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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, January 16, 2021 12:44 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
5.2 - California & 4.8 - 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 1/11 thru Sun 1/17

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   

Strong Swell #10 Hitting Hawaii
Swell #9 Hitting CA

BUOY ROUNDUP
On Saturday, January 16, 2021 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 238 (Barbers Point): Seas were 6.9 ft @ 20.0 secs with swell 5.6 ft @ 20.4 secs from 310 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 12.0 ft @ 20.0 secs with swell 9.3 ft @ 20.4 secs from 321 degrees. Water temp 77.9 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.8 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 16.2 secs from 257 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 6-8 kts. Water temperature NA degs. At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 7.7 ft @ 16.1 secs from 294 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.2 ft @ 18.5 secs from 269 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.0 ft @ 18.4 secs from 224 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 2.4 ft @ 13.2 secs from 263 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 13.7 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 8.0 ft @ 16.4 ft from 291 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was north at 18-21 kts. Water temp 52.7 degs (013), 52.3 degs (SF Bar) and 53.1 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).
Summer
- 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).
Summer
- 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.
Summer
- up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
Current Conditions
On Saturday (1/16) in North and Central CA waves were 12 ft (2.5 times overhead) and pretty lumpy and warbled with northwest winds and fog in control. Protected breaks were estimated at 2 ft overhead on the sets and lined up and clean but warbled with light wind and thick fog. At Santa Cruz surf was 3-4 ft overhead on the sets and clean and clear but with some warbled intermixed. In Southern California/Ventura waves were head high on the sets and clean and lined up and building. Central Orange County had sets at shoulder high and lined up and soft but clean. South Orange County's best summertime breaks were thigh to maybe waist high on the sets and clean with no wind and soft and lined up but weak. North San Diego had sets at chest high with top spots and clean and lined up but soft. Hawaii's North Shore had waves at 20 ft on the sets and clean at select breaks and powerful. The South Shore had some thigh to waist high sets and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around northwest swell with waves 2-3 ft overhead and pretty warbled from modest onshore/southeast trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Saturday (1/16) Swell #10 was building fast in Hawaii and solid with long period having developed just west of the dateline falling east-southeast Wed-Sat (1/16) with seas to 56 ft targeting the Islands well. And Swell #9 was hitting California from from a storm that developed north of Hawaii on Wed (1/13) pushing east for 24 hours with seas 30 ft targeting the Islands directly and with secondary fetch producing 41 ft seas pushing east towards at the US West Coast. After that a weak system was tracking southeast from off the Kuril Islands Fri-Sun (1/17) with 35 ft seas targeting Hawaii well. Beyond a small but solid storm is forecast tracking east off Japan with seas to 46 ft tracking to the dateline then evaporating east of there. The storm pattern is shifting west and weakening some.

See all the details below...

 

SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Saturday (1/16) the jet was well consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds building to 170 kts pushing flat over the dateline then to the Western Gulf of Alaska forming a trough offering good support for gale development. From there the jet split hard just 400 nmiles north of Hawaii with the northern branch tracking northeast up and into North Canada with the southern branch far weaker pushing south to the equator. Over the next 72 hours a new trough is to develop just west of the dateline on Sun (1/17) tracking east fast and pinching off northwest of Hawaii also offering support for gale development briefly then slowly pushing east and still very pinched into Tues (1/19) offering nothing and dissipating north of the Islands. All the while winds are to be building off Japan at 190 kts. Beyond 72 hours the jet is to be weak and fragmented east of 170W on Wed (1/20) offering nothing but the jet is to be consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds 180 kts with a new trough setting up offering support for gale development just west of the dateline. That trough is to fade on Thurs (1/21) as winds rebuilding to 190 kts off Japan on Fri (1/22) forming yet another trough there falling southeast to the dateline on Sat (1/23) still being fed by 190 kts but also very pinched and no longer supporting gale development. The jet is to be massively split east of the dateline with the northern branch tracking over the Northern Gulf and splitting again up there with the southern branch pushing southeast over or just south of Hawaii and then to the equator. A full high pressure lockdown looks likely for the East Pacific with the storm track focusing on the West Pacific looking forward.

Surface Analysis
On Saturday (1/16) swell from Storm #9 was hitting CA (see Storm #9 below). And strong Swell #10 has building in Hawaii (see Strong Storm # 10 below).

