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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, December 26, 2020 6:30 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
4.2 - California & 4.0 - 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 12/28 thru Sun 1/3

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   

North Pacific Waking Up
Solid Swell Pattern Projected - Nice Start to New Year

On Saturday, December 26, 2020 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 3.7 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 3.0 ft @ 12.4 secs from 195degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 10.9 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 5.2 ft @ 13.1 secs from 323 degrees. Water temp 78.4 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 2.2 ft @ 15.6 secs from 281 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 8-12 kts. Water temperature 60.1 degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 4.6 ft @ 15.8 secs from 295 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.1 ft @ 16.5 secs from 231 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 2.5 ft @ 16.6 secs from 214 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 2.2 ft @ 16.2 secs from 235 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 11.7 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 6.5 ft @ 15.7 ft from 287 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was northwest at 8-12 kts. Water temp 51.6 degs (013), 51.6 degs (SF Bar) and 54.5 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 (12/26) in North and Central CA waves were 3-4 ft overhead and clean with light winds but a bit warbled and washing around. Protected breaks were head high to 1 ft overhead and clean and lined up but closed out. At Santa Cruz surf was 1-2 ft overhead on the sets and clean and lined up but a little uneven. In Southern California/Ventura waves were waist high on the sets and lined up but pretty warbled in the afternoon even though there was no wind. Central Orange County had sets at chest to near head high and lined up but pretty warbled from northwest wind. South Orange County's best summertime breaks were chest high on the rare sets and lined up but pretty textured from northwest wind. North San Diego had sets at waist to chest high and clean and lined up but drained from tide. Hawaii's North Shore was getting some swell with waves 2 ft overhead and lined up but warbled and uneven with east-northeast trades. The South Shore had sets at waist to chest high and clean and lined up when they came. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves 2-3 ft overhead and chopped from solid east-northeast trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (12/26) in Hawaii swell was from a weak system that developed in the Western Gulf on Wed-Thurs (12/24) producing 25 ft seas aimed east. That same swell was starting to hit exposed breaks in California too. And swell is fading on Hawaii's South Shore but peaking at exposed breaks mainly in Southern CA from a gale previously under New Zealand that produced up to 42 ft seas aimed northeast. And another weak system developed in the Central Gulf Fri-Sat (12/27) producing 23 ft seas aimed east. Swell is targeting California. And a broad system was developing over the dateline on Sat (12/26) forecast pushing into the Northwestern Gulf on Mon (12/28) with seas building to 52 ft aimed east. And maybe another strong one is to follow over the southern dateline pushing east through Fri (1/1) with 50 ft seas aimed east. And possibly 2 more are to follow in the Northern Gulf on Sat (1/2) both with 42-45 ft seas aimed east. Much rideable swell is possible.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Saturday (12/26) the jet was well consolidated pushing east off Japan reaching to the dateline with winds to 170 kts forming a developing trough over the North Dateline region then trying to spilt over the far Western Gulf but not, and only ridging north slightly only to fall south again over the Central Gulf with winds to 130 kts forming another trough capable of supporting gale formation there. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to push east into North CA on Mon (12/28) producing weather there while the broad trough over the dateline pushes east into the Northwestern Gulf as winds fade to 150 kts still providing support for gale development. The jet is to loose some organization late Tues (12/29) but still pushing east on the 35N latitude line reaching a point just off Oregon. Beyond 72 hours winds are to again start pulsing pushing off Japan at 200 kts reaching to the dateline on Thurs (12/31) then pushing east over the width of the Pacific by late Fri (12/1) at 160 kts but with no defined troughs forecast but still likely having some positive impact on storm formation and holding nearly unchanged into Sun (1/3). Steady support for gale development seems likely.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (12/26) swell from a broad but diffuse gale that developed pushing east off Japan and over the dateline was fading in Hawaii and hitting California (see Broad Dateline Gale below). And swell from a weak gale that previously tracked southeast through the Gulf of Alaska was poised to start hitting CA (see Weak Gulf Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours starting Sat AM (12/26) a broad storm was developing over and just west of the dateline with 50 kt west winds and seas building from 37 ft at 43N 166.5E aimed east. In the evening the storm is to start building while tracking over the dateline with 55 kt west winds and seas building from 53 ft at 46.5N 179.5E aimed east. On Sun AM (12/27) west fetch is to track east at still in the 50 kts range with seas 49 ft at 47.5N 173.5W aimed east. In the evening 40-45 kt west winds to be over a broad area over the North Dateline region aimed east with seas 41 ft at 49 171.5W aimed east targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. Fetch is to be fading Mon AM (12/28) with 35-40 kts northwest winds over a large swath of the dateline with 29-33 ft seas at 42N 177W but also reaching north to the Aleutians aimed east. In the evening fetch is to be fading but still 30-35 kts from the northwest over a large area with seas fading from 28-30 ft at 38N 180W aimed east. This system to fade out from there. Possible steady solid swell to target both Hawaii and the US West Coast. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Rough data suggest swell arrival on Tues (12/29) building to 8.4 ft @ 16 secs later (13 ft). Swell holding on Wed (12/30) at 9.5 ft @ 16 secs (15 ft). Swell Direction: 320-335 degrees

