. La Nina is solid but not building anymore focused over the equatorial Central Pacific.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/18) Today's temps were falling hard at -1.954, the lowest this year so far. Previously temps rose to -1.432 on 11/29 and that after dropping on 11/24 at -1.700, the lowest in months after previously toggling steady at about -0.6 degs from mid Aug to Oct 6, then falling from there. Before that temps were toggling around neutral 6/13-8/5 except for one dip to -0.411 on 7/8. Prior to that temps peaked on 3/16 when they briefly hit +0.714 degs. Last year temps bottomed out at -2.138 on 8/13/20. The longterm trend has been steadily downward.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(12/18) Today temps were creeping down at -0.954 after rising to -0.685 on 11/9, and that after bottoming out at -1.08 on 11/2, the lowest in a year. Prior to that temps had been in a freefall starting from the -0.175 range in early Sept. Before that temps peaked up at 7/1 +0.332, the highest in a year. Temps previously had been steady near -0.222 since early March. Temps bottomed out at -1.654 on 11/3/2020.

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

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (12/18) - Temps rose in early Nov 2020 after bottoming out at -1.25 degs, up to -0.01 degs in mid-June then fading to -0.3 degs through Aug and to -0.75 degs in mid Oct and -1.0 degs in mid-Nov. The forecast indicates temps to continue a steady fall from here forward dropping down to -1.40 in mid Jan 2022 then quickly pushing up to +0.00 degs in July 2022. This model suggests a return of La Nina conditions and strongly so this Fall and Winter. There is no indication that El Nino will develop. The PDF Corrected forecast suggests the same with temps falling to -1.35 degs in mid-Jan starting to rise slowly after mid-Jan 2022. At this point that is as good a guess as any. And the model has been unwavering in this projection for months now.
IRI Consensus Plume: The Nov 20, 2021 Plume depicts temps are at -1.019 degs today, and are to warm to -0.57 degrees in Feb, then rising to -0.00 degs in May and neutral after that. A solid return of La Nina is expected peaking about now then warming thereafter.
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):
Today (12/18) the daily index was positive at +8.93. The trend has been towards positive readings with previous notable peaks were at +30.98 on 11/26, +36.90 on 9/28, +27.75 on 9/13 and +37.86 on 7/15.
The 30 day average was falling some at +12.70 after previously falling to +6.06 on 11/6 after peaking at +11.58 on 10/22. Before that it fell to -3.36 on 6/22, the lowest in a year. It peaked at +19.51 on 1/14.
The 90 day average was falling some at +10.04 today after peaking at 10.22 on 12/10, falling to +7.10 on 11/1. It previously peaking on 9/21 at +9.80 after falling to it's lowest point in a year on 6/9 at +1.06. The 90 day average peaked at +15.75 on 2/23 (clearly indicative of La Nina then). This index is a lagging indicator but suggest La Nina is returning.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation
The PDO theoretically turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and was positive till Dec 2019, but has been negative every since, driven by recent La Nina conditions. In May-July 2021 it was the most negative its been in the -1.80 to -2.04 range since Sept 2012 (-2.99). 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'). If anything it appears more likely we are still in the cool phase of the PDO.

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool 

Powerlines Jeff Clark Inside Mavericks

Local Interest
Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for this week. See it Here
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NBC News - Climate Change and Surfing:

Mavericks & Stormsurf on HBO Sports with Bryant Gumbel

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Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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