Over the next 72 hours a weaker and smaller system was tracking east after developing off the Kuril Islands Thurs PM (1/14) with 45 kt northwest winds ands seas building from 30 ft at 44.5N 155E aimed southeast. On Fri AM (1/15) 40 kt northwest winds continued falling southeast with seas building to 35 ft over a small area at 43N 162E aimed southeast. In the evening fetch was falling southeast fast at 35-40 kts with seas 33 ft at 40N 170E aimed southeast at Hawaii. On Sat AM (1/16) northwest winds were 35 kts on the dateline with 31 ft seas at 37.5N 177E aimed southeast. Fetch is to fade in the evening from 30-35 kts with seas 28 ft at 34.5N 178W aimed southeast. 30 kts north winds are to continue falling southeast into Sun PM (1/17) with 24 ft seas at 32.5N 165W and impacting Kauai 12 hrs later. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: For planning purposes raw swell is to arrive on Mon (1/18) building to 10.4 ft @ 12-13 secs later (12.5 ft). Raw swell to continue on Tues (1/19) at 7.8 ft @ 13 secs (10 ft) with local windswell intermixed. Swell Direction: 320 degrees moving to 330 degrees

 

Storm #9
A new gale developed on Tues AM (1/12) over the dateline producing 35 kt northwest winds with seas building to 23 ft at 41N 176E aimed southeast at Hawaii. In the evening the gale built with 40 kt northwest winds with seas 27 ft at 37.5N 175.5W aimed southeast at Hawaii. On Wed AM (1/13) the gale built with the existing fetch holding at 40 kts from the northwest targeting Hawaii and a secondary fetch build north of it with 50-55 kt northwest winds in a redeveloping core with seas building to 39 ft at 40.5N 160W aimed southeast with secondary seas at 30 ft at 32.5N 165W targeting Hawaii directly. In the evening only the new fetch remained tracking east and growing in coverage producing 50 kt northwest and west wind and seas 40 ft at 40.5N 153W aimed east at the US West Coast and sideband energy at Hawaii. On Thurs AM (1/14) winds were fading from 40-45 kts from the west with seas 37 ft at 42.5N 150W aimed east. Fetch was fading in the evening from 40 kts lifting northeast with seas 34 ft at 46N 144W aimed east. The gale raced north and faded from there.

More large swell likely.

North CA: Swell peaking on Sat (1/16) at 10.2 ft @ 16-17 secs early (16.5 ft) fading some later. Residuals on Sun (1/17) fading from 5.9 ft @ 13-14 secs early (7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290-294 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (1/16) building to 4.2 ft @ 17 secs (7.0 ft) early afternoon at exposed breaks and holding. Swell fading Sun (1/17) fading rom 4.3 ft @ 14-15 secs early (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 295-302 degrees

 

Strong Storm #10 - Target Hawaii
And yet another storm started developing off North Japan on Wed AM (1/13) producing a small area of 40-45 kt northwest winds with seas building. In the evening a decent fetch of northwest winds were falling southeast at 50 kts with seas building from 44 ft at 40.5N 168E aimed southeast. On Thurs AM (1/14) the storm was pushing over the dateline falling southeast with 55 kt northwest winds and seas 52 ft at 39.5N 177E aimed southeast. In the evening the storm was falling southeast with 55 kt northwest winds and sea 55 ft at 38N 175W aimed southeast. On Fri AM (1/15) the storm was tracking east with 50 kt west winds and seas 51 ft at 36N 167.5W aimed east. In the evening the gale was pushing east to almost northeast with 40 kt west winds and seas 43 ft at 37.5N 159.5W aimed east. The gale was fading Sat AM (1/16) while lifting northeast with 35-40 kt west winds and seas fading from 37 ft at 41.5N 152.5W aimed east. The gale to dissipate from there.

Very large and powerful swell for Hawaii and more moderate size for the US West Coast.

Hawaii (Oahu): Expect swell arrival before sunrise Sat (1/16) building to 14.0 ft @ 20 secs (28 ft Hawaiian) by 9 AM holding through the day as period drops to 19 secs late afternoon. Swell moderating on Sun (1/17) from 9.0 ft @ 15-16 secs early (13.5 ft) and fading steadily. Swell continuing down on Mon from 5.4 ft @ 13 secs (7.0 ft). Swell Direction: 311-333 degrees focused on 322-325 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (1/17) building to 5.6 ft @ 22 secs late (12 ft). Swell building overnight peaking early Mon (1/18) at 10.3 ft @ 18 secs (18.0 ft). Swell fading on Tues (1/19) fading from 5.6 ft @ 15 secs early (8.0 ft). Swell Direction: 281-292 degrees focused on 287 degrees

 

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

 