North CA: Rough data suggests swell arrival on Wed (12/30) building to 7.0 ft @ 18 secs later (12.0 ft). Swell Direction: 296-306 degrees with lesser energy later down at 290-292 degrees


Broad Dateline Gale
On Sun AM (12/20) a broad gale developed mid-way between Japan and the dateline producing 35-45 kt west winds over a fragmented area and seas 33 ft at 44N 165.5E aimed east. In the evening the gale pushed east with 35-40 kt west winds over a broad area and seas 33 ft at 45N 172.5E over a building area. The gale is to stall some Mon AM (12/21) with 30-35 kt west winds over the North Dateline region and seas 26-30 ft from 37-47N 180W aimed east. In the evening northwest fetch held position at 30-35 kts over a solid area aimed east with seas 24-28 ft at 37-48N 173W aimed east. On Tues AM (12/22) fetch was fading from 30 kts aimed southeast with 25 ft seas pushing east at 40-48N 167W. The gale is to fade in the evening with 25-30 kts west winds and seas fading from 22 ft at 46N 165W aimed east. Possible broad and unfocused swell to result for Hawaii and the US West Coast. Something to monitor.

North CA: Swell continues on Sat (12/26) 6.4 ft @ 15 secs early (9.5 ft) Swell Direction: 295-303 degrees


Weak Gulf Gale
On Thurs PM (12/24) another small gale started developing over the North Dateline region falling southeast with 30 kts northwest winds and seas 23 ft up at 48N 177W aimed southeast. On Fri AM (12/25) northwest winds were pushing southeast at 30-35 kts with seas 21 ft at 45N 166W aimed southeast at Hawaii and the US West Coast. In the evening fetch was falling quickly southeast over a broad area at 30-35 kts from the northwest in the Central Gulf with seas 22-24 ft at 42N 152W aimed southeast. On Sat AM (12/26) northwest winds were fading in coverage at 30-30 kts with seas fading from 23 ft at 42N 148W aimed southeast. In the evening 30 kt northwest winds are to be fading while easing east with seas fading from 23 ft at 45N 145W aimed southeast. On Sun AM (12/27) northwest winds to be fading from 30 kts s moving close to California with 23 ft seas up at 44N 141W aimed southeast. The gale is to slowly fade while pushing directly into Central CA Mon AM (12/28) with 22 ft seas just off the coast at 35N 123W. Something to monitor especially for Southern CA.

North CA: Expect swell to impact North CA on Sat afternoon (12/26) building to 9.4 ft @ 14-15 secs late (13.0 ft). Raw swell building on Sun (12/27) to 9.5 ft @ 13-14 secs early (12 ft) then fading some in the afternoon. Residuals fading on Mon AM (12/28) 7.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (10 ft). Swell Direction: 303 degs falling nd with most energy at 285 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 Sat AM (12/26) northwest winds were light nearshore all day (10 kts) for all of North and Central CA. Sun (12/27) light south winds are forecast for North CA early as another front approaches building to 10 kts alter with south winds building to 5-10 kts for Central CA later. Rain for only Central CA in the later evening from the Golden Gate southward. light snow for the Sierra from Tahoe southward in the evening. Mon (12/28) north to northwest winds 15 kts for North CA early and west at 20 kts for Central CA early with the core of the low moving inland over Big Sur mid-day. Northwest winds 15-20 kts for all of North and Central CA in the afternoon. Rain for all of CA from Pt Arena southward clearing down to Monterey Bay at sunset. Steady snow for the Sierra through the day clearing in the evening. Tues (12/29) high pressure tries to take over with northwest winds 10-15 kts early for all of North and Central CA fading to 10 kts later. No precip forecast. Wed (12/30) light northwest winds all day except up to 15 kts for Pt Conception. Rain developing for Cape Mendocino late afternoon pushing south. Thurs (12/31) light northwest winds 5-10 kts forecast all day for North and Central CA. Rain for all of North CA down to Monterey Bay fading during the day. Light snow for Tahoe for a few hours during the day. Fri (1/1) light winds are forecast up north and northwest 10 kts for Central CA early fading to near calm everywhere through the day. No precip forecast. Sat (1/2) south winds are forecast at 10-15 kts for all of North CA early but light for Central CA holding all day. Rain for Bodega Bay northward early.

Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 5 inches, 5 inches, 5 inches, and 3 inches.