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

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (1/16) northwest winds to be 15-20 kts for all of North and Central CA early building to 20 kts for North and Central CA later. Sun (1/17) northwest winds are to be 20-25 kts for North CA early and 10 kts from the northwest for Central CA building to 25 kts for all of North CA later and 10-15 kts for Central CA nearshore later. Monday north winds are forecast at 35 kts for all of North CA early and 15-20 kts for Central CA holding all day and fading in North CA to 25-30 kts later. Tues (1/19) northeast winds are to be 15-20 kts for all of North CA and 25-30+ kts for Central CA focused on San Francisco early fading to 15-20 kts for North CA and 10-15 kts for Central CA later. Wed (1/20) northeast winds are forecast at 5-10 kts for North and Central CA early fading to calm if not northwest 5-10 kts later. Thurs (1/21) a quick low pressure system is forecast over North CA then backfilling with high pressure setting up north winds 15 kts for North CA early and 5-10 kts for Central CA early and building to 15 kts for all of North and Central CA later. Rain for North CA down to Bodega Bay through the day and evening falling south. On Fri (1/22) massive and bulletproof high pressure at 1038 mbs is to fill the Gulf of Alaska with a backdoor front falling down CA driving north winds at 20 kts for North CA and 15 kts for Central CA early building to 20 kts later and 20-25 kts for North CA later. Rain for North and Central CA along the coast early focusing on Central CA later maybe reaching down to Southern CA later. Light snow for the Sierra through the day. Sat (1/23) north winds are forecast at 20+ kts for North CA and 10-15 kts for Central CA early holding all day. No precip forecast.

Total snow accumulation for the week for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 1 inches, 1 inches, 2 inches, and 2 inches all on 1/22.

Freezing level 12,000 ft today holding then falling to 5,500 ft on 1/19 before then rising back to near 12,000 ft 1/20 and then falling hard to 4,000 ft on 1/22 and holding.

Snow Models: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_snow.html (Scroll down for resort specific forecasts). Updated!

 

South Pacific

Overview
Surface Analysis
No swell was in the water.

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

 

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

 

QuikCAST's

 

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

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a stronger gale is forecast developing off North Japan Tues PM (1/19) with 50 kt northwest winds and seas building from 45 ft at 39.5N 155.5E aimed southeast. Fetch fading Wed AM (1/20) from 45-50 kts over a moderate sized area half way to the dateline with 45 ft seas at 38.5N 163E aimed southeast. Fetch is to push east in the evening with 40 kt northwest winds over the North Dateline Region with 39 ft seas fading at 37N 172E. Northwest winds are to be fading in coverage Thurs AM (1/21) from 45 kts pushing over the dateline with seas 39 ft at 38N 179.5E aimed east. Fetch fading from 35 kts in the evening with seas fading from 32 ft at 39N 173.5W aimed east. there. Maybe some swell for Hawaii and lesser energy from the US West Coast.

The storm pattern is to fade out compared to weeks past.

 

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast.

 

 

MJO/ENSO Forecast

 

La Nina Stable - East Anomalies Forecast Fading

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.