Freezing level peaking during the day at 7,000 ft through Jan 1 then pushing 8,000 ft into Jan 5.

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


South Pacific

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (12/26) swell was in the water from a storm pervious south of New Zealand (see New Zealand Gale below). Otherwise no swell producing weather systems were occurring.

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


New Zealand Storm
A gale unbelievably developed under New Zealand on Tues AM (12/15) with 35-40 kt southwest winds and seas building from 23 ft at 58S 173E aimed east. In the evening a solid fetch of 45-50 kt southwest winds were developing with seas building to 33 ft at 59S 172E aimed northeast. On Wed AM (12/16) the storm was lifting northeast with 45-50 kts southwest winds and seas building to 42 ft at 58S 177W aimed east-northeast. In the evening the storm faded to gale status with 35-40 kts southwest winds and seas fading from 39 ft at 55S 169W aimed northeast. On Thurs AM (12/17) fetch was gone with seas from previous fetch fading from 31 ft at 50S 162W aimed northeast. Swell is in the water tracking northeast.

Hawaii: Swell fading Thurs AM (12/24) from 2.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees

Southern CA: Swell building on Sat (12/26) to 1.9 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0 ft) mid-day. Swell fading on Sun (12/27) from 1.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) early. Nothing after that. Swell Direction: 205 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 yet another stronger storm is forecast developing on the Southern Dateline Tues AM (12/29) with 55 kt northwest winds and seas 29 ft at 33N 167.5E aimed east tracking east in the evening to 55 kt northwest winds and seas 35 ft at 32.5N 178.5E aimed east. The storm is to push east on Wed AM (12/30) with 55 kt northwest winds and seas 38 ft at 34N 170W aimed east-southeast. In the evening the storm is to start sweeping northeast with 55 kt west-northwest winds and seas 40 ft at 36.5N 162.5W aimed east positioned 900 nmiles north of Kauai. On Thurs AM (12/31) northwest winds to be fading from 50 kts with seas 43 ft at 40N 156W aimed southeast. Fetch is to be fading in the evening from 40 kts with seas 39 ft at 40.5N 149.5W aimed east. The gale is to dissipate after that. Something to monitor.

Another broad gale is to start developing over the dateline on Thurs AM (12/31) with 40-45 kt southwest winds and seas building from 33 ft at 40N 178E aimed east and northeast. A broader fetch is to set up in the evening with 35-45 kt west winds over a large area with seas building from 36 ft at 43N 173W aimed east. The gael is to lift northeast on Fri AM (1/1) with 40-45 kts west winds over a large area aimed east with 39 ft seas at 47N 166.5W aimed east. In the evening the gale is to be fading but still large with winds 35-45 kts filling the Northern Gulf with 40 ft seas at 53N 162W aimed east. Fetch fading Sat AM (1/2) with 40 kt west winds in the Northern Gulf and seas fading from 40 ft at 53N 163W.

And a secondary fetch is to be right behind on Sat AM (1/2) with 55 kt west winds over a small area and seas 40 ft at 43.5N 179W aimed east over a small area. The fetch is to race east in the evening with 45 kt west winds and seas 40 ft at 46N 168W aimed east. More development possible after that too as the gale moves into the Northwestern Gulf.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast.



MJO/ENSO Forecast


La Nina Stable and Possibly Past Its Peak

MJO/ENSO Discussion
The Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.
And the El Nino/La Nino cycle (collectively know as ENSO - El Nino Southern Oscillation) is a less frequent (about once every 7 years) but more impactful cycle that affects world wide weather. Specifically, strong El Nino events promote storm production in the Pacific while La Nina events suppress storm production. These therefore have a significant impact on the production of swell and surf. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO and ENSO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for upcoming activity (or inactivity depending on the state and interaction of these two oscillations).

Overview: A double dip La Nina was in control through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018 associated with two upwelling Kelvin Waves, and continued trying to build over equatorial waters over the Summer and Fall, but not enough to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere. In January 2019, those warm waters were fading, but then rebuilt late in Feb associated with Kelvin Wave (#3). But as of early June 2019 warm water was fading and by August a tongue of cool water was tracking west on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos reaching to a point nearly south of Hawaii. El Nino was dead. A bit of a recovery occurred during Fall of 2019, with weak warm water building in the Nino 1.2 region, but cool water held in a pool off Peru and had not changed until March 2020. By April the cool pool pushed east and by May subsurface cool waters erupted off Ecuador, forming a well defined cool tongue that looked like the start of La Nina, holding into July 2020.

Fall/Winter 2020/2021 = 3.0/3.5 (California & Hawaii)
Rating based on a 1-10 scale: 1 being the lowest (small and infrequent surf conditions), 5 being normal/average, and 10 being extraordinary (frequent events of large, long period swells)

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

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast (KWGA - Kelvin Wave Generation Area - The area 5 degrees north and south of the equator from 170W to 135E)
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (12/25) 5 day average winds were strong from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and strong from the east over the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the East equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and strong easterly over the KWGA. (Note: These are 5 day average winds, so they lag what is happening today by about 2 days).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (12/26) strong east anomalies were filling the KWGA and reaching east to a point south of Hawaii. The forecast calls for some additional strengthening of the east anomalies over the KWGA through 12/28, then holding before starting to fade the last day of the model run on 1/2. East anomalies are to hold through the end of the model run reaching east only to a point south of Hawaii.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (12/25) a neutral MJO pattern was in control of the KWGA today. The statistic model projects no change but with perhaps a weak Inactive signal developing over the dateline on days 10 and 15 of the model run. The dynamic model suggests a variant of the same thing.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/26) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was non-existent over the Indian Ocean today and is to track east to the East Indian Ocean at weak status on day 15. The GEFS model suggests the same thing.
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): (12/25) This model depicts a weak Active MJO signal all but gone over the KWGA today with strong east anomalies over the core of the KWGA. The forecast indicates east anomalies are to hold at strong status through 1/9, then fading to moderate status and holding through the end of the model run on 1/22. The low pass filter indicates no change in strength of high pressure over the KWGA but with coverage fading some at the end of the model run.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/26 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weakly building Active Phase over the KWGA today with mostly moderate east anomalies in control focused over the dateline. The Active Phase is to push through the KWGA through 1/22 but with strong east anomalies holding in the KWGA over the dateline through 1/26. East anomalies to fade to weak status 1/27-2/6 with a weak version of the Inactive Phase developing over that window. The Active Phase is to return 2/4-3/2 with weak to modest west anomalies filling the KWGA and dateline area. A weak Inactive MJO is to return 2/22 holding through the end of the model run on 3/25 with mostly weak west anomalies forecast on the dateline. The low pass filter indicates a high pressure bias is firmly in control over the dateline today with 3 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 fourth contour line is to develop on 1/10 holding to 3/9 with the third contour fading 3/25. A double contour low pressure bias is over the Indian Ocean today and is to build in coverage with a second contour lined holding through 2/13. Its eastern periphery is to ease east to 150E at the end of the model run with it's west periphery moving from 65E to 100E. 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 have stabilized there. There's some sense they might start weakening in late Feb into March, but that's more a fantasy than reality.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (12/26) Today in the far West Pacific the 30 deg isotherm was gone. The 29 deg isotherm was steady at 164E today but building in depth. The 28 deg isotherm line was steady at 175E today. The 24 deg isotherm was easing east to 120W today. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies +2 deg C were locked steady in the West Pacific pushing east to 165W at depth and moving no further east. A broad cooling pattern was controlling the entire equatorial Pacific with anomalies -2 degs C in the far East, but otherwise temps generally -1 deg C over the entire equatorial Pacific at depth. Weak warming previously at depth near 125W at +1 deg was gone. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/19 indicates the same thing. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (12/19) Negative anomalies were forming a wave pushing west from the Galapagos to 180W at -10 cms continuous from Ecuador to 150W but with one pocket to -20 cms at 145W. Negative anomalies were -5 to -10 cms along the coast of Peru up into Ecuador and then -10 cms reaching north up to Baja and -5 cms 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. But the triangle was not as strong as weeks past.

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: (12/25) 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. One small pocket of colder anomalies was near the Galapagos but otherwise none were imbedded in that flow in the East and limited between 140-170W and losing intensity even there. And the overall cool pool does not look as cold as weeks and months past. Cool anomalies were losing strength along the coasts of Chile and Peru with stray pockets of warming indicated. 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 be waning. We are past the peak of this event.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/25): Temps continue warming along Chile and Peru reaching west to 150W and steady compared to days past. 5 or so small pockets of cooling were imbedded on the equator from Ecuador westward. The balance again looks like warming is taking the upper hand, just barely.
Hi-res Overview: (12/25) 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. The peak of La Nina has perhaps past.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/26) Today's temps were falling to -1.338 after peaking near -0.9551 on 12/22. A previous peak of -0.595 occurred on 12/11. 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:
(12/26) Temps were steady at -1.037 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 (12/27) Today the model indicates temps steady at -1.00 degs after bottoming out in early Nov at -1.25 degs. The forecast depicts temps holding at -1.00 degs to mid-Jan then beginning to rise, rebuilding up to -0.4 degs in April and -0.25 degs mid-June rising to -0.20 degs mid July and stabilizing there. This is likely becoming a 2 year event in that even if temps were to return to normal in July 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) (12/26): The daily index was rising to +8.93. The 30 day average was rising at +15.32. The 90 day average was steady at 9.47. 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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