LONG-RANGE PACIFIC STORM AND SWELL GENERATION POTENTIAL FORECAST
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 (1/15) 5 day average winds were strong from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing over the Central Pacific and stronger still from the east over the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the East equatorial Pacific continuing neutral over the Central Pacific and exceedingly 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 (1/16) exceedingly strong east anomalies were filling the KWGA and reaching east to a point south of Hawaii. The forecast calls for more of the same through 1/19 with strong east anomalies in control reaching east to a point south of Hawaii. After that east anomalies are to fade to moderate if not modest strength in the KWGA starting 1/20 and holding through the end of the model run on 1/23. West anomalies are currently south of California to Ecuador and are forecast building slightly in both coverage and strength through the end of the model run.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (1/15) A moderate Inactive MJO pattern was over the dateline and eastern KWGA today. The statistic model projects it tracking east and fading and out of the KWGA on day 5 with the Active Phase of the MJO moving into the KWGA on day 10 and filling the KWGA moderately on day 15. The dynamic model suggests the same thing initially but with no Active Phase following and instead a neutral MJO pattern is to take hold on day 10 continuing on day 15.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (1/16) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was weak over the East Indian Ocean today and is to track to the West Pacific and exceedingly weak on day 15. The GEFS model suggests a variant of the same with the Active Phase making it to the West Pacific on day 15 and very weak.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (1/15) This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern (moist air) over the far West Pacific and is to track east while fading moving over Central America on 2/19. A moderate Inactive Phase is to push into the West Pacific on 2/4 pushing east to the Central Pacific at the end of the model run on 2/24 while building in strength.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (1/15) This model depicts no MJO signal today with strong east anomalies over the core of the KWGA. The forecast indicates east anomalies are to hold strong through 1/21 then weakening to weak to modest strength and holding through the end of the run on 2/12 wit perhaps a weak Active Phase pushing into the KWGA 1/22-2/1 but not crossing it intact. The low pass filter indicates perhaps some weakening in strength of high pressure bias over the KWGA currently with 2 contour lines fading to 1 contour line on 2/6.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (1/16 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO signal over the KWGA today with moderate to strong east anomalies in control focused over the dateline. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is to track east and fade through 1/27 while a weak Active Phase starts building in from the west on 1/16 building modestly over the KWGA till 2/17 but with east anomalies holding weakly over the KWGA and maybe fading in coverage. A weak Inactive MJO is to return 2/10 tracking through the KWGA through 3/5 with weak to moderate east anomalies rebuilding over the KWGA. A strong Active Phase is to follow on 2/8-3/2 with moderate west anomalies taking over the KWGA. A strong Active Phase is follow 3/22 through the end of the model run on 4/15. The low pass filter indicates a high pressure bias is firmly in control over the dateline today with 4 contour lines reaching east to a point south of California. A fifth contour line is to develop 2/23-3/20 then fading fast with the forth contour line gone on 4/2. A double contour low pressure bias is over the Indian Ocean today and is to build in coverage with the second contour line holding through 3/21. No realistic change in the coverage or position of either is forecast though the model suggest a shift in the border between the two to 150E at the end of the model run. East anomalies that were previously solid in the Indian Ocean for over a year migrated east through the West Pacific to the East Pacific on 10/1 and have stabilized there.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (1/16) Today in the far West Pacific the 30 and 29 deg isotherms were gone. The 28 deg isotherm line was retrograding from 166E today. The 24 deg isotherm was easing east to 115W 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 -1 degs C in the far East, weaker than weeks past, but building to -2C at 150W and west from there. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 1/8 indicates the same thing. Negative anomalies in the East Pacific were the least negative at any time in months. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (1/8) Negative anomalies were forming a wave pushing west from the Galapagos to the dateline on the equator at -5 to -10 cms continuous over that area with 1 small pocket to -15 cms at 140W and fading. Negative anomalies were -5 to -10 cms along the coast of Peru up into Ecuador and reaching north up to Baja and -5 to -10 cms into South and North CA. Looking at the big picture, negative anomalies were forming a massive triangle from Cape Mendocino to the intersection of the dateline and equator then into Southern Chile. 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 but not substantially weakening either.

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: (1/15) The latest images indicate cold anomalies were on the equator from Ecuador west to the dateline and solid in density along a line from Chile to the dateline with less colder waters over the remainder of that area. But no markedly cooler imbedded pockets were present in the east but several were in the west between 150-170W. And the overall cool pool does not look as cold as weeks and months past. Cool anomalies were gaining a little strength along the coasts of Chile and Peru with stray pockets of warming fading in coverage. 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 (1/15): Temps continue weakly warming off Chile and Peru reaching west to 125W. And pockets of warming that were occurring on the equator from Ecuador to 135W are fading. The balance still looks like warming is taking the upper hand.
Hi-res Overview: (1/15) A stream of consistent cool water is well entrenched from Chile up to Peru and Ecuador 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 is past.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (1/16) Today's temps were steady rising from -1.4171 on 12/30 to -0.482 on (1/11) and holding at -0.559 today. 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:
(1/16) Temps were mostly steady after rising to -0.969 on 1/4 and -1.040 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 (1/16) Actuals per the model indicates temps rose to -0.75 degs mid-Jan after bottoming out in early Nov at -1.25 degs. The forecast depicts temps slowly rising moving forward to -0.25 degs in May and holding there into early Oct. 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. But we suspect a strong El Nino might be building right behind the current La Nina.
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) (1/16): The daily index was steady at +20.26. The 30 day average was falling to +18.84. The 90 day average was rising to 12.14, clearly in La Nina territory. 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 

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


Powerlinessurf Jeff Clark Inside Mavericks

Local Interest

Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (1/17):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?hd=1&v=1uY44D6dwiQ&feature=youtu.be
For automatic notification of forecast updates, subscribe to the Stormsurf001 YouTube channel - just click the 'Subscribe' button below the video.

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NBC News - Climate Change and Surfing: https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/climate-change-good-surfing-other-sports-not-so-much-ncna1017131

Stormsurf and Mavericks on HBO Sports with Bryant Gumbel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luQSYf5sKjQ

Mavericks Invitational Pieces Featuring Stormsurf:
http://www.bloomberg.com/video/how-to-predict-the-best-surfing-waves-EsNiR~0xR5yXGOlOq2MqfA.html
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/surfs-up-for-mavericks-invitational-in-calif/

